Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Where are the Bluefish?

While they are not around right now, I am guessing they
are coming soon.
At this point there are few, if any blues, along the RI mainland shore or in Gansett Bay.  I have landed exactly one four pounder in the months of July and August, and I am out just about every day.  Heck, I still have not seen a snapper blue in the Bay, and usually it is loaded with them at this time.
The interesting thing about the lack of bluefish is that there is a lot of bait along the shore to lure them in.  There are loads of adult menhaden in Narragansett Bay and there are increasing numbers of schools of peanut bunker moving along the oceanfront and into the Bay.  I've also seen loads of small bay anchovies around. All of that bait has attracted large numbers of small schoolies to both the Bay and the oceanfront, but the bluefish continue to be a no show.
I'm confident this will all change.  I know there are good reports of blues coming from Block Island, so I'm assuming they are still out in deep, offshore waters.  In recent years the fall has been the time to catch blues here in RI.  In the last couple of years, the blues have arrived on the tails of migrating menhaden as they exit the Bay.  I'm guessing that will happen again this year. So, while there are few around right now, expect to see increasing numbers of them in late August into September.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Albies, Bonito and Fake News

Don't get excited.  This was an albie from last fall.
Though fishermen are already looking, don't expect
the big numbers of albies to appear until September.
Already the hype has started.  In the last few days I have actually seen fishermen "looking" for albies and bonito along the oceanfront. There have also been reports of sightings, reports of fish breaking and even some fishermen saying they have caught some. I say it's as fake as the nightly news from the mainstream media!
Here is the real story on bonito and albies and what to expect in the coming weeks.
Bonito: Yes, they can be caught in August but they are few and far between.  You probably have a better shot at winning the lottery than you have of catching a bonito from shore in early August.  That being said, your chances increase as the month nears its end. In all my years of fishing, I have landed exactly one in August from shore and several from the boat.  Expect to see the first ones around the last week in August or the first week in September.  Even when they do come around, your chances of catching one are slim. They are not around in big numbers.
Albies: In the last fifty years I have caught more of these from shore than anyone, yet I have only landed one in late August.  These are a September fish.  If I were to pick a date in which they make their appearance along RI's oceanfront, it would be in the time period from Sept.10 to Sept. 15. I only know of only one year in the last five decades in which some were landed in late August.
Albies are a strange breed and everyone thinks these fish are a sure bet to hit the shore.  But, if I looked back at my logs over the last 50 years, I can tell you that about a third of the years there were NONE, about a third of those years we had a few for a short period of time, and about a third of those years were good with lots of fish for weeks. Bad weather such as a tropical storm or a hurricane will drive them out in quick time.
We have been spoiled in recent years since four out of the last five years have been very good.  One of those years had none.
So, when you begin to hear reports about these fish showing, consider the sources. Social media is very unreliable, and it is loaded with attention seekers and self proclaimed experts who know very little about fishing.  I will believe these fish are in when I see one or catch one! I expect that will happen in September.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Small Ones Dominate RI Summer Surf

I was out this evening with my son Jon.  We landed over
50 fish on jigs and flukes.  Most went 10-16 inches with one
lone "biggie" going 24 inches. Small ones have been numerous;
keepers have been rare from shore in RI.
Tonight I landed a bunch of schoolies.  The biggest fish went 24 inches, and that is the biggest fish that I have taken in the last month. I've caught hundreds of them in the last four weeks, and 24 inches has been the biggest from from the Ocean State. Welcome to RI shore fishing.
Small schoolies, mostly in the 10-18 inch range, continue to dominate the fishing.  Keepers are rare.  Everyone seems to be complaining about the lack of bigger fish from shore this summer.  In addition, I have spoken to divers, netters and eel fishermen and everyone has the same thing to say.  Keepers have been rare this summer along the RI shore.  They are getting good size fish from the boats at Block Island.  And, there have been some massive blitzes of big fish this summer just to the north at the Cape Cod Canal.  So, good size fish do exist in New England, but they don't seem to be along our shores in any numbers.
Maybe things will improve in the fall,  but I am not expecting it.  Our falls in recent years have been dominated by schoolies, big bluefish and albies and I suspect that same trend will continue starting in mid September.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Bait Changes the Game

The last couple of days have seen loads of
small stripers chasing bait in the Bay.
Up until the last couple of evenings, it had been weeks since I caught a fish in the Bay. Yes, the water was warm but the main culprit was the fact that there was little or no bait around.  That all changed on the weekend as a large influx of small bait (bay anchovies as well as small peanut bunker) moved into the areas I was fishing.  It suddenly lit up the fishing for schoolies and an occasional bluefish. I saw schools of fish breaking in a frenzy as well as individual fish here and there tearing through the bait schools.
The hot lure has been a fluke
body on a quarter ounce
Summer fish are especially fussy when keying on small bait, and these fish were picky.  I had to go down to a quarter ounce jighead with a fluke body to entice the fish to hit. They would not look at a surface lure.
Most of the stripers I have found are small, running 10-20 inches long. Heck, this is what we are seeing along the oceanfront also, and this is what we have been seeing all year from shore. But, grab a light freshwater rod, and it can be exciting.
There has been a lack of bluefish so far, even when there is a lot of bait around. In most years, the big numbers of bluefish seem to arrive in late August and early Sept. The giant alligator blues that were around last year came later in the fall as they were chasing large menhaden that were dropping out of the Bay.  We'll see if that all happens again this year.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Back to Reality

It was ideal conditions yesterday evening along the RI
shoreline, but all I could find was a couple of  schoolies
that I caught on a float and jig.
It was back to reality in the last few days for me. With Canal fishing slowing to a crawl as the week progressed, I decided it was time to get back to the RI surf.  I hadn't fished there in about a week.  What I found was similar to what was there a week ago.  It was a few small, resident stripers.
Yesterday I had ideal conditions. I fished into the northeast wind. The water was rough, but clean as a whistle, perfect by all accounts, and I should have had the fish feeding out of my hand.  But, there was little around.  I saw no bait, a big problem this summer along the oceanfront and in the Bay. I managed to catch two schoolies, each about 16 inches right at dark.  I also had one other hit.
I saw no one else fishing, a telling observation of just how poor things are here in RI from shore.  Heck, even on bad days I see hundreds of fishermen casting away at the Canal.
I'm guessing we are still several weeks to a month away from improved fishing. Hopefully, we will soon get some bay anchovies and peanut bunker moving and that should light up the fishing for stripers, blues and albies.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Mackerel Imitators Scoring Big

The Daiwa SP Minnow in a blue
or green mackerel color is a hot plug
when mackerel come around.
If you fish anywhere from the Cape northward you know the importance of mackerel.  It is THE bait that lures some of the largest stripers found along such places as the Cape Cod Canal, Boston Harbor and the north shore of Boston.  These are all striper hotspots and when the mackerel are around, all hell breaks loose.
I was down the Canal three days this week and two of those days were lights out as far as fishing was concerned.  In both instances I saw large keeper stripers in a frenzy chasing big schools of mackerel that measured six to ten inches long. On the other day, I saw no mackerel, and there were no fish around to speak of.
Jon Pickering holds a good size striper that was caught
this week on a blue mackerel colored Daiwa SP Minnow.
When mackerel are around, plugs that imitate them will score most of the fish.You see a lot of guys at the Canal casting large mackerel colored pencil poppers.  That seems to score when the fish are way out busting on the surface.  My sons and I used Daiwa SP Minnows this week in a blue or green mackerel color to score most of our fish. Of course, when you have huge fish breaking within twenty yards of shore the SP Minnow will get you right into them. I also saw a lot of guys scoring on Sebille Magic Swimmers in a mackerel or white color.  When little is showing the Canal sharpies will often turn to jigging along the bottom with Savage Sandeel jigs in some sort of mackerel color.
And, finally, there's the real thing.  I've seen a lot of guys snagging mackerel, jigging them up or just picking them up frenzied macks driven up on the shore by stripers.  Some of these sharpies will hook them up and fish the real thing.  I've seen some big fish taken this way also.
So, if you head up to waters north of RI, make sure to stock some mackerel imitators. Those will be the prime plugs to score some big stripers if this most sought after bait comes ashore.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


My son Matt and I went off for adventure from shore today, and man, did we find it! We landed some of the biggest stripers we have landed in decades as we managed to bank 12 fish, all of them keepers with the majority of the fish going 40-48 inches.  In fact, the two pictured below were about 4 feet long.  I am estimating these fish were in the 35-40 lb. range, and we had several more in this size range. I might add that all of our fish were released in good shape. Yup, it's all about timing and being in the right spot at the right time in this game. And, we hit it just right today!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Lots of People, Lots of Weed and Few Fish

The sub par fishing along the RI oceanfront just continues.  With a downturn in Canal fishing, I thought I would get back to fishing the RI oceanfront last evening.  It was not good.
First off, the oceanfront is a mob scene.  I never saw so many people on a weekday summer day as I saw yesterday.  Last night, well after dark, the two huge public parking lots at Narragansett Beach were still about 75 % full and there was not a parking spot on the road for well over a mile.  In addition, just about every access point along Ocean Rd. in Narragansett was loaded with cars with little or no parking.
I tried the surf along Pt. Judith, a spot that rarely sees a fisherman at this time of year.  Forget it, as it was totally choked up with red weed.  Weed is a growing problem in the summertime along RI's oceanfront.  I'm guessing all this rain and runoff along with hot weather is fueling this weed growth.
With the Pt. Judith option gone, I headed to the rocky areas with a wind at my back. It was calm, conditions I don't like. but I had no choice. I plugged away for well over an hour before and after dark.  I landed one lone 15 inch striper on a jointed Red Fin swimmer, had another one on, and had two other small hits. That's RI shore fishing in a nutshell...a few small ones around right at dark.
I saw almost no one out fishing.  Everyone you talk to these days is bummed out about the lack of large fish around, and because of that, few are fishing. We seem to be in a major decline here in RI when it comes to bigger fish from shore.  I know they get them at Block Island from the boats and I know they are in the Canal, but the RI surf seems to have few keepers around these days.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Joining the Bike Brigade

Just a hefty schoolie,
but found this one right
away. It hit a Daiwa SP
I'm back on a Cape Cod Canal kick. This is a place that has the fish, but also has the crowds. I'll bet there are more keeper bass caught there on one a good day than what's caught the whole summer along the RI surf. But, the downside of this place has always been the crowds. In one stretch of several hundred yards, I saw at least a hundred fishermen standing shoulder to shoulder today and casting away.
This hefty keeper went
about 20 lbs. and hit a
white pencil popper where
nothing was showing
One observation I have often made about this place is that the majority of fishermen fish within a few hundred yards of the access points or parking lots. The exception are some exploring bike riders who seem to ride up and down the access road scouring the canal for breaking fish and bait. So, after all this time (years of walking), I decided a bike was the way to go.  In addition, I pulled into the Scusset Beach parking lot a couple of days ago, and to my surprise, the parking fees had gone up to the ridiculous price of $20. That was the final straw as I decided I could pay for the bike by saving that fee after several outings.
I bought a good used bike for a good price.  I had a rack put on the back to which I attached a rod holder.  I could use a milk crate for my plug bag and spare clothes, but that will come later.  Once it was set up, I headed to the Canal today.
The bike did the job.  I pedaled away and found fish off the beaten path away from the crowds.  I was able to land a hefty schoolie along with two keepers, and there was no one within 30 yards on both sides of me.  One of the fish went about 20 lbs., a real nice fish.
So, I got my exercise in while fishing in some uncrowded  yet productive stretches of the Canal. Perfect. I'm sold on the bike and have plans to use it in certain locations in RI also!
After years of fishing the Canal, I have come to the conclusion that the bike is
the way to go. Landed three fish today in places where the bike got me
away from the crowds and into the fish.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


The float and jig was hot
yesterday in the white
water along the RI oceanfront.
Your chances of getting a keeper are
far better at the Canal than along the
RI oceanfront right now. Jon landed
several small keepers in the last 2 days.
The last two days have seen a big improvement in the fishing for me.  Yesterday, I hit the oceanfront in the evening.  I had perfect conditions with a good southwest wind, rough but clean water, and lots of water movement in the place I was fishing. It had stripers written all over it. In addition, I had the whole place to myself as few guys are out fishing these days due to the crowds and the marginal fishing from shore.  I found real good numbers of schoolies from 16-22 inches.  All the fish I landed were caught on a float and bucktail jig combo (see photo at right). I saw some fish jumping but they were fussy as they often are in the summer. They would only take that half ounce flathead jig.
Today, my son Jon and I hit the Cape Cod Canal.  He had the day off from work and wanted to get back to the Ditch after a good day that he had there yesterday. We found good numbers of fish breaking way out in multiple spots, but they, too, were fussy as we had lots of hits but only landed a couple of fish.  Still, it was exciting just to cast to breaking fish. Interestingly, many of those Canal fish being caught these days are in the 24-32 inch range, far smaller than I have seen in other years. Still, you see a good size one taken almost anytime you there as I saw a near 40 inch fish landed today.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Great Sunset, Not so Great Fishing

It continues to be a poor early summer for me.  This past week I fished both the Bay and the oceanfront and came away with a big BLANK. I saw a good number of fishermen out and about and they all reported slow fishing also.  Many are especially complaining about the lack of keepers in the surf, a problem all year here in RI, that seems to be even worse in the summer surf.
I did see a lot of bait around.  In the Bay, I found adult menhaden right up against the shore in multiple locations, but there was nothing after them.  I couldn't even find a schoolie or a sea robin willing to hit.  Water in the Bay continues to be murky and discolored. There is a noticeable lack of small bait in the Upper Bay. Last year at this time the Bay was choking with peanut bunker and blues and stripers were on the rampage. Not so this year.  At the oceanfront I did see some birds working way out. There are numerous reports about small sandeels around and I'm guessing that is what they were feeding on.  If you can find this bait close to shore, I would say you have a shot at finding schoolies.
While the fishing sucked two nights ago, the sunset was spectacular. So, all was not lost.
Beautiful...hard to believe there was not striper in this water.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Fish of the Week.....A Rare Sturgeon

I've caught a lot of different species of fish in my days, but this one was a one in a million catch. While carp fishing this week in a tidal section of the Ct. River, I landed my very first STURGEON. These are extremely rare fish in southern New England, so much so that they are on the endangered list of species. I had just landed two good sized carp, and then I caught this one quite by mistake as the fish hit a hair rigged combo bait of maize with an artificial pink kernel of plastic corn.
One memorable thing about this fish was the fight.  It took the bait just like a carp with a couple of bangs on the rod and then a run.  But, as soon as I set the hook, the fish came flying out of the water like a missile.  It must have jumped three feet in the air in a spectacular leap. That's when I knew I hooked a rare sturgeon.
Once on the shore I quickly unhooked it (luckily just hooked in the lip), snapped a few quick photos and it was back in the water in about 30 seconds. Wanting to get the fish back quickly, I did not take a weight or a measurement, but I can tell you this prehistoric looking beast was about three feet long and weighed about 10-15 lbs.
The fish seemed none the worse for the wear as it slowly swam away into the depths of the river.
Note that there is no open season for sturgeon anywhere in New England. It is illegal to possess this fish.  Any caught by fishermen must be returned to the water as soon as possible.
For me, this was a once in a lifetime fish, and I have only seen a few photos of rare catches. I doubt that I will ever duplicate this again!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Small Fish Continue to Dominate

I landed 12 schoolies in the last two
evenings.  Small schoolies are around
in big numbers; keepers are scarse.
Sea robins seem to be
everywhere and are
aggressively taking lures.
It continues to be the year of disappointment if you are a surf fishermen looking for larger stripers. The big ones are not around in any numbers, but the small ones continue to dominate the fishing scene.  I have fished a lot in the last two weeks hitting spots in the Bay and at the oceanfront, and I've caught a lot of small stripers.  I've tried big plugs, small plugs.  I've fished after dark and in the evening daylight.  I've fished rough water and calm.  And, the results have been  the same.  I am getting very good numbers of stripers from 10-20 inches, and that's it. Surprisingly, I am also seeing tons of sea robins everywhere I go, and they have been aggressively hitting a variety of plugs and jigs.
I am not the only one having trouble finding bigger fish.  A frequent theme of The Fisherman magazine's reports have been about the lack of big fish in CT waters in the last month.  The Providence Journal's fishing report told of a surf fishing tournament last weekend in Narragansett in which no large fish were entered.  And, I have numerous friends who have been out trying with little success with larger fish.
So, it is what it is. Grab a light outfit and enjoy the schoolies in the upcoming holiday weekend. Things will change come fall.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Cooler Water Delivers

I landed this schoolie before dark on a jointed
Red Fin swimmer.
After dark, the Slug-go ruled.
Until shore fishing improves in the upper Bay, I am basically done with this area. So, last night I did what I do every year at this time.  Head out in search of fish in cooler water.  And, for me that means heading to the lower Bay and oceanfront and hitting areas like Jamestown and Newport.  Last evening I chose Jamestown.
I found cooler water, way cooler that the upper Bay, and I found very good numbers of stripers.  While I was looking for larger schoolies and even keepers, all I found were a load of smaller schoolies under 20 inches. These looked like the same fish I had been catching for the last two months in the Bay. I landed quite a few fish before dark on swimmers and Jumpin Minnows and landed good numbers of them after dark on 7 1/2 inch white Slug-gos.
The fish were very active in the area I fished as I saw lots of fish whirling and jumping for small bait.  And, I can assure you the water was cool. I could feel a real difference through my waders.  I am guessing it was maybe 8-10 degrees cooler than the upper Bay, and that made a big difference in the fishing.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Heading Downhill

Just a couple of weeks ago, the water was
clean and cool and the stripers were abundant
in the upper Bay.  Things have gone downhill
in the last week.
Ah, it's that time of year. We get to about the third week of June and the fishing changes dramatically in the Bay. In the last two outings I have only managed to scratch a few schoolies in places where I was killing them two weeks ago.
I have been staying in the Bay from shore for the last month because the fishing had been so good for schoolies and bluefish with occasional small keepers in the mix.  That has really changed in the last week due to a number of factors that have sent the fishing in a downward spiral.  Water temperatures have shot up, there is little small bait and the water quality has been poor.
Just a couple of weeks ago the water temperatures in the Bay were in the fifties and low sixties. I checked today and the water temperature at Conimicut was a very warm 72 degrees.  Credit that hot spell last week of three ninety degree days in a row for really upping the water temps.
I have seen very little small bait around.  We still have a lot of adult pogies but they are all holed up in one very popular spot. There are so many they are dying and there are loads of dead ones all around the upper Bay.  I have seen no peanut bunker which was moving into the Bay last year at this time.  If a lot of bait comes around the water can get as warm as it wants, and the stripers will remain active.
The water quality in the Bay is not good.  On the last three outings it looked like I was fishing in a giant cup of coffee with visibility about a foot in the crappy water.  I suspect that large amounts of rain, run off and warm weather have contributed to foul the water.  I have never had good fishing in water like this.
So, this is the time of year in which many fishermen head to the lower part of the Bay and the oceanfront to find better striper action.  Places along Newport, Jamestown, Block Island and Narragansett offer cleaner and cooler water and that generally leads to better fishing at this time. Another summer has arrived.

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Trip to Black Sea Bass Heaven

I have written in the past about the fabulous fishing for black sea bass that Buzzards Bay has to offer.  And, I have written about some real good days we had there.  But, yesterday had to be the BEST.  I have never seen so many good size black sea bass as I saw yesterday. They were all over this Bay.  We even saw some surfacing for bait.
At one point there were birds all around us diving and black sea bass driving the bait on the surface. They were even swimming in schools in the clear water down a few feet right under the boat and this was in water that was 25 feet deep. I've never seen them on the surface like this.  The depth finder at times revealed fish ten feet thick under the bait.  We could not even get our metal offerings to the bottom without a fish grabbing it on the way down.This went on all afternoon in multiple spots as we had a fish on just about every drop of the metal.
The hot lure of the day was a Kastmaster XL which we just dropped to the bottom and jigged it up and down with pulls of the rod tip.  Just about all the fish we caught were keepers with most going 15-20 inches.  We also had a few real big ones that went over 20 inches that we kept.
Buzzards Bay also has the most beautiful specimens of black sea bass that you will find anywhere.  Many of the fish we caught had bright blue heads and fins, a characteristic of fish we find here at this time of year.
Chalk up another great day of fishing in this very best spot on the East Coast for sea bass.

Simply Beautiful!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Mother of All Bluefish Landed on a WILD Day

This bluefish, the biggest we ever caught, measured
a whopping 40 inches.  It was caught on a Rebel
Jumpin Minnow.  It was one of over 60 big blues
landed today in a wild day of fishing.
We've landed some big bluefish over the years from shore and boat, but today yielded the biggest one I have ever seen. My brother Steve landed this Mother of All Bluefish, a 40 inch monster on the best day of fishing for blues we have ever had in June. The state record for blues is listed at 39 inches and 26 lbs.  While this fish bests the state record in length, I don't think it was fat enough to beat the weight.  I would estimate this fish went in the low to mid 20 lb. range. It was unhooked and released so the beast still swims in Gansett Bay.
This was an absolute wild day.  We found big blues stacked up in a corner of the Bay.  For hours we had a hit or a fish on just about every cast using a topwater plug.  Just about any topwater plug like poppers, Spooks and Jumpin Minnows were blasted by these super aggressive blues in the 8-15 lb. range.  The monster blue described above was caught on a black back Rebel Jumpin Minnow. There were so many blues that when we were reeling one to the boat, there were often four or five following the hooked fish trying to steal the plug from its mouth.
And, not only did we get blues.  We also landed half a dozen stripers from 22 inches to small keeper size. There were no small schoolies in this melee. I'm sure they would have been eaten by the ravenous blues.
All of our fish today were caught on plugs.  Interestingly, many fishermen were running all over the Bay today trying to snag or fish with pogies.  We found a ton of pogies miles from where we hit the blues.  But, there was not a single big fish under them and we saw no one land a fish on a menhaden.

This big blue has just clobbered a white popper. Topwater plugs such as poppers,
Spooks and Jumpin Minnows caught all the blues and stripers today.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Another Big Bluefish Year on the Way?

Big blues have been around from shore. I landed
this one a couple of nights ago.
We've also found big numbers of
them from the boat this week. There's
plenty of food to keep them around.
One of the highlights of last year was the resurgence of big bluefish along the south shore oceanfront as well as in the Bay. It was the best year for big blues in at least a decade. This year has all the makings of a repeat if you look at what is going on right now.
My brother and I fished in the boat one day this week.  While we found no big stripers we found plenty of big bluefish.  In fact, this was our best day ever for big bluefish in early June as we boated well over 30 of them while fishing topwater plugs.  They ranged from 8-15 lbs. The next night I fished from shore.  I thought I had a big striper on but when I got it to shore it turned out to be another big blue.  I also know of another guy who reported blues up to 15 lbs. from a shore spot in the Bay.  These are all examples of a growing big bluefish population that should swell to big numbers by late summer.
Add to all this a huge population of menhaden in the Bay. I believe this is drawing in numbers of big bluefish, although my brother thinks the blues could be feasting on the massive number of small schoolies that are in the Bay right now.  Either way, there's plenty of food to keep them coming.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Very Hot Plug

I landed this monster blue on the Jumpin
Minnow along with another 15 big blues
this week in the Bay from the boat.
This small keeper was landed
from shore this week on a
Jumpin Minnow.
The hottest plug in my bag right now is actually the most inexpensive.  How's that for a bargain? I've written many times about the Rebel Jumpin' Minnow, and I have to highlight it again.  I've landed a number of hefty schoolies and small keepers as well as some monster bluefish in the last week and just about everything has come on the minnow. It's far outfished most other plugs in my bag and is the hottest thing going right now.
This is a plug that works well on light tackle and in "small" spots like bays, harbors and backwaters.  It's not a plug that would make it in big, long cast spots.  But, in those calm spots where fussy fish are feeding on small bait, it is terrific.
I especially like the bone, or off white colored model.  As I have said in the past I change the hooks on the plug out of the box and put on VMC 4X, size #1 hooks.
To work the plug, reel in with a slow retrieve while moving the rod tip with short jerks.  This should cause the plug to wiggle back and forth on the surface on the retrieve.  If a fish is whirling in back of it, slow it down or even stop it.

The Jumpin Minnow is best fished with light tackle.  This bone color is
my favorite color.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Photo of the Day....Keeper at Dark

First Blue

Yes, they are around, but no big numbers.
It was late incoming, but I got my first bluefish last evening in Narragansett Bay from shore.  I know that they have been around for the last ten days or so along the oceanfront, but this is the first one that I have caught and even heard of in the Bay. Note that it was one lone fish that hit a Rebel Jumpin Minnow, so I don't think there are any big numbers around.  Until we see some warmer weather and more bait, I don't think you are going to see big numbers of bluefish.
In recent years, the trend for blues has been more of a late summer and fall thing.  They usually arrive when schools of peanut bunker come around and that happens in mid to late summer.
The fishing in general has become an up and down thing in recent days.  The unusual cool weather, lots of rain, and really big tides has had a negative effect on the shore fishing for stripers.   I also notice the water quality in the Bay is poor.  There is also a lot of weed and grass in the water due to this week's higher than normal tides, and the water has had a greenish/brown tint to it.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

700 to 3

There have been huge numbers of 10-18 inch
schoolies around, but keepers are in short supply.
Where are the keepers? So far this year I have landed over 700 stripers. Of that number, a mere 3 have been keepers from 28-32 inches. That is an incredible difference between schoolies and keepers. While we have a glut of schoolies, there clearly is a shortage of keepers. Shore fishermen who use plugs are especially finding it difficult to catch a good fish. I am guessing this trend is going to continue for the rest of the season.
There have been an incredible number of small schoolies in the 10-18 inch range. I am finding them just about everywhere I fish, even in those big fish spots of past years.  Heck, even those larger schoolies that run 20-27 inches have been in short supply. I haven't gotten many of those either.
We keep hearing inflated reports about the abundance of large stripers in the Bay chasing pogies. Both my brother and I have not seen it. At best, that menhaden thing is hit or miss, and there seems to be no consistent big numbers of larger fish chasing them.  For instance, my brother Steve was out in boat in the Bay last week looking all over the place for large fish on pogies.  He ended up catching one good striper of 45 inches.  That was it for the day, and he never saw another boater catch a fish even though he saw dozens of them trying.  There were lots of pogies, but few large stripers under them.
Many are pointing to the fact that the weather and the water is still cold.  I know that last year the real good fishing for large fish in the Bay happened in June. Hopefully, that will happen again this year.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Change in the "Best Bet" Lures and Plugs

Matt Pickering landed this nice
fish from the boat on a Zara "Super
Spook" fished at Boston Harbor
this morning..
The saltwater game is changing.  Up until this week, I had been getting nearly all my stripers on jigs. I was getting them on Cocahoes on jigheads, flukes on jigheads and bucktail jigs. While fish can still be caught on these, the past week's warm weather has gotten the fish more active, and they are now hitting and favoring different plugs. One big change is that small topwater  lures and plugs are now really producing.
This schoolie hit a bone colored Rebel
Jumpin Minnow last evening from
shore in Narragansett Bay.
I am getting good numbers of fish up to keeper size from the boat as well as from shore on such plugs as white Slug-gos, Rebel Jumpin Minnows and Zara Spooks. These are all plugs that jump and dart on the surface as you retrieve with short pulls of the rod tip. These plugs are far more effective than traditional poppers and will often really produce when the fish turn fussy.
I like all of the above mentioned plugs in a white or bone color. Note that the Zara Super Spook is the best caster of the three and is a good choice when the fish are out far or the wind is in your face. Note also that some blues are now around and the hard plastic lures such as the Spook and Jumpin Minnow are good bets to use when toothy blues are mixed with stripers.
This small keeper was landed on a white, 7 1/2 inch Slug-go in Narragansett
Bay this week from the boat. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Photo of the Day....Flukes Still Hot Lure

I landed this near keeper toninght along with several small ones.  The albino Zoom fluke
on a half ounce jighead continues to be a hot lure in the Bay.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Big Week of Fishing

Steve Pickering with a Gansett Bay keeper.
It didn't matter whether I was fishing from the boat or fishing from shore.  This was a real big week of fishing for me as I landed well over a hundred stripers up to keeper size. I concentrated all my efforts in Narragansett and Mt. Hope Bays. My sons have been also cleaning up as Jon and Ben are getting good numbers of fish from shore in the Bay, and Matt is getting fish up to keeper size at Boston Harbor from shore.
This fish took a Cocahoe
mounted on a small
jighead.  These have
been hot when the fish
have been fussy.
The fish are really spread out right now.  When fishing from the boat we plugged various shorelines and it seemed like the fish were hitting all over the place.  Some spots had more, some less, but still, fish all over. Fishing low water under ten feet was a key to success.
Plastics continue to be the hot numbers from shore and boat.  I landed lots of fish on albino Zoom flukes on half ounce jigheads from shore.  One day we were out in the boat and fussy fish were breaking all over the place. I assume they were on small bait.  That day a small three inch, white Cocahoe was hot.  On another day I used a 7 and 1/2 inch white Slug-Go to catch a lot of fish from the boat. I have done very little on hard plugs, but one day my son, Jon, hit a good number of fish from shore on a small Rapala X-rap swimmer. Small artificials are producing the best right now.
This keeper hit an albino Zoom fluke,
 a hot lure from shore and boat this
The fish continue to get bigger.  The average schoolie is now running 16-20 inches with good numbers of 20-25 inch fish and a lot less micro fish.  Occasionally we are getting keepers in the 28-33 inch range.
So, everything is hot right now. Mid May is just a terrific time to fish.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Photo of the Day....Scoring from the Boat

It was a big day from the boat today in Narragansett Bay as we hit large numbers
of good size schoolies and good numbers of keepers.  This was my biggest of the
day at 32 inches. More and more large fish are entering the Bay. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Catching in the Nastiness

This is one of 40 stripers landed
this evening in the Bay. Zoom
flukes on a jighead continue
to be very effective in the Bay.
It's been no let up from my end as the glut of schoolies continues to roll along. The oceanfront was battered from that big storm on Friday and Saturday and then the big southerly blow today.  So, rather than fighting the heavy surf and roiled water along the oceanfront, I concentrated on the Bay in the last few days. And, the fishing there was good as it seems to improve by the day, even in the nasty weather.
This evening I had my best outing yet in the Bay this spring as I landed over 40 schoolies in just a couple of hours of  fishing.  They were hitting the albino Zoom fluke on a 3/4 ounce jighead. While most of the fish were on the small side, I did have a number of them over 20 inches.  I'm guessing those millions of small ones that have been moving along the oceanfront are probably pouring into the Bay right now.
Prior to the storm I heard of some keepers up to 34 inches along the oceanfront and in the Bay.  But, I still have not seen or heard of a forty inch striper.  Rest assured, that is coming as the Bay is also loaded with menhaden, and it is only a matter of time until the large fish come looking for them.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Photo of the Day....Near Keeper

Got this near keeper in the Bay tonight along with a bunch of other smaller ones.
The fish took a four inch Zoom fluke mounted on a half ounce jighead, a hot
lure all week in the Bay.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Small Fish Continue to Dominate

Schoolies in the 8-14 inch range continue to dominate the
spring fishing. We might be a couple of weeks away
until the real large fish arrive.
There are a lot of small ones, I mean tons of small ones. Schoolies in the 8-14 inch range continue to dominate the fishing along both the oceanfront and the Bay. Occasionally, you will see a fish of 24-28 inches but I'm guessing you will get fifty small ones to one in that size range.
So, a lot of fishermen are turning to light tackle to catch these fish. Hey, it's either go after small ones or stay home and watch TV. These fish continue to hit jigs, the hottest lures right now.  Cocahoes are your best bet along the oceanfront while a Zoom fluke on a small jighead is getting the job done in the Bay.
One other note here.  I have been seeing BIG numbers of large menhaden nightly in the Bay.  There have been evenings where I am just standing in a mass of them.  On other evenings I was snagging one pogy after another menhaden on my jigs.  So, the big bait is in place.  It is simply a matter of time until the real large fish (over 36 inches) arrive and finds them.  And then, all hell will break loose.  It's coming.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Focusing on the Bay

While the majority of the fish are small,
some are decent size like this fish my son
Jon landed tonight.
Huge numbers of stripers continue to be caught along the oceanfront.  But, realize, too, the Bay is really picking up steam.  I fished in the Bay the last two evenings and came away with 40 schoolies.  Bay fish seem to be just like the oceanfront.  There are lots of small ones in the 8 to 15 inch range with occasional bigger ones that run 24-28 inches.
Zoom flukes are catching most
of my fish in the Bay right now.
The hot lure in the Bay for me has been a 4 inch Zoom fluke mounted onto a small (under half ounce) jighead. I especially like that fluke in an albino color. You want to cast this out and pull the rod tip in short bursts as you reel the lure in slowly. This is light tackle fishing and my 8 ft.,  St. Croix Mojo rod with my 150 Van Stall reel is doing the trick.
While I ran into tons of fishermen last week along the oceanfront, I seem to have the Bay to myself from shore.  I've seen very few fishermen in this area.