No Fluke

Black sea bass great family fun


Black sea bass are fun to catch for the entire family. This week anglers reported a good black sea bass (BSB) bite in our bays, along our coastal shores and at Block Island. So now is the time to try to catch some for your dinner plate as they are a great eating fish.

Black sea bass facts

Black sea bass (BSB) is a delicate, sweet-tasting saltwater fish. The firm, white flesh of this species is a favorite of many. They have the ability to adjust their color to blend in with the bottom with colors ranging from grey, brown, black to a deep indigo hue. BSB are hermaphroditic fish… they begin life as female then turn male. They put up a good feisty fight but do not grow to be huge fish in the Northeast.

The largest black sea bass caught on record was 10.4 pounds, and 26” long. Ideal water temperature for BSB is 59 to 64 degrees. Last week we caught a 24” black sea bass off Newport. This was the largest BSB ever caught on my vessel. This past weekend the four anglers fishing with me all limited out with three fish each.

The minimum size for black sea bass in Rhode Island is 15” with a limit of three fish/person/day. The limit jumps to seven fish/person/day on September 1.

How and where to catch black sea bass

Rigs often used to catch black sea bass have two hooks approximately 12” to 16” apart with a bank sinker to hold bottom. Squid or sea clams are most often used as bait. Anglers often catch them while fishing for summer flounder (fluke) or tautog because they are often on or close to the bottom. They can also be caught with jigs and many prefer this method.

I like to use red or pink bucktail tipped with squid as I think the sea bass believe it is a small lobster or crab, some of their favorite foods.

Any underwater structures… rocks, wrecks, piers, ledges and jetties will attract black sea bass. The larger males are generally found in deeper water.

Where’s the bite

Fluke/black sea bass/scup. Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle of Warren said, “For the last week fishing has just been fair. Fluke are hard to come by but the scup bite is still good. Some customers are filling a five gallon pail with just 15 fish because they are very large. Some good news from Colt State Park where anglers fishing from the dock were landing some keeper black sea bass and keeper fluke one night last week.” Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “A new body of fish has moved in and fluke fishing has greatly improved. The week started out on a high note, there was a low mid-week, but by the end of the week we were back. Many anglers left with easy limits of fluke and sea bass. It did not matter what kind of rig you put in the water the fluke were just hungry. You should always pack a range of fluke rigs to maximize you catching potential.” I fished for black sea bass and fluke with four anglers Saturday and both Gulp and fresh bait (squid and silversides) worked equally well. Four anglers found it easy to reach their limit in BSB but the fluke bite was slow. Six keeper fluke were caught with the largest being 22”. Fish were caught off Seal Ledge, Newport, at Hull Cove, Jamestown and off Ft. Adams, Newport. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, said, “The fluke (and black sea bass) bite is good on Block Island in about 60 feet of water. Gulp 18” above the jig is working great for the black sea bass. Scup fishing in the bay has been very good…we are selling a lot of clam necks to customers targeting them as the clam necks are very tough and perfect for bait-stealing scup.”

Striped bass fishing has been good at Block Island with just a few large fish being taken there. “Guys are fishing eels at Block Island with good results but the fish were not huge last week. However, the Cape Cod Canal bite remains very strong.” said Macedo. Henault said “The bass bite on Block Island is good but it is outstanding on the Cape Cod Canal. Anglers are using heavier soft plastic baits in the four to five once range nights as the fish are down lower in the water column, and two to three once jig heads in the day as the fish are at the top of the water column. One of my customers caught a 50” fish in the Canal Saturday.”

Freshwater fishing has been fair as the water is warming. Macedo said, “We are selling a lot of shiners to grandparents coming in with their grandchildren which is very nice to see. However no great reports of a lot of fish being taken.” Pike fishing has been good in the Blackstone River where the water is cooler. Customers are catch largemouth bass in the Woonasquatucket River.”

Dave Monti 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

Dave Monti

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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.