No Fluke

Thousands of fish found dead on banks of Mystic River


Last week about 40,000-50,000 Atlantic menhaden (pogies) were found dead along the Mystic River in Everett and Somerville, MA.

There are no perpetrators responsible for the mortality.  Menhaden are victims of their own success, flourishing in large, dense schools that can cause them to “suffocate” and die off from lack of oxygen.

David Pierce, director of Massachusetts Marine Fisheries said, “When large schools of fish enter warm-water estuaries and rivers in large numbers during the summer months, they can deplete the water’s dissolved oxygen, making survival impossible.  Oxygen must pass across and through fish gills, and when used up by tightly packed fish in shallow waters the inevitable occurs.”

Pierce said, “Management and regulation of menhaden is overseen by the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), having adopted compliance criteria of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Menhaden Plan and approaches best suited for the Massachusetts menhaden fishing industry. Our commercial quotas were raised this year due to high menhaden abundance finally re-establishing itself north of Cape Cod and (somewhat expectedly) causing re-occurrences of past years’ typical hot-weather kills – over 20 years ago.”

Rhode Island has experienced hypoxia (lack of oxygen in the water) in coves and estuaries that do not often flush (like Greenwich Bay and Cove) which has produced fish kills in the past.

Where’s the bite?

Freshwater fishing has slowed in some areas due to warming water. However, in waters where there is water movement fishing is better. John Lavallee of Continental Bait & Tackle, Cranston, said, “Small and largemouth bass fishing is good at Indian Lake, South Kingstown and at Stafford Pond, Tiverton.” Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, said, “Stump Pond and Only Pond at Lincoln Woods has be good for bass fishing with a fairly consistent carp bite in the Blackstone River.”

Summer flounder (fluke), black sea bass and scup fishing remains very strong in Rhode Island. Fluke has been spotty in the lower bay and off Newport however it is good at Block Island. John Lavallee of Continental Bait & Tackle, said, “Summer flounder and black sea bass are being caught in deep water under and around the bridges and out at Block Island.” Kevin Fetzer caught a nice 24” fish at Hull Cover, Jamestown Saturday but that was the only keeper we caught there. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “Last week we had some rough weather which prevented some anglers from fishing Block Island but when they did the fluke and black sea bass fishing there was very good. Scup are being caught in the upper Bay in the Seekonk River near the Gano Street boat ramp.” Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “Scup are being caught from East Providence to Portsmouth.” Scup bite is good just about anywhere there is water flow and structure. Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “Another good week of fluke and sea bass fishing. We were only a few fish shy of a full boat limit of fluke and a full limit of sea bass earlier in the week. However, midweek the fishing slowed due to the consistent 20 knot wind that was blowing.”

The striped bass and bluefish bite is good around Block Island. However, some nice fish have been taken off Aquidneck Island. Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle said, “We weighed several fish in the 30 to 40 pound range for On-the-Water’s Striper Cup Tournament. The largest one this weekend was over 40 pounds and caught off Westport. We had a lot of Atlantic menhaden around the Newport Bridge Sunday with bluefish binging them to the surface and feeding on they. Anglers enjoyed trying to catch them.” The Frances Fleet reports a good striped bass bite on their night trips with fish taken in the twenty pound range.

Cape Cod Canal fishing for striped bass is where the action seems to be. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “Striped bass fishing at the canal has been good some days and fair others.” John Lavallee of Continental Bait said, “Canal fishing is where it is at right now. However, some days it is good and others days it is not producing. Most of our customer that fish the canal are keying on optima times, like the new moon we have coming up.”

Skipjack bluefish (small baby blues) have become prominent in our covers and estuaries. John Lavallee of Continental Bait said. “The best place for skipjacks has been Wickford, they have been fairly consistent there.” Dave Henault said “Skipjacks have turned on in covers and harbors, with a blue crabs starting to come alive in estuaries as well.”

Bonito. I was able to confirm reports of bonito being in the area. Last Sunday Steve Brustein of West Warwick caught his first Bonito on my boat casting a Deadly Dick bait. We always have a rod rigged with a silver lure this time of year as you never know when you will run into a school of Bonito (hopefully false albacore too in the next couple of weeks). To distinguish bonito and false albacore remember this rhyme taught to me by Steve Medeiros, president of the RI Saltwater Anglers Association…. Bonito have teeth and are good to eat.

Tautog fishing opened again on August 1. Minimum size is 16” with a three fish/person/day limit… surprisingly anglers are hooking up. ohn Lavallee of Continental Bait said, “Our shore angler customers are catching keeper tautog at Beavertail Point, off Newport and around Quonset Point.” Many Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle said, “A couple of keepers have been caught in the Westport area.”

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.