No Fluke

Free clamming workshops; party boat fishing


The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced it is hosting a series of free recreational clamming workshops this summer. The workshops, led by a local shellfisherman, review the history and value of shellfishing in Rhode Island and provide an opportunity for participants to dig for their own clams.

People of all ages are encouraged to participate. Space is limited and registration is required. To register, contact Kimberly Sullivan at All equipment and materials will be provided.

A workshop was held in Bristol earlier this week, the remaining schedule includes workshops on: Friday, August 11, 3 to 6 p.m. at North Kingstown Town Beach, North Kingstown; Tuesday, August 22, 1 to 4 p.m. and Saturday, September 9, 2 to 5 p.m. at Rocky Point State Park, Warwick.

Clamming (known locally as quahogging) has a rich history in Rhode Island, as a significant contributor to the state’s commercial fishing industry as well as a great family recreational fishery. More than 28 million quahogs were harvested from Narragansett Bay and local coastal waters last year.

Come Clam With Me workshops are sponsored by DEM’s Aquatic Resource Education (ARE) program. ARE provides a host of recreational fishing opportunities for the public – as well as marine science programming for educators. For more information on ARE programs and events, visit

Party boat fishing

Every wonder how to select a party fishing boat to go out on and just wish you knew which one was good and best for you? You can learn how to select a party boat this Monday, July 31, 7 p.m. at the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association’s (RISAA) Party Boat Seminar at the West Warwick Elks Lodge. Dianne Valerien will be the guest speaker. Dianne has fished for 40 years and worked on party boats for the past 20 years, fishing for cod, black sea bass, summer flounder, scup tautog and striped bass. Valerien said, “Fishing on a party boat is a great way to get out fishing on a boat. It’s affordable and you can go it alone or fish with family and friends.”

Learn what to look for when choosing a party boat, differences in boat operations as well as fishing gear and techniques to employ when fishing on a party boat.

Non-members are requested to make a $10 donation to the RISAA Scholarship Fund, members attend free. The Elks Lodge is at 60 Clyde Street, West Warwick. Dinner between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., sold separately.

Commission overruled by Secretary of Commerce

Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce, notified the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) that he has found the State of New Jersey to be in compliance with the new Summer Flounder Fishery Management Plan. The decision circumvents the work of the Commission that provides coastwide management of summer flounder (fluke) in our area.
Secretary Ross said in a letter to the Commission “New Jersey makes a compelling argument that the measures it implemented this year, despite increasing catch above the harvest target, will likely reduce total summer flounder mortality in New Jersey waters to a level consistent with the overall conservation objective for the recreational fishery.”

In a press release last week, the ASMFC said, “Based on the latest stock assessment information, summer flounder is currently experiencing overfishing. Spawning stock biomass has been declining since 2010 and is just 16 percent above the threshold. If the stock falls below the biomass threshold, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires the Council to initiate a rebuilding program, which could require more restrictive management measures.

The Magnuson-Stevens Act puts fish first in this nation to ensure that fish stocks are rebuilt. Having more than 40 fish stocks successfully rebuilt proves the fish first policy works. When decisions – such as the Secretary of Commerce’s decision allowing New Jersey to make their own summer flounder regulations – are allowed, they put the interests of individual states first. 

This is a recipe for disaster. States are subject to local political pressure to put local interests first, and the fish will take a back seat. The big concern with last week’s decision is that other states will decide to fish the way they want to regardless of what’s best for the fish, and we could end up with total chaos.

Where’s the bite

Remarkable fish landed this week include a 36” cobia caught off the URI Bay Campus in North Kingstown. Nellie Valles of Maridee Bait & Canvas, Narragansett said, “A customer who has a summer place in Narragansett was fishing for fluke in his kayak with one of our house made fluke rigs with a bucktail jig and stinger hook. The cobia (an exotic warm water fish) hit the bucktail that was tipped with squid.” The second remarkable fish was a 69 pound striped bass, caught by Matt Wechbacker. See story below.

Summer flounder (fluke) fishing has been fair. Angler Mike Swain said Saturday, “We fished in front of Newport to Jamestown and two of us picked up six fish all day. It was a slow day with most action coming on the tide change.” I fished the Block Island Cow Cove/State Beach area Saturday with a good bite; however, most fish were shorts. Anglers Tom Wood, Rick Heffernan and Larry Audino boated nice fluke to 25” at the East Fishing Grounds. “We caught twelve nice fluke keepers right at the North Rip (Block Island) on Saturday.” said Jack Leyden of North Kingstown. Fluke fishing in the Bay around the bridges has been steady but a slow pick throughout last week.

Striped bass. Some very big fish have been caught at the South West Ledge and fishing got better this weekend. Matt Wechbacker caught a 69 pound striped bass at Block Island at night with an eel when fishing with Capt. Corey Smith and Kurt Rivard on Friday, July 21. Kurt said, “We didn’t think it was much of a fish until she came to the boat and gave us a big splash. It wasn't long before she was in the net and we knew we had something special.”  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle said, “No keeper fish to report in the upper bay this week, school bass in the 14” to 16” range are being caught in the Barrington and Warren Rivers. Customer Albert Bettencourt and his son fished Block Island this weekend and their smallest keeper fish was 39 pounds. They fished at night with eels with most fish coming at sunset.” Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “We weighed in a lot of large fish for On-the-Water’s Striper Cup Tournament this weekend including several fish in the high 40’s and then the monster 69 pound fish caught by Matt Wechbacker.”

Black Sea bass (BSB) is not quite as good as it was last year at this time. Bay anglers are catching keepers but some are feeling the impact of the increased size to 15” said Littlefield. Nice keeper BSB are being caught in the lower Bay around and south of the bridges. “Very few black sea bass have been caught in the upper bay this year,” said Littlefield.
Scup fishing in the Bay has been very good. “Customers are having little trouble limiting out (30 fish, minimum size 10”) on some nice scup,” said Macedo. Littlefield said, “Scup are being caught from the bridges in Barrington and Warren as well as Colt State Park.”

Offshore. Macedo said, “One of our customers, Jim Sign, caught some tuna this weekend and traveled 60 miles offshore and hooked up with both Wahoo and a marlin.”

Freshwater fishing continues to be pretty good. “Customers have caught small and largemouth bass at the Brickyard in Barrington. One customer caught four or five nice trout at Lincoln Woods. It is unusual for this time of year with such warm water but they were down deep where it is cooler.” Macedo said, “We have a lot of young people coming in with their parents going fishing for the first time. We are hooking them up with shiners to fish from shore.”

Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shellfishing for over 40 years. He holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. He is a RISAA board member, a member of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association and a member of the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Contact or forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at or visit his website at

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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.