September 22, 2014
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What do Atlantic Menhaden do best ... they get eaten
Captain Dave Monti
Photo by Brian Gratwicke
Atlantic Menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus)

I have written about Atlantic Menhaden and the role they play in our fishery in Narragansett Bay and in the ocean a number of times.

Atlantic Menhaden serve as roving filters, converting algae into energy and thus reducing nutrient loads in bays and covers. An adult menhaden, through its unique filtering gills, is able to process up to 4 gallons of water per minute or a million gallons of water every 180 days. Multiply this by the number of menhaden in any given area and this is an amazing amount of water being filtered, a reduction of nutrients means fewer algae blooms and ultimately more oxygen for all fish.

But what menhaden do best is that they get eaten by other fish, particularly striped bass and other game fish targeted by recreational anglers. They are an important part of the food chain. H. Bruce Franklin, a professor at Rutgers University, is author of "The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden and America." Professor Franklin said, "This is what the menhaden do best: they get eaten. Game fish and seabirds, sharks and whales all seek out these oily fish as a favorite meal, making menhaden a crucial link in the ocean food chain."

This week the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) which is comprised of representatives from fifteen coastal states will vote on Draft Amendment 2 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden which outlines a number of possible regulations on the species. These proposed regulations will force the Commission to choose between allowing industrial processors to continue to overfish the species with little or no restrictions or will rescue the fish with regulations that will start to rebuild the species that can help restore our bays, coastal waters and fishery.

Widespread support form recreational anglers and environmentalists have weighed in with the ASMFC on the issue. Steve Medeiros, president of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association said, "A total of 128,333 comments were received on Draft Amendment 2 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden… Of those comments, 127,925 comments were letters... 13 public hearings were held in 10 states. Approximately 502 individuals were estimated to have attended the hearings combined. I don't have a breakdown yet… but I think that we will see a large majority seeking action to start rebuilding the stock."

Amendment 2 Atlantic Menhaden regulation issues will come before the Commission this Thursday. We will report on outcomes in next week's column.

West Bay Anglers Lobster Raffles

The West Bay Anglers are continuing to hold their Lobster Raffles throughout the fall and winter to raise funds for the Impossible Dream and their RI Take a Kid Fishing program. They occur each Saturday at the Warwick FOP, 95 Tanner Avenue, Warwick, RI from November 3, 2012 through March 16, 2013. Doors open at 1:00 p.m. and the public is invited to attend. Yes they raffle off lobsters… not ordinary lobsters… but large lobsters ranging from six to fourteen pounds. They also usually have a raffle table with small appliances like toasters and George Forman Grilles, a meat table with hams and roasts of all types, a miscellaneous table, and a final raffle table with large prizes like Sony flat screen TVs, GPS systems, gift cards, cash and much more. For information call 401.463.7532.

Rhody Fly Rodders meeting

The Rhody Fly Rodders will hold their Premier Fly Tying Event Tuesday, December 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Riverside Sportsman's Club, East Providence, RI. Members, friends and the public are invited to participate in this great evening of 'Fly Tying for Charity'. Bring your tying tools, tying materials provided. From Providence take Rt.195 to Exit 7. Bear right on the ramp & follow Rt. 114 South
(Wampanoag Trail) for 2 miles. Look for WPRO Studios on left, then take first U-turn back to Rt. 114 North. Continue North and look for the Riverside Sportsmen's Club sign on right side

2012 - 2013 winter harvest schedules for shellfish management and transplant areas

Last week the Marine Fisheries Division of the RI Department of Environmental Management announced the winter harvest schedules for shellfish in management and transplant areas. They include the following.

Western Greenwich Bay (GB Sub-Areas 1 and 2) harvest schedules: For December 2012 - In accordance with D.E.M. Office of Water Resources, GB Sub-Area 1 and GB Sub-Area 2 are seasonally closed to shellfishing beginning sunrise on December 1 through sunrise of January 1. NOTE: The seasonal closure
also includes a portion of Eastern Greenwich Bay (GB Sub-Area 3). Refer to www.dem.ri.gov/maps/mapfile/shellfsh.pdf for detailed closure information. GB Sub-Areas 1 and 2: Open from January 1, 2013 through April 30, 2013 between 8 AM to 12 noon on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

High Banks, Bissel/Fox, Potowomut shellfish management areas and Bristol Shellfish Transplant area Harvest schedules: For December 2012 - Open on December 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24, 26, 28, and 31; from 8 a.m. to 12 noon. For January 2013 - Open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 12 noon. For February 1, 2013 through April 30, 2013 - Open Mondays through Fridays from sunrise to 12 noon. Note: The Bissel / Fox Shellfish Management is closed to oyster harvest.

Mill Gut Shellfish management area harvest schedule: Open from December 12, 2012 through April 30, 2013 between 8 AM to 12 noon on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Where's the bite

Tautog and cod fishing is good if you are willing to fish in cold weather. Anglers are experiencing good fishing off Newport. Dave Garzoli said, "I fished in the waters around Newport Thursday and did very well. The water depth was between 60-70'. Limited out easily and released a bunch of keepers and a pile of shorts and landed two cod over 22". All on green crabs cut in half." The Francis Fleet experienced good tautog (and cod) fishing this weekend. They report, "Had a great day of black (tautog) fishing (Sunday) despite the very wet conditions. A very light crowd was treated to stellar fishing. Many limits on the blackfish with the biggest blackfish being over 10 pounds… also found a pile of nice fat healthy cod with five fish over 12 pounds. Some anglers managed to snag a half dozen cod with others getting a few. More and more cod have been showing up as the season goes on."

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 e-mail him at dmontifish@verizon.net.


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