Angler Joe Fournier with a large black sea bass he caught under the Newport Bridge last week.
The Division of Marine Fisheries of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently announced it has received reports of skin lesions on striped bass. The general condition reported has been red spotting visible along the sides of the fish. Lesions such as these can be indicative of the presence of the disease Mycobacteriosis, which is common in southern waters, especially Chesapeake Bay. The information available at this time indicates a slightly elevated occurrence of skin lesions on striped bass in Massachusetts, likely of viral or bacterial origin, but not clearly associated with the disease organism Mycobacterium, said the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries in a statement last week.
The Massachusetts Marine Fisheries staff has been collecting information from anglers on the prevalence and geographic distribution of the skin lesions. At present the prevalence appears to be low (less than 5%) coast wide but higher in fish from southern Massachusetts, primarily Buzzards Bay and the Cape Cod Canal. Internal and external examination of afflicted fish has not indicated that these lesions are associated with Mycobacteriosis. The examination of several dozen randomly collected striped bass showed no signs of abnormalities in their spleens, the hallmark indicator of the disease.
Lesions on the skin of striped bass are a relatively common occurrence and have many causative agents. The elevated prevalence seen in some areas this year may be the result of anomalously high spring and summer water temperatures seen in Massachusetts and more southerly waters. Fish with mild skin lesions are safe to handle and consume.
Last week Rhode Island DEM's Marine Fisheries Division requested that Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) members who may see striped bass with skin lesions to report it to them.
"We have seen a few," said Mark Gibson, Deputy Chief, Division of Fish and Wildlife. "We encourage RISAA members to report observations to us so we can cooperate with Massachusetts on the investigation."
"We have a member who is going though painful treatment now," said RISAA president Steve Medeiros. "It's believed he obtained the infection though a cut on his hand and then absorbed the bacteria from either a striped bass or the salt water."
Malnutrition accelerates mycobacteriosis
In past No Fluke columns on mycobacteriosis (visit www.noflukefishing.blogspot.com, search mycobacteriosis), it was reported that striped bass were starving as they wintered in the Chesapeake Bay because of a reduced supply of Atlantic Menhaden (their primary food) due to commercial over fishing. Lack of food has been substantiated by tag-recapture data studies from spring spawning grounds in Maryland and Virginia. Fish captured in autumn are the same size as fish that are starved in a lab for two months. The study found malnutrition makes the population vulnerable to mycobacteriosis. The disease causes loss of scales, skin ulcers, severe weight loss and lesions in striped bass.
Fish handling guidelines
• Wear heavy gloves to avoid puncture wounds from fish spines
• If cuts, scrapes or other open or inflamed areas of your skin are present, cover hands and wrists with an impermeable barrier like a rubber or vinyl glove
• Wash hands thoroughly with an antibacterial soap after handling fish
• Wash off all cutting boards, surfaces, knives and other utensils used to process raw fish with warm soapy water
• Discard fish with large open lesions or darkened patches in the fillets
• Persons who exhibit signs of infection on their hands after handling fish should contact their physician immediately
Galilee Fishing Tournament & Seafood Festival
The Galilee Fishing Tournament & Seafood Festival with the theme of "Fishing for a cause" will be held September 7 - 9, 2012 at the Port of Galilee in Narragansett, RI. The tournament is planned as a family friendly event with a low entry fee and lots of prices in 35 different categories. A variety of species are included in the tournament… striped bass, summer flounder (fluke) and blue fish for the adult division with these species plus scup, black sea bass and tautog for the junior division. Fishing can take place anywhere but all weigh-ins must be done in Galilee. Prizes for both adult and junior divisions will be high value fishing prizes such as charters, show tickets, quality fishing tackle and much more. The Tournament is sponsored by the RI Department of Environmental Management, Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association and the Narragansett Parks & Recreation Department. All proceeds from the Tournament and Festival will be donated to Hasbro Children's Hospital, the Johnnycake Center Food Bank and the Narragansett Parks & Recreation financial aid program. For more information about the fishing tournament and festival visit www.galileetourney.
Where's the bite
Striped bass fishing on Block Island is still hot. William and Dylan Press of Boston, MA caught 33 and 30 pound bass using eels on the Southwest Ledge early Saturday morning when fishing with Captain Sheriff's Fishing Charters. Elisa Martin of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown said, "The Southwest Ledge has a good bass bite with eels at night. Tube and worm is working during the day. And, the North Rip is consistently producing fish, but they are smaller." John Wunner of Archie's Bait & Tackle, East Providence said, "The bass bight has slowed in the Providence River, however, anglers are catching school bass in the 20 to 22" inch range." Captain Billy Silvia of Can't Imagine Charters, Bristol, RI caught bass this week at Brenton Reef (can #2) and Sandy Point, Prudence Island said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence.
Fluke fishing was mixed this week as anglers had a difficult time with wind and tide being in line. When drifts were good anglers caught fish. John Wunner of John's Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown said, "You could almost draw a line as to where customers are catching fluke… from out if front of southern coastal beaches, to Beavertail, Brenton Reef, to in front of the Sakonnet River. But, activity in the upper and lower Bay is slow." Reports of a good number of fluke, but mostly shorts, being caught off Warwick Neck light.
Squeteague are still being caught in the Bay. John Wunner of Archie's Bait said one of his customers caught a squeteague when fishing off Hanes Park, East Providence. John Littlefield said one of his customers' caught a 4 pound squeteague in the upper Bay near Ohio Ledge.
Bluefish continue to be thick around Block Island with small blue fish in the 1.5 pound range being caught in the Providence River said John Wunner. Skipjacks are starting to appear in coves and harbors said Wunner.
Scup fishing remains strong with fish in the 16" to 18" being caught all over the Bay… Colt State Park, Ohio Ledge even up the Barrington Rive said John Littlefield.
Black sea bass fishing if good with fish in the 6 and 7 pound range as anglers catch them when they are fluke fishing.
Offshore. The charter boat Lady K had three school blue fin school tuna to 30 pounds this weekend when fishing the Mud Hole said Elisa Martin of Snug Harbor Marina.
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing on Narragansett Bay for over 40 years. He holds a captain's master license, a charter fishing license, and is a member of the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council. Your fishing photos in JPEG from, stories, comments and questions are welcome… there's more than one way to catch a fish. Visit Captain Dave's No Fluke website at www.noflukefishing.com; his blog at www.noflukefishing.blogspot.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.