No Fluke

‘The fish was a monster!’


The big striped bass started to come around in Rhode Island last week. Paul Criscione of Cranston caught a 44 inch, 35 pound striped bass when fishing between Prudence Island and Colt State Park Sunday.

Paul was fishing with Carol and Gary LaFrance of Foster on their boat Scurvy Dawg. Carol LaFrance said, “We got a late start and did not make it out until about 8 a.m. We stopped one last time around 11 a.m. and put down our live poggy (Atlantic menhaden). There was plenty of bait around to snag.”

Carol said, “The fish hit and ran about 200 yards. We were afraid it would spool us (take all the line) so we started the boat and backed down on the fish. Twenty minutes later we brought the fish to the boat and could not believe our eyes. The fish was a monster!”

Doug, Carol and Paul were using the required circle hooks with their live bait and let the fish run applying only slight pressure to slow it a bit after it took off. They were using a Shimano conventional set up with 65 pound braid and a 30 pound leader.

Hats off to Capt. Doug and crew of the Scurvy Dawg for landing a great fish, using circle hooks and then reviving and releasing it alive. The legal slot limit to keep striped bass is a minimum of 28” to less than 35”.

Catch & release tips

To release striped bass outside the slot limit unharmed (as well as other species) consider these catch & release techniques:

• Use circle hooks, they successfully hook bass in the mouth (not the gut) 95% of the time without hurting the fish, circle hooks must be used when fishing with bait for striped bass.
• Land fish quickly to minimize stress.
• Avoid putting fish on deck, rocks or beach and letting it flop around, keep it in the water as much as possible when removing hook.
• Wet your hand before handling the fish, dry hands remove the fish’s protective slime layer and leave it open to infection
• Handle fish carefully. Do not use excessive force when grasping the fish. Do not put fingers into gill cavities or eye sockets.
• Gently remove the hook to minimize damage.
• Use lures with single hook, barbless hooks (snap them off treble hooks), or circle hooks (as noted above)
• Return fish to water quickly. Place fish gently in water in upright horizontal position. Move it back and forth in the water to force water across its gills. Once the fish revives, allow it to swim away.

Fish stock reports, climate impacts and need for more NOAA funding

Last week the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released their Annual Report to Congress on the status of U.S. Fisheries and their 2019 Fisheries of the United States Report. You might say its NOAA’s annual report card.

More than 40 years of managing our nation’s fisheries under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) has positioned our nation (and NOAA Fisheries) as a global leader in sustainable fisheries management.

Success of our fisheries is due to the strong conservation measures in our Federal fishing law (the MSA) such as harvest quotas, size limits, rebuilding time lines, fishery accountability measures, and other management measures. Today, climate change impacts such as warming water and the fish stock movement it has created, ocean acidification, and habitat degradation are adding a big layer of complexity to the mix. More frequent fish surveys, stock assessments and new and better research methods are needed to identify what is happening to fish stocks. Have fish stock moved? Are they depleted, overfished or is overfishing occurring?

Enhanced funding of NOAA is needed because of climate impacts to help determine the changing status of fish stocks.

In a press advisory NOAA said, “More than 90 percent of stocks are not subject to overfishing and 80 percent not overfished; the number of stocks on the overfishing list and the overfished list increased slightly, with 26 stocks on the overfishing list and 49 stocks on the overfished list; and the status of six previously unknown stocks was determined through new first-time stock assessments.”

Visit for links to the 2020 Status of Stocks Report and the 2019 Fisheries of the US Report.

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass/bluefish. Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown said, “The striped bass bite at the Block Island North Rip and the South side of the Island has been good. Both jigging and trolling tube & worm seem to be working for anglers. And, in the coves and estuaries we have worm hatches occurring all over the place with some keepers being caught there too.” “We had about 30 boats fishing the upper Providence River Saturday morning. Most were snagging pogies and putting them back down. Shore anglers were using clams and worms with success. One customer caught a 42” striped bass from shore at Kettle Point this weekend. And, we now have some good size bluefish being caught in the River too,” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, said, “Billy Silvia, a commercial fisherman from Bristol, caught a 56 pound striped bass last Thursday when fishing the East Passage with chucks. Keeper size fish in the 28” to less than 35” slot and large fish are being caught from Bristol all the way up the Providence River.” The Ferrara family at Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “Anglers are catching slot limit striped bass at the Newport and Jamestown Bridges with customers hooking up with decent sized bluefish off Godard Park, Warwick.”

Tautog spring season ended in Rhode Island on May 31. The season is still open in Massachusetts for one fish.

Scup/black sea bass. “Scup fishing in the East Passage of Narragansett Bay has been good all the way up to Colt State Park, Bristol and off Barrington but the scup bite has not been strong further north up the River,” said Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle. The black sea bass season is still closed in Rhode Island. “Customers are going to Buzzards Bay to fish for scup and black sea bass as the season is open their and the black sea bass fishing is good,” said Henault of Ocean State Tackle.

Squeteague (weakfish) bite continues to be strong in Greenwich Bay. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “It has been the best spring squeteague season in many years, pink and green metal lures are working well.” The Rhode Island weakfish limit is one fish/person/day, minimum size of 18”.

“Summer flounder (fluke) bite has been good along the south coastal shore off the beaches in about 30 feet of water with the bite on the Southeast side of Block Island good too in about 70 feet of water,” said Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor.

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

Dave Monti

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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.