of Luigi’s Restaurant & Gourmet Express, Johnston, serves a sampling of calamari to RISAA Treasurer Peter O'Biso with son Matt after “How to cook fluke” RISAA presentation. Both Battistas are avid fluke anglers too.
Fluke experts Capt. Rick Hittinger, Capt. Ron Hartman and Bob Murray offered tips on how to catch fluke at Monday’s RI Saltwater Anglers Association meeting.
Where’s the bite
Striped bass fishing continued to explode with larger fish starting to be caught too. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, East Providence said, “There are tons of small bass being caught in the Providence River off Sabin Point and Beach Road behind the Carousel (East Providence). Anglers are also landing bass from the bridges in Barrington and Warren. Some are floating clam tongues in the current using a ¾ once egg sinker.” Littlefield continued to say a customer caught a 20 pound striped bass at Sabin Point. Angler Mike Swain of Coventry caught a 39” striped bass live lining a poggy (Atlantic Menhaden) off Barrington Beach last weekend.” said John Wunner of John’s Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown. John Migliori of Newport caught his first keeper of the year (35”) in Portsmouth from the beach at 10:00 p.m. using native squid for bait. John said, “I knew it was a good fish from the word GO.” Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle of Warwick said, “The bass fishing for school bass continues to be great in Greenwich Bay and Cove with some keepers being caught too.” On the RISAA blog Kevin Harrington reports, “Put a 38 pound, 10 once striper in the kayak at 7:30 a.m. (this weekend) in Mt Hope Bay (with an) incoming tide, with a light NW wind. Not another nibble though.” Kevin was using tube and worm. Mary Dangelo of Maridee Canvas, Bait & Tackle, Narragansett said, “Striped bass fishing is definitely picking up. A lot of school bass but anglers have landed keepers too, a customers caught a 33” and 34” fish in Narrow River using Cocahoe soft plastic lures.”
Tautog season ends for the spring at the end of the month. Big fish are being caught at Conimicut light, Hope Island and off coastal shores. Thad Grenier of Woonsocket said he and friends caught ten keepers and two shorts when fishing at Conimicut Light on Sunday. Thad said, “Tide hasn't played a major factor, but was the best just when the tide was beginning to turn. (Used a) simple rig, dropper loop 6-8 inches above sinker, I snell the hook and make sure there is enough of a leader to reach the bottom barely . All caught on Asian crabs. A lot of big fish around from what I am seeing. Caught 4 over 8 lbs. Only three shorts caught all weekend under 16 inches. Best tog fishing I’ve had in years.” Ken Landry has been landing tautog every day in the Hope Island area said Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait.
Summer flounder is picking up offshore with the Frances Fleet reporting a strong bite for May. Roger Simpson said, “Best day of the (week) was last Sunday where the first angler limit was recorded and there were many fish in the 3 to 4 lb range. Monday had the week’s biggest fish with a seven pound slab.” Not many anglers are targeting fluke yet as most seem to be concentrating on striped bass and tautog.
Fresh water fishing is good. John Wunner of John’s Bait said, “The trout fishing in all the ponds stocked by DEM has been outstanding. Customers are very excited about DEM’s Golden Trout program. There have been a lot of anglers fishing for them.” Largemouth bass fishing has been good too, added Wunner.
Let’s grow an abundance of fish
Save the Sound, a program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, and University of Connecticut – Avery Point will host a public forum today to discuss the state of our nation’s ocean fisheries, the laws that affect them, and the role they play with fishing conditions in the northeast. I will be one of five panelists at the form today, the only fishermen.
Scientists, fishermen, policy implementers, educators, and advocates will discuss the need for the federal government to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), which has helped 32 species recover since 1976.
In-part, the purpose of the forum is to bring attention to eco-system based management principles so that the Reauthorization of MSA will provide fish managers with eco-system based strategies and management tools.
Simply put eco-system management takes a broader view when managing our oceans. Looking at the entire eco-system, rather than individual species as everything in the ocean is related. For example we should not just manage Atlantic Menhaden to ensure there are enough of them left in the water to be sustainable, but manage them also for their value to the entire eco-system… their value to striped bass and other species as forage food, their value to coves and saltwater estuaries as filer feeders, etc.
Here are highlights of what I plan to say during opening remarks today. Panelists noted below.
Our efforts with the MSA to date have rebuilt many of the stocks we fish such as summer flounder and striped bass. In the future I believe we will see greater recreational and charter fishing accountability, to not only ensure sustainable fisheries, but to help cultivate abundant fisheries. Abundant fisheries that will enhance the chances of catching a fish (and large ones at that), this is why many people fish recreationally.
Whatever creates an abundance of fish is good for recreational fishing and charter fishing. So the idea of a healthy abundance of forage fish, enabling sanctuaries, lower by-catch and discard rates, robust catch and release efforts, and eco-system based management is good for the fish. Abundant forage fish will cultivate and grow an abundance of the fish that can be caught.
Some examples of climate change impacting our fisheries include a movement of fish into the region that are not ordinarily there. For example during the past several years anglers in the RI have caught more cobia than ever before. Although anecdotal, this is a good example of a warm water fish moving into our region. Cobia traditionally winter off the Florida coast and then migrate to the Carolinas… yes the Carolinas not Narragansett, RI. Yet a number of them were caught in RI last summer. There are no recreational fishing regulations on the books in RI for Cobia, no management measures to prevent overfishing. So, if cobia continue to be caught in RI it would make sense to establish science-based management before fishing is allowed. This is the type of flexibility should be included in the Reauthorization of the MSA.
A second example would be the slow and steady migration of flounder. Research has shown that with the slow and steady increase in water temperature off the continental shelf, yellow tail and summer flounder abundance has moved from off Maryland to CT, RI and now Massachusetts anglers are catching summer flounder in larger numbers too. Initially, this lead to overfishing, primarily due to abundance and increased effort. We now have better control and the stock has rebuilt in our area. My business has benefited greatly from the abundance of summer flounder. Most charter trips now target fluke as well as striped bass. And more and more recreational anglers and charter captains are targeting just fluke on fishing trips.
And lastly, our cold water fish, cod in particular, are moving offshore… not necessarily moving north but moving further out to sea for cooler, deeper water, out of the reach of many anglers and charter boats. As a consequence the number of cod and the number of charter boat cod trips has been drastically reduced in recent years.
Overall I have found recreational anglers and charter captains to be conservation minded because they know that with an abundance of fish their odds of catching fish, and larger fish are much greater, so they are willing to engage methods that will enhance abundance.
As a fisheries policy maker I am often torn between user group needs… such as commercial fishermen needing to fish to survive and thrive, recreational fishermen want an abundance of fish close to shore to catch, and energy developers want low water areas (often hot fishing grounds) to place their turbines on to keep costs down. But the key to success I believe is to always keep the interest of the fish first and foremost before any user group as with an abundance of fish everyone wins, with few fish or no fish, everyone loses.
Trout Unlimited meeting May 28
The Narragansett Chapter of Trout Unlimited (#225 ) will host its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 6:00 PM, at the Arcadia Management Area Check Station, Rt. 165, Exeter, R.I. This will be the first of four successive monthly Stream-Side meetings at the check station. Hot dogs, hamburgers and beverages will be available. All members and guests welcomed. Pease contact chapter president, Ron Marafioti, at (571) 643-1452, with any questions.
CT fishing forum
Save the Sound, a program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, and University of Connecticut – Avery Point will host a public forum today to discuss the state of our nation’s ocean fisheries, the laws that affect them, and the role they play with fishing conditions in the northeast. I have the pleasure of being one of five panelist, here is the roaster of those presenting today.
Forum panelists include Lee Crockett of The Pew Charitable Trusts in D.C., who leads Pew’s work to reauthorize and strengthen the MSA; Peter Auster, UCONN-Avery Point & Mystic Aquarium, Professor Emeritus of Marine Sciences & Senior Research Scientist; Stephen Gephard, Supervisor, Diadromous Fish Program and Habitat and Conservation Enhancement Program, CT DEEP; Jennifer Herring, President and CEO at The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT; Matthew McKenzie, Ph.D., Associate Professor and American Studies Coordinator at UCONN-Avery Point, Connecticut Obligatory Delegate, New England Fisheries Management Council; and Captain Dave Monti, No Fluke Fishing Charters, fishing columnist, member of the RI Marine Fisheries Council and NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee's (MFAC) Recreational Working Group.
Fishing has big impact on economy
NOAA recently released their national and regional Fisheries Economics of the U.S. report (FEUS 2012). These reports cover a ten year time period and include descriptive statistics on recreational fishing effort, participation rates, and expenditure information; commercial fisheries landings, revenue, and price trends and much more.
In 2012, almost 1.3 million recreational anglers took 6.2 million fishing trips in the New England Region. Of the total fishing trips taken, 51% were taken from a private or rental boat and another 44% were shore-based. Porgies (scup) was the most frequently caught species or species group with 6.5 million fish caught in 2012 and represented 33% of total fish caught in the region.
In 2012, sales impacts were the highest in Massachusetts ($848 million in sales impacts), followed by Rhode Island ($192 million in Rhode Island). For a complete copy on NOAA’s economic impact study of fishing in New England and in other regions visit www.noaa.gov .
Recreational Fishing Facts from NOAA… 92% of striped bass released by recreational anglers
- An average of 1.4 million anglers fished in the New England Region annually from 2003 to 2012.
- In 2012, coastal county residents made up 89% of total anglers in this region. These anglers averaged 88% of total anglers annually over the 10 year time period.
- The largest annual increase in the number of coastal anglers during the 10 year time period occurred between 2004 and 2005, increasing 17%, from 1.2 million anglers to 1.3 million anglers.
- In the New England Region, an average of 8.1 million fishing trips were taken annually from 2003 to 2012.
- Private or rental boat and shore-based fishing trips accounted for 3.1 million and 2.7 million fishing trips, respectively, in 2012. Together these made up 94% of the fishing trips taken in that year.
- The largest annual decrease during the same period in total trips taken occurred between 2008 and 2009, decreasing 22%, from 9.1 million trips to 7.2 million trips.
Harvest and release
- Striped bass was the most commonly caught key species or species group, averaging 7.1 million fish over the 10 year time period. Of these, 92% were released rather than harvested.
- Of the ten commonly caught key species or species groups, seven were released more often than harvested over this time period.
- The species or species group that was most commonly released was little tunny (94% released).
We need to work together for healthy bays, rivers & watersheds
The way to take care of the saltwater in our bays and oceans is to first take care of the fresh water that flows down into them from watersheds and rivers. This is exactly the aim of the Governor’s Rhode Island Bays, Rivers & Watersheds Coordination Team and they recently released an annual report outlining 2013 accomplishments. The coordination team is important as state water agencies have distinct and important responsibilities and authorities, but no single agency is responsible for all of the state’s fresh and marine waters.
The Rhode Island Bays, Rivers, and Watersheds Coordination Team (BRWCT) conducts interagency strategic planning and facilitates program coordination for Rhode Island’s water resources and their human uses. Since 2007, the BRWCT invested $3 million in water resources management and sustainable development. The 2013 annual report relates collaborative pursuits by seven state agencies of storm water management, water-reliant economic development, climate change adaptation, and other shared priorities.
For example the team made a multi-year funding commitment to the development of the Shoreline Change Special Area Management Plan (the beach SAMP) by the RI Coastal Resources Management Council and the University of Rhode Island. This effort will advance scientific understanding of sea‑level rise, shoreline erosion and inundation for the entire Rhode Island shoreline, educate coastal communities on these emerging risks, and provide the state with a road map for future coastal land use management and development decisions.
Details on the development of the beach SAMP and other initiatives can be found in the 2013 annual report at www.coordinationteam.ri.gov.