Bluefish Amendment aims to rebuild the fishery

Posted 9/8/21

By CAPT. DAVE MONTI The coastwide regulation for bluefish is three fish/person/day (this is for skipjacks too, which are immature bluefish). The three fish limit was imposed as the most recent …

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Bluefish Amendment aims to rebuild the fishery


By CAPT. DAVE MONTI The coastwide regulation for bluefish is three fish/person/day (this is for skipjacks too, which are immature bluefish). The three fish limit was imposed as the most recent updated stock assessment conducted by NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center indicated bluefish are overfished. The stock assessment triggered Amendment 7 to the Atlantic Bluefish Fishery Management Plan to rebuild the stock.

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (who co-manage bluefish coastwide) submitted Amendment 7 to the Atlantic Bluefish Fishery Management Plan to NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for review and approval. And on Wednesday, September 1, NOAA posted the Amendment for public comment.

Bluefish provide a great fishery for recreational anglers. And, Amendment 7 aims to implement a rebuilding plan for the species as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (the fishing law of this nation). Anglers are urged to comment on the proposed Amendment. Details can be found at .

Amendment 7 highlights: update the Bluefish Fishery Management Plan goals and objectives from those established in 1991 to better reflect today's fishery; re-allocate bluefish quota between the commercial and recreational fishery sectors to more accurately reflect recent catch and landings data in the fishery; re-allocate bluefish commercial quota to the states from Maine to Florida based on the most recent 10 years of landings data (2009-2018); implement a 7-year rebuilding plan using a constant fishing mortality model where fishing mortality (F) = 0.154; revise measures to allow the sector quota transfer to be bi-directional (from commercial to recreational or vice versa); and revise administrative measures in the specifications process to allow for the accounting of sector-specific management uncertainty.

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass, bluefish, false albacore and bonito. 

Anglers were treated this week to a lot of surface site fishing for striped bass, bluefish, false albacore with some bonito.  Jeff Sullivan an associate at Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren, said, “We have a lot of bait around particularly in the lower Bay and along the coastal shore. Snapper blues, bay anchovies and peanut bunker (immature Atlantic menhaden) were in the mix. So anglers are casting to schools on the surface with success. This week we spotted a school of bonito at the West Wall (at the Harbor of Refuge) but could not hook up as they were feeding on a thin school of peanut bunker. We have also been very successful catching striped bass with eels fishing structure in Narragansett Bay in about 30 feet of water.”

John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle said, “Two customers hooked up with keeper bass trolling tube & worm in the area between Conimicut Point, Barrington Beach and Colt State Park. The first customer (with three on his boat) hooked up with nine keepers, three were within the slot limit (28 to less than 35 inches) and six fish over the slot limit. Another customer with two anglers on his vessel landed six fish, keeping two slot sized fish.”

East End Eddie Doherty said, “Mostly smaller stripers are keying in on the abundant bait in the Cape Cod Canal. I was lucky enough to fool a 42-inch on the ebb with a white Hurley Canal Killer just after slack near the Bourne Bridge. A delicious black sea bass fell for the same jig while staging on the shelf close to the edge of the rip rap stone bank.” Expert shore angler Gil Bell said, “Many pods of 2 ½-inch peanut bunker, immature menhaden, swimming in close before sunrise. I caught a striped bass by NOT matching the hatch on a four ounce six inch plug. This could be the start of the fall run.” 

Angler Dave Gordon on the RI Saltwater Anglers Association blog, said, “Narragansett Bay is dumping acres upon acres of bait out and the Bay is chock full of fish feeding on them. Big gnarly blues, big schools of bass varying from two feet to up to 40-plus inches everywhere down from the Newport and Jamestown Bridges out to the reefs and south shore.”

Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, said, “This morning (Tuesday) a customer caught a keeper striped bass at Weekapaug with a needlefish lure. There was almost too much bait in the water this weekend. When this happens my strategy to target fish on the move (striped bass, bonito, false albacore) is to distinguish your bait, try something larger or a different color so it gets recognized.” 

Summer flounder, black area bass and scup.

John Littlefield of Archie’s said, “Customers are still catching keeper fluke (over 19 inches) in the Rocky Point, Conimicut Light area with large scup in the mix.” We could have limited out with good size scup this weekend fishing the General Rock, North Kingstown area. “Anglers are catching their limit of black sea bass out in front but are going through a good number of smaller fish too. The larger black sea bass are at Block Island,” said Henault of Ocean State Tackle. Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Bait & Tackle said, “Nice keeper black sea bass are being caught out in front of Newport.”

“Tautog  fishing is slow. I think the water is still a bit to warm,” said Jeff Sullivan. “I believe the tautog bite will pick up in two weeks,” said John Littlefield of Archie’s. “Although it may be 52 degrees in the morning the water is still very warm.”

“Bluefin tuna , actually small giants, are being caught about four miles south of Beavertail,” said Henault of Ocean State. Overall the school bluefin tuna bite has slowed a bit compare to last month.

Freshwater anglers is focusing on largemouth bass. “Customers are have success fishing Only Pond at Lincoln Woods.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s. Henault from Ocean State Tackle said, “Right now the trout bite is not good, most are targeting largemouth bass.”

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 or visit

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