No Fluke: Stage set for summer flounder quota battle

Last week over seventy fishermen expressed their concern about proposed recreational summer flounder (fluke) regulations at an Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) public hearing. The Commission regulates many of the species we fish for in Rhode Island waters, on a regional basis. The public hearing, held at the University of Rhode Island Bay Campus, set the stage for a summer flounder quota dispute that will unfold at the next ASMFC meeting in February.
The addendum’s option three would force Rhode Island into a region with states that have not managed their quota as well as Rhode Island has over the years. Option three would also force Rhode Island to adopt more conservative summer flounder regulations for the 2014 season. Its genesis comes from the desire of some states (like New York) to redistribute quota on a regional basis so they get more quota, even though they have consistently overfished their limit.  Other states (like Rhode Island) have fished to conservation equivalency, planning conservatively with stiff state regulations over the years to ensure we do not overfish.
The addendum’s option one (status quo) in conjunction with option two ‘fish sharing’ received support from Rhode Island anglers attending the hearing. Option one is a state by state approach with each state fishing to conservation equivalency, as Rhode Island has done in the past. Option two allows states fishing under their quota to give a portion of remaining fish to other states that need more. This ‘fish sharing’ approach worked well last year when adopted, allowing New York to reduce its minimum size and New Jersey to extend their season by a couple of days.
Steve Medeiros, president of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA), read a letter from his association expressing support for option one in conjunction with option two, and opposition to option three. RISAA represents thirty different fishing clubs in Rhode Island and over 6,500 recreational anglers.
So the stage has been set for an interesting ASMFC summer flounder meeting in February when the management board reviews, selects and approves final management measures for the 2014 summer flounder recreational season.

Fishing with jigs for fluke

“I use to fluke (summer flounder) fish with an old timer who said, when the tide is slow you have to move that jig like your churning butter,” said Cathy Muli of Westerly. Cathy was one of six local fishing experts and charter captains for Rhode Island and Connecticut that shared the stage with three national experts at the National Saltwater Sportsman Seminar Series with George Poveromo, held last Saturday at Mohegan Sun.
Cathy, a member of the fluke, tautog and striped bass panels of experts, invented a line of fishing jigs with her husband  called ‘Jackpot Digger Jigs’ that actually stir up sand each time the jig is dropped on the bottom. Other fluke tips shared include establishing a good drift of somewhere between .7 and 1.7 knots; using rigs tipped with native squid, minnows or mummies as well as strips of fluke bellies, bluefish, menhaden or whatever fish you might have available to add as an attractant. Cathy suggests fishing contours, from high to low or low to high and said, “just experiment” with different rigs and baits as the fish bite something different every day.

Where’s the bite

Cod fishing. Capt. Frank Blunt of the Frances Fleet in Galilee said fishing had been good prior to the winter storms we experienced for the past week or two. Trips generally found a scattering of market-size cod with top fish in the eight to ten pound range, some nice size ling, some perch, and a few keeper pollock. Cod trips sail at 5 a.m.; visit www.francesfleet.com. The Seven B’s party fishing vessel sails Saturday and Sunday at 5 p.m.; verify and reserve a trip at www.sevenbs.com. Last week noted local angler Larry Norin reported on a cod trip he took on the Island Current out of Snug Harbor. Norin said, “The cod fishing was good, the bergal/ocean perch fishing was great. I ended up with four keeper cod, two throw backs, one pollack, one ling and 10+ bergal …The biggest (cod) fish on the boat was under six pounds; all of my keeper cod were 23-26 inches.”

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 dmontifish@verizon.net.

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