Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Photos of the Day...."Back in the Groove"

Pencil poppers were the hot number today. It hooked
this 20 lber.

Here's a high noon keeper.  Doesn't get any better than this
in August.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Where are the Bluefish?

While they are not around right now, I am guessing they
are coming soon.
At this point there are few, if any blues, along the RI mainland shore or in Gansett Bay.  I have landed exactly one four pounder in the months of July and August, and I am out just about every day.  Heck, I still have not seen a snapper blue in the Bay, and usually it is loaded with them at this time.
The interesting thing about the lack of bluefish is that there is a lot of bait along the shore to lure them in.  There are loads of adult menhaden in Narragansett Bay and there are increasing numbers of schools of peanut bunker moving along the oceanfront and into the Bay.  I've also seen loads of small bay anchovies around. All of that bait has attracted large numbers of small schoolies to both the Bay and the oceanfront, but the bluefish continue to be a no show.
I'm confident this will all change.  I know there are good reports of blues coming from Block Island, so I'm assuming they are still out in deep, offshore waters.  In recent years the fall has been the time to catch blues here in RI.  In the last couple of years, the blues have arrived on the tails of migrating menhaden as they exit the Bay.  I'm guessing that will happen again this year. So, while there are few around right now, expect to see increasing numbers of them in late August into September.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Albies, Bonito and Fake News

Don't get excited.  This was an albie from last fall.
Though fishermen are already looking, don't expect
the big numbers of albies to appear until September.
Already the hype has started.  In the last few days I have actually seen fishermen "looking" for albies and bonito along the oceanfront. There have also been reports of sightings, reports of fish breaking and even some fishermen saying they have caught some. I say it's as fake as the nightly news from the mainstream media!
Here is the real story on bonito and albies and what to expect in the coming weeks.
Bonito: Yes, they can be caught in August but they are few and far between.  You probably have a better shot at winning the lottery than you have of catching a bonito from shore in early August.  That being said, your chances increase as the month nears its end. In all my years of fishing, I have landed exactly one in August from shore and several from the boat.  Expect to see the first ones around the last week in August or the first week in September.  Even when they do come around, your chances of catching one are slim. They are not around in big numbers.
Albies: In the last fifty years I have caught more of these from shore than anyone, yet I have only landed one in late August.  These are a September fish.  If I were to pick a date in which they make their appearance along RI's oceanfront, it would be in the time period from Sept.10 to Sept. 15. I only know of only one year in the last five decades in which some were landed in late August.
Albies are a strange breed and everyone thinks these fish are a sure bet to hit the shore.  But, if I looked back at my logs over the last 50 years, I can tell you that about a third of the years there were NONE, about a third of those years we had a few for a short period of time, and about a third of those years were good with lots of fish for weeks. Bad weather such as a tropical storm or a hurricane will drive them out in quick time.
We have been spoiled in recent years since four out of the last five years have been very good.  One of those years had none.
So, when you begin to hear reports about these fish showing, consider the sources. Social media is very unreliable, and it is loaded with attention seekers and self proclaimed experts who know very little about fishing.  I will believe these fish are in when I see one or catch one! I expect that will happen in September.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Small Ones Dominate RI Summer Surf

I was out this evening with my son Jon.  We landed over
50 fish on jigs and flukes.  Most went 10-16 inches with one
lone "biggie" going 24 inches. Small ones have been numerous;
keepers have been rare from shore in RI.
Tonight I landed a bunch of schoolies.  The biggest fish went 24 inches, and that is the biggest fish that I have taken in the last month. I've caught hundreds of them in the last four weeks, and 24 inches has been the biggest from from the Ocean State. Welcome to RI shore fishing.
Small schoolies, mostly in the 10-18 inch range, continue to dominate the fishing.  Keepers are rare.  Everyone seems to be complaining about the lack of bigger fish from shore this summer.  In addition, I have spoken to divers, netters and eel fishermen and everyone has the same thing to say.  Keepers have been rare this summer along the RI shore.  They are getting good size fish from the boats at Block Island.  And, there have been some massive blitzes of big fish this summer just to the north at the Cape Cod Canal.  So, good size fish do exist in New England, but they don't seem to be along our shores in any numbers.
Maybe things will improve in the fall,  but I am not expecting it.  Our falls in recent years have been dominated by schoolies, big bluefish and albies and I suspect that same trend will continue starting in mid September.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Bait Changes the Game

The last couple of days have seen loads of
small stripers chasing bait in the Bay.
Up until the last couple of evenings, it had been weeks since I caught a fish in the Bay. Yes, the water was warm but the main culprit was the fact that there was little or no bait around.  That all changed on the weekend as a large influx of small bait (bay anchovies as well as small peanut bunker) moved into the areas I was fishing.  It suddenly lit up the fishing for schoolies and an occasional bluefish. I saw schools of fish breaking in a frenzy as well as individual fish here and there tearing through the bait schools.
The hot lure has been a fluke
body on a quarter ounce
Summer fish are especially fussy when keying on small bait, and these fish were picky.  I had to go down to a quarter ounce jighead with a fluke body to entice the fish to hit. They would not look at a surface lure.
Most of the stripers I have found are small, running 10-20 inches long. Heck, this is what we are seeing along the oceanfront also, and this is what we have been seeing all year from shore. But, grab a light freshwater rod, and it can be exciting.
There has been a lack of bluefish so far, even when there is a lot of bait around. In most years, the big numbers of bluefish seem to arrive in late August and early Sept. The giant alligator blues that were around last year came later in the fall as they were chasing large menhaden that were dropping out of the Bay.  We'll see if that all happens again this year.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Back to Reality

It was ideal conditions yesterday evening along the RI
shoreline, but all I could find was a couple of  schoolies
that I caught on a float and jig.
It was back to reality in the last few days for me. With Canal fishing slowing to a crawl as the week progressed, I decided it was time to get back to the RI surf.  I hadn't fished there in about a week.  What I found was similar to what was there a week ago.  It was a few small, resident stripers.
Yesterday I had ideal conditions. I fished into the northeast wind. The water was rough, but clean as a whistle, perfect by all accounts, and I should have had the fish feeding out of my hand.  But, there was little around.  I saw no bait, a big problem this summer along the oceanfront and in the Bay. I managed to catch two schoolies, each about 16 inches right at dark.  I also had one other hit.
I saw no one else fishing, a telling observation of just how poor things are here in RI from shore.  Heck, even on bad days I see hundreds of fishermen casting away at the Canal.
I'm guessing we are still several weeks to a month away from improved fishing. Hopefully, we will soon get some bay anchovies and peanut bunker moving and that should light up the fishing for stripers, blues and albies.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Mackerel Imitators Scoring Big

The Daiwa SP Minnow in a blue
or green mackerel color is a hot plug
when mackerel come around.
If you fish anywhere from the Cape northward you know the importance of mackerel.  It is THE bait that lures some of the largest stripers found along such places as the Cape Cod Canal, Boston Harbor and the north shore of Boston.  These are all striper hotspots and when the mackerel are around, all hell breaks loose.
I was down the Canal three days this week and two of those days were lights out as far as fishing was concerned.  In both instances I saw large keeper stripers in a frenzy chasing big schools of mackerel that measured six to ten inches long. On the other day, I saw no mackerel, and there were no fish around to speak of.
Jon Pickering holds a good size striper that was caught
this week on a blue mackerel colored Daiwa SP Minnow.
When mackerel are around, plugs that imitate them will score most of the fish.You see a lot of guys at the Canal casting large mackerel colored pencil poppers.  That seems to score when the fish are way out busting on the surface.  My sons and I used Daiwa SP Minnows this week in a blue or green mackerel color to score most of our fish. Of course, when you have huge fish breaking within twenty yards of shore the SP Minnow will get you right into them. I also saw a lot of guys scoring on Sebille Magic Swimmers in a mackerel or white color.  When little is showing the Canal sharpies will often turn to jigging along the bottom with Savage Sandeel jigs in some sort of mackerel color.
And, finally, there's the real thing.  I've seen a lot of guys snagging mackerel, jigging them up or just picking them up frenzied macks driven up on the shore by stripers.  Some of these sharpies will hook them up and fish the real thing.  I've seen some big fish taken this way also.
So, if you head up to waters north of RI, make sure to stock some mackerel imitators. Those will be the prime plugs to score some big stripers if this most sought after bait comes ashore.