Thursday, October 20, 2016

East Wind Lights It Up

This big blue hit a Daiwa
SP Minnow at dark.
The schoolies were
on small stuff like
this jig fished off
a float.
I'm not a fan of the east wind.  Most fishermen will tell you that this is the very worst wind to fish in.  Knowing that, I did go down today and faced a strong east wind right in my face.  But, here's the tricky thing about an east wind.  It can be real good at the start (say the first few hours), but once it is blowing for a while, it can foul the water and ruin the fishing.  Well, today's start was good, real good.
It's been an up and down week for me.  One day lots of fish, the next day a blank.  The last two days were not good for me.  Yet, today I found tons of schoolies with fish breaking and birds diving in the white water where I was fishing.  This went on all afternoon and my son Jon and I had a ton of fish all to ourselves. The glut of schoolies were feeding on small bay anchovies that were one to two inches long.  I was using a small bucktail jig off a float, and Jon was using a small Cocahoe off the float.  Both were very effective.
Later, I hit another spot after dark and came away with the biggest blue of the fall for me, a brute of 11-12 lbs. that hit a Daiwa SP Minnow.  I also had a good size schoolie after dark.
I must say that there have been lots of schoolies around this fall, but keepers have been in short supply.  I've put in a lot of time after dark in October and have landed only a couple of small keepers. Hopefully that will change in the coming weeks.

Today's stripers were feeding on big schools of small bait. Here are two
bay achovies that a striper coughed up. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Lots of Fish on Small Bait

A small bucktail jig landed good numbers
of schoolies that were feeding on bay
A good way to fish a small
jig is off a float.
I've seen a lot of fish in the last few days along the oceanfront.  If you can find the bait, you will most likely find a lot of fish. A couple of days ago my son Jon and I were into massive numbers of schoolies that were feeding on big schools of bay anchovies. When this happens, some fishermen get frustrated because the stripers can get very finicky when feeding on small bait. Seeing the fish and getting them to hit your offering is sometimes not an easy thing. While we landed about 60 fish, I saw many fishermen go fishless.
So, what were we doing that they weren't?  We were using small stuff that closely resembled the 1-3 inch baitfish that the stripers were feeding on.  I was using a small, homemade, flathead, 3/8 oz. bucktail jig with a three inch curly tail attached to it. This is too light to cast with a surf rod so I fished it off an egg float.  At first Jon was using a small Cocahoe off a float.  He did get a few fish on that but the ole reliable Cocahoe was not getting it done this day.  So, he snapped on a small, 4 inch Rapala X-Rap swimmer in a white color.  This is one of his favorites when the fish are on small bait, and it worked wonders on this day.
Most of the frustrated fishermen who were not catching were using big, 5-6 inch poppers, large swimmers, big metal or large jigs.  Those bigger lures are great when the big bait (menhaden, herring and mullet) are around, but are generally ineffective when the stripers are feeding on small bait.
The water is just boiling with schoolies feeding on small bait. There have been
big numbers of fish around this week where there is bait.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Ups and Downs of October Fishing

The beginning of the week
featured schoolies, keepers
and blues and after that things went
downhill.  October fishing
has been inconsistent.
Man, I am on a bad streak.  I've gotten exactly 2 schoolies in the last three days.  And, I have put in some serious time in multiple spots fishing in the daytime as well as at night.  Welcome to fall fishing.
This all comes on the heels of a week that started off super in the beginning of the week.  The week began with good numbers of schoolies and small keepers for me.  Then, my son Jon got into some of the biggest blues we have seen in years in midweek.  And, then it all went downhill.
This is a time of year in which the predators and the bait are on the move.  What is around one day is often gone the next.  The fish are also following the bait. Find the bait and you often will find the stripers and blues.  Such was the case this week with loads of bait in the beginning of the week and nothing at the end of the week. I could not find a stitch of bait on Thursday and Friday in multiple spots along the oceanfront.
In recent years, this all or nothing scenario seems to be a trend in our fall fishing. So, if you don't do anything today, my advice is to get out again tomorrow, because fall fishing can all change dramatically from one day to the next.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

On the Cocahoe

Lots of stripers in the last two
day on this Cocahoe/float set up.
It is a real good choice in rough
The Queen Cocahoe mounted on
a half ounce jighead and attached
to a float has been a big producer.
I've caught big numbers of stripers in the last two days, and they have all come on plastic Cocahoe minnows mounted on half ounce jigheads.  The Cocahoe is a fan tailed plastic body that is a hot lure in the spring, but it is also hot in the fall, especially when the stripers are feeding on bay anchovies.  And, that has been what they have been eating in the spots that I am fishing.
The Cocahoe can be used alone or can be fished off a float.  I used the float today because of some very rough water and a strong wind.  I was able to punch out the heaview float and Cocahoe just far enough to get into fish.  If you are using this set up, simply cast it and reel in.  The white water and the turbulence with give the lure plenty of action.  In calmer water, you might want to pop the float to give the jig added action. All of the fish I have landed in the last two days ranged from schoolies to small keepers.
I sense that the stripers and bait are starting to move.  Suddenly, there are a lot of stripers around and they are spread out all over the state's oceanfront from the rocky shores at the mouth of the Bay to the sandy shores farther southward.
On a negative note, I have seen no albies in the last three days from shore and know of no one that has caught any from shore.  There are rumors that the boat guys are getting a few, but I haven't seen it. I'm guessing that there could still be a few around if you are lucky enough to find them.
So, we are clearly in a fall pattern of fishing.  Yes, it is good right now, but you will have to work around some rough surf and strong winds if you want to catch some fish.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Could the Albie Season be OVER?

Could it be over?
The reports are playing up the great albie fishing along the oceanfront.  But, that was three days, five days or a week ago. That was in the past. NOTHING is going on right now with albies.  That's because the oceanfront is being battered by strong northeast winds, big surf and roiled water.  Trying to find any clean water to fish in is a challenge.
The albies like the calmer water while rough, prolonged stormy conditions tend to move them as well as the bait out. And, I believe that is what is happening right now.  In addition, this cool northeast wind is dropping the water temperature, another negative when it comes to albies.
Judging by past years, their numbers start to decrease as October rolls along even in the best of conditions.  With stormy weather and rough seas predicted right into next week and even the possibility of a tropical storm skirting the coast late next week, things are not looking good.
If I was a betting man, I would guess the big numbers are over.  You might see small pods of them here and there once this weather clears but don't bet on it.
Hey, it was fun while it lasted.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Schoolies in the Rough

The float and jig lured big numbers
of schoolies today in some white
and rough water.
Today was a rough day along the oceanfront, far rougher and windier than the predictions.  I would guess that at times the wind was gusting over 40 knots out of the northeast.  And, that really kicked up the ocean and generated a lot of white water along east facing shorelines.
I like fishing rough water and have had some memorable days in those conditions in the past.  Once again, the roughness delivered as I found big numbers of schoolies right at the water's edge in the white water.  With the wind in my face, I was barely able to heave the float and jig 25 feet, but the fish were a flip cast away.  That often happens in places where the water drops off. That same float that was delivering my fly to albies in the past week was delivering the small bucktail jig to the schoolies today. The fish were around in good numbers yet I saw no bait or fish breaking.
The weather was so bad today that I never met another fishermen all day while traveling from spot to spot. I know many fishermen find these conditions difficult and somewhat dangerous and maybe that was why I found no other fishermen.  It could also be that nothing was showing and many fishermen don't try when they don't see anything, a big mistake in surf fishing.
One key to fishing this rough water brought on by a northeast wind is to find rough but clean water. I looked in many places today but only found clean and rough water in two locations, and both those spots had fish.

Friday, September 23, 2016

They're Back!

After disappearing for nearly a week, the albies are
back in big numbers.  This huge one was the biggest
of many that I have landed in the last two days. The
float and fly is the ticket to catching.