What Saltwater fish are in Rhode Island?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into What Saltwater fish are in Rhode Island. If you’re an angler or simply a lover of the ocean, Rhode Island has something special to offer. The state’s coastline is home to a stunning variety of saltwater fish, making it a prime destination for fishing enthusiasts.

The Bounty of the Atlantic Ocean

Rhode Island’s Unique Position

Rhode Island’s geographical location, nestled along the eastern seaboard of the United States, places it in a prime position for an abundance of saltwater fish species.

The combination of cold and warm ocean currents creates an ideal environment for flourishing marine life.

Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis)

One of the most sought-after fish in Rhode Island, the striped bass, commonly called “stripers,” is a prized catch among anglers.

Known for its distinctive stripes and powerful fighting spirit, the striped bass can be found year-round along the state’s coastline, with peak seasons in spring and fall.

Summer Flounder (Paralichthys dentatus)

Summer flounder, also known as “fluke,” is another popular catch in Rhode Island waters. These flatfish are known for their delicious taste and are a favorite among seafood enthusiasts. Summer flounder is prevalent during summer and commonly caught near the ocean floor.

The Thrill of the Catch

Bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix)

For anglers seeking an adrenaline rush, bluefish provide an exhilarating challenge. These voracious predators are known for their aggressive feeding habits and razor-sharp teeth. Bluefish are prevalent in Rhode Island waters during the summer and early fall.

Tautog (Tautoga onitis)

Tautog, or “blackfish,” are a highly prized species among Rhode Island anglers. Known for their strong, hard-to-hook mouths, catching tautog requires skill and patience. These fish are most active during the late spring and fall.

The Enigmatic Deep-Sea Species

Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua)

Venturing farther offshore, you’ll encounter the enigmatic Atlantic cod. These deep-sea dwellers are known for their mild, flaky flesh and are a favorite among seafood lovers.

While not as common as other species, Atlantic cod can be found in Rhode Island waters, particularly during colder months.

Haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus)

Haddock is another deep-sea species that occasionally graces Rhode Island’s waters. With a flavor similar to cod, haddock is a sought-after catch among anglers who venture into deeper offshore areas.

Conservation Efforts and Responsible Fishing

As with any natural resource, practicing responsible fishing is crucial to preserving the delicate balance of marine ecosystems.

Always adhere to catch limits, respect seasonal closures, and release undersized or protected species to ensure the sustainability of Rhode Island’s saltwater fish populations.

Rhode Island saltwater fishing size limits

Rhode Island saltwater fishing regulations include size limits for various species to ensure sustainable fishing practices. Here’s a breakdown of some critical size limits:

General Size Limits:

  • Striped Bass: Slot limit: Minimum size 28″, Maximum size <31″. This means you can only keep striped bass between these sizes.
  • Summer Flounder: The minimum size is 18″. However, there’s a special shore provision where you can keep two flounder at 17″ as part of your 4-fish possession limit, with the remaining 18″ or more prominent.
  • Tautog (Blackfish): Maximum of 10 fish per vessel per day, except for licensed party/charter boats, with a maximum of 16 fish and one fish exceeding 21″.

Additional Resources:

  • Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM): This is the official source for all saltwater fishing regulations in Rhode Island. You can find detailed information on size limits, seasons, possession limits, 
  • eRegulations: This website provides a user-friendly interface to search for specific species regulations,


  • Always check the current regulations before fishing, as they can change periodically.
  • Download the Rhode Island DEM Fish Smart app to access regulations and fish identification guides quickly.
  • Be aware of special rules that may apply to certain areas or species.
What Saltwater fish are in Rhode Island


Rhode Island’s coastal waters are a haven for anglers and seafood enthusiasts. From the powerful striped bass to the thrill of catching bluefish and the delicacy of Atlantic cod, the state offers a diverse array of saltwater fish species to explore. By practicing responsible fishing, we can ensure that these treasures of the sea continue to thrive for generations to come.


  1. Are there any restrictions on catching striped bass in Rhode Island? Yes, Rhode Island has size and bag limits for striped bass. It’s essential to check the current regulations before heading out to fish.
  2. When is the best time to catch tautog in Rhode Island? Tautog are most active in late spring and fall, making these seasons ideal for targeting this species.
  3. What’s the tastiest way to prepare summer flounder? Summer flounder is delicious when grilled, baked, or pan-fried with a light seasoning and a squeeze of lemon.
  4. Do I need a fishing license in Rhode Island? Yes, you generally need a fishing license to fish in Rhode Island, with some exceptions for certain age groups and residents.
  5. Where can I access more information about fishing regulations in Rhode Island? Detailed information about fishing regulations and licenses is on the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s website.

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