Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Winter Striper Fishing

It's a misconception to think that all striped bass migrate south for the winter. There are many places where some winter over here in RI. These places include the ponds of the south shore, the upper reaches of the Narrow River, the upper parts of the Seekonk River and the Providence River. The Mother Lode of wintering over fish reside in the Providence River.

This is urban fishing with the landscape dominated by walls, walkways, bridges, piers and city sidewalks. The fish are attracted to this area because of the warm water discharge that comes from the Manchester St. Power Plant located near the Hurricane Barrier at the south end of the river.

Unlike the warm months, winter striper fishing is simple fishing. Light spinning tackle and jigs scratched along the bottom rule winter fishing. Most fishermen use lightweight jigheads threaded with fish-like bodies, or flukes, in a light color. Keep the retrieve slow and along the bottom at all times.

Winter fishing also tends to be inconsistent with no established patterns. However, through the years it seems that nighttime and cloudy/stormy days produce the best. When the fish are around, they are often schooled up tightly, and their numbers can be staggering. For instance, last December I landed over 400 stripers from the Providence River with dozens of keepers up to 40 inches. Keepers are around but the fishery is dominated by schoolies.

For more extensive information on this fishery, watch the NE Fisherman magazine in mid January for my story on "Gearing up for Winter Stripers".