Saturday, October 29, 2011

Incredibly DEAD for this Time of Year

I went down fishing this morning hoping to catch some action on the high tide before the arrival of the big blow and heavy rains predicted for later in the day.  There was a northeast wind blasting at the eastern shoreline of Narragansett.  There was very good white water and it was rough, conditions that have produced much of the fall.  Unfortunately, I found no fish while casting in multiple spots.  The only sign of life was a bunch of gannets divebombing out in front of Point Judith along with lots of cormorants going down for bait (see photo).
Most fishermen from Narragansett to the far south beaches of RI are complaining about the lack of stripers.  It has been dead now for about 10 days since that last northeaster a week and a half ago.  With the exception of a few big fish showing up in the breachways in the late night hours, the fishing has been horrible, and this should be prime time based on past years.  I've blanked now three times in a row. With the decreased numbers of stripers around, the game has changed.  The resident population of stripers is just not there in any numbers, and it is a matter of waiting until the next school or two of migrating fish passes our way. Who knows when or even if that will happen? 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

How to Fish a Bucktail JIg in a Deep Channel

Many people have asked me exactly how to fish a large bucktail jig in a deep water channel.  Well, here goes...a video explaining it.  The critical key to using the jig in moving water is to get it and keep it on the bottom.  After casting, you want to finger the line off the spool until you feel a slight pause.  That's when the jig hits the bottom.  Next, start the retrieve.  You want a sharp pull of the rod tip and reel slightly, then pause.  Do this again.  As the jig straightens out in the current, it is rising.  At that point, reel in. Check out how this is done in my You Tube video.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Add Enticers to Your Bucktail Jigs

I fished the Upper Bay yesterday.  It was hot for schoolies as I landed 13 fish.  They were all caught on quarter oz. flathead, white, bucktail jigs spiced with plastic grub tails.
The bucktail jig is a real hot lure right now and it will continue to catch fish right up until late November.  When using bucktail jigs, it is imperative that you add some type of enticer to your jig's hook.  Here's the way I play it.  On small bucks of 1/2 oz and under, I use a 3 inch triple ripple grub tail sold by Bass Pro in a white color.  For mid sized bucktail jigs of 1/2 to 1 oz., I will use 4 inch triple ripple tails.  On real big bucks over 1 oz, I generally use Uncle Josh pork rind strips of 5 1/4 inches.  Adding these enticers really makes a difference in the effectiveness of your bucktail jig.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ben Pickering Lands 50 Inch Striper

The Pickering success in 2011 just keeps on rolling.  My son, Ben, who has been having fabulous luck this fall with numbers as well as big fish has come up with the fish of a lifetime as he landed a 50 inch striper (measured) from the surf late last night.  The huge bass engulfed a black Bomber swimmer.  According to Ben, the fish took out a lot of line and the fight went on for at least 20 minutes before he was able to get the beast ashore.  As he pulled it onto the shore, the line broke, but the fish by now was on dry ground and he was able to rush over and grab his prize.  After unhooking the fish and taking a pic, the trophy fish was revived and released. He said the girth of the tail was so large, he had to use two hands to swish it back and forth in the water to revive it!  Great job and true sportsmanship.
The only pic he got was from a cell phone....not great quality, but nevertheless, a remembrance of the event.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In a Major Downturn

We are in a big time lull at a time when things should be hopping.  Big winds have battered the oceanfront for the last week and that has driven out the bait as well as the bass and blues.  It has left the Gansett shore a dead zone as far as fishing is concerned.
I went down today and the oceanfront was very fishable.  Problem was that there was very little around.  I managed to scratch one schoolie in front of Point Judith on a swimmer, and that was it from afternoon until well after dark.  I saw no bait in close and no birds working way out.  Heck, I never even saw another fisherman until after dark when I found one lone caster vacating a spot. To make matters worse, my son Ben reported that he saw several seals along the Gansett shore this morning, not good news for any stripers in that area.
Some fishermen are wondering if this is it.  I say we are in for some more very good fishing especially in early November.  We just have to wait for a pile of bait to lure those migrating stripers close to shore .  My advice is to start looking along those south shore beaches and breachways.  They become the best bet area as November arrives.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Five Top Producers for the Next Month

We're heading into the home stretch.  There's about one good month of striper fishing left along the oceanfront and after that, it's a crap shoot.  Here's my line-up for the best artificials to use in the coming month to catch stripers here in RI.
1.  Some type of small jig.  I like a plastic Cocahoe minnow in white threaded onto a small (1/4 to 1/2 oz.) jighead when fish are on small bait.  I also like flathead bucktail jigs with curly tails when there is a mix of bass and blues.  You can use these jigs alone or off a wooden float. Great for schoolies in the daytime.
2.  Needlefish plug.  I've gotten away from poppers and use the needlefish much more these days, especially in rough water or with a wind in my face. Works well in daytime and at night.
3.  Skinny plastic.  It doesn't matter whether you use Hogys or Slug Gos.  Both work well.  I like a black color after dark and I like to use the new swimbait hooks. I don't weight my skinny plastic as weighting takes away from the movement. Best with a wind at your back.
4.  Plastic swimmers.  I like the Bombers in a six inch length.  Light colors or black back models work well. Good at night in skinny water.
5.  Big bucktail jigs with pork rind.  This is my go to lure in deep, moving water such as you'd find in some of the breachways.  The fish are on the bottom in day or night and a big buck of 1-2 oz. will get you there.
That's it.  No need to stock a ton of artificials. A few others to consider include metal (Kastmasters), poppers, Storm shads and large wooden surface swimmers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Disappointing Day in NE Wind

I would have predicted this would have been a great day of fishing in this northeast wind and stormy weather.  But, I would have been wrong!  The northeast wind has led to fantastic fishing all fall along Narragansett, but it was not to be today.  I slugged it out all afternoon and evening and came away with five schoolies, only fair results for the time I put in.  Problem today was that there was too much of a good thing.  The ocean was already churned up and sandy from a big west wind for the past several days.  The vicious northeast wind just churned up the soup.  Most of the afternoon the wind was very strong and the rain was coming down in horizontal sheets.  You could not even face into the rain and wind as the rain was like needles stinging your face. The waves were choppy six to eight footers along Point Judith and the water was a sandy colored white.  It was simply too much.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Crappier the Weather, the Better the Fishing

One pattern that has consistently emerged this fall is that real lousy weather has produced very good striper fishing.  I'm talking cloudiness or raining, a rough white water surf and lots of wind.  I love fishing in this type of weather and will always get down to the oceanfront  and try when the weather is lousy. I've hit numerous blitzes this fall in that type of weather.  Remember that striped bass are opportunistic feeders and there is no question that they are far move active and moving close to shore in lousy weather with rough conditions than in calm and tranquil conditions.  In addition, few fishermen will go out and fish in bad weather so I've had many blitzes to myself numerous times this fall with not another fisherman in sight. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Big Time Hit Today...60 Stripers in Two Hours!

I met up with my two sons today in Gansett for some fishing.  It was discouraging at first as I could not find another fisherman anywhere within the six mile stretch from Gansett Beach to Pt. Judith.  With the fishing cooling off in the last few days, there was no one even trying.  Yet, the water and conditions were just right....the water was rough and clean and it was overcast and raining. I knew there were fish somewhere. After some searching I found the Mother Lode.  With stripers ripping through schools of rain bait, my sons, Ben and Jon, and I started casting into the frenzy.  With our float and Cocahoe rigs we landed one fish after another.  These were all schoolies with a few blues mixed in.  The schoolies were decent sized with the fish running 20-27 inches.  In less than two hours of fishing, we landed 60 stripers and 2 bluefish.  Not bad for a day in which everyone thought there was nothing around. Take a look at the video we shot of the action.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Biggest Fish in Years

What started out as a slow day ended with a monster fish.  Tonight I landed a huge striper of 46 inches after dark on this rainy and stormy night.  This fish  was probably my biggest fish in over a decade.  I suspect it was in the 40+ pound range.
The day did not start off well.  I had all the right conditions in Gansett with a stiff northeast wind and rough water, but very few fish.  I was only able to catch one schoolie in the daylight and I tried in a lot of places.  My luck changed after dark as I found a spot that had some schoolies and I quickly landed 5 fish.  Then the big fish blew up on my jointed Red Fin swimmer. It proved to be quite a struggle to land this fish in rough water and the fish pulled out a lot of line from my Van Staal 150 reel.  Fortunately the new VMC trebles I put on the plug recently held, and I got the brute ashore.  A quick measurement with my tape and she was released to fight again.  I have no pictures of the fish since I left the camera in the car figuring I wasn't going to catch anything.  Boy, was I wrong!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hot Fishing Dies Out

I just knew it was too hot to last.  Last week's phenomenal fishing along Narragansett has faded into a memory.  It has gone from red hot to ice cold within a few days.  I went down yesterday and blanked.  I could not even find a fishermen who caught or saw a fish.  There were no birds diving, no breaking fish and no big schools of bait.  Heck, there weren't even many fishermen around, a bad sign.
My son, Ben, my scout down Gansett way, got out this evening and found nothing (very unusual for him).  Other fishermen I know fished earlier in the day and came up empty.  Clearly things are dead.
With the forecast calling for NE winds the next few days, who knows what will happen.  It's a matter of waiting until the next pile of bait comes along and almost for sure the stripers and blues will be in hot pursuit.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Some of the biggest blitzes in the history of RI striper fishing have been taking place at Narragansett this week. There seems to be no end to this terrific run.  What is fueling these blitzes are vast schools of bay anchovies that are being driven ashore by hungry stripers, blues and false albacore.
Yet, while there appears to be a million bass in front of you at times, they are tough to catch.  That's because the conditions are calm, the water is clear and the bait is small and plentiful. 
I got a call from my son, Ben, today.  He excitedly told me he landed over 30 stripers (6 keepers) and 10 bluefish in a couple of hours of fishing.  However, none of the twenty or so fishermen around him seemed to be able to catch even one fish.  How did he do it?  He was using a very small freshwater plastic swimmer, casting close to shore and was reeling it in very slowly to keep it near the surface as the fish were on a rampage in only a couple of feet of water.  That small swimmer measured only a few inches and closely resembled the bay anchovies (see photo at right) that the fish were feeding on.  Those other guys who were blanking were probably using large pencil poppers, big wooden swimmers or large metal.  Come on guys, you know the deal is to try to match the hatch.

Bay anchovies are small, anywhere from a half inch to a couple of inches.  When they are around, some good imitators are small swimmers, three inch poppers, three inch Cocahoes (see photo at left), small bucktail jigs and even small Zoom flukes running off a float.  While the guys tossing the big wood and big plastic may get an occasional big fish, their hook up rate is often dismal or non existent when bay anchovies are present.  So, my word of advice right now is Go Small if you are looking to catch some fish.

Friday, October 7, 2011


The last two days have seen some of the biggest striper blitzes in recent years along the Narragansett shoreline.  Today and yesterday there was a mix of stripers, bluefish and false albacore hugging the entire shoreline from Pt. Judith all the way to the Walls around the Harbor of Refuge, a more than five mile stretch.  Vast schools of bay anchovies were along this shoreline and attracting big numbers of predators.  It is some of the best striper fishing I have seen along here in years.  It is also attracting big numbers of fishermen that form a picket fence of casters in some shore spots. Boaters are also chasing these fish just off shore.

I got out in my brother's boat today and fished this shoreline with my brother Steve and my son Ben.  I saw one school of stripers that was roughly the size of a football field, thousands of fish tearing through bay anchoies in a wild surface frenzy.  In another spot, I saw a smaller school of fish, say the size of a basketball court.  We could see thousands of fish right on the surface and under the boat, all around us.  There was not one fish that wasn't a keeper!  They were all big.  In other places, very fussy false albacore were tearing through the bait.  And, still other spots had big blues.  In all, we must have landed over 20 stripers, at least a half dozen big blues and a false albacore in just a few hours of fishing. The hot lure was a fan tailed plastic Cocahoe mounted on a small jighead.
While we were hammering the fish from the boat, my son, Jon, was banging several keeper bass from shore.  It was one heck of a wild day!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Big Bucks Banging Big Fish

I'm on another roll. In the last few days I've been getting big numbers of bass and blues by day and some big fish after dark.  The daytime action mainly involves stripers and blues from 20-28 inches long that seem to be popping up all over the place where bait comes ashore.  However, after dark is a different story with no fish showing.  I have been targeting breachway waters after dark with a large bucktail jig spiced with a pork rind strip.  I used this last night to nail my biggest blue of the year, a fish that went 13-14 lbs.  It was one of the best fights I have had this year in moving water as I was convinced I had a striper of 25-30 lbs.  Tonight I also scratched a big jig along a channel bottom.  That yielded a good looking 35 inch striper.  When fishing these breachway waters at night, I am using a 1 1/2 oz. homemade hotlips jig that is all white with red thread.  I am adding an Uncle Josh 5 1/4 inch pork rind striper strip.  The jig is cast and allowed to hit bottom.  A slow, bouncy retrieve does the trick.  Once the jig starts to straighten out, reel in.  This lure has accounted for some real large stripers and bluefish in recent years.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Do You Have a Back Up Plan?

These days the marine forcasts are notoriously wrong.  I went down to the ocean yesterday where the forecast called for 3-5 foot waves.  The water at Point Judith was coming right over the East Wall, hardly three footers.  I would have put the waves heights at 5-8 feet, possibly higher in some locations.  It called for an immediate change in plans.
Do you have a back up plan if things aren't right.  And, there's a lot that can go wrong on a trip to the shore....too rough, too sandy, weedy, closed off access, etc.  Before I head down, I always have at least three or more locations in my mind that could produce.  I also try to find areas that are different in their physical make-up but close to one another to avoid burning through gas.  In the above situation, if Pt. Judith is too rough to fish, how about heading into the protected waters of Pt. Judith Pond (second option).  If that doesn't produce, what about a breachway like the Galilee Channel or Narrow River (third option).  Finally, if nothing is working, how about hitting the mouth of the Bay (fourth option).  Being flexible and having several options can make or break a day of fishing.  In yesterday's case, I landed 8 bass to keeper size on a day that looked like I was going to blank.  Having options saved the day.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Score for Day....Bay-5, Ocean-2

I fished in the daytime today at the ocean and the Bay. I had planned to stay down the ocean all day, but some very rough conditions made fishing near impossible.  I suspect that hurricane driven waves were coming ashore, and it shut down the fishing in most places producing sandy and roiled water.  I did, however, manage to find two decent fish in some white water.  They hit a float and Cocahoe rig (see photo).  Sensing I had few options along the rough and tough oceanfront, I decided to hit the Bay on the way home.
Fishing the upper Bay, an area that consistently produced in the past, produced 5 stripers in a variety of spots.  It was one fish here, one fish there with all of them taking quarter oz. bucktail jigs spiced with Pro Bass triple ripple curly tails.  The fish were all about 20 inches except for one keeper that measured 32-33 inches, a terrific fish from shore in this area.
So, for today, the Bay wins.  I'm not all that surprised because I have done well in the past by opting to fish the Bay when the oceanfront becomes unfishable.