Sharks stealing your fish?

Posted 8/30/23

Anglers have reported (more than usual) sharks attacking their catch before they are able to bring it to the boat. Anglers are urged to use caution when reaching near the water to bring in their …

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Sharks stealing your fish?


Anglers have reported (more than usual) sharks attacking their catch before they are able to bring it to the boat. Anglers are urged to use caution when reaching near the water to bring in their catch, particularly off the Sakonnet River, Newport, Jamestown and Narragansett where numerous reports have come from.

“We fished at the mouth of the Sakonnet River Sunday and around 4 p.m. and we hooked onto a nice fluke. So I get the net ready, and it’s about 10 ft from the boat, and out of nowhere, a big 6-foot shark attacks the fluke, cuts it in half and swims off. Pretty crazy,” said angler Eric Duda of Tiverton.

Angler in awe of thresher sharks

“When the shark surfaced its tail slapped the water into a froth a few times,” said Greg Vespe, former RI Saltwater Anglers Association executive director, who is in awe of thresher sharks. 

This is the second thresher he caught this year on his 19-foot center console he custom built. Vespe of Tiverton caught a couple of threshers last year too, one was 325 pounds and eleven feet, four inches long.

“These fish are majestic. Just so beautiful. They do not normally come up to your boat like other sharks do when fishing. So, to see them up close you have to catch one. And each one is different. The fish we caught this week was down deep and it stayed down for the first 15 minutes. Then it leaped into the air clear out of the water,” said Vespe.

“We caught and successfully released this fish due to the good work of the crew. My father Ric Vespe was at the helm, my son Shawn Hayes Costello and cousin Stephano Leoni here visiting from Italy were on the reel. They did a great job,” said Vespe.

Recreational fishermen must have an Atlantic HMS permit to harvest Atlantic common thresher sharks in federal waters. 

Vespe said, “What you really must watch is the thresher’s tail (they are also known as Whiptail sharks).  They use their tail as a weapon to stun prey. When the shark we caught last week came to the boat it whacked the engine housing with its tail, if that tail swung higher it could have cleared anyone on the stern right off the boat.”

According to NOAA, “U.S. wild-caught Atlantic common thresher shark is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.” 

Fishing and transiting near South Fork Wind Farm

Fishermen headed for the Dump or Canyons from RI, MA, CT or Montauk, may plan on a transit through South Fork Wind Farm, currently in construction midway between Block Island and Martha’s Vineyard. Over 13 monopile foundations (supporting 12 wind turbines and one offshore substation) will be installed, in two stages.

This summer just the lower 70 feet of each foundation will be built and extend above the ocean’s surface, with a Quick Flashing Yellow light installed. Later this fall, the full turbine towers will be installed, with AIS and Sound Signals added to some towers. Each tower is marked with a four digit name, in a grid pattern one mile apart, North to South, and East to West. For example, AN06 is one mile to the east of AN05.

Navigation in South Fork Wind is open, but mariners should exercise caution, as over a dozen construction vessels, several scientific buoys, and newly installed foundations are in the area. Boaters should update their charts, checking the US Coast Guard and Ørsted Mariners updates (, and speaking with project safety vessels on VHF 16/13. At key points in the construction sequence, the Coast Guard is enforcing safety zones.

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass and bluefish. “We have school bass being caught in the East and West Passages of Narragansett Bay. The Green Island, Warwick area has been good as well as Greenwich Bay with monster bluefish popping up on the surface,” said Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box, Warwick.

Phil Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown said, “The bass bite at the Southeast corner of Block Island has been good for customers.”

Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown, said, “There has been a good number of striped bass being caught from the Breachway and back in the salt pond. Live eels have been producing well and they are also be caught on soft plastics and spooks.” 

Fred DeFinis of Middletown, said, “A mix of school bass and bluefish were in the lower Sakonnet River this week. Feeding on very small silversides — barely over an inch long. Smallest bait I have ever seen. My guess is that the striped bass are just vacuuming them up so they are very fussy.”

Tautog. Fishing off Pt. Judith has been good with angers catching their limit close to shore. “Few reports on keeper size fish being caught off Newport or in Narragansett Bay,” said Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box.

Fluke, black sea bass and scup. O’Donnell said, “There are a few nice fluke around and those putting in their time have been finding fish up to around 8 pounds off of the local beaches. There seems to be a slight pickup in fluke bite out at block as well. Sometimes we can have a really good fluke bite at the end of the season. Black sea bass fishing continues to produce quick limits and there are plenty of nice sized scup around.”  “Fluke are being caught in from of Warwick Light right near the red can,” said Giddings.

Bonito, false albacore, tuna. “Customers caught both bonito and false albacore at the West Wall in the Harbor of Refuge. So the bite is on for both. The tuna bite slowed just a bit this week with bad weather preventing many from going fishing,” said Phil Cahill of Sung Harbor.

O’Donnell said, “There have been reports of a few green bonito caught locally but no one has reported catching false albacore yet. Bait is starting to school up in the salts ponds. Tuna fishing last week was good south of Block Island for both bluefin and yellowfin.” 

“Freshwater fishing is good with anglers using bait and drop shot from boats for largemouth bass.  Warwick Pond and Gorton Pond are producing with a nice six pound largemouth caught by a customer fishing Little Pond behind Warwick Vets,” said Giddings of the Tackle Box.

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

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