No Fluke

New regulations in effect, and the strong bites continue


NOAA Fisheries has established recreational fishing measures for Gulf of Maine cod and haddock and Georges Bank cod for the 2023 fishing year. All measures are effective Aug. 14, 2023, through April 30, 2024, unless or until they are replaced by new measures for 2024.

Gulf of Maine Cod (south of Cape Cod) and Haddock Recreational Management Measures for the 2023 fishing year are one cod/person/day with a 22” minimum size from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31. Haddock private anger regulation are 10 fish/person/day with a 17” minimum size; and a 15 fish/person/day limit with an 18” minimum size for the For Hire industry. The open season for haddock is May 1 to Feb. 28.

Georges Bank Recreational Management Measures for cod (south of Cape Cod including waters off Rhode Island) for the 2023 Fishing Year are five cod/person/day with a minimum size of 23” with a season from Sept. 1 to April 30. The season did open on Aug. 1 but closed Aug. 14 as these new rules were not ready.

Recreational fishing estimates could be 40% lower

“Switching the sequence of questions resulted in fewer reporting errors, and recreational angler effort estimates that were generally 30 to 40 percent lower than estimates produced from the current NOAA survey design. However, results varied by state and fishing mode,” said Evan Howell, Ph.D., director of the Office of Science and Technology for NOAA Fisheries.

Howell facilitated an online public meeting Monday, Aug. 7, where he presented key findings of a pilot study conducted to evaluate potential sources of bias in NOAA Fisheries’ recreational Fishing Effort Survey (FES) questionnaire design.

The results of NOAA’s reassessment of how they estimate recreational effort could impact recreational harvest limits, possibly increasing them. How much of an increase would vary by region and species.

The FES is a household mail survey administered from Maine to Mississippi and in Hawaii by a NOAA Fisheries’ contractor. It collects private recreational fishing trip information for each resident of a responding household.

The results of the pilot study and future large-scale follow-up studies will be used to gain a clearer understanding of the differences in effort estimates between the current design and a revised design that changes both the question order and increases the frequency of sampling.

The Pilot Study report, “Evaluating Measurement Error in the MRIP Fishing Effort Survey,” can be found on NOAA’s MRIP Reports site through search. 

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass and bluefish. “The striped bass usually leave for a couple of weeks at the end of July and beginning of August and that was the case last week. However, they are back now, with slot size to 40-pound fish being caught at Brenton Reef, Newport. This weekend we caught a 23-pound bluefish. They were on the surface with a school of striped bass,” said Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren.

“Water temperatures dropped last week, and in return we’ve seen a pickup in the striped bass action. The Charlestown Breachway has been consistent in the outgoing tide if you’re participating in the drift rotation. Otherwise, the Breachway and pond are producing on the incoming tide, especially morning and evening. Lots of bait getting pushed in, and stripers have been getting airborne chasing them. Joe Baggs sand eel baits have been working well as well as live eels,” said Declan O’Donnel of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown.

John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside, said, “It is hit or miss with striped bass and bluefish in the Providence River. They are being caught, but things are a bit spotty. However, customers are catching them out in front, with two nice fish taken from shore at Beavertail, Jamestown.”


Tautog fishing opened Aug. 1 with a three fish/person/day limit, 16” minimum size. Only one of the three fish can be a trophy fish, 21” or larger. There is a 10 fish per boat limit. Declan O’Donnell said, “Tautog fishing reopened, and anglers are having success from shore with some nice size fish coming from the tip of the Charlestown Breachway.”

“Anglers are catching tautog, but it is still spotty in the Providence River,” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle.

Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Tackle said, “The tautog bite is remarkably good in 10 to 40 feet of water considering how warm the water is. Right now, it is an inshore bite, but four to eight-pound fish are being caught.”

Fluke, black sea bass and scup

“Anglers are catching keeper fluke in the bay, but they are working for them. However, the scup bite has been phenomenal at Rocky Point and Colt State Parks, Sabin Point, Lavin’s Marina and just about everywhere. A customer fishing off Prudence Island caught 78 nice scup,” Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Bait & Tackle said. “The black sea bass bite is improving with anglers fishing in 50 feet of water catching an occasional keeper summer flounder and black sea bass at the same time. The fluke do seem to be in deeper water now.”

Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle said, “Fluke fishing has been holding up well along the beaches, with some nice sized keepers mixed in with a good number of short fish. Out around Block Island, inshore rock piles are producing some good sized black sea bass.”

Blue crab

Blue crab fishing has been very good. John Littlefield of Archie’s said, “One Hundred Acre Cove, Barrington has been the hot spot for crabbing. One customer caught 30 shorts and a dozen keepers there last week, with the largest being 9 inches. Customers are also catching them a Sabin Point.”


Warm water continues to enhance the bite in our region. “The bluefin and yellowfin tuna bite two miles south of the Block Island Wind Farm has been outstanding. White marlin and hammer head sharks are south of the Island, too. We heard a report of a tarpon being caught off Cape Cod this week. So, things are crazy,” said Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Bait & Tackle.

Declan O’Donnel said, “The tuna bite southeast of Block Island remains pretty consistent, with bluefin being caught on the jig and a few yellowfin on the troll a little farther out.”


Freshwater fishing continues to improve as things have cooled off a bit. “The largemouth seem to have an appetite for frogs this time of year, with spinner baits and jigs working based on conditions, but overall, the bite has been very good,” said Jeff Sullivan.

“Lincoln Woods has been producing well for customers. Most are using shiners fishing early morning or later in the day,” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle.

Dave Monti holds a captain’s master license and charter fishing license. 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.