Sunday, April 7, 2019

Trout fishing is great family fun... Mate school placement 75%

2018 Opening Day and year-round fishers, Yolanda Rios and Bill Whalen of Warwick with their sons Jowell and Brendon are a fishing family.
Opening day 2018 at Silver Spring Lake, North Kingstown: William Harpin of Warwick; Chris Girard, Joe Enright, Bill Enright (with fish), Autumn Mitchell, and Jonathan Harpin all of Cranston.
Mate School:  Hillary Kenyon of Groton, CT attends mate school run by Capt. Charlie Donilon of Snappa Charters. 

Trout fishing is great family fun

Opening day for trout season in Rhode Island is Saturday, April 13 at sunrise (around 6:09 a.m.).  However, the ritual of ‘Opening Day’ will start well before this time and continue throughout the weekend.  Often it starts before sunrise with fresh coffee on the banks of a pond or lake, a camping trip the night before, an early morning breakfast at home or at a local diner.
If you should have the desire to participate in the ritual, it does not take a lot of effort or money to get started. April is an ideal time for families to try their hand at fishing as Rhode Island and Massachusetts waterways are stocked well with trout and it is fairly easy for beginners to catch fish.  And, fishing can take place from the safety of shore while all enjoy the outdoors.

How to get started
It does not have to cost a lot to gear-up to fish opening day.  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “If you have a rod and reel already all you need is $4 worth of bait and you are off fishing.”  Ferrara sells treble hook rigs and sinkers for about $1.50.  If a rod and reel in needed you can get a brand name rod (Daiwa), reel and line for about $29.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “We have fresh water spinning rigs that start at $15 for rod, reel and line.  We hope to get some push button conventional reels later this week.”  John Lavelle of Continental Bait & Tackle, Cranston, said, “Opening day rigs with rod, reel and line range from $16 to $39.”

States stock ponds with hatchery raised trout that have been eating manufactured food so the bait of choice on Opening Day and early April is a prepared or formulated bait like PowerBait by Berkeley.  As the trout acclimate to the wild (two to three weeks) they begin to start foraging naturally so meal worms, other natural baits and lures work best then.  PowerBait can be purchased at bait & tackle shops as well as sporting goods stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shops and Wal-Mart. 

Ponds being stocked
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s (DEM) Division of Fish & Wildlife stocks about 100 ponds, lakes and waterways with hatchery raised brown, rainbow and brook trout with an average individual weight of one and a half pounds. Visit http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/fish-wildlife/freshwater-fisheries/troutwaters.php for a complete list of trout stocked ponds in RI.  There are ponds for children fourteen years old and younger, for fly fishing only, and some ponds are for children only just the first two days of trout season.
For information on fishing laws and regulations in Massachusetts refer to the 2019 Massachusetts Guide online at www.mass.gov/masswildlife or pick up a copy at sporting license vendor locations across the State (a similar guide is available in Rhode Island).
The trout season runs year-round in some Massachusetts waterways, however, most ponds, lakes,  smaller rivers and brooks have seasons that generally start April 1. In March and April Massachusetts will stock close to 500,000 brook, brown, rainbow and tiger trout.  Visit www.mass.gov/orgs/division-of-fisheries-and-wildlife for a list of stocked ponds and regulations.

Where to get a fresh water license
 A 2019 fishing license is required for anglers 15 years of age and older wishing to catch fish in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
A Trout Conservation Stamp is also required in Rhode Island for anyone wishing to keep or possess a trout or to fish in a catch-and-release or 'fly-fishing only' area.  Fishing licenses for residents in RI are $18 and the Trout Conservation Stamp is $5.50.  They can be obtained at any city or town clerk's office, authorized agent such as bait and tackle shops, can be purchased online or obtained at DEM’s Boat Registration and Licensing Office located at 235 Promenade Street in Providence.
Licenses are $33 for a combination hunting and fishing license, $35 for non-residents, and $16 for a tourist three-consecutive-day license. 
In Massachusetts a freshwater residential fishing license is $27.50 and a non-resident license is $37.50.  You can purchase an in state or out of state three day license.  For complete Massachusetts license information and to apply for one online visit https://www.mass.gov/how-to/buy-your-freshwater-fishing-license .

Mate school placement is 75%

Capt. Charlie Donilon of Snappa Charters, Pt. Judith, RI is an industry icon.  He was the first in the region to use a shark diving cage in the early 70’s, he has come in contact with hundreds of sharks (and released them all), and he had the first all female crew in a male dominated industry. 
And, this month he’ll be holding his third Mate School that will train students on how to serve as a mate on a charter or party boat.  The school makes no promises but the last class had a 75% placement rate. 

The school will be held Saturday, April 20 and 27 with six hour classroom/workshop sessions.  The program culminates with an on the water practicum aboard the charter fishing vessel Snappa the week of May 11.

Capt. Donilon said, “Students receive the basics at mate school with additional training occurring when they get their first job. The school is for female and males of all ages, anyone that wants to learn how to mate on a vessel or wants to sharpen their seamanship skills.”

Mate School teaches students how to prepare the vessel to fish, gear preparation and care, how to customer instruct on how to fish and how to treat customers.  Mate School’s aim is to introduce students to what it is like to be a mate and what is expected of them.

The cost of the school is $225. For information and to register for Mate School contact Capt. Donilon at 401.487.9044 or snappacharters@cox.net

Where’s the bite

Freshwater.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “We have a customer that caught eleven fish last week both largemouth bass and pike at Bad Luck Pond in Rehoboth, MA.”   John Lavelle of Continental Bait & Tackle, Cranston said, “Some larger fish have been caught in March.  As soon as the ice melts the largemouth bass are hungry and when the water warms they start to feed.  Our customers are doing well with shiners. Once opening day arrives local customers will be fishing at the kids only Seidel’s Pond and Meshanticut Brook but I like to point customers to southern Rhode Island lakes and ponds where things are not as crowded.  I can’t tell you all the maps I have drawn for customers.”

Cod fishing was off last week but as conditions improve the hope is that the fishing will improve too.  John Littlefield of Archie’s said, “One of my good customers put his boat in early last week and went to Cox Ledge.  They caught more haddock than cod but had a good day.”

Tautog season opened April 1 in RI and MA.  The minimum size is 16”. The limit until May 31 in both states is three fish/person/day. Check regulations as they change after May 31.

Fly fishing the cinder worm hatch... Fishing Show largest ever


Elisa Cahill and brother Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina at the New England Saltwater Fishing Show.  Cahill said, “Jigging rods were very popular this year.”
Anglers learn how to tie flies, fly fish and then try their hand fishing the cinder worm hatch.
Crista Banks of Vineyard Wind meets angler Steve Collins of Westport at the Fishing Show.  Most anglers had positive things to say about the wind farm as it creates habitat for small and large fish



Fly fishing the cinder worm hatch
The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in partnership with RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Aquatic Resource Education Program, announced its annual Cinder Worm Workshop.  The program includes two weekday evening classes in fly tying instruction and one weekend evening of fly fishing. The program is free to registrants.
The course syllabus includes practical rigging and fly casting instruction for the novice on the day of fishing. .  “We would like to have everyone attend both workshops,” said David Pollack, one of the organizers of the program, “but you also have the option to pick just one.”  Introduction to practical rigging and casting instruction will be covered for those that need additional assistance.  Fly fishers will then fish the coves of Grassy Point area of Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge.  “We don’t guarantee the weather or the fish,” said Pollack.
The program is open to any adult or accompanied child over the age of 10, regardless of skill level--40 person maximum so register early.  Instruction and guidance will be provided by some of the area’s most proficient and knowledgeable worm fishermen.   Also this year is the opportunity for kayak fishing - limited to experienced kayakers who have their own vessel, safety equipment and required lights. 
 
All fly tying materials will be provided.  Participants are encouraged to bring their own tools and equipment, but all necessary fly tying tools and equipment will be loaned to registrants upon request. Saltwater fly fishing equipment, including rods, reel, lines and leaders are available too.

The Fly Tying classes will be held Tuesday, May 7 and May 14. 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the
Kettle Pond Visitor Center, Charlestown, RI.  The Fly Fishing portion of the program will take place Saturday, May 18, 4:00 p.m. until dark at Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge, Charlestown, RI.
Capt. Ray Stachelek and Dave Pollack, fly fishing experts and USFWS volunteers will facilitate the program. For information or to register contact Scott Travers at sott.travers@dem.ri.gov. 

The buzz at the Saltwater Fishing Show
The New England Saltwater Fishing Show this past weekend toped all past RI Convention Center attendance records.  Over 15,000 people were expected to attend.  A final tally will be forthcoming later this week or next.

Black sea bass regulations for 2019 recreational fishing was top of mind for anglers at the show.  Greg Vespe, Flippin Out Charters mate, Aquidneck Island Striper Team president and RI Saltwater Anglers Association board member said, “Black sea bass was the big angler concern at the show.  Anglers just cannot understand why the State of Rhode Island is once again proposing to start the season so late (June 24). These fish are caught in the Bay by boat and shore anglers in early June and it is often the only time they get to target black sea bass.  By delaying the season once again we are denying Bay anglers the benefit of this fishery as these fish move out of the area in July.  Pushing the season back to accommodate a handful of charter and party boats so their fall season can be extended is just not right.”
Most 2019 fishing regulations (for recreational and commercial fishing) will go before the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council including proposed balck sea bass regulations next Monday.  Anglers are urged to attend.  The meeting starts earlier than usual, 5:30 p.m. on Monday, April 1 at Corless Auditorium at the University of Rhode Island Bay Campus.  Visit www.dem.ri.gov for meeting agenda and background information.
Fishing gear and tackle trends at the Show
The Saltwater Edge, top lures.  From the surf Tom Dzis of the Saltwater Edge, Middletown, RI said, “Super Strike lures were hot at the show.  The Zig Zag Darter in the new Midnight Harvest color was a good seller.  Their Needlefish lure in ‘Eely’ color was a great seller too.  Other top lures included Ocean Born Lures.”
Ocean Born Lures by A Band of Anglers is a fairly new company from the world's top lure developer, Patrick Sebile.  He is known in the fishing world for developing such productive lures as the Magic Swimmer and the Stick Shad. 
The Saltwater Edge has a great online store that’s very easy to use and is loaded with product at www.saltwateredge.com or you can visit their retail store at 1037 Aquidneck Avenue, Middletown, RI.
Flippin Out Fishing Charters and lures was at the show marketing their summer flounder (fluke) lures, charter business and demonstrating how to tautog fish using saltwater electric trolling motors (the Minn Kota Riptide line with spot lock).  The new motor designs allow fresh or saltwater anglers to hover over their favorite fishing spots to hook up with hard to fish species like tautog.  
Minn Kota electric motors with Spot-Lock are now being used even on larger mid-sized boats to help keep you over the fish.  Their saltwater Riptide Ulterra model with i-Pilot features Spot-Lock, a GPS anchor.  Just hit a button and lock onto any spot you chose automatically.  For saltwater or freshwater anglers this means over structure, on a bank, next to a dock or jetty that is holding fish (saltwater bottom fish such as tautog, scup or black sea bass).
Many of the fluke fishing lures sold by Capt. BJ Silvia, owner of Flippin Out Charters and lures, feature a large plastic squid and large wide gap hook on a three way swivel.  The rig has a sinker clip that makes changing out different sinker weights easy.  These rigs have been some of my favorite fluke rigs for years and can be purchased at a number of bait & tackle shops in Rhode Island.  Visit Flippin Out Charters and lures at www.flippinoutchartes.com .
Snug Harbor Marina in South Kingstown, RI is a full serve bait & tackle shop.  They had a large show presence this year as usual with a variety of rods, reels and tackle.   Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor said, “Jigging rods and reels have been very popular at the show.  Anglers are interested in learning and fishing this way to mix things up.  All the popular rods have been selling well… Shimano, Lamiglass and a host of others. Anglers are jigging for striped bass, tuna and other species. By far… fluke rigs have been the bestselling rigs at the show.”
Snug Harbor Marina offers customers gas and diesel fuel, a complete selection of inshore and offshore bait and tackle along with marina supplies, seafood, groceries and a snack bar.  Visit them at http://www.snugharbormarina.com/ or visit them at 410 Gooseberry Road, South Kingstown, RI.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

New England Saltwater Fishing Show this week


How to catch bigger fluke’ will be one of the presentations given by Capt. Dave Monti at the New England Saltwater Fishing Show this week.  Over sixty seminars, visit www.nesaltwatershow.com .
Quahog Week starts March 25:  restaurants and markets are participating with quahog specials of all types.  Visit www.seafoodri.com for a complete listing.

New England Saltwater Fishing Show this week

The Annual New England Saltwater Fishing Show sponsored by the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA), is being held this week March 22-24 at the Rhode Island Convention Center.   Friday hours are 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Steve Medeiros, RISAA president, said, “This is the largest saltwater fishing show in the Northeast. And, it’s our largest ever with a record 445 booths and 350 companies displaying their latest in fishing tackle and gear with many of them offering show specials and prices.”  Most major saltwater companies will be represented including rod and reel manufactures, fishing lure companies, fishing charter boats and guides and makers of clothing, fly fishing gear, boats, kayaks and much more. Medeiros said, “Capt. Paul Hebert of Wicked Pissah and Cap. Dave Carraro of Tuna.COM from the TV show Wicked Tuna will be speaking at the show Saturday and Sunday.”

A Kids Casting Area will be open Saturday and Sunday. Sunday is also family day with all women and children admitted free and a special scavenger hunt for children on Sunday, ask about it when you arrive at the show.

Rich Hittinger, 1st vice president of RISAA said, “We are raising funds for the RI Saltwater Anglers Foundation by selling Rhode Island license plates that feature a striped bass and scup on them.  Stop by our booth at the show and take a look at this great plate.  When you order one you will supporting all of the fishing outreach, environmental and conservation efforts of the Foundation.”

Capt. Dave Monti and many other guest speakers

Over 60 Fishing Show seminars are being given by experts on a wide range of fishing topics from how to catch larger summer flounder to in shore fishing with light tackle from shore, kayak or boat.  Learn about fishing tactics and strategies from top fishermen and charter captains.

I will be speaking at the Show on two topics, the first is ‘How to catch bigger fluke’ offered Friday at 2:00 p.m.; Saturday at 3:30 p.m.; and Sunday at 12:30 p.m.  I will give a second seminar titled ‘Enhancing you tautog bite” on Friday at 6:00 p.m.; and Saturday at 9:30 a.m. No Fluke Charters will have a booth at the show, #205, so stop by the booth and say hello or follow me on Twitter @CaptDaveMonti. Visit www.nesaltwatershow.com/seminars.shtml  for a complete listing of seminar topics and speakers.    

Tickets are $10 for adults, children under 12 are admitted free.  Learn more about the show at nesaltwatershow.com .

Fly fishing the cinder worm hatch

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in partnership with RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Aquatic Resource Education Program, announced its annual Cinder Worm Workshop.  This is the program’s tenth year and it will include two weekday evening classes in fly tying instruction and one weekend evening of fly fishing. The program is free to registrants.

The course syllabus includes practical rigging and fly casting instruction for the novice on the day of fishing. .  “We would like to have everyone attend both workshops,” said David Pollack, one of the organizers of the program, “but you also have the option to pick just one.”  Introduction to practical rigging and casting instruction will be covered for those that need additional assistance.  Fly fishers will then fish the coves of Grassy Point area of Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge.  “We don’t guarantee the weather or the fish,” said Pollack, “but past experiences have shown that this is prime time for the worm mating season.”

The program is open to any adult or accompanied child over the age of 10, regardless of skill level--40 person maximum so register early.  Instruction and guidance will be provided by some of the area’s most proficient and knowledgeable worm fishermen.   Also this year is the opportunity for kayak fishing - limited to experienced kayakers who have their own vessel. Proper safety equipment is required plus lights for navigation.    

All fly tying materials will be provided.  Participants are encouraged to bring their own tools and equipment, but all necessary fly tying tools and equipment will be loaned to registrants upon request. Saltwater fly fishing equipment, including rods, reel, lines and leaders, will be loaned to registrants who do not have their own gear and tackle.  

The Fly Tying classes will be held Tuesday, May 7 and May 14. 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the

Kettle Pond Visitor Center, Charlestown, RI.  The Fly Fishing portion of the program will take place Saturday, May 18, 4:00 p.m. until dark at Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge, Charlestown, RI.

Capt. Ray Stachelek and Dave Pollack, fly fishing experts and USFWS volunteers will facilitate the program. For information or to register as a participant contact Scott Travers at sott.travers@dem.ri.gov.  To sign-up as an instructor contact Dave Pollack at dpollipo@cox.net .



4th Annual RI Quahog Week March 25-31

The Rhode Island Seafood Marketing Collaborative, chaired by the Department of Environmental Management (DEM), will hold the 4th annual Quahog Week March 25 - March 31.  The week-long celebration highlights the importance of Rhode Island’s iconic shellfish to the State’s economy and culture.    

As part of the week-long observance, participating restaurants will feature quahog-inspired specials on their menus, and participating markets will offer deals for those who enjoy cooking their own clam dishes at home.  

Quahog Week will also feature two special events where harvesters from the RI Shellfishermen’s Association will be shucking and serving complimentary little necks and interacting with attendees about their fishery. Partners will also be providing other complimentary quahog-based samplers and beverages.  Both events are free and open to the public.  Quahog Night West Bay will be held Wednesday, March 27, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Whalers Brewing Company, 1174 Kingstown Road, South Kingstown and Quahog Night East Bay will be held Friday, March 29, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Hope & Main, 691 Main Street, Warren. 

Visit www.seafoodri.com  for a full list of participating restaurants and markets and the specials they are offering.



Where’s the bite

Cod fishing. Capt. Andy Dangelo of the Seven B’s Party Boat said, “We have been finding cod and with the weather improving everything is looking up.”  Capt. Frank Blount said, “We manage to get off the dock a few times this week and found mixed results. Wednesday did see the best results with a good showing of both green and dark cod. There is still good showing of bait on the grounds and we have some amazing weather coming so things are looking up. 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) at www.sevenbs.com, and the Island Current at www.islandcurrent.com .

Anglers weigh in on 2019 regulation options


Jamie and Xavier Wong of Cambridge, MA with an early June black sea bass.  Once again this year the season in RI is not likely to start before June 24.
Steve Medeiros, president of the RI Saltwater Anglers, ‘proposed and supports’ two 16” summer flounder (fluke), from select shore areas.

Anglers weigh in on 2019 regulation options


It’s Monday, March 11, 6:00 p.m. and there are well over 100 fishermen and fish managers at the URI Bay Campus to express their thoughts about recreational and commercial fishing regulations for 2019.  Most of the regulations that impact anglers were about to be reviewed at a Public Hearing.  Participants have an opportunity to express their thoughts about proposed fishing regulation options.

The Hearing is part of Department of Environmental Management Marine Fisheries Division procedure (and Rhode Island law). After getting public comment on regulation options they are passed along to the Marine Fisheries Council which is scheduled to meet April 1 to vote on recommendations.  The public input, Council and Marine Fisheries Division recommendations then go to Janet Coit, DEM director form her final decision on 2019 season regulations.

Commercial and recreational fishing regulations on species such as scup, summer flounder, black sea bass, striped bass and more were reviewed at the Public Hearing. John Lake, DEM Supervising Marine Biologist, did an outstanding job chairing the meeting seeking audience input and keeping what could have been a long meeting on track.  Here are some meeting highlights on striped bass, summer flounder (fluke) and black sea bass.

Striped bass. The new stock assessment and recalibration of MRIP data is showing that the striped bass stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring.  Regulations that utilize this stock assessment data are expected to come into play with the 2020 fishing season.  Recreational regulations for 2019 will be status quo (the same as last year).  One fish/person/day, a season open year round.  Minimum fish size 28”.  Additionally, any striped bass, 34 inches and larger must have the right pectoral fin removed upon harvest.

Summer flounder (fluke) is not overfished, however, overfishing is occurring relative to biological reference points.  A new higher quota, a 73% increase, has been set for the commercial fishery but no increase for the recreational fishery as they slightly overfished their harvest limit in 2018. A status quo option was supported by recreational anglers at the meeting with a minimum size of 19”, six fish/person/day with a season running from May 1 to December 31. Additionally, the RI Saltwater Anglers Association suggested a Special Shore Provision… a 16” fish, two fish/person/day from May 1 to December 31.  If approved the program would run just in special provision locations identical to the provisional scup areas.

Steve Medeiros, president of the Rhode Island Saltwater Angles Association, said, “We proposed and support the two 16” fish from shore provision as it is almost impossible for shore anglers to catch a 19” summer flounder.  It’s time we gave the shore angler a shot at this fishery.”

In regard to the commercial fishery, fisherman overwhelming supported opening the season from four to seven days a week to utilize the 73% quota increase.  The commercial fishery was closed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday last year.

Black sea bass are not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. A benchmark stock assessment was done in 2016 with no new information at this time.  Status quo measures were approved by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), the Commission regulates species that migrate along the northeast coast.  An update to the 2016 assessment is scheduled for 2019 but may not be available to use for the 2019 season. The status quo regulations the Division is recommending is a 15” minimum size with a three fish/person/day limit June 24 to August 31 and five fish /person/day from September 1 to December 31.

Doug MacPherson, recreational Bay angler, RISAA board member and legislative committee chair, said, “Not opening the black sea bass season until June 24 is very detrimental to the Bay fishermen, particularly shore fishermen.  Black sea bass start leaving the upper and middle bay (in particular) at the end of June.  We should aim to open the season earlier in June for shore and Bay anglers.”

Last year DEM recommended (and the Council approved) postponing the season starting it on June 24 to accommodate the RI Party & Charter Boat Association so their members could continue to fish throughout the fall and winter.  They are recommending the same this year.

A recording of Monday night’s Division of Marine Fisheries public hearing is now available on the DEM YouTube channel. The public comment period ends on March 30.  Proposed regulations can be viewed on the Sec. of State website at https://rules.sos.ri.gov/organizations.  Go to “Title 250 Department of Environmental Management”, then “Chapter 90 Marine Fisheries, then “Subchapter”.  The regulations currently noticed are indicated by the yellow “i” icon.  Comments can be submitted in writing/email to:  DEM Division of Marine Fisheries, 3 Fort Wetherill Road, Jamestown, RI 02879, Attn: Peter Duhamel/public hearing comments, peter.duhamel@dem.ri.gov.


‘Catch trout are as big as Volkswagens’

The Rhody Fly Rodders will meet Tuesday, March 19, 6:30 p.m. the Riverside Sportsmen’s Association, 1 Mohawk Drive, East Providence.

The seminar topic is trout fishing in Northwest Montana.  Expert Montana adventure angler Dan Spedding will give a presentation titled ‘Trout Fishing the Blackfoot Indian Reservation for trout as big as Volkswagens.’ 

Spedding said, “To put it mildly, the Blackfoot Reservation in northwest Montana presents its  share of challenges ... but if you’re willing, you will likely catch the largest trout of your life....if not the largest dozen, as the fish are the size of Volkswagens. One thing for certain... it’ll be an adventure.”

Peter Nilsen, Roddy Fly Rodders president said, “In addition to the presentation we will be selling flies for this year’s charity ‘Reel Recovery’.  The meeting is open to the public.”  Contact Peter Nilsen at pdfish@fullchannel.net.


Speed limit set to protect whales

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) has set a ten knot speed limit in parts of Cape Cod Bay to protect endangered right whales for ship strikes.   

In a press release last week the Division said, “During the late-winter and early-spring, right whales migrate into and aggregate in Cape Cod Bay where they feed on zooplankton. As we move from the winter into the spring they begin to surface feed. This behavior leaves them particularly susceptible to ship strikes. Ship strikes are a significant source of mortality to these endangered whales.” 

The ten knot speed limit will be in effect annually during the months of March and April within those waters of Cape Cod Bay south of 42° 08’ north latitude, this includes those waters north of Cape Cod that are west of 70°10’ west longitude (see map). The term small vessel refers to all vessels less than 65’ overall length. A complementary federal speed limit applies to all vessels 65’ overall length and greater. Visit www.mass.gov/marinefisheries for charts or call 617.626.1520.


Where’s the bite?

Cod fishing.  Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “With our new sailing time of 6 a.m. we decided to try some of the local wrecks Saturday. We did find some life on the wrecks with a few nice cod coming over the rails. When steaming between spots we found a good pile of green codfish under the bait. We worked on the area for a few hours but could never get right back on top.”  Party boats sailing for cod this time of year includes the Frances Fleet at www.francesfleet.com , the Seven B’s at www.sevenbs.com, and the Island Current at www.islandcurrent.com .


Sunday, March 10, 2019

Fishermen suggest regional panels to eye cumulative wind farm impacts

 Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) lease areas from Massachusetts to the Carolinas.


Today black sea bass are climate change winners.  They are more abundant due to warming water like this fish caught off Rhode Island by Capt. Dave Monti.


Fishermen suggest regional panels to eye cumulative wind farm impacts

It’s very hard to get a handle on offshore wind. We have twenty or so lease areas from Massachusetts to the Carolinas, six of them (all granted to developers now) are off Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The kicker is that each of these lease areas will house multiple projects.  Projects that could harm or help habitat and fish in their area.  However, the big question being asked by fishermen and scientists alike, is what cumulative impact they will they have on fish and habitat when they are all built, up and running?

For the past few months Vineyard Wind has been in negotiation with fishermen on a mitigation plan for one project… eventually many projects will be built on the east coast.  The permitting process and various stages of approval for any one wind farm is daunting including, hundreds of meetings, hearings, permits, negotiations, etc.  Who knows what effect several projects in an area will have, developers have been just trying to get their project up and running.

Offshore wind farm developers are much like land developers.  They acquire or lease a parcel and then develop it with ocean wind farms as they have the electricity sold.  Much the same way that a land developer would develop a large parcel of land only building what they have good reason to believe they can sell in stages.

Last month during mitigation negotiations Rhode Island fishermen on the Fisheries Advisory Board (FAB) of the Coastal Resource Management Council (CRMC) approved a $16.7-million negotiated mitigation agreement with Vineyard Wind.  The settlement provides funds for research to study safe effective fishing in the project area as well as research that may help future projects and their relationship to fishing.  The agreement also includes $4.2 million in payments spread over 30 years for assistance with direct impacts of the wind farm on fishing in Rhode Island.

The Fisheries Advisory Board of CRMC, the Anglers for Offshore Wind (AFOW) which is a recreational fishermen’s group that supports the responsible development of ocean wind, and the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) all expressed concern to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) about cumulative impacts.  All expressed concern at public hearings and in writing after hearings pertaining to Vineyard Wind’s Environmental Impact Statement on the project.

RISAA and the AFOW both suggested that BOEM establish regional fisheries advisory committees.  The committees would look at wind farms on a regional basis taking into account any negative or positive cumulative impacts on habitat and fish multiple wind farms in a region may have together.
Renewable energy in the form of offshore wind is vitally important for our nation to help stem the tide on climate change and provide clean, affordable energy for all Americans.  However, we have to stay on top of things and make sure we do no harm to fish or habitat in the process.

I believe regional committees that keep an eye on individual projects and cumulative impacts of multiple wind farms in a region makes a lot of sense.  Like other fishermen I hope BOEM takes this suggestion under advisement and forms such committees.  For information on ocean wind farms visit https://www.boem.gov/Offshore-Wind-Energy/ .

Warming water impacting fish volume, down 15 to 35% in some regions

A study titled ‘Impacts of historical warming on marine fisheries production’ was released in Science magazine last week at http://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6430/979.  The study was led by Christopher M. Free of the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University along with a number of collaborating scientists. 

The study abstract relates Dr. Free and his associates “used temperature specific models and hindcasting across fish stocks to determine the degree to which warming has, and will, affect fish.”  The study found that overall fish yield has reduced over the past 80 years.  The study said, “Furthermore, although some species are predicted to respond positively to warming waters, the majority will experience a negative impact on growth.”

The study used temperature-dependent populations models to measure the influence of warming.  Some populations responded significantly positively and others responded significantly negatively to warming.  Hindcasts indicate that the maximum sustainable yield of the evaluation populations (235 of them) decreased by 4.1 percent from 1930 to 2010, with five ecoregions experiencing loses of 15 to 35 percent.

In a Rutgers Today interview, study co-author Dr. Malin Pinsky said, “We were stunned to find that fisheries around the world have already responded to ocean warming.  These aren’t hypothetical changes sometime in the future.”  Rutgers Today said the study reports that the effects of ocean warming have been negative for many species, but also finds that other species have benefited from warming waters.
“Fish populations can only tolerate so much warming, though,” said senior author Olaf Jensen, an associate professor at Rutgers. “Many of the species that have benefited from warming so far are likely to start declining as temperatures continue to rise.”
Black sea bass and scup are examples of species that have benefited from warming in our region, however, as study scientists related even these species (as well as other species in our region) may start to decline as temperature continues to rise.

Public hearing Monday, March 11 on regulations

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the RI Marine Fisheries Council is holding a public hearing on a number of proposed commercial and recreational 2019 regulations Monday, March 11, 6:00 p.m., Corless Auditorium, URI Bay Campus, Narragansett.  Regulations covered at the meeting will include black sea bass, summer flounder, scup, striped bass, bluefish, cod and others.  For the meeting agenda and a copy of the presentation that will be given at the hearing visit www.dem.ri.gov/programs/fish-wildlife/marine-fisheries/rimfc/index.php.

Stripers Forever advocates for reductions in striper mortality
In a press release last week Stripers Forever, an organization that advocates for striped bass conservation measures, said, “The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) announced in January that the striped bass resource is significantly overfished and that the spawning stock biomass has dropped back to levels last seen in the early 1990s.” 

Stripers Forever president Brad Burns said “Stripers Forever supports significant reductions in recreational fishing mortality beginning this season.” According to Stripers Forever the commercial fishery has comparatively small socio- economic benefits, and it is concentrated on large breeding-age fish which are the sector of the resource that is in the greatest trouble.  Burns said that “Stripers Forever feels that all commercial fishing activity for stripers should end either through a buyout program paid for by the sale of a striped bass stamp, or phased out by grandfathering those commercial fisherman who have had a minimum average amount of sales over the past several years and not issuing any new licenses.” 

Stripers Forever expects the ASMFC to announce in May that regulatory changes will be imposed in 2020 to reduce striped bass mortality; specifically minimum sizes will be increased for recreational fishing and a decreased commercial quota for the commercial fishery. Some states may take immediate actions to reduce striped bass mortality, especially release mortality, such as Massachusetts, where circle hooks may become mandatory for bait fishing and gaffing of live striped bass may be prohibited.
For information visit www.stripersforever.org.

Where’s the bite?

Cod fishing.  Party boats sailing for cod this time of year includes the Frances Fleet at www.francesfleet.com , the Seven B’s at www.sevenbs.com, and the Island Current at www.islandcurrent.com .


Get ready to fish at the Fishing Show


The New England Saltwater Fishing Show, March 22-24 at the Rhode Island Convention Center, will feature over 300 exhibitors and 60 fishing seminars.  Visit www.nesaltwatershow.com for details.

Get ready to fish at the Fishing Show

Get ready to fish at the New England Saltwater Fishing Show, March 22-24 at the Rhode Island Convention Center.  This year it’s the largest ever and includes tackle, rods, reels, lures, electronics, charter guides, boats, motors, accessories, clothes and much more.

Steve Medeiros, show director and president of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (show sponsors), said, “We expanded the show adding booths and total over 300 exhibitors with over sixty seminars in three different areas.  Many exhibitors are offering show specials.”  Seminars are given by experts on a wide range of fishing topics from how to catch larger summer flounder to in shore fishing with light tackle from shore, kayak or boat.  Learn about fishing tactics and strategies from top fishermen and charter captains.

Visit www.nesaltwatershow.com/seminars.shtml  for a complete listing of seminar topics and speakers.  By taking a little time to plan your show visit you can make sure you are at the show for the presentations you want to see and visit the booths that have products you want to see.
Special speakers at the show include National Geographic’s ‘Wicked Tuna’ Capt. Dave Carraro of Tuna.com and Capt. Paul Hebert of Wicked Pissah.  The duo will take the show stage and talk about what goes on behind the scenes when filming the Wicked Tuna show.

To get the most out of the show, I select the exhibitor booths I want to visit before the show by circling them in the program and marking them on the show floor plan.  I then spend some time reviewing the seminar topics and speakers noting the ones I want to attend and the times they are offered (most are offered more than once). 

The New England Saltwater Fishing Show is being held at the Rhode Island Convention Center Friday, March 22, 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, March 23, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.; and Sunday, March 24, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  

Sunday is family day at the show. All women and children under 12 will be admitted free on Sunday, March 24.  A scavenger hunt for children will be held Sunday.  As a child enters the show with a parent they are given a Scavenger Hunt search sheet that can net them a variety of prizes.
Tickets at the door are $10, however advance sales discounted tickets online are $8.00 each.  Children 12 and under are admitted free.  Visit www.nesaltwatershow.com for advance ticket sales.

RI fishermen settle on Vineyard Wind mitigation

On Monday, February 25 the Fisheries Advisory Board (FAB) of the Coastal Resource Management Council (CRMC) approved a $16.7-million negotiated mitigation agreement with Vineyard Wind.  Approval of the package moves the project forward to the entire CRMC which at press time was scheduled to be Tuesday to discuss the Vineyard Wind project.

The settlement provides more funds upfront for research to study safe effective fishing in the project area as well as research that may help future projects and their relationship to fishing.  $2.5-million, for five years in a trust fund will be managed by Rhode Island fishermen.  The agreement also includes $4.2 million in payments spread over 30 years for assistance with direct impacts of the wind farm on fishing in Rhode Island.

Trout Unlimited Annual Meeting and Fundraiser

The Narragansett Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU225) will hold their Annual Fundraiser Banquet Saturday, April 6, 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Coventry/West Greenwich Elks Lodge, 42 Nooseneck Hill Road, West Greenwich, RI.

The banquet will feature an early evening dinner buffet, numerous bucket raffles, as well as a silent and live auction.  Items vary from a Baxter House Outfitters guided wading trip on the Beaverkill River or Willowemoc Creek, a Thomas and Thomas Vector 5wt travel rod, other fly fishing rods and gear, fresh and salt water flies, Bass Pro Gift Cards, movie tickets, gift certificates for therapeutic massage plus many items donated by our membership.  Tickets are $35.00 and can be purchased at the door.  For information or to donate auction items contact Susan Estabrook at 401.848.1070.

 RI Fishing licenses online

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) reminds anglers that the freshwater fishing season runs from March 1 through February 28.  Regardless of when they were purchased, recreational freshwater fishing licenses for the 2018 season will expire on February 28, 2019.  Licenses for the 2019 season are available online  at www.dem.ri/gov and will be valid from March 2019 through February 2020. 

The recreational saltwater fishing season runs on a calendar-year basis, visit www.dem.ri.gov in Rhode Island and in Massachusetts visit https://www.mass.gov/massfishhunt-buy-fishing-or-hunting-licenses .

Weekapaug SurfCasters meeting March 3

The Weekapaug SurfCasters will meet Sunday, March 3, 1:00 p.m. at the Misquamicut Fire House, 65 Crandall Avenue, Westerly.  Gill Bell, noted local surfcasting expert and club member will speak about “Surfcasting South County for bluefish and striped bass”.  For information contact Gil Bell at gannetgil@cox.net.

Where’s the bite?

Freshwater fishing.  Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown said, “With most of the ice melted things have slowed down. In this area anglers were targeting pike, largemouth bass and trout in the ponds that were stocked by DEM.”  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle Riverside, said, “I’ve had my best winters for business in a long time.  Sold a lot of shiners to anglers ice fishing in northern parts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.  This week in addition to shiners I had some blue gills that were about six inches and some small catfish.  Those were the first to go as anglers were buying them to target pike.”  Opening Day for the freshwater season is April 13 this year (always the second Saturday in April).  Anglers (even saltwater anglers) use opening day as the official start of the fishing season.  The States of Massachusetts and Rhode Island will be stocking trout in preparation for Opening Day sometime in late March/early April.

Cod fishing was good last week, the best it has been since the New Year. Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “We did manage to get out a few times last week and are happy to report some of the best action we have seen in weeks. We fished on Sunday close to Block Island and found a few small fish but nothing really to work on. Captain Mike decided to take a ride out to the deep water. We found some nice cod waiting with open mouths. The weather was so nice we were able to power drift to stay right on top of the fish. We then were able to make it out on the following Saturday. We found some nice market cod to work on with quite a few shorts in the mix.”  Party boats sailing for cod this time of year includes the Frances Fleet at www.francesfleet.com , the Seven B’s at www.sevenbs.com, and the Island Current at www.islandcurrent.com .