Bluefish arrive for Project Healing Waters
Last Saturday was a good day for fly fishing anglers participating in the Project Healing Waters event out of Allen Harbor, North Kingstown. Ten boats took twelve fly fishing anglers out for a morning of fishing on Narragansett Bay from 6 a.m. to noon. The trip was followed by a cookout on shore at Allen Harbor Marina.
The vessels dispersed around the bay to find no striped bass, however, half the boats found a good bluefish bite in Greenwich Bay in front of the Buttonwoods area. The fish were small but it keep the fly fishing veterans out of the wind, each hooking up several times with fish.
For a little more than a decade Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, part of the Stars & Stripers initiative, has focused on healing those who serve.
URI puts ocean wind on front burner
The University of Rhode Island (URI) reached out to ocean wind renewable energy stakeholders last week at their ‘Preparing for Offshore Renewable Energy” workshop held at the Coastal Institute, URI Graduate School of Oceanography, Narragansett. I served on a ‘Words of Wisdom’ panel at the close of the workshop to provide the angling community’s perspective about how URI could contribute to the appropriate growth of offshore renewable energy.
Jennifer McCann, workshop facilitator and director of US Coastal Programs for the Coastal Institute and Sea Grant said, “We planned on 40 attendees, but have 88 community leaders here today. This is not a prioritizing exercise, but rather an effort of identify information needs, technology questions and workforce gaps created by offshore renewable energy growth. Our aim today is to identify how URI can fulfill these needs to contribute to the appropriate growth of offshore renewable energy.”
URI offers a broad range of multidisciplinary expertise to understand the impacts of renewable energy siting, construction and implementation. David Bidwell, assistant professor of URIs Department of Marine Affairs said, “To date URI has received about $20 million in grants in regard to ocean wind farm industry research.”
Grants have been awarded to a variety of URI departments from engineering, oceanography, marine affairs, and social sciences. Future work could come to these departments and a host of others that could help facilitate responsible wind farm development in the region.
Fred Mattera, president, RI Commercial Fisheries Center, said, “I see safety as a big concern, our experience with the sinking of the Mistress off the Block Island Wind Farm was that Coast Guard helicopters had to call off the air search due to high winds fearing that they would come too close to wind turbines. We also see safety as an issue within planned wind farm transit zones. The planned two mile wind transit zone is simply not wide enough. We are advocating for a four mile wide zone.” Perhaps the University can help identify ways to address these safety challenges.
Grover Fugate, executive director, RI Coastal Resource Management Council (CRMC), said, “All data and science needs to be shared, who better than the University to provide an independent, non-biased voice, on the impacts of ocean wind farm development.”
“Rhode Island’s Ocean Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) put information first for all stakeholders. The system we have now awards private companies privileges to develop wind farms which leads to litigation rather than what’s appropriate for the collective good,” said Ken Payne, who served as the chair of the Ocean SAMP stakeholder group throughout the plan’s development.
Andrew Gill, principal scientist, Center for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (UK) said, “The inclusive philosophy of your Ocean SAMP program worked well. I would suggest building the spirit of this program into the development of ocean wind. For example in Belgium (the gold standard for ocean wind development), all stakeholders have a voice at the table and collectively stakeholders come up with the best solutions to challenges.”
Gill continued, “Additionally, in Belgium, they address research continuity and cumulative impacts by having one central source to decide how research funds are spent, key learnings from the past year are used to set the research agenda for the following year.” In this way research learnings are able to be applied to future wind farms immediately.
Key recommendations made at the closing session on how URI should contribute to appropriate growth of offshore wind included: URI as a consensus builder/facilitator, like the SAMP program prior to the development of the Block Island Wind Farm; serve as a research, communication and education resource like a ‘Center for Offshore Wind’ that engages all stakeholders, the ‘Center’ would aim to educated, communicate and serve as a funnel for all research.
Additional recommendations included the coordination of all research by one entity which would allow research money to be pooled for greater impact and apply both good and bad cumulative impacts of multiple wind farms immediately; explore benefits of tower foundations and anti-scour pads to develop habitat for recreational fishing; develop research protocols for all wind farms; the need to educated the public about renewable energy to help build an understanding and a ‘pipeline’ of qualified work force.
Where’s the bite?
Striped bass fishing was mixed this week. Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box, Warwick said, “Some larger fish in the 30 pound range have been caught in Mt. Hope Bay.” Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “The large fish were in Mt. Hope Bay in the Somerset and Bristol Street Bridge areas. Last week we had an east passage bite.” Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle said, “We have some anglers still catching school bass in the coves in Rhode Island.”
Fluke fishing. Ferrara said, “Anglers are catching keeper size fish in front of Warwick Country Club.” Giddings said, “Some nice fish are being caught at the 12’/32’ depth break in front of the Warwick Neck golf course.” Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “Fluke fishing had its peaks and valleys last week. The bite that we had earlier at the Island seemed to have thinned out. Hope it picks up this week.”
Scup fishing has improved throughout the bay, “Customers are catching scup to 14” at Colt State Park, the Narrows and under the Mt. Hope Bridge,” said Macedo. Giddings said, “Scup are moving into the bay as are sea bass. Customers are catching some nice black sea bass but are having to throw them back as the season does not start until June 24.”
Freshwater fishing for largemouth bass is hot. Giddings said, “The largemouth bite has been outstanding at Tioque Lake, Coventry, Stump Pond and at Warwick Pond. Some pickerel are being caught too. The bass are now post-spawn, the fish are nice large fish but they don’t have those sagging bellies as they did a couple of weeks ago that were loaded with eggs.”
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, the American Saltwater Guides Association and the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Follow Capt. Dave on twitter @CaptDaveMonti. He’ll be tweeting about ‘Where’s the bite’, fishing regulations, national fishing policy, and issues that impact the fish. Forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.noflukefishing.com.