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Rhode Island Aims To Protect Trophy Tog

In an unprecedented move, Rhode Island state legislatures moved ahead with regulations that should leave more trophy fish in the water in 2022. “I think this might be the first time in history that a state has taken a voluntary cut in fishing regulations,” said Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) President, Greg Vespe, “we feel that this is a big win for the fishery.”

By nearly all accounts, the fall season in 2021 was well above average with lots of big fish taken. “There were two 20-pounders taken in one day last fall,” Vespe laughed, “and one of them broke the state record!” But with the increase in action and landings of large fish came a spike in angler interest, especially with the lackluster albie showing we saw in 2021. A quick scroll through social media during the fall season showed a clear trend that tautog fishing was enjoying a new spot in the limelight of New England fishing.

RISAA’s original proposal sought a ‘one trophy’ limit, meaning that only one fish in an angler’s bag limit could exceed 21 inches, they also wanted to reduce the fall bag limit from five fish to four. All of these proposed regulations were approved in a vote back on March 7th, but the state overruled the bag limit reduction, saying that Massachusetts didn’t want to comply and that it might cause issues with ASMFC compliance as well. But the state upheld the ‘one trophy’ designation; the seasons will not change, nor will the minimum size, but anglers will only be allowed to have one blackfish, 21 inches or larger, in their possession at any time.

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