Thursday, September 20, 2018

Photo of the Day....On the Board!

I was fishing for stripers today and guess what popped up in front of me?  Here
is a photo of my first albie of the year taken on the float and blue tailed Deceiver fly.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Albie Outlook Turns Negative

It's not looking good for those expecting big numbers of albies to hit the shore. They usually arrive along the RI shoreline in big numbers from Sept. 10 to Sept. 15. That did not happen.  Some speculate it was because of the hurricane waves and the super rough water. Last year we also had rough water in September, yet albie fishing was still excellent, so I am not buying that excuse.
I've said many times that if you look back over the last 50 years, about a third of those years had good numbers of albies, about a third of those years had none and a third of those years had a few.  I am of the opinion that this year we will see a few. There have been a few around and some have been caught, but they are so few and far between that targeting them is basically a waste of time.  I plan to continue to target stripers and if I run into albies, I will be ready with my stuff.
There are those who think the fish are still coming, and I suspect that many of the reports that come out this weekend will spin that angle.  These are pelagic fish that come from the depths of the ocean inward.  They don't migrate along the shore like stripers. Stripers can be late in arriving.  These fish come in from deep water at a certain time, and if they don't (for whatever reason), they are not coming.
Many fishermen either forgot or were not around just 4 years ago. That year there were NONE, not a single albie was caught that I know of.  Yup, it was one of those "off" years.  Many also have come to believe this albie invasion is a sure thing.  Anyone with an historical perspective of what happens knows this fishing is never a sure bet.  We have been spoiled in recent years with outstanding albie fishing. It doesn't always happen this way and this year will prove that.
Geez, I hope I am wrong.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Huge Waves Pummel RI Oceanfront

The hurricane is hundreds of miles away yet its effects are being felt here.  Huge waves, some that I estimated to be 10 to 15 feet,  pummeled the RI oceanfront today making fishing near impossible in most areas.  I was able to fish a couple of protected spots and came away with good numbers of schoolies.  These photos tell today's story.....
Huge waves were going right over the East Wall at Point Judith at low tide making
for dangerous and impossible fishing conditions. The parking lots were loaded
with gawkers and surfers.

The waves were so big that the Town of Narragansett closed off all public access
along roads leading down to the shore. Here barriers block access to the
shoreline in front of Newton Avenue.

While fishing was impossible along much of the oceanfront, I did find good
numbers of schoolies in a couple of protected areas.  This fish hit a bucktail
jig fished off a float.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

ROUGH but Good

The Rebel Jumpin Minnow
has been hot in the last month.
I suggest you crush the barbs
on the trebles for easier
This fish hit a bucktail jig
fished off a wooden egg
float. That is a real effective
combo in rough water.
Man, it has been really rough at the oceanfront for the last couple of days here in RI. But, the fishing for stripers still remains real good in this churned up white water. In fact, the rough water seems to have charged the fish up!
Use caution if you do fish in this rough stuff.  Some areas are too dangerous to fish, but other spots that are somewhat protected are fishable.  You'll have to look around for fishable and safe water.
My son, Jon fished this morning.  He came away with 20 stripers on the float and jig.  While the majority of the fish were hefty schoolies, he did get three small keepers.
I fished later in the afternoon and evening.  I had 10 schoolies in a couple of different spots.  I got mine on both the float and jig as well as a Rebel Jumpin Minnow.
We are seeing more and more small keepers (28-32 inch range) mixing in with the masses of schoolies that have been around all year here in RI.
As far as albies, the first ones were taken from shore prior to this real rough water. I know of only a few that have been caught from shore. Many deep water spots that usually give up good numbers of albies have been unfishable in this big water.  When the oceanfront calms down, I am hoping we see better numbers of these fish.

Friday, September 7, 2018

No Albies Yet

This is a bonito. They have been around in fair
numbers this year. Many fishermen confuse this
fish with an albie, or false albacore.
I can say with just about certainty that there are no albies here in RI yet.  I have been out fishing (mainly for stripers) the last five days, and I have tried some of my albie stuff.  I also know of many real good fishermen that have been trying from shore.  No one has caught one. No one has seen one caught. They are not in yet.
There are constant rumors from the reports out there that some are around. As I have said before, many fisherman use the words "albies" and "bonito" interchangeably. Many fishermen out there don't know the difference. There have been a fair number of bonito around this year and more fishermen than normal are catching them, so I believe this is where the "albie" reports are coming from. Realize, though, your chances are slim of getting a bonito since their numbers pale in comparison to albies.
I'm still sticking with the timetable of Sept. 10 to Sept. 15 for the start of the albie invasion if it happens here in RI. Judging from what has happened in the past 40 years, I would say we have a 70 % chance of seeing good numbers.  On the flip side, you have about a 30% chance seeing few or none. If you don't see them by Sept. 15th, all bets are off that this will be a good year.
If they do hit the shore next week, be prepared to see some big numbers.  The start of it and the first couple of weeks of action have been the most epic in recent years. And, the early arrivals seem to be the easiest ones to catch.

Monday, September 3, 2018

An EPIC August

It was an August with the most keepers I have ever landed
this month from shore.
By far, it was the best August fishing I have ever experienced for stripers. For me, it was a month filled with loads of big keeper fish as well as countless numbers of schoolies. August was simply fabulous from start to finish, and it shows all signs of continuing into September.
If you were to ask me before the season started what the worst month of the year would be, I would have said "August". In the past, striper fishing from shore would bottom out in the beginning of August and would remain fair at best through the end of the month. In past years, there would be an uptick near the end of the month, but I'm talking a few fish here and there. Not this year.
I landed nearly 300 stripers from shore in August.  Of that total, I had close to 100 keepers. I expected to catch good numbers of keepers based on last year's  and this year's fishing in the only spot in New England that has any numbers of keepers. But, I found way, way more than even I expected. There were days in which I stared in awe as school after school of huge stripers would blitz the shore in the middle of the daytime.
Fishing for schoolies has been epic here in RI.  Huge amounts
of bait have triggered blitz after blitz along the oceanfront.
There have even been some small keepers in the mix.
The 200 schoolies I landed from shore was completely unexpected, and nearly all of these fish came from RI waters. Who would guess that there would be these numbers in the hottest summer on record with water temperatures along the oceanfront pushing into the 70's? Bait and loads of it (peanut bunker and bay achovies) lured millions of schoolies to the oceanfront with blitzes that looked like October rampages. For two weeks straight, I was able to find massive amounts of bait that triggered a blitz somewhere along the oceanfront in the middle of the daytime under (at times) a 90 degree August sun. This would be unheard of in past years.
So, now we move onto September with even more potential if that is possible. I've fished the last few days, and I can tell you that things are still red hot. Bluefish and even some bonito are in the mix. While there are no albies around just yet, I am guessing they are coming in the next couple of weeks, and then we will seem even more pandemonium. Get ready for an epic September.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

A Wild One from the Boat

First bonito of the year for me landed today.
It was a wild week of striper blitzes from the shore this week. And, today was a wild one from the boat as my brother Steve and I got more than just stripers.
Oh, the stripers and the bait were just about everywhere we went along the oceanfront. There were vast areas where stripers by the thousands were blitzing on peanut bunker by the millions!  There were blitzes of stripers in multiple spots we fished, and we caught countless amounts of them.  We estimated we landed over 70 stripers, all schoolies up to 24 inches. The hot striper lures were a Jumpin Minnow which I used and a Finesse Fish that Steve used. The Jumpin Minnow in a bone color has been my hottest lure all week.
Schoolies seemed to be
everywhere today as we hit
multiple blitzes. The Jumpin
Minnow was a hot lure.
The highlight of the day, though, was the 2 bonito we landed.  We found a small pod of them and we both hooked up at once.  I got mine on a Kastmaster XL and Steve got his on a Finesse Fish.  These were the first we landed this year although there have been a good number caught in the last week from shore and boat.
We also had a couple of large bluefish
 that are mixing in with the stripers.
In addition, we each landed a couple of decent size bluefish. Both of us had the rare September hat trick of a striper, a bluefish and a bonito on the same day.
That phenomenal August fishing along the RI oceanfront has moved right into September, and it shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, when we add albies to the mix in a couple of weeks, it will get even better!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Photo of the Day....End to a PHENOMENAL Evening

Jon Pickering hoists a good size schoolie to end a fantastic
evening of fishing.  Jon and I together landed over 100
schoolies in a few hours of fishing.  The fishing this week
has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Blues on the Increase

The Rebel Jumpin Minnow has been
effective for both large bluefish and
stripers this week.
We haven't seen them all year, but we are seeing them now.  The blues are back! Those massive schools of peanut bunker moving along the oceanfront have attracted a lot of attention from both stripers and bluefish this week.  This week my son Jon and I have landed some blues that have mixed in with the massive numbers of feeding stripers.  These are all good size bluefish ranging from 5 to 10 lbs. I have heard of bigger ones landed, but can not confirm this.
The blues are hitting the same stuff as the stripers. A problem comes when using a jig that is so effective on the bass.  The blues are cutting the jigs right off.  Tie on a wire leader and you turn off the stripers.  I have gone with hard plugs when the stripers and blues are mixed. The Rebel Jumpin Minnow has been a hot number although I have seen others using large poppers and catching blues on that.  The Jumpin Minnow has also been effective on stripers. Try crimping down those trebles for easier release.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Photo of the Day....A Rare RI Keeper

It was another big night of fishing along the RI oceanfront.
I landed dozens of schoolies and this one "rare" RI  keeper.
All the action was on a Cocahoe mounted to a 3/4 oz jighead.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Big Time August Blitz

Schools of peanut bunker
seem to be everywhere
along the oceanfront.  This
bait touched off a big blitz
tonight in the NE wind.
This schoolie hit a small Cocahoe that was
fish off a float.  The float and jig was really
hot tonight.
I hit one of the biggest August blitzes of stripers I have ever seen along the RI oceanfront tonight. The northeast wind brought lots of white water along with masses of peanut bunker to the shore where I was fishing. Feeding on the peanuts were tons of stripers. It was wild with so many birds diving for bait in front of me I was worried I was going to hook a bird.  At one point under the birds there were thousands of schoolies in a frenzy after the schools of small peanut bunker.
Using a float and jig (tried a small Cocahoe as well as a bucktail at the jig end) I was able to catch fish after fish.  These were all schoolies in the 18 to 25 inch range. These were bigger fish than I have been seeing along the oceanfront in the last month.  I also had two decent fish on (small keepers?).  One broke me off on a rock and the other straightened out the hook. Now, that's a good sign that some decent fish are prowling RI waters.
August is usually a dead time from shore along the RI oceanfront, but this year is different.  There's a ton of bait around and loads of schoolies. That combination has kept things hopping along the oceanfront.  In addition, pods of bonito are roaming around. It's fishing more like October rather than August. Looks like it is shaping up to be a banner fall here in RI!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Albie Hype.....Starting Early

We are less than a month away from albie
fishing. While there may be some bonito
around right now, the albies are basically
a September fish.  Note, this is a photo from
last year.
Already I saw a report this past week about albies and bonito off the RI shoreline. Really? I can believe the bonito, but no way there are albies around now. The hype starts early every year in mid to late August, and much of those early reports of albies are fake news. One issue is that many fishermen simply don't know the difference between an albie and a bonito.  I know that some bonito have been caught already, but realize many fishermen use the words bonito and albies interchangeably and that's how this gets into a report.  In addition, many fishermen in boats see fish breaking at this time of year. They are certain they are seeing albies. Most likely they are bluefish. Still others looking for some headlines will post an old photo of an albie caught years ago and claim they caught it this year.  You've got to love social media!
Here are a few FACTS about albies that I have gathered over the years:
*They most likely will appear in big numbers along the RI shore from Sept. 10th to Sept. 15th.  They will show in Vineyard Sound in big numbers about a week earlier, so look at those reports to get an idea as to when it will happen here.
*In all the years I have been fishing, there is only one year in which I landed an albie in August, and that was at the very end of the month.  It is rare to find them around here in August.
*I can count on one hand the number of bonito I have landed from shore.  Several of those came in August while I was targeting stripers and blues. I've had better luck with bonito from the boat, but still they are rare.
*If you look back over the last 40 years, about a third of those years saw good numbers of albies, a third saw a few and a third of those years had none.
* Recent years have been very good for albies here in RI and most fishermen new to the sport think this is a sure bet.  I am guessing that between the warm water and the good amount of bait around this year, we should see good numbers of albies, but you never know.
*The start of the action will be the best.  When these fish first arrive, they will hit the shore in big numbers and they will be super active.  The first arrivals will be the easiest to catch on a variety of lures.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Best Three Days of All Time for Big Fish

This 7 1/2 inche fast sinker has been
very effective this week.
This fish that I just
grabbed with the Boga
measured 45 inches. It was
caught on the plug on
the left. The fish was
I'm having an epic week of fishing catching one keeper after another from shore. In fact, these past few days have been the best three days of big fish fishing that I have ever experienced with keeper bass. I've landed and released well over 50 keepers in the last three days along with a few schoolies.  These have not been small keepers either.  I measured several fish over 40 inches with the biggest going a whopping 45 inches. I got two this size.  One 45 incher had a big head and a massive gut.  I'm guessing that fish was over 40 lbs.
 Yes, I am fishing the same place that most people in New England are fishing these days.  I'll let you figure that one out.
I have gotten all these fish this week on two plugs. The 9 inch Sebile magic swimmer in a ghostescent color has been the killer and has taken most of the keepers of the week including one 45 inch fish.  The other plug that has worked well has been a fast sinking  7 1/2 inchSebile Magic Swimmer in a blueback color.  That also caught fish up to 45 inches. The Sebiles have been the hot ticket with no other plug coming even close as far as effectiveness.

This cow also measured 45 inches.  It had a large head
and a big body.  It hit a nine inch Sebile Magic Swimmer.
It was released.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Photo of the Day....Sebile Magic Swimmer Strikes Again

Another keeper comes ashore today.  The Sebile Magic Swimmer
was working its magic once again today as my son Jon and I
banked ten keepers on this hot plug.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Photo of the Day......Catch of a Lifetime!

How's this for the catch of a lifetime! Ben Pickering ties
the knot this weekend with his girlfriend Amanda.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Magical and Nearly Impossible to Find!

This plug, a 9-inch Sebile Magic
Swimmer has been my hottest plug in
the last two weeks. They are near
impossible to find in tackle shops.
I have been targeting big fish for the last month.  And, yes, I have been fishing the same place that just about everyone in New England has been fishing from shore.
The hottest plug going for me and many others has been the Sebile Magic Swimmer. I am using the biggest one made, a monster, 9-inch, 4 1/2 ounce model. This thing is a slow sinker that crawls shoreward with a slow, alluring wiggle that seems to attract fish and elicit some of the most savage hits you will ever see. I am using the Ghostescent color, the color of choice for most anglers.
This photo has played out many times in the
last two weeks as stripers really key on this
hot plug.
This plug has become so popular that just about everyone from tackle shops to online vendors have sold out. The tackle shops tell me these are in such demand that they can't even reorder them from the Sebile company.  Two weeks ago I bought one from Red Top Bait and Tackle.  I went back two days later to get a couple of spares, and they had none left on the shelves. The guy at the counter said they put out the last two boxes of them in the morning and they were gone within two hours! Yikes, that's how hot these things are. Bass Pro, Cabelas  and Tackle Direct are all out.
So, I had just one in my bag.  I fished a couple of days ago and landed one decent keeper and a couple of big schoolies on the plug when nothing else was working.  Later while casting blindly since no fish were showing, the plug was on its way to shore when a huge, and I mean huge, striper blasted it not more than twenty feet from the where I was standing. I got a real good look a the fish and it was by far, the biggest fish I had hooked this year.  The beast tore off and headed straight for the bottom.  I could do nothing but watch as the line melted away from the reel.  Suddenly, the fish had me stuck on the bottom, I suspect it wrapped around a rock. Seconds later the line parted, my fish of the year was gone and my magical plug was history.
As soon as I got home, I scoured the Internet and found a store halfway across the country that had some of these plugs. So, this time I ordered a bunch, and I can't wait until they arrive.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Photo of the Day....Another Biggie Falls for an SP Minnow!

Another large striiper has fallen for a green mac colored SP Minnow.
 This has been a great week of catching large stripers for me.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Newest Seminar, Catching Albie Fever, to Debut Tomorrow Night at CT Surfcasters!

My latest seminar, Catching Albie Fever,
will debut tomorrow, Aug. 1, at the CT
Surfcasters Meeting in Madison, CT.
My newest seminar, Catching Albie Fever,  will debut tomorrow evening at the CT Surfcasters meeting at the Madison Surf Club in Madison, CT.
This seminar will reveal all you need to know about catching false albacore, or albies.  In recent years, albies have taken over the early fall fishing by storm.  They have been numerous, and they have been caught in big numbers by surf fishermen and boaters.  This fish has become one of the most sought after gamefish in New England waters because of its superior fighting ability which is second to none in the inshore waters.  The seminar will outline timetables, equipment, ways to catch them and a general overview of places to fish. There will be info on fishing from shore and boat.
The albies are coming soon.  Will you be ready?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Float 'n' Jig a Killer in Rough, White Water

The float 'n' bucktail jig
did the trick this week in
the rough water.
It's been all schoolies, and their numbers have
been staggering in the rough and turbulent
water of the oceanfront this week.
That persistent flow of strong southerly winds in the last week really roughed up the ocean.  It also lit up the fishing where the water was clean and rough.  I found staggering numbers of stripers.  These were all schoolies.
The hot lure combo for me in the last week has been the wooden egg float with a bucktail jig.  My floats are all homemade from a wooden egg that can be purchased in a craft store.  My bucktail jig is also homemade. It is a flathead, 3/8 ounce jig that is all white and tied with red thread.  Add a plastic curly tail to the jig and you are ready to go.
There were evenings when I saw schoolies breaking all over in the white water.  A wave would come in and dump thousands of gallons of foamy white water and the fish would go nuts, jumping and rolling in the turbulent water. In one evening this went on for two solid hours. The float and jig was a killer.  I would just cast it out to breaking fish and reel in slowly.  The current and turbulence would bring the jig to life.
In the past week, I have probably seen the most schoolies I have ever seen in July. While that is great news, the lack of larger fish and bluefish is disappointing.  They are just not around in the surf in any numbers here in RI.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Preview of Things to Come?

This schoolie was one of a dozen stripers
landed in a couple of hours fishing. 
Schoolies continue to be around in good
numbers along the oceanfront and in the Bay.
I fished the RI oceanfront last evening.  It had a fall feel to it with rough and white water, lots of wind and lots of current. The conditions were more like you would find in October rather than July.  It was perfect water to find stripers, and I found them in good numbers.
All the fish I found were all schoolies.  They were very aggressive, slamming my float and bucktail jig that I worked in the white water.  These fish were 15 to 23 inches long for the most part, just what we  have been seeing since the spring here in RI. Keepers have really been in short supply for RI surfcasters so I did not head down with the intentions of catching anything big.
If I were betting, I would guess that what I saw last night will play out over and over again this fall. Call my experience last evening a fall preview of things to come. I'm guessing we are going to see lots and lots of schoolies and very few larger stripers come the fall. And, bluefish...forget it.  With the exception of a few small ones in the Bay, they are really non-existent, and I think it will be that way in the fall also.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Tips for Catch-and-Release

Here's a 40 inch striper in the water about
to be turned around and released. Yes, the fish
did swim away and lives to fight another day.
Man, this has been a big week of fishing for my kids and me. We are fishing the same place as everyone else is fishing in southern New England (just check any report), and we caught big numbers of keepers there in the 20 to 40 lb. range in the past seven days.
We let everything go that we catch. So, we have gotten this catch-and-release down to a science. Here are some tips that have worked for us:
1. Get close to the water and use a Boga-type grip to land the fish.  I keep my attached to my belt so it is ready to go. That Boga allows you to keep the fish in the water for unhooking.  In addition, many of these grips have built in scales and measuring tapes, and you can either weigh it or measure the fish right on the spot, something a lot of guys like to do.
2. Unhook the  fish right in the water.  No need to take it out.  I have Van Staal pliers in a sheath with a lanyard around my belt to use for quick unhooking.
3.  If you are going to take a photo, have everything ready.  If I am using a camera, it is around my neck and ready to go.  The cell phone camera is in my pocket and set.  Take that quick photo or two right at the water's edge.
4. Get the fish released as quickly as possible.  In warmer water, you don't have much time for this to work.
5.  Don't just toss the fish back in as that causes many tired fish to belly up. Unfortunately, I saw too many dead fish float by me this week. I try to hold the fish by the tail and rock it back and forth to get oxygen in its gills.  The fish will pull from your hands and swim away.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Photo of the Day....Hitting it Big Time

Jon Pickering hits it big today from shore.  This is one of 14 keeper up to 47 inches that he landed.
These fish were all released. Keepers are around if you are fishing the right locations with the right stuff!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Grading the First Half of the RI Season

Schoolies have been the highlight of the year
so far; fishing for keeper stripers and bluefish
has been poor
We are about at the halfway point to the fishing season here in RI. Here is my take and the grades as to how things have gone so far here in RI:
Schoolies- Although the season got off to a late start due to a colder than normal spring, once things got started it was generally super fishing for schoolies in the 12 to 24 inch range. I must say they were everywhere.  The oceanfront was very good, the mid Bay was very good and the upper Bay was very good.I'm guessing some of those diehards at the oceanfront were scoring two to three hundred fish a week on jigs in late spring. While this hot weather has slowed the fishing, the schoolies are still in the Bay and along the oceanfront. Grade-A
Keepers- A different story. I saw and caught a few along the oceanfront and a few in the Bay from shore, but their numbers were way down compared to other years.  And, the sizes were way down.  The keepers around here have been running 28 to 32 inches for the most part.  Even when we fished from the boat in the Bay and caught keepers, they were on the small side. While many will try to tell you their numbers are way down, I have seen astronomical numbers of big fish recently from shore just to the north of us.  They are not in RI, but I can tell you they are elsewhere. Grade- D
Bluefish-  Where, oh where, are the blues? They have been going downhill for years and this year we seem to be bottoming out.  I have caught very few so far. I got exactly one from the boat and a few from shore so far.  In the last couple of weeks, there have been some smaller ones (foot long) in the Bay chasing peanut bunker, but there are no schools of them. Remember the days in which the water in the Bay would be boiling with schools of blues in late summer? I don't know if you will ever see that again. Grade - D 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Photo of the Day....First 30 lber. of the Year

Persistence pay off in this game.  I've got the Boga Grip in the jaw of a thirty
 pound (yes, it was weighed) keeper that I landed this morning from shore. It's the
first 30 of the year for me. Bigger fish are showing here and there, but you
will have to work for them.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Photo of the Day....OMG, it's a BLUEFISH

Yes, bluefish still exist, although very few fishermen seem
to be catching them these days.  I got several of them tonight in
the Bay as they were feasting on big schools of peanut bunker.
These were small ones all about a foot long.
My best lure tonight was a bucktail jig with a curly tail.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Laying Low this Holiday Week

I wish I had a lot of exciting fishing news, but I don't. It's hot, steamy and super crowded along the water.  That has caused me to lay low in the last couple of days.  Oh, I am still fishing, poking around the Bay in the evening and carp fishing in the morning.
I hear a lot of striper guys complaining about the lack of bigger fish here in RI from shore.  I have to hasn't been good for the bigger ones.  I am still catching some schoolies in the Bay, but their numbers have gone downhill with this heat wave. It's been a couple here and there on Jumpin Minnows right before dark for me. I'm in touch with a lot of other good fishermen here in RI and they, too, are reporting schoolies along the oceanfront.
I checked a NOAA site today and water temperatures in the Bay have shot up to the upper 70's in the last couple of days.  Even the water off Newport was 70 degrees today. With the heat wave continuing and much of July forecast to be way above normal, it can only mean marginal fishing from shore in the coming weeks. Your best times to fish under these warm conditions will be nighttime and early morning.
The dog days of summer have arrived.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Photo of the Day....Keeper on a Jumpin Minnow

Mike Pickering hoists a keeper that hit a Rebel Jumpin
Minnow that was fished in shallow water.  This is one of
30 stripers we landed today on surface plugs. The fish went
20 to 30 inches.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

They Still Hit Bucktail Jigs

Here's a Boston Harbor schoolie that fell for
a homemade flathead bucktail jig, a hot
number all week in this area.
I found a lot of fish, mostly schoolies,  this week in Boston Harbor.   I was getting them from both shore and boat. The interesting thing about these fish was that they were really keying on bucktail jigs spiced with a curly tail.  Yes, bucktail jigs still work, though few are using them these days.
In recent years, plastics on jigheads have put bucktail jigs on the back burner. The convenience of plastics have a lot of fishermen sold on them.  But when the bait is small and you are looking for a durable offering with action plus, nothing can beat that bucktail jig. Over the years I have caught black sea bass, albies bluefish, stripers of all sizes, fluke, scup, pollack and sea robins on bucktail jigs.  Just about any fish in the ocean that hits an artificial will hit buckail jigs. That's why it has been dubbed "the most versatile lure in saltwater" in countless publications.
I cast and tie all my own bucktail jigs.  I especially like the "lima bean" or flathead shape.  I only use white heads on my jigs and I generally tie on sparse amounts of white bucktail with red thread. I also like to add a Bass Pro, 3-inch triple ripple plastic tail to my jig to give it added action. That combo has been the winner for me in recent years. In Boston Harbor this week, the half ounce flathead fished on light tackle was taking the fish.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Small Stripers All Over; Big Ones Scarce

Ben Pickering holds a Boston Harbor schoolie.
There are loads of schoolies around but few
large fish, especially for shore fishermen.
I've been all over the place in the last three weeks.  I've fished the RI South Shore, Narragansett Bay, Buzzards Bay, the Cape Cod Canal and Boston Harbor.  I've fished from the boat and shore. I can tell you that there are small stripers all over the place.  These are schoolies that range from 12 to 24 inches for the most part. And, there are lots of them.
Keepers are different story.  There are some smaller keepers around in the 28 to 32 inch range, but there are no big numbers of those. The larger stripers, say over 36 inches, are scarce with very few around, especially from shore.
I got down to the Canal last week. It was loaded with fishermen the day I went. Many are hoping for a repeat performance of last year's epic fishing. I pedaled my bike up and down the canal and fished in multiple spots.  Of the hundreds of guys I saw fishing, I saw exactly five fish caught and these were smaller keepers in the 28 to 32 inch range. Many fishermen are saying everything is two weeks behind due to the cold spring weather. These same guys say the bigger fish are coming. I hope they are right.
Last night I joined two of my sons in Boston Harbor for an evening of fishing from shore.  In past years this was a hotspot for larger fish at this time. It was rare for us to fish there and not catch a keeper or two. But, same deal as everywhere else.....lots of schoolies, no keepers. My son Matt has also been fishing a lot from his boat. He's getting loads of schoolies with an occasional small keeper, but no large fish.
So, we are in this schoolie pattern right now with few large stripers around. It seems to be the same all over southern New England. With the weather taking a turn to warmer, maybe that will deliver some larger fish. We'll see.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Always a Good Day in Buzzards Bay

We fished from the boat yesterday in Buzzards Bay.  As we were catching fish after fish, my brother Steve remarked, "You know we have NEVER had a bad day in Buzzards Bay."  Sure enough, this is the closest thing to a sure bet in fishing, especially in late spring and early summer. Yesterday we landed huge numbers of keeper black sea bass and loads of stripers along with some scup and a bluefish.  Yes, this place is also known for variety.
How's this for a couple of biggies. Most of the
black sea bass here are keepers with some
huge ones in the mix.
Buzzards Bay offers about the best springtime black sea bass fishing that I have ever seen.  The fish are numerous and they are very large. We jigged both bucktail jigs (spiced with curly tails) and Kastmaster XL's in 25 to 40 feet of water to land close to a hundred fish, most of which were keepers.  We let everything go except for two huge ones. Note that the sea bass in this place have some of the most vibrant colors on them I have ever seen.
Buzzards Bay is also
loaded with schoolies.  This
one hit a Jumpin Minnow.
When we got sick of catching the sea bass, we set our sights on stripers. This place is also loaded with stripers.  We used our shallow water techniques from 'Gansett Bay to catch loads of schoolies. Buzzards Bay is covered with "fishy" shore spots.  I'm talking rocky points, flats with moving water, outflows and little estuaries. While we found no fish breaking, we found loads of stripers in many of these spots in shallow water that was generally 4 to 8 feet deep. We landed over 100 schoolies on lures such as Zoom flukes on jigheads, weightless Finesse Fish and Rebel Jumpin' Minnows.
It was yet another memorable day in this place.  We've had a lot of these types of days through the years.

The colors on black sea bass in this place are the most vibrant I have ever seen.
This huge one was simply GORGEOUS!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Photo of the Day.....Keeper from the Bay

Jon Pickering hoists a keeper that was landed in the Bay.  They are around but
you will have to look to find them.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Schoolies Abundant; Keepers Few and Far Between; Change in Scenery on the Way

Schoolies have been abundant in the Bay.
This was one of 18 fish landed tonight on
Zoom flukes.
This year's fishing scene in RI is unfolding very similar to last year.  We have an abundance of schoolies around. The Bay, where I have been fishing in the last few weeks, is loaded.  I've fished mid Bay and upper Bay and it doesn't seem to matter.  The schoolies are just about everywhere.  In the last five evenings I have fished from shore in different places and have landed from 3 to 18 fish a night. Keepers, however, are a different story.  I haven't landed one in two weeks now. I've seen a few landed from shore. The keepers tend to be small in the 28 to 32 inch range.
My plans for the upcoming week involve a change in scenery.  With the new moon tides on the way I think there are some opportunities for bigger fish.  Let's just say the bike is ready, the plug bag with bigger plugs is ready, the heavy gear is ready, and for the first time this year, I will be driving north rather than south. Let's hope things play out like last year!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Top Plastics for the Bay

Here are your top plastics for fishing the Bay
in shallow water for stripers of all sizes.
I continue to catch good numbers of stripers from shore and boat in the Bay. All my fish in the last couple of weeks have fallen for plastics.  I believe these are your top artificials if you are fishing shallow water for stripers in Narragansett Bay.
Here are the top bets:
1. Zoom fluke on a jighead- Use a light colored fluke body and the smallest jighead that you can cast.  I will use head sizes that vary from 1/4 to 1/2 ounce.  My favorite colored fluke body is an albino color.
2. 7 1/2 inch Slug-Go- I like this in a white color whether I am fishing at night or in the daytime. Cast out and twitch the rod tip with a slow retrieve to make the lure dance back and forth on top of the water or just below the surface.  Stop reeling every once in a while. I have a lot of hits on the stop.
Sometimes that Finesse Fish
will outperform all other
lures. Here is a keeper that
fell for it.
3. 5 inch Finesse Fish on a worm hook- I also like this in white.  Work it similar to the Slug-Go. Sometimes this will outperform the other two lures.

Note that all of the above lures work great on stripers. The problem comes in where blues are around as they were last night for me. I started with a Slug-Go and that got cut off after about 15 minutes. When that happens, ditch the plastic and go with a hard lure. I went with a bone colored Jumpin' Minnow and had my first blue of the year onto the shore in a short amount of time.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Best Night of the YEAR!

I knew things were going to be hot tonight as my son and I walked toward the water.  There were silversides just washing up on shore and others jumping further out to escape the stripers that were after them. It took just one cast and before I could even crank the reel, I was onto a fish.  The night continued like this for two and a half  hours as we had a fish or a hit on just about every single cast.
The hot ticket tonight was, once again, an albino Zoom fluke mounted onto a half ounce jighead (see photo at left).  That Zoom fluke is a dead ringer for silversides, and it was the ticket to catching loads of fish tonight. When the action subsided after dark, we had landed well over 100 fish.  Though most of them were schoolies of all sizes, my son Jon did manage to land one keeper (see photo at right) at dark.
The last 4 days/nights of fishing have been lights out for me as this has been the best stretch of the year so far.With no real hot weather in sight, the action should continue.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Photos of the Day....Hot Fishing from the Boat!

Steve Pickering plugged up this 32 inch striper (measured) in shallow water. It was the
biggest of dozens landed today. The fishing was hot on this Memorial Day.

I finally landed my first blue of the year, It, too, was plugged up in very
shallow water in 'Gansett Bay.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Hot Night in the Bay

Here is one of the larger schoolies that
was caught right at dark.  Fishing was hot
tonight in the Bay from shore.
It was more than the weather that was hot today.  I had myself the hottest night of the spring tonight in the Bay from shore.
Just yesterday I had written about how the fishing had been marginal in the past couple of weeks.  Well, things changed in a big way tonight for me as everything seemed to come together.  A change in weather was on the way ( a good indicator of good fishing), there was a load of bait in front of me (with fish breaking for them), and the stripers were aggressively on the rampage. I landed well over 30 fish in a two hour stint.  The fishing was especially hot right at dark with a fish or a hit on just about every cast of my Zoom fluke on a half ounce jighead.
Just what I had been seeing in the past couple of weeks, most of these fish were schoolies in the 12-20 inch range with a few larger ones in the mix. I had one fish that was  a near keeper.
So, you never know when luck will come your way.  It's a matter of getting out and fishing and sometimes, big things happen. Like tonight!