Quota reached on bluefin tuna, trophy fishing closed

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Trophy bluefin tuna fishery closes

Effective August 11th, NOAA Fisheries closed the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) angling category for large medium and giant ‘trophy” BFT measuring 73” or greater in the Northern area. The fishery closed based on reported landings from the Automated Catch Reporting System. NOAA determined that the trophy BFT sub quota has been reached and that the trophy fishery should be closed.

In an advisory last week NOAA said, “Retaining, possessing or landing large medium or giant BFT by persons aboard vessels permitted in the HMS Angling category and the HMS Charter/Headboat category (when fishing recreationally) must cease.”

The intent of this closure is to prevent over harvesting. The Southern and Gulf of Mexico areas closed June 7, 2017. Catch and release fishing is permissible.

Fishing for BFT between 27” to 47” (two fish for HMS Angling-permitted vessels, three fish for Charter/Headboat-permitted vessels) and one large school/small medium BFT, 47” to 73” is still allowed. Visit https://hmspermits.noaa.gov for regulations that change as category quotas are met.

At press time, NOAA issued an advisory that temporarily closed the General and Charter/Headboat categories when fishing commercially. NOAA said, “Retaining, possessing, or landing large medium or giant BFT by persons aboard vessels permitted in the Atlantic tunas General and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/ Headboat categories (when fishing commercially) must cease at 11:30 p.m. local time on August 16, 2017, through Aug. 31, 2017.”

ASMFC approves Atlantic menhaden amendment 3 for public comment

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Atlantic Menhaden Management Board approved Draft Amendment 3 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Atlantic Menhaden for public comment.

The Draft Amendment seeks to manage the menhaden resource in a way that balances menhaden’s ecological role as a prey species with the needs of all user groups. To this end, the Draft Amendment considers the use of ecosystem reference points (ERPs) to manage the resource and changes to the allocation method.

The amendment also presents a suite of management options for quota transfers, quota rollovers, incidental catch, the episodic events set aside program, and the Chesapeake Bay reduction fishery cap.

States from Maine to Florida will likely hold public hearings on the draft amendment. Details on hearings are not yet available. Visit www.asmfc.org for a copy of amendment 3 and details on the hearings when they become available. Public comment on the amendment is open until October 20, 2017.

Robotic lure lands 340-pound bluefin

“I’ve caught some pretty big bluefin in my day using all types of baits. I’ve fished with bluefish, mackerel, even a large live skate behind a scallop boat with success.” said Alex Petrucci of the sport fishing vessel Duck Soup out of Pt. Judith. He was talking about the 340-pound bluefin tuna he, his son Alex Jr. and his crew caught at the 6th Annual Bluefin Blowout in Gloucester, MA.

The Petrucci’s catching a large bluefin or other large tournament fish is not uncommon. They have been doing it for years. Alex and his family are fishing legends in Rhode Island. Two years ago they took first place in the Bluefin Blowout Tournament. But what was unusual this year, they caught a fish using robotic bait called Zombait. To my knowledge Zombait it is the first robotic fishing lure on the market.

Petrucci said, “It’s a lot better than using dead bait. These fish come through and are hungry. They do not stop and analyze things. If it is moving that attracts them. I had faith in this bait or I wouldn’t have been using it. It gave the mackerel we were using a nice look on deck and in the water. It was one of six baits we had out at the same time.”

Zombait creates a realistic, injured swimming fish to attract your prey. You simply insert this electric toothbrush looking bait into the mouth of a dead bait eight inches or larger; attach a hook and the dead bait wiggles around in the water.

Zombait lasts about three hours on a battery charge and is good in water up to 200 feet. Visit www.zombait.com for a demonstration video on how the lure works and information about online sales. Individual units cost about $69 with a charger; a three pack with charger is $159.

The Bluefin Blowout is sponsored by the Lyon-Waugh Auto Group with all proceeds from the Bluefin Blowout Auction going to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Where’s the bite?

“Striped bass fishing off the Watch Hill reefs has been very good this past week. Capt. Tim Terranova of Bonito II Sportfishing Charters landed a 50-pound bass this week trolling wire. Several anglers have picked up thirty plus pound bass on the reef live lining scup. Overall we have had a very active food chain off Montauk starting with sand eels, mackerel and thresher sharks and in shore along the southern coastal shore bay anchovies are attracting bonito,” said Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly. “We were fishing the Southwest Ledge off Block Island late last week at night and landed a 40 and 35 pound striped bass using eels. We fished from sunset to about midnight and then the bite turned on. We hit two big fish at once then lost four other fish. Connor Sears (11 years old) of Seekonk caught a 35 pound bass and I hooked a 40 pound fish at the same time.” said Jack Leyden of North Kingstown. Kianna Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “School bass are still fairly plentiful in the Bay and along the coast and one customer reported catching a keeper in the Bay so hopefully they will be coming back into the Bay.”

Summer flounder (fluke). “Fluke fishing along the southern coastal shore from Misquamicut Beach to Watch Hill has been good, particularly over rocky areas like Old Reef off Weekapaug.” said Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters.” Fishing at Block Island was spotty this week. Plenty of black sea bass but you were either on or off the fluke and had to look around for them. The fluke bite in the lower bay north and south of the Jamestown and Newport Bridges was slow this week with anglers finding keepers far and few between. Capt. Frank Blount of the Francis Fleet said, “Trips were affected by little to no drift last week. This equated to buck tail set ups tipped with white or green gulp far out producing anything else. Still limit catches were recorded by a few fishers each outing. The largest fluke of the week was a 10 pound fish taken by John Topper of Bristol RI.” Fluke fishing at the mouth of the Sakonnet River has been fair.

Tautog. With the fishing bite slowing down in the Bay some anglers are starting to target tautog with limited success. Kiana Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “We have reports of angles catching keeper tautog at Colt State Park.” “Customers targeting tautog from shore at Ft. Adams, Newport caught shorts only.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside.

Scup fishing continues to be strong in the Bay and along the coast. “Colt State Park has been yielding some nice scup for customers.” said Kiana Macedo of Lucky Bait. “Scup fishing has been very good all over the Bay with an awful lot of sea robins being caught too. But that has been about it.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait.

Bonito are in. Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters said, “The Bay anchovies are in shore and Bonito are feeding on them.” Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marian said, “We have reports of customers catching Bonito so they have arrived.”

Offshore/cod fishing continues to be good. Eric Duda reports on the RISAA blog “Cox’s ledge has been very good last couple of weeks for Cod. South side, east or west in about 130 feet of water. Make sure you move around a lot to find them. Everyone I have caught has been a keeper size, average around 6 pounds with the largest about 14 pounds most trips. Both jigging and clams have been working. A lot of ling out there too. Never tried ling before, but now it’s one of my favorites for dinner. Two weeks ago, saw a lot of Mahi around high fliers but last week only one or two.” 

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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