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Above all, fishermen should stay safe as Hurricane Irene approaches

The main topic of conversation this week was not so much fishing but preparations for Hurricane Irene, a storm that should not be underestimated. Better to err on the side of safety. News reports right now say it will hit Connecticut with 100 mph winds, though the northeast quadrant of the storm, the worst spot, is now forecast to hit between the mouth of Narragansett Bay and Chatham on the tip of Cape Cod. That, however, is subject to change due the whims of Mother Nature and her awesome power.

Captain Allen Fee at Shaffers was very busy making ready for the storm. His chickens and dog had been moved to higher ground along with his daughter Norah. Allen's property has been along the river for decades and he's only had water in his basement one time, that during the 1954 hurricane.

In fishing news, he saw lots of blues coming back from The Race but not many bass. You can catch blackfish on the reefs in Fishers Island Sound but you must secure your own bait as no shop is yet carrying green crabs. Snappers are biting well in the river, also porgies caught on worms from shore at Mystic River Park.

Captain Kerry Douton at J&B said they weren't going to pull their two big charter boats but will add extra dock lines and keep a close watch as the storm arrives. Kerry said he wasn't worried so much about the wind in protected Niantic River but potential damage from a high storm surge.

Blue fishing in the Race is excellent but daytime bass catches very slow on the recent slower tides. Night bass trips were on the slow side too due to all the fire in the water. Sea bass is good at both Block and Montauk plus fluke catches were good to excellent at Block Island.

Al Golinski and his wife Emme made two good fluke trips to Block, most of the catch between 2 and 6 pounds, the biggest 9 pounds. Al pulled his boat on Wednesday and was busy the next day preparing his summer home as best he could against wind and flood surge from the storm. He also reported Captain Ben DeMario used live scup on the Watch Hill Reefs early in the week for stripers of 49 and 52 pounds.

Captain Jack at the Fish Connection said he has a charter today and will pull his boat on Saturday. He noted his insurance policy does not cover hurricane damage if the boat is the water during the storm. They made a Block Island fluke run, catching nine to 24 inches plus nine sea bass to 4 pounds. Blue fishing was excellent in The Race before the storm but the bass bite was off due to all the blues getting to the lures before the stripers.

Don at King Cove said some of slip customers saw and caught very small albies on the Watch Hill Reefs on Tuesday. Whether they will stick around after the blow is anyone's guess. Black sea bassing is good on the rock piles off the Rhode Island beaches and porgy catches remain good to excellent. Bass on the reefs are sporadic at best though some of the sharpies did land some creakers this week said Don.

Mark at Hillyers said the best fluking remains in deeper water off Black Point. If you use large baits and fish a full tide, you stand a chance at three to four keepers, maybe a doormat said Mark. Porgies catches are good around the Bartletts Spindle and snapper blues biting in the late afternoon from the Niantic Bridges up past the army camp.

Mark at River's End said he heard about the first few bonito in the eastern sound and snapper blues along the Causeway and Oyster River. Crabbing is fair on some nights and fluking iffy both in the Connecticut River and outside in the shallower water where you get some bites but most are shorts.

Captain Brad Glas of the Hel-Cat reported another excellent week of fishing: blues are in high gear and folks having a ball "nailing them." The fish are taking both bait and jigs, the latter a favorite of the captain. There are bass around but it's tough to get past the blues right now. Big fish of the week was a 15-pound bluefish caught by Pamela Kim from Connecticut.

Let's close this week with a prayer or hope our region is spared as much as possible from such an event as this storm. I'm not above saying I'll stop into St. Pius church in Westerly to light a candle for the safety of all our people, their boats/property and our marinas that are having a hectic time as Irene gets closer.

Tim Coleman is The Day's saltwater fishing columnist.

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