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Fall in Rhode Island means lizard fish, albies and trout on the move. Lizard fish are little but they’re all teeth and have been caught in Quonochontaug Pond and Narragansett Bay. They’re fast but a few fishermen are faster with epoxy jigs and shiny tins to land albies hanging tight to Narragansett rocks, for now. They’re national, but they have a mighty local impact because Trout Unlimited has a new mission statement and a host of reasons to celebrate. And they have Glenn Place.

Lizard fish, a species of the Synodontidaeare family with 57 varieties, are found in estuaries as far south as Brazil and north to Boston. Depending on your port, they’re called lagarto, which unsurprisingly translates to lizard, sand pike, for their ability to bury themselves in the mud to hunt small invertebrates like squid, shrimp and crabs and fish or evade detection from toothier predators and galliwasps, borrowing from burrowing lizards which once thrived in the Caribbean and the Americas. They can grow to 16” long and possibly live up to nine years.

Lawrence Thompson caught and released this lizard fish from a Rhode Island salt pond

Who doesn’t love a nice lizard fish?

“I caught at least 30, between 6” and 11”. Caught them on a 20 gram micro slow pitch jig, white, silver and pink!” said consummate fisherman Lawrence Thompson. While they might be considered a nuisance by those targeting a sexier dinner, they put up a big small fish fight. “It was crazy, I caught them all over the pond, they were very aggressive, I’d drop the jig to the bottom, 11 or 12 feet, they would slam the jig, if I didn’t hook up they would chase it up a lot of the time, non-stop. Don’t know where they came from,” Lawrence said, confirming the beach buzz about a fish that’s native but recently rare. They are not typically kept since no one has developed an appealing recipe so for now, they’re a CPR fish that might be around until waters get chilly and they head south for the Gulf. Of course, if there are fish out there, Lawrence will find them.

Work hard, fish hard, share some intel; that’s Lawrence Thompson.

RI TU President Glenn Place with RIDEM Biologist Corey Pelletier

Trout Unlimited prospers by thanking it’s dedicated members

Chris Wood, President and CEO of the national conservation group, Trout Unlimited, hosted a lively ZOOM meeting to highlight a new mission statement with notice of some notable achievements thanks to a legion of charged up volunteers. With Chris at the helm, TU reflects a world changing in size and colors. As a decent man with compassion for fish and anglers, he’s calling members to celebrate some success stories and gear up for some heavy lifting. He thanked members for helping restore 388 miles of rivers, protecting 79,000 miles of waters and 6.8 million acres near them. With 387 chapters in 36 councils across the United States, Trout Unlimited has blossomed into a beacon of conservation which continues to thank its members.

Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited

“At TU, we advocate for and repair rivers, and in the process, we strengthen the communities in which we work. We believe success comes when we can bring people together to make positive change,” their new Strategic Plan states. As we humans sprawl our way in all directions, we need groups like TU to ensure we don’t trample sacred waters big or small. “We stopped the Pebble Mine. I am so happy to say that after 15 years,” Chris said with his trademark smile. That massive campaign to stop greed at the cost of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery, was a magnificent, shining moment of teamwork. You can learn more about Trout Unlimited at their website or talk with Glenn Place, the RITU President by emailing him at tu225president@gmail.com. You’ll rarely meet a more personable, knowledgeable, generous man than Glenn, or Chris for that matter. Birds of a feather.

Rhode Island Trout Unlimited

False Albacore are all along the South County shoreline. A few guys are getting after them, which means highliner Alex Ridgway must have given them a break for a while. Albies need that clear water to hunt effectively so after storms or big blows, they tend to head offshore. Given how much bait, like peanut bunker, is thriving along the coast, it’s no wonder they came back for dinner. If waters stay seasonable for this new season, they could hang for a few more weeks.

Want to find albies? Ask Lawrence Thompson for some advice

Albies can be caught with epoxy jigs in a variety of colors chosen based on water and sky conditions, Al’s Goldfish Saltwater Series metals and for the fly fishing crew, Clousers and Surf Candy patterns. Same deal, pack a variety of colors. For the hearty, they can be eaten if bled quite quickly. The strong flavor isn’t for all palates; they are best served after filleting away any dark meat and searing them like, well, tuna. Leftovers can be made into a salad.  Chef Lucie, the Gourmet Goddess, recommends eating it, “sashimi style with scallions and soy sauce.” If not just for pure adventure, Chef Lucie also offered that pieces can be seared with a blow torch. Proceed with caution for sure.

Bass are heading south or diverting into salt pond and rivers, brookies are building redds, RIDEM is stocking ponds with hatchery trout and hunting season is gaining momentum. It’s a fantastic time to be in Southern New England and we’re going to share the intel, just like Lawrence Thompson does.

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