No matter how many times I visit the Block Island Wind Farm, I and all those people who are with me are in awe.
Blades 240 feet long and turbines that stretch 840 feet into the sky are quite majestic. All the blades appear to gently turn as they generate 30 kilowatts of power for the grid and provide Block Island residents with power that is less expensive than the diesel fuel they burn to generate electricity.
On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to visit the wind farm as a passenger rather than as a fisherman aboard the fast ferry out of Quonset Point. The boat had been commissioned by New England for Offshore Wind affiliates, and includes such groups as the Environmental League of Massachusetts and the National Wildlife Federation.
The purpose of the trip was to introduce, with an in-person tour, the Block Island Wind Farm to government officials from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine who are planning offshore wind farms in their states.
I was asked to attend to share some of my experiences with the Block Island Wind Farm as a recreational fisherman. I was happy to do so and shared how peer-reviewed studies in Europe show fish abundance in offshore wind farms is greater than in control areas outside of wind farms.
I also shared a seven-year study on the Block Island Wind Farm, released earlier this year, that showed fish abundance of cod and black sea bass was greater at the Block Island Wind Farm than in two control areas south and east of the wind farm. All other species such as summer flounder (fluke), squid, etc., were even, meaning that if summer flounder numbers were down or up in the wind farm, they were down or up by the same amount in control areas.
This Block Island study utilized fixed trawl positions between wind farm turbines over cable areas and in control areas that were fished every month for seven years — before, during and after construction, and during operation.
So, hats off to the Block Island Wind Farm, for being such a successful pilot project that shows us how we can produce renewable energy in an efficient way with no harm — in fact, some enhancements — to fish and habitat.
Where's the bite?
Striped bass and bluefish. Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina in South Kingstown said, "The fall migration has started with small fish arriving off Narragansett. Large schools of fish just under slot size [28 inches to less than 35 inches] were off the beaches." Declan Thomas O'Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle in Charlestown said: "The salt pond and Breachway continuing to produce some nice-sized fish. Surfcasters have been doing well on Yo-Zuri Mag-Darters and Super Strike Bullets. Fishing live eels in the pond has been producing bass up to around 15 pounds." Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle in Providence said: "There is so much bait in the water that the false albacore is all the way up the East Passage to Barrington, East Providence and Cranston along with bluefish and striped bass feeding on the surface. Sometimes they are mixed in so it is a matter of seeing them on the surface. We also have an abundance of squid to 25 inches being caught off Newport that is attracting fish."
Fluke, black sea bass and scup. Summer flounder continue to be caught but it is a slow pick. Scup fishing continues to be good, particularly in areas with structure and water movement, i.e., ledges, bridge abutments, jetties, etc. We caught large scup to 15 inches when tautog fishing off Newport. "Most anglers are targeting albies, so the bottom fishing has taken a back seat," Henault said.
Tautog fishing is starting to come alive as anglers begin targeting them. We had a slow pick in deeper water off Newport this weekend, all small fish. Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle in North Kingstown said: "We are selling a lot of crabs; anglers are fishing for tautog but the bite is not good. We have had few reports of keeper fish being caught." "Those who have been targeting tautog are doing well with fish in relatively shallow water right now," O'Donnell said. Conti said: "The tautog are still shallow … in 20 feet of water; however, with storms this week, things might change, forcing them a little deeper."
False albacore and tuna. Giant bluefin tuna fishing for both recreational and commercial license holders is now closed for the month. "False albacore have been pretty thick out at the Gully crashing tuna rigs so you know the beaches and inland fishing for them will be good. This weekend, the Gully bite for yellowfin slowed as the water cooled with some fish, smaller ones, being caught 8 to 10 miles south of the Gully," Conti said.
Freshwater fishing is improving as the water is cooling a bit. "The water has been warm so freshwater fishing has not been good in our area. Things will pick up as the water cools," Hayes said. "The water is cooling so the largemouth bite is improving," Henault said. "Trout fishing will kick in after fall-winter stockings."
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 email@example.com or visit noflukefishing.com.