Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Keepers Arrive

You know things are getting serious when migrating keeper bass are being caught in April. It usually doesn't happen. However, I saw it with my own eyes tonight as I saw at least half a dozen fish taken off the West Wall that were just about keeper size, give or take an inch or two.

The recent heat wave of the last few days has sent water temperatures upwards by about five degrees and that has gotten things moving. There are lots of schoolies right now along the West Wall at East Matunuck and keeper fish up to 30 inches are mixed in with them. Cocachoes and teasers still rule the fishing, but surprisingly I saw a good fish taken on a topwater plug tonight, something that is not supposed to happen in April. I also saw loads of fish breaking the surface last evening after small bait, and that is not supposed to happen in April either.

We are off to a strange start, and those who were complaining last week suddenly have smiles on their faces!

Saturday, April 25, 2009


The schoolies have finally arrived. Yesterday the southwest wind was blowing, the surf was good and temperatures were on the rise. It was a perfect recipe for the West Wall at East Matunuck to produce, and it did.

I landed 5 schoolies and 2 hickory shad. I saw a picket fence of about 20 fishermen land roughly 75-80 fish. Most of the fish were 14-22 inches with a at least one near keeper lifted onto the wall. Most of the fish were caught on Cocahoe minnows mounted on jigheads, but teasers were also hot. My shrimp teasers were doing well (see photo at right).
The fish are finally here. Let's hope it continues!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Season off to Dismal Start

It's April 23 and schoolie fishing should be hot right now. It's not. I've caught a grand total of 3 fish in April. Normally, I'd be logging in my 100th fish for April at this point. I caught one fish today (see photo at right) in the upper Bay on a Zoom fluke. I know of lots of guys trying at the West Wall where a scant few fish have been taken. I've been out in the upper Bay in my kayak and from shore 5 times in the last week with one fish to show for it. We can complain about and blame the cold and rainy weather, but I've seen good years with weather worst than this. So, what's the problem?

Early spring fishing is dominated by schoolies. These are fish that are under five years old that migrate northward from the Chesapeake Bay. If you check out the young of the year (YOY) index (number of juvenile fish netted) for the last five years, you will find that it is below average. That means fewer schoolies. Last year was an off year for schoolie fishing here in RI. I think that trend will continue this year. On the other hand, the YOY index back ten and twelve years ago was very high and that explains why we have had good numbers of keeper stripers around. I suspect that as May moves on we will see good numbers of keepers once again in the Bay.

Temperatures are supposed to rise into the 80's this weekend. If that does't bring in a big bunch of schoolies it will be a mighty lean early spring.