I am thankful for the fish

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During the holiday season, I often reflect and write about why fishing brings me joy. I am very blessed and fortunate. I am able to share the joy of fishing with others by taking them fishing on my boat or by advocating and writing about the fish and fishing. Here are 10 reasons why and how fishing brings me (and other fishermen) joy.

When the sun rises on the water, it warms my soul no matter if it is hot or cold outside. This brings me great joy.

And, when the sun sets on the water, it brings me joy too as I know God’s work is done for the day. I am thankful for the small or large catch that day.

It brings me joy when I cast my lure and a striped bass hits it with all the force of nature.

Fishing brings me joy when I am trolling and I hear the rapid click, click, click of my reel and know a fish is on.

When I see the water, when I step on a dock or on my vessel, my heart is filled with joy.

I see the schools of fish, the water boiling with bait, the seals, dolphin and whales… they all bring me great joy.

I must admit, I am hooked on the adrenalin rush, my heart beats fast and I am filled with joy when I realize a fish is near and I may catch it.

When I fillet the catch I am filled with respect for nature and the fish caught. I am thankful to God for the food he has brought my way and filled with joy that I am going home with fish.

When I take pictures of people who have caught fish on my boat they are always smiling. This brings me great joy. My home and office walls are filled with these trophies.

I am an advocate for the fish and the sea for a very selfish reason. I do not want anyone to steal the joy that fish and fishing brings me.

Fish divide

A public hearing on commercial fishing issues was held last week by the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography in Narragansett. The 100 or so fishermen, fish processors and dealers in attendance had a chance to express their thoughts on how commercial harvest should be allowed to be caught (or divided) among commercial user groups.

The summer flounder (fluke) commercial harvest for 2017 drew most of the attention with differing points of view expressed by commercial rod and reel fishermen and those who fish for fluke with gill nets and trawlers. The fishermen operating trawlers and gill nets were advocating for aggregate catch limits (so many fish per week for example), which would allow them to harvest larger numbers of fish on any given day when they are around. Rod and reel commercial fishermen preferred daily catch limits to spread out the number of fish for a longer period of time so they have a chance to catch them, and secondly so fish dealers have a consistent supply of fish for their markets (restaurants and fish markets) for a long period of time.

Ken Booth, a fisherman and member of the Rod and Reel Fishermen’s Association, said, “I like the Town Dock (one of the largest fish processors and dealers in RI) option. They have data going back for years and know how markets respond to fish supply, so spreading landings out over a longer period of time to make sure markets have fish when they need them makes sense. And I would say that most in this room feel that way.”

Jason McNamee, Chief of Marine Resource Management for DEM, chaired the hearing and was quick to clarity, “The purpose of a public hearing in not to take a vote, but to hear the various points of view of the fishing community.”

DEM has clarified repeatedly for fishermen that the public hearing process is not a voting contest, as there are many fishermen and those engaged in the fishing community who do not attend hearings and regulations. Decisions are not made by just the input of those that attend meetings.

The summer flounder total allowable catch (TAC) limit is expected to be reduced coastwide by 30-percent in 2017 for both commercial and recreational fishermen, so decisions on how the fish are allowed to be caught are more important with 30-percent fewer fish to be caught.

Public hearing input on the commercial summer flounder and other commercial fisheries issues discussed Monday will now go before the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council for their recommendations. The Council’s decisions, all inputted from the public hearings, along with the opinion of DEM staffers in the Marine Fisheries Division, are sent to Janet Coit, DEM Director, for her final decisions on 2017 regulations.

Tautog tips meeting next

I will be the guest speaker Monday, Nov. 28, at 7 p.m. at a Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) ‘tautog experts’ seminar. Video interviews with tautog experts, tautog tactics, gear, when and where to fish for tautog will be covered. Seminar held at The Villa, 272 Cowesett Avenue, West Warwick. Non-members welcome with a $10 donation to the RISAA Scholarship Fund. Members attend free. Visit www.risaa.org for additional information.

Where’s the bite?

Tautog fishing

remains strong in the lower Bay and along the coastal shore. I fished Saturday with anglers Steve Brustein of Portland, Maine, and Kevin Fetzer of East Greenwich, and they managed to land eight keepers up to 20 inches off Newport. The ratio was about six or seven short fish to every keeper 16 inches or larger. I fished early last week and had a similar short-to-keeper ratio. Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick, said, “Tautog fishing has been good. They are not as big as they were, but customers are catching keeper size tautog at the Coddington Cove jetty, Hope Island, Plum Lighthouse, off Newport at Brenton Reef and in 35 feet of water on Great Ledge (Great Ledge is northeast of the Jamestown Bridge).”

Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “Tautog fishing was generally good this past week with our largest fish around or over 10 pounds. One was 14 pounds. Limit catches were recorded in OK to good numbers on every trip except one and a few more cod are starting to show up.”

Fish are now in deeper water. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, said, “Anglers have been catching fish in the Bay as it has been difficult to get out in front with rough water. If you can get out into deeper water, I would suggest doing that.”

John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside, said, “The Wharf Tavern area produced keeper tautog for customers. They are doing pretty good there.”

Cod fishing.

Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances fleet said, “More and more green cod are starting to show up. We found cod fish just about everywhere we tried this past week. Biggest fish were in the mid-teens. Jigs are starting to work pretty well for the fishermen who stay with them. Saturday was the best for mixed bags as anglers had decent numbers of bigger scup to two pounds, plenty of good-sized ocean perch, several nice-sized sea flounder to nearly 14 pounds, a few small bluefish and a couple of nice fluke.”

The Squid

are in. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait said, “Customers are catching a half bucket (of a five gallon pail) fishing in Newport on the Goat Island causeway.” Dave Henault of Ocean Sate Tackle said, “I am selling a lot of squid jigs, so the squid fishing must be on.”

In addition to Newport, other areas that have been known to hold squid from shore include the docks in Galilee and Jamestown.

Freshwater

fishing is a good alternative this time of year when high winds and rough seas force anglers inshore. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “Trout fishing is good for those trying it this time of year. Not many have taken advantage of DEM’s stocking in the fall (visit www.dem.ri.org for stocked ponds). But the big fresh water action this time of year is carp. Customer Paul Shorts caught a 27-pound carp last week.”

I spoke with Dave Henault Monday while he was carp fishing on the Blackstone River and he said, “Ocean State Tackle has a good amount of carp fishing gear including nets, unhooking mats, bait and gear.”

Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing for over 40 years. He 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 and a member of the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Contact or forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at dmontifish@verizon.net or visit his website at www.noflukefishing.com.

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