Tuesday, January 20, 2015

RI’s DeFusco takes national fishing stage with George Poveromo

George Poveromo (shown with dolphin) was host  of the Saltwater Sportsman’s national fishing seminar series this Saturday at the Casey Theatre, Regis College, MA. 
Capt. Lois DeFusco of Hot Reels Sportfishing charters, Pt. Judith, RI likes using jigs for black sea bass.

RI’s DeFusco on national fishing stage
How do I get started tuna fishing? How do I catch large black sea bass? What lures work best for striped bass in the spring?  These questions and others were answered Saturday at George Poveromo’s 28th Salt Water Sportsman’s National Fishing Seminar series held at Regis College in Weston, MA. Poveromo is an editor-at-large for Salt Water Sportsman and is the host of George Poveromo’s World of Salt Water Fishing television program on NBC Sports.

Poveromo and co-host Tom Richardson, host of New England  Boating TV and former editor at Salt Water Sportsman led panel discussions on a variety of fish species on how, where and when to catch them.

Dr. Mitchell Roffer of Roffer’s Ocean Fishing Forecasting Service (www.roffs.com) was one of the national speakers.  Dr. Roffer is an authority on locating productive water surface temperature breaks and ocean-circulation features for near shore and offshore game fish. His satellite images provide anglers with maps showing real time temperature breaks and water circulation patterns.

National and local captains like Louis DeFusco of Hot Reels Sportfishing charters (www.hot-reels.com), Pt. Judith, RI provided anglers with information on how to enhance their odds of catching more and larger fish.
Capt. DeFusco, one of the black sea bass and tautog session panelists said, “My greatest success fishing for black sea bass has been  in areas where there are rock piles and structure like Nebraska Shoal (between Charlestown and South Kingstown) using jigs rather than bait rigs to target them.”

DeFusco’s favorite places to target tautog include reefs off Beavertail, Jamestown and Brenton Reef, Newport.  “Around Thanksgiving I am fishing n in 65 to 70 feet of water.  In the spring and early fall they are in 10 or 12 feet of water.” said DeFusco.

Steve Medeiros, president of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (www.RISAA.org), who was in the seminar display area with an information table said, “George Poveromo runs a great seminar and has been very gracious allowing RISAA to share membership information with anglers and promote our New England Saltwater Fishing Show taking place at the RI Convention Center February 27 to March 1.” 

With prizes from national sponsors such as Bass Pro Shops, Mako boats and Penn reels/rods and many others Poveromo’s National Seminar series was a big hit with anglers once again here in New England.  Visit www.nationalseminarseries.com for the seminar schedule as it visits other east coast locations.

Ice fishing for charity
The annual Kevin Thatcher Memorial Ice Fishing Tournament will be helped Saturday, January 31, 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Crystal Lake.  The tournament will benefit “Between the Cracks.”, a local non-profit charity that helps families in need. Crystal Lake Golf Course, Big Bear Bait & Tackle and Ted’s Bait Shop are tournament sponsors.  The entry fee is $10 and sign-up will start at 6:00 a.m. at the Crystal Lake Golf Course parking lot on Rt 202, Bronco Hwy on the Burrillville/Glocester Line.  Cash prizes for the largest bass, pickerel and perch.  Best cook on the ice award will receive the “Golden Pork Chop Trophy”.  Contact Steve Rawson for information at 401.568.4244.

Rhody Fly Rodders meet January 20th

The Rhody Fly Rodders will meet Tuesday, January 20, 6:30 p.m. with Capt. Ray Sachelek of Cast-a-fly Charters as guest speaker.  Capt. Sachelek (a noted fly fishing guide and tyer) will give a presentation called “Tuna Helper – A Recipe for Success”.  Peter Nilsen, president of Rhody Fly Rodders said, “The presentation will be all about the hunt for false albacore, bonito and small tuna. This will be a comprehensive presentation with a wealth of information on the subject.” Seminar is open to the public.  The meeting which will take place at the Riverside Sportsmen’s Association, 19 Mohawk Dr., East Providence, RI is open to the public.  For information contact Peter Nilsen at 401-245-7172.
Joe Carr passes

Joe Carr, owner and operator of Carr's Fly Shop in Hope, RI passed away this weekend.  Peter Nilsen of Barrington, president of the Rhody Fly Rodders, said, “There will never be another fly shop like Joe's.  He was a great guy; always willing to help and really enjoyed the members of Trout Unlimited TU225 (fishing club) who visited his store.  Joe was a key supporter of our local fly fishing community, and he was well-respected by all of us fly anglers.  We all will miss Joe.”

Anglers aim to separate RI from other states

 The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) held an input meeting at the URI Bay Campus last week on Draft Addendum XXVI for the summer flounder fishery management plan (FMP).  The ASMFC develops management plans and regulations for summer flounder fishing in RI and other coastal states.  The meeting was chaired by Kirby Rootes-Murdy, ASMFC fishery management plan coordinator. Robert Ballou, one of Rhode Island’s ASMFC commissioners from the RI Department of Environmental Management, interested recreational anglers as well as representatives from the Rhode Island Party & Charter Boat Association (RIPCBA) and the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) were in attendance.

Travis Barrio, RISAA board member and representative said “We are advocating for adaptive regional management like last year allowing Rhode Island to be separate and not making it accountable for fish caught in other regions along with guidelines for one year rather than two.” Capt. Rick Bellavance, president of the RIPCBA said, “We are concerned about the options that bring RI into the same region as other states, mostly because of the uncertain data and how dramatically it can change from year to year. Combining with others could reduce our (recreational) bag limit to even less fish and shorten our season by quite a few days.”  Capt. Bellavance has also disputed the accuracy of the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) data used to measure effort and catch to develop harvest estimates. Both the RISAA and RIPCBA were in agreement on the summer flounder management plan options the ASMFC should consider for Rhode Island.

 Summer flounder abundance has moved north in recent years as the ocean water has warmed. So you might say climate change has impacted this fishery in a positive way for Rhode Island fishermen.   With this abundance shift and the importance of the species to both commercial and recreational fishing in Rhode Island, fish managers believe it is time to look at old and new data and science to consider changes to the way summer flounder are managed. A summer flounder management plan amendment that address a lot of these issues is in the works for the future.  Last year a public scoping meeting on the issue was held.  However, the scoping meeting is just one of the first steps in the long process of amendment development. It will be followed by selection of key issues, a draft amendment and implementation options as well as a number of public hearings.

 However for the time being, 2015 will likely bring more restrictive fishing regulations for recreational anglers in RI as the summer flounder projected relational harvest was overfished last year.  In 2014 the projected harvest was 126,724 fish and through Wave 5 fish managers say Rhode Island’s share of the regional harvest was 181,601 fish.  The ASMFC board plans to select management measures and approve them next month (February) at their next.  Public comment on the draft addendum (which can be found at www.asmfc.org) can be sent to Krootes-murdy@asmf.org , the subject title in the email should read:  Draft Addendum XXVI.
Where’s the bite

For ice conditions in your city or town check with local police and at Olney Pond in Lincoln Woods State Park, call DEM's Division of Parks and Recreation at 667-6200.  DEM has an ice safety guide that can be found online on its parks website at www.riparks.com .
Cod fishing is very good with vessels reporting more cod compared to the same time last year. Boats were not able to sail most of last week due to sever cold and bad weather, however, the Frances Fleet sailed Sunday with good results.  Top fish for the day was 20 pounds with bait rigs and jigs both working well.  Party boats sailing for cod fish at this time include the Seven B’s at www.sevenbs.com, the Frances Fleet at www.francesfleet.com and Island Current at www.islandcurrent.com

Capt. Bounds shares record tautog story

  Angler Kenneth Westerfeld of Bayside, NY with his 28.8 pound tautog.

 Capt. Bounds (far right) and Ken Westerfeld with tautog and his five fishing buddies

Matt Kryszczynski from Stamford, CT with cod fish he caught on the Seven B’s Saturday.

Capt. Bounds shares record tautog story
Last Friday Kenneth Westerfeld of Bayside Queens, New York landed a 28.8 pound, 35” tautog which if verified will be the new all-tackle International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) world record. The current world record of 25 pounds was set in 1998 by Anthony Monica fishing out of Ocean City, New Jersey.

Westerfeld said on his facebook page, “Well I can only thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ for bringing me this bite, and Capt. Kane Bounds for putting me on this wreck.” 

Capt. Kane Bounds of Fish Bound Charters, Ocean City, Maryland said, “Ken did it, he managed to land a very impressive 28.8 pound tautog.  We were fishing a small wreck about 20 miles southeast of Ocean City, MD in 75 feet of water.  The water was 47 degrees.  Ken was using 50 pound test braid line and a Snafu rig with a white (Jonah) crab about the size of a large whole green crab (the type of crab we commonly use here in RI and MA).” 

The Snafu rig, often used when targeting large tautog is a double hook rig where two hooks on either end of an eighteen inch line are placed in one crab with the sinker and leader to the main line tied into a loop in the middle so the crab sits on the bottom when fishing.  Visit YouTube and search for Snafu rig to learn how this rig is tied and used.

 Capt. Bounds said, “The fish started to fight about half way up and it took Ken about five minutes to bring it in. What was unusual is that this fish was a male, we have caught a number of large tautog in the 15 to 20 pound range in the past and they have all been female. The second largest fish of the day was 12.8 pounds.

It is no longer legal to fish for tautog in Rhode Island as the recreational season ended December 15, 2014, with the spring season scheduled to start sometime in April, 2015.
Narragansett Surfcasters to hold surf day and used tackle sale

The Narragansett Surfcasters is having their 2nd Annual Surf Day and Used Tackle Sale Saturday, January 24, 2015, 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Narragansett Community Center, 53 Mumford Road, Narragansett, RI. “This is a great opportunity to pick up quality tackle at a reasonable cost, attend three great seminars and have some food and refreshments.” said Cliff Richer, club vice president.   

 Local plug and lure builders will have items on display as well as rod builders, reel repair technicians, antique/collectible plugs and a lot of new and used quality tackle displays.  Seminars will include Reel

Maintenance by Dave Morton of Beavertail Reel Repair at 11:30 a.m.; Kayak Fishing  by Capt. Howard Reed of Narrow River Custom Rods/Galilee Bait & Tackle at 12:30 p.m. and Fishing the Block and Cuttyhunk by Tommy McGuire at 1:30 p.m. 

Food will include Rocky Point famous chowder & clam cakes, chili, meatball sandwiches, hot dogs, etc.

$3.00 admission donation for adults for the club’s "Take a Kid Fishing Day". For information visit www.narragansettsurfcasters.com .

 DEM stocks ponds with trout

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) plans to stock eight ponds with 3,000 trout this week for the winter fishing season.   Carbuncle Pond, Coventry; Olney Pond, Lincoln; Barber Pond, South Kingstown; Silver Spring Lake, North Kingstown; Upper Melville Pond, Portsmouth; and Round Top Ponds, Burrillville will be stocked with trout.
“Even though there is no ice currently, we have had many beautiful days for fishing this winter. Getting out in the fresh air is a great way to start the New Year and generate excitement for Opening Day in April.” says Catherine Sparks, assistant director for Natural Resources.

A current fishing license and a Trout Conservation Stamp are required to keep or possess a trout. The daily creel and possession limit for trout Dec 1, 2014-February 28, 2015 currently stands at two per day.
How do you know if ice is safe?

Ice must have a uniform thickness of at least six inches before it is considered safe by DEM.  It generally takes at least five to seven consecutive days of temperatures in the low 20’s for safe ice to form.  In addition to the requisite cold temperatures, ice thickness is also determined by factors such as the size and depth of a pond, presence of springs or currents, and local temperature fluctuations. For ice conditions in your city or town check with local police and at Olney Pond in Lincoln Woods State Park, call DEM's Division of Parks and Recreation at 667-6200.  Visit www.riparks.com for an ice safety guide.

Where’s the bite
Cod fishing remains strong with the Seven B’s, Francis Fleet and Island Current party boats reporting good fishing.   Capt. Russ Benn of the Seven Bs said, “Cod fishing was very good Saturday. There were a number of cod in the 8-12 pound range… High hook had 8 keepers and the largest cod was just shy of 19 lbs. High-low bait rigs, with fresh clams, outperformed the anglers using jigs. The Seven B’s will be sailing Friday thru Sunday leaving at 5:00 a.m. Captain Andrew Dangelo will be at the helm for the Cod fishing season. Call him at (401) 788-6012 for reservations.”    Roger Simpson of the Frances Fleet said Saturday they had “a nice turnout and a very good catch of fish. Well over 100 nice green cod on board with the pool fish just over 20 lbs and a dozen other fish right behind in the mid to upper teens.  Hi hook took home eight fish and both bait and jigs did well with the fish spread evenly around the Lady Frances. Fishing in general is very good.”

Party boats sailing for cod fish at this time include the Seven B’s at www.sevenbs.com, the Frances Fleet at www.francesfleet.com and Island Current at www.islandcurrent.com.

Catch, keep and fish with live bait

Steve Brustein and Capt. Dave Monti with the fish they caught at Cox’s Ledge on the Seven B’s party boat out of Pt. Judith, RI.
Mitch and Doug DiPalma of Wakefield, RI with eleven year old Mitch’s first cod caught on the Seven B’s Saturday.

The Saltwater Sportsman’s National Fishing Seminar Series with host George Poveromo (shown with yellowfin tuna) will be held Saturday, January 10 at the Casey Theatre, Regis College, Weston, MA.

George and Mike Fotiades of Narragansett, RI with the cast net they use to batch bait for fishing.
Catch, keep and fish with live bait
“Ever since George was three years old he had a curiosity for fish at the shore.  As he got older he would catch them with a hook and line or net them and if that didn’t work he would throw rocks at them.  His fascination for fish at the shore got us (me) interested in catching our own bait.” said Michael Fotiades of Narragansett, RI.  Mike and his 13 year old son George spoke about catching, keeping and fishing with live bait Monday night at a Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) meeting.
“You need to catch bait where you are going to fish.  What is in the water is what the fish are eating. So if you catch bait (silversides or mummies) in upper Narragansett Bay and then travel to a new location in the lower Bay to fish it is not necessarily going to work as the fish may not be feeding on that bait in the new location.” said Michael Fotiades. 
Small baits commonly caught in this area with nets or traps include silversides, bay anchovies, sand eels and mumichogs or killifish.  Larger bait fish caught with nets or hook and line include chogee or cunner, mullet, Atlantic menhaden, shad and scup. 
“You need to follow the recreational fishing regulations even if you are catching the species for bait.” said Fotiades.  For example the scup limit this year was 30 fish/angler/day at a 10” minimum… so that is all you cn catch for bait as well as human consumption.
To keep bait live the overarching tip is temperature and oxygen.  “The idea is to keep the bait you catch at the same temperature and water oxygen level. This may mean using a bait well with a circulator or simply changing or adding water to a bait bucket every 15 or 20 minutes.” said Fotiades.
The presentation finale was handled by George Fotiades who demonstrated how to prepare and throw a cast net.  The idea is to start with a small net (five or six feet) and practice, then step up to larger nets eight, nine and ten feet, which are more difficult to throw. “We often use this five foot net.  And we catch all the bait we can use.” said Fotiades. 
There are a number of YouTube videos on how to throw a cast net and there seems no one right way to throw one.  I searched for “how to throw a cast net” and found several helpful videos on the subject.
Saltwater Sportsman’s seminar Saturday, January 10
The Saltwater Sportsman’s national fishing seminar series with host George Poveromo will hold its New England seminar Saturday, January 10, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Casey Theatre at Regis College (235 Wellesley Street, Weston, MA).  Poveromo is an editor-at-large for Salt Water Sportsman magazine and is the host of George Poveromo’s World of Saltwater Fishing television program on NBC Sports. The $55 seminar  fee includes a day of fishing instruction from local, regional and national fishing captains and guides, a course text book, a year subscription or extension to Salt Water Sportsman magazine, goodie bag, door prizes and more. Register at www.nationalseminarseries.com.   
Cod fishing is good
I went out on the Seven B’s party boat out of Pt. Judith Saturday and went cod fishing. I met Mitch and (his dad) Doug DiPalma of Wakefield, RI.  Doug said, “We had a great day fishing. Mitch is so excited about catching his first cod fish.”
Just prior to leaving the dock at 6:00 a.m. Capt. Andy Dangelo said, “This is our fist cod trip of the season and it is a sellout… we have a full boat.  Now we’re going to try to find the cod.”  And he did taking his 55 passengers to the northern end of Cox’s Ledge about 20 miles south, southeast of Pt. Judith.  It took us about two hours and fifteen minutes to get to the fishing grounds where we were joined by other party boats… from the Frances Fleet, the Island Current and the Viking (from Montauk).
Capt. Andy Dangelo moved the boat several times, each time some of the passengers would catch a fish or two.  The weather was great and I heard no complaints on the boat… some anglers caught one to three fish and some top anglers landed six or seven keepers.
Dave and his son Mitch Aster from Fitchburg, MA enjoyed the day too.  They boated several sea bass and cod.  “We fished with the Seven B’s in September because the Frances Fleet boats were full and we were glad we did the crew was very attentive.  We had a great time, so this is why we returned to the Seven B’s today.” said Dave Aster.
Cod fishing is great fun for adults and children.  So if you think fishing is over, think again.  I know I will be keeping my eye on the weather and when the temperature gets to 45 or 50 once again I’ll be grabbing my fishing rod and gear for a trip to Cox’s Ledge for cod.
Party boats sailing for cod fish at this time include the Seven B’s at www.sevenbs.com, the Frances Fleet at www.francesfleet.com and Island Current at www.islandcurrent.com.

Anderson knows how to play tag

Big tag game: Kevin Robishaw and Al Anderson with Capt. Al’s 60,000th tagged game fish… a six pound striped bass caught this summer on Block Island Sound.

Mike Raganzo of Providence, RI with the pool winning cod he caught last week aboard the Gail Frances party boat out of Pt. Judith, RI.

Troy Bique of Ashaway, RI jigged up this cod Saturday when fishing a Frances Fleet party boat out of Pt. Judith, RI .

Anderson knows how to play tag
Sixty thousand of anything is a lot.  Particularly game fish, all caught on a hook and line, tagged and then released.  That is the milestone Capt.  Al Anderson hit this summer.  The striped bass was 25 inches and weighed about six pounds.  Capt. Anderson said, “This fish marked fifty years of tagging game fish for science.”  Over the years I’ve tagged school and giant bluefin tuna, a variety of sharks, white and blue marlin, bluefish and striped bass.”
 Capt. Anderson, who recently retired from charter fishing, credits his long-term clients with offering some of their catch up for tagging.  Now he’s tagging fish from his seventeen foot Boston Whaler. 
In 2012 he was inducted into the International Game Fish Association’s (IGFA) Hall of Fame for his ethic of fisheries conservation through tagging. 
Nice job Capt. Anderson, we are proud to have such an acclaimed conservationist here in Rhode Island.
Marine mammal safety guidelines
NOAA Fisheries is developing guidelines for safely deterring marine mammals and is asking for angler input. 
The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) section 101(a)(4)(A) allows for private citizens to employ measures to deter marine mammals from damaging fishing gear and catch, damaging personal or public property, or endangering personal safety, as long as these measures do not result in death or serious injury of marine mammals. 
The MMPA also directs the Secretary of Commerce, through NOAA Fisheries, to develop national guidelines on safely deterring marine mammals under NOAA's jurisdiction including whales, dolphins, seals, and sea lions.   The comment period is open until January 15, 2015. Review guidelines and comment at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2014-0146 
President Obama signs discharge permit exemption
Good news for commercial fishing vessels and charter boats. Last week President Obama signed into law the "Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014," exempting small fishing vessels from the EPA's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) discharge permit requirements. The law extended the exemption provision for three years.
Rick Bellavance, president of the Rhode Island Party & Charter Boat Association, said, “We lobbied congress  for permanent exemptions because the permits would be required in order to legally discharge effluent, such as deck wash and fish hold water, generated during normal charter fishing operations. Vessel owners who don’t obtain permits (would have been) subjected to daily noncompliance fines of up to $20,000 per day.” 

The regulation was intended to prevent fuels, toxic chemicals, or hazardous waste from entering the water. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told the Alaska Journal of Commerce that requiring a permit for fishermen to hose down a boat is overkill - especially when recreational boats, including mega-yachts - are exempt from the rule.
"We want to abide by environmental regulations that make sense," Senator Murkowski told the Journal, "But I don't think any of us believe it should be a requirement for a fishermen who has had a good day out on the water, and they are cleaning up the boat, and hosing slime and maybe some fish guts off the deck and that then becomes a reportable discharge to the EPA.... Let's use some common sense here."
Catch your own bait
This Monday, December 29th, 7:00 p.m. at the West Valley Inn, West Warwick, RI the Rhode Island Saltwater Angers Association (RISAA) will present a seminar on catching your own bait.  In this seminar Michael and George Fotiades will cover the types of bait that can be found in Rhode Island, how to catch them, how to keep them alive, and tips for fishing with them.  Cast nets will also be covered in depth - how they work, how to choose one, where to use them, and how to throw one.  The seminar will be followed  RISAA’s 17th annual meeting. Non-members are requested to make a $10 donation to the  RISAA Scholarship Fund.  Optional dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. served by the West Valley Inn.
Coastal Resources Center seeks focus group participants
The Coastal Resources Center is looking for focus group participants to help them improve the quality and content of their website.  They are looking for people who both have and have not previously accessed our website. People chosen to participate in the group will receive a light breakfast, a CVS gift card and some Coastal Resources Center prizes.  For a chance to be chosen to participate in one of their focus groups visit http://tinyurl.com/CRCFocusGroupSignUp2015 . If you have questions contact Jim Blair at 724.877.0517 (or blairj4@my.uri.edu). 
Where’s the bite
Cod.  This weekend angler Brian Beltrami fished the party boat the Island Current out of Snug Harbor, RI.  Brian said, “After about a 2 1/2 hour ride we arrived at a wreck South of Block Island, the island was not in sight. It was constant action on very large BSB, a few cod, and other species. When everyone had their limit of BSB we headed to the cod grounds near Coxes Ledge. Many keeper cod came over the rails. Besides the BSB and cod, pollock, silver hake, ocean Pout, cunner and ling were caught.”
Cod fishing was excellent aboard the Frances Fleet last week.  Roger Simpson of the Frances Fleet said, “Every angler left with cod fish all three fishing days. A solid "average" so to speak was five to seven nice fat green market cod per angler with some anglers doing considerably better all three trips. Hi hooks were in the 10 to 12 keeper category…on Saturday there were quite a few that had their limit… We are also seeing a tremendous amount of short cod from trout size to fish that are just under legal limit which is perhaps one of the best signs seen in a very long time indicating a strong possibility of at least two or three year classes. We are also making a paramount effort to ensure each and every throwback is returned unharmed and quickly to the sea.”
Party boats sailing for cod fish at this time include the Frances Fleet at www.francesfleet.com , the Seven B’s (with Capt. Andy Dangelo at the helm this week) at www.sevenbs.com, and the Island Current at www.islandcurrent.com .


Water warming, fish are on the move… now you can track them

Black sea bass like this one caught by angler Steve Burstein of West Warwick are plentiful but RI quotas are tight.  Regulations have not caught up with migrating fish.

Water warming, fish are on the move… now you can track them

Ever wonder why black sea bass quotas are so low, yet fishermen catch so many?  Or why it’s easy for Rhode Island to overfish summer flounder quotas?   Why cod has moved offshore or why cobia, a warm water exotic fish, is now being caught in our waters more than ever before?
It all has to do with our oceans warming which has caused fish populations to move north and/or into deeper cooler water.  You can now track 80 northeast species (650 in total) on a new Rutgers University website called OceanAdapt at http://oceanadapt.rutgers.edu .

How warm is the water? URI Bay temperature studies confirm that Narragansett Bay has warmed 2 to 2.5 degrees depending on time of year in past 45 years. 
“Since 1854 ocean temperatures on the northeast continental shelf have risen 1.3 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit.” said Dr. Jonathan Hare, director of the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration’s Narragansett, RI Laboratory.

Dr.  Hare and Dr. Malin Pinsky of Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Science have developed “OceanAdapt” which is a collaboration between the Pinsky Lab at Rutgers and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).  The OceanAdapt website provides information about the impacts of changing climate and other factors on the distribution of marine life.  The website hosts an annually updated database of fisheries surveys and provides tools for exploring changes in marine fish distribution.
“We found that all over North America, marine fish and invertebrates are shifting their distributions quite rapidly,” said Dr. Pinsky.  OceanAdapt allows anglers to search and download data on the geographic and depth ranges of fish and invertebrates by region and track how those distributions have changed over time.

This data is a valuable tool for the fishermen, fishery managers, and scientists who are grappling with the challenge of adapting fishing regulations to a changing climate. 
Black sea bass are a good example of fish moving and how fishing regulations need to change to accommodate this movement.  The Rutgers website explains “Black sea bass are important to both recreational and commercial fishermen on the East Coast, and each state gets a fixed share of the total catch. That catch was divided up based on where black sea bass were in the late 1980s and early 1990s. At that time, the fish were most abundant off North Carolina, so that state got the largest share of the catch. Since then black sea bass have moved, but the regulations haven’t caught up. Today, New England fishermen are catching black sea bass as far north as the Gulf of Maine. Meanwhile, North Carolina fishermen often have to motor far north to fill their quota, with the extra fuel costs eating into their profits.”

“Our fisheries regulations are built around the idea that fish distributions don’t change very much. When they do, that makes things complicated for fishermen and for managers trying to maintain a sustainable fishery,” Pinsky said.
Visit the OceanAdapt website and experiment.  It is easy to use.  I ran data graphs on black sea bass, summer flounder and cod.  The most telling graphic for me was looking at the movement and depth change of all east coast species together… the shift north was dramatic. 

As a fishermen and fish policy advocate, OceanAdapt gave  me a better understanding as to how fishing in Rhode Island has been impacted by climate change and how fishing policy and regulations have to be flexible and change faster to adapt to climate change.
Summer flounder and black sea bass regulations to tighten
Last week the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (MAFMC) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) had a joint meeting to discuss summer flounder (fluke), black sea bass and scup.  These two organizations have a direct impact on fishing regulations in Rhode Island as some of our species fall under the MAFMC and migratory species that travel the east coast are regulated by the ASMFC.
Scup saw liberalization in Federal waters with the recreational catch limit increased to 50 fish, scup regulations will likely be liberalized in RI waters too.
A summer flounder addendum will go out to public hearing in January.  East coast anglers overfished their quota in RI and other coastal states this year. Capt. Rick Bellavance, president of the Rhode Island Party and Charter Boat Association, said, “I am concerned about the options that bring RI into the NY/CT/NJ region, mostly because of the uncertain data and how dramatically it can change from year to year. I got the sense that a lot of people want to see us in the NY region which could reduce our (recreational) bag limit to five and shorten our season by quite a few days.”
Capt. Bellavance continued, “Black Sea Bass is a train wreck. The Northern Region has to take a 28% reduction so I would think we will look at a shortened season and a reduced bag limit. I know this does not make any sense with what we see on the water, but we are stuck with the existing law right now.”
 Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to meet February
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s 2015 Winter Meeting has been scheduled for February 3-5, 2015 at the Westin Hotel in Alessandria, VA. The agenda is available online at http://www.asmfc.org/home/2015-winter-meeting. Meeting materials will be available on January 23, 2015 on the Commission website. Agenda highlights include such items as winter flounder plans, Atlantic herring, American lobster, Atlantic menhaden, weakfish and big decisions are on the agenda for  summer flounder, scup and black sea bass.
The Striped Bass Management Board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 5 from 8:00 a.m. to noon.  The key agenda item to be discussed and considered for approval are Addendum IV Conservation Equivalency Proposals and Implementation Plans which coastal states have been working on. 
Rhode Island is expected to submit a plan that would allow the party and charter boat industry to take two fish at 32” or 33” minimum size which is expected to surpass the 25% reduction mandated by the new striped bass conservation equivalency threshold.  Coastwide one fish at 28” was approved by the ASMFC for recreational anglers which is a 31% reduction.  Other states may opt for a two fish solution for recreational anglers in general and/or charter boats as long as they meet the “conservation equivalency” reduction goal of 25%. 
More conservative anglers want to stay with the one striped bass fish at 28” regulation for 2015 while other recreational fishermen (and states) want to meet the 25% reduction goal but do it with two fish rather than one even though the two fish would have to be a larger minimum size.
Where’s the bite

Tautog season closes, cod and black sea bass fishing still good. The tautog fishing season closed December 15th.  Angler Larry Norin reports a slow cod bite off Jamestown and Newport last week.  This weekend the Frances Fleet had good cod and black sea bass trips.  Capt. Frank Blount said, “Weather sidelined us for a good chunk of the past week. Friday saw a pick of nice green market cod to nearly ten pounds and a decent amount of keeper sea bass with a bunch of sea bass limits. One angler did really well with the cod boxing 8 nice keepers and while his score was not representative of the average, most of the anglers aboard did leave with a cod fish...On Saturday's run the cod fish were a bit more evenly distributed around the boat. Hi hook boxed four keepers and two other anglers recorded three keepers apiece. The sea bass bite was very good as well with many anglers limited out and they were much bigger average size than the day prior. A lot of jumbos in the 2 to 3.5 lb range with a handful of bigger ones to over 4 lbs.” Elisa Martin of Sung Harbor Marina, South Kingstown said, “The Island Current party boat started sailing this weekend form our docks, too early to tell how they doing. The only other highlight was our customer appreciation holiday party last week on.  The fish chowder continues to be a big hit with customers.” Party boats sailing for cod fish at this time include the Frances Fleet at www.francesfleet.com , the Seven B’s (with Capt. Andy Dangelo at the helm this week) at www.sevenbs.com, and the Island Current at www.islandcurrent.com .