The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries enacted emergency recreational regulations this week to change the maximum length limit for keeping striped bass.
The new recreational slot size in all New England states is 28 inches to less than 31 inches with anglers allowed to keep one fish per day. This new regulation started on Friday in Massachusetts and Connecticut and goes into effect today (May 27) in Rhode Island, running to Oct. 28.
The larger-than-normal striped bass class of 2015 maturing to the old slot limit size of 28 inches to less than 35 inches led to higher than normal overfishing. Last year, anglers killed twice as many fish and reduced the probability of success of the stock rebuilding plan to just 15 percent
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is holding online public hearings to review their actions and garner angler input on possible rebuilding plan options. The last of the meetings will be held Wednesday, from 6-8 p.m. Register for virtual hearings at https://tinyurl.com/yc65bz95 and use the dropdown menu to select the hearing date you plan to attend.
Where’s the bite
Striped bass and bluefish: Angler Tom Fetherston of South Kingstown said, “We fished the North Rip (Block Island) Wednesday where we’d done well around this time in previous years. Trolled several passes, didn’t mark much, no hits so went to Nebraska Shoal (Charlestown, RI). Saw birds working sporadically, ran out an umbrella and hit big bluefish. Quit when we had six to twelve pounds for dinner and the smoker. Went closer to the beach to troll and picked up two stripers (one short, one slot).” Fishing for striped bass and bluefish in Narragansett Bay has been very good with some anglers having to move around to catch them. The East Passage, Providence River as well as Greenwich Bay and the West Passage are all producing for anglers but some days you have to hunt for fish. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle in Providence said, “The storm this week seems to have brought the bass in for the weekend. Customer Angelo Moniz caught a 52-inch striped bass from Spooky Bottom Dock, East Providence using chucks of Atlantic menhaden. Pogies, trolling umbrella rigs and tube & worm and flutter spoons all seem to be working.” Canal fishing expert and author East End Eddie Doherty said, “Canal anglers fished the east end where many nice fish were landed including a 36-inch striper caught at the Herring Run and Bourne’s Tim “Hollywood” Petracca fought a 43 inch to fruition during a subsurface bite.” Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle in Charlestown said, “Cold nights have made it hard for the worm hatch to happen. Hopefully this makes for a strong but late hatch with potentially very large fish. Fishing for striped bass has been great some days and slow other days around the Breachway. Morning and evenings have been more productive with a few fish being caught during the day. Bluefish are still around in good numbers hitting a variety of baits from swimming minnows to soft plastics.”
Tautog: Anglers are reminded that the spring tautog season in Rhode Island will close June 1 to July 31 during spawning season. In Massachusetts, tautog fishing is open throughout spawning at one fish/angler/day. “Tautog fishing remains productive with good catches coming from rocky areas 20 to 30 feet of water or even shallower,” O’Donnell said. “If you’re picking up a lot of shorts, search for a single rock rather than a boulder field.”
Squid, black sea bass and summer flounder: The Francis Fleet Party Boat in Point Judith reported, “Last week, fishing started off with a good bite until the wind picked up. High hook had a limit and a few others with three fish with two fluke right around eight pounds. Squid fishing was good last Wednesday night. The night started off with a ripping tide. Once things eased up the squid started chewing. The best action of the night was from 9:30-11 p.m. Anglers caught half to three-quarters of a bucket.” On Sunday, we caught keeper summer flounder at Warwick Light drifting across the channel. Most hits came drifting up or down the channel bank. Fished until we rescued three boaters who had an engine explosion and fire aboard a 30-foot twin-engine cabin cruiser. Hats off to the US Coast Guard, Safe Sea, Warwick Fire Department and other concerned boaters that stood by as we waited for the Coast Guard. “Noticed boats fluking off Deep Hole, joined them but there was minimal drift so soon ran back to Nebraska Shoal (Charlestown),” Fetherston said. “Took some time to find fish, but picked a limit of six black sea bass for three anglers to 21 inchesm along with a scup and a sort fluke.” O’Donnell said, “Squid fishing was good last week with buckets getting filled for dinner and bait. Fluke bite continues to improve with most fish coming from 70-80 feet of water. They should continue to move into shallower water as the water warms.”
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.