Sunday, December 17, 2017

Grading the Past Year Here in RI

Here we go again this year.  With fishing over except for limited holdover action, it's time to grade the past season. The highlights will be the tons of schoolies and the hot albie action; the disappointments will be the lack of keeper stripers here in RI and the dreadful low numbers of bluefish.
It was loaded with schoolies in 2017.
Schoolies- It was a banner year for schoolies, and that bodes well for the future.  From the get go in mid April, there were tons of schoolies around both the oceanfront and the Bay. For the year I landed 2300 stripers and the majority were under 24 inches. My first big hit along the south shore oceanfront happened on April 13 when I landed 35 schoolies.  From then on it was a glut of fish along the south shore as well as in the Bay until the action started to slow in early June. Summer fishing as always was a bit spotty but I still had good action in the Bay from shore.  Fall fishing was fantastic, especially in November where big numbers were being caught almost daily along the south shore beachfront. Grade for 2017....A

Keeper stripers were a disappointment
here in RI. The few that were around
were generally 28-34 inches. 
Keeper Stripers- These were a disappointment here in RI. My first keeper of the year came from the Bay on April 26. Fishing for keepers was better in May and June but they were few and far between, even from the boat.  We found tons of menhaden around from the boat but  there were few keepers under them. There was a good pod of keepers holed up in the Bay near the Hurricane Barrier but there were loads of shore guys and boaters after them. We scored better on keepers from the boat than from the shore, but even the boat saw far fewer than other years. I tried a lot in the fall for RI keepers and it was a few here and there with no big numbers and no big fish.  The biggest I was able to get from RI waters was a disappointing 20 lbs. Now, for those thinking the big ones are in decline, all you had to do was travel a short distance to the Cape Cod Canal where a bonanza of big fish over 20 lbs were holed up all summer.  If I were grading the Canal, I would give it an A+.  Here in RI was a different story. Grade for RI keepers....C-
It was another fantastic year for albies.
Albies- It was another record year in terms of numbers. Right on schedule, I got my first ones from shore on Sept. 14. From then until early November (yes, very late), it was lights out.  I found them in multiple locations from the mouth of the Bay down to the south shore.  There was rarely a day in which I didn't see them jumping. The beginning of the season, from mid September until mid October, was very good, though some days the fish were especially fussy. I think the increased albie action in recent years is a result of the warming ocean.  Expect this hot fishing to continue in the next few years. Grade for 2017...A
Bluefish were a major
disappointment in 2017.
Bluefish- Wow, this was the  disappointment of 2017. They were very few and far between. I landed my first one on the late date of May 28 from shore in the Bay. We had a couple of good outings with big blues (over 10 lbs.)in the Bay in late spring from the boat.  My brother Steve got the whopper of a lifetime with a 40 inch blue on May 31.  However, that action died in early summer.  Late in the fall we landed a few from the boat, but they were almost non-existent from shore.  Heck, I didn't even see any snapper blues in the Bay. All fall I landed exactly 7 bluefish and 6 of those were caught on one day.  I saw no blitzes of big blues along the south shore in November as we usually see. I think the blues are in trouble but no one seems worried about it. Grade for bluefish for 2017....D