No Fluke

Striped bass reductions working so far

Posted

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s review of the performance of the 2020 striped bass fishery yielded positive news. Coastal states reduced total striped bass removals by 28 percent in 2020, which is above the 18 percent reduction target from total removals coastwide in numbers of fish compared to 2017 levels.

Total removals include commercial harvest, commercial dead discards, recreational harvest, and recreational release mortality. The reductions were outlined in Addendum VI to the striped bass management plan initiated in response to the 2018 benchmark assessment. The goal was to reduce total removals in order to end overfishing and reduce fishing mortality to the target levels in 2020.

The next stock assessment update for striped bass, scheduled to occur in 2022, will provide an update on the status of stock relative to the biological reference points.

For information contact Emilie Franke at efranke@asmfc.org or 703/842-0740.

Low dissolved oxygen in southern Cape Cod Bay

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Affairs (DMF) issued a low oxygen level advisory for southern Cape Cod Bay on August 11. Low dissolved oxygen at lower levels of the water column can lead to fish kills with species that are not mobile and unable to move to waters that have greater oxygen levels. This includes fin fish, crabs and lobsters that may be caught in traps.

DMF said in an advisory, “Preliminary data indicate that dissolved oxygen (DO) levels are decreasing at some locations in the southern portion of Cape Cod Bay, within the same region that experienced low DO and hypoxic conditions in 2019 and 2020.”

DMF recommends fishermen check traps frequently, and possibly consider moving gear out of the affected region to prevent trapping lobsters or crabs in hypoxic conditions.

For information contact DMF at 617/626-1520 or visit www.mass.gov/marinefisheries.

Hooking cub mackerel, bonito and false albacore

Gear and tackle used to target chub mackerel, bonito and false albacore (all in the tuna family) is similar. So starting now I am ready to cast to these speedsters (they are ram feeders) if we see them on the surface.

I will have three St. Croix Mojo surfcasting rods with Shimano Strardic reels ready to cast. They have 20 pound test braid and 20 pound fluorocarbon leaders. The rods are rigged with direct tied epoxy jigs and some with shiny metal lures that resembled sand eels such as Deadly Dicks and the ever faithful Kastmaster lures.

Chub mackerel are good to eat and so are bonito. But false albacore are usually not eaten. Anglers often have difficulty distinguishing between bonito and false albacore. The way I remember is a rhyme first shared with me by Steve Medeiros, president of the RI Saltwater Anglers Associaton. Steve said, “Bonito have teeth and are good to eat.” This stuck with me as it is easy to remember.

Local bonito and false albacore expert Susan Lema said “Use as little hardware has possible. We tie directly to a 25 pound fluorocarbon leader with a uni knot and no swivel. This keeps things simple with no hardware flashing in the water to spook the fish. These fish are ram feeders. They open their mouths and hit the bait at high speed so things are moving.”

Roger Lema (Susan’s husband) said, “Fish the outgoing tide in front of rivers, coves and ponds as the water and bait have to be moving. When we go out we have five rods ready to go. Some prepared to cast silver lures like Deadly Dicks and Kastmaster lures. But, we are also ready to troll (at four knots) with broken back lures, shallow swimming and deep swimming lures to use depending on where the fish are in the water column.”

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass and bluefish fishing has slowed in Narragansett Bay. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “It has been so warm that anglers haven’t gone out to fish in the afternoon. Most activity is at night with anglers catching some striped bass and bluefish at Barrington Beach and Colt State Park.” Large bluefish continue to make their presence know at Block Island, earlier this week we hooked up with a couple of 12 and 13 pound fish. Capt. Ray Stachelek of Cast-A-Fly Charters said, “We hooked up with what had to be a 15 pound bluefish, only to lose most of it to a seal off Block Island.”

Summer flounder, black area bass and scup fishing at Block Island continues to be very strong. Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown, said, “Lots of cool reports today (Sunday). A large fluke 14 pounds and 29 inches was caught last week by Tom Torrico of Massachusetts. And this weekend the fluke were in tight… the news everyone has been waiting for!” Fishing for black sea bass and scup has been good around the island too. However, in Narragansett Bay the black sea bass and scup slowed with warm weather. Last Friday we had difficulty picking up a decent drift and conditions were very warm off the Sakonnet River, off Newport and in the bay with few fish except scup. “Albert Bettencourt one of my good customers, said he and his son fishing for fluke in the Bay last week and caught 17 short fluke (under 19 inchers) and just two keepers,” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle.

Squeteague (weakfish). Angler John Kim reports on the RI Saltwater Anglers Association blog, “My buddy and I have caught keeper weakfish for the past two mornings just north of the Jamestown Bridge on the west side, in 20-40 feet of water. This morning a massive school of them passed under us and they were going after the grub teasers on our BSB rigs. We thought they were bluefish at first because of the way they were fighting and peeling drag! Literally snatched the grubs on the drop. Got a keeper each (21” and 22”).”

Tautog fishing season opened up August 1 with a three fish/person/day limit and a 10 fish per boat maximum, 16” minimum size (in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts). Associates at Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown said the bite had been pretty good for the few anglers that have tautog fished so far.

Freshwater fishing has slowed with the heat. As things cool off, fishing is expected to improve for largemouth bass.

Dave Monti holds a captain’s master license and charter fishing license. He serves on a variety of boards and commissions and has a consulting business focusing on clean oceans, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy, and fisheries related issues and clients. Forward fishing news and photos to dmontifish@verizon.net or visit www.noflukefishing.com.

Dave Monti

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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.