December 2020
Skinny Water Charters Newsletter
Alden!
Greetings!
So first off I hope you, your family and friends are well and have not been affected by the virus. WHEN are we going to get a break, better yet- when is this horrible pandemic going to be over?

As is typically the case this is my first newsletter since August, because in the months of September and October I get so busy with charters the last thing I have time to do is sit in front of a computer screen and write. Then when November hits it's time to ready the boats for the winter months and stow all the fishing gear until April.

I find that writing the newsletter is best done at the public library where there are no distractions and where the WiFi connection is super fast, so less time is spent waiting for the copy to upload into the software. I am masked as you can see from the photo, and my Christmas tree is now up (that was easy!)

Also, sorry for the bloody mouth on the False Albacore... I can assure you that fish was released in great shape and I hope to see it's cousins return next September.

Hopefully there are some subjects in this newsletter that are of interest to you as we prepare for the holiday season.

Please take particular note off my article pertaining to next spring's cinder worm emergence fishing... the plan is for two boats to be involved in order to provide my clients with additional options for this fishery. It's not too early to reserve your date or dates that run from about May 8 to about June 10.

My Best,
Jim
"Funny Fish" Arrived On Schedule
Every year I predict the arrival of the Green Bonito and the False Albacore, typically I count on about the 8th of September for the Albies and a week or two earlier for the Bonito. Bonito this year were a disappointment (at least for me), however, in their place we had good runs of Chub Mackerel for weeks on-end. Although these fish are not as prized as the Bones, they are nevertheless fun to catch and a great break from catching Stripers and Bluefish. They are on the smallish side but they travel in fairly large schools, and are often seen blowing up on the surface in patches averaging about 100 square feet. On a six weight fly rod or very light conventional tackle they are loads of fun, not necessarily easy to catch even when you get exceptionally close to the action. The mackerel catching continued on into early October however the False Albacore filled in as predicted about the 8th of September.
Roger St Germain, a good friend and very good fly rodder invited me to fish on his boat that first week in September, and we searched high and low off of Newport for the Albies, going as far east as Sakonnet Point in Little Compton and way up into the Sakonnet River. We found stripers in those areas but the Albies were no where to be found. Roger was in touch with his brothers who were fishing a couple of miles south of the Brenton Reef off of Newport (about a 30 minute run) and they were solidly into the Albies. Roger put the hammer down and off we screamed for Seal Ledge. In short order we found his brothers together with busting Albies and we had a blast catching good numbers of these fish on both light tackle and the fly. These pods contained 10 to 11 pound Albies, what a treat... and you know we just had to have a beer to celebrate!

Albie fishing this fall was good (it's always good even when the catch-rate is a bit off), but to be honest it marked the second consecutive year of disappointment, from what we experienced in prior years. I think we got spoiled in the 2015-2018 years when we were blessed with weeks on-end of spectacular funny fish action. The 2019 year ushered in slower Albie fishing and 2020 was almost a mirror of 2019, however the silver lining was the average size of the fish was considerably bigger than the last five years. Lots of 8-10 pound funny fish which on very light tackle and 8 and 9 weight fly rods, gets you tired, very quickly.

I had a number of new clients this year who had never caught Albies, so it was a real treat for me to get these folks into these fish.

The waters on Newport's Brenton Reef, and Jamestown's south facing cliffs and the Beavertail peninsula, offered some wonderful Albie fishing, some of it really close to the cliffs and ledge structure... which is my forte. The pods of fish were faster than normal and typically did not stay up very long, requiring my clients to be extraordinarily quick to cast with good accuracy to be successful.

Albie time is crazy time. I burn a lot of fuel, we race around a lot, we bump into one another on the boat as these fish fight from all different angles.
There is nothing relaxing about it, it's combat fishing for sure!
Spring 2021 Cinder Worm Emergence
I am now taking charter reservations for next spring's cinder worm emergence which kicks off my 2021 fishing season. Historically I have concentrated my worm hatch charter fishing in Ninigret Pond in Charlestown, RI using my Mako 2201 Inshore Bay Boat.

Next spring my plan is to expand my territory to include Potter Pond which is located in South Kingstown, just two towns east of Charlestown where Ninigret is located. Potter is a much smaller pond than Ninigret and gaining access to it is a bit tricky requiring passage below a very low bridge and through a very narrow and shallow channel. The clearance under the bridge is such that I cannot pass beneath it in the Mako, during any tide stage, as the center console is too high. Consequently I use my Lund 16 SSV to fish Potter. This requires launching at the nearest ramp which is in Galilee (Narragansett,RI), crossing Pt. Judith Pond and entering the narrow passageway into Potter. I've done it many times in years past but the exit from the pond at the end of the night is a bit unsettling particularly when fighting a flooding tide. After running the narrow gauntlet you then must transit Pt. Judith pond in the dark. No big deal as we navigate using the chartplotter, but everything at night on the water can be a bit creepy, particularly in a small boat. However, the hassle is most often worth it as the worm hatch fishing in Potter is typically nothing short of spectacular.

This year I have decided to attempt finding a private dock inside Potter Pond or at one of the nearby marinas just outside the entrance where I can keep the Lund allowing much easier access and eliminating lots challenges and logistics.

A little information about the Lund. As I noted earlier, it's 16 feet in length and carries a 25 hp Yamaha 4-stroke engine. It is also equipped with a 55 lb thrust Minn Kota trolling motor that I can mount anywhere on the boat. If I have two anglers in the boat I typically position myself in the middle seat with the trolling motor mounted amidships. If I have only one angler I will mount the trolling motor on the transom and the angler will take the bow casting deck. The boat also has two popup/swivel seats making it very comfortable for anglers, together with a pin anchor to fix the boat into position without having to drop a noisy anchor and chain. The floor plan allows plenty of sit down/stand up room for two anglers. These features permit a very stealthy approach to the stripers when they are feeding on the cinder worms.

As for the annual cinder worm emergence in general, this takes place in a number of Rhode Island's salt ponds and in certain coves in Narragansett Bay. I expect the stripers to be rising to cinder worms in these shallow estuaries and coves starting the second week in May and running to about mid-June. We fish the worm hatch using 7 to 9 weight fly rods with floating lines and using a variety of fly patterns mimicking the natural. We also use light spinning tackle.

Typically I completely book this period so if you are interested in fishing with me in either Ninigret or Potter, I would recommend you contact me in the near-term as the best dates are generally booked by then end of January.
(VIDEO LINK)

The photo to the left was taken inside Potter Pond in the Lund, and I'm holding an average size striper taken during the worm hatch. Click on the photo which is linked to a short You Tube video I took inside Potter during a heavier than normal worm emergence.
(VIDEO LINK)

The photo to the left is also linked to a short You Tube video I took inside Potter Pond. You can see not only the intimacy of this water but you can see the competing angler pressure (there is none). Rarely is the pond busy with other anglers and boat traffic, nor is it windy or wavy, and on many evenings the fishing is this good.

The fly patterns to the left are my creation. I call them the Komodo Cinder Worm, the reference to Komodo is to the material called Mangum's Dragon Tails. This is an exceptionally productive fly pattern for the worm hatch.
Steve Key, Ted Key, Shirley Booth and "Hazel"
One of my very best friends is Steve Key. I met Steve many years ago when we both worked for Textron in their corporate headquarters in Providence, RI. Steve was the Chief Financial Officer of the corporation and I was a Director in the Risk Management and Insurance Department.

My first personal introduction to Steve was at a wedding of a mutual friend. We were sitting adjacent one another at the reception dinner and through general conversation discovered that we had a mutual interest, fly fishing. That chance encounter was the start of what has become a long and wonderful friendship. Steve and I fish together quite a lot, both in Rhode Island- primarily in the saltwater, but we also make the journey north to Maine most years where we fish for smallmouth bass and landlocked salmon, mostly at Wheaton's Lodge.

Like many of us, we were both introduced to fishing by our fathers. They were both bait fisherman and perhaps only thought about fly fishing when they read articles in Sports Afield or other field sport magazines.

Steve had this to say about his father's passion for the sport...

"My father loved fishing. He and my uncle started surf casting for Striped Bass off of Long Island. He never caught one. He would take me fishing there with bobbers for Black Sea bass, and I, at the age of 5, caught more fish than he did. He took me to Square Lake in Maine a bunch of times. His fly fishing consisted of trolling with down riggers. He loved the sport...but it did not take naturally to him. I think I told you that he used to charter boats to fish off the Jersey Shore. One time we were out and we probably caught 200 blue fish. He insisted on keeping all of them and the mates cleaned them and we drove them back to PA...where they were eaten infrequently cuz nobody really liked Blue Fish and they decorated our basement freezer....which happened to be adjacent to my Gilbert Chemistry set up. Well, one day, I concocted something that I thought needed freezing and opened the freezer to find almost all of the blue fish school gone. I asked my Mother about it. Her remark to me was a classic "Isn't my garden beautiful this year?"

PS from Steve...

"My father was a very good artist, writer, and third baseman.... but he was a naturally bad fisherman"

Steve's father's bio is very interesting. The following excerpt is from Wikipedia about Ted Key. The photo to the left is of Ted Key and his friend Shirley Booth (who played "Hazel" in the TV show by the same name) reviewing cartoons that Ted drew of that famous cartoon character. That's right, Ted Key invented Hazel, a character many of us "older folks" recall very clearly as we anxiously read the Hazel panels in the newspaper comic section as we were growing up.

"Born in Fresno, California, Key was the son of Latvian immigrant Simon Keyser, who had changed his name from Katseff to Keyser, and then to "Key" during World War I.[1] Though his family thereafter went by Key, Theodore Keyser did not legally adopt the name until the 1950s.[1] Attending the University of California, Berkeley, Key became the art editor of the student newspaper, The Daily Californian, and was associate editor of the campus humor magazine, the California Pelican[2] and was a member of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity.[3] After graduating from college in 1933, Key relocated to New York City, where he published cartoons and illustrations in a number of periodicals, including Better Homes and GardensCollier'sThe New YorkerLadies' Home JournalGood HousekeepingMcCall's
MademoiselleLook and Judge. Key also worked as associate editor of Judge in 1937."

In 1977, Ted Key received the National Cartoonists Society Newspaper Panel Award for his work on Hazel


More about Ted Key in this linked Wikipedia encyclopedia.

Early this year Steve gifted me two of his father's draft cartoons or what's known in the industry as "roughs", single panel fly fishing themed cartoons that Steve had framed and that are now displayed in our house. One features Hazel imparting some fly casting wisdom to a young and eager student, the caption reading "Now Holding the Rod So", the other is from the "Sales Bullets" collection designed to inspire and motivate salesmen- that caption reads: "Knowledge inspires confidence, once you've convinced your prospects that you know what you are talking about, they will be far more interested in doing business with you."

Along with the cartoons Steve compiled a short background on the cartoon "business" and the role that "roughs" play in the process of publishing the final artwork. This background information may require the reader to expand the photos in order to read them.
I hope you will also find this information interesting.

What wonderful gifts from a wonderful friend. Thanks Steve and tight lines mi amigo!
Edge Rods- Pro Guide Program
This summer I joined the Edge Rod Pro Guide Program . If you're not familiar with Edge rods (Edgerods.com), you should be. I purchased their Gamma Beta fly rods in a 7 and 9 weight. These are from their Fast Action series. From their website, a description....

"Edge is a new type of business. Most companies cut costs on materials or labor to hit price points set by retail buyers on store shelves, most of these products are marked up by fifty or even one hundred percent. Edge is different. We sell directly to the consumer so we can eliminate retail markups. By owning our factory, and not having any middlemen we can make products with no compromise in quality. We can build better gear for a better price. We are relentless in our pursuit for new and innovative materials. Our connection to our founder Gary Loomis allows us to utilize time tested, but ever improving manufacturing processes. In our never ending quest to manufacture lighter and stronger fishing gear we study new materials we find against our mantra “weight is a deterrent to performance.” When we think we are close to the perfect design we test our gear together with our pro staff in the best and in the worst conditions. We do all this because we want to make nothing less than the best fishing gear in the world. No limits, no compromises."

Further detail:

"Windows are literally “cut out” from the weight of the machined, anodized aluminum reel seat, creating a lightweight, sleek, durable and double-locking piece of finery. EFX Carbon-fiber fighting butt adds comfort and an additional leverage point to wrangle hard-fighting fish."

Of interest, when ordering Edge rods, they typically custom-build each rod for the purchaser, rarely do they take them from inventory, so the wait time is generally about 4-5 weeks, but the wait is very much worth it. I have not fished the Edge Gamma Beta 7 weight as yet, however I put the 9 weight to the test this fall when my friend Rick Wood invited me to chase stripers and false albacore off of Rhode Island's southwest coastline.

I like fast fly rods and with the Cheeky Fishing Limitless 425 reel (Limitless Fly Reels – Cheeky Fishing) paired with a Rio Outbound Short intermediate fly line, this rod performed way beyond my highest expectations. It is lightweight, looks stealthy with the unsanded blank and carbon-fiber grip and fighting butt, casts the Rio line beautifully and with very low dampening of the rod. I particularly like the carbon fiber grip. It does not slip when wet or slimy like the traditional cork grip. This rod really put the heat on these strong fish bringing them to hand very quickly.

As for the 7 weight I look forward to using it during next spring's cinder worm hatch and smallmouth bass fishing up north. I will pair that rod with the Cheeky Fishing Launch 400 Fly Reel – Cheeky Fishing,loaded with a new fly line from Sun Ray, their Pro Line Float Floating Fly Line - Sunray Proline Floating Fly Line (sunrayflyfish.com). I will report back in a later newsletter how that combination works out, hopefully with some pictures as well!

If you have not heard of SunRay, do yourself a favor and visit their website and Instagram page Sunray (@sunrayflyfish) • Instagram photos and videos.
More about Edge's Gamma Beta Performance Features:
  • We hand-sand our USA made, NFC, naked-graphite blanks to avoid sanding into the fiber, damaging it and creating a weak spot. Unable to hide blemishes, our sexy, smooth, smokey-grey blanks are on average 20% lighter than their coated counterparts.
  • Made in USA, Mike McCoy Snake Guides are light and low profile. The small concave foot minimizes epoxy needed and requires less thread in the wrapping process, thus reducing weight and optimizing the taper design. Proprietary E-coating allows the line to slip through with ease.
  • Titanium Stripping guides are lightweight, durable, corrosion resistant (saltwater) and large enough to allow the line, joints and knots to shoot through. The rounded out foot sits flatter on the graphite, reducing stress that overtime, can create weak spots.
  • Our EFX custom braided carbon-fiber grips save weight, add “feel,” transmission, performance, longevity, and clean up like new. Gamma Alpha Moderate action rods feature a half-wells grip, while Gamma Beta Fast action rods are equipped with full-wells.

This is one very hot fly rod!
A Great New Read
"Dumb Luck and the Kindness of Strangers"
One of my all time favorite fly fishing authors is John Gierach. John resides in Lyons, Colorado and has published something like twenty books (most of which I own) based on his various fly fishing adventures. His work has appeared in Field & Stream, Gray’s Sporting Journal, and Fly Rod & Reel. He is a regular columnist for Trout Magazine and the Redstone Review. Gierach is the recipient of the US Federation of Fly Fishers Roderick Haig-Brown Award.

I'm a subscriber to The New Fly Fishers YouTube channel. While reviewing their latest uploads of fly fishing videos I noticed that Colin McKeown, producer of The New Fly Fisher, had recently produced a video podcast with John. Of course I had to watch that, and it was there that I learned of John's newest book, "Dumb Luck and the Kindness of Strangers". In short order I bought the book through Amazon...and it's terrific, highly recommended as are all of John's books.

If you're a Gierach fan or even if you're not familiar with him I think you would enjoy reading his new book and as an added bonus, quickly learn more about him by watching Colin's interview (link follows) on The New Fly Fisher's You Tube channel.
Orvis Fly Fishing Podcasts
The Orvis Fly Fishing Learning Center is a great resource for all ages and levels of fly fishing expertise. The site contains information under the following headings: Video Lessons, Fly Tying Videos, Podcasts, Animated Knots and Choosing Equipment.

For me The Fly Fishing Podcasts hosted by Tom Rosenbauer are the best portion of the Learning Center. Each podcast begins with a section called "The Fly Box" which contains questions that listeners email or phone-in on a variety of questions and sometimes tips they offer that pertain to all things under the sun that relate to fly fishing. The second portion of the podcast features a guest that Tom has invited to be interviewed. The subject matter covers a very wide spectrum of topics, for example: Species of fish- Steelhead, Trout, Bass, Pike, Carp, and various saltwater species. Also included in the Learning Center are angling Techniques, Equipment, and Conservation.

The podcast page also includes a search capability to make it very easy to find podcasts on a wide array of topics.

I had the opportunity to participate in one of Tom's earliest podcasts, our subject being, "The Effects of the Moon and Barometric Pressure on Fishing"

If you haven't visited the Orvis Fly Fishing Learning Center, I would suggest you do. We have a stretch of cold, dark days ahead and with the social constraints of Covid-19 keeping us closer to home, this resource can make those days more enjoyable and even make you a better fly angler.
Fly Fishing Quote
" But if the salmon and trout must be classified as elite in this mythical social structure then let the black bass be given permanent status as the working class of American gamefish. He's tough and he knows it... He's a bass sax grumbling get-down blues in the bayou. He's a factory worker, truck driver, wild catter, lumberjack, barroom bouncer, dock walloper, migrant farmhand, and bear wrassler. And if it's a fight you're looking for, he'll oblige anytime, anywhere. Whether it's a backwater at noon, a swamp at midnight, or dockside at dawn, he'll be there waiting. He's a fierce-eyed, foul mouthed, tobacco-chewing redneck who has traveled to every corner of the nation, paying his way and giving no quarter."

Pat Smith
"Old Iron Jaw"
Lamar Underwood's Bass Almanac (1979)
I hope this newsletter was fun and perhaps contained information of interest to you, and again I welcome input for future topics you may be interested in knowing more about.

Sorry for any misspelled words and lousy sentence structure. I try!

Newsletters are produced whenever I can find the time. An archive of prior issues can be found on my website.
 
My best, and I hope to see you on the water.
 
Jim
 
Capt. Jim Barr
Skinny Water Charters