“The bait patterns we see around Block Island are different,” said Captain Chris Willi of Block Island Fish Works. “They may be affected by the warming of the water. For example, we have an abundance of mackerel in and around the harbor that we haven’t seen for a few years.
The Ocean Conservancy’s Fish Conservation Program Director, Meredith Moore, said: “We need to adapt fisheries management so that it can respond more quickly to climate impacts throughout the management process.
The goal is to be more climate-agile, including more frequent research and stock assessments, corporate climate impacts in fisheries management plans, and more citizen science and electronic reporting to facilitate analysis of fishing activity and catches.
Moore and Willi were two of nine panelists for Session II of the Baird 2022 Symposium last week, sponsored by the Sea Grant program at the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, Ørsted (owner of the Block Island wind farm and developer wind farms off Massachusetts and Rhode Island) and the Ocean Conservancy.
The Symposium also organized a photo contest. Participants captured photos illustrating climate impacts on fish, habitat and resource users. Four winners of the photo contest were announced on Wednesday evening.
The top two winners included a striped bass photo submitted by Captain Abbie Schuster of Kismet Outfitters, Martha’s Vineyard. The bass was released from a boat in the wash, or foaming water, near the structure. The other photo that won first place was taken by James Turek. The photo depicted severe beach erosion at Weekapaug Fire District Beach in Westerly, RI.
The judges said they selected the striped bass photo because it is the most sought after recreational species on the East Coast. More fishing trips are taken to catch striped bass than any other species. Although they are widely studied, however, not much is known about the impact of climate on the range of these fish and whether warming water is impacting the productivity of their spawning and or.
There were two honorable mention photos. One was from Brian Crawford of his granddaughter showing off a legal size quahog she caught in the Great Salt Pond on Block Island. The other photo was taken by Phil Duckett of angler Greg Vespe showing a cobia, an exotic warm water fish, which he caught in Narragansett Bay, just north of Newport Bridge.
A Symposium report and video documenting key learnings from the Baird Symposium are expected to be released in late June. Hats off to URI and RI Sea Grant for dedicating the 2022 Baird Symposium to climate impacts on recreational fishing and boating.
Tautog tips, rigs, jigs
“With the warm weather this week, the bite of the tautog will improve.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence. “The water is cold. The temperature needs to be around 50 degrees for the spring tautog’s bite to activate. This week the water temperature at Narragansett Beach was 45 degrees.
Last week there were a few reports of anglers catching tautog, others weren’t even bitten. But a few days of warm weather and things should improve quickly.
“If I was tautog fishing this weekend, I would be fishing south of the bridges,” Henault said.
Tautog rigs should have as little hardware as possible to avoid bottom tethers. I make single hook rigs out of about seven or eight feet of monofilament line and tie it directly to the main braid line with a dropper loop for a pre-sleeved “Lazar Sharp” brand hook ( you need sharp hooks to get through hard tautog lips). The loop is about five inches above the sinker.
To reduce bottom tethers by 50%, I use an egg sinker rig when I’m in a heavy structure. The egg sinker slides on a small piece of red and white beaded monofilament that has a two-way swivel at each end, a pre-snagged pointed lazar hook is attached to the end of the swivel and hangs about eight inches.
Anglers also more commonly use crab-tipped tautog jigs with good success. Jigs are made in a variety of colors imitating Asian crabs, baby lobsters, green crabs (whole or halved).
The idea is to be ready with a number of bait arrangements and fishing tackle each day.
Tautog are not often sold in fish markets because they are difficult to harvest commercially. They are usually caught by rod and reel or fish traps rather than trawling. Keep your drag tight because once you hook these bulldogs they will try to make their way to the structure and cut your line.
Find the structure to find tautog. Tautogs can be fished from the shore or from a boat and either way they like structure (rocks, wrecks, bridge piers, quay pilings, mussel beds, ledge holes and bumps along the coast). So no structure, no tautog.
The placement of the boat is important. Find the structure, estimate the wind/drift direction and anchor the current from where you want to fish and drift to where the anchor sets. Once in position, fish from all sides of the boat. Throw a little to cover as much area as possible. If there are still no bites, let out an anchor line to change your position, if still no bites, it’s time to move the ship.
Green crabs or Asian crabs are the bait of choice for tautog in the fall. When using green crabs, make it easy for the tautog to bite down and take the bait. I like to break off most of the legs and claws, leaving one on each side at the end, cut the crab in half and hook it to one leg socket and another.
Where’s the bite?
Tautog: Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown, said: “We have been selling crabs this weekend to anglers targeting tautog but there have been no reports yet of any significant fish being caught.
Striped Bass : “Fishing was good in March with a good number of striped bass landed and released,” said Ed Lombardo, expert fly fisherman and guide. “The basses ranged from 18 to 26 inches. My brown-colored Ed’s Fly works well in mimicking deathmocks. School striped bass continue to bite off the coastal beaches of Cape Cod.
Freshwater trout fishing is good in stocked ponds in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Visit state website maps and waterways that have been stocked for spring fishing.
david monti holds a captain’s license and a charter fishing licence. He sits on various boards and commissions and has an advisory practice focused on clean oceans, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy, and fisheries issues and clients. Send fishing news and photos to [email protected] or visit noflukefishing.com.