No Fluke

Quahogs – Who, what, where, why and how?


A new report written for anglers by anglers serves as a call-to-arms to galvanize the angling community to demand action as climate change disrupts fishing experiences coast to coast.

Last month, the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) in conjunction with two dozen partner brands and organizations released a report to kick off a nationwide campaign to inspire and empower anglers and the recreational fishing industry to demand progress toward climate-ready fisheries. The report, titled “For Tomorrow’s Fish: Anglers Are the Key to Climate-Resilient Fisheries,” documents how climate change is disrupting fishing experiences and explores how anglers are best positioned to call for climate-resilient fisheries that are healthy, sustainable, and abundant.

The report details how climate change affects fish behavior, abundance, productivity, and habitat, disrupting the success and sustainability of fishing experiences coast to coast. Sea level rise and warming waters are pushing essential fish habitats to the brink, destroying places legendary sportfish need to survive. Some fish are more abundant in certain areas and obsolete in others, directly impacting the success and sustainability of fishing experiences.

For more information, visit

Clam Digging seminar

If you would like to learn or become more proficient when you quahog, you are in luck. A Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association  (RISAA) ‘Digging Clams’ seminar will take place Monday, June 24, at 7 p.m. at the West Warwick Elks Lodge, 60 Clyde St., West Warwick. Food is available through the Elks Lodge kitchen starting at 5:30 p.m.

Expert recreational shell fishers Roger Tellier and Barry Fuler will be the quest speakers. They plan to share what equipment to use as well as how and where to use it. They will also cover regulations and areas shellfishing is allowed.

Admission is free for RISAA members; non members are asked to make a $10 donation to the RISAA scholarship fund. For information contact Scott Travers, Executive Director, at 401.826.2121.

Some quahog history

The word quahog comes for the Narragansett Indian name “poquauhock.” Native Americans used quahog shells to make beads that were used as money (called wampum). A quahog can get quite old; each line on its shell is a growth ring. Researchers estimate that the largest northern quahogs (about five inches in length) live 12 to 20 years, with the oldest living about 40 years old.

Where to get them

You can dig for quahogs in many coastal Rhode Island towns. Parts of the Bay have seasonal or permanent closures. Check the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management website at and/or call them for current closure information. I like to fish spots I know are clean in Warwick , North Kingstown and on salt ponds in Narragansett.

How to dig them

For years, I dug for quahogs with my feet. This is the way may father taught me. It’s sort of like doing the twist with your feet underwater and moving backwards until you feel a quahog. Once you do, you reach down and pull it up with your hand  Today I use a quahog or clam rake, which is available at bait and tackle shops and hardware stores. In early spring the water is about 50 to 60 degrees, so I use waders and rubber gloves with great success (I use this same gear to scallop in the fall and winter).  They protect my feet and enable me to quickly catch what I need for dinner, minimizing the time I am in the cold water.

How to clean and prepare the catch

You can clean quahogs in the salt water by tossing them underwater in a mesh nylon bag. When I get home I spray them with water to get the remaining mud off and discard any with opened or cracked shells. I then soak them for an hour or so, drain and refrigerate them before opening so their muscles are cold, relaxed and they are easier to open.

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass and bluefish: East End Eddie Doherty, Cape Cod Canal fishing expert and author, said, “The Canal has slowed down, but just before the lull Mike Goodwin had a phenomenal day, catching seven fish that were all at least 40 inches, with the biggest measuring out to 49! The experienced Wareham resident had his green mack Savage bouncing off the bottom at the end of the west tide thru slack.”

Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown, said, “Silversides continue to push into the Breachway in the incoming tide. Customers are catching a mix of bass and blues off the rocks. Bass out front are starting to stack up in their seasonal homes, filling themselves with squid, scup, and anything else they can find. Early and late using live bait on rock piles seems to be getting the job done for bigger fish. Slot fish have been being targeted by casting plugs in shallow structure areas along the south shore and in tight on Block Island. Trolling umbrella rigs has proven to produce some nice slot fish too.”

In Narragansett Bay, anglers are having to search for bass and bluefish. Some were caught this weekend between Prudence Island and Poppasquash Point, down along the channel pad to Colt State Park. Angler Dave Mielle found medium sized bluefish off Quonset Point this weekend.

Summer flounder (fluke), black sea bass and scup

Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle, said, “Fluke fishing has been consistent. Local fish coming from 30 to 60 feet, and around Block Island they are in 30 to 70 feet of water. Alot of the fish on the island are fresh fish, coming in skinny and covered with sea lice. Some of the local fish seem to have been around longer and have more of a belly on them. One tactic that seems to be working well for customers is dead sticking.”

Dave Monti holds a master captain’s 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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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.