The U.S. House Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2024 will have a devastating impact on fish and habitat, as it reduces funding by 14 percent for NOAA Fisheries, a cut of $900 million. Yet our nation’s fisheries support 1.7 million jobs and more than $117 billion in value added impact to providing food and recreation.
I support full funding for NOAA Fisheries and ask that anglers alert their US Representative to reject the funding cuts in the House Bill.
Additionally, the bill has an unrealistic policy rider on fisheries and climate. The bill contains language that would prohibit funding from being used to fund climate change fisheries research. This language would hamper the ability of NOAA Fisheries to undertake climate research and adaptation efforts.
Last year, when participating in the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography Baird Symposium on Climate Change Impacts of Recreational Fishing, scientists and anglers alike related the impacts climate was having on the recreational fishing community.
Cold water fish such as winter flounder, American lobster (the lobster we all love to eat) and cod have left our region for deeper, cooler water. And warm water fish such as black sea bass, scup and summer flounder have moved into our area in greater abundance. Additionally, for the past three years, we have seen a change in bait profiles in our region, which has changed the fish we have in our area, many closer to shore than ever before.
We always had silversides, sand eels, herring and mackerel of all types, Atlantic menhaden, squid, scup, etc. here as bait, but never all at the same time in great abundance like we have had for the past three years.
Warm water has helped create these robust bait profiles. Warm water fish have followed the food, just as larger fish have come into the region to dine. Exotic fish, such as wahoo, enhance mahi, cobia, even a tarpon caught off Cape Cod this summer. And the larger animals such as sharks, porpoise, yellow and bluefin school tuna as well as giant bluefin tuna and whales are all here dining close to shore.
In early September, the top three fish in the Boston Bluefin Classic tournament came from Rhode Island, with fish caught one to three miles off Scarborough Beach, Narragansett. The winning giant bluefin was 788 pounds.
Sharks are being caught close to shore too, with Greg Vespe, a local angler, catching six thresher sharks to 325 pounds off Newport on his 19-foot center console boat. And whales of all types are in the area too, in shipping lanes and in places where they haven’t been before, increasing strikes with vessels.
All of these changes are climate related. Closing our eyes to such impacts is just what the House Appropriations bill would do.
Email or call your U.S. Congressperson and ask them to oppose this language prohibiting funding for climate change and fisheries research in the House Appropriations bill and request full funding for NOAA so it can continue its climate change fisheries work.
To find out your Congressperson’s name, contact information and how to send them an email, visit Find Your Representative | house.gov .
Tips on how to catch bonito and false albacore
Many times, false albacore and bonito are mixed in with striped bass and bluefish. They can be caught from boat and shore with lures and even on the troll. Here are some tips.
Keep it simple and lighten up. Local bonito and false albacore expert Susan Lema said, “Use as little hardware has possible. Tie directly to a 25-pound fluorocarbon leader with a uni knot and no swivel. This keeps things simple, with no hardware flashing in the water to spook the fish.”
Find them at outflows. Roger Lema (Susan’s husband) said, “Fish the outgoing tide in front of rivers, coves and ponds, as the water and bait have to be moving.”
Be prepared to mix it up. “We have five rods ready to go. Some are prepared to cast silver lures like Deadly Dicks and Kastmaster lures. But, we are also ready to troll (at four knots) with broken back lures, shallow swimming and deep swimming lures to use depending on where the fish are in the water column,” said Roger Lema. Epoxy jigs and Albi Snax work well too.
Anticipate where the fish are. “Anticipate where these speedsters will surface again and be there when they do. Fish the sides of the schools rather than getting out in front of them,” said Roger Lema.
Where’s the bite?
Striped bass, bluefish, false albacore and bonito: “After the storm, the water was dirty but the bait was still here, with reports of birds working off East Matunuck and in our salt ponds. I expect things to pick up for bluefish, striped bass and false albacore fishing,” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown.
Vincent Castaldi of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown, said, “Small bluefish and striped bass slot and over slot size are being caught in the Bay from boats. Tube & worm is the mode of preference for kayak and boat anglers, with shore anglers having success with soft plastics, poppers and shiny metal lures like Kastmaster.” “Fishing last week from shore was slower, with most of the decent fishing occurring at night. Mullet has arrived in our waters, so larger plugs and even top water baits should start working. Peanut bunker is being chased by striped bass, bluefish, mackerel, false albacore and bonito,” said Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown.
“Tautog fishing was off last week, as a lot of smalls were being caught and few anglers were targeting them. But things will change as the water cools,” said Matt Conti of Snug Harbor. Vincent Castaldi of Quaker Lane, said, “The tautog bite is very good off Newport and in the lower portions of the Bay.”
Tuna and mahi
“Tuna reports continue to be great out past Block Island, where there are plenty of bluefin, yellowfin, and Mahi. Giant bluefin are still in tight to Point Judith lots of fish landed this week,” said Declan O’Donnell.
“Freshwater fishing for largemouth bass and pickerel has been particularly good, with anglers using shiners, night crawlers as bait. Most ponds are producing for anglers,” said Vincent Cataldi of Quaker Lane.
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.