Last week, the Striped Bass Advisory Panel of the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council voted not to recommend a ban on a certain type of “yo-yo” fishing rigs.
Lead “yo-yo” rigs are used by some commercial and recreational rod and reel fisherman. The practice of yo-yoing involves inserting a lead weight into a dead bait fish such as an Atlantic menhaden and the use of a rod (wood or metal skewer like a coat hanger or a wire) in the fish to maintain its shape and control it like a puppet when sent to the bottom or to various depths in the water column.
The bait is then moved up and down (like a yo-yo) to mimic a bait fish in distress to attract striped bass. For those who have mastered the technique, the bait is effective in attracting large stipend bass. It’s practical and cheaper because you don’t need a well to keep bait alive; you can catch and prepare them ahead of time and save money by not having to buy live eels.
Commercial fishermen on the panel downplayed the danger of lead, saying they’ve caught live fish with lead in their bellies. Others said there are many other commercial and recreational fishing techniques used that contribute greater to the mortality of striped bass and that they were being singled out. They pointed to up-fishing by commercial draggers (the practice of continuing to catch bass until you catch the largest fish possible, discarding smaller striped bass that don’t survive after release) and recreational anglers who put too much stress on fish by fighting them for too long.
The issue before the panel referenced a proposal from Massachusetts that advocated for a ban on certain types of yo-yo rigs. The Rhode Island proposal was to allow yo-yo rigs as long as the lead weights were attached to the terminal tackle (so the weights could be pulled out of the bait fish and retrieved). This proposal was rejected by the panel, with members saying that “no scientific evidence” and “no studies” exist that proves lead ingested by striped bass is harmful to the fish.
Although plenty of research with lead and waterfowl has been conducted, little research has been done with lead and fish. For example, a study done on more than 2,000 bald eagles examined by The Fish and Wildlife Service from 1963 to 1986 showed that 119 were diagnosed as having died of lead poisoning (studies like this one led to the banning of lead shot for waterfowl hunting in 1991).
According to Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources website, “Lead poisoning has been recognized as a mortality factor in waterfowl since the late 1800s. Lead poisoning cases today are either the result of ingestion of bullet fragments, spent lead shot or fishing sinkers and jig heads during normal feeding activities. When the lead reaches the acidic environment of the gizzard (loons, ducks, geese and swans) or the ventriculus (eagles), it is worn down, dissolved and absorbed into body tissues. Once the lead reaches toxic levels in the tissues, muscle paralysis and associated complications result in death.”
Striped bass presentation
Capt. Al Anderson has produced a new presentation about his latest book and tag-and-release efforts and is reaching out to fishing clubs and organizations interested in having him as a guest speaker.
Capt. Anderson is the South County charter captain who was inducted into the International Game Fish Association’s World Fishing Hall of Fame in 2012 for his conservation ethic and noted author in the fishing world. His latest book, “Island Stripers,” is the result of countless hours of charter fishing at Block Island. Contact Capt. Anderson at [email protected] or 401/783-8487.
Providence Boat Show
The 20th annual Providence Boat Show is from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 18-19 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, at the Rhode Island Conventions Center.
Tickets $10 at the door. Visit www.providcenceboatshow.com for a list of exhibitors, online tickets and more.
Pawcatuck River property
The R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has acquired four acres of land in Westerly that will enable the creation of an excellent fishing and boating access site on the Pawcatuck River.
“The Pawcatuck is very popular for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and other forms of outdoor recreation. But currently, no safe public access exists between Bradford and Westerly on the Pawcatuck — a beautiful stretch of river that supports Rhode Island-raised stocked trout and warm water fish species,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “Thanks to this acquisition, DEM will be able to make this spectacular site and several miles of the river readily accessible to the public.”
Located on Post Office Lane, the property includes over 500 feet of river frontage. In conjunction with DEM’s purchase of the land, the state obtained an easement across the right of way from Potter Hill Road which will be used by the public to access the riverfront.
Advisory panels meet Jan. 30
DEM is hosting a series of three Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council advisory panel meetings that impact recreational fishing on Wednesday, Jan. 30.
The status of fisheries, policies and regulations that work their way into DEM species management plans are discussed at the meetings, so now’s the time to let your voice be heard. Visit www.dem.ri.gov (Marine Fisheries page) for agendas.
The three panels include a tautog meeting at 4:30 p.m., a summer flounder advisory panel meeting at 6 p.m. and a black sea bass and scup panel meeting at 7:30 p.m. This new format, offering multiple advisory panel meetings on the same night, hopes to enhance angler attendance at the panel meetings.
All meetings will be held at the Coastal Institute Building (Hazard Room) on the URI Bay Campus on South Ferry Road, Narragansett.
Capt. Dave Monti has been fishing and shellfishing on Narragansett Bay for more than 40 years. He holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. Your fishing photos in jpeg form, stories, comments and questions are welcome. Visit Capt. Dave’s No Fluke website at www.noflukefishing.com or e-mail him at [email protected]