Counting fish from the air

By Captain Dave Monti
Posted 3/31/16

This week, I was reminded of the outstanding Atlantic menhaden management program we have in Narragansett Bay. Monday night, George Purmont, a spotter pilot commissioned by the Marine Fisheries …

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Counting fish from the air


This week, I was reminded of the outstanding Atlantic menhaden management program we have in Narragansett Bay. Monday night, George Purmont, a spotter pilot commissioned by the Marine Fisheries Division of the Department of Environmental Management (DEM), spoke about his work of counting schools of Atlantic menhaden (pogies) from the air in Narragansett Bay. 

At a R.I. Saltwater Anglers Association meeting, Purmont said, “When the amount of Atlantic menhaden in the Bay goes above the threshold, the Bay is open to commercial harvesting. When it falls below the threshold, the Bay is closed to Atlantic menhaden fishing.”

The program is one of the most sophisticated and effective programs of its type in the nation. Purmont said, “Flights once or twice a week give fish managers at DEM good information to manage the fishery.” The program works well for recreational fishermen to protect this forage fish, as well as for the commercial fishery, allowing the Bay to be fished when there is an abundance of fish in the Bay.

As part of the program, the areas north of Conimicut Light and the western part of Greenwich Bay are always closed to commercial Atlantic menhaden boats.

Pilot Purmont said, “There is a mix of peanut bunker (juvenile Atlantic menhaden), as well as mature fish in the Bay. The juvenile menhaden present themselves as dark spots or schools, whereas mature Atlantic Menhaden present themselves as grey schools from the air as the fish flash as they swim in the water.”

Jason McNamee, chief of the Marine Fisheries Division of DEM, said, “We want both peanut bunker and mature fish in the Bay, as they serve as a different type of prey for a variety of fish we have in the Bay.”

Coast Guard seeks public input on wind farm safety zone

The Coast Guard is seeking public input on a proposed 500-yard safety zone for the Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) by April 17, 2016.

The Coast Guard proposes to establish a 500-yard safety zone around each of five locations where the BIWF wind turbine generator (WTG) towers, nacelles, blades and subsea cables will be installed in the navigable waters of the Rhode Island Sound, R.I., from April 1 to Oct. 31, 2016. 

These safety zones are intended to safeguard mariners from the hazards associated with construction of the BIWF. Vessels would be prohibited from entering into, transiting through, mooring or anchoring within these safety zones, while construction vessels and associated equipment are present at any of the BIWF WTG sites, unless authorized by the Captain of the Port (COTP), Southeastern New England or the COTP’s designated representative. 

Comments and related material must be received by the Coast Guard on or before April 17, 2016. The public may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-2016-0026 using the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal at See the “Public Participation and Request for Comments” portion of the supplementary information section for further instructions on submitting comments.

If you have questions about this proposed rulemaking, contact Mr. Edward G. LeBlanc, Chief of the Waterways Management Division at Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England at 401-435-2351, or email

Annual Kids’ Day at Addieville East Farms

The 16th Annual Kids’ Day at Addieville East Farm will take place Saturday, April 23, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Children ages 10 and over may register, but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Children will learn the basics of fly casting, fly tying, fly fishing (in a trout stocked pond) and basic entomology. 

The R.I. Department of Environmental Management, two Trout Unlimited Chapters and the United Fly Tyers of Rhode Island, are co-sponsors of the event.  

Kids’ Day is free, however, all are urged to register in advance as space is limited.

Register with Kimberly Sullivan, 401-539-0037 or email; and Jessica Pena, 401-539-0019 or email 

Wind Farm meeting April 5

The Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) will hold an update meeting on Tuesday, April 5, 2016, at 4 p.m. at the Hampton Inn, South County Commons, and South Kingstown, R.I. Agenda items will include the 2016 construction schedule, project crew vessels, the U.S.C.G. 500-yard safety zone and gear boundaries. A separate meeting regarding National Grid’s sea2shore cable construction will follow with an announcement distributed as soon as the date is finalized. For information, contact Elizabeth Marchetti, fisheries liaison at 401-954-2902. 

Striper club holds used tackle sale

The Aquidneck Island Striper club will hold its annual Used Tackle Sale this Saturday, April 2, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Portsmouth VFW, 822 Anthony Road, Portsmouth. For information contact Capt. Eric Thomas at 401-524-7239.

Block Island Wind Farm cable construction

Kokosing Industrial will be conducting submarine cable installation work from April 1 through June 5 in support of the sea2shore Renewable Link (BITS) and Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF). 

In a statement last week, the cabling companies said they “respectfully request that fishermen remove fishing gear/traps from the selected cable route, and maintain a clear path 300 feet on either side of the center line. Please see the overview chart for BITS and BIWF cable routes. Kokosing will return to fishermen any gear/traps that may get fouled in the cable equipment, but is not responsible for replacement of the gear.  

Questions should be directed to Elizabeth Marchetti, fisheries liaison at 401-954-2902 or at For additional information visit: or 

Where’s the bite

Fresh water fishing slowed a bit with cooler weather last week.  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick, said, “With the cooler weather anglers just have not been getting out to fish fresh water. Things will start to move as trout season opens up in April.” Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, said, “Omar Curi of Providence caught a nice pickerel on shiners last week. With cooler temperatures last week, the carp bite slowed, but crappy and white perch fishing was good. And, trout fishing in Massachusetts has been excellent.” John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside, said, “Anglers are catching largemouth bass and pickerel at Stump Pond, Smithfield, with shiners so things are opening up.” 

Cod fishing has been good when boats have been able to get out due to bad weather. Dianne Valerien of the Seven B’s party boat said, “Capt. Andy Dangelo has been doing a great job with the cod this year. Saturday we had twenty anglers on board and returned to the dock with 200 cod (the limit, ten fish per angler).  The fish were mostly males. When we started to fillet them for customers, only three out of the first 100 fish were female. We’d like to think they are going to hang around for a while waiting for the females to arrive.” Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “We absolutely crushed the cod Saturday with over 400 keepers, just a handful of cod shy of a boat limit and pool fish just under 15 pounds. Both bait and jigs worked well.”

Striped bass fishing for hold-over striped bass in the Connecticut rivers is still very good. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “Charlestown Breachway winter over striped bass up to 26 inches taking white bucktails dressed with 3-inch curly tail grubs on the outgoing tide this morning (Saturday).” 

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. Contact or forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at or visit his website at 


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