Friday, December 30, 2016

2016: One of the BEST Years in a Long Time

It was loaded with big keepers in the Bay in
the spring. 
This past year will go down as one of the best years in recent memory, certainly the best year in the last decade for me. It was a year with unprecedented numbers of schoolies, big  time keeper bass in the spring, tons of bluefish and a memorable but short albie run.  It all came together with terrific fishing from the opening of April fishing for schoolies right through the late fall. In this post I will grade the fishing for each species of fish.
It was one of the biggest
years for schoolies in a long
Schoolies- This was the good ole days of schoolie fishing. Those fish from 8-24 inches were around in astronomical numbers which really bodes well for the future.  I landed over 1,500 stripers this year, and a high percentage of those were schoolies. My two best months of fishing for schoolies was April (219 fish) and November (528 fish).  I saw all day blitzes along the south shore in November that were simply awesome. Some days, many days, it was a fish on just about every cast and this went on for weeks.  I also had some of the best schoolie fishing in Gansett Bay in the spring and summer that I have ever seen.  In near 80 degree water, the fish were hitting big time as they were in a feeding frenzy over vast schools of peanut bunker that stuck around Narragansett Bay from spring through the fall. Grade- A+
Bluefish showed in big
numbers this year.  Some of
the biggest blues were taken
along the south shore beaches
in the fall.
Keeper Stripers-This past spring was one of the best I have ever experienced for keepers in Narragansett Bay.  I was catching consistently from both shore and the boat from spring through the summer.  Boat fishing with live menhaden was especially good in the late spring. I saw an astounding number of keepers in the 36-45 inch range landed by boaters.  We had our best day on June 6 as three of us in the boat landed over 40 keepers up to 45 inches.  It was so good that I would say it was almost a sure bet that we could find schools of menhaden that had keeper bass under them on any given day.  The snag and drag technique worked best for us.  I was also getting good numbers of keepers from shore using white Slug-gos and Jumpin Minnows.  Those keepers in the 28-36 inch range were around through the summer in the Bay. This keeper fishing was so good that by the end of May I had landed more keepers than all of 2015. Unfortunately, the fall fishing from shore was a disappointment for keeper bass.  I had to really scratch to get a few fish up to 38 inches.  I put in a lot of time after dark in the fall and landed loads of schoolies but keepers were hard to find. Grade- B
The albie fishing was short but memorable.
For several weeks there were big numbers
from shore and boat.
Bluefish- Wow, they were back with a vengeance in 2016.  From the boat we found fantastic numbers in the Bay up to the low teens.  Just like the good ole days of the early 2000's, the blues were in the Bay all fall looking for vast schools of peanut bunker and larger menhaden.  All one had to do was drive the boat around and look for birds diving and breaking schools of fish. Twenty fish days were common.  The fish were mostly taking topwater plugs like poppers, spooks and Jumpin Minnows. The oceanfront was also alive with big blues as I saw more big bluefish around this year than the last five years combined. Anywhere large menhaden moved along the shoreline there were big bluefish. I caught a lot of them in Gansett and along the south shore beaches from Sept. to late November.  Some days I saw hundreds of large ones from 10-18 lbs. landed by loads of smiling fishermen. Grade-A
Albies- I got my first one from shore on Sept.11.  For three weeks the fishing for these gamesters was hot and heavy from shore and boat along the oceanfront as they were feeding on large schools of bay anchovies and peanut bunker. While I was splitting my time between fishing for stripers/blues along with albies, I did manage to land over 40 of these little tunny.  The hot lure was a float and blue Deceiver fly. Grade- A-
Overall, I would give this past season an "A".  It was one one of the best years in a long time and sets up what I believe will be very good fishing for stripers and blues for years to come here in RI.