Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Wild (and Frustrating) Night

I went out last night in one of my favorite spots in the Bay where the water really moves on the outgoing tide. When I arrived at about 7 PM the high tide was barely trickling seaward. Suddenly, at about 7:30 the tide really started moving and that's when all hell broke loose. In the current were loads of grass shrimp skipping and hopping on the surface in the outgoing water. Stripers and blues went on a frenzy targeting every shrimp they could find. Some fish were just rod's length away in a few feet of water. Most of the time I had at least 4 to 5 jumps to cast to. This went on for over an hour. Unfortunately, the fish were not in a hitting mood since nothing I could snap on could come close to matching the hatch that the fish wanted. I tried all the usual small stuff.....small jigs (plastic and bucktail), shrimp fly teasers, Deceiver teasers, plastic on top, very small poppers, small swimmers, etc. Nothing really worked well. I did manage to catch 6 schoolies and 2 bluefish which mostly hit at and after dark after a lot of the activity had subsided. While the fish were busting all over the place, I could only lure the 2 blues to a small Zoom fluke fished on top. It all just goes to show how difficult it can be to fool finicky stripers and bluefish when they are targeting small bait.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"C" Fishing

Being a former teacher I often looked at a grade of "C" as simply fair. Not that great, not that bad. From a striper fishing point of view we are into "C" fishing right now.
I have been out just about every night in the last week. There is little noteworthy fishing going on from the shore, but I am getting fish on every outing. "C" fishing. I'm catching 1-5 stripers an evening with a blue or two in the mix. Most have been hefty schoolies. I got them all on soft plastics. I have stuck close by to the Bay because the reports I am hearing from the oceanfront shore are not worth the price of gas to get down there.
Now, if you have a boat, the fishing is a different story if you believe the reports that are coming in. Block Island appears to be red hot for keeper bass, but then again, it always is that way in June. The south shore reefs seem to be hot also. And, if the striper fishing sours, this is a great time to fish for fluke from the boat along the south shore.
But, for the shore guy who fishes the Bay and the oceanfront the striper fishing just rates a "C".

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bad Economy, HIgh Gas Prices, Lack of Fish

Whatever is going on, there is a noticeable lack of fishermen around. Blame it on any of the three reasons in my title. I fished a popular spot in the Bay last night. It usually sees about 15-20 fishermen a night plugging as well as fishing bottom. Last evening there were exactly three of us fishing and that was it. Besides, I never saw a boat enter or leave the Bay in the three hours I was there. Not one boater on a decent fishing night. For sure, high gas prices are taking a heavy toll on the boating industry. Couple that with marginal fishing in the Bay this year and people are just not getting out in their boats. Some simply can't afford it; others say the fishing isn't worth it. I'm also seeing the same lack of fishermen along the oceanfront where most have to drive considerably farther in order to fish. For example, at $20 worth of gas for a round trip, fishermen will think twice about heading down several times a week for marginal fishing. As many of you know, I run the Carp Anglers Group here in RI. We are doing a brisk business with more new members this year than ever. What many of these new members are telling me is that they are former striper fishermen who are looking to fish closer to home. And, many of them are turning to fresh water. It may not be stripers, but it's still fishing. With an abundance of underutilized 10-20 lb. carp in RI, it can be very hot fishing for big fish.I find this all to be a disturbing trend, but I also suspect that it will get worse before it gets better.

Monday, June 20, 2011

They Still Hit Hard Plugs

Yes, stripers still hit hard plugs. With all the talk and use of soft plastics, many of us (myself included) often forget that 10 years ago we were catching stripers big time on hard plugs.

A few nights ago I was out fishing the Bay. I started off with a 6 inch Hogy, a plastic stickbait that had been red hot in recent weeks. After half an hour of plugging....nothing. I did notice large silversides hopping along the surface, movement that a popper would certainly imitate. So, I snapped on a small, homemade, three inch popper, a lure that used to be deadly in the Bay before the age of plastics. The second cast produced a nice schoolie of about 24 inches. A few minutes later I got another fish about the same size. A friend of mine was next to me using a Slug-Go. I told him to try a popper. His reply, "I don't have a popper in my bag."

The lesson here is that traditional hard plugs still have their place and do work well at times, sometimes even outfishing skinny plastic. Make sure your surf bag has more than soft plastic lures in it. Yes, hard plugs still work.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cool Weather, Big Tides Perk Up Striper Fishing

I'm back in business in the upper Bay. Got out the last three nights and landed 24 stripers. Though most of them were schoolies, I did manage a couple of small keepers. I think the cooler than normal weather and water along with the large moon tides have been responsible for perking up the action. The fish are spread out as I fished three different locations, one evening fishing from my kayak (see photo) and two outings from shore. Overall, the hot lure was an albino colored Zoom fluke, either fished on a small jighead or fished on top with no weight using a swimbait hook. Interestingly, I've not run into any blues in the last three evenings. In the last couple of weeks their numbers had been increasing, but they were no where to be found in the last three outings. So, in this up and down roller coaster of a spring, things are suddenly looking up.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

More Blues, Less Stripers

We're in a shift right now in the upper Bay. It happens every year about this time as the hot weather warms the water. The striper population moves southward to deeper and cooler water at the middle and mouth of the Bay while the bluefish population increases.

I was out a couple of nights ago, and it was the first time in a month that I didn't catch a striper. I ended up with two blues about five pounds apiece. The bluefish are particularly fond of skinny plastic (like the fish in the photo that hit my six inch Hogy), and will usually not hit a hard plug. There are many people who think a blue will hit anything........not true. So, if you want to catch bluefish, they are around in increasing numbers in the upper Bay waters. However, I will warn you that you'll be going through a lot of expensive plastics if you intend to catch any numbers of these fish.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Teasers to Imitate Sandeels

Last night was the first night in over a month that I did not catch a striper on plastic. When I got to the spot I was fishing, I noticed lots of small sandeels in the water. June and July are big sandeel months. So, I immediately snapped on a teaser rig that had a Deceiver fly attached along with a jointed Red Fin swimmer at the plug end. I didn't kill the fish but I did manage to get two stripers on the teaser and one on the plug.

To set up a teaser rig, make a leader out of heavy mono (suggest 30 lb.. test) that's about 2- 2 1/2 feet long with a snap at one end and a swivel at the other. The teaser (suggest a Deceiver fly- see photo) is knotted onto about 8-10 inches of mono and tied off to the bottom eye of the swivel on your leader. You can take this even further and tie double teaser rigs. Use light colored Deceivers in the daytime and black at night for the most effective rigs.