Rhode Island Monthly: Each morning, dedicated groups of quahoggers leave from docks scattered throughout Narragansett Bay to dig up the natural and native bounty waiting to be harvested. Twenty-plus years ago, more than 2,000 commercial fishermen were quahoggers; this year there are 534 active licensed commercial quahoggers, and even fewer call it their full-time profession. Robert Russo, a 26-year-old Bristol native, shares what it’s like to live the life of a Rhode Island quahogger.
Waking up by 5:00 a.m., Russo first checks the weather and tide charts on his phone to make the final decision on where he will be fishing for the day. As a self-employed commercial fisherman, he doesn’t have a boss to report to but depends on one very unreliable factor: the weather. Out the door between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m., Russo makes the 15-minute drive from Warwick to East Greenwich where his boat is docked. A quick stop at Cumbies for necessities— gas, coffee and a breakfast sandwich—is a must.