Hurricane slash tropical storm slash depressing rain bomb Henri cruised through southern New England, made an unwelcomed rainy return the following day then shuffled east, shutting off the lights on the way. Then we had nine inches of rain in some places deluge local streams and roads. All that water almost took out a Peace Dale dam and caused feet of water to slow only the occasional car, with the exception of the incoming URI brain trust fresh from the Jersey shore in new black Range Rovers and silver Volkswagens to run full stream ahead then tell the nice fireman assisting their water rescue, “I didn’t think it was that deep…” Daddy fix, apparently. Rough weather is good for finding beach glass and aids to navigation washed up in Matunuck and for eating chili with a cold beverage while wind lashes your windows, but all that salt spray and rain runoff can negatively affect fresh and saltwater fishing. We’ll take cloudy skies over cloudy water any day.
Fish seek cloudy cover
Falling barometric pressure before tropical disturbances is often good for fishing; long rainy days in wet canoes is not. Many fish, like stripers, use cloudy skies from approaching storms as overhead camouflage to work skinny waters to bulk up on unwary fish and crustaceans. Much like the way some wise anglers fish up the moon, fishing up a drop in pressure like we get with a hurricane or weekend storm, often yields big results. Fish feed hard because that lateral line tells them change is coming and they may need to move to deeper, more calm waters with a full stomach. Old timers knew when codfish came to the hook with small smooth rocks in their stomachs it meant storm. Cod recognized that barometric change and consumed stones for weight before heavy swells worked through their grounds. Despite our top-of-the-food-chain status, animals have lots to teach us, if only we would stop keeping so many.
Local South County ace David Smith will hit some sweet water, working cloudy skies over cloudy water, knowing fish will be actively feeding. Then he’ll post a picture with a big bass while occasionally wearing a Fish Wrap hat. Cheers to David for being fashion conscious.
Cloudy water is lousy for fishing and can last for days. While lateral lines detect vibrations and some noses identify scents of prey, many fish lean heavily on their vision for navigation and feeding. As summer wanes, and sadly it is, fast fish like bonito and bonita use their amazing eyesight to swim up to forty miles per hour as they hone in on small baitfish in multiple directions. Meanwhile, municipal catch basins funnel millions of rainwater gallons, polluted with a spectrum of contaminants, silt, oils and half-spent Marlboro’s to seaside outflows where near shore waters quickly turn grey or brown. All that pushes fish away. Ask a surfer how many times they’ve had a bacterial infection after a good post-storm session.
It’s still early in the hardtail season so there’s solid precedence that bonita and bonito will retreat offshore then return when the coast is clear. The best tip we can offer for when they run our beaches is to slow down once in a while. Common practice is to cast fast for fast fish but that turtle did win the race. Alternating your retrieval speed might attract one very hungry albie who slows to inhale your Epoxy Jig.
Cloudy skies might be on our personal horizons one day
Tickets are selling quickly for the Rhode Island Tog Classic over at Portsmouth’s Crafty One Customs. There are boat and kayak divisions, awards, raffles for prizes from Humminbird, Minn Kota, Canned Heat Brewing Company and many others. Check out the Crafty One website to lock in your entry and to get raffle tickets. All monies raised will benefit the Gabe’s Got This charitable organization. If toppled trees, twisted powerlines and freezers full of warming venison teaches us anything, it’s that we always need to help our neighbors. Steve Babcock will tell you, “To have a friend, you have to be a friend.” Truth. Buying those tickets and entries helps lots of folks who aren’t accustomed to asked for any. If you don’t fish or can’t make the big party at the Portuguese American Citizens Club with a live band, food trucks and extra helpings of hand-stretched fish stories, you certainly should donate a few bucks to the cause. Someday, we may be the ones hesitating to ask for some help under cloudy skies. Cheers to Ralph for once again stepping up to have a good time while raising money for charity.
If you’ve been following news items and conversations about how RI’s Coastal Resources Management Council communicates with users of public trust waters when considering applications for aquaculture farms, they have a list serve for you. To be notified of applications for activities including shellfish businesses, docks and dredging, go to www.crmc.ri.gov, click on the list serve button and then fill in your contact information. CRMC is under a range of pressures as the key organization overseeing many uses of our shared water resources so in all fairness, being informed is your first step. Clearly we have been advocating for more communication, especially to residents or groups who might be impacted by a decision but the entire burden cannot be theirs. Adding your name to the list might just start a conversation you didn’t know you could have.