Photo contest highlights climate impacts on fish, habitat


“The bait profiles we are seeing around Block Island are different, they are perhaps being impacted by warming water.  For example we have an abundance of mackerel in and around the harbor which we have not seen for some years.” said Capt. Chris Willi of Block Island Fish Works.

Meredith Moore, Director, Fish Conservation Program, Ocean Conservancy, said, “We need to adapt fisheries management so it can react to climate impacts faster throughout the management process.” The aim is to be more climate nimble including more frequent research and stock assessments, in corporate climate impacts into fisheries management plans as well as more citizen science and electronic reporting to facilitate the analysis of fishing activity and catch.

Moore and Willi were two of nine panelist at Session II of the 2022 Baird Symposium this week sponsored by the Sea Grant program at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, Ørsted (owner of the Block Island Wind Farm and developer of wind farms off Massachusetts and Rhode Island) and the Ocean Conservancy.

The Symposium also held a photo contest. Participants entered photos that depicted climate impacts on fish, habitat or resource users.

The two first place winners included a striped bass photo submitted by Capt. Abbie Schuster of Kismet Outfitters, Martha’s Vineyard. The bass was being released from a boat in the wash or foaming water near structure. The other first place photo was taken by James Turek. The photo depicted severe beach erosion at the Weekapaug Fire District Beach in Westerly, RI.

Judges said they selected the striped bass photo as they are the most sort after recreational species on the East Coast. More fishing trips are make to catch striped bass than any other species. They are widely studied, however, not much is known how climate is impacting the range of these fish and if warming water is impacting where and the productivity of their spawn.

There were two honorable mention photos one from Brian Crawford of his granddaughter showing off a legal sized quahog she caught the Great Salt Pond, Block Island and a photo of taken by Phil Duckett of angler Greg Vespe of Tiverton with a cobia, an exotic warm water fish he caught in Narragansett Bay just north of the Newport Bridge.

A Symposium report and a video that relates key learnings of the Baird Symposium is scheduled to be released at the end of June.

Hats off to URI and RI Sea Grant for dedicating the 2022 Baird Symposium to climate impacts on recreational fishing and boating.


Tautog tips, rigs and jigs

Tautog rigs should have as little hardware as possible to avoid bottom tie-ups. I make single hook rigs with about seven or eight feet of monofilament line and attach it to the main braid line directly with a dropper loop for a pre-snelled “Lazar Sharp” brand hook (you need sharp hooks to get through tough tautog lips). The loop is about five inches above the sinker.

To reduce bottom tie ups by 50 percent I use an egg sinker rig when in heavy structure. The egg sinker slides on a small piece of monofilament adorned with red and white beads which has a two-way swivel on each end, a pre-snelled lazar sharp hook is attached to the end of the swivel and hangs down about eight inches.

Anglers are also more commonly using tautog jigs tipped with crab with good success. The jigs are made in a variety of colors mimicking Asian crabs, green crabs whole or cut in half (the preferred baits for tautog). Jigs are also made to look little baby lobsters.

When using green crabs make it easy for the tautog to bite and take the bait. I like to break off most of the legs and claws leaving one per side on the end, cut the crab in half and hook it through one leg socket and out another.

The idea is to be ready with a number of bait & tackle arrangements on any given day.

Tautog are not often sold in fish markets because they are difficult to harvest commercially. They are usually caught by rod & reel or fish traps rather than trawling for them.

Keep your drag tight as once you hook these bulldogs they will try to fight their way back down to structure and cut your line.

Tautog can be fished from shore or boat and in both cases they like structure (rocks, wrecks, bridge piers, dock pilings, mussel beds, ledges holes and humps along the coast). So, no structure, no tautog.


Charter boat wind  arm fishing survey

A research study is being conducted by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to assess the potential economic impacts associated with offshore wind development among for-hire party/charter vessels in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Participants will asked about your for-hire party/charter fishing activity over the past five years. Having quick access to your logbooks for the years 2017-2021 will allow you to efficiently respond to this survey. Responses will remain strictly confidential, but will be summarized in reports and communications before RIDEM, MADMF and other regulatory bodies. Survey link: The last day to complete this survey is May 7, 2022.


Where’s the bite?

Tautog. Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box, Warwick, said, “Reports of some keeper fish (16 inches or larger) being caught at India Point Park, Providence.” “A 17-inch tautog was caught this weekend at India Point Park. Good places for spring tautog fishing include the Stone Bridge and Fog Land in Tiverton, and Ohio Ledge in the West Passage of Narragansett Bay.” Tautog fishing will start to heat up as the water waters a bit. This week the water was 48 degrees at Narragansett Beach, 50 degrees is when the tautog bite starts to heat up.

Freshwater. “Fishing for brown, rainbow and golden trout have been good at stocked ponds in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Onley Pond at Lincoln Woods had been producing for customers but it has been cold. We had hail in Attleboro this weekend.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle. “Upper Melville Pond seems to be producing trout for customers,” said Bob Mello of Sam’s Bait & Tackle, Middletown. Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box said, “Little Pond in Warwick off West Shore road behind Vets School is producing largemouth bass.  We weighed in a five pound bass from there last week.” John Littlefield of Archi’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “Locally Willet Avenue Pond is still producing trout for customers.”

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 or visit

fishing, no fluke