NO FLUKE: Ice fishing the best in years

Ice fisherman Greg Vespe shows off his catch next to a Hummingbird fish finder. Vespe said that ice can provide access to ponds that are not normally fished by many so fishing is often good there.
Submitted photo

“Ice fishing in December and early January was the best it has been in years.” said Greg Vespe, noted local fishermen and president of the Aquidneck Island Striper Team.

Vespe, an accomplished saltwater fishermen took his skills to freshwater with all the ice we have had this winter. “The ice has been great. We’ve been able to fish with family and friends most of the winter. Last Saturday just before the melt we did very well with pickerel in a central Rhode Island pond that was still frozen.”

In warmer months, Vespe fishes and often goes out on the water with Capt. BJ Silvia of Flippin Out Charters. Greg had a tip for us on how to find the fish on the ice.

“To find the fish explore ponds anglers normally do not fish in warm weather due to poor access,” Vespe said. “The ice helps you gain access, entering the pond on a frozen brook or areas that the ice makes directly accessible. This way, you fish a pond that has not been fished much and the bite should be good.”

Freshwater fishing is expected to continue to improve once ponds freeze over again. In Rhode Island the Department of Environmental Management has stocked many ponds with trout for winter fishing. See below article for details.

Boat show next weekend

The Providence Boat Show is next week.

Show hours will be Friday, Feb. 2 from noon to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The show will feature hundreds of new and used boats from cruising and fishing boats to StandUp Paddleboards, jet skis and sailing dinghies, as well as a wide range of boating equipment, electronics, gear and clothing. Visit for details.

Public hearing scheduled

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will hold a fisheries public hearing at 6 p.m., Monday, Feb. 19 at the URI Bay Campus, Corless Auditorium, Narragansett.

Items on the agenda include recreational black sea bass, scup, striped bass, tautog, bluefish and a host of commercial regulations for many of the same species and more.

All interested parties are invited to attend the Feb. 16 public hearing or submit written comments concerning the proposed regulations by 4 p.m. on Feb. 26. For information, contact Peter Duhamel at

Commission to hold winter meeting

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) will hold its winter meeting Feb. 6-8 in Arlington, Va. The ASCFC manages many of the species we fish recreationally in Massachusetts and Rhode Island waters including black sea bass, summer flounder (fluke), scup, striped bass, blue fish and tautog.

One of the hottest items on the agenda is the Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board meeting at 3 p.m. on Feb. 8. The Board is scheduled to approve the Black Sea Bass (BSB) Addendum XXX for final action which will establish guidelines for BSB management in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and other coastal states.

The Addendum will address regional management configurations, harvest limits, season length and possession limits. Black sea bass management has been controversial as we have an abundance of them in our region, in part due to the climate change impact of warming water. Fisheries management regulations are just catching up with the shift in stock abundance in this area.

Rhode Island is holding an ASMFC pre-meeting on Feb. 5, 10 a.m. for Rhode Islanders to meet with their commissioners to review agenda item that will be discussed at the Virginia meeting. The meeting will be held at the RIDEM Division of Marine Fisheries at Fort Wetherill Marine Lab in Jamestown, RI. Go online to ASMFC meeting agenda at

RI DEM stocks trout for winter season

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is stocking ponds in Rhode Island for the winter season.

The ponds being stocked include Barber Pond, South Kingstown; Carbuncle Pond, Coventry; Carolina Trout Pond, Richmond; Meadowbrook Pond, Richmond; Olney Pond, Lincoln Woods State Park, Lincoln; Silver Spring Pond, North Kingstown; Little Round Top Pond, Burrillville; Upper Melville Pond, Portsmouth; Watchaug Pond, Charlestown; and Wyoming Pond, Hopkinton.

Check with individual communities about safe ice conditions on local ponds before ice fishing. DEM does not monitor ice conditions in local communities.

For daily updates on stocking locations, follow DEM’s outdoor education page on Facebook at , or call 401-789-0281.

Where’s the bite?

Freshwater fishing slowed this week with melting ice but is expected to pick up again as water either freezes up again for ice fishing or melts totally so anglers can fish from shore or boats.

Cod fishing: Last week, party and charter boats had difficulty making it out to fish with either frigid cold or high winds. This week, however, things exploded Sunday and at the beginning of this week as the cod fishing bite was on.

“We got into a huge pile of fish and the all the party and charter boats in the area got into cod in a very big way,” said Rich Balouskus of Inspire Environmental who is conducting a cod spawning study at Cox Ledge (20 miles southeast of Pt. Judith). “We had to keep moving as part of our study but had near limits. We could see anglers on the other vessels all landing multiple cod.”

Party boats (inspected vessels that take more than six anglers, often 50 to 75 anglers) out of Rhode Island fishing for cod this winter include: the Seven B’s at, the Frances Fleet at and Island Current III at

Charter boats (six or fewer anglers) fishing for cod this winter include: Big Game Sport Fishing Characters, Captains Brian and Peter Bacon,; Booked Off Charters, Captains Tony Guarino and Wade Baker,; Drifter Charters and Capt. Richard Chatowsky,

Courtesy of The Sun Chronicle by Captain Dave Monti

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