Agriculture Day with an aquaculture twist

What is a fishing writer doing writing about Agriculture Day?  Simple… it was about fishing and aquaculture too.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) along with local farmers, aquaculture associations, collaborations, universities and government agencies celebrated RI Agriculture Day (and aquaculture), May 1, in a big way. Forty eight exhibitors displayed and served their products at the Rhode Island State House.

About a hundred twenty-five people attended a ceremony to award $210,000 in grants to seventeen entities for the development of aquaculture/seafood and agriculture initiatives designed to continue to kick-start both the seafood and agriculture industries. Janet Coit, DEM executive director, said, “One of our achievements to market seafood this year was the development of a RI Seafood brand label that approved participants (they must meet criteria) can utilize on locally caught products.  Five companies have applied to use the seal.”  The idea will be to market fresh Rhode Island seafood for its nutrition value, quality of taste and freshness while promoting local fishermen.

Senator Susan Sosnowski, chair of the Senate Environmental and Agriculture Committee (who runs a family farm in South County) and Representative Art Handy, chair of the House Environmental and Natural Resource Committee, spoke at the grant award ceremony along with Bob Rheault of the Ocean State Aquaculture Association.

Where’s the bite

The good news is that the spring run of striped bass are here, however, they are the advance run of small school bass with large fish behind them.  Al Conti of Snug Harbor Bait & Tackle, South Kingstown said, “They caught school bass in big numbers this weekend at the West Wall (of the Harbor of Refuge) with two anglers that I know of catching keepers size bass (28” or over).”  I worked on my boat at Gardner’s Wharf, North Kingstown Saturday and school bass were swirling in Wickford Cove.  Jason Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren, said, “School bass are in, no reports of anyone catching a keeper bass but customers are buying clams to fish for bass.”  Last week, Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick, said “School bass are in East Greenwich Cove with customers catching fish in the 20 plus inch range.”
Tautog fishing is very slow. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle East Providence said, “Customers are not catching a lot of tautog from boats.  One customer fished the General Rock North Kingstown area, Half-Way Rock between Jamestown and Middletown and then tried Ohio Ledge in the East Passage of the Bay and not even a nibble. Shore anglers at the Wharf Tavern, at American Tourister plant and at the Barrington Bridge seem to be doing better with tautog.” Al Conti of Sung Harbor Marina said, “The water is still very cold. It was 46 degrees this weekend, that’s still too cold for tautog and large striped bass.” The water temperature in the middle of the Bay Saturday on my boat was just 50 degrees in the sun.  Generally striped bass and tautog fishing generally gets rolling once the water hits 55 degrees. Another interesting thing, there were very few boats in the water for this time of year. Al Conti said, “Guys have not even been able to paint their bottoms and put their boats in the water because the weather has been so cold and rainy.”
Scup season opened May 1 and anglers are starting to target them. Check   www.dem.ri.gove for scup, saltwater and freshwater fishing regulations.
Summer flounder (fluke) fishing is just starting with a slow start, again due to cold water. Al Conti of Snug Harbor Mariana said, “A few fish were caught this weekend by anglers off the southern side of Block Island.”  Roger Simpson of the Frances Fleet said, “Fluke fishing got underway today, Saturday and the anglers aboard managed to scratch a couple keepers and a few throwbacks in the morning. Water temps reading 46 degrees out at Block Island and they are likely a few degrees colder on the bottom. These are the coldest water temps since back in May of 2003…”
Freshwater fishing remains very strong with largemouth bass being caught and trout, particularly at ponds that have been stocked with trout by DEM For a list of stocked ponds, visit www.dem.ri.gov.

Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing for over 40 years.  He holds a captain’s master license, a charter fishing license, and is a member of the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council and the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association board.  Visit Captain Dave’s No Fluke Charters website at noflukefishing.com, his blog at noflukefishing.blogspot.com or e-mail him fishing news and photos at dmontifish@verizon.net.

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