Regional Reports-East

Sakonnet River

Rhode Islanders targeting squeteague (also known as weakfish) may find some very large fish this year, and good numbers of them, too. Bulges in the index of yearling fish occurred in 1996 and 1997 in Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound, meaning that adult fish returning to spawn should be numerous and in good health this year. "Anglers recently have been doing better on weakfish than they have in decades, and that should continue this year," says Tim Lynch, a state marine fisheries biologist. Squeteague can be found in soft-bottomed waters in the 20- to 40-foot range, but are often caught from shore by striped-bass anglers. The highest densities of fish are found in the Sakonnet River east of Newport, in Greenwich Bay and Mount Hope Bay. Wherever deep, still backwaters with a muddy bottom occur, however, squeteague may be found. Jigging with live bait such as shrimp or squid is greatly successful. Smaller-sized soft-plastic worms on jigheads, or Rapala or Rebel crankbaits, do the trick. Squeteague have a 16-inch minimum-length restriction, but have no daily creel limit or closed season in Rhode Island. Contact: Wickford Marine Laboratory (150 Fowler St., Wickford, RI 02852; 401-294-4524).