The Block Island Times

It's the big tourney this weekend; watch out for spear divers

Jul 23, 2011
Photo by: Bill Gould Parents Anthony and Marianne Pettagora with Daniel, who caught a big bass, and Tom, who caught a big bluefish, aboard the G Willi Makit this week.

This weekend kicks off the seventh annual Block Island Volunteer Fire Department's fishing tournament.

The species targeted are striped bass, bluefish and fluke. There are both beach and boat divisions, and fish can be caught using either artificial or bait. The fishing starts at 6 p.m., Friday, July 22, and ends at noon on Sunday, July 24. Registration is $40 for adults and $20 for juniors (under 16). With registration, you will get a tourney T-shirt and admission to the award banquet starting at 2 p.m. at the Block Island Fire Barn, featuring burgers and dogs and the rest of the fixings. Prizes will be handed out to the heaviest fish for each species for the juniors and adults as well as boat and beach divisions.  A trifecta prize will go to the angler with the largest combined weight of all three species. Every year, local businesses donate plenty of great prizes, and the cookout is always a great time.

Again this year, the two-time striped bass state record breaker will be on hand with some great sports memorabilia that will be offered in a silent auction format. Last year there were some great New England and New York autographed photos that went at a very fair price. This tournament raises money for an important cause, so come out and show your support. Yours or a loved one’s life may depend on it.

Water temperatures still hanging in the low 70s made the bass fishing a bit challenging at times this week. Still anglers that fished a whole tide did quite well using both bait and artificial. Just about all around the island has been loaded with bluefish. Often the fish have been blitzing hard on the surface with smaller bass and even bonito mixed in.  Spooks and Al Lemire's top water plugs have been very effective with some violent and crushing bites. Dawn and dusk have been when the action has been best, and as usual, the diving birds will help you mark the spot.

Sawyer from Twin Maples Bait and Tackle reports that there has been some later night bass action at the cut. He says keeper-sized bass have been moving through the channel between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. He recommends using sluggos and other sand eel imitations. He says there have also been scup as well as smaller fluke during the daytime hours.

Eric from Insider says the eel bite has been good on the east and southeast corner of the island. Fish in the 20- and 30-pound class have been eating on both incoming and outgoing tides just as long as there is a decent amount of water moving. If you are marking fish and they won’t take your eel, try using a lighter leader and a smaller eel.  Warm and clear water are not a good combo; make sure to use a fluorocarbon leader.

One thing I want to mention: When you are on the water, make sure you and your crew keep a sharp eye out for free divers. Block island is known for being one of the top spots for this in the Northeast because of its clear water and rich striper grounds. It is a growing sport, and the number of guys out seems to be growing fast. A lot of them are diving in 30 and 40 feet and further off the shore than you might expect.

The majority of these divers hunt ethically and are smart enough to take the precaution of using a dive flag, which is also the law. You are required to stay 50 feet from the flag — which also means they are not supposed to dive within 50 feet of your boat, jump in the water and dive next to you. Like any type of group, there always a few bad apples in the bag. There have been a growing number of instances where some of these guys have used some very bad judgment by not using flags and diving to close to boats that were in the area first. Also make note that state regulation clearly states that diving areas must not be chosen in a location that will prevent safe navigation. Right or wrong, you still need to be aware that these divers are out there, and keep a good lookout for their flags and the divers themselves.

Be safe out there and please register for the tournament — I promise you won’t regret it!

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