Wednesday, December 31, 2014

First Time Ever....A Blank for December

For the first time in decades, I have blanked in the month of December.  In past years, I had caught holdover stripers in the upper Bay along with migrating fish along the oceanfront in December.  Even back in the days when there weren't supposed to be many fish around I was catching in December.  But, not this year.
I have gotten out about a dozen times in December focusing my attention on the Upper Bay where I was hoping the fishing would improve. But, I was not able to land a single fish in December.  Heck, I didn't even see anyone else land a fish.
Bottom line....the fish are not around. Some will point to the weather, the lack of bait, the fact that the fish seem to be in different spots, etc, but the bottom line is that the number of stripers is way down. We saw the proof of that in some poor summer fishing along the RI mainland shore, inconsistent fishing in the fall, and now the poor winter fishing.
I see little reason to think the winter fishing will dramatically improve in the coming weeks and months. I only hope I am wrong.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Youth Writing Contest Sponsored by Outdoor Writers

Does anyone out there know of a student who loves the outdoors and is a good writer?  The New England Outdoor Writers' Association (NEOWA) of which I am a member is sponsoring a Youth Writing Contest (junior high and senior high categories) that focuses on anything outdoor related.  I'm sure many who go to this blog could write about such topics as their largest striped bass you've caught, the greatest blitz you have ever seen, a great day of fishing, the biggest fish of any other species you have caught, a kayaking or boating adventure, or just any nature topic of your choice.  It could be fiction or non-fiction.  The New England overall winner last year wrote a non-fiction hunting story about shooting his first deer.
Ideally, we would like to see schools enter and teachers surpervise this contest. That is one category of the contest.  However, I have sent the rules out to every public school superintendent in the state of RI  for two years now, and sadly, I have not received a single entry from any school. We can also go the "at large" route where any kid can enter the contest and submit his own entry.  The at large winner will receive a cash prize of $125 and be entered into the New England Contest where the winning cash prize is $150.  The two big winners will get $275 in cash prizes, and their entries will be published in a magazine.
So, anyone know of a good student who could write a great outdoor related story?  If you do send him or her the link below that gives all the rules and regulations along with where to send their entry.  I hope some kids choose to enter. I would love to see the big winner come from RI!
Link to contest: NEOWA Youth Writing Contest, 2015

Monday, December 22, 2014

Winter Fishing....So Far, So Poor

Many of my followers know that I spend a lot of time fishing for stripers in the wintertime.  In the last twenty years I have caught tons of wintering over stripers, mostly from the Providence River.  This place has long been well known as THE winter place to wet a line if you wanted to catch a striper in the cold winter months of December, January or February here in RI. Not that long ago I was catching over a THOUSAND stripers a winter in this location. And, there were good numbers of keepers to boot. It was that good.
So far this December I have not been able to catch a single striper.  I have tried all tides, fished mornings, afternoons, and nighttime.  I've fished cold days, warm days, stormy days and real nice weather.  And, I have not caught a single fish.  I've gotten out at least three to four times a week and still have come up empty.  The number of fishermen who are trying has greatly diminished due to the absence of any fish, and I have not seen anyone else catch a fish in December.  Sadly, it is that poor.
This should not come as a big surprise.  We know the population of stripers is way down. The upper Bay fishing was off in the summer and fall.  Less fish then would mean less fish in the winter.  The sudden severe cold and partial icing of the river around Thanksgiving seemed to send any fish (stripers, pogies and peanut bunker) packing and there has been nothing since then.  Even the seals that were around back in November seem to be gone.
So, will this be the year of no winter fish in the Providence River?  I just don't know. I've seen big lulls and inconsistent fishing in the past, even in very good years.  In the past the fish moved in and out of the river. Maybe they are out in the Bay and will move back into the river.
In past years December has proved to be the best month of winter fishing. It's not a good sign that nothing has happened this month. I hope it turns around because I am in for a long winter if it doesn't.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Winter Holdover Fishing off to a Disappointing Start

This is one of two schoolies landed this evening
in some ideal conditions for winter fishing.
Holdover numbers are disappointing thus far.
It should come as no surprise when I say that the number of holdover stripers seem to be way down in numbers. The numbers of fall fish were down also.  Less fish in the fall, mean less fish around to hold over. This seems to be widespread here in RI.  While I am fishing the far reaches of Gansett Bay for holdover fish, I know of others who are fishing holdover locations along the backwaters of the oceanfront and they, too, are reporting less fish and disappointing results.
In past years, the beginning of winter fishing which occurs from late November until late December has been the best time period of the winter season.  So far this year the fishing has been very inconsistent with less fish.  There has been a good amount of bait around but that has not lured big numbers of stripers to these holdover locations. This is just another example that shows that the numbers of stripers are way down compared to past years.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Inconsistent Winter Fishing

This fish was taken this week on one of the
good days.  Winter holdover striper fishing
is generally inconsistent.
I'm in my winter fishing mode targeting areas far from the oceanfront in search of holdover stripers.  I got out five times in the last week.  One day was terrific, one day was good and the other three days were blanks.  Welcome to winter fishing. Weather makes little difference.  The terrific day happened in the rain; one of the blanks happened in the rain. One cold day was good; another cold day delivered a blank. The fish are either there or not.  Or, they also might be around but have little interest in hitting. This is typical winter fishing where inconsistency rules the game.
From now till March winter holdover fish will exist in numerous rivers and backwaters along Gansett Bay as well as along the oceanfront.  Only a few diehards will take advantage of this fishery.  It is just not a popular thing to do here in RI regardless of how good the fishing is.
I do find winter fishing to be a challenge and an adventure.  There's just something unique and exciting about going out on a sub freezing December or January night in the hopes of catching stripers.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

In a Transition Period

This schoolie was caught today in
one of my winter fishing locations.
There are also still fish around the
 south shore beachfront.
We're in  that funky period of time in the year if you are still looking for stripers.  Some fish are still moving along the oceanfront.  Some fish have settled into those wintering over spots.  Some bait is also moving along the oceanfront.  Some bait has stripers under them; some schools of bait have no stripers around them.  The weather is warm; the weather is cold.
I've heard from some of my friends that there were good numbers of schoolies along the far south beaches this weekend if you were in the right spot at the right time.  My son Ben found big numbers of herring right up against the shore getting attacked by gannets in another location but there were no stripers after them. And, I have settled into my winter striper spots, and I have been getting decent numbers of fish.
Yes, we are in a major transition period that I think will go on for another week or two. Flip a coin, pick a spot and hope you find some fish.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Plummeting Water Temps Spell Trouble

The recent cold spell has dropped the surface water temperatures big time.  Last week temps were running in the low to mid fifties.  Today I checked a NOAA site, http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/ports/textscreen.shtml?port=nb
Dropping water temperatures and rough water have made
scenes like this a memory in the past.  It has been a tough
last couple of days with little to report.
and the water temperature along the ocean (Newport) was 48 degrees.  Parts of the Bay were 46 to 48 degrees. Those are big drops, certainly enough to send the fish packing. In addition, the oceanfront has remained rough since Monday's big blow. My source along there reports little fishing activity, no bird activity and no fish that he knows of. 
Is it all done?  I just don't know.  There will be a recovery in temperatures next week.  Will it come too late?  I suspect there will still be a few fish coming through in the next week or so, but you will have to be there when it happens. The consistent fishing could be over.
Unless I hear of something along the oceanfront, my plans are to start searching the winter locations that I fish.  I'm guessing that will start up very soon if  it hasn't already.

Monday, November 17, 2014

As Wild as it Gets

A Cocahoe trailing off a float was the hot producer today
as stripers were on the rampage in some nasty weather.
I love fishing nasty weather and in the past stormy weather has led to some of my biggest days of striper fishing.  Today was another example of how nasty weather just turns on the fishing.
I fished a beach along the south shore that was devoid of fishermen but had loads of fish, bait and birds diving.  My day started off this morning as I walked into this spot in which flocks of gannets were divebombing, seagulls were hitting the water and cormorants were constantly diving. Yes, the bait (peanut bunker) was around big time and stripers were under it, breaking along the beach.  I looked like a nut running up and down the beach casting to fish that were constantly moving.  It was a wild scene.  This went on just about all day.
The fish were active and hitting.  A Cocahoe trailing off a float was the top producer although my friend Gene was getting some fish on poppers. By the end of the day I had my biggest day in over a month with dozens of schoolies landed. I got no keepers.
In late afternoon, there was a sudden wind shift and a surf build up that went from a few feet to six to eight foot waves in a matter of less than an hour.  That dramatic change in conditions ended the fishing as the birds disappeared and the bait and stripers departed.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Peanut Bunker Lights up the Weekend Along South Shore

Stripers were in good supply in some
south shore locations this weekend.
However, some places had lots of bait, but
few fish
Big schools of peanut bunker were
on the move along the south shore this
weekend.
For the first time this year I found a lot of peanut bunker.  All weekend long it moved along the south shore beachfront in big schools.  At times there were good numbers of stripers after them; at other times, it was only the bunker with little or nothing after them. You simply had to find those spots that had bunker and stripers.  There were some big catches reported this weekend by fishermen I spoke with.  I talked to one guy who told be he arrived at the beach yesterday afternoon at 3:00 and by dark he landed 24 stripers.  He said the fish were busting all over the place on the bunker.  Another guy told me he fished another spot and had continuous fish all afternoon yesterday.  He also had 4 keepers up to 34 inches.  He said the keepers were spitting up herring.  Yet another guy told me he fished multiple spots today and landed over 20 stripers with one keeper.  So, there are some fish in some spots, but you have to find them.  I only got a few fish today, but was continuously chasing schools of peanut bunker hoping stripers would find them.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

In a Major Lull or Seeing the End?

The beaches were empty yesterday, Veterans' Day. At one point
there was only one fisherman plugging this popular spot. The
fishing has been poor so far in November.
I don't know.  I want to say that this is too early for the season to end, but on the other hand, things are not looking good.  In recent years the season continued to fish well right into the third week of November.  Some years it even pushed into early December.  In other years Veterans' Day was a very hot time along the RI south shore, probably the peak time in November for stripers and big blues.  But, not this year.  I was out yesterday and saw only one schoolie landed in several spots along the oceanfront. I did manage to get a couple of schoolies after dark in a backwater location.  In  the daylight  I saw no birds working. The few fishermen who were fishing were complaining about the poor November fishing, the lack of stripers and the lack of bait. Even today's fishing reports in The Fisherman noted slow striper fishing in the last week along the RI shoreline.
The water temperatures for the most part are in the low 50's right now.  Expect that to change, though, in the next week.  In other years, water temperatures in the 50's produced good fishing while temperatures dipping into the 40's produced a rapid decline in the fishing.  In other years there was a lot of bait like herring and peanut bunker around at this time; this year there is little or none.  I can also tell you that the number of fishermen has also declined greatly so that must tell you something.
So, we'll see in the coming week if there is one last big push of fish. Maybe it's coming, maybe not.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Backwaters Saving the Day

This has been a disappointing November so far.  There has not been many schoolies around, very few keepers, no bluefish and there has been a lack of bait. It's not what we are used to seeing in November, a time that has been hot in past years.  It has been particularly slow in the last two days.  I have been unable to find any fish in the daylight. I have fared no better after dark along the south shore beachfront.
So, I turned my attention to some quiet backwater spots before heading home.  These places have saved the day for me as I have landed big numbers of hickory shad as well as some schoolies (see photos) on ultra light tackle and small bucktail jigs.  These backwaters are generally "small fish" spots, yet when little is around, these types of spots sometimes can save the day and provide some fast action.



Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sporadic Action as Small Schools of Fish Move Along South Shore

This hefty schoolie was landed on a Cocahoe threaded
onto a jighead. It was part of a quick hit school of fish that
was there one minute, gone the next.
This is no last hurrah yet.  I've been down to the south shore surf in a number of spots twice in the last four days, and I can tell you the action is sporadic at best.  There are small schools of stripers chasing small schools of bait.  A few birds will suddenly start diving signaling the presence of fish.  You might get a couple of fish if you are there at the right time, and just as fast as they appear, they are gone.  These are all schoolies for the most part that are running 18-25 inches. In the last two outings I landed 10 schoolies. With decreased numbers of stripers and a lack of big schools of bait, this is the type of action  I expected.
On another note, I have been unable to find any keepers after dark.  Other fishermen are reporting the same story as the large fish that were around a couple of weeks ago seem to be gone.  They were around mostly when big menhaden were around.  They, too, are gone. More schools of this big bait that are dropping out out Gansett Bay could be coming.
Did you look at the forecast for the next week?  An Arctic blast will be coming our way at the end of the week.  The cold is forecast to stick around for a week to ten days with daytime highs in the 30's and low 40's and nights in the 20's. That will certainly drop the water temps into the 40's.  If that happens, it will probably put an end to the worthwhile fishing.  So much for all the armchair reporters predicting a longer than normal season!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Disappointing Day for Stripers

Steve Pickering lands a double.
Black sea bass saved the day as
there were poor numbers of stripers
around the south shore today.
You've probably seen a lot of recent reports that tell about the terrific fishing that is going on along RI's south shore beachfront. Well, my brother and I headed down there and covered the entire area from Matunuck to Westerly in a boat.  We landed exactly one small schoolie.
Like every kind of fishing, nothing is a sure bet. Fall striper fishing, often a hit or miss deal, was a big miss today. This outing was a disappointment to say the least.  We saw only one area that had a small amount of bait and some birds diving,  This spot had a few stripers breaking, but there were so few and the action was so sporadic that we could only catch one schoolie. Another telling fact was that we saw just about no one fishing from shore for miles.
To save the day, we decided to try for black sea bass.  We fared much better with them, catching about 20 of them with most being small keepers. We located pods of them using the fishfinder and we focused on those spots that seemed to have a lot of them.  The hot ticket for catching them was jigs on the bottom.  Zoom flukes and Cocahoes mounted on jigheads were our best lures for the black sea bass.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Focus Shifts to South Shore Beachfront

It's November and it's time to move.  My fishing focus will now shift from points north of Galilee to places to the south.  I believe your best bet to catch stripers and bluefish will be the RI south shore beachfront that runs from East Matunuck to the beaches in Westerly. This area offers easy access off Rt. 1 to beachfront parking lots along the water. From those lots, it's a matter of walking to some very good fishing.
The south shore is a mix of straight run beaches, rocky points and beachway flows.  While many fishermen will focus on the breachways for larger fish, the fact is that fish can be caught anywhere along this south shore stretch.  It is simply a matter of finding the bait which tends to migrate southward right along this shorefront.  In the past, I've seen schools of large menhaden and ocean herring right off deserted beaches where no one is fishing. Every time I have found this big bait, I've found big fish.
I've already been fishing the south shore and I can tell you that this is where the most bait is located, and this area has better numbers of stripers compared to the areas to the north. I have a reliable report that there have been gannets divebombing along the beaches in the last few days.  Could this mean a run of ocean herring is starting?
There are about three good weeks of fishing left.  After that, it's a crap shoot.  The south shore will be your best bet from shore in the coming weeks if you are looking for late season action.

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Halloween Treat

Can you believe it?  Ben Pickering scores a Halloween treat as he lands
this bonito along with another one from shore today.  And,. I thought they
left two weeks ago!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lack of Bait, Less Stripers, No Blues

It was just one fish today but it was a keeper that was
taken after dark.  Recently, the nighttime fishing
has been better than the daytime fishing.
We are in a major lull, especially when describing the daytime fishing from shore.  It has been really dead along the oceanfront in the last week.  Those big schools of bait (bay anchovies) that were around several weeks ago are gone and with it the abundant schoolies have also left. As far as bluefish....there are NON E.  I've gotten only one blue since Sept. 1.
On a somewhat positive note, there are fish to be had after dark though I am seeing very few fishermen trying after dark.  I have not been catching lots of fish, but I have been getting some keepers after dark along with occasional schoolies.  For instance, I fished all over today and found absolutely nothing in the daytime.  After dark I landed one 30 inch keeper on a Daiwa SP Minnow.  It was my only hit today. Two days ago I landed three hefty schoolies after dark on swimmers. Several days ago my son Jon landed a big fish at dark.  So, in my mind the nighttime fishing is worthwhile, though not great.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Don't leave home without one.....

This large striper, the fish from the previous
post, was landed on a snagged menhaden.
Add a snagger or two
in your surf bag.
Expect to find schools
of menhaden along
the oceanfront in the
next month as they
drop out of
Gansett Bay.
A snagger is a key device that should be in every surf bag.  I can't tell you how many times I've gone down to the ocean in late fall and found an isolated school of menhaden or pogies within a cast of where I am standing.  I also can't tell you how many big bass and big blues I have caught on a snagged menhaden over the years.
It happened again yesterday with that big bass my son Jon caught.  Just out of the blue a school of menhaden came ashore right where we were fishing.  Jon snagged a pogy, let it swim around and with a few minutes the line was ripping off with a cow charging seaward.
Don't think for one minute that he could have caught that fish on a plug.  When large fish, whether blues or stripers, are on menhaden, that is what they want. A plug is usually not even a consideration. Do yourself a favor and pack a snagger or two in your surf bag.




Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fish of the Day

Jon Pickering holds a real good fish that was caught from
shore on a snagged menhaden. While schoolies have dominated the
fall scene, there are some good fish around.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

a MILLION hits

You might have noticed the hit counter on the blog ran over a million today.  Simply phenomenal.   No question, the blog is popular, and shows the tremendous interest in striper fishing here in southern New England. I have met countless fishermen along the shoreline this year who have complimented me on the blog, the info that is posted and the honesty in reporting. One guy I met last week told me he goes to the blog first thing in the morning as he's drinking his coffee, goes back to the blog at lunchtime and visits it again before he goes to bed. Now, that's hooked.
I have stats on my management page that tells me a lot about my audience. You might be very surprised that the interest in the blog is worldwide.  For instance, in the last week here are the top 5 countries where the audience came from along with the number of hits: US-9,000, Ukraine-209, China-61, UK-12, and Russia-11.
In the last month the blog has been especially active with 50,000 hits. I think this reflects some high interest in the excellent fishing we have been seeing this fall.
Enjoy the blog and good luck fishing,
Dave

Adjustments in Unfishable Conditions

Hickory shad
were on the rampage
today in protected
backwaters that
I fished.
Even the stripers were keying on
my shrimp fly teasers.  They were
mixed in with the abundant hickory shad.
I love fishing nasty weather.  However, there is a fine line between rough, productive water and water that is not fishable.  This afternoon I headed to the oceanfront and was greeted by a huge, rough surf that was charged up by a vicious northeast wind that was gusting to 40 and 50 knots.  One gust that hit me almost knocked me over.  It was that bad.  The oceanfront was simply not fishable.
I nearly turned around and headed home, but I told myself "adjust".  So, I headed to some protected backwaters where I actually found a lot of fish.  I landed big numbers of hickory shad on shrimp fly teasers, and I also landed some stripers on a Cocahoe that was teamed up with the the teasers. I saw good numbers of these fish busting all around the area I was fishing.
When the surf gets big, dangerous and unfishable, head to the protected backwaters along the oceanfront. Places like the backs of the breachways or in the coastal ponds are good places to fish in unfishable conditions out front. These are places that have saved the day for  me in the past and worked like a charm again today.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Back in Business

A Cocahoe mounted
on a 3/4 oz jighead
was hot today.
I got back to the oceanfront today.  The big surf and storminess that has plagued the oceanfront for the past few days has calmed down, and I found good numbers of schoolies hitting in the daytime and even at night.
Today was unusual because there was just about no one fishing and nothing showing.  I saw no fish breaking and only saw two small flocks of birds diving where cormorants were driving up bait.  It just seemed like there was nothing around.  But, when I started casting away in various spots, I began picking up fish.  These were hefty schoolies in the 20-24 inch range.  The hot lure proved to be a Cocahoe mounted onto a 3/4 oz. jighead.  I went with a larger jighead because I was fishing deeper water.
So, the lesson here is that even when nothing is showing, stripers can still be around.  You simply have to get out and fish.
There were good numbers of schoolies around today but nothing was
showing.  There were no diving birds, no bait visible and
no fish breaking, but stripers were around in good numbers.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Weekend Outlook......Not Good

This has not been a week of good fishing.  We had been spoiled by the previous month of almost non-stop action for albies and stripers.  This was all fueled by massive schools of bay anchovies that seemed to be everywhere. Daily blitzes were expected and happening just about every day.
The breachways and backwaters offer the best bets this
weekend along the oceanfront. The surf is expected to be
big, dangerous and rough.
But, the good times have come to a crashing halt. For most of the week, I have seen no birds, no breaking fish and very few fishermen.  The daytime action along the oceanfront has been poor.  It seems like the big schools of bay anchovies are gone, and the albies and stripers have left with them. The only action I had all week was a slow pick of fish after dark in the breachway currents.There are always some fish just snooping around moving waters after dark, but it is a fish here a fish there with no numbers. However, some of these fish have been keepers.  
To add to the misery, the marine forecast calls for big seas and rough water all weekend due to the hurricane in the Atlantic.  One of my friends who was at the oceanfront today reported waves coming right over the front of the breachway rocks along the south shore. He also reported dirty and sandy water with no one fishing anywhere. There has been been very few fishermen most of the week in the daytime because they are not catching.
Your best bet this weekend is to fish protected waters.  If you are along the oceanfront, that means the breachway backwaters or maybe in the coastal ponds.  You might even want to try the Bay though I have no reports of what is going on in the Bay.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fish of the Day

Yes, nighttime is the right time if you are looking for a big fish.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Bad Day

Today was a reminder that fishing is not always good. The hot fishing that we had experienced along the oceanfront in the last three weeks came to a screeching halt today.  I fished from the shore and for the first time in a long time I saw no birds working, no bait and no fish caught in the daylight.  I worked some good looking white water in multiple spots with no success. I did manage to avoid the dreaded blank with a lone fish after dark that hit a teaser.  That fish was a skinny 24 inch schoolie. A guy who was fishing with me also got a schoolie and those were the only two fish I saw caught all day.
There are some trends to watch for along the oceanfront in the next week or so based on what has happened in other years at this time.  No question, the albies are thinning out especially for shore fishermen.  In most past years, there were few around past mid October.  We are almost there. Those abundant bay anchovies have been a September up to mid October thing in past years.  I expect those to also thin out. We have seen no peanut bunker along the oceanfront yet, but I know there are a lot of them in the Bay along with good numbers of adult menhaden.  Watch for that bait to migrate along the oceanfront in the coming weeks.
We are a long way from the end with a lot of good fishing expected in the next month or so. However, we will have those bad days along the way.  Today was one of them.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Record Albie?

My brother and I got out in the boat today.  Once again, there were fish all over the place wherever you found bait and birds working.  However, the highlight of the day was a huge albie that my brother Steve landed.
He hooked this fish with a float and fly after casting into a pod of breaking fish.  This fish ripped off line and drag as they often do. Then it headed straight for the bottom in 60 feet of water where it was near impossible to lift it upwards.  It was a tug of war to slowly pull it off the bottom and that was with 30 lb. test Power Pro braid.  As the fish came into view, we immediately thought we had some kind of tuna.  It was that big.  But, closer to the boat we realized we had a huge false albacore.  We had no scale on the boat, but I  have caught enough big fish to come up with a real good estimate.  I am guessing this albie went 16-20 lbs. It was, by far, the biggest one I have ever seen and I have seen and caught hundreds of them over the years..
I checked the record books and found there is no listing of false albacore in the RI saltwater records (why not???).  The only thing I found as far as big albies are concerned was the RISAA Hall of Fame Record which is a whopping 16 lbs. from the boat. Other state records for albies seem to be in the mid teens.  So, I'm sure this fish was in record territory as far as albies go.
But, we'll never know. The fish was barely hooked in the lip, showed no sign of blood, was still fiesty in the boat and was released in great shape to Fight again. We did, however, get a good picture of the fish, and that was a great memory for us.

Just About a Daily Event

Find the birds and you will find the fish along the RI oceanfront as our fabulous fall continues. And, it can happen just about anywhere along our miles of shorefront.  You never know what you'll find under the bait....albies, stripers, blues, bonito, black seas bass or a combination of all five!
video



Friday, October 10, 2014

Picture of the Day

It was a free-for-all today as everything seemed to be around.  I caught
loads of stripers, albies, bluefish, black sea bass and this prize.....a bonito.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Unabated

Bucktail jigs spiced with plastic curly tails have been hot
for stripers this week.  Fish the jig alone or off a float.
The fantastic RI oceanfront fishing just keeps rolling along, unabated.  I thought the big surf, stormy weather and strong winds that we had today would put an end to the fantastic fishing, but no way.  Today was equally as good and any other day I have fished in the last two weeks.  Stripers were thick in the white water where I fished today.
Conditions today were extreme.  I estimate the surf in front of me was running 7-10 feet, yet there were thouands of birds diving and picking up bait right outside the surf line and fish were busting right under those birds.  The foamy surf was also thick with stripers even though little was showing close to shore.  The hot lure continues to be some type of jig used alone or off a float.  I used both bucktail jigs and jigheads mounted with Cocahoes today to land a big number of fish.  Like most of the other days, all the fish today were schoolies that generally were in the 24-25 inch range.  Some were near keepers.
The recent run of stripers is some of the best fishing I have seen in years.  Blitzes have been occurring on a daily basis.  Find the bait and you will find the fish.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Phenomenal

Can't get much better than today
as it was non-stop action all
afternoon. 
The good times just keep getting better if that is possible.  I hit the shoreline today and unlike the last three outings, there appeared to be little around. There were few fishermen, no fish breaking and few birds.  However, there was loads of white water so I went searching for fish in the white water and I found them, BIG TIME.
I was all alone in one particular spot for over an hour and I had a hit or a fish on every single cast while casting in turbulent white water.  I was using a float and bucktail jig. At first the fish in the area were not showing but then they started whirling in the white water in front of me.  At times, everywhere I looked there were fish.  They provided non-stop action.  Several more guys showed up in this spot and at times, everyone was fighting a fish at once. I lost count at 40 fish that I landed and know I caught at least 15 or 20 more.  These were all good size schoolies in the 22-27 inch range.  I had several fish just shy of keeper size. Just phenomenal action.
This last week has featured some of the very best striper fishing I have ever seen. No doubt these are migrating fish as we have had very few resident fish during the summer and early fall.  I suspect the big northeast winds we had last week has driven large numbers of stripers to the RI oceanfront.  Let's hope they stick around!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Un Freakin' Real

Stripers in close and albies out
far as the fish were on the
rampage today.
I've seen some wild days in the last two weeks, but today goes down as one of the wildest I have seen in years.
I almost didn't fish today as I was going to make this one a day of rest after a hard week of fishing.  But, that all changed when my son Jon called to say things were just nuts along the oceanfront with fish all over the place.  So, I grabbed the stuff, jumped into the car and sped toward the oceanfront.
Stripers by the thousands hit the shore
today.  This was the largest of over sixty
stripers that we landed on jigs.
What I found was simply astounding. School after school of stripers were tearing through massive schools of bay anchovies that were collecting close to shore.  Out farther were good numbers of albies tearing through more schools of bait that was out far.  In some rough water in close I saw waves washing big numbers of frenzied stripers and baitfish right onto the rocks, only to be washed back into the sea on the next wave.  THIS WENT ON ALL AFTERNOON!
Jon and I landed over sixty stripers with most of them hefty schoolies in the 24 inch range though we had several near keepers as well as one thirty inch fish. In addition, I landed one good size albie and Jon also got a big blue.  We got all these fish on bucktail jigs and jigheads threaded with Cocahoe minnows.  Jon was using his lure off a float while I was fishing mine without the float. The albie was caught on the float and fly.
We weren't the only ones catching.  A picket fence of fishermen gathered as the afternoon moved on, and it seemed at times that everyone was catching on a variety of lures and plugs.  I must say everyone was having a great time. Reminded me of the good ole days.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Good Number of 40 inch Plus Fish Landed Recently

I'm on a big fish roll as I have landed two fish over 40 inches along with another smaller keeper in the last two evenings/nights of fishing. In addition, I've also gotten a number of hefty schoolies after dark. My son, Jon, got in on the action tonight also as he nailed a 40 inch fish (see photo at right) along with another small keeper. One bait shop along the south shore is also reporting a number of 40 inch fish taken in the last week by shore fishermen.  So, the big fish have finally arrived in good numbers for shore fishermen.  I credit this rough weather of the last week for moving those large fish close to shore and getting them charged up and feeding. This has been the best week of fishing for large fish that I have seen this year along the oceanfront.

Picking 'em Off in the White Water

Fans of the blog were catching in the white
water today.
This hefty schoolie hit a jig fished
off a float in some rough water.
Today was a rough, stormy day along the oceanfront as a big east wind and pounding waves battered the shoreline.  These conditions produced a lot of white water.  And, where there is white water, there is usually good fishing.
I found good numbers of fish along an east facing shoreline and had to haul my casts into the stiff wind and rough water.  The fish were there and surprisingly close to shore. I used a float and jig (one of the few choices that would get out an distance in the rough water) to catch all my fish.  These were hefty schoolies in the 20-25 inch range.
The hot fishing just continues.  It's been a north, east or northeast wind all week with rough water that has brought albies and stripers close to shore. For me, this has been the best fishing week of the year.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Find the Bait and You'll Find the Fish

This near keeper was one of 25 fish
landed today in some rough water.
Today I fished in some very rough and stormy conditions.  I have really scored in the past in conditions like this and today was no different.
The float 'n' jig rig
did the trick today.
This is a real good
choice to fish in
rocky areas with
white water when
the stripers are feeding
on small bait.
In the very first rocky spot I stopped at I walked into a blitz in progress.  The bait was there, birds were diving and fish were breaking.  With a 30 knot wind from the northeast in my face I was able to cast maybe 30 feet with the float and jig, but that's all that was needed since most of the fish were feeding in the white water turbulence right along the shore.  For over an hour I had a hit or a fish on just about every cast.  These were mostly hefty schoolies in the 20-28 inch range.  One fish might have been a keeper. 
There were only two other guys fishing this location today and they were both scoring good numbers of fish also.  Face it....most fishermen are fair weather guys and few venture out on these rainy and windy days, yet those are some of the most productive days you will find in the fall.
I'm on a roll right now.  The score for the last week is 50 stripers, 3 albies and 3 blues.  I must say the fishing has really perked up.  Find the bait and you will find a lot of fish.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Going Small Scores Big

Yesterday I saw the most fish I have seen on any outing this year from shore. I hit a spot along the oceanfront where stripers and blues had a massive school of bay anchovies pinned up against a rocky shoreline.  At times hundreds of stripers could be seen tearing through this bait while lesser numbers of false albcore would occasionally rip though the bait also.  It was wild.  It didn't take long for fishermen to find out what was going on and within an hour the quiet spot I had to myself saw at least 20 surf fishermen casting away.
Yesterday stripers and albies
were feasting on one inch bay
anchovies. The fish are super fussy
when that happens.
This near keeper striper hit a
four inch Rapala X-Rap swimmer.
It was the best plug to use yesterday
for stripers.
This was no picnic as the fish were extremely FUSSY.  That is just the was it goes when stripers and albies are feeding on one inch bay anchovies.  There is nothing in a surf bag that will imitate this bait.  However, you have your best chance at scoring if you go small.  So, after trying the old stand-by bucktail jig, Cocahoe and Zoom flukes and getting no fish to hit, my son Jon and I turned to small swimmers.  That did the trick.  We landed good numbers of stripers up to near keeper size on 4-inch Rapala X-Rap swimmers. They weren't killing this lure, but some fish would hit it.  I must say we landed more fish than all the rest of the fishermen combined.  It seems that many of these guys had no small swimmers in their bags and the large poppers, big metal and large swimmers many were using were just not cutting it.
In addition to all those stripers we caught, I also did get an albie on a float 'n' Deceiver fly.  The albies are also fussy when on small bait and that fly works wonders when this happens.


This albie grabbed a Deceiver fly fished off a float.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Still Around in Good Numbers

The epic albie fishing that we have experienced this September just continues.  I got out from shore this weekend with my son Jon and my friend Dennis and we had albies breaking in front of us for a good period of time. And, they were aggressively taking our offerings.  These fish were feasting on schools of bay anchovies that were moving close to shore.  Once again, the hot lure was the float 'n' Deceiver fly combo, though I did get one albie with a small bucktail jig while trying for stripers.  That was my surprise of the day.
Realize that the albie window is slowly closing.  They generally stick around till the first, maybe second week of October and then their numbers thin out greatly.  So, if you haven't gotten one yet, you still have time.
And, I might also add that I did fish for stripers in a number of locations at and after dark but came up empty.  Man, be thankful we have the albies!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

An Hour of Great Fishing

I had what I was looking for today.  It was a northeast wind with some rain and rough water.  It was just the type of conditions that lit up the fishing in the past at this time of year.  So, I headed to the oceanfront with high hopes.  In the very first spot I stopped at I was greeted by diving birds and breaking fish close to shore. I got the rod and my gear and headed for the action.  It was a striper or a hit on every few casts using a float and jig as I really had the fish in front of me in some churning white water.  And, I was all alone in this highly accessible spot with no other fishermen in sight. In one glorious hour I landed more stripers than I caught in the previous month of fishing.  While most of these fish were schoolies in the 18-23 inch range I did have a near keeper (maybe even a small keeper) that I released. It was the type of action that was routine in the past, but rare this year.
This mini blitz ended after about an hour and I figured I was in for a terrific day as I went looking for more fish.  However, I hit several more spots in some beautiful water, but I came up empty in the daylight.  After dark I did manage to pick up one more schoolie on a swimmer.
So, if you have the right conditions with some bait and you look hard enough you just might find a bunch of fish as I did today. However, in this lean year of striper fishing, nothing is a sure bet anymore.
This near keeper was caught on a float and bucktail jig fished in white water
close to shore. It was one of many fish taken today in the northeast wind and rough water.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Striper Fishing Not Good

Striper fishing has not been good in the last week for me.  I'm working on the very worst September I have ever experienced for striper fishing here in RI. Sadly, it is that bad. Oh, there are a few fish around and you hear of fishermen occasionally having a good day/night if they are at the right spot at the right time but the overall picture is not good. Heck, I don't see hardly any fishermen even out trying from shore.
We are now in late September and the fishing should be really perking up.  It's not and here are a few reasons why I think it is not happening:
*Lack of resident fish close to shore.  Yes the numbers are way down and it's having a big effect on the fishing.
*Lack of bait close to shore.  I see birds working here and there but everything is way out much like it was last year.  I've seen no mullet yet this year.  Where are they? There is a lot of bait (peanut bunker and large menhaden) way up in Gansett Bay but whether we see that bait along the oceanfront remains to be seen.
*Migrations have not started yet.  I think you will see better numbers of fish once the fish start migrating but you might have to wait till late October to see that.
*Very few keepers around from shore in RI- This is the way it has been all year with few keepers around. However, even schoolies have been scarce lately.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Albies Back, but Rough Water Continues

The albies are back, though not in the numbers we saw a week ago.  My brother got out in his boat this weekend and landed a few in some long hours of trying.  My son, Jon, got out also and landed some from shore along with a couple of bluefish. There were no stripers for either one as the striper drought continues. However, for both it was difficult fishing due to a lot a wind and rough water.
I had planned to hit the shore today but with wave heights predicted to be 5-8 feet along the shore with a stiff wind, fishing is out of the question. Fall can be a tough time of the year weatherwise and shore fishermen often have to fish those windows of opportunity when the roughness is at a minimum and the wind is manageable.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

NEWSFLASH....Big Waves Pound Oceanfront....Albies Disappear

Big waves were pounding the oceanfront today.  I assume they were coming from a hurricane that was far out in the ocean. The effects, however, were evident close to shore.  There was a lot of sand in the water and weed. Along sandy shores the water looked like coffee.  In addition, most places along the oceanfront were unfishable and dangerous due to 6-8 foot waves hitting the shoreline.
I scanned a lot of areas way out looking with my binoculars for any signs of fish.  I saw no birds, no breaking fish and very few boats fishing protected areas.  I did find a safe spot I could try but came up with nothing.  So, I'm hoping this is just a bump in the road, and the fishing will return to what it was just a few days ago once the ocean calms down. We'll see.  Meanwhile, I think it will take at least  two or three days for all the roughness to subside and the water to clear up.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Float 'n' Fly......Albie Killer

The wooden egg float delivers the fly
to the albies.  The fly is tied to the float
with 3 feet of mono.  Note how the
fly has a slim silhouette when wet.
This blue Deceiver fly is deadly
when albies are feeding on small
bay anchovies as they are right now
in RI waters.
Several days ago my brother and I had that incredible day of albie fishing in the boat when we landed 60 fish.  Towards evening we had a big bunch of fish around us.  We also had about ten boats around us.  At any one time we either had two fish on at the same time or one of us had a fish on.  It was that wild.  Yet, I never saw another boater around us even hook up with a fish.  That is because we were the only ones using the float 'n' fly.  Without question, this is the very best artificial for spin fishermen to use for albies when the fish are feeding on bay anchovies (as they are doing right now in RI waters).  Metal, the lure of choice for most fishermen, will catch them on occasion but comes in a far distant second place when it comes to choosing the best lure.
The float I am using is a wooden egg which can be purchased in craft stores.  I wire mine and paint them white.  Some tackle shops like the Saltwater Edge in Middletown sell them. The fly I am using is a homemade Deceiver that I tie on a Mustad 34007 size 1/0 hook.  The fly is made with four blue saddle hackles for the tail.  It has a chartreuse fine wool body.  The underwing is sparse white bucktail while the overwing is white bucktail topped with a bit of chartreuse bucktail.  The thread I use to tie is also chartreuse though I sometimes use white.  The fly is tied to the float with about 3 feet of 30 lb. test mono.
You want to cast this into breaking fish or even fish it blind in areas where albies exist.  Work a fast retrieve with occasional pulls of the rod tip.  If a fish hits it and misses, slow it down.  This set up is deadly in a boat, and it is even more effective from a shore where a long cast is often needed to reach breaking fish.
Yesterday I hit the albies from shore and landed three good size ones and had another two fish on. This was all in a couple of hours. I also had a couple of more hits.  You guessed it......all the action was on the float 'n' fly.


The float 'n'fly is deadly from a boat but it is even more effective from shore
where a long cast is often needed to reach breaking fish.  This good
size one was landed yesterday along with two others from shore
using the float 'n' fly.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Albie Madness

The Kastmaster XL landed
a few fish but the float and fly
far outfished metal.
The wooden egg float/fly rig was the
hot ticket for albies and accounted
for over 50 fish in one day.  The fly
is a homemade blue Deceiver.
We had the best day of albie fishing we have ever experienced this weekend in the boat. My brother and I fished a number of places along the RI oceanfront in at least a ten mile stretch and found albies all over the place going nuts on bay anchovies.  They just seemed to be everywhere and in astounding numbers. I don't think I have ever seen this many fish in such a wide area.  Yes, record numbers! The score for our best day ended up with us landing between 50 and 60 fish, phenomenal numbers for false albacore fishing.
Without question the best producer was a wooden float with a Deceiver fly. The fly was a homemade chartreuse bodied Deceiver that had blue hackles for a tail.  Our float/fly rig was outfishing most of the other boaters around us who were mostly using metal.  We did also land a few fish on Kastmaster XL's reeled quickly along the surface. The float/fly combo was also fished with a very fast retrieve.  If we threw it into breaking fish, a hit was almost a guarantee.
The albie fishing has attracted a ton of boaters to the oceanfront as the word is out and albie madness has set in.  There are also lots of fishermen along the shoreline looking as well as catching in certain spots.  Boaters, though, have a big advantage when it comes to finding these fish and staying with the breaking schools.
Some of the best albie fishing ever is going on right now along the RI oceanfront.


Friday, September 12, 2014

NEWSFLASH.....ALBIES Hit the RI Oceanfront BIG TIME!

They are here, big time. False albacore, known as albies, hit the RI oceanfront in masses in the last two days.  They are in a wide stretch of the oceanfront from Narragansett all the way to the far south shore beaches.  For all I know they could even be off Jamestown and Newport.
I got down to the oceanfront today from shore and saw albies breaking all over the place in all the places I fished. In one spot, I must have seen about 60 fish caught by an army of fly casters and spin fishermen casting almost shoulder to shoulder that resembled a picket fence.  In addition, I also saw an armada of boats slamming them right in front of me just out of casting range. In all of this there were constant pods of albies tearing through small schools of bay anchovies in a surface display that was simply awesone.  
So, it's happening and that is great news for RI fishermen.  In the absence of any stormy weather the hot action should continue right through September and into early October.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Needlefish a Hot plug Right Now

My hottest plug of the last two weeks has been a homemade needlefish plug.  I've gotten out about 7 or 8 times in the last couple of weeks and have gotten fish every time out.  I'm not catching a ton of fish but I have gotten one to five stripers on every outing.  My best plug in this period of time has been a white, homemade needlefish plug that measures 5 inches long.
This plug has been a hot
producer in the last two weeks.
It is a homemade needlefish
plug that measure 5 in. long.
The needlefish plug is one that is not used by many fishermen.  I don't know why.  I favor this topwater plug over a popper because it has more enticing moves that cause the stripers to hit it.  Here's how I work this plug.  I tend to keep it on or near the surface with a fast retrieve.  While retrieving, I am pumping the rod tip with short pulls much like you would work a pencil popper.  This causes the needlefish to dip up and down as well as wiggle back and forth.  This movement is especially effective when fished in white, rough water.
Most tackle shops tend to stock needlefish plugs in large sizes.  You'll have to look around to find the smaller versions that I think are more effective when small bait is around.