By CAPT. DAVE MONTI
Recreational measures for cod and haddock will remain unchanged for the start of the 2022 fishing year. The New England Fishery Management Council has recommended changes to recreational Gulf of Maine cod and haddock measures, and included changes to recreational Georges Bank cod measures (cod caught off Rhode Island) in Framework 63; however, regulatory actions considering those changes are still pending.
As a result, 2021 recreational and for-hire regulations for Northeast multispecies (groundfish) stocks will remain in effect. Changes recommended by the Council may be implemented later in the 2022 fishing year.
A summary of the current regulations for recreational and for-hire vessels harvesting groundfish is available online at Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) | NOAA Fisheries. However, highlights for the Gulf of Maine cod (north of Cape Cod) are a minimum size of 21 inches, one fish/person/day, September 15 - 30 and April 1 - 14 for private vessels. Charter and Party boats still have the one fish/person/day limit at 21-inch minimum, however, the season runs from September 8 – October 7 and April 1 - 14. Outside the Gulf of Maine (south of Cape Cod and off Rhode Island) the possession limit for now is still 10 fish/person/day, 21-inch minimum size with an open season all year.
The minimum size for haddock in the Gulf of Maine is a 17 inches, with a 15 fish/person/day limit, May 1 to February 28/29 and April 1 to April 30. Outside the Gulf of Maine there is no catch limit, the season is open all year but the minimum size is 18 inches.
The bite for both school bluefin tuna and giants was outstanding last year. The fish were close to shore, many caught just one to two miles off Narragansett, and they were here in great abundance. With the enhanced bluefin bite (many believe it is due to warming water bringing in bait) the number of anglers targeting them has increased. Anglers must have a Highly Migratory Species (HMS) permit to fish for bluefin and report their catch within 24 hours.
NOAA Fisheries is adjusting Atlantic bluefin tuna daily retention limits for recreational fishermen. The adjusted limits are effective May 6, 2022, through December 31, 2022, unless modified by later action.
The important thing to note is “unless modified” as bluefin tuna and other HMS permitted species often have retention limit changes during the season as catch data is good due to the 24 hour reporting requirement. This allows fish mangers to adjust harvest limits accordingly.
The new adjusted retention limit for permitted private vessels per day/trip is two school bluefin tuna between 27 to <47 inches and one large school/small medium bluefin 47 to <73 inches. Permitted charter boats are allowed three school bluefin 27 to <47 inches and one large school/small medium bluefin 47 to <73 inches.
To obtain a HMS permit and report catches visit the HMS Permit Shop or call 888-872-8862.
Freshwater. John Dionne of Smithfield, RI caught a 7.6-pound largemouth when fishing Bowdish Lake Chepachet, RI. John said, “I caught the fish using a chatterbait with a swimbait trailer last Friday.” Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box, Warwick, said, “Fish are in the pre-spawn mode gravitating to low water that is warm so the largemouth bass is still very good and this week pickerel and pike fishing really picked up too.”
“Anglers are still catching trout in stocked ponds and the largemouth pre-spawn bite is very good.” said Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren.
“Tautog fishing in the Bay and at India Point Park, Providence remains very strong.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence. Capt. Mike Littlefield of Archangel Charters, Newport said, “The tautog bite has been outstanding this spring. Anglers are catching fish on mussel beds in the 20 to 30 foot range using green crabs. Most everyone seems to be catching their limit.” Declan O’Donnell of Misquamicut Bait & Tackle, Charlestown, said, “Customers are catching keeper tautog off the breachways and along the Narragansett shoreline.” Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box, Warwick said, “Customers fishing the Rocky Point Fishing Pier and along the coast there are catching some nice tautog in the 18 to 20 inch range.”
Striped bass. Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Bait & Tackle, said, “The striped bass bite is good with some nice fish being caught when feeding schools of herring and Atlantic menhaden are on the surface. Areas off Newport and Pt. Judith Light are producing.” “The bass bite in the Bay is excellent with Greenwich Bay producing now too as well as the West Passage. Mostly school bass with keepers in the 30-inch range mixed in,” said Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box. Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle, said, “The cinder worm hatch has stared in some South County salt ponds with the bass bite there pretty good. Fishing is also good with slot fish being taking from the West Wall, local breachways, beaches and ponds. The outgoing tide seems to be producing more fish than the incoming tide.” East End Eddie Doherty said, “Some brave smaller school size bass are enduring the cool water temps and entering the Cape Cod Canal from the west end.” “Anglers are catching school striped bass with keepers mixed in on the Seekonk River as well as the lower Providence River and upper and mid Narragansett Bay areas. Mt. Hope Bay is producing bass for anglers too.” said Henault of Ocean State.
“Squid fishing has been insane. Best bets this week included the Sakonnet and Newport areas with a strong bite in Hyannis, MA as well,” said Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Bait & Tackle. Capt. Mike Littlefield of Archangel Charters, Newport, said, “Squid fishing has been very good at the Sakonnet River, off Newport and at Jamestown. Last week I fished with Greg Vespe, ‘The Squid Whisperer’, and we filled five full (five gallon) buckets in about five hours.”
“Scup fishing is picking up in Narragansett Bay with large sup in the 14 to 15 inch range being caught at Rocky Point.” said Tom Giddings.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.noflukefishing.com .
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