Poachers Aplenty In Rhode Island

The fall run brings plenty of striped bass—and striped bass poachers—to the waters around Rhode Island.
Rhode Island Striped Bass Poaching
Striped bass poachers have kept officers in the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management busy. Courtesy Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management

The fall run of striped bass brings legions of anglers to the New England coast. Most of them play by the rules—one fish between 28 and 35 inches per person, per day—but Rhode Island environmental police were busy busting poachers in late September.

Striped Bass Poaching Incidents

A tipster alerted the Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Law Enforcement on September 26 to people keeping undersize and over-the-limit stripers from the Seekonk River in East Providence, the division reported on its Facebook page. The responding officer found four people in a pickup and eight bass, three of them short, in the truck’s bed. The driver received a criminal summons for possession of undersized and over-limit fish.

When a second officer arrived, the two spotted another group cleaning a haul of 10 stripers, eight of them short of the 28-inch minimum. Two individuals received criminal summonses for violating the size and bag limits, and one was cited for fishing without a license.

The following day, the DLE encountered yet another poaching incident: two Massachusetts residents, one actively fishing, in possession of 11 undersized striped bass. The person who was fishing admitted responsibility for all of the fish and was issued a criminal summons.

If the poachers had been looking forward to striper fillets, those hopes were dashed. Police deemed the seized fish unsuitable for human consumption due to improper storage. The fish did not, however, go to waste: they were donated to the Wildlife Clinic of Rhode Island, to feed a bald eagle in the clinic’s care.

Public Helps Stop Poaching

The DLE thanked the anonymous caller who led police to the first two incidents. “Calling our dispatch unit while suspected violations are occurring allows officers the most immediate response possible to stop active poaching,” the agency said in its post. (The Rhode Island environmental police can be reached 24 hours a day at 401-222-3070.)

Most East Coast states adopted the 28-35-inch slot at the beginning of 2021, in an effort to protect spawning-age stripers. They also implemented a new requirement that non-offset circle hooks be used when fishing bait. Local regulations may vary, so check with your state’s fish and game authority to stay on the right side of the law.