Fishing law made bouillabaisse possible
Bouillabaisse is a delicious way to take advantage of all the fish we catch in Narragansett and Mt. Hope bays. And I mean just about every fish, including sea robins, which are a highly sought after ingredient for bouillabaisse in Europe. For the past three years I have been filleting large sea robins for charter customers, everyone that tastes them say they are delicious.
Bouillabaisse is a stew containing several kinds of fish and shellfish, usually made with olive oil, tomatoes and saffron. My fishing partner Steve Burstein (a trained chef) has been making bouillabaisse with his friend Pierre St. Germain (also a trained chef) for a few years now. Pierre and his wife Mikele hold an annual Bastille Day Party which I attended Saturday where they traditionally serve bouillabaisse.
This year the bouillabaisse contained four black sea bass (three filleted and one whole for effect), a filleted 22” summer flounder, a half-dozen scup, sea robin and a healthy amount of quahogs and shrimp. All of it was simmered in Steve’s premade broth from cooking the fish racks ahead of time.
All of the fin fish and quahogs caught for the bouillabaisse came from Narragansett Bay and off Newport’s Brenton Reef. So it was all local fish. Catching such a variety of fish reminded me of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the fishing law of this nation, and how its strong conservation measures have rebuilt forty-four fish stocks since 2000. Many of these species, most of the ones in the bouillabaisse, might not be available to catch if it was not for Allowable Catch Limits (ACLs) and Rebuilding Time Lines that are now mandatory in our fishing law.
This is all being threatened this week in the U.S. House of Representatives with a fishing bill, H.R. 200, that will do away with (or muddy the waters) as to when ACLs and/or rebuilding time lines are used. Supporters of the bill (and one like it in the Senate, S. 1520) are advocating for short term economic gains rather than long term conservation and sustainability in our fishery. Our aim should be to grow fish to abundance so there are more in the water for all of us to catch and eat.
Ask your congressmen to be strong and vote no on H.R. 200 and our senators to oppose S.1520, I know I have, because I like to eat bouillabaisse.
Fishing for a Cause raises $220,000
The ‘Fishing for A Cause’ fundraising fishing tournament raised $220,000 for Meeting Street’s Schwartz School in Dartmouth last month. The two-day catch and release tournament primarily takes place in Buzzards Bay culminating with a seaside dinner at Pope’s Island in New Bedford. The dinner celebrates tournament participants, dedicated supporters and the children/families that benefit from the proceeds.
This year the first place striped bass award went to Nelson Sores of Acushnet who caught a 42.75 inch fish; bluefish went to Marco Polselli with a 26.50” fish; top fluke to Daniel Rocha, 24.75”; and the final category black sea bass was taken by Steve Marquis with a 23” fish.
Meeting Street’s Schwartz School in Dartmouth serves more than 1,000 children, young adults and their families in our community providing high quality educational, developmental, and therapeutic programs for children from birth through age 21. For more information, visit www.MeetingStreet.org.
Project Healing Waters… more than a fishing program
Saturday I had the opportunity to participate in ‘Project Healing Waters’ and their ‘Stars and Stripers’ fly fishing event for injured veterans held at Allen’s Harbor, North Kingstown. The first event of this type held in Rhode Island, ten volunteer vessels took to the water. The vessels took two dozen veterans, caregivers and Project Healing Waters' corporate sponsors, staff and volunteers (several from Pratt & Whitney, CT), fishing on Narragansett Bay and along our coastal shore off Newport and Jamestown. The fly fishing trip started with a 6:30 a.m. breakfast and ended with lunch.
Retired USMC Colonel Todd Desgrosseilliers, president and chief executive officer of Project Healing Waters, said, “Participants often sum up the program in five words… ‘This program saved my life.’ Project Healing Waters gives injured veterans an opportunity to work toward a goal and accomplish it like I did when in the program recovering from a brain injury.”
Project Healing Waters helps disabled veterans recover old capabilities and learn new life skills through regular fly tying meetings, educational programs, and fishing trips. The program is relaxed and low-key. Veterans are challenged by small things in the program and learn to cope with big adjustments.
Disabled veterans connect as friends while they tie flies and build their own fly rods, (re)learn mobility and coordination through casting sessions, and perhaps have a conversation with someone who’s living through similar challenges. Many have never fly fished and some have never fished at all. But each participant is happy to spend time in the company of new friends with shared experiences.
For information visit www.projecthealingwaters.org.
Where’s the bite
Striped bass fishing has improved at Block Island with anglers hooking up with both eels and umbrella rigs. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “A customer caught a 48 pound striped bass with an umbrella rig off Block Island and others have been hooking up with eels. Some fish are being caught on the southwest side of Prudence near the T-Wharf. The bay has been slow but some bass still being caught with pogies.” Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “Kurt Rivard caught a 50 pound fish using eels at Block Island and we have heard of other large fish being taken there last week. Friday night we had a big run on eels so you know they are going to the Island.”
Bluefish… small ones and skip jacks are being cult all over the bay and in coves and harbors. Greenwich Bay is still yielding fish, Wickford Harbor, Mt. Hope Bay as well as Apponaug and Greenwich coves.
Summer flounder (fluke)/black sea bass/scup. Bottom fishing is good around Block Island, in the lower bay south of the Newport and Jamestown bridges and off coastal shores. Last week we caught fluke to 22” west of Rose Island, Newport. Littlefield said, “A few customers have caught fish south of the Newport Bridge.” Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “Both the sea bass fishing and fluke fishing have been productive. The full day boat has been seeing many quality fluke in the 9 to10 pound range on a daily bases.”
Black sea bass fishing remains strong south of the Jamestown Bridge and off Newport southeast of Seal Ledge with large fish to 22” being taken fairly regularly.
The scup bite has been very good too anyplace there is water movement and structure. Many anglers who target scup have been limiting out (30 fish), many of them fish are in the 12 to 15 inch range. The scup bite is good at Colt State Park, Sabin Point, Ohio Ledge, near and under all three bay bridges. Macedo said, “We weighed in a ten pound fluke for customer Mike Martin that he caught under the Newport Bridge last week. It was the largest fluke he has ever caught.”
Dave Monti holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. He is a RISAA board member, a member of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association and a member of the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Contact or forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.noflukefishing.com.