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.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Day of Firsts: First Stripers from Bay, First Keeper!

Zoom flukes on a
jighead were hot today
as I got my first ones
from the Bay
Today was yet another sign that the fish are on the move in their spring migration.  I landed my first stripers of spring from the Bay from shore.  These were all decent schoolies that averaged 20 inches.  They were considerably bigger than what I saw along the oceanfront this week.  I also got my first keeper today. It was a fish that I measured that went exactly 28 inches.  All of today's fish were caught on 4 inch, albino Zoom flukes that were threaded onto a quarter ounce jighead.
I really was not surprised that the fish are now in the Bay.  In most years, I get my first ones in the Bay about 2 weeks after I catch my first fish along the oceanfront. I also usually get my first keeper about 2 weeks after the first schoolies along the oceanfront. So, everything is moving right along schedule.
Next on the list will be the first bluefish.  They should be here around the first week of May.

I also got my first keeper of the year in the Bay today.  This fish went
exactly 28 inches and was caught on a Zoom fluke. Expect to see more and
more keepers in the coming days and weeks.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Best April Ever in Terms of Numbers?

There are record numbers of schoolies right now along
the oceanfront. This one took a Cocahoe minnow, a hot
lure in April.
Staggering numbers of schoolies continue to move along the oceanfront. I can't remember an April where we have had this many fish.  It is simply phenomenal, maybe the best April ever in the places I am fishing.
Thusfar I have been out 11 times in the month of April.  My logbook indicates I've landed very close to 500 stripers, all schoolies.  Think about this...that's close to 50 fish an outing.  And, I haven't once fished all day.  I've been out on  3 to 5 hour sessions.  Yes, there are that many fish around.  I'm guessing that there are guys who have been pounding it hard every single day who must have 1,000 fish so far. If there is any downside to this glut of fish, it is the fact that I have yet to see a keeper caught.  That shouldn't be a big surprise since April keepers tend to be rare and there have been many years in which I have not caught one until the first week of May.
Even with the wrong conditions, the fish are still on the rampage.  I went down today in the pouring rain with all the wrong conditions. Many experienced fishermen would tell you today's wind was from the wrong direction, the water was too cold, the ocean was too flat and the sun was not out.  All that didn't seem to matter as I landed 36 schoolies in just a few hours of slugging it out in the pouring rain.  The hot lures today were Cocahoes on jigheads (what else?) and shrimp fly teasers. Most fishermen must have thought the fish would not be hitting because I saw very few fishermen around today.
With favorable weather coming at the end of the week and the weekend, the spring bonanza should continue, and don't be surprised if you land a keeper or see some caught.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Photo of the day....Another Decent One Comes Ashore!

Another decent fish, just under keeper size, comes ashore in the RI surf.
The phenomenal spring fishing just keeps rolling along.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Photo of the Day.....Getting Bigger!

Yes, they are getting bigger by the day.  Hit another big day in the
south shore surf today, and the fish were considerably bigger
than earlier in the week.  Cocahoes continue to be the hot lure.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Astronomical Numbers of Schoolies Arrive

Cocahoes on a small jighead
were hot producers today.
My shrimp fly teaser was
also a hot number and led to
numerous double headers.
They are here.  I mean REALLY here.  I hit the MOTHER of all spring blitzes today as astronomical numbers of schoolies hit the shore in the location I was fishing along the RI south shore.  This was an all day bonanza.  I saw an army of shoulder to shoulder anglers land over ONE THOUSAND schoolies. Guys were walking off because they were "sick of catching fish". I had a fish or a hit on every cast for at least 4 hours.
Credit those recent warm days and a southwest wind for blowing the main migration of stripers our way.  And, yes these were migrating stripers.  Nearly all the fish I landed were bright colored and loaded with sea lice.  These fish were all on the small side, running as small as 7 inches and as large as 20 inches. The average fish seemed to be about a foot long.  There are rumors swirling that some small keepers have been taken in the last couple of days, but I saw nothing that came close today.
I landed all my fish on either three inch Cocahoes on a half ounce jighead or the shrimp fly teaser rigged ahead of my jig.  I probably had at least 25 double headers with that rig.
The good times have arrived in a BIG way.

Check out the sea lice on the tail and lower body of this fish.  Nearly
all the fish I landed today had sea lice, a sure sign of a migrating striper.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Holdovers or Migrating Fish?

Many fishermen ask me how you can tell a holdover from a migrating striper. The simple answer is you can't.
This skinny schoolie, landed on a Zoom fluke on
a quarter ounce jighead, was one of  many
fish landed tonight in a backwater location.
Is it a holdover or a migrating fish? I just
don't know.
There are a few things you can look for.  Migrating fish might have sea lice on them, especially if caught along the high surf of the ocean in April. However, I've caught many along the oceanfront with no lice.  Holdovers might be caught somewhere near fresh water where they hold up for the winter.  These areas can be backwater ponds or rivers that flow into the ocean.  But, migrating ones can also be found  there in April as they are drawn to these warmer backwaters where food is more plentiful.
I have landed staggering numbers of schoolies (close to 200 fish)  in the last week. I found scarse numbers of them along the oceanfront, yet the backwaters I've fished have been crawling with them. At first I thought these were all holdovers, but I am unsure. I've never found this many holdovers at this time of year in these places so I am beginning to think I might be finding a mix of holdovers and new fish.
But, I just don't know.

Thursday, April 13, 2017


My first schoolie of the new year was landed today along
the oceanfront.  There has been a trickle of migrating fish all week.
Things should improve with the warming water.
The good news is that the migrating fish have arrived along the RI oceanfront. The bad news is that there are not many of them. But, the way I see it, some are better than none.
I landed my first ones along the south shore today as I got 4 schoolies in a 2 1/2 hour period.  I saw about 8 other fish caught by a picket fence of about 25 fishermen, all itching to get their first ones of the year.  Since Monday it has been a trickle of migrating fish in the cold, 45 degree water.
I got all my fish on a four inch Cocahoe minnow mounted on a half ounce jighead.  The fish ranged from 12-16 inches.  However, the most exciting thing that happened to me today was what I saw and not what I caught.  While standing on a rock, I looked down in the water and saw a keeper striper of about 28 inches swim right by me.  It wasn't interested in hitting, but was a sign of things to come.  Yes, some larger ones are around, and it won't be long (another week or so) until the first small keepers are caught. Before that happens, the water has to heat up a bit, and with the warming water will come hotter fishing for schoolies and small keepers.
A new year has begun.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Best Jigs for April Schoolies

Spring striper fishing, especially in April, is not complicated. Jigs fished on light tackle pretty much rule the surf as the new arrivals and the holdovers are grubbing along the bottom for food. Here is a list of the three best bets pictured at the right from top to bottom:
This schoolie was landed last
evening on a Zoom fluke.
1.  Cocahoe on jighead- These are the hottest along the oceanfront. I like a light colored Cocahoe.  These come in three and four inch lengths and you will choose the size according to the size jighead you are using.  Three inch models work well with jigheads of half an ounce or less while four inch models are best suited to jigheads over 1/2 oz.
2.  Bucktail jigs-  These work well in both the Bay and along the oceanfront.  Go small with your jig with bucktail jigs of 3/8 and 1/2 ounce working the best.  Add three inch plastic grub tails to the jigs to make them even more effective. I especially like this flathead model.
3. Zoom flukes on jigheads- These are deadly in the bay, not so hot along the oceanfront.  I like the four inch models in an albino color.  These match up well with jigheads of 1/4, 3/8, or 1/2 ounce.

All the lures above can be fished on the bottom (most effective way to go) or off a float if you need to make a long cast.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Photos of the Day

Don't get excited.  This is a holdover striper I landed tonight.  It was one of many as
the holdover fish were active in this warm weather.

Besides holdover stripers I also found some white perch in the same waters.
Both the stripers and white perch were caught on Zoom flukes mounted on
quarter ounce jigheads

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Striper Watch is On

Look for the start to happen in a couple of weeks. Cocahoe
minnows mounted on jigheads should be hot producers.
It will happen some time this month. We are down to a matter of weeks.  The oceanfront will go from nothing to millions of schoolies. Just when it will happen is open to opinion. If you look back over the years, the big start generally takes place from April 10 to April 20.  A good indicator is a series of warm, sunny days with southwest winds. If we look back over the past three years, the start varied greatly.  These were the days I landed my first ones.  In 2014, I got my first ones on April 22.  In 2015, it happened late on April 29.  And, last year, 2016, I landed the first ones on April 11.
Back in the dead of winter, everyone was predicting an early start because of the warmer than normal winter.  However, March has been one of the coldest on record and that has cooled off the early start talk.  I don't know what all this means, but I am guessing it will be a later start than last year.
The start should see huge numbers of stripers in the 16-24 inch range based on the record numbers of small fish we saw last year. Your best bet will be to hit shallow water spots along the oceanfront that heat up quickly.  Your best lures will be jigs like Cocahoes on jigheads or bucktail jigs with grub tails. Shrimp fly teasers knotted onto your leader can also be very effective.
Watch the blog in the coming weeks for updated reports as I will be looking for those first ones in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Loading Up

Every year I buy stuff for the upcoming season based on what happened last year. My fishing showed that some of the hottest surface plugs last year were those pointy nosed skimmers. Many would call these "spook" type plugs based on the famous Heddon Zara Spook. These plugs would consistently outfish traditional poppers.
I've expanded my line-up of skimmers this year, stocking up on four different varieties.  These include the Rebel Jumpin' Minnow, the Heddon Super Spook, the Yo-Zuri Hydro Pencil and the Bomber Walk the Dog (see photo of these from top to bottom). You might have noticed that I used the Jumpin Minnow and the Super Spook a lot last year and had very good success on both stripers and bluefish.
All of these plugs are of the lightweight variety ranging in size from a half ounce to an ounce.  They are great to fish in Bays and protected waters with light tackle, not so great where a long cast and a big plug are needed. I also favor light colors on all these plugs as you can probably see from the photo.
The knock on just about all of these plugs is that the hooks and possibly the split rings should be beefed up.  Here are the modifications I make on each:
Jumpin' Minnow- Hooks must be changed to VMC 4X, size 1. Possibly change split rings to more heavy duty.
Super Spook- Remove middle hook and split ring.  Change front and rear hook to VMC 4X, size 1/0. Possibly change split rings.
Yo-Zuri- No change needed
Bomber- Change hooks to VMC 4X, size 1/0. Possibly change split rings.

Sunday, March 12, 2017


We have quietly gone over two million pageviews on the blog. Amazing!
I know there is huge and dedicated following because I constantly meet fishermen from all over New England.  I meet them at the fishing shows, along the water, in malls and even in some strange places.  I was skiing the other day at Wachusett Mountain and a guy came up to me and asked if I was the fisherman who wrote the RI striper blog. I can't believe he recognized me because I was all geared up in winter clothes, helmet, goggles, etc.
The guys and gals who are regular followers are in the thousands, and many have said how much they appreciate the info on the blog. One guy told me he checks it in the morning with his coffee, at lunch and again in the evening.....EVERY DAY! I can also tell you from my stats page that there are increasing numbers of readers from all over the world and there is a good following coming from the UK. Hmm, maybe tourist/fishermen who visit the East Coast. I also notice that the pageviews for my posts have really gone up this winter.  I suspect cabin fevered fishermen are going back and reading past posts.
So, thanks to everyone who frequents the blog. Watch the blog in the next month because soon we will REALLY have something to write about. It's coming!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Next Stop on Show Tour....River's End Tackle Striper Surf Day, March 25

My next show stop will be at River's End Tackle in Old Saybrook, CT. This popular and free event titled Striper Surf Day will be held on Sat., March 25.  It will feature sales on tackle, tackle reps., demonstrations, and seminars. This will be my first year doing this event.  Other seminar speakers include Toby Lapinski from the Fisherman magazine, Steve Mc Kenna, well known big striper hunter from RI and Dennis Zambrotta, another famous RI surf caster.  Looks like a great event.
Here is the link for more info: River's End Tackle Surf Day
My seminar will be a Power Point Presentation on fishing for keeper stripers, large blues and albies from shore. Hope to see many of you there for this fun event.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Next Stop on the Seminar Tour.....Springfield Sportsmens Show

My next stop on my winter seminar tour is the Springfield Sportsmens Show at the Big E in Springfield, MA.  I will be there on Sat., Feb.25.  I will be doing my saltwater seminar titled Keeper Bass and Big Blues from Shore and Boat along with my latest carp fishing show. The exact seminar time schedule should be posted soon.  I did the saltwater seminar at the New England Fishing and Outdoor Expo in Boxboro, MA several weeks ago and it was packed with fishermen. I expect the a similar turnout in Springfield.
The Springfield Sportsmens Show is a huge event billed as the biggest outdoor show in New England.  It features everything outdoors with an emphasis on hunting and fishing. All the show information is HERE. 
I hope to see many of my followers at the show.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Beefing Up the Jumpin Minnow

First step, remove
the original hooks and
split rings.
Add the replacement
hooks and split rings.
One of the hottest plugs for me last year was a Rebel Jumpin Minnow. This inexpensive plug, under 6 bucks in a lot of places, caught big numbers of stripers and bluefish of all sizes in Narragansett Bay as well as the RI oceanfront.  It was super effective when the fish were feeding on peanut bunker.
The big problem with this plug out of the box is its flimsy hardware.  It comes with cheap and weak split rings and flimsy hooks. So, the first thing I do before using this plug is to beef up the hardware.
First step is to remove the rings and hooks with split ring pliers.  I then add new split rings which are 4H, 80 lb. test.  Next, I add VMC 4X trebles in a size #2. It all takes about 5 minutes to accomplish.  I buy my split rings and hooks online from a place called NJ Tackle.  The website is HERE.
That's about it for beefing up this plug.  The plug is now ready to take on just about anything in saltwater.

On this plug I will be adding 4H, 80 lb. test split rings. The original hooks will be
replaced with VMC 4X trebles, size #2.

Monday, January 30, 2017

2017 NEOWA Youth Writing Contest

Do you know a student in grades 6-12 who is passionate about the outdoors and possesses good writing skills? The New England Outdoor Writers’ Association (NEOWA) of which I am a member is sponsoring a youth outdoor writing contest for students.  The written entries must be on any outdoor oriented topic.  For example, one can write about a fishing adventure, a hunting adventure, a nature walk, a kayaking trip, wildlife watching or other similar adventures that communicate and add to the knowledge and enjoyment of nature and natural resources. The written work should not exceed 500 words.  In the past I have gotten some great stories that told about fishing and outdoor adventures here in RI.
The contest runs in each New England state and there are junior (grades 6-8) and senior (grades 9-12) divisions. State winners will receive a $125 cash award.  New England “grand” winners will receive an additional  $150.
This is a great opportunity for students to showcase their writing about outdoor related topics.

For additional information and complete rules, click here: NEOWA Youth WritingContest

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Showtime...First Stop, New England Fishing and Outdoor Expo, Boxborough, MA

I'll be on the road again this winter doing saltwater and freshwater fishing seminars.  My first stop is the New England Fishing and Outdoor Expo at the Boxborough Holiday Inn located in Boxborough, MA right off Rt. 495. The show runs Jan. 27, 28 and 29.  Check out their website for directions.
This big outdoor show was the show that used to be in the DCU Center in Worcester. Since moving to Boxborough several years ago it has gotten bigger and better every year and features one of the best and most extensive seminar schedules you'll find at any outdoor show.
My two seminars are new for 2017. Here is my schedule and the seminars I will be doing:
Keeper Stripers and Large Blues from Shore and Boat.....Sat., Jan 28 at 12:00 and Sun., Jan. 29 at 11:00 AM
Targeting Large Carp.....Sat., Jan., 28 at 5:00 PM
Hope to see many of you there.