No Fluke

Warming water enhances the bite, brings in the squid

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Warming water, two degrees in seven days, brought scup, keeper tautog and a lot of school sized striped bass with keepers in the 28” to 30” range mixed in. But the big story of the week is the squid.

John Lavallee of Continental Bait & Tackle, Cranston said, “The warm weather has gotten things rolling. Fishing improved a lot this week. One thing for sure is that the squid bite is good, particularly off the Goat Island Causeway, Newport and in Jamestown.”
“Earlier this week Capt. Brandon Lake of East Coast Charters fished the Newport area for squid with his efforts paying off with two coolers filled with squid,” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence. Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “The squid is starting to move into the area. We are hoping for a solid squid run. The better the squid fishing usually means a better fluke season.”

See ‘Where’s the bite’ (below) for fishing details.

Black sea bass regulations change

Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York won their northern region Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission appeal of 2018 black sea bass recreational harvest limits. The commission manages many of the migratory species fished in Rhode Island waters on a coast-wide basis. Regulations for black sea bass have been published already but as of this week they have changed as follows in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

In Rhode Island the 2018 black sea bass season now runs from June 24 to August 31 with a three fish/person/day limit and then increases to seven fish from September 1 through December 31. In Massachusetts there is a five fish limit with a May 19 to September 12 season. In both states the minimum size limit is 15”. Good news for 2019 too. In a press release on May 3, 2018 the Commission said they “initiated a new management action for the 2019 black sea bass recreational fishery and tasked the Plan Development Team to develop a white paper to consider the impacts of changes in black sea bass abundance and distribution to the management of commercial and recreational fisheries.”

Addressing the shift in black sea bass to the north (in part due to warming water and climate change) and reflecting that in harvest limits is something anglers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts have been waiting for.

Cod fish minimum size jumps to 23”

NOAA Fisheries announced that the “2018 Georges Bank cod recreational management measures will increase the minimum size of cod to 23 inches (the minimum size was 22 inches). For-hire boats now have a ten fish/person/day possession limit. The possession limit for private anglers remains the same (ten fish/person/day).”

Recreational anglers in Rhode Islander should not feel too bad as no cod at all are allowed to be taken in the Gulf of Maine. Read the rule as filed in the Federal Register.

Atlantic menhaden regulation challenged

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Atlantic Menhaden Management Board initiated a noncompliance finding in response to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s failure to fully implement the mandatory provisions of Amendment 3 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan.

The Commonwealth of Virginia relies heavily on Atlantic menhaden for fishing related jobs as about 85 percent of the entire coastal quota is landed in the state primarily by one company, Omega Protein. The State has not established the Chesapeake Bay reduction fishery cap of 51,000 metric tons as mandated. The cap was put in place in part to ensure enough food for spawning striped bass in the Chesapeake which migrate north.

Atlantic menhaden are a primary forage fish for striped bass, bluefish, tuna, osprey and other species commonly caught in northern waters. Pogies, as they are commonly called, are used live or chunked up as the primary striped bass bait when anglers fish the spring migration in Narragansett and Mt. Hope Bays. Having an abundance of these bait fish in Rhode Island and Massachusetts is of primary importance to fishermen and conservationists.

Rather than forwarding their finding to the Commission’s Interstate Fisheries Management Program, the Atlantic menhaden Board postponed action on the noncompliance finding until the Commission’s Summer Meeting in August 2018. 

Upon notification by the Commission of a noncompliance finding, the Secretary of Commerce has 30 days to review the recommendation and determine appropriate action, which may include a federal moratorium on fishing for Atlantic menhaden in Virginia’s state waters.

The recreational fishing and conservation communities are concerned about the noncompliance as in recent history the Secretary of Commerce has tended to side with short term financial fishing interests rather than fish conservation measures when considering such state rulings. This was the case with red snapper regulations in the Gulf of Mexico and summer flounder (fluke) fishing regulations last year in New Jersey.

Robert Ballou, assistant to the director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, is chairman of the ASMFC’s Atlantic Menhaden Board.

Where’s the bite

Freshwater fishing has been very good for both trout and bass. Some waterways have been restocked by DEM since opening day. Visit www.dem.ri.gov for a listing of stocked ponds. John Lavallee of Continental Bait & Tackle, Cranston said, “Stump Pond and Waterman Reservoir have been very good for largemouth bass. Customers have also been landing large pike there in the five to six pound range.” John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “Willett Avenue Pond was restocked last week and customers have been catching some nice largemouth bass in the Blackstone River.”

Striped bass fishing has improved. Shore angler Jerry Tartaro of Wickford said, “My striped bass season has gotten off to a great start with 186 fish so far (as of May 5). Most of the fish were caught at Sprague Bridge (near the mouth of Narrow River) and in front of the Ocean Mist in South Kingstown with a southeast wind on an incoming tide.” Frank Mello of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “Small keeper bass from 28” to 30”have been caught in the Providence River, at Colt State Park and in the Conimicut Light area. Customers are using white shad lures with success.” John Lavallee of Continental Bait said he has two customers that have been using clams with success catching bass to 30 inches in the East Passage. Atlantic menhaden schools have been spotted with more frequency so it is just a matter of time before large striped bass arrive chasing them. If the warm weather holds some say that large bass could be around by the end of the week.

Tautog fishing is starting to pick up with a few keepers now being caught. Keeper tautog (16 inch minimum) have been caught at Ohio Ledge, the Stone Bridge, Tiverton as well as off Jamestown, Brenton Reef, Newport, and in the Warren and Barrington Rivers.
Scup fishing has arrived with anglers hooking up at Colt State Park. Dave Henault of Ocean State reports, “One customer limited out at Colt State Park.” Scup limits are 30 fish/person/day with a minimum size of 9 inches. In select ‘Special Provisional Areas’ the minimum size is 8 inches, visit www.dem.ri.gov for a list of these areas.

Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shellfishing for over 40 years. He holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. He is a RISAA board member, a member of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association and a member of the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Contact or forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at dmontifish@verizon.net or visit his website at www.noflukefishing.com.



Dave Monti

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