So, leave me a comment with where, or what, you want to hear about...
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
So, leave me a comment with where, or what, you want to hear about...
A quick post purely for technical reasons - the kind folks over at technorati gave me a code to verify that this is really my blog. So, technorati, here's my 'double top secret code'...
Coming soon: An in-depth look at Point Judith Salt Pond in Rhode Island, known to the locals simply as 'salt pond'...
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
- You have a strong affinity for the delicious taste of red, claw-wielding salt-water crustaceans.
- You do the majority of your boating in salt water, in the same general area
- If it were up to you, you would eat lobster at every opportunity
- You don't mind a little hard work, and dealing with a little bit of mess
- You have a couple hundred bucks on-hand to cover the start up costs
Step 1: Obtain a recreational lobster permit.
Regulations vary by state. Here's a quick rundown for New England:
Connecticut: $120 for a personal use lobster license. Licenses expire on Dec 31st of each year. License holders are allowed 10 pots. Application forms can be found here: Connecticut personal use lobster license . (note: scroll about halfway down the page after it opens)
Massachusetts: $40 for residents, $60 for non-residents. A bargain compared with the constitution state! Find the state's easy-to digest guide and applications here: Massachusetts Recreational Lobster Permit . 10 pot limit. 15 lobster-per-day limit (mmmm - yummy!).
Rhode Island: $40 for residents. 5 Pot limit. Additional info from Rhode Island's DEM here: Rhode Island DEM Licensing information .
New Hampshire: OK, Granite state residents. I didn't leave you out, even though you have all of, like 18 miles of coastline. Or something like that. $35, residents only, 5 pot limit. See here for more info: New Hampshire Lobster Mail-in Application
Maine: Bright center of the lobster universe. $65.00 Fee. 10 Pot limit (per boat they are assigned to). And, you need to pass a written test - you submit your answer sheet with your application form. More info found here: Maine Personal Use Lobster Application
Step 2: Obtain Pots, lines, and bouys.
I am going to post some options for you in the Family Boating General Store (link in the right-hand side of the page). That said, if you are new to this, and are worried about money, your best bet would be to start with used equipment. That way, if you lose pots early in your endeavour (and, you will occasionally lose a pot), you won't agonize over the money you spent. Look online on eBay, Craigslist, or your favorite classifieds site when you are ready to take the plunge.
One important tip - when you are deciding how much line to use with each pot, take into account where you are going to drop your pots, and, specifically, what the maximum range of the tides are during the year. If you don't go with enough rope (a fairly common 'rookie' mistake), you will go out looking for your pots during a spring tide and won't find them, as the buoys will all be submerged by the unusually high waters.
Oh, and one more thing - make sure the pots you drop conform with the regs for your state. They are essentially all the same - escape vents, etc. Most of the links above will walk you through the relevant requirements.
Step 3: Drop your pots.
Consult your NOAA-approved charts for your area. Pick locations with rocky bottoms. As you drive through the areas you've identified, look for other pots - usually a good sign that delicious crustaceans are close at hand. Be warned - don't drop your pots TOO close to another lobsterman's pots - especially a commercial lobsterman. You'll be messing with their livelihood - and as such, you are likely to find those pots 'oddly missing' the next time you head out to check on your catch.
Ask folks in local bait shops what they would recommend for bait in your area. Often times, they'll make you a deal on older, left-over frozen whiting or other bait that might not work for Stripers, but would be a feast for lobsters.
Also - If you have a GPS, set a waypoint at each Pot drop point. In the event of a spring tide, you still will have a good chance to find all your stuff....
Step 4: Reap the benefits of your hard work and preparation. Be sure to follow regulations on carapace length, egg-bearing females, etc. Fines can run high. But if you stay inside the lines, you could be pulling in 15 to 30 keepers a week! Even for CT's high permit fee, the ultimate per-pound cost for a season of lobsters falls to pennies. Learn how to make Lobster Newburg. Bake lobster cakes. Lobster Bisque. Lobster Rolls. The possibilities are endless.
This is a lot of fun to do with the kids. On a given outing, you can check all your pots in an hour, and then spend the rest of the day tubing, fishing, or just 'vegging out'. For just a couple hundred bucks, you can add a whole new dimension of fun to your weekend outings.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
- If you don't have one already, I highly recommend picking up one of the giant towables. We personally have the Aquaglide Lanai. It's a bit unwieldy to deal with because of it's size, especially when first blowing it up. However, once you put three or four teenagers out on it, and you watch them all stand up while holding the bridle rope, you'll realize how incredibly strong this thing is.
- We also bought the Cooler accessory pack that goes with the Lanai. It doubles as a back rest. For several of our trips, especially river trips, the kids spend the trip out and back riding comfortably on the Lanai, grabbing sodas from the on-board cooler, laying back, and getting a tan
- If you have small kids (3 -7 years) and want to teach them to ski, you can pick up on of the many ski trainers available through watersports companies. With the trainer, the skis are attached to a rope that an observer on the boat holds onto; the 'towrope' that the child holds onto is really attached to the skis. That way, if the child falls, the observer can drop the true towrope, and the child is never 'pulled over' by the force of the boat. Most trainers provide enough upward force to get your child up and skiing at just above idle speed.
The gift opportunities for fishing are endless.
- If striped bass and bluefish are the sought-after quarry, pick up a handful of diamond jigs - some plain, some with colored rubber tubing attached.
- 80 or 100lb test flourocarbon leaders are also invaluable for stripers - so a 30 or 50 yard spool will always be welcomed by the serious saltwater fisherman.
- Other gift ideas include lead weights - 4 oz and up, and assorted saltwater hooks of all sizes.
All of these gifts are relatively cheap, and are the kinds of things that fisherman tend to lose or burn through over time, and so are in constant need of replenishment.
The list here is simple, so I'll keep it short.
- A clamming rake tops the list here - one with the tines attached to a basket, which screws or snaps onto a handle. We like the collapsible kind - they break down into three pieces.
- A floating net or floating clam bucket is next on the list - they come with rope that you clip onto your bathing suit or wrist, so that they float along behind you as you hunt.
- Clamming Gauges complete the list - the particular gauge you will need depends on the regulations in effect where you clam, so these would be best purchased at a bait and tackle shop near your favorite clamming spot.
For us, grilling and cooking out is a huge part of the boating experience. Gift Ideas here are almost limitless.
- If you want an easy way to set someone up for a beach-side clambake, pick them up a propane-powered turkey fryer. You can also use the unit to boil water, and therefore use it for a quick and easy clambake, lobster boil, etc.
- Another great idea - though pricey - is a stainless steel Magma grill. While pricey, they are engineered to work well in windy or choppy conditions - and a variety of mounting kits help make sure your grill stays put, even when your boat is rolling around.
- You could also pick up a non-breakable wine kit - complete with non-breakable wine glasses, an opener, stoppers, etc.
If none of these ideas struck your fancy, head on over to one of the major online boating supply websites - we tend to use www.overtons.com and www.westmarine.com . With the thousands of items they sell, you are sure to find that perfect gift for the boating fanatic in your family.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
If you are trailering in, the Baldwin Bridge launch is your best bet. A three-lane launch with ample parking and plenty of dock space, the launch has won a number of awards for accessibility. For aerial shots of the launch, and directions on how to get there, follow this link:
For fishing, try 'Between the Bridges', a well-known spot between the Baldwin Bridge and the Railroad bridge just to the south. Many a striped-bass addict caught their first schoolie here on a topwater plug. For largemouth, head upriver and try out Goose island and Nott island. This area is also full of smaller islands and coves that are great to beach up on for lunch or a mid-day break.
As for water sports, this section of the river is full of long, straight runs, with few no-wake zones once you are north of the marinas near the Baldwin bridge. Traffic can be heavy in this area of the river depending on time of day, so kneeboarding, tubing and pair-skis are your best bet most of the time.
Several of the marinas by the bridge have gas docks; for those trailering in, there are also a couple of gas stations between the highway exit and the Baldwin launch. If you do plan on fishing and are trailering in, be sure to stop by Rivers End Tackle (www.riversendtackle.com) on your way to the launch. They will have up-to-date fishing reports, and tons of equipment and live bait.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Gildersleeve is an undeveloped island that splits the Connecticut River in half, for about a quarter mile, in the Portland / Cromwell area. A popular spot with weekend summer boaters, an average Saturday or Sunday during peak season will see anywhere from 50 to 250 boats anchored up along the northern end of the Island. Water depth at the northern and western sides of the island hover around 4 feet or so, for at least a hundred yards off the coast, making it an ideal spot to anchor up with friends, fire up the grill, and enjoy a few cold ones while the kids swim and explore the island.
Frequent visitors maintain two rope swings on the island - one on the western side and one on the eastern side. River flows are slower on the western side of the island, and the rope swing there is in a bit better shape, so we usually prefer to anchor up on the shallower, western side. The exception to this: fireworks time! Gildersleeve is almost due west from the Portland fair grounds, where the town of Portland puts on their annual July 4th fireworks display. If you anchor up on the eastern side of Gildersleeve, you can watch the whole show from about 1/2 mile from the launch site.
To get to Gildersleeve, you several options. We tend to launch at the Wethersfield town boat launch in Wethersfield, CT. That makes for a bit longer ride, but the launch is somewhat closer to home, is in great condition, and there is always plenty of parking. Other launch sites north of the island include the Rocky Hill town boat launch (expensive, and crazy on busy days), and Seaboard Marina in South Glastonbury (closer to the island, but steep, and pretty rough if the water is running low). From south of the island, there are several boat launches in Portland - Portland Boat Works, Yankee Marine, etc. A quick google search on portland CT marinas will give you several spots to choose from. If you are coming up from further down-river, just follow your charts. You'll find Gildersleeve starting at green can '99' on the Bodkin Rock to Hartford NOAA chart 12378.
Posted by NEBoatingGuy at 4:02 PM
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Ninigret pond was formed through glacial activity about 12,000 years ago. A man-made breachway opens up the pond to constant tidal action and excellent fishing. And an aggressive Quahog stocking program by Rhode Island's DEM sets up Ninigret as a clamming destination second to none.
If you are a trailer boater like us, start your trip at Shelter Cove marina in Charlestown RI. It's $20 to launch for the day, but, per the later comments about washdown, etc, it's well worth it. Follow the channel markers, slowly, out towards the breachway. It's about a 25 minute ride. As you start to travel through the breachway opening, look off to your right. When you are directly across from the conspicuous rock piles, turn hard right towards shore. About 15 feet from shore, turn right again to run parallel to shore, running through a natural channel. It pays to have a 'helper' up front on the bow to pick out the channel. And be warned - this is a spot best left to Outboard setup boaters. Ninigret's depths average about 4 1/2 feet, and can fluctuate substantially from tide-to-tide. I/O or inboard owners would have a rough time running the Ninigret 'gauntlet' without wrecking their lower unit.
Anchor up along the northern end of Rhode Island's East Beach. Marvel at how quiet and undeveloped a spot you've arrived at. Turn the kids loose to fly kites and play football. If you are close to a full moon, horseshoe crabs will be everywhere.
If fishing is your thing, be sure to check in with the wonderful folks at Breachway bait and tackle on the way in on Charlestown beach road. If you're lucky, later in the day, you'll meet up with the owner out at the northern end of east beach. He's been known to head out that way to slow-cook a roast and put his feet up. If you are lucky enough to meet him, he'll likely offer you a beer or a host of fishing tips.
Schoolie bass are prevalent everywhere, and Fluke and keeper Bass are common out in the breachway channel. Occasionally you will bump into spear-fisherman with scuba equipment.
Ninigret is an incredibly popular kayak spot, so if you have the inclination to tow a couple of kayaks out behind you, go for it. It's a national wildlife refuge, so you won't be disappointed by too much congestion or a lack of wildlife. If you don't own kayaks of your own, Shelter Cove marina has a standalone kayak rental business that can set you up with newer rental kayaks for a reasonable fee.
When you're done for the day, head back to Shelter Cove. Tie up temporarily on one of their great transient docks. Send most of the family over to the clamshack to put in a dinner order while you haul the boat out. Use the Marina's washdown and flushing equipment, all included with your launch fee. Dump your trash, fill up on fried whole bellies, and head home with your family. If you did it right, the kids will all be asleep before you get back out to RI Route 1.