Fishing Report: Scenarios help fisheries predict climate's effects

·5 min read

Anglers need to prepare for climate change. Fish managers need to prepare, too, along with fisheries governance so we can be more nimble to accommodate climate change.

The way East Coast fisheries have been preparing is through climate change scenario planning. The goal of the initiative is to assess how climate change might affect stock distribution and availability of marine fisheries over the next 20 years and to identify the implications for fisheries management and governance.

In June, I and a group of about 70 other stakeholders attended a workshop to develop an initial set of scenarios, describing several different possible futures facing East Coast fisheries out to 2042.

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As the next step in the scenario planning process, two "Scenario Deepening" webinars will be held in the next couple of weeks. These webinars will offer all interested stakeholders an opportunity to review, validate and add details to the draft scenarios.

Each session will begin with an overview of the draft scenarios. Participants then will have an opportunity to add comments and suggestions to make the scenarios more plausible, challenging, relevant, memorable and divergent. Participants need to attend only one of the two webinars — 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17, or 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Aug. 23.

The scenario creation workshop summary with draft scenarios are posted at mafmc.org/climate-change-scenario-planning.

Fishing Report: Getting the drop on the stripers

Paula’s pan seared black sea bass recipe also works for summer flounder (fluke).
Paula’s pan seared black sea bass recipe also works for summer flounder (fluke).

Paula’s pan-seared black sea bass

Last week, I fished with Paula Smalec of Portsmouth. She is a great angler and a retired family and consumer sciences teacher.  She is an active member of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association and is the  "Cooking Your Catch" columnist for the group's magazine. Paula shared her recipe for pan-seared black sea bass, which also works for summer flounder (fluke) and tautog, so I could share it with you.

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons butter, divided; 1 tablespoon olive oil; 2 black sea bass fillets; lemon pepper seasoning; salt; lemon juice; and 1-2 tablespoons capers (optional).

Instructions: Rinse fillets with cold water and pat them dry with paper towels. Season one side of each fillet with salt and lemon pepper seasoning. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter with the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until the butter just begins to foam. Place the fillets, seasoned side down, into the frying pan. Fry for approximately one minute. Turn fillets over and continue to fry until the fillets flake easily when pressed lightly.

Remove fillets to a separate plate, seasoned side up, and cover with foil to keep warm.

Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the frying pan. Using a small whisk, scrape up any bits of fish that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add a few splashes of lemon juice (and capers, if using them) and whisk the mixture vigorously until blended well. Scrape the bottom of the pan as you drizzle this mixture over the fish.

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass and bluefish.  “The bass bite off Newport is still very good, with anglers trolling tube and worming," said Sam Toland of Sam’s Bait and Tackle in Middletown. "However, the activity in Narragansett Bay has slowed greatly.” Anglers reported a great bluefish bite in Greenwich Bay this week with multiple schools of fish surfacing at the same time. “Fishing has remained consistent for striped bass," said Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait and Tackle in Charlestown, "with plenty of schoolie to slot-sized fish still holding on shallow pieces of structure and the larger fish starting to move out a little deeper. There are still some schools of nice-sized bluefish around.” Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Bait and Tackle in Warren reported: “With the warming water, the bass are now in deeper water, but the bite is still very good.” "East End" Eddie Doherty said: “The Cape Cod Canal has slowed down for striper fishing; however, a couple of 40-inch striped bass were caught off the bottom using soft plastic jigs. Mackerel have finally found their way into the ditch with some guys continuing to find success chunking macks for slots. Hopefully, this week’s full moon will light up the canal with an old-fashioned surface blitz.”

Summer flounder (fluke), black sea bass and scup. “The scup bite continues to be good at Sabin Point, Rocky Point, Colt State Park, with anglers catching three to four fish or hitting it big depending on the day,” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait and Tackle in Riverside. “Some people limiting out and others struggling to find a couple of fluke keepers," O'Donnell said. "Pink and white have been the colors of choice. Black sea bass fishing continues to improve with plenty of nice-sized sea bass on deeper structure. … Vertical jigging has been effective catching your boat limit with bait rigs working, too.” Sullivan reported: “Anglers are catching fluke but they are working for them, picking through 10 or so shorts to catch a keeper [18-inch minimum size].” Toland said: “We had some reports this weekend of anglers hooking up with fluke but overall it is still slow off Newport; some larger black sea bass are now being caught.”

Bluefin and yellowfin tuna, chub mackerel, wahoo and bonito. “The bluefin bite is still very good with 600-plus-pound fish being caught just south of Block Island," Sullivan reported. “Offshore reports continue to improve with yellowfin, bluefin, mahi and even a few wahoo caught recently," O'Donnell said. "Trick is getting out early and finding life.”

“Freshwater fishing has slowed greatly, particularly fishing in the day, as the water is too warm," Littlefield said.

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 that focuses on clean oceans, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy and fisheries-related issues and clients. Forward fishing news and photos to dmontifish@verizon.net or visit noflukefishing.com. 

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This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Fishing Report: Scenarios help fisheries predict climate's effects