No Fluke

Bonito and false albacore running hot, with no catch limits

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There is nothing like explosive surface action from Atlantic bonito and false albacore. Last week anglers fishing in the Pt. Judith area were treated to non-stop action on Thursday, just a quarter-mile off the Center Wall of the Harbor of Refuge, Narragansett.

Angler Dawn Martin said, “Thursday was an amazing day for albies and bonito, catching four false albacore and eight bonito. We fished a quarter mile from the Center Wall. Nonstop action all morning!”

“I made my way over on my jet ski, cast into one of the schools of rain bait and instantly hooked up and landed my first ever bonito,” said angler Jon Kim. “From that point on, we all followed the schools of bait as they got pushed back towards the shore outside the West Wall. I landed 12 bonito, four false albacore, and a big chub mackerel. The entire time, I used an Electric Chicken Exo jig and an original amber colored Albie Snax. The jig out-fished the Albie Snax three to one.”

Jon posed the question about what bonito and false albacore regulations might be. Believe it or not, we have no regulations in place in Rhode Island state waters currently.

Conor McManus, PhD, chief of the Division of Marine Fisheries of the R.I. Department of Environmental Management, said, “My understanding is that neither bonito or false albacore fall into NOAA HMS, so I am not even sure you need that permit in state waters (unlike BFT, sharks, etc.).

“We have been discussing through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) whether we want to bring these species in as managed fish through interstate practice. I am not sure there is enough interest coast-wide to do so. As such, there has been discussion from some states about maybe putting regs on the books, state by state, but collaboratively and mirrored regs, outside the mandate of ASMFC (like MA and RI did for sand lance),” said McManus. “The largest issue I see is what those regs are, as we lack a bunch of biological data on them to inform things like minimum size.”

Peter Jenkins, chairman of the board of the American Saltwater Guides Association (ASGA) and owner of the Saltwater Edge in Middletown, R.I., said, “The ASGA has been engaged with the Albie Project for two years now. The aim is to garner some scientific data on the species (visit The Albie Project – American Saltwater Guides Association). The Albie Project is an acoustic tagging study conducted by the New England Aquarium to acquire some scientific data on the species as they are being targeted recreationally and commercially for harvest (mostly a bait fishery) with no regulations in place.”

The ASGA relates on the Albie Project website that false albacore have become an important recreational fish, with over a half-million trips annually, so the species needs to be protected. False albacore are not harvested by anglers for food. Most all of the recreational fishery is catch and release.

National recreational policy and regional plans

Last week NOAA released their national recreational fishing policy with regional plans to implement the policy. At press time the fishing community was analyzing plans that garnered broad input form the fishing community.

The 2015 national policy was no longer relevant. NOAA said, “Climate change, equity and environmental justice, as well as a greater focus on expanding offshore industries (such as aquaculture and wind energy) were the key additions to the goals and guiding principles of the policy update.”

For information visit National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy | NOAA Fisheries.

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass, bluefish, false albacore and bonito: Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren, said, “This has been one of the best years for bass in years. I caught a 35-pound fish on the surface last week. So things are setting up nicely for a great fall run. The albies were here too, in Mt. Hope Bay, Bristol and Newport harbors last week, but they left when the storm blew in. The best bite is at dawn or dusk.”

John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside, said, “Shore anglers are catching bluefish in the six-pound range and slot size bass (28” to < 31”) from Kettle Point, Haines Park, Sabin Point and Barrington Beach. The East Passage at Rocky Point, Conimicut Point are producing too.”

“Everything from the beaches and near shore is hot. Bonito, false albacore, bluefish and stiped bass fishing is hot, from the Breachways all the way to Watch Hill Light.  Anglers are hooking up with surface lures, pencil poppers and epoxy jigs,” said Parker Mandes of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly.

“Striped bass have mainly been targeting mullet and peanut bunker in our area, last week when had some favorable boat conditions. The Albie bite has been great, and there are still some bonito around. As conditions improve after this weekend, the inshore fishing should pick right back up, with bass and bluefish migrating along the beaches,” said Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown.

Tautog

“Tautog fishing is good, with anglers fishing off the breachways catching fish in shallow water, with boat anglers doing well fishing reefs in shallow water, too,” said Parker Mandes of Watch Hill Outfitters. “Tautog fishing in the upper Bay has been slow, as anglers are still targeting bass and bluefish,” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle

“Fishing has been improving. Most boats have been able to catch their limit but had to work to find bigger fish,” said Declan O’Donnell.

“Tautog are being caught in 20 to 50 feet of water in the bay on most rock piles. Asia crabs are the bait of choice for me and are working well,” said Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Bait & Tackle.

Tuna

Parker Mandes of Watch Hill Outfitters said, “The tuna bite is still very strong, with anglers chucking with success, catching 50- to 60-inch yellowfin tuna and 50- to 60-pound bluefin tuna.”

“The offshore bite was good this past week, with some nice size bluefin and yellowfin being caught,” said Declan O’Donnell.

Freshwater

“Freshwater fishing for largemouth bass has been good, with frogs and topwater lures working well. Fish are in the shallows, on ledges with an early morning or dusk bite,” said Jeff Sullivan of Luckey Bait.

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@verison.net or visit www.noflukefishing.com.

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