The Department of Environmental Management’s Marine Fisheries Division announced final 2014 fishing regulations that were approved by director Janet Coit. Those regulations are a reflection of what was approved by the Marine Fisheries Council in April. Complete regulations for all species can be found on www.dem.ri.gov or on the RI Saltwater Anglers website at www.risaa.org. Here are the highlights on five popular 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: The minimum size is 13” with a shorter season for the first sub-period due to a needed 7% reduction by the ASMFC. Season runs from June 29 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.
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 and then back down to 30 fish/person/day from November 1 to December 31. The 9” minimum size Special Area Provision for shore anglers that was engaged last year for the first time has been expanded to include all of the 2013 areas: India Point Park, Providence; Conimicut Point, Warwick; and Stonebridge, Tiverton as well as new areas including Fort Adams, Newport; Fort Wetherill, Jamestown; the East and West Wall at the Harbor of Refuge, Pt. Judith/Narragansett; and Rocky Point, Warwick.
Tautog: The spring season ends May 31 so now is the time to fish for tautog as they are illegal to fish June 1 to July 31 during spawning season. Fish have to be sixteen inches. The catch limit for private recreational anglers from April 15 to May 31 and then August 1 to October 17 is three fish/person/day, which jumps to six fish/person/day on October 18 to December 15. There is a ten fish per boat per day limit in all periods. The boat limit does not apply to charter and party boats.
Where’s the bite
Freshwater fishing has been good with trout still being taken in area ponds that have been stocked with trout. Now is the time to give freshwater fishing a try during DEM’s Free Fishing days this Saturday and Sunday, May 3-4. During these two days, all Rhode Islanders and visitors can fish in freshwaters without a fishing license or trout conservation stamp. All the usual freshwater fishing regulations on size and limits apply during the two free fishing days. The free fishing weekend does not apply to saltwater fishing or saltwater licenses. Visit www.dem.ri.gov for regulations. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle said “It’s been cold, rainy and windy so freshwater customers are about the only ones fishing. We sold a lot of shiners this week.” Jason Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “Fishing continues to be good at Willet Avenue Pond and others stocked by DEM.” John Wunner of John’s Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown said, “We held our annual opening week trout contest and it wrapped-up this weekend with a new rod and reel going to the youngster who caught the heaviest trout. This year the prize is going to Geovonnie Prece of Providence who caught a 1.5 pound rainbow trout at Barber Pond, South Kingstown.”
Striped bass fishing continues to be good with winter-over bass in both the Providence and Seekonk Rivers as well as in the Narrow River, Narragansett. Noted local fly fisherman Ed Lombardo said, “We fished the Narrow River (last week) and did very well in spite of this outrageous wind! The fish are in and were very obliging! If it weren’t for the wind we could have landed twice the number of fish. Geno, Dr. Nick, and I fished until dark and left very happy. A few of the fish where in the 20″ to 23″ category but mostly smaller schoolies. Most any fly worked, small in size, all white, all blue streamers, gold colored shrimp, and pink worked very well.” At press time Jason Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle said, “The last we heard is that the spring migration of striped bass will be here soon as they are now catching migrating fish off Connecticut.” Rhode Island anglers usually first land migrating striped bass from the Hudson River area at the West Wall of the Harbor of Refuge. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, said, “We have reports a 28” striped bass keeper being caught at the Red Bridge in Providence and a 38” striped bass being caught somewhere on a beach in RI.”
Tautog fishing has been slow because anglers have not been able to get out due to bad weather. However, anglers are catching fish from land said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle. Jason Macedo said, “Keeper size tautog are being caught off the Barrington Bridge and Wharf Tavern. One of our customers caught a 4.5 pound tautog about 18” off the Barrington Bridge this past weekend.” Dave Henault said, “Customers caught keeper tautog in both the Sakonnet River and at Conimicut Light last week.”
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.