Why was the striped bass limit cut to one fish? Why are you allowed to take 9" scup from select shore areas and the minimum is 10" from a boat and other shore areas? And, why have we been restricted to one black sea bass all summer?
The answer to these and similar questions lies, in part, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) ability to manage and prioritize fish stock assessments for recreational and commercial fisheries so fish managers can make decisions based on the best available scientific information.
Earlier this month NOAA released a final version of a new stock assessment prioritization system. NOAA manages over 500 fish species nationally but only has the recourses to conduct about 200 fish stock assessments a year with its partners. So, they had to develop an objective and transparent way to prioritize assessments. Details of the final assessment system report can be found at www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/stock-assessment/stock-assessment-prioritization.
Stock assessments are fundamental to the sustainable management of our Nation's fisheries. They represent the best scientific information available used to determine the status of fish stocks and guide the setting of harvest regulations that prevent overfishing and attain optimum yield from our Nation's fisheries.
In our area NOAA partners with the New England Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
Stock assessments provide estimates of a stock's abundance (spawning biomass or reproductive output) and fishing mortality rate relative to the targets and limits set for these quantities.
The relative size of fish populations and fishing mortality for federally managed fish stocks with the most recent available information is in the Species Information System (SIS) Database, which is the central repository for regional and national fish stock information. Key factors that go into assessment decision include the status of stock, the importance of the fishery to recreational and commercial fishery, available assessment information and the species ecosystem importance. For information on stock assessments in our area (the Northeast Region) visit www.nefsc.noaa.gov/saw.
Where's the bite
Striped bass bite around Block Island remains very hot, particularly from the Southwest Ledge to the Southeast side of the Island. Angler Eric Appolonia of North Kingstown said, "My son, his friend and I had no trouble catching our limit of bass in an hour Friday trolling with tube and worm in 40 to 45 feet of water at the Southwest Ledge. We released two fish and kept one and then turned our attention to fluke fishing of the south side of the Island." Angler George Allen reports a good bass bite off Newport trolling tube and worm with lead core line. George said, "We landed three bass a 13, 23 and 24 pound fish." "School bass are being caught in the Taunton River." said Mike Bucko of Bucko Bait & Tackle, Fall River. "The bass bite at Block Island is still crazy. The wind this week slowed anglers down a bit but customers are still going to Block Island and catching big bass." said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren.
Bluefish bite has been good. "We have many large bluefish in the Bay but they seem to be running deep. Anglers are catching them with bucktails when bass fishing. Last week we weighed in a sixteen pound bluefish." said Greg Bruning of the Tackle Box, Warwick. Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle said, "The bluefish are all over the East Passage." Angler George Allen caught four large blue fish when trolling with tube & worm for bass off Newport.
Summer flounder (fluke) bite remains strong at the Sakonnet, off Newport and on the south side of Block Island. Rich and Gisele Golembeski fished Block Island Monday. Gisele said, "Great forecast today made for a nice smooth ride to the Island & back and limited out by 11 a.m. Biggest fish of the day was an 8 pound, 10 once beauty caught in 70' of water on silver sparkle jig tipped with squid strips & a white fluke strip. We were fishing about a mile away from "the Fleet". Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, "We mixed it up between Block Island and Sakonnet last week. A few limit catches were recorded with hi- hook and big fish honors for the week going to an angler on Sunday who not only limited out but took the pool with a fine 10 pound fish. Getting everyone a nice sea bass to take home was generally an easy feat as well. Sizes on those ran into the five pound plus range." Greg Bruning of the Tackle Box said, "Fluke fishing in the Bay has been slow, five shorts to one keeper. I fish some select deep holes and last week I caught the same fluke twice a few days apart, hooked it the first time though an eye, I was glad to see it had survived." "Fluke bite is good at Block Island and in the Newport area. Anglers were catching some keepers under the Mt. Hope Bridge too." said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait. Mike Bucko of Bucko Bait said, "The fluke bite from Newport to the Sakonnet is OK but they are not jumping in the boat, they are in deep holes and anglers are working for them."
False albacore and bonito. Capt. Ray Stachelek of Cast-a-fly Charters said, "The ocean temperatures are the highest they will be all year. The finger baits and rain bait are starting to appear and mass in surface schools along our southern coast. Looks like the football season has begun earlier than normal. There is already good information of fish reports that the bonito are here. Dozens have been caught between Point Judith and Charlestown. Albies usually follow a few days behind. The hardtail season is the only fishery that has shown improvement in recent years, while the stripers and bluefish have curtailed. Nothing like an albie on a fly rod. Pure ecstasy." Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence reports a strong false albacore and bonito bite off Newport, to Pt. Judith and all the way to Nebraska Shoals. Dave called me from the water Monday and said, "I just caught a six pound bonito. It was great but we have been fishing hard since 4:30 a.m. The Bay anchovies out here are amazing… acres of ¾" bait fish ten feet thick from the surface. We caught a total of five bonito with Capt. Rene Letourneau of On-the-Rocks Charters. The bait of choice I used today with success was a Hogy SI Epoxy Jig. The jig performed well. It has more buoyancy allowing me to work it on the surface and throughout the water column. We even jigged up some scup and black sea bass from the bottom using a jig."
Scup fishing remains very strong all over the Bay particularly in areas where there is moving water and structure nearby. Kevin and Melissa Sullivan of South Kingstown had no trouble boating a dozen scup in about 45 minutes on Great Ledge off the west side of Jamestown. Ed and Pricilla Bogdan boated ten scup in about a half hour in the same area using black sea bass rigs and squid for bait after a successful fluke trip off Newport. Mike Bucko of Bucko's Bait & Tackle said, "Scup are everywhere with a lot of them being caught in the Taunton River near Warren."
Atlantic menhaden are still in the Bay in large quantities. Mike Bucko said, "I am selling a lot of snagging hooks for pogies. The Nanaquaket River in Tiverton is loaded with menhaden."
Shore fishing has been good in RI. Mike Cardinal of Cardinal Bait & Tackle, Charlestown said, "The bass bite has been good from shore and the Charlestown Breachway as well as from boats." Mary Dangelo of Maridee Bait & Canvas, Narragansett said, "The school bass bite with keepers mixed in has been good at the east wall of the Harbor of Refuge. Snappa blues and school bass are being caught at Pier 5, Black Point and the mouth of Narrow River. Kayakers are having luck trolling tube & worm with shore anglers having success with all types of lures and bait with clams and squid being the top bait choices. The bite is focused around sun up and sun down." Christian Silvia of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly said, "We have a lot of big bass in the area. A customer got spooled four times when fishing from the Weekapaug Breachway (Westerly) this week at night using eels and they are catching bass at the Watch Hill Light too." The scup bite has been good in the Bay with shore anglers landing scup from bridges and docks in Warwick, Warren, Barrington, Bristol and all over South County.
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing for over 40 years. He holds a captain's master license and a charter fishing license. Visit Captain Dave's No Fluke website at www.noflukefishing.com or e-mail him with your fishing news and photos at email@example.com.