Species of Fish off Newport Rhode Island

Species we target ( current regulations) off Newport Rhode Island

Type of fish we catch off Newport RI

Blackfish caught off Newport Rhode Island

Blackfish / Tautog

Newport Rhode Island has become the capital for blackfishing. Blackfish, also known locally as tautog, are hard fighting and excellent tasting bottom feeding fish. These fish are resident fish that spend the winter offshore in deep water, returning inshore from spring to late fall. Newport Rhode Island has some of the best blackfishing on the east coast.
Note that regulations on tautog change frequently, so be sure to check before going fishing.
Best Months- May through mid-June; late September through October.
Tautog start to arrive inshore in late April. Spring is their spawning season.
Best Times- During daylight hours.
Best Tide- Three hours before, to three hours after high tide
Skill level- Supervised Beginner to Experienced Angler

Best Fishing Methods- Fresh bait on the bottom.

Best Areas
Rocky Areas: Tautog feed on crabs, mollusks and crustaceans that hide in rocks. Find a rocky beach, an area where rock ledge meets the ocean, or even a jetty that extends out into the water. Look for a spot where there is a deep pool of water next to a cluster of rocks. Tautog will cruise that rock formation looking for a meal.

Striped Bass

Striped Bass caught off Newport Rhode Island
Striped Bass caught off Newport Rhode Island

Summer Flounder(fluke)

The summer flounder is a left-sided flounder that is distinguished by the presence of 10 to 14 eye-like spots on its body and a large mouth that extends beyond the eyes which contain rows of very sharp teeth. Average adults may weigh from 2 to 5 pounds, and all females are sexually mature at 17 inches in length.

After migrating to offshore waters to spawn during the fall and winter, summer flounder travel into Newport Rhode Island, estuaries and near shore areas during the summer. They are excellent table fare. Most anglers fishing for these toothy flounder will use minnows, mummichugs, squid, mackerel, and menhaden. A light to medium action rod is perfect with 10-15 lb test line.

A large, slender, marine fish, it is found along the east coast of North America. The head and back of this fish are dark brown in color with a greenish tinge. The sides have a faint silvery hue with dusky specks, and the belly is white.

The origin of its name is based on the weakness of the mouth muscles, which often cause a hook to tear free, allowing the fish to escape. The weakfish grows to about 36 inches in length and 20 lbs in weight. Weakfish are also known by the American Indian name “Squeteague”. Weakfish spawn in the spring in Connecticut’s coastal estuaries and back bays.

Black Sea Bass
Common Names: Common names: Black sea bass, black bass, humpback (larger males), rock bass, sea bass
Size: Up to 25 inches long, commonly 11-12 inches long
Color: Typically blue-black dorsally, fading to a slightly paler color on the belly. Each scale has a light blue-white center, creating stripes along the back and sides. The dorsal fin – and sometimes the anal and pectoral fins – has white lines or splotches.

Juveniles go through four color phases: (1) light gray with small dark spots; (2) dark with pale white spots; (3) striped with a horizontal dark stripe; and (4) barred having 6 vertical stripes. Mature males have vivid blue-green around and above the eyes and on top of the head. One distinguishing feature is the elongated tail-filament.

Black Sea Bass are phenomenal table fare and are readily targeted by anglers. They can be caught with mummichugs, minnows, sandworms, squid and clams

Bluefish are an aggressive, migratory game fish. Their veracious, feeding habits make them an ideal fish for the recreational angler to target. Last Year was epic with the amount of bluefish off Newport Rhode Island
Other names: “blues”, “gators”, “choppers”, and small bluefish are called “snappers”
Best Months- June through October
Best Times- Daybreak/Early morning, Late Afternoon/Evening, Night
Best Tide- Two hours before to two hours after High Tide
Skill level- Supervised Beginner to Experienced Angler
Best Fishing Methods- Use Popping plugs, Metal Lures, Swimming Plugs, or Bait

The scup, commonly called porgy, is a fish which occurs primarily in the Atlantic from Massachusetts to South Carolina. Scup grow as large as 18″ and weigh 3 to 4 lb, but they average 1/2 – 1 lb. In the Middle Atlantic Bight, scup spawn along the inner continental shelf. Their larvae end up in inshore waters, along the coast and in estuarine areas. At 2 to 3 years of age, they mature.

Scup winter along the mid and outer continental shelf. When the temperature warms in the spring they migrate inshore. They are fished for by commercial and recreational fishermen

Squid !!

As with any aspect of fishing, having an understanding of the quarry being fished is quite important. Squid are cephalopod mollusks. Being a mollusk makes it more closely related to a snail than it is to a fish. Also, squid are invertebrates, which means they lack a skeleton.

They are highly predatory, and eat just about anything that moves; however, this time of year they are feeding on small baitfish — and each other. Yes, squid are remarkably cannibalistic. They are also quite intelligent, and have extremely acute eyesight.

For our purposes of targeting them, it’s important to remember they often seem to have moods. At times they attack a squid jig with reckless abandon, and in numbers, being highly competitive. Other times they are hesitant and seemingly lethargic, and want the squid jig to sit motionless for multiple seconds, or ever so slowly descending. Adjust your technique so you’ll catch them in numbers.


Shark Fishing Newport RI  ( My Favorite thing to do)

Mako Sharks

Short fin mako shark: ( Mako shark fishing is closed till 2024)
The shortfin mako has a wide distribution. It is found in tropical and temperate waters throughout the world’s oceans. In North America it ranges from Watch Hill to point judith and south of montauk point making it easy for Connecticut anglers to target makos. It is commonly seen in offshore waters from Block island rhode island to Montauk new york.
The shortfin mako is a true pelagic species with a primarily anti-tropical distribution. However, they will inhabit the cooler, deeper water of the offshore canyons.  With the ability to elevate body temperature, makos are able to maintain themselves in temperatures of 5-11°C. In this sense the makos are somewhat “warm-blooded,” meaning that heat in their blood is conserved within the body and not lost through the gills.

Thresher Shark
2021 we saw numerous thresher sharks right off Newport Rhode Island
The Rhode Island thresher shark, an oceanic and coastal species, inhabits waters around Block Island and south of Block Island. It is most common in the 30 fathom area around Block Island and Montauk. Although it is found along the entire U.S. Atlantic coast, it is rare south of New England and common in the waters south of Rhode Island.

The thresher shark is a pelagic species inhabiting both coastal and oceanic waters. It is most commonly observed far from the shore of Rhode Island, although it wanders close to the coast in search of food. Adults are common over the continental shelf, while juveniles reside in coastal bays and near shore waters around Watch Hill. It’s mostly seen on the surface but it inhabits waters to 1,800 feet in depth.

Threshers are considered a highly migratory species in the U.S. by the National Marine Fisheries Service for fishery management purposes.
The thresher shark can be easily identified by the long upper lobe of the caudal fin. The lobe can be as long as the body and gives the tail a slender “whiplike” appearance. It has a moderate size eye and a first dorsal fin free rear tip located ahead of the pelvic fins. The pectoral fins are falcate and narrow tipped. They are white on their underside, but have dark spots near the pelvic fin and the caudal peduncle. The white color can extend above the pectoral fins onto the head.
Bony fish make up 97% of the thresher’s diet. They feed mostly on small schooling fish such as menhaden, herring, Atlantic saury, sand lance, and mackerel. Bluefish and butterfish are the most common meal. They also feed on bonito and squid. Thresher sharks encircle schools of fish and then stun the prey with their tails. This is often done in groups and/or pairs.

Blue Sharks

Blue sharks are found just a few miles off Newport Rhode Island. They are a pelagic species that rarely comes near shore but have been known to frequent inshore areas around block island.

Being a pelagic species the blue shark’s habitat consists of open ocean areas around Rhode Island from the surface to 1,148 ft in depth. They prefer cooler water ranging from 44.6-60.8°F but are known to have tolerances for water 69.8°F or greater. When the summer heats up rhode island waters the blue shark tends to seek deeper waters with cooler temperatures. This is evident in the offshore canyon off of rhode island where the majority of blue sharks are found at depths of 262-722 ft where water temperatures range from 53.6-77°F.

The blue shark has a slender, sleek-looking body with a large eye and a long conical snout that is longer than the width of its mouth. It has extremely long, pointed pectoral fins, which generally are as long as the distance from its snout to posterior gill slit. The dorsal fin is moderate in size and set back where it is actually closer to the pelvic fin insertion than the pectoral insertion point.   The blue shark’s name comes from its distinct dark blue dorsal surface and bright blue sides.

The largest blue shark on record measured 12.6 feet but they are rumored to get as large as 20 feet. Males are believed to be mature at four to five years of age and at lengths between 6 feet and 9.2 feet . Females mature slightly older ages ranging from five to six years and longer lengths from 7.3-10.6 feet. They are believed to live for more than 20 years.

Small bony fishes, such as herring and sardines, and invertebrates, such as squid, cuttlefish and pelagic octopi that inhabit the waters of Rhode Island and New York, make up a majority of the blue shark’s diet. They easily feed on certain species of squid that form large breeding aggregations, which allows the blue shark to leisurely collect its unsuspecting prey. Besides actively hunting for food, Rhode Island blue sharks are opportunistic feeders and have been known to feed from gill nets and scavenge dead marine mammals.


Once out into the ocean with your necessary fishing tackle, look for the suggested areas below to find fish. To locate some of the best deep sea fishing areas, get a fishfinder, GPS or a nautical map and follow the guide below. Follow these deep sea fishing safety tips.


Rocks, reefs and wrecks offer some of the best deep sea fishing opportunities. These types of structures provide a haven for every species in the food chain and offer a place for fish to hide from the strong ocean currents. When fishing near artificial or natural reefs, consider that fish may be living in the structure or patrolling the outer edges as far as 100 yards from the reef. Reef dwelling fish can usually be enticed to bite by sending a vertical jig to the bottom and quickly working it back to the boat.

TIP: For reef dwelling species such as blackfish, grouper or snapper, consider anchoring the boat in place with the engines and then drop baits down to the structure. For high-speed predatory fish such as tuna, wahoo and billfish, try fast-trolling fishing lures and slow-troll live baits.


Manmade structures including towers and navigational aids are valuable to both fish and anglers, but for different reasons. Some species seek refuge deep inside the structure while others prefer to patrol the perimeter. In order to best determine where the fish are holding, use a fishfinder or recreational sonar. You’ll also want to be sure to check into any local regulations that may limit access before fishing a tower or navigational aid.

TIP: Troll natural baits or artificial fishing lures around a tower or buoy to get the attention of predatory fish.


Submerged mountain ranges and hills divert the current and create ideal spots for offshore fishing. Sea mounts can provide fish with more favorable water conditions as water temperature, light level or salinity may be out of the range for a particular species at the bottom of the sea mount, but just right at the top. When fishing around these structures, always look for variations in the surface conditions such as ripples, rips or tide lines that may indicate changes in water temperature, salinity, clarity or current.

TIP: Structures can stretch for miles, so the best deep sea fishing tackle for fishing sea mounts and hills is natural or artificial baits. Fish will often hold in the same area on a sea mount or hill, so try trolling; when you hook one fish, mark the spot on the GPS and return to the same spot to find more fish.


The deep canyons, gorges and cliffs that mark the Continental Shelf would put any land-based mountain range to shame and are other good places to look for fish. Locate any variations in current or water temperature that intersect the shelf. When the variations in structure, current and temperature force nutrient-rich water up from the deep to fuel the entire food chain, pelagic sport fish like billfish and wahoo will hunt the upper half of the water column.

TIP: The best deep sea fishing techniques involve trolling natural or artificial baits. If bottom fishing, try using fishing lures such as large jigs or heavy-duty rigs to get the baits down deep.


Kelp forests occur in temperate and polar coastal oceans around the world but in the United States they are commonly found along the California coastline. Large congregations of kelp plants are referred to as kelp forests whereas smaller patches are known as kelp beds. These underwater forests have an incredibly high density of kelp plants which are a type of rapidly growing brown macroalgae.

The forests and beds created by the kelp provides one of the most productive and dynamic ecosystems on the planet. The large stature of each kelp plant creates a very broad, three-dimensional habitat for large fish to hide and seek shelter as well as ambush their prey.

When fishing kelp forests, anglers should typically start by free lining live or dead baits from an anchored or drifting boat. If you don’t get any bites by free lining your baits, then you should try to gradually add weight to your rig until you start to get the fish to bite.


Fishing in the open ocean is an endeavor that only confident and experienced anglers should attempt. To successfully and safely target pelagic fish species that live in the open ocean, specialized tackle and boats are typically required. The easiest way to experience offshore angling for those anglers who don’t have larger boats is to book a fishing charter.

When researching charter boats that you’re thinking of hiring, be sure to ask plenty of questions before booking your trip. Ask about the length of the trip, what species you’ll be targeting, how may people can the boat hold, will the trip be private or open to other customers and anything else you may think of. If you would like to keep any of your catch for dinner, be sure to clarify what the boat’s policy is on fish that are caught.

Open ocean fishing takes place all over the country but certain regions require a farther boat ride offshore in order to find good fishing grounds. For example, the best deep sea fishing in Eastern states typically require a longer trip out to the fishing grounds (with the exception of Southern Florida) whereas states along the Pacific Ocean have steeper dropoffs and require a much shorter ride to find deeper waters.

Open ocean pelagic species of fish include tunas, billfish, dolphin, wahoo and some shark species.


Out in the open ocean, there is very little structure. Consequently, many game fish congregate around underwater areas of relief or areas that provide shelter. While not as dense and diverse as a reef’s ecosystem, the rocky bottom still provides protection for many species of baitfish and plankton. They also allow for places for predators to ambush prey. All of these factors make rocky areas a great place to fish. The best deep sea fishing methods for fishing these areas include deep dropping and jigging.


In coastal areas, closer to shore, the ocean bottom may have sections of exposed rock, coral or debris. These areas of uneven bottom provide a great ambush spot for predatory fish as well as crevices for smaller fish to take shelter. Fish live at all depths in coastal water and many stay close to the bottom. Many feed near cover, such as a rock or a coral reef, where they can ambush prey.

Other fish roam at all depths of the water column, searching for an easy meal. Most saltwater anglers do their best deep sea fishing in coastal waters because there are dozens of different fish species there, and these areas are often very easy to access. Many marine fish migrate up and down the coastline seasonally. Smart anglers monitor water temperatures, winds, currents, seasons and tides to determine which species they should target.

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