Fishing a hoot for campers

Posted 7/5/22


“That’s a good fish!”

“I got a black sea bass… I am so proud of myself.”

“Fish on!”

Those are some of the comments I …

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Fishing a hoot for campers


“That’s a good fish!”

“I got a black sea bass… I am so proud of myself.”

“Fish on!”

Those are some of the comments I heard at the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) youth fishing camp held last week at Rocky Point State Park, Warwick. The campers, from seven to twelve years old, came from throughout the State. Camperships were awarded free of charge on a fist come basis and are funded by RISAA, DEM and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services.

Kayden King, age nine of Providence said, “I didn’t know how to fish and now I am catching fish.” Many of the campers had never fished or been out on the water in a boat before.

“Fishing appeals to our sense of adventure, teaches us patience and how to take care of the environment. We learned that the children love to fish so we have included fishing time from shore, on private vessels and one day we traveled to Pt. Judith to fish on the Seven B’s party boat,” said Greg Vespe, Executive Director of RISAA. “The fishing gods were in our favor this year. Both the weather and fishing was great all three days.”

Terrence Gray, Director of the Department of Environmental Management, said, “We are excited to partner with RISAA on their fifth annual Youth Fishing Camp at Rocky Point. The camp provides hands-on opportunities for children to get outdoors and experience the thrill of casting a line and reeling in that first fish on our beautiful Narragansett Bay. It is through efforts like this that we forge the next generation of environmental stewards.”

Topics covered over the three day camp include fish identification, conservation, use of spinning and conventional gear and tackle, basic marine biology, how and why to use different baits and lures, boating safety, casting form shore and fishing from private boats as well as a party/charter boat.

For camp videos, one for each day, visit YouTube at .

Now is the time to
catch black sea bass

Black sea bass fishing is a lot of fun. The bite has been good in Buzzards Bay and off the Sakonnet River and will be hearting up as the water warms. So now is the time to try to catch some for your dinner plate as they are a great eating fish.

The minimum size for black sea bass is 16 inches. In Massachusetts the limit is four fish/person/ day until September 4. In Rhode Island the limit is two fish/person/day until September 1 when the limit changes to three fish/person /day until December 31 for private anglers (charter boat regulations are different).

Black sea bass facts

Black sea bass are primarily black (sounds odd), but 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. They spend most of their time around the bottom and can be found near rocky areas, jetties, rips, like a lot of bottom fish, they like structure.

Black sea bass are hermaphroditic fish … they begin life as female then turn male. Researchers aren’t sure why this happens, but one hypothesis suggests the relative scarcity of males in a spawning group may be the stimulus for a female to switch sex. Ideal water temperature for black sea bass is 59 to 64 degrees.

How and where to catch black sea bass

Rigs often used to catch black sea bass have two hooks approximately 12 to 16 inches 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 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 structure … rocks, wrecks, piers and jetties will attract black sea bass.  The larger males are generally found in deeper water.


Where’s the bite?

Striped bass and bluefish. “Striped bass continues to impress with reports of nice sized bass being caught both along the coastal shore and out at Block Island. There are even nice sized bass back in the pond where yours truly had a fish up to 27 pounds last past week,” said Declan O’Donnell of Misquamicut Bait & Tackle, Charlestown. East End Eddie Doherty, said, “There are still some striped bass in the Canal, but you really have to work for them. Don “Hawkeye” Willis got into some top water action catching two slots on his 3-ounce Guppy JoBo, Jr. yellow pencil just before the morning slack tide turned west.”

Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown, said, “Striped bass fishing is on fire.  Anglers are catching fish from the jetties, in estuaries and at Block Island.” 

Jonathan Woodman of Watch Hill Outfitters said, “The bite remains very strong off Westerly and Watch Hill reefs, the best it has been in a few years.”

Summer flounder (fluke) fishing is improving but remains spotty. Steve Burstein of North Kingstown caught a 23-inch fluke when fishing the south side of the Newport Bridge but no other keepers were caught. He was using a plastic squid rig made by Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Bait tipped with a strip of squid and silverside. 

Woodman, said, “The fluke bite has not been good along the southern coastal shore, however, things are just starting to pick up along Fishers Island.” 

Summer flounder have been taken in the mid-Narragansett Bay area around Warwick Light but anglers are having to work for them picking through a lot of shorts to catch a keeper. Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, said, “The fluke bite around Block Island is hit or miss and anglers are catching few keepers along the coastal shore.”

Black sea bass and scup. Some nice sized 20-plus inch fish are being caught off the Sakonnet River and off Newport but large fish are hard to come by. Most fish being taken are shorts. The scup bite remains very story anywhere there is structure like ledges and jetties and water movement. Rocky Point, Warwick; Colt Sate Park, Bristol; and Sabin Point, East Providence have a good scup bite.

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

No Fluke, fishing, sports column


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