December 2021
Skinny Water Charters Newsletter
Ryan James Hohl
Good day my friend, it's been a while since I cranked out a newsletter- and I apologize. I guess I was too busy fishing this past season, then the holidays hit, and finally the motivation just this week kicked back in and here I am sitting behind my laptop, donning a Covid mask that impairs my respiration and fogs my glasses, in a very uncomfortable chair in the Newport, RI Public Library where the internet speed is lightning fast, making the process of uploading photos, videos and text much faster than at the house. This Covid plague is terrible isn't it?, so many people are sick, and personally between being triple vaccinated in addition to a Flu vax and two Shingles vaxes... my arms feel like pin cushions.

A piece of great news to share, I am now a second time grandfather! My lovely daughter Kelley and her husband Erik, welcomed to their family, Ryan James Hohl, born on December 2 in the Great State of Texas. Ryan has joined up with his very proud brother Conor Nolan (3 1/2 years) in keeping mom and dad very busy... what a great family!

As for moi, health is pretty good, a few minor speed bumps but not enough for me to toss in the towel just yet. 2022 will be my fourteenth season running Skinny Water Charters. As long as my health maintains and my interest in guiding continues I'm good for a few more years, god willing.

So I hope there's some news in what follows that will be of interest to you. By this time in writing this testimony to poor journalism, I have no doubt misspelled some words and tripped over poor syntax, however it is what it is- I'm done, and on my way back to the house for a beer.

My Best to you, your family and your friends- and Happy New Year.
I hope to see you in 2022.
Conor Nolan Hohl
2021 Cinder Worm Planning for 2022

Spring 2021 cinder worm spawn angling started for me on May 12 with my charter guests Kenny and Liz Mendez of Tiverton, RI. Predictably the emergence was on the light side beginning in the mid- afternoon and building as the afternoon and evening progressed.

Typically the emergence begins in earnest about May 8 and my late April and very early May scouting missions revealed cold water (50 F) and very thin worm emergences. The weather was cooler than normal in early spring and with cold rain and little direct sunlight, waters were slow to warm to trigger the worm emergence. Consequently, I jumped on an opportunity to float the Farmington River in Connecticut for a couple of days with a friend to nymph and streamer fish for trout. 

By mid-May, the waters in the salt ponds warmed to the magic temperature (55F), more migrating bass had entered the ponds through the breachways and it was “game on” for what was good and sustained topwater fishing for stripers for the balance of May and first half of June. This year's worm spawn angling brought some new guests my way who had heard about this phenomenon (aquatic worms emerging from the bottom with topwater bass slurping them- using floating fly lines, casting at close distances with home made cinder worm fly patterns), and were quick to reserve the best dates.
David Kearford
Zak Lehmann 
David Kearford and Zak Lehmann of New York City had a spectacular afternoon/evening.

Typically I meet my guests at the marina at 3:30pm, and following an overview "chalk talk" of what to expect, that includes the rise forms to watch for, where to target those rise forms, instruction on retrieving techniques, and rigging the fly rods, I begin the short ride to the normally productive waters beginning about 4:30 to recon the various coves for circling birds and other early signs of an emergence. On this afternoon with David and Zac and several other days in May, the emergence was fully in-process by the time we arrived at the first cove. Many of these worm emergences with stripers actively feeding on them are very prolific and sustained, and even after many years of fishing the worm spawn, I still marvel at the sight. Many afternoons were so good we didn't leave those initial areas for a couple of hours. Once the activity begins to slow however, we’re off to another nearby spot.
For additional information regarding fishing the cinder worm spawn in Rhode Island, with the link below~ connect to a 23 minute video produced by Colin McKeown of The New Fly Fisher and Tom Rosenbauer of The Orvis Company.

Ask Harry Fisher about catching large stripers in coastal salt ponds during the cinder worm spawn.
Generally speaking for anyone interested in fishing the cinder worm emergence with me, and reserving the better dates, it’s best to contact me before the end of January. I can book your reservation and not take a deposit from you until February. These trips are run out of Ninigret Landing Marina on Ninigret Pond in Charlestown, RI. The cost of the trip is $450 and included in the charter are the rods (fly and light tackle) fly patterns, soft drinks and snacks. We fish in very protected waters (no wind- no waves), and all of our fishing takes place within a ten minute run from the marina. The fishing is all “top water” sight fishing with rising bass oftentimes within an easy 30 foot cast.

As a side note, for most outings I am in cell phone and VHF radio contact with another guide who is fishing the same water. We stay in constant contact alerting one another to where the fishing is best. This collaborative effort works great for our clients and also allows me to “buddy boat” so if your party is larger than two anglers, we can split you up, each boat taking a maximum of two and permitting us to fish near to one another.

Again, if you are interested in this wonderful shallow and protected water venue, contact me sooner than later to secure your date(s).
Summer/ Fall Fishing in Newport Waters

Dr. Frank Farraye
Drew Scharf
Dave Wingfield/ Jay Nannini
Ryan Meyer/ Will Daley
Jay Nannini
Jim Barr
John Andrasik
Matt Smith
Craig Buckbee
Dave Jacobsen
Adam McNeill
Dan Macom
Ryan Meyer
Hartford Gongaware
The summer months were not as productive as in year’s past. There just aren’t the numbers of striped bass in our lower Narragansett Bay and near-shore Newport ocean waters as in past years. We had some really great days but we had to work hard to find good sustained topwater bass feeds, this typically meant traveling longer distances to find willing fish and staying on the traditional spots longer and where necessary, fishing deeper to find the bass. I like to fish shallow water and near (or on) structure such as cliffs and ledges.

These spots still produced bass but the bite was typically very early 5:30- 6 am and generally the good fishing didn’t hold up as long as in prior years. Paying attention to how water flows around structure is very important when fishing shallow, and studying tide charts and laying a plan for the outing seemed much more critical this season. 

Other factors that are very important in any year during our warm months is attempting to schedule the charter so that we are fishing during good tidal exchanges, especially early in the day before the boat traffic picks up in Newport area waters, and before the bait gets spread out which makes it increasingly difficult to find top water or “near” top water productive opportunities.

These variables combined with a reduction in the fish stock made these summer charters challenging. Like I do with my worm spawn charters in the salt ponds, I collaborate with other fly and light tackle guides who fish Narragansett Bay and Newport area waters and not only do we stay in radio and cell phone contact with one another during the fishing hours to assist where possible, we often are emailing or texting one another before and after our charters sharing our experiences to make the next charter more productive for each of us.

This collaborative process is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a guide, working together to maximize the catching opportunities for our clients.
The “Albie Bite”
To say that Rhode Island saltwater anglers have been spoiled by the great false albacore angling we’ve enjoyed in the autumn months of recent years, would be an understatement. This year, without question, was the most disappointing year for false albacore and bonito fishing I’ve experienced in all the years I have fished for them both as a recreational and professional angler.

In years past I would not accept a charter from an angler who wanted to catch false albacore, until about September 8th. Generally these fish will first hit Martha’s Vineyard waters, then Cape Cod, followed by Buzzards Bay, then the Westport, MA area, and finally showing in waters off Sakonnet Point in Little Compton, RI. Within a few days from their appearance in the Sakonnet River we can pretty much count on seeing them along the south facing shorelines of Sachuest Point, Sachuest Beach, Easton’s Beach, the Cliff Walk frontage, Brenton Reef, Jamestown's south facing coves, Beavertail and further west to Narragansett.

I don’t normally go further west than Beavertail/ Jamestown to find false albacore as there’s generally little need. Again, generally speaking, the Pt. Judith waters to include the East, Center and West Walls near Galilee will get a good slug of Albies, but typically after they first show in Newport area waters.

This year was very different and we don’t know why. Albies showed in all these places except the Newport area waters. Not as exciting as Albies or Bonito, but still a fish that's fun on a fly rod, are the Chubb Mackerel. When I anticipate Mackerel being in our waters I will bring aboard a couple of 6-weight fly rods.

Despite a very disappointing Albie and Bontio bite this fall, the Striped Bass and Bluefish autumn bite was phenomenal, both locally in Newport and particularly strong in the mid and upper Narragansett Bay waters. 2021 was the "Year of the Baby Bunker". We had plenty of bait and it remained in Rhode Island waters into late October.

Hopefully, next fall will restore the historically wonderful fall angling for these little tuna. The silver lining I suppose, is that my false albacore fly boxes remain essentially full reducing the amount of tying in preparation for 2022.
Dr. Frank Farraye
Tom Dembinski
Jay Nannini
Mark Cleveland
Fly Tying- Capt. Bill Murphy's "Loop Fly"

My bad for not recognizing this simple fly pattern earlier, developed by Capt. Bill Murphy. The pattern is about the simplest and most effective fly that imitates the baby menhaden that were so prolific in Rhode Island salt waters this past season.

Bill and I have been friends for many years. I first met him in the early 1990’s. We were both avid recreational fly anglers and fished with many of the same people who at the time were mostly freshwater fly anglers but who were rapidly getting into saltwater fly fishing, and fly tying.

In 1995 with two other friends, I started the United Fly Tyers of Rhode Island, which was a “chapter” if you will, of the parent club, United Fly Tyers Inc. that was started in 1959 in the Boston area. Our chapter was very successful from it’s start growing to over 100 members in it's first two years. Each month the club would meet at a hall in the Providence/Warwick/Cranston area (we moved around a bit before we got it right and could afford the rent on the room). In those early years we paid a prominent fly tyer to come to our meetings, conduct a fly tying demonstration and then provide a slide show (before PowerPoint became the accepted medium) of one of their favorite fishing venues. Prior to each guest presentation we arranged for a number of local guys and gals who were gifted fly tyers, to each staff a table where they would instruct one of their favorite fresh or saltwater fly patterns. Generally each table would seat eight tyers. The club provided the materials and tools for the students for the price of the annual membership, and by providing this learning venue, fly tying and fly fishing really took off in Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts. The early pioneers took turns at running the club, which included a monthly newsletter and later a website.

Anyway, back to Capt. Bill Murphy.
Bill was a very gifted fly tyer and tied at many of our meetings, and if memory serves me well, his specialty was tying saltwater patterns. In time, Bill purchased a company that manufactured a variety of fly tying materials that became what it is today, E-Z Body Products. According to Bill’s website, his company is the largest producer of woven tubing and flat woven mylar braids designed specifically for fly tying applications, worldwide.

Bill developed a pattern he calls The Loop Fly. It’s a simple pattern, aside from the hook and prismatic or domed eyes, uses only one material, Bill’s Body Braid. I’m not sure how long ago Bill developed this pattern, but my first exposure to it was in a recent article that appeared in the October 2021 issue of On the Water magazine (The Loop Fly: A Pattern for Stripers and Albies - On The Water)

When I saw the writeup and photo of this pattern it immediately hit me that this was, by far, the best and easiest fly to tie to imitate our Baby or Peanut Bunker (Menhaden) baitfish, the predominant baitfish (along with the Bay Anchovy) we see in our local fall fishery. I immediately dug into my ridiculously large inventory of fly tying materials and found some original Bill’s Body Braid that I bought years before Bill owned the company. Using the instructions in the article and finding a YouTube video on how to tie it, I whipped-up a handful of these patterns on different hook sizes and immediately started fishing them this fall, and they worked like a charm.

For the Stripers and Bluefish (there were no Albies locally as previously noted), the pattern would no sooner splash-down and the fish would be all over it. In short order my meager inventory of Bill’s Loop Fly was reduced by the Bluefish cutting the leader, until I woke up and started using a short trace of 20 lb wire. It was back to the vise to replenish the stock and give away a few more to friends.

Subsequently I found a few other YouTube videos produced by Peter Jenkin’s at “The Saltwater Edge” and noted that Capt. Bill did these videos back in January of 2010! Where have I been!

Again….. My bad for not recognizing and promoting this simple fly pattern earlier, it’s a killer. I'll make sure it's on the agenda for 2022 winter tying.

Thanks Capt. Bill !
Fly Casting/ Line Matching Workshop
I'm in process of organizing a fly casting event in Newport for spring of 2022. It is only in the conceptual stage at this point. Essentially it would be a free workshop designed to help fly casters in two very specific areas: 

1. Determine if they have the optimum combination of their fly rod and fly lines. (This would be for saltwater applications only.)

2. Teach from the beginning, both the Single and Double-Haul casts for those who currently don't have these casts in their "inventory", as well as assisting those casters who have some proficiency with the single and double-haul but who need to improve it significantly in order to use it consistently and more effectively.

This workshop is for the advanced beginner and intermediate fly caster, this is NOT a standard fly casting lesson, it is specifically for the single and double haul techniques.

** Attendance will be limited to 10-15 students, and will be further announced in future newsletters and my Fly Fishing in Rhode Island Facebook and Skinny Water Charters RI Instagram pages.

1. I give a fair number of fly casting lessons throughout the year. A consistent observation is that for students bringing their own equipment (that I encourage), more often than not, their lines are not matched correctly (or optimally) with their fly rods, which severely holds them back from becoming better casters and thus, better fly anglers.

2. The students who fish primarily in saltwater, most (a.) cannot distance cast, (b.) have a lot of trouble casting into pretty much any headwind or winds coming from the side, and (c.) do not know how to increase line speed to power through wind.

Someone depending on learning these casts can only gain so much knowledge of the techniques involved by watching YouTube videos, and learning virtually through their television, computer and iPad. These casts are not difficult to learn but the student flattens the learning curve significantly with hands-on learning from an instructor who provides real-time concepts, demonstration, technique correction, fine tips and pointers, and coaching. Additionally, once the student has their rod paired with the correct fly line, the learning process accelerates dramatically.

The matching of the fly line to the fly rod "puzzle" is similar to someone who uses a wiffle ball vs. a baseball in throwing to a target. Think of the ball as a fly line and the arm as a fly rod. At a thirty foot distance most anyone with any degree of athleticism can hit or come very close to a target with a wiffle ball. If we move the target to 40 or 50 feet, you have to be very skilled, or lucky to hit the target, you need greater arm strength and there cannot be any wind that will push the ball off the correct trajectory and impede the distance it will travel.

Some of the same concepts hold true in fly casting whether it's to a Hula Hoop in the park or to a fish. The greater the distance to the target and the more air resistance involved, the caster may benefit from a heavier fly line as well as an increase in line speed. The most effective techniques to increase line speed are employing the single and double-haul.

When freshwater fly fishing, typically the angler is more concerned with accuracy and less so with distance. This is arguable, I understand. Likewise in saltwater fly fishing there are certainly accuracy considerations where the angler may have to put the fly near the cruising bonefish, permit, tarpon or even false albacore, but speaking from the standpoint of a saltwater fly fishing guide in the northeast ....where in finance "cash is king", in saltwater fly fishing, "distance is king", particularly if you are casting from shore, less so if from a boat as the skipper can many times reposition the boat closer to the target.

Stay tuned for additional information as the workshop begins to take shape. I will be collaborating with The Saltwater Edge in Newport for this event. I am also arranging for an additional 2-3 expert fly casters to help me run this workshop. I am targeting late April, in Newport, RI.
Private Fly Casting Lessons
Jim Barr- Lochsa River, Idaho
Matt Burns
Prepare this early spring for the season ahead

It only stands to reason, that if you can REACH more fish, you can CATCH more fish. One might argue that this may not be the case when fishing in freshwater for trout or bass or northern pike, however when fly fishing in saltwater- the elements of distance, speed and accuracy of your casts will have a direct bearing on your catch rate. As a Fly Fishers International (FFI) Certified Fly Casting Instructor I can in short order significantly improve your fly casting abilities, enabling you to be more successful whether you are casting from shore or from a boat, in saltwater or fresh. 

I will conduct these lessons in Morton Park in Newport, RI. I also use top quality Sage, Temple Fork Outfitters, Edge, Lamson, Redington, and Orvis equipment (and yours if you would like). I may also relocate to a shallow body of water in order that you can experience the "loading" effect that water will have on your flyrod, and your casting techniques. I will show you casting techniques for fresh and saltwater. Lessons (and learning) are best if they are spread out over a couple of 2-hour sessions for the beginning caster. If you are more advanced, typically many casting faults can be cured in one 2-hour lesson.

FFI is the only organization with a certified fly casting instruction program. The Casting Instructor Certification Program began in 1992 for the purpose of enhancing the overall level of instruction in fly casting, including instructor knowledge, casting proficiency, and teaching ability. FFI certified instructors are nationally recognized as highly competent instructors.

In 2009 I attended the LLBean FFI Casting Instructor Preparation Workshop in Freeport, ME and had the pleasure of being instructed by Rod McGarry and Macauley Lord, both FFI Master Fly Casting Instructors. Rod and Macauley are both recognized world-wide as being the best of the best in flycasting instruction. Following that workshop I studied under Rod McGarry to prepare for my Certified Casting Instructor written and practical exam.

In January of 2010 I was examined by Dr. Gordon (Gordy) Hill, also a Master Fly Casting Instructor and at the time, part of the FFI's Casting Board of Governors. 

Beginner Lessons will cover:
  • Rod, Reel, Line review & assembly
  • Pick Up and Laydown cast
  • Overhead cast
  • False Casting
  • Static Roll cast 
  • Loop control
  • Shooting line
  • Slipping line

Intermediate/ Advanced Lessons will cover the following casts:
  • Saltwater Quick
  • Single Haul
  • Double Haul
  • Off Shoulder
  • Dynamic Roll
  • Single Water Haul
  • Double Water Haul
  • Long-line Pickup
  • Casting with the Wind at your Back
  • Casting into the Wind
  • Belgian
  • Change of Direction
  • Extra High cast/ Wide loop and high trajectory
  • Barnegat Bay
  • Dapping

$70 per hour (minimum 2 hours) for up to 2 students
Group rates available
Location- Newport, RI
"Strip Strike" Upgrade- Minn Kota Terrova
This fall I upgraded my bow mounted trolling motor to Minn Kota's newest model, the Terrova, 112 lb thrust, 60" shaft, 36-volt motor with GPS technology. This is a wireless system that delivers speed, steering, Spot-Lock, and the ability to record and retrace paths on the water. GPS steering control allows the ability to stay on any heading I choose automatically correcting for wind, waves and current.

The new motor has already paid for itself this fall when one of my fly guests lost track of his fly line that became entangled in the prop of the main engine. We were very close to underwater and surface ledges. As I kept the engine in neutral to avoid cutting the fly line, I was able to quickly deploy the trolling motor and steer us away from the ledges, saving the fly line and the boat from damage.

Fly Fishing Quote
"If fishing is a religion, fly fishing is high church"

Tom Brokaw

Recipient of the 2015 Heritage Award from The American Museum of Fly Fishing

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.
Capt. Jim Barr
Skinny Water Charters