August 10, 2008

Werner is the New Top Gun

Hawaiian free diver Kimi Werner unseated Californian Amanda Ernst as the women's national spearfishing champion Thursday in Newport.

Werner, 28, shot three tautog and two striped bass -- including a 33-pounder -- during the U.S. National Spear Fishing Championship at King's Beach. A native of Maui now living on Oahu, Werner said the water off Newport was murky, compared with her home waters, but it was clearer than she had expected.

Nonetheless, she used a 90-centimeter gun instead of her usual 75- centimeter gun because of limited visibility, she said. She fished off Land's End, where the current and breeze were milder than what she is accustomed to.

Werner was also a member of Hawaii's mixed team, which took first place. Her partner was Andre Tamasese.

Ernst, 18, shot three tautog. Though she saw bluefish while scouting earlier in the week, she saw only blackfish and undersize scup yesterday.

She fished with her father, Bill Ernst of Malibu. They had only one anchor between them, so they shared it and stayed together. "I'm a typical father," Bill Ernst said. "I still worry about her."

In team competition, a squad from Palm Beach, Fla. was the overall winner with a mixed bag of fish.

Massachusetts Freedivers edged out Rhode Island Freedivers by .8 pounds to take second place. Justin Allen, one of the Bay State divers, was the men's champion.

The Rhode Island team scored 140 points with a variety of stripers, bluefish, blackfish, triggerfish, and scup.

Diving for Rhode Island were world record holder Dave Hochman, Jay Moore and John Murphy. The event's rules followed Rhode Island fishing regulations, but added 2 inches to each minimum size limit. One point was awarded per fish and per pound. The maximum weight to count toward scoring was 15 pounds. The maximum points per fish were 16, so a 15-pound striper was worth the same number of points as a much heavier fish.

The national championship originated in Rhode Island in 1956, says Albert Pointe.

His father, the late Al Pointe, was captain of the Rhode Island team.

"In the spring of 1956," he writes, "the R.I. Underwater Spearfishing Club, (the only diving club in Rhode Island at that time) team -- consisting of Al Pointe, Tom Morrison, and Dan Prescott -- took third place in an East Coast spear-fishing contest held at Watch Hill in Westerly. A Long Island diving team won that meet. This qualified the Rhode Island team for the National Championship held in August at Sachuest Point in Middletown. The winners of that meet were the Long Beach Neptunes from California. They used surfboards which few people were familiar with then."

Gorton Pond payoff

Wandering freshwater fisherman Anthony Palumbo stuck to a single spot this week.

"I fished Warwick's Gorton Pond exclusively and did excellent," he writes. "The bite was a bit slow at the beginning of the week but it got better lately. I caught numerous 2- and 3-pound largemouth bass. They were taking Baby Bass colored Senkos and 6.5-inch cut- tail worms like candy. I also did well using Yamamoto Kreatures, mainly in black with blue flakes.

"The highlight was a pair of fat 5-pounders both taken on Baby Bass Senkos. The key with all the fish I caught was to let the worm fall to the bottom. Most all bites came a foot or so off the bottom. I had success with some drop-shot rigs as well using small 4-inch finesse worms in almost any color. I would just drop them to the bottom and let the current do the work.

"Black crappie in nice large sizes were also biting the drop shot rig as well."

Shad on the fly

Ed Lombardo and his friends have been fishing the ebb tide on the Narrow River, and they have been catching a lot of 20- to 22-inch hickory shad on flies in the evening.

"Juvenile silversides have become very prolific and the fish are starting to key in on this copious forage," he says. "Bright Bunny flies, Deceivers, and craft-fur imitations all in white in sizes No. 1 to No. 1/0, fool the fish. They are still taking bright green shrimp patterns again, also in sizes No. 1 to No. 1/0.

"The best way to fish these patterns in fast moving water is with a good intermediate, sinking line. If you have a floating line, just add a 3- to 4-foot section of sinking line between the flooring line and the leader. Cortland Line Co. has L-13 line in small kits that work very well in getting the fly to the feeding fish."

Hunter ethics course

Rhode Island's hunter-safety office has scheduled its "Hunter Ethics and Landowner Relations" course for Aug. 24 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Stedman Government Center in Wakefield, says Karen Unsworth, in charge of the course.

The proficiency testing with shotgun, muzzleloader or bow and arrow will be held at the Great Swamp Range Sept. 6 starting at 8 a.m.

Students who pass the course receive proficiency cards, and will have their names placed on a list, which is made available to landowners seeking hunters.

Additional information and an application are available online at or by calling the Division of Fish and Wildlife at (401) 789-3094.

Kimi Werner displays one of her trophies in Newport. Journal Photo / Tom Meade [email protected] / (401) 277-7340

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