December 21, 2014
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Be a know-it-all with Inland Fishes of RI
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Captain Dave Monti
Big tautog: Jim Fournier of Pennsylvania holds an 8.5 pound tautog caught off Newport Saturday in 80 to 90 feet of water. Jim and his dad fished on his uncle's boat, Bruce Fournier of Narragansett.

If you want to know all about inland fish species and their habitats then the new RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Inland Fishes of Rhode Island guide is for you. At $26.75 it makes the perfect gift for anglers and nature enthusiasts.

The 287-page book was written by biologist Alan D. Libby and illustrated by Robert Jon Golder. It contains descriptions and illustrations of each species of fish found in Rhode Island's freshwaters during surveys conducted by DEM's Division of Fish and Wildlife from 1993 to 2012. Inland fishes of RI provides illustrations, characteristics to identify species, habitat descriptions, life history information, and has a distribution map for each species.

Inland Fishes of RI will be of interest to saltwater anglers too as 30 of the 72 fish species in the book regularly or occasionally spend a portion of their lives in both fresh and saltwater. "DEM biologist Alan Libby spent a good portion of his career surveying hundreds of rivers, streams and ponds across Rhode Island… to produce this scientific compilation of fish species found in our waters." said Janet Coit, DEM director.

The most diversity was found in the Pawcatuck River, which boasted 67 species, followed by the Blackstone River basin, which had 31 species. The Pawcatuck River's greater diversity is the result of it having fewer dams to obstruct the movement of fish in and out of the river.

Inland Fishes of Rhode Island is $26.75. It may be purchased in person at the DEM Office of Boat Registration and Licensing in Providence and at the Division of Fish and Wildlife Field Headquarters in West Kingston. The book may also be purchased through the mail using the order form located at www.dem.ri.gov/programs/bnatres/fishwild/inlandfishes.htm .

US Fish & Wildlife hatcheries in trouble

In a report issued this month the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service warned that "Closures (of national fish hatcheries) may be necessary in FY 2015 given fiscal uncertainly and growing operations costs." Dan Ashe, service director, said the National Fish Hatchery System: Strategic Hatchery and Workforce Planning Report, "sounds the alarm on a hatchery system unable to meet its mission responsibilities in the current budget climate." However, the Fish & Wildlife Service is taking measures to ensure hatcheries remain open for the balance of FY 2014.

The Workforce Planning Report outlines the current programs and problems associated with sustaining operation of the National Fish Hatchery System (NFHS) in its current configuration, and suggest possible changes to how the system could be managed under several different scenarios. The Service will use the analysis to engage stakeholders in a discussion of the future of the NFHS.

Visit the U.S. Fish & Wildlife website at www.fws.gov for additional information. The report can be found at www.fws.gov/

home/feature/2013/pdf/NFHSReviewCoverPageandReport.pdf.

Where's the bite

Cod and black sea bass. Roger Simpson of the Frances Fleet said, "Wednesday found the sea bass to be aggressive with a full boat limit of the black beauties up to 4 lbs and a few anglers throwing back 20 to 30 keepers apiece after limiting out. Plenty of scup as well…anglers who fished smaller hooks easily had 15 to 25 nice scup apiece with sizes up to 2 lbs. Some nice size green cod to nearly 20 lbs as well with two anglers sharing hi hook honors of 4 nice cod apiece." Simpson commenting on the cod bite said, "We strongly recommend that anglers swing for the sky whenever they suspect something is up. There are some nice cod starting to show up but the fish just all too often do not bite (aggressively)… if you are waiting for that big bite from a big cod you may be waiting for a very long time, almost all of the big cod in the 25 to just over 40 lb range I have caught over the years I have felt either a soft slow pull, no bite per se, or the feeling as though my sinker rolled off a rock."

Tautog fishing continues to be strong with fish being caught in deeper water. Bruce Fournier fished with his brother Bob and nephew Jim Saturday off Newport, Bruce said, "(We) did very well… including a couple of 8.5 pound fish. All fish were in 80-90 feet of water on green crabs." John Littlefield of Archie's Bait & Tackle in East Providence said, "The short to keeper ratio is getting better but the fishing has been on and off. One customer fished the Beavertail area and caught five keepers, the next day he went back and caught all shorts. The same thing is happening in Narragansett Bay at Conimicut Light, the Wharf Tavern and the bridges in Barrington." Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly, said, "The blackfish bite is good with anglers catching tautog at rock clusters along the coast and at Latimer Light. Nice fish are being caught with the larger ones in the eight to eleven pound range." Roger Simpson of the Frances Fleet said "Tautog fishing continued strong this past week with a full boat limit (Wednesday)... with fish to nine pounds and a few nice cod fish to boot."

Striped bass. Anglers continue to catch striped bass along the coastal shore and in winter holdover spots. Tommy Pelto of Tiverton said, "There's still some consistent striper action along the south shore. Birds were working and fish were breaking this morning (Saturday)." Tom who landed a school bass in the low 20 inch range said, "The lure was a gold HALCO OUTCAST. 40 grams I think. I picked up the bass at the saltwater edge in Middletown." Some anglers have turned their attention to winter hold over spots. Littlefield of Archie's Bait said, "Customers are catching school bass north of the hurricane barrier in Providence." Dave Pickering noted local angler and author/lecturer said anglers are turning their attention to "Places like the CT rivers, the backwater ponds of the south shore in RI and rivers of upper Narragansett Bay. These are the places that will produce all winter long if you want to continue catching stripers. The lures and plugs to use for winter holdovers are not complicated… For the most part, this is a jigging game on light tackle. Work the bottom slowly because that's where the fish are holding."

Freshwater. Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters said, "Anglers are catching Pike at Chapman Pond in Westerly. We still have minnows for freshwater anglers." Dave Pickering said, "Today (Wednesday last week), I went out with little expectations of catching anything on this cold day… Well, it turned out to be a decent outing as I landed three commons (carp), all around 10 lbs. I got them all on Pecaviva sweet corn fished ahead of a method ball. All of the fish also came in the early afternoon sun when things had warmed up a bit." Visit Dave Pickering's blog at www.ricarpfishing.blogspot.com.

Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing on Narragansett Bay for over 40 years. He holds a captain's master license and a charter fishing license. Contact or forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at dmontifish@verizon.net or visit his website at www.noflukefishing.com.


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