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RISAA pilot on electronic recording for better data

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The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association’s (RISAA) pilot project on electronic monitoring for volunteer angler reporting is making great progress. RISAA in partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and Harbor Light Software (HLS) is developing an electronic application (app) for smartphones and tablets.

Last month RISAA completed the research and discovery phase of the project providing DEM and Harbor Light Software with the results of RISAA’s eREC committee’s input, and key learnings from two focus groups of diverse RISAA members (age, type of fishing, etc.) and the results of a member survey on preferred app types and desired features. 

Eight eREC RISAA committee members, 24 RISAA focus group participants and 223 RISAA survey respondents combined to deliver research findings that will guide the development of the smartphone/tablet software application in its early stages insuring that the app characteristics and features are those that anglers want and need.

The pilot project aims to create a volunteer recreational angler logbook for use on tablets and smart phones to collect recreational data on catch and effort from the angling public, and to promote the usage of the software among recreational anglers in Rhode Island. The project specifically seeks to develop, test and pilot innovative solutions to address inadequate insight into the impact of recreational fishing on fisheries management in the state of Rhode Island.

Fred DeFinis, RISAA eREC committee member and lead researcher developing and implementing the RISAA angler survey said, “We had great consistency between what eREC committee members thought was needed in an app, what focus group participants wanted and then what RISAA members shared in the angler survey.”

DeFinis went on to say that “A key research learning was the main motivation why anglers would use such an app and that was to help improve fishing for all and for the future by providing fish managers with more robust data to manage recreational fishing. So our marketing communications efforts to market the app will focus on better fisheries management and not catching the next fish.”

Anglers also related they wanted an app that enabled them to supply the desired catch and effort data quickly and simply in a way that does not interfere with fishing activities. Features the app should have to appeal to a range of anglers include environmental data such as tide and weather, a photo capability, fish identification and the ability to store GPS position with the option to share location with fish mangers or keep it totally confidential so just the angler can see it when desired.

So the next steps for the eREC committee and partners is to develop an app prototype that delivers needed DEM data to complement existing recreational catch and effort data while incorporating some of the app characteristics and features identified through research that anglers want.

RISAA and partners are also developing a marketing communications plan to promote the use of the app to early RISAA adopters.  The aim is to have pre-Beta users from the eREC committee working with a prototype this April, followed by a Beta test group of 25 to 50 before the app launches to the full RISAA membership during the 2021 fishing season.  The aim would be to launch an app to the angling public in general for the 2022 season.  

If you have any questions about the pilot project contact Steve Medeiros or Dave Monti, RISAA electronic recording pilot project coordinator, at dmonitfish@verizon.net or 401/480-3444.

Where’s the bite?

Freshwater fishing is in transition. Much of the ice has melted so anglers are targeting largemouth bass and waiting for the trout seasons to start. Traditionally trout season starts the second Saturday in April, scheduled this year for April 10, however, all are anticipating an early season start announcement for the RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM). Last year the season opening a week early due to COVID with more of a staggered start rather than a big crunch on opening day on the shore of RI lakes and ponds. Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown, said, “I am sure I was about the 50th caller inquiring about an early start of the trout season when I called DEM last week. Since the ice melted anglers have been targeting largemouth bass and doing well at Melville Pond, Portsmouth and Indian Lake, South Kingstown. Earlier this month when we had ice, anglers were catching hold over striped bass through the ice in brackish water in the upper portions of Narrow River.”

Cod fishing party boats continue to have trouble leaving the dock due to bad weather and cold water. Capt. Andy Dangelo of the Seven B’s said, “We have not been fishing for cod much this year. The water is 40 degrees, colder than it has been the past couple of years. 43 to 45 degrees seems to be a sweet spot for cod this time of year. I gave it try and travelled toward the East Fishing Grounds (3 miles east of Block Island) saw gannets feeding, whales and felt optimistic. We spotted some bait on the fish finder but did not hook up with cod. Hopefully the water will warm a bit and we will get back out soon.” Party boats fishing for cod this winter include the Frances Fleet at www.francesfleet.com, the Seven B’s at www.sevenbs.com, and the Island Current at www.islandcurrent.com
                                                                                
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 dmontifish@verizon.net or visit www.noflukefishing.com.

Dave Monti

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