Last week I attended NOAA’s Recreational Saltwater Fishing Summit in Alexandria, Virginia with Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet and Capt. Rick Bellavance of Priority Too Charters, Pt. Judith. This was quite a showing for Rhode Island, as we were three of the 70 recreational fishermen, charter captains, boat manufacturers and fisheries policy makers attending the Summit.
The Summit gathered recreational fishing leaders from around the country to discuss ways of improving the science, service and stewardship of America’s saltwater recreational resources. The last Recreational Summit was held in 2010.
Capt. Bellavance gave a presentation on fishing data collection and the RI Fish for the Future’s efforts (a pilot project that ran this summer) in which eight RI charter captains recorded and collected their catch data in real time on computer tablets on their vessels. Capt. Bellavance said, “I guess you might say I’m a data geek… I believe good reliable data is necessary for effective management.”
The Summit’s agenda included developing an action plan that will help shape national fishing law, as the Magnuson-Stevens Act that governs commercial and recreational fishing will be coming before Congress for reauthorization this year. The hope was that the Summit would not only guide legislation but would also serve as an action plan for NOAA in the coming years.
Key issues addressed at the Summit focused in the areas of angler satisfaction, healthy recreational fisheries (resource stewardship), science and data both biological and socio-economic, successful relationships between fish managers and anglers as well as regional engagement and collaboration. At the end of the conference participants prioritized anywhere from fourteen to twenty five possible action steps for each key issue. Participants voted with electronic clickers to prioritize action agenda items. The action agenda items and rankings will be used by NOAA to develop recommendations in regard to MSA Reauthorization and will serve as the guiding principles to develop a formal NOAA policy on recreational fishing. Visit www.nmfs.noaa.gov for details on the Summit.
Recreational fishing regulations approved by Council
The Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council (RIMFC) met this week to review and vote on recreational fishing regulation recommendations for 2014. Their conclusions will be forwarded to Janet Coit, director of the RI Department of Environmental Management, for final consideration and approval.
Here is what we can “expect” on select species.
Striped bass: Status quo with last year’s regulations, 28” minimum size, a possession limit of two fish/person/day. No closed season.
Summer flounder (or fluke): Status quo with last year’s regulations, 18” minimum size, a possession limit of eight fish/person/day. May 1 to December 31 season.
Black sea bass: waiting to hear about reductions in this fishery from the ASMFC, it with likely be a 3.2% or 7% reduction. The minimum size is 13” with a shorter season for the first sub-period. If a 3.2% reduction is required the season would run from June 22 to August 31 with a three fish/person/day limit. The second sub-period would run from September 1 to December 31 with a seven fish/person/day limit. If we have to reduce by 7% the first sub-period would likely be shortened a week and run from June 29 through August 31.
Scup: 10” minimum size with the 30 fish/person/day limit with a May 1 to December 31 season. The bag limit for party and charter boats from September 1 to October 31 will increase to 45 fish. The Council voted to expand the 9” minimum size Special Area Provision for shore anglers that was engaged last year for the first time. Locations in 2013 included India Point, Conimicut Point and Stonebridge. This year the Council asked that other areas be explored including Fort Adams, Fort Wetherill and the West Wall at the Harbor of Refuge.
Tautog will likely have a 16” minimum size like last year with a split season, however, the spring season will likely start two weeks earlier on April 1 and run through May 31, the second sub season will run from August 1 to October 17; both periods will likely have a three fish/person/day limit. A closed season will occur June 1 to July 31, as this is a high spawning period for tautog. The limit increases to six fish/person/day from October 18 to December 15. A ten fish/vessel/day limit applies to all periods (does not apply to charter and party boats). Tautog is undergoing a new benchmark assessment; additional management measures may be appropriate for 2015 depending on 2014 landings and the outcome of the assessment.
Children learn how to fly fish free
Children ten years and older can learn how to fly fish Saturday, April 19 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Addieville East Farm, 200 Pheasant Drive, Mapleville. The program, held at the 900 acre preserve at Addieville East Farm, is in its fifteenth year. All equipment is provided, with lunch, and it is free of charge but you must register and space is limited. Children will learn basic entomology, fly tying, knots, fly casting and fishing for trout in a stocked pond. To register contact John Troiano at 401/935-8026, email@example.com; or Bob Teeden at 401/231-1663, firstname.lastname@example.org.
East Bay Anglers fishermen’s yard sale
The East Bay Anglers will hold their third annual fishermen’s yard sale on Saturday, April 26, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Riverside Sportsman’s Association, East Providence. Used rods, reels, fresh and saltwater lures, marine equipment, antiques and more will be on display. Donation $2 per person, children under 12 free. Some space is still available for those wanting to display merchandise. For information call Dave Fewster at 401/230-8201.
Where’s the bite
Fresh water fishing on opening day and after was great this week as anglers found it easy to catch their limit with the 80,000 trout DEM stocked in over 100 ponds and lakes in RI. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, East Providence said, “Willet Avenue Pond in Riverside had action all day with anglers easily catching their limit, but the Brickyard Pond in Barrington is a lot larger and anglers found it more difficult to fish their limit.”
Striped bass fishing has started in the Narrow River. Fly fisherman Ed Lombardi said, “We got into some stripers yesterday late afternoon (last Wednesday) at Narrow River.” Lombardi said flies that worked included four inch streamers in dark blue and gray on top, and shrimp patterns. Fishing in the Providence River on either side of the hurricane barrier continues to be good (these are holdovers). Noted local shore angler, author and lecturer Steve McKenna said, “I’ve been fishing two to three times a week at the West Wall at the Harbor of Refuge and as of Sunday morning I have not caught of heard of anyone catching striped bass that are part of the spring run. But it is getting close, conditions are right, any day now. Dave Pickering (another noted shore angler) said that holdover bass are moving out of the Rivers and those are the being caught at Narrow River.
Cod fishing was slow again last week as boats did not get out often due to rough sea conditions.
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shellfishing on Narragansett Bay for over 40 years. He holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. Contact or forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at email@example.com or visit his website at noflukefishing.com.