Great news for recreational and commercial quahoggers, as 515 acres in Mt. Hope Bay are now open as conditional rather than a prohibited shellfishing area. The area can be fished ‘conditionally’ as DEM opens and closes ‘conditional’ areas based on rain events.
If it rains more than half an inch in a 24-hour period, the conditional area closes for seven days to allow the water to recover from enhanced runoff.
Last week the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced that with its latest water quality tests earlier this month confirming a year-over-year trend of improvement, it is opening a 515-acre area off the coast of Warren in the Mt. Hope Bay to shellfishing.
In upgrading it from prohibited to conditionally approved, DEM said the area located in the Bay’s northwest corner and stretching from the mouth of the Kickemuit River in the Touisset Point section of Warren east to the Rhode Island-Massachusetts state line, meets federal safety standards set by the US Food and Drug Administration’s National Shellfish Sanitation Program.
Recent improvements in wastewater treatment and combined sewer overflow (CSO) capture in Fall River, Mass., have resulted in improved water quality throughout Mt. Hope Bay. DEM’s tests showed that these improvements have allowed water quality in the bay off Touisset Point to meet national standards for safe shellfish harvest during dry weather for the past several years.
Also, tissue analyses for bacteria and heavy metals conducted by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) have shown that shellfish in these waters meet national standards.
“From the opening of the Providence River to quahogging for the first time in 75 years in 2021, to the opening of new shellfishing grounds in Greenwich Bay in 2022, to the Mt. Hope Bay reopening in 2023, the trend toward better water quality in Narragansett Bay is clear,” said DEM Director Terry Gray.
For information on emergency and conditional area shellfish closures, call DEM’s 24-hour shellfishing hotline at 401-222-2900 or sign up for their listserv at RishellfishOWRemail@example.com .
New striped bass regulation engaged
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) enacted emergency recreational regulations last weekend to change the maximum length limit for keeping striped bass.
The new recreational slot size in all New England states is 28” to less than 31”, with anglers allowed to keep one fish per day. This new regulation started May 26 in Massachusetts and Connecticut and May 27 in Rhode Island and runs to Oct. 28.
The larger than normal striped bass class of 2015 maturing to the old slot limit size of 28” to less than 35” led to higher than normal overfishing. Last year anglers killed twice as many fish and reduced the probability of success of the stock rebuilding plan to just 15 percent.
Where’s the bite
Striped bass and bluefish: Angler Tom Fetherston of South Kingstown, said, “We fished the North Rip (Block Island) last Wednesday with no hits so went to Nebraska Shoal (Charlestown, RI). Saw birds working sporadically, ran out an umbrella and hit big bluefish. Quit when we had six to twelve pounds for dinner and the smoker. Went closer to the beach to troll and picked up two stripers (one short, one slot).” Fishing for striped bass and bluefish in Narragansett Bay has been very good with some anglers having to move around to catch them. The East Passage, Providence River as well as Greenwich Bay and the West Passage are all producing for anglers but some days you have to hunt for fish. We found bass to 38” Saturday just off Popasquash Point, Bristol. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, said, “The storm last week seems to have brought the bass in for the weekend. Customer Angelo Moniz caught a 52” striped bass from Spooky Bottom Dock, East Providence using chucks of Atlantic menhaden. Pogies, trolling umbrella rigs and tube & worm and flutter spoons all seem to be working.” Canal fishing expert and author East End Eddie Doherty, said, “Canal anglers fished the east end where many nice fish were landed including a 36 inch striper caught at the Herring Run and Bourne’s Tim “Hollywood” Petracca fought a 43 inch to fruition during a subsurface bite.” Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown, said, “Fishing for striped bass has been producing well with catches reported at the Breachways, along the beaches and back in the salt ponds. Bigger fish are taking live bait on the bottom and smaller fish are chasing squid, sand eels, and rain bait. Bluefish are still around coming in and out of the Breachway in waves.”
Anglers are reminded that the spring tautog season in Rhode Island closes June 1 to July 31 during spawning season. In Massachusetts, tautog fishing is open throughout spawning at one fish/angler/day.
Squid, black sea bass and summer flounder
Angler Tom Fetherston said, “Noticed boats fluking off Deep Hole, joined them but there was minimal drift so soon ran back to Nebraska Shoal (Charlestown). Took some time to find fish but picked a limit of six black sea bass for three anglers to 21 inches along with a scup and a sort fluke.” “Squid fishing is good the draggers are nice enough to leave us a few :). Fluke are in deeper water (60-80 ft) and reports continue to improve. Customers are finding a few along the beach and out at Block Island.” said Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle.
Dave Monti holds a captain’s master license and charter fishing license. He serves on a variety of boards and commissions and has a consulting business focusing on clean oceans, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy, and fisheries related issues and clients. Forward fishing news and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.noflukefishing.com.