By CAPT. DAVE MONTI
Great news for recreational and commercial quahoggers, 515 acres in Mt. Hope Bay are now open as conditional rather than a prohibited shellfishing area. The area can be …
Great news for recreational and commercial quahoggers, 515 acres in Mt. Hope Bay are now open as conditional rather than a prohibited shellfishing area. The area can be fished ‘conditionally’ as DEM opens and closes ‘conditional’ areas based on rain events. If it rains more than .5 inches in a 24 hour period the conditional area closes for seven days to allow the water to recover from enhanced runoff.
Last week the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced that with its latest water quality tests earlier this month confirming a year-over-year trend of improvement, it is opening a 515-acre area off the coast of Warren in the Mount Hope Bay to shellfishing.
In upgrading it from prohibited to conditionally approved, DEM said the area located in the Bay’s northwest corner and stretching from the mouth of the Kickemuit River in the Touisset Point section of Warren east to the Rhode Island-Massachusetts state line — meets federal safety standards set by the US Food and Drug Administration’s National Shellfish Sanitation Program.
Recent improvements in wastewater treatment and combined sewer overflow (CSO) capture in Fall River, MA have resulted in improved water quality throughout Mount Hope Bay. DEM’s tests showed that these improvements have allowed water quality in the bay off Touisset Point to meet national standards for safe shellfish harvest during dry weather for the past several years.Also, tissue analyses for bacteria and heavy metals conducted by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) have shown that shellfish in these waters meet national standards.
“From the opening of the Providence River to quahogging for the first time in 75 years in 2021, to the opening of new shellfishing grounds in Greenwich Bay in 2022, to the Mount Hope Bay reopening in 2023, the trend toward better water quality in Narragansett Bay is clear,” said DEM Director Terry Gray.
For information on emergency and conditional area shellfish closures, call DEM’s 24-hour shellfishing hotline at 401-222-2900 or sign up for their listserv at RishellfishOWRemail@example.com .
New striped bass regulation engaged
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) enacted emergency recreational regulations last weekend to change the maximum length limit for keeping striped bass.
The new recreational slot size in all New England states is 28 to less than 31 inches with anglers allowed to keep one fish per day. This new regulation started May 26 in Massachusetts and Connecticut and May 27 in Rhode Island and runs to Oct. 28.
The larger than normal striped bass class of 2015 maturing to the old slot limit size of 28 to less than 35 inches led to higher than normal overfishing. Last year anglers killed twice as many fish and reduced the probability of success of the stock rebuilding plan to just 15 percent.
Where’s the bite
Striped bass and bluefish. Angler Tom Fetherston of South Kingstown, said, “We fished the North Rip (Block Island) last Wednesday with no hits so went to Nebraska Shoal (Charlestown, RI). Ran out umbrella rigs rand hit big bluefish. Quit when we had twelve pounds for dinner and the smoker. Went closer to the beach to troll and picked up two stripers.”
Fishing for striped bass and bluefish in Narragansett Bay has been very good with some anglers having to hunt for them. The East Passage, Providence River as well as Greenwich Bay and the West Passage are all producing. Tim Rounds of Idaho caught a 38-inch striped bass Saturday just off Popasquash Point, Bristol.
And Tuesday morning at 7 a.m. both keeper bass and large bluefish were caught just north of Conimicut point. Dave Henault of Ocean State Bait & Tackle said, “Customer Angelo Moniz caught a 52-inch striped bass from Spooky Bottom Dock, East Providence using chucks of Atlantic menhaden.
Pogies, trolling umbrella rigs and tube & worm and flutter spoons all seem to be working.” “I landed nine very nice size striped bass at Narrow Rive this weekend and dropped three others. Most of the bass were in the 18 to 20-inch range. Four bass on my hot pink fly and then changed to my brown one the rest of the time,” said Ed Lombardo, fly fishing expert and guide.
Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown, said, “Fishing for striped bass has been producing well with catches reported at the Breachways, along the beaches and back in the salt ponds. Bluefish are still around coming in and out of the Breachway in waves.”
Tautog. Anglers are reminded that the spring tautog season in Rhode Island closes June 1 to July 31 during spawning season, Massachusetts stays open with a one fish limit.
Squid, black sea bass and summer flounder. Angler Rich Hittinger said, “There are fluke at Block Island and south of Newport. So far we have landed an 8-pound, a 5.5-pound and a 4.5-pound fluke near Block Island with a four pounder south of Newport along with many in the 18 to 20 inch range.
“The sea bass are spotty, but they are on rock piles south of Newport,” Angler Tom Fetherston said, “Rran back to Nebraska Shoal (Charlestown). Took some time to find fish but picked a limit of six black sea bass for three anglers to 21 inches along with a scup and a short fluke.”
“Squid fishing is good and the fluke are in deep water (60-80 ft) and reports continue to improve. Customers are finding a few along the beach and out at Block Island.” said Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle. Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane said, “The fluke bite is getting better everyday with reports of Bay fish just north and south of the bridges with a good bite off Newport and at Block Island.”
Dave Monti holds a captain’s master license and charter fishing license. He serves on a variety of boards and commissions and has a consulting business focusing on clean oceans, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy, and fisheries related issues and clients. Forward fishing news and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.noflukefishing.com.
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