Long Live Rhode Island Scup
November 14, 2022
I read with great interest ecoRI News’ story on the rise of scup in the Ocean State. It’s good to see this humble, often overlooked fish find a place in Rhode Island’s culinary and economic universe.
Those just discovering scup are learning what many of us have known for some time — it’s fantastic and, if prepared properly, a true joy to eat.
For years, I worked on a charter boat out of Castle Hill in Newport. Most of our customers wanted to catch a big bass or tangle with giant bluefish, but when conditions were tough, or nothing else was biting, you could always count on catching scup.
Though they kept us from getting skunked many a trip, few of our customers ever wanted to bring them home, despite me telling them how good they are. So I’d often go home with 10 or 20 big ones, prepare them and bring them to friends’ houses for a feast that night.
The story reminds me of a trip my wife and I took to Italy six or seven years ago. We were staying in Milan, but I really wanted to swim in the Mediterranean, so we drove to Genoa one day and wandered down to a quiet little beach that had a small open air cafe adjoining it. I took a swim, toweled off, and we got a table.
I had my heart set on a whole grilled fish, and as luck would have it they offered a daily special of one grilled XXX (I can’t remember the Italian name for it, but it sounded extravagant). When the waiter brought out my order, there sat a scup, cooked exactly the way I prepare them at home — scaled, gutted, scored, and covered in olive oil and spices, and grilled to perfection. I had to laugh — scup sure do get around.
Long live the Rhode Island scup!
Ted Hayes is a Bristol, R.I., resident.
Scup is known as sea bream in Europe. The Italian name is “orata.”
Scup are great! If you’re fishing around rock piles for striped bass on the end or beginning of the tide, it is a perfect opportunity to grab some scup once the tide goes slack. The feed voraciously in that hour of slack tide. Fun to catch on ultralight tackle.