This week, we are covering three big events in our local fishing world. From striped bass conservation, to celebrating while preserving a healthy tautog fishery to seeing the work of shark scientists here in Rhode Island get presented in Australia, we’re all about RI ‘tog, bass and sharks.
Ralph Craft of Crafty One Customs has announced the return of his Rhode Island Tog Classic on Sunday, October 8, 2023. This is a seriously fun day with some basic rules, a lot of comradery and a big party after rods are stored. There are divisions for adults and junior anglers and if you want to just meet up after the fishing and share a meal, there are tickets for just that. You can fish from boat, kayak or shore for this one fish, rod and reel tournament for Rhode Island waters only and live fish can be weighed so they can be safely released. That’s a big deal since The Ocean State enjoys a healthy fishery that is being heartily protected by the fishermen and women who chase them.
The tourney is sponsored by Crafty One Customs in Portsmouth, Hooked Up Bait and Tackle, Operation Reel Heroes, The Fisherman Magazine, Ron Z Lures, Grainger Pottery, Sunshine Fuel & Energy Services, The Saltwater Edge, Moments Notice, Is 3 Enough Graphics, Teezer Charters, the Portsmouth Portuguese American Citizens Club, Daikin Industries, 401 Motoring, and L.T. Marine.
Weigh-in is at the Portsmouth Portuguese American Citizen’s Club from high noon until 4:00 pm. To up the ante, there will be a High Stakes Calcutta, a High Stakes Team Challenge and one for individual anglers. Tickets can be purchased through a link on the Crafty One Customs webpage and honestly, I wouldn’t wait.
The Atlantic Shark Institute’s Executive Director John Dodd is justifiably proud to announce, “The Atlantic Shark Institute announced that they will premiere the preliminary results of their study of white sharks in Rhode Island waters at the White Sharks Global Conference, which will take place in Port Lincoln, South Australia this November.” That is some serious recognition of a local organization which has done tremendous work increasing our understanding of sharks while building a data base of their movements and patterns.
RI ‘Tog, Bass and Sharks
According to their press release, “Dr. Josh Moyer, the Resident Research Scientist for the Atlantic Shark Institute will represent the ASI at the conference and present the findings on the institute’s recent work, including new data from this summer. Scientific meetings like White Sharks Global are excellent opportunities to showcase what we’re learning about the white sharks in our backyard. This conference will also allow us to learn new research techniques from our colleagues in the field of white shark research. By exchanging ideas with researchers from around the world, we can strengthen our own research methodologies and expand what is known about white sharks in the Western North Atlantic.” The Institute is based in South Kingstown, R.I. and you can learn lots more about them at www.atlanticsharkinstitute.org.
My friend and tireless conservationist, Rhode Island’s own Mike Woods, chair of the New England Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, has some big news about how BHA is helping us understand striped bass mortality. If you know BHA as a terrestrial conservation group focused on western hunting issues, this is a real advancement for a solid group looking to help on the Eastern shore. “We’ve been a grass roots organization, picking up trash, removing invasive plants in the forests,” he said. This is a new foray for BHA’s mission as they move into saltwater fisheries by helping fund a program and data portal to support the Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries. From their website, “Now, through funding provided by New England BHA, Mass DMF has opened a data portal that allows anglers, fisheries managers, and the interested public to see information as it comes in real-time.”
Establishing accurate numbers of fish removed from a population, how many were caught and released and maybe more importantly, how many of those released actually survived is a tall mission. Regulations and scientists work hard to create models and estimate as accurately as possible.
“At BHA, we stay in touch with fisheries managers,” Mike told me. They are trying to get a better understanding of recreational release mortality but there are endless variables. Was the fish caught with a barbless fly, a triple set of treble hooks in cold, cool or warm water? Did the angler take a few selfies before a casual release or was the bass kept wet the whole time? “The goal is to present fisheries managers with a better model,” Mike said.
According to BHA, “Currently, striped bass managers predict recreational release mortality by applying the findings of a 1996 study, which found that 9% of released bass die as a result of angling interactions, to annual estimates of angler effort from up and down the coast. While it’s unreasonable to expect that any data model will be perfect, there is little doubt that a fish’s chances of survival are heavily influenced by fishing methods, fighting and handling practices, and environmental conditions like water temperature – all of which can vary widely based on the angler, location, and time of year.”
“We’re investing to get a better model, to understand release mortality. This was an opportunity to get better science,” Mike said. “This is super exciting, I am super excited!” he laughed. Mike Woods has been advocating tirelessly, loudly and in the background to help preserve and increase our access to important sports like hunting and fishing, so conservation is always at his core. “I’m just a dude who doesn’t like people messing around with the stuff I care about,” he said. You can learn more and maybe join the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers at www.backcountryhunters.org.