Jay Conway and daughter Jennifer Conway with the 7-pound fluke she caught on the south side of the Newport Bridge while fishing in 75 feet of water. She was using a conventional squid rig tipped with fresh squid, fluke belly and a freshwater minnow.
Who knew? Who knew that someday even the fish you eat would have an ID number…a bar code? Well, the fish you buy at a specialty market or eat at a fine dining establishment just may have an ID number if it is part of the fresh fish “Trace and Trust” initiative. This number will tell you when, where and on what boat that fish was caught. There is even a Facebook link you access with your smart phone from your restaurant dining table that tells you a little bit about the fish, how it was caught and the captain and crew that caught the fish.
Rhode Island fresh fish is now available at select restaurants and markets, often times just hours after it was caught. Chris Brown, Steve Arnold and Bob Westcott (all Rhode Island commercial fishermen) started a business called Wild Rhody that delivers fish fresh to restaurants and markets directly from their boats. The fishermen have garnered quite a bit of publicity lately with feature articles in the New York Times, the Providence Journal and a host of others. They also received Rhode Island Monthly magazine’s “Best Local Food Initiative” award for 2011. Their purpose as related on their web site is “… to ensure their customers know exactly who caught their seafood, as well as when, where and how it got caught. The customers love and trust the seafood - and the stories about the fishermen who provide it to them.”
Wild Rhody communicates with chefs at fine dining establishments (often while they are out fishing) to find out what they have in mind to cook for dinner and then they catch and supply that fish to the restaurant. Conversely, Wild Rhody partners take the initiative and call restaurants letting them know what they are catching so chefs can plan accordingly. What’s the end result? Fishermen get more for their catch as it is sold direct, restaurants get more for their entrée too (as the fish is guaranteed fresh), chefs get to cook and serve fish fresher than ever before and most important, the customer gets a fresh local fish (guaranteed by its identify code) expertly prepared by their favorite restaurant. Everyone wins.
As an avid recreational fisherman, I find a lot of comfort knowing that I can now get fresh fish when dining out through Trace and Trust. Find out what restaurants and specially markets are working with Rhody Fresh by visiting their website at www.traceandtrust.com.
RISAA meeting August 29...striped bass fishing with jigs and maritime law
Jigging for striped bass and more will be Capt. Jack Sprengel’s topic Monday, Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. at the monthly RISAA meeting, West Valley Inn, 4 Blossom Street, West Warwick. John Fulweiler, Esq. will also speak on maritime law for recreational boaters. RISAA members free, $10 donation for non-members. Optional dinner from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at reasonable prices served by the West Valley Inn.
Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council meets with new members
The Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council (RIMFC) met last week with five new members and I am honored to say that I am one of them. The Council consists of eight members, three from the commercial fishing community, three from the recreational fishing community and two from the scientific community. Council members were appointed by Governor Lincoln Chaffee and confirmed by the State Senate last month. The purpose of the Council is to advise Janet Coit, director of the Department of Environmental Management (DEM), on regulation as it relates to both commercial and recreational fishing in Rhode Island.
The Council is chaired by Robert Ballou, acting director of DEM’s Marine Fisheries Division. The three council members who have served before are Richard Hittinger (RISAA vice president, who was elected vice chair at the meeting), Richard Bellavance, president of the Rhode Island Party & Charter Boat Association, and Dr. Christopher Anderson form the University of Rhode Island. New council members are Kenneth Booth, president of the Commercial Rod and Reel Fisherman’s Association; Will Mackintosh III, commercial fisherman; J. Christopher Powell from Roger Williams University; Jeff Gant, president of the Rhode Island Shell Fisherman’s Association; and David Monti, charter boat captain and fishing columnist.
Last week’s meeting primarily served as an orientation meeting for new members and an organizational meeting for the Council. Meeting schedules, agendas and meeting minutes are all a matter of public record and can be found on the DEM Marine Fisheries’ website at www.dem.ri.gov.
Summer flounder limits likely to increase again next summer
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, which regulates summer flounder, recommended increasing the 2012 harvest by 1.6 million pounds to 35.55 million pounds at a meeting last week. The proposed harvest for 2012 is a 125 percent increase over the lowest year, the 2008 quota of 15.77 million pounds. The recommendation still has to be approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service and then Rhode Island will establish its recreational and commercial regulations based on the approved quota.
Where’s the bite
Striped bass fishing remains strong at the North Rip and southwest side of Block Island. Fishing in front of Newport, along coastal shores and in Narragansett Bay for striped bass has been very slow. Richard Beretta reports a slow bite off Newport when fishing with his family Sunday, “We had one bite using eels and that was it.” However, a good amount of bait has been reported off Jamestown, Newport and in the Bay (even the upper Bay), so this is a good sign for the fall bass run. Will have to wait and see.
Fluke fishing was mixed this past week. John Owens on the RISAA blog reports catching 20 shorts and five keepers under the Newport Bridge last Saturday. Jennifer Conway of North Kingstown caught a 25-inch fluke at seven pounds (her first fluke trip) Sunday while fishing with her father Jay Conway on No Fluke Charters. Fluke fishing at the mouth of the Sakonnet River, Elbow Ledge and off Point Judith has been slow this week with mixed results…a lot of shorts. However, fluke fishing activity has picked up a bit along southern coastal shores from Watch Hill to Point Judith. Captain Rich Hittinger reported a good fluke bite with sea bass mixed in off Charlestown last week. Captain Hittinger said, “This is an improvement from what it has been there.” Reports of squid moving back into the area.
Bluefish bite off Block Island is good with fish on the surface this past Sunday at the Southwest Ledge. Blues were on the surface at Sakonnet Point Sunday as well. Not many bluefish reports in Narragansett Bay. Jim Malachowski of Cranston (with his nephew on board) said, “We had a difficult time finding bluefish Sunday in the West Passage in the Hope Island, Jamestown and Quonset Point area.” However, just as with striped bass, the reports of a lot of bait in the Bay and along coastal shores is a good sign for fall blue fishing too. Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle in Warwick said his customers were catching bluefish around Halfway Rock and Gould Island trolling with striped bass mixed in.
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. Your fishing photos in JPEG form, 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 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.