No Fluke

Listening tour on federal fisheries law comes to New England


A New England panel of fishing industry leaders will meet with Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) Monday, Sept. 28, 1 to 3 p.m. (ET) at his ninth listening session on the Magnusson-Stevens Act (MSA), the federal fishing law of this nation. I am proud to say that I will be one of seven panelists. The public is invited to attend this virtual listening session as it will be live streamed on Congressman Huffman’s Facebook page at

Congressman Huffman, who is chair of the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee, will be joined by Representatives Seth Moulton (MA-06), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), and additional Members of Congress.

The panel of fisheries experts and stakeholders will hold a technical discussion of current and future challenges in federal fisheries management and explore potential solutions. I plan to focus my comments at the Listening Session on the value of sustainable fisheries and importance of science-based management, the need to keep stock rebuilding plans strong so New England species like cod and summer flounder (fluke) rebuild with firm allowable catch limits (ACLs) and rebuilding plans with science-based timelines, what climate change impacts fishers are seeing on the water in New England, and enhancements to MSA to address climate change impacts on fish, fishermen, and fish managers.

The listening tour is a part of Huffman’s efforts to foster a more transparent, deliberative, and science-based process for developing natural resources legislation. The input from this listening tour, and from other stakeholder outreach will inform his introduction of a Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization bill in the future. Through this comprehensive and inclusive approach, Huffman hopes to restore the historically bipartisan character of marine fisheries policies including prior successful Magnuson-Stevens reauthorizations.

Capt. Charlie Donilon shares tautog tips

Tautog (or black fish) have a delicious white colored flesh and are commonly caught in Rhode Island and Massachusetts in the fall. Tautog reminds me of grouper but are much smaller. They can be found near rocks, on mussel beds and around structure of all types.
Tautog are not often sold in fish markets because they are difficult to harvest commercially as they are usually caught by rod & reel or fish traps rather than trawling for them. Anglers catch tautog on the bottom, green and Asian crabs are commonly used as baits, with tautog jigs (usually tipped with crab) becoming more commonplace to catch them.

The minimum legal size in Massachusetts and Rhode Island is 16” with a three fish/person/day limit until October 14. On October 15 the limit jumps to five fish. However, a ten fish per boat limit applies but does not apply to for-hire charter and party boats.

If you want to land tautog and seek a few tips on how to catch them attend Capt. Charlie Donilon’s Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association Zoom seminar on Monday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m.

Capt. Donilon is an industry innovator. He was the first charter captain in the area to have a shark diving cage in the 70’s, one of the first to start tagging rather than taking sharks, one of the few with an inspected vessel for eighteen rather than six passengers and the first to run a mate school. However, one of the things he knows best is how to catch tautog and he is more than willing to share is knowledge of tautog catching strategies and tactics with others.
You need to be a RISAA member to participant in the Zoom seminar. Twelve such meetings on various topics are held throughout the year, and now with Zoom seminar capability, additional one of a kind seminars will be offered too. You can attend all seminars and obtain other RISAA membership benefits for $55/year. Join online at

Where’s the bite?

Tautog fishing has been very good with some angler unable to fish due to high winds and seas. I fished Saturday under high wind and sea conditions in Narragansett Bay and did well at slack tide only, when we caught out limit. Water was moving very fast and it was dirty but when tide slowed fish could see/smell the bait and perhaps felt more comfortable moving around (dirty/sandy water often irritates the gills of tautog so they do not move around as much).
“We have tautog now moving up the Bay into the Providence River. The cooler weather has turned on the bite,” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside. Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown said, “The bite had been good at Nebraska Shoals but I expect that the tautog will be deeper once the weather clears as water will be less sandy down deep.” “Tautog fishing has been good for customers off Newport, at Brenton Reef and Ft. Wetherill, Jamestown,” said Tom Giddings of The Tackle Box, Warwick. Lorraine Dante of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “Customers are catching tautog at the Stone Bridge and at Bristol Narrows.”

Striped bass and bluefish. Matt Conti of Snug Harbor said, “We have lots of striped bass to 31”, bluefish and false albacore begin caught at Charlestown and East Beach. Dirty water due to high seas has slowed down the Albie bite.” “We now have striped bass in the slot size 28” to less than 35” being caught up the Providence River to Colt State Park. Soft plastics like Al Gag’s Whip-It-Eels are working as anglers can target fish no matter where they are in the water column.” “Keeper striped bass (some larger than the slot limit) are being caught at night with eels in Narragansett Bay,” said Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box.

Offshore. Matt Conti of Snug Harbor said, “The school bluefin tuna have been at the Mud Hole with green bonito and albies and larger fish mixed in. An 85” fish was caught last week. Cod fishing has been very slow and spotty offshore but high winds and seas have prevented anglers from fishing.” Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box said, “Bluefin in the 200 to 400 pound range are at the Mud Hole. A customer shared a photo of his fish finder showing many large fish there.”

Freshwater fishing has done nothing but improve since the water is cooling off a bit,” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait. “Customers are catching some very nice largemouth bass now and are catching more and more pickerel. In Warwick Gorton’s and Warwick Ponds are yielding fish for anglers.”

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. Forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at or visit and his blog at

Dave Monti

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.