Last week I was one of eight recreational fishermen that met with Representative Seth Magaziner and his staff in their Warwick office to talk about habitat, fish and recreational fishing. He met with us just before returning to Washington for House votes on a new speaker. We also met with Senator Reed’s staff in Cranston, which we have done a number of times along with meetings with Senator Whitehouse.
This type of exchange does not occur in other countries, I felt very grateful. Congressman Magaziner is a champion for the environment, oceans, fish and fishing and we appreciate that very much.
Key issues discussed included the importance of recreational fishing to Rhode Island’s economy ($419 million in annual sales economic impact according to NOAA), the focus on keeping conservation measures in our national fishing law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), strong, particularly in light of climate change impacts and the full funding of NOAA with funds to do more extensive climate research as well as more frequent and robust stock assessments.
Unfortunately, the U.S. House Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2024 would have a devastating impact on fish and habitat as it reduces funding by 14 percent for NOAA Fisheries, a cut of $900 million.
Anglers urged full funding for NOAA Fisheries. Additionally, the bill contains language that would prohibit funding from being used to fund climate change fisheries research. This language would hamper the ability of NOAA Fisheries to undertake climate research and adaptation efforts.
Where’s the bite?
Striped bass, bluefish, bonito and false albacore. Striped bass fishing has been remarkable this fall just as it has been good all year. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, said, “Big striped bass are being caught all over the Bay and up into the Providence River. Anglers are chunking Atlantic menhaden and using white soft plastic lures with success. Bonito and false albacore are still around too as the water is still 60 degrees in the Bay.”
“Stripers were exploding from Patience Island to Conimicut Point. One customer caught three keepers in the slot (28” to < 31”) in just a few minutes,” said Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box, Warwick.
Anglers are catching fish from shore and boats. This week the bite was on in Greenwich Bay with fish being taken on swimming lures of all types both casting to fish on the surface and trolling them. Declan O’Conner of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown, said, “Striped bass fishing has been very good from the local beaches and Breachway with lots of surface action during the day, plugs, eels and jigs producing well at night. Schools of smaller bass were around this week with a few 40 inchers being pulled out along the south shore. There have been large schools of bait moving along the beaches with bass and a few bluefish in pursuit. The bait mostly includes mackerel, bunker (peanuts anywhere from 1-5 in) bay anchovies, and mullet. Schools of false albacore continue to pop up from Napatree Point to Narragansett and those anglers targeting them are managing a few.”
John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, said, “This is the best striped bass season in some years with customers catching slot and school bass at Sabin Point as well as from the Barrington Bridge when tautog fishing. One customer caught a 35-inch striped bass. The fishing is great in the Providence River and the Seekonk River all the way to downtown Pawtucket. Al Gag’s white soft plastic lures are working well.”
Tautog fishing has been producing for anglers all over Narragansett Bay, off Newport and along our southern coastal shore.
“The key to a good bite this week was fishing when the tide was moving. Customers that struggled to get their limit with a lot of shorts were not able to sit on top of a group of chewing tog. Most of the action seems to be coming from areas in 20 to 40 feet of water and there have been some cod and black sea bass mixed in,” said O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle.
“Tautog fishing is on fire,” said Littlefield of Archie’s. “Customers are catching fish to 8 pounds from the Barrington Bridge with the outgoing tide working best with jigs. Some anglers are catching a lot of shorts to land their five keepers.”
“Rocky Point, Ohio Ledge and out in front of Newport and Jamestown are all producing some big double digit fish,” said Giddings of the Tackle Box.
“Coddington Cove in Middletown, the bulkheads along the Providence waterfront and out in front of Newport are all producing big tautog for anglers. Chris “Higgie” Higgins, who mates for Capt. Mike Littlefield of ArchAngel Charters caught a 13.56 pound tautog off Newport this week,” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle.
Scup, black sea bass and cod fish have been caught by anglers targeting tautog. “One customer targeting scup managed to catch his limit, 30 keepers from his boat, which is remarkable as these fish are still around and it is almost November,” said Giddings of the Tackle Box.
Squid fishing is starting to heat up. Expert squid fisher, Greg Vespe of Tiverton, said, “We had a good squid bite last week it is just starting to build but should really pick up over the next four weeks.” Vespe landed what looked to be like six or seven dozen squid on his cleaning table.
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