Everyone who makes a living on the water, or has a passion to recreational fish, gets spirited when it is time to talk about allocations, regulations and harvest limits.
Fisheries decisions can be difficult, regulations can hurt a commercial fisherman, they can prevent a charter captain from making a living, and they can deny access to a fishery to a shore angler.
As a member of the Marine Fisheries Council in Rhode Island that makes commercial and recreational fishing regulation recommendations, I and fellow councilpersons are often faced with difficult decisions, because fisheries resources are limited.
When the resource is limited, who gets fish? This is a decision state and regional federal councils and commissions are faced with every day (in Massachusetts, it’s the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission).
I try to remind myself of three key factors when thinking about fisheries decisions. First, the fish in the ocean belong to all the people of the United Sates, not select interest groups, fishing sectors, individuals or people just from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey or the Gulf of Mexico. Even folks living in landlocked Kansas have a right to the fish in our waters.
Second, I try to always put the fish first — meaning, do what is best to rebuild a stock to grow them to abundance so there are more in the water for all of us to catch and eat. Growing fish to abundance often means taking fish off the table so no state or interest group gets to take them, because experience tells us if we fish, fish, and fish, we can fish a species to extinction.
Third, and most important, do no harm. Do no harm to fellow fishermen, particularly those that oppose your point of view. Express your opinion, but in a respectful way that does not attack a person’s point of view personally, but rather present your point of view in such a way that is not mean-spirted.
We are faced with a difficult decision today about striped bass — the No. 1 recreational sport fish on the east coast.
The commercial and recreational fishing communities are all expressing their perspective on how many fish we should kill, and how to divide them. Many strongly believe they have the right answer, the right number to take and how to divide them. Throughout this process, I am trying to remember that fish belong to all the people, I am trying to put the fish first, as we do not want to fish them to extinction, and trying to do no harm to others.
Angler input on the striped bass Addendum VI management plan options is being taken via public hearings on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Woburn and a second on Thursday at Mass. Maritime Academy, in Admiral’s Hall in Buzzards Bay, MA. Visit www.asmfc.org for instructions on how to send in comments via mail and email. Public comments accepted until 5 p.m. (EST) on Oct. 7.
Seminar Monday with Capt. Monti and Peter Fay
The RI Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) will hold a seminar Monday at 7 p.m. at the West Warwick Elks Lodge, at 60 Clyde Street in West Warwick. The meeting will be preceded by an optional dinner served by the Elks Lodge starting at 5:30 p.m. After the seminar, attendees are welcomed to stay for RISAA’s quarterly board meeting.
Two presentation topics, including the “The importance of Abundant Fisheries,” by Capt. Dave Monti, vice chair of the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council and RISAA second vice president, and a second topic, “The History of Fishing in Rhode Island,” by Peter Fay, fishing historian.
Everyone is welcome to attend the meeting, though non-members are requested to make a $10 donation to the RISAA Scholarship Fund, and members attend free.
Where’s the bite?
Striped bass, false albacore and bluefish: Rob Lubold of Canal Bait & Tackle in Sandwich said, “We have a run of large false albacore in the canal, many are over 30 inches, with anglers catching them on epoxy lures. The striped bass bite at night with eels is good too.” Fish ranging in size from small skipjacks to fish in the two-foot range are in Rhode Island and Massachusetts bays and coves. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle in Riverside, said, “The bluefish bite remains strong; I have sold more plugs for them than I have sold in the last year and half. Anglers are catching striped bass under and around the bluefish, with one customer catching a keeper at the month of the Warren River when a school of striped bass surfaced.” For the past week and a half, we have had false albacore from Conimicut Light all the way up the Providence River. Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina said, “This weekend, the false albacore along the southern coastal shore seem to disappear. Hope they are not gone for good. However, the bass bite at Block Island with those using eels (even during the day) is very good.”
Black sea bass, scup and fluke: We caught several black sea bass keepers to 21 inches Sunday fishing off the mouth of the Sakonnet River. Scup fishing is still very good in the bay and along the coastal shore, with large sea bass a bit harder to find along the coastal shore. Elisa Cahill said, “Fluke fishing is just about nonexistent now; it’s hard to find a keeper.”
Tautog fishing continues to improve: Angler Eric Duda reports a strong tautog bite at Sakonnet Point, with his largest fish this weekend in the seven- and nine-pound range using green crabs when there was good water movement. Black sea bass to 4.5 pounds being caught there as well. Rob Lubold of Canal Bait said, “The tautog bite with green crabs on the west end of the canal has been good.”
Tuna fishing: “We had a great school bluefin tuna bite about 15 miles south of Block Island last week. Anglers experienced some great action on the charter vessel ‘Hot Reels’ captained by Louis DeFusco last week. They caught 75- to 100-pound bluefin on fluke rigs. But that bite was off this week. Many believe the butterfish and bait moved with the heavy seas. They will pop up somewhere else this week.” Capt. Cory Blount of the Frances Fleet said Thursday, “Tuna fishing slowed with bad weather, but we expect fishing to pick up now.”
Freshwater fishing remains very strong for anglers: “Customers are catching catfish, large- and small-mouth bass at the Brickyard Pond in Barrington, as the water quality there has improved fishing greatly,” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle.