Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

The sun sets on another fishing year here in RI.
Merry Christmas to all my fishing friends and to all the wonderful people I met
this past season who frequent this blog!

Monday, December 23, 2019

A Near Disaster


I’d describe myself as a cautious shore fisherman.  I don’t take chances.  But, I found out on this early September day that even the most cautious of us can find ourselves in dangerous predicaments. Yes, there is an element of danger to shore fishing that most of us don’t even think about.
I was out in search of my first albie of the year along the rocky Narragansett, RI, shoreline from the Avenues to Black Point. You may have read in other places that some fishermen name this mile stretch of shoreline the deadliest along the East Coast for surf casters because of the dozens of fishermen who have fallen in and drowned along here over the years. This area is known for rough water, dropaway ledges, deep water and very slippery rocks. It’s a place where a lot can go wrong.
I have fished this area since I was a kid and thought little of the danger.  On this warm day I was wearing steel studded shoes for protection against slippery rocks.  I was also wearing shorts and a t-shirt. There was a moderate surf, nothing too dangerous.  I was standing on a dry but steep sloping rock casting away. I was also alone with no one around me.
I hooked my first albie of the year and had a terrific battle getting this fish ashore. As I excitedly got the fish ashore, I grabbed my line and pulled the fish up the wet, black slime on the sloping rock. Once it was right next to me, I decided to take a quick photo with my cell phone.  The light was beautiful, the fish had my fly in its mouth and the contrast with the fish on the wet, black rock made for a great photo.  I perched my rod above me and the fish. Note that I was on a completely dry rock taking the picture.
Suddenly, just as I snapped the photo, the fish started flopping around. It was still attached to the line.  As it flopped on the steep rock, it began to slide back down to the water. With the fish attached to my line, the rod also started sliding toward the water. I put my phone down and went to reach for the rod.  Only problem was that I put my phone onto the wet rock, and it also started to slide down toward the water. As I reached for the phone I was now facing the water, and little did I know, I was also on the very edge of the wet rock and I started to slide down toward the water.  I could not stop. It was like I was on a sloping hill of pure ice.  Yes, I had my studded shoes, but I was going head first, and they did me no good.
It was pure luck that I hit a slight edge to the rock just as my face was inches from the water and an underwater “cave” in the rocks. I was now stopped, and I knew I had little time to right myself  because one decent wave would wash me into that rock cave which was inches from my head. Slowly, while slipping, I managed to get myself around and get my studded shoes onto the rocks.  Ever so slowly, I began a slow crawl upwards with the shoes giving me some grip. As I moved up clawing the wet rock with my fingers, my bare knees and hands were being cut by the sharp barnacles on the rocks. I grabbed at every crack in the rocks and pushed with my feet, and finally pulled myself onto a dry rock above.
 I was able to grab my phone on the way up the rock and was able to grab the rod also. Nothing was lost, but I was rattled.  I had to sit there on a rock just to catch my breath as my heart was pounding out of my chest with fear. All I could think was, “Man, that was so close”.
After about 20 minutes of just sitting there, I stood up, blood dripping down both legs from puncture wounds in my knees and scratches all over my hands and arms. I was a mess, but finally in a safe place.
I was reminded on this September day that fishing along this stretch of shoreline can be a dangerous game, even for those of us who are expereinced and cautious.  You never expect things to go this wrong while doing something you love doing, but it can happen. Yes, a lot of things went wrong on this day, but in the end, I was lucky.



Friday, December 13, 2019

Catch and Release Mortality

No question, more and more recreational striper fishermen are releasing their catch these days.  Yes, it could be those tons of schoolies that you have to release if you are fishing for them.  But, even those fishermen catching small keepers are releasing larger fish.  For the most part, the recreational fishing community has really embraced catch-and release striper fishing as a means of protecting what we have out there.
A keeper is "swished around" in the water
before being released. Studies indicate the catch-
and-release mortality rate for recreational
fishermen is 9 %. There are many things you
can do to reduce that.
However, is this working? The ASMFC (Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission) came out with a study that indicated the mortality rate of stripers released is 9%.  Yes, they are saying just about 1 in 10 stripers you release will die. Other mid Atlantic states have done similar studies that conclude everything from 6% to 8%, all pretty much in line with the ASMFC numbers. None of these studies tell how these numbers are reached.  I am just guessing they are looking at every fish caught, no matter how the means, putting it altogether and that's what comes out.
Here are a few facts that we do know. The survivability of released stripers depends on two factors, physical injury and stress.  I would also add mishandling.  Physical injury could be a deep hooked fish (swallowed the bait), hook in the gills, etc.  Stress could be caused by a number of factors including too long of a fight on light tackle, warm water, low salinity and fish out of the water for too long a period of time.
Most of these studies cite bait fishing as the major culprit.  Anyone who has fished with bait on standard hooks for stripers knows that stripers will generally swallow a bait, thus the deep hook problem. Studies cite mortality rate as high as 50% when using bait. That's one reason why we will all be using circle hooks in the coming years (next year in MA) when fishing bait. I can tell you that circle hooks are better for catch-and-release than traditional hooks, but you will still gut hook a number of fish if you let them really take the bait. Other culprits that some of these studies touch on are treble hooks especially small ones on small plugs.
I wanted to check out these mortality rates for myself, so I did my own informal study on my own catch-and-release practises.  Though my samples were small, they were revealing. Of the last 200 stripers I caught on a jig, I had one badly hooked bleeder, one fish that had some blood, but not much and one fish that I dropped into the jetty rocks when lifting it (hit water, but not sure it survived). All the other fish were not badly hooked and were released in good shape. So, using a jig, that mortality rate for me was 1% to 1.5%.  Makes sense since the jig is a lure that rides upright in the water and generally hooks the fish in the upper jaw or around the lip area.
I also kept track of my bait fishing (don't do this often, but did it for a period at the Canal).  I was using squid on an inline circle hook and hitting the fish as soon as they took the bait.  In a two day stint, I landed 25 stripers on squid. I had only one bad hook-up from a fish that came in on me that I let take the bait for too long. That fish swallowed the hook, and while I did get it out, there was considerable blood. I'm assuming that fish died. So, the mortality rate with my circle hook and a small sample of fish amounted to 1 fish in 25 or 4%.
Finally, I was keeping track of the fish I was catching in the Bay in September.  I was using at times a small plug, a Jumpin' Minnow with two sets of trebles in which I crushed the barbs. Of the 25 fish I landed in one week on this plug, I had two "bad" hook-ups in which the hooks were embedded in the gill which resulted in blood. I am assuming those two fish did not make it, although they swam away. So, the mortality rate on a small, treble hooked plug (again, a small sample) amounted to 2 in 25 or 8%.
My own informal study told me what many anglers already know.  Jigs are your best bet to use if you plan to release the fish you catch, circle hooks help, but will still account for higher mortality rates if you let the fish really take the bait, and small treble hooked plugs will do the most damage whether you crush the barbs or not.
As far as stress, I noted no stressed fish since I landed most of my fish in the colder water of spring and fall and released them quickly.  In addition, I generally unhooked my summer fish in the water, a good practice in the warmer months of the year.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Grading the 2019 Season

Schoolies- A+
This year and last year followed a similar pattern for shore fishing anglers here in RI.  Once again, we were loaded with schoolies in 2019, but keepers were in short supply. There were great expectations in the fall for albies, but it never materialized. And, the big surprise of the year were phenomenal numbers of bluefish in Narragansett Bay, the likes of which we have not seen in decades.
Schoolies- I landed my first migrating schoolies along the oceanfront on April 16, right on schedule. I got my first ones in the Bay on April 28, again right on schedule.  There were big numbers of schoolies around in the 12 to 24 inch range in both the Bay and along the oceanfront in the early going, but from the get go, keepers were rare. April, May and June offered excellent fishing for schoolies with jigs taking the majority of my fish. I spent much of July and August at the Cape Cod Canal so I can't tell you what went on here in RI.  The oceanfront lit up for me in late August just as massive schools of peanut bunker began moving along our shores.  That attracted big numbers of schoolies in the 20- 26 inch range.  From late August to late November, I saw some of the biggest blitzes of schoolies I have ever encountered here in RI.Grade for schoolie fishing- A+
Keepers- C-
Keeper bass- This was a disappointment here in RI, but expected based on what we saw the year before. I got my first keeper in RI on May 9th in the Bay.  That fish went a solid 20 lbs.  It would prove to be my biggest RI striper for the year. Keepers, though scarce from shore, seemed to be running about 28 to 32 inches. That was it and points out the problems with our striper fishery. It was so bad I just wrote off fishing RI in the summer months and concentrated on the Canal where I found decent numbers bigger keepers in the 35-45 inch range, though not as many as in previous years. Small keepers were a bit more plentiful in the fall in both the Bay and along the oceanfront as they were keying on large peanut bunker (4 to 6 inches). I had several days with 2 or 3 keepers mixed in with the abundant schoolies, but sadly, there would be no keepers over 32 inches for me. Grade for keepers- C-
Bluefish- A
Bluefish- It was the good old days in the fall for bluefish in Narragansett Bay. For me, bluefish started on May 24th, a day I landed 14 of them. These were fish in the 3 to 8 lb. range.  Their numbers would swell as the summer moved on, and by the fall, the Bay was packed with them. With massive schools of bait to hold them, they remained in the Bay until late October. While they were on the small side for the most part (under 6 lbs.), they made their presence felt with daily surface blitzes in the Bay. In just the month of September, I landed 300 of them. While many thought this would spill over along the oceanfront in late fall, the blues were no shows for the most part along the south shore beachfront. Grade for bluefish- A
Albies- C
Albies- The hype was out there again this year, and an army of guys took up positions in many of the south shore jetties daily in September.  I got my first one on Sept. 12, right on schedule. These pelagics hung around for only a couple of weeks as I caught a half dozen of them this year, and I never saw a lot of them. There were some here and some there. On the other hand, other pelagics like bonito were around in good numbers.  Some oddball pelagics like Spanish Mackerel, King Mackerel and Chub Mackerel were also around though not in any abundance. But, albies, the fish most were looking for, were in short supply for the second year in a row. Grade for albies- C

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

I shot this magnificent sunset after a real good day of striper fishing in one of my
favorite spots a couple of weeks ago.  The sunset was just the icing on the cake
after a terrific day. Never take for granted what we have here in Rhode Island.
We have some of the most beautiful and easily accessible beachfronts on the
East Coast, some great surf fishing, and wonderful scenery. And, it is all within
an hour's drive for most of us. If you are a fisherman or just a beach goer,
you have a lot to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving to my many readers,
friends and fellow fishermen.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Winding Down

Just a week ago things were hopping, but it now looks like
the fishing is winding down. That's the way it goes at the end
of November. There might still be a few for those trying.
A lot changes can happen in a week at this time of year. I get a sense that the season is winding down. There are still fish around as I got a few two days ago, but I can tell you that I had beautiful conditions in a great spot with few fish. A week ago would have been lights out in this spot with these conditions. I saw no bait and no birds working even way out.  That's a sign that things are slowly winding down. I also saw just about no other fishermen around, another bad sign.  And, today's big blow marks the second storm in just three days to batter the coast.
I plan to hit the shore again this week once the weather calms down. I'm guessing there are still a few fish moving through.  Heck, you might even have a real good day.  But, I'm also guessing the consistent fishing is gone. It usually happens this way at the end of November, and we are there.
This is a fall in which we have been beaten down by the weather.  I never saw so many severe storms as I've witnessed this fall along the oceanfront.  Still, the fishing has been pretty darn good in between these blows. And, this November will go down as one of the best for me as far as numbers of stripers.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Still Good

There are still good numbers of schoolies along
the oceanfront.
I had not fished for a couple of days due to that big ocean storm earlier in the week. So, today when I went down to the oceanfront I wasn't too sure what I would find, if anything. When I got to the shore, I saw no indicators.  No birds working, no bait, no fishermen. But, I've seen this show before and I know you just have to cast to find out if anything is around. Well, it took just one cast to find out as I had a striper on my very first cast. After that it was on and off fish for most of the afternoon. So, they are still around in good numbers.
The fish I got today were all schoolies that averaged about 20 inches.  I had a few fish in the 24 to 25 inch range but no keepers.  I got all my fish on jigs.  I was trying out a fantailed plastic body called a Berkley Gulp Ripple Mullet.  I mounted it on a 3/4 oz. jighead.  While it was very effective, it was way too flimsy for my liking. Four or five fish and the soft plastic just ripped away from the jighead.  It will be back to Cocahoes on the next outing for me.
I saw just about NO ONE fishing today. It reminded me of the times when I go down in December and the beaches are deserted. I have to assume that many fishermen have given it up for the season.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

After Dark....Cold Temperatures, Hot Fishing

It was big numbers of stripers tonight from
20 to 28 inches.  They all fell for a bucktail
jig and all were released in good shape.
Nighttime fishing has been hot.
For me, this has been a terrific November so far.  There have been lots and lots of schoolies but also some small keepers in the mix. Even when I don't hit these all out blitzes that I've gotten into recently, I am still able to find good numbers of fish. On many days those good numbers of fish have come after dark.
My son Jon fished last night after dark.  He found big numbers of fish in the spot he was fishing along the oceanfront.  In fact, he didn't get a single fish until it was just about dark.  Then, it was one after another on a Cocahoe on a jighead.  The fish ranged from schoolies to a number of decent keepers up to 33 inches.
I fished today in this brutal weather.  Like Jon, I found little in the daytime as I managed to catch a few small ones in some cold and windy conditions. After dark, I moved to a different location and found the Mother Lode.  It was one fish after another on a bucktail jig spiced with a plastic curly tail.  The fish ranged from good size schoolies up to small keepers of 28 inches. It was simply loaded with fish and only one other guy fishing.
Of course, you are not going to find many fishermen around when the temperatures are below freezing and the wind chills are hovering in the teens like it was tonight.  However, it you are dressed for it and you can fish with gloves (a must), you might find something special, and you most likely will have all to yourself.
The calendar is ticking away, but fishing continues to be very good. How long this hot fishing will last is anyone's guess. This is a fall in which you can throw the predictions out the window.


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Massive Blitz in the Rain and Snow

A small bucktail jig fished off the float was
the ticket today. The jig does little harm to the
fish while being very effective when stripers
are feeding on peanut bunker.
Up until today, fishing the prior few days was a disappointment for this time of the year.  It has led many to believe that the season was just about over when you factor in the weather that was forecast for today.  Well, I'm going to put those negatives to rest.  What I fished in today was astounding.
I hit the oceanfront today at about noontime.  It was a balmy 54 degrees and raining lightly. Immediately, I was greeted by large scale bird activity. There were flocks of gannets dive bombing, gulls hitting the water and cormorants diving. I saw large dark patches of water the size of a small parking lot...peanut bunker by the millions moving along a quarter mile stretch of shoreline. Under all that were big schools of stripers. They were rolling in the waves and white water at times, breaking along the shore and actively blitzing behind the big waves rolling ashore.
The first twenty five casts, twenty five fish.  It was that nuts.  I was casting a float and jig with a plastic curly tail onto my jig.  The fish continued to hit most of the afternoon and they were all cookie cutter 20 inch schoolies with an occasional bigger schoolie.This mayhem kept going as the temperature kept dropping.  By 3 PM, the temperatures took a dive into the mid thirties, and it was now snowing. My hands were numb from the cold but the fish were still moving along the shore in front of me. By 3:30, I couldn't stand it anymore and walked back to my truck to call it quits. Before leaving, I took one more peek at the water, and sure enough, the mayhem continued with not a fisherman in sight!
I might add that every fish I landed today on that jig was released in good shape.  That single hooked jig that has a hook that rides upward is your best bet when catching and releasing fall schoolies.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Phenomenal!

It was an epic November blitz.  Today's fishing will go down as one of the biggest blitzes I have ever seen along the oceanfront at this time of year.  It had everything to make it memorable.  Big flocks of gannets were divebombing in a spectacular display. Huge schools of peanut bunker that ranged from small peanuts to big six inch specimens were just about everywhere washing up onto the shore at times.  And the stripers, oh the stripers were there by the millions over miles of shoreline attacking the bait from below as cormorants, gulls and gannets feasted from above.  And, this mayhem went on ALL DAY from morning till night. It was memorable.
The stripers were all sizes.  Most of what I caught went 20 to 22 inches though I did have one small keeper and several near keepers.  I also had a few smaller fish. The fish were aggressive.  Just about anything worked though I stuck with my jigs to make things easier and safer for catch-and release.  I did see some big fish (30 inch range), though taken on big poppers by other fishermen.
We are in the midst of a big time fall run  right now along the oceanfront.  How long this will last is anyone's guess.
Take a look at this video I shot of divebombing gannets after big peanut bunker!


Monday, November 4, 2019

Big Numbers of Fish on the Move

Here is one of the hefty schoolies that I landed today on a
Cocahoe minnow on a jighead.  Big numbers of fish were
on the move today.
Things are happening.  There is a major push of fish going on right now along the RI oceanfront.  I hit the surf today and landed big numbers of schoolies. They seemed to be everywhere on the beach I fished though few fish were showing.  From what I heard this was also going on in other spots along the south shore beachfront today.
These fish were all schoolies that were running 16 to 20 inches on average, though I had a few that may have gone 22 inches.  I chose to use a jig (Cochahoe on 3/4 oz jighead), and that seemed to be very effective on catching the fish while limiting the damage to them. I did not have one "bad" hook-up on any fish today and all were released in good shape. With schoolies dominating the scene, it's a good idea to shy away from treble hooked plugs. I know there were hundreds of fish landed today in various spots, and to my knowledge, there was not a single keeper caught in the daytime. I later fished after dark and it was the same story.....lots of schoolies, no keepers.  Just the way it is these days.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Turning to Freshwater in the Storminess

This 23 lb. carp was landed last night in the wind and rain.
Carp love to feed in stormy weather.
In the last ten days I have landed 5 carp from 20 to 27 lbs.
along with many fish in the teens here in RI.
In the last ten days, I have caught five fish over twenty pounds and many more fish in the teens here in RI. Now, before you striper guys get too excited, I must tell you that these are carp and not stripers. In all the storminess that has shut down the oceanfront, I have turned to my "other" passion of carp fishing, and have done quite well fishing for them in the bad weather.
Carp just love this warm and stormy weather.  The big ones are quite tough to catch under bluebird conditions, but get a nasty day of rain and wind, and these big girls throw caution to the wind and will go on feeding sprees. They will also prowl close to the shore under cover of darkness on stormy nights.  Yes, they do hit well at night, much like bigger stripers do.
Carp inhabit most of the freshwater ponds, lakes and rivers here in southern New England. While most fishermen know these monsters of freshwater exist, most fishermen don't have the foggiest of clues on how to fish for them. All those fish I caught that I mentioned above were caught on a combo bait of maize and artificial corn fished on a hair rig with a method ball packed around my sinker. I'm sure I lost many of you in that last sentence.
Carp can fill a void when saltwater fishing for stripers shuts down.  It will also fill a void for me in late November and throughout the winter when I will target these fish on a regular basis.  For more info on carp fishing, try visiting my RI Carp Fishing Blog.



Tuesday, October 29, 2019

In a Major Lull BUT Not Close to Over!

Some fishermen are talking like this is the end. The reason for the talk is that not much has gone on along the oceanfront for about a week now. It is surprisingly dead for late October. That's the bad news.
The good news is that the end is still weeks away. Quite simply, we are in a major lull. Storms have taken their toll and have moved out a lot of fish and bait. But, I can assure you that there are more to come.  In recent years, November has been a very productive month, even though it is a short month in terms of fishing which usually comes to an abrupt end around Thanksgiving.  Some of the biggest blitzes of fish I have seen in recent years have occurred along the RI south shore beachfront in November. And, let's not forget the potential for an ocean herring run in mid November. While it is not a sure bet that this big bait will come close to shore, the potential is there.  When it has happened in the past, big blues and big bass were right on them, many times blitzing this bait right in the wash. Gannets usually give away the presence of herring.
I am hoping we get out of this bad, stormy weather pattern soon.  That's when the late fall fishing should perk up.
November 17, 2016...... Ocean herring can be seen in the curl of the wave as large
stripers and big blues are busting along the top of the wave. The herring brought
a memorable blitz to the RI South Shore on this day.  November can be a very
productive month. Let's hope we see the herring this year.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Disappointing

Extremely rough and stormy conditions have wreaked havoc
 on the October fishing.
One big storm after another is killing the October fishing along the oceanfront.  We've had three rounds of severe storms in the last two weeks, and each one has come with huge waves and big winds leaving behind a soupy mix of sand and weed in the water.  Yesterday, I could see the brown water extending outward about a half mile in spots. That brown water will drive out both the stripers and the bait and will kill the fishing. It often takes days to clear up.
Remember when October used to be THE month to fish for stripers here in RI.  Not anymore.  In recent years this month has arguably been the worst of the fall months due to bad weather. Heck, so far this year August and September have been far better than October in terms of numbers of stripers and sizes.
In between these October storms I have gotten out on some marginal days.  I've gotten a few small fish. Keepers have been scarce from shore.  As an example, many of the fishing clubs of southern New England had their Inter Club Tournament this weekend here in RI.  Seventy guys were out and about fishing. Not one keeper bass was entered (keepers had to be 35 inches to enter). It's yet another example of the sad state of affairs we are in with keeper stripers these days.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Too Much

Today's conditions along the oceanfront were as severe as any hurricane that's come our way. The waves were enormous and the winds were still gusting so hard you could barely stand. Along the Harbor of Refuge, I saw waves crashing over the East Wall and the West Wall.  You couldn't even see the Center Wall.  No place along the oceanfront was fishable. And, to add to the misery, the water was sandy and roiled as far out as you could see, conditions that will surely shut the fishing down for days.
But, there was still fishing to be had today as I landed several stripers in some protected back waters.
Take a look at this short video I shot today from the East Wall Parking lot at Point Judith. It is a good representation of what is going on now.


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

I'll Take Windy and Rough Over Calm and Flat!


Here is one of many hefty schoolies landed in
today's white water surf.  This one hit a bucktail
jig fished off a float.
The last two days were a study in contrasts and told a lot about which conditions are best for fishing for stripers.
Yesterday I fished the oceanfront.  It was calm, windless and tranquil. You could have paddled a kayak to Block Island.  It was a beautiful beach day, but not much of a fishing day.  I hit multiple spots and burned a lot of gas with little to show for it.  I came up with one fish, a small schoolie that I caught by luck in one location. I rarely have hit it big in calm water. Flat water just doesn't do it for stripers, and like the many people I found sitting around in beach chairs, the fish found this to be a lazy type of day also.
Today was a different story. Along the oceanfront the wind was howling out of the southeast ahead of an expected big blow. The water was rough, white and moving. It was charged up conditions, just what stripers love. I caught good numbers of stripers in different locations.  Nothing was showing, no bait, no birds diving, but the fish were prowling the white water and hitting. I got most of my fish on jigs, either bucktails off a float or just a Cocahoe on a jighead. I'm sure treble hooked plugs would have also worked but the single hooked jigs are so much safer (for the fish) and easier for the fisherman to handle.
We've got some rough conditions coming in the next couple of days.  If you can find those spots that offer rough and clean water, you've got a shot at some decent fishing. The stripers are around in good numbers.


Monday, October 14, 2019

Photo of the Day..."Picture Perfect"

After all this lousy weather, last night's sunset at the Bay was a reminder that this time of
year can be beautiful here in southern New England..It would have been even better if
 a few fish were jumping!

Monday, October 7, 2019

Fat Cow Jig Strips

If it looks like pork rind and moves like pork rind, does it have to be pork rind? 
Meet Fat Cow. I began using these plastic jig strips, namely Fat Cow jig strips, when my Uncle Josh supply dried up. I love how these plastic strips work, and the fish like them too.  When mounted on a jig, they have that alluring flutter just like pork rind that really adds to the action of a bucktail jig. These things come in a plastic jar and can be reused over and over again as they never dry up like pork rind.

Today I was using a 5 inch split tail Fat Cow mounted onto a homemade, one ounce, spire point bucktail jig.  It did just the trick as the stripers pounced all over my offering that was fished in some rough and moving white water.
If you are looking for a pork rind replacement that works just as well as the pork, give Fat Cow jig strips a try. I can tell you they work!

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Migration Lights Up

Here is one of the small
keepers that I landed on a
bucktail jig fished off a float.
Large peanut bunker in the
4 to 5 inch range were
washing up onto the beach.
It took just a couple of cold nights and a stiff north wind that quickly triggered the movement of bait and stripers along the oceanfront in a big way. I hit one of the biggest striper blitzes of the fall today along the RI oceanfront. I walked into blitzing stripers that were slaughtering massive schools of peanut bunker and mullet.  These were big peanuts, the 4 to 5 inch ones, that attract larger stripers.  All the fish I was getting today were in the 25 to 30 inch range. I had a lot of hefty schoolies, but I also had several keepers from 28 to 30 inches in the mix. I even saw some bigger ones taken.  I was getting my fish on a float and bucktail jig, a good choice when stripers are on peanut bunker.
This was the first time in weeks that I hit it big along the oceanfront.  I had been getting big numbers of stripers and bluefish in the Bay, but those numbers began to dwindle (along with the bait) in recent days.  My guess is that the massive numbers of stripers, blues and bait are starting to exit the Bay. I also had reports from friends who were fishing multiple places along the beachfront today where fishermen were catching.  Look for hot fishing to continue along the oceanfront in the coming weeks if rough water does not come along to mess it up.
There are blitz conditions along the spot I was fishing at the oceanfront today.
Birds and stripers are after massive schools of peanut bunker and mullet.



Friday, October 4, 2019

Photo of the Day...."Striper Release"

A good size schoolie is about to be released. Schoolies dominate the fishing scene
right now in RI.  It's just about all catch and release fishing with very few
keepers around.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

A September to Remember

There have been big numbers
of schoolies in the 20 to 25
inch range in the Bay.  Some
small keepers are in the mix.
Fishing for bluefish
has been the best it
has been in decades
 in the Bay.
September was about as good as it gets in Narragansett Bay. The fantastic fishing has been fueled by massive schools of peanut bunker which have been holed up in the Bay since late August. Big schools of stripers and bluefish have been on this bait.  With this beautiful, warm weather, nothing is moving out yet.
 I landed close to 500 fish in September with just about an equal number of stripers and bluefish, something I have not done in a long time.  Add to that a half dozen albies, and it was terrific fishing. Bluefish are the big story of the year here in RI.  We haven't seen these numbers of them in decades. I saw blitz after blitz of these blues in the past month, and I still am catching them. At tiems the water was just boiling with schools of them in a frenzy. They are all small, 3 to 5 lbs. on average, but very spunky. The striper fishing has also been lights out in the Bay.  They too are mostly small, schoolies in the 20 to 25 inch range on average, but note that I also got several small keepers in the mix this month.  The striper fishing is what it is here in RI....very few, if any, big fish around but lots of schoolies.  If you are looking for just big fish from shore, you might as well stay home and watch TV. LOL!
With all these fish in the Bay, expect lights out fishing along the oceanfront once the southward migration begins. It should start to happen in the coming weeks.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Bucktail Jigs a Good Choice

Bucktail jigs are a good choice when stripers
are feeding on peanut bunker.
I had my best striper day of the year in terms of numbers yesterday. I fished a number of places from shore in 'Gansett Bay, and the fish seemed to be everywhere going crazy on peanut bunker. The sizes ranged from 20 inches to small keepers. There were also good numbers of blues mixed in as the Bay is on fire right now, about the best it can get.
I got a good number of my fish on bucktail jigs. My homemade flathead bucktails are a great imitator of peanut bunker. When a plastic curly tail is added, they swim like a peanut bunker and have a similar profile.  In addition, that single hook makes for much easier catch and release.  There's less harm to the fish and less danger to the fisherman.
My homemade flathead bucktail jig
was hot yesterday.  Make sure you add
plastic curly tails to your jigs.
I like to add a Pro Bass, white, triple ripple tail to my bucktail jigs. I was using a half ounce bucktail yesterday, and the 3 inch tail was just the perfect size.
There's nothing tricky about fishing the bucktail.  Simply cast out, let it sink to the depth you want and retrieve at a moderate or slow pace with pulls of the rod tip to get the jig moving up and down.  A lot of times, the stripers will take it on the drop.


Monday, September 23, 2019

What Happened to the Albies?

The albie fishing has taken a dive.  Could this be the end
of fishing for them in 2019. We'll see in the coming days.
GONE. Since we had those big hurricane waves last week, there have been few, if any albies caught. By now, the ocean should have settled down and the fish should be hitting again, but they are not.  In addition, we are in for another round of rough water in the coming days.
I saw this happen about ten years ago.  The albies arrived in good numbers around September 10th just like this year.  That year in late September we were hit with big hurricane waves from an offshore storm, just like this year. From that point on, the albies disappeared and never returned. Hopefully, it does not happen this year, but things are not looking good at this point.  Consider last Saturday's fishing.  The ocean had calmed down and was fishable again. My son, Matt, fished off Sakonet Point in a boat.  He fished half a day along this point and the Newport shore. Nothing.  Another friend went out in a boat at Wickford.  He fished from Wickford to Narragansett to Newport. Nothing.  Several other guys I knew were fishing the shore in some good spots. Nothing. I saw the writing on the wall and fished the Bay where I found good numbers of stripers and blues.
These albies are so unpredictable.  They are pelagic fish that come in briefly from way out in the ocean.  Sometimes, big numbers come close to shore.  Sometimes few or none come near the shore.  Sometimes some come ashore and rough water sends them packing in short time. It's really a roll of the dice and there are never any guarantees in this game.
I don't know if they are done for the year, but my gut feeling is that we will see a few pop up here and there in the coming weeks. I think the good numbers are gone. If you make this your primary fish in the coming weeks, you will be disappointed.  M y suggestion is to have some albie stuff (skinny metal and float 'n' fly) in your bag just in case you run into them. Target stripers and blues as your main fish because those will be around in good numbers in the coming weeks as they come out of the Bay and coastal ponds.


Thursday, September 19, 2019

Photo of the Day....Small Keeper Landed at Sunset

This small keeper was landed on a beautiful night in Narragansett Bay.
Fishing for stripers and blues continues to be hot in the Bay.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

2 Hat Tricks in 4 Days!

There are good numbers of albies along the oceanfront.  There are good numbers of stripers, mostly schoolies with some small keepers, along both the oceanfront and the Bay.  There are phenomenal numbers of  three to five pound bluefish in the Bay. What do you go after?  How about all THREE?
In the last 4 days I have hit the rare September hat trick two times by catching an albie, a bluefish and a striper on the same day. I've only done that a couple of times in the past. That tells you just how many fish we have around these days.
The bass, bluefish and albie frenzy are being fed by vast numbers of bay anchovies and peanut bunker bait.  The Bay is choking with bait.  The oceanfront has less but there are pockets of it that are attracting hungry larger fish.  In both the Bay and the oceanfront, it's matter of moving around to find the fish.  Once found, it is lights out in places.
We are in the midst of some of the best September fishing I have ever seen from shore here in RI. What a great time of the year to be a saltwater fisherman!



Saturday, September 14, 2019

Albie Outlook Looking Better and Better

Albie fishing is looking better and better.  It's looking like this
will be a good year in RI with good numbers of them.
Albie fishing is on the upswing here in RI.  In fact, in the last three days I have landed more albies than I caught all of last year! Yes, they are are around in good numbers if you can find them.  It's never a sure bet in this game, but this is looking more and more like a good year for them here in RI.
Lots of stuff seems to be working.  I've gotten some fish on my float and fly.  This year I have been going with a homemade pink Deceiver for my fly which seems to be doing the trick when the fish are hitting the float and fly. Skinny metal has also been hot.  I've gotten some on a Kastmaster XL although I see other fishermen doing well on more fish-like colored metal. Metal with pink in it seems to be hot.
The fish are traveling in small pods and they pop up in various spots once in a while.  Good numbers of fish are also being caught by simply blind casting in known albie hangouts. My advice is to keep your lure in the water and keep it moving.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Photo of the Day...."First One!"

First albie landed for me! Could be the start of something big?  We'll see in the coming days.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Albie Outlook- Uncertain

So far, not so good. The albies have not
appeared in good numbers yet. The outlook
is uncertain at this point.
We should be seeing good numbers of albies at this time.  But, we are not. I'm down the oceanfront just about every day and there are very few around. If they are coming in big numbers, expect them to show between Sept. 10th and Sept. 20th. If they don't show in that time period, big numbers are not coming.  The clock is ticking.
In the last 50 years, these pelagic fish have been impossible to predict.  About a third of those years, like last year, saw some, but not many.  About a third of those years saw lots of them like we had in 2016 and 2017. But, about a third of those years saw none.
Already we have some. One here and one there.  I can confirm that a few have been caught. We do have good numbers of small bonito this year, and many fishermen as well as bait shop reporters like to report there are albies and bonito around.  Truth is that many fishermen don't know the difference, and the two  names are often used interchangeably. Also, there have been other pelagics around like Spanish mackerel and chub mackerel.  Once again, many think these are albies.
I'm concerned about the lack of bait right now along the oceanfront.  Those hurricane waves of last week sent a lot of bait packing into the south shore ponds as well as into Narragansett Bay. Albies are on a hunt for bait when they come close to shore and right now, there is not much.
I've seen years in the past with little around one day and millions around the next.  Let's hope we are heading for that kind of year.
The clock  is ticking.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Miles of Bluefish; Loads of Stripers

Most of the stripers we landed were
good size from big schoolies to small
keepers.  At times they were mixed in
with the schools of blues.
There are massive numbers of small
bluefish, 3 to 5 lbs., in the Bay right
now.  The Jumpin Minnow was the hot
plug yesterday.
With the hurricane waves over and the condition of the ocean uncertain, my brother and I decided to hit the bay yesterday from the boat.  It was the right move, and proved to be our best outing of the year from the boat.
THERE WERE FISH JUST ABOUT EVERYWHERE.  We found bonito breaking in mid Bay.  We found acres and acres of bluefish and we found big numbers of stripers close to shore.
The bluefish action was phenomenal.  At one point there were fish breaking for miles.  We could turn around 360 degrees in  a circle and see blues breaking everywhere we looked.  These were blues on the smaller side, what the Bay has right now, fish of 3 to 5 lbs. on average. What they lacked in size they made up for in aggressiveness. At times, the stripers were mixed in with the bluefish. At other times, the stripers were close to shore in shallow water.  All the stripers we landed were decent fish of 22 to 30 inches. They were feasting on peanut bunker that was close to shore in astronomical numbers.  The blues were feeding on both peanut bunker and massive schools of bay anchovies.
All our fish were taken on Rebel Jumpin Minnows.  We crushed all the barbs on the trebles to make for easier catch and release.
This year is turning to be epic for bluefish in the Bay.  It is the best I have seen as far as numbers in probably TWO DECADES.  With all that bait and stripers and blues in the Bay, it looks to be a phenomenal fall for oceanfront fishing once all those fish leave the Bay in the coming weeks.


Thursday, September 5, 2019

Bluefish Mayhem

These are the good ole days if you are looking for bluefish in Narragansett Bay. Tonight's blitz was a sight to behold as masses of blues and some bass were blitzing massive schools of peanut bunker.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

No Stripers, No Problem

Blues inhabit the Bay in astounding numbers
right now.  It is the best bluefish fishing in
over a decade.
The striper fishing has become a roller coaster lately.  Millions around one day, gone the next. But, we are in a period of time when there are other fish to go after when no stripers are to be had.
Bluefish are the most consistent thing going right now.  They are in the Bay in astounding numbers.  Find any amount of bait and you will most likely find blitzing bluefish.  They inhabit the Bay from the upper reaches of the Bay all the way to the lower parts. Those who prowl the Bay in a boat are at a big advantage since they can move around and find them.  From shore, it might help to spot hop in search of the fish.  In the last three evenings, I've gotten well over 30 bluefish. While most of these fish were on the small size, three to five pounds, there are rumors of schools of bigger fish around. I've also gotten an occasional striper mixed in with the bluefish.
Bonito have hit the oceanfront shores in good numbers this year.  Once again, they move around and can pop up just about anywhere bait exists. These, too, are on the small side, running 3 to 4 lbs. on average.  Boaters, also have the advantage here since they can move around in search of schools of breaking fish.
Looks like a promising Labor Day weekend if you are looking to bend a rod. But, realize you will have to look around to find the bait and the fish.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

August Madness Returns

Massive schools of small peanut bunker, thousands of frenzied seagulls diving from above and countless numbers of stripers under all of it. At one point, yesterday's school of fish stretched for a quarter of a mile. IT'S BACK!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

When Only One Thing Works

The Jumpin Minnow in a blue back was a hot producer in
the last couple of days for stripers and blues.  It was the only
thing wo\rking yesterday.
For me, the oceanfront has gone from red hot to lukewarm.  A week ago, it was daily blitzes.  The last few days I had to work for my fish.  Still, the stripers and blues are around if you look and fish the right places with the right stuff. In the last couple of days, there have been small pods of bait and small groups of fussy fish after it.
Yesterday, my son Jon and I went down to the oceanfront.We couldn't find much in the afternoon and we were staring at a blank in the evening.  Then, about an hour before dark, we found some fish breaking after small bait. I thought this would be easy.  I went to my float 'n' Cocahoe, the best bet earlier in the week Nothing doing....still fish breaking but not hitting.  I then went to my Yo-Zuri Hydro Pencil, my second best producer all week.  It got a lot of whirls, no takers. To my right I saw Jon catching.  He went with a blueback Jumpin' Minnow. I put that on and finally hit my first one, a bass of about 24 inches.  From that point until dark, Jon and I were steadily catching, many times both on at once.
When stripers and blues are on small bait, they can be mighty fussy.  I have many go-to lures when that happens.  These include the Jumpin' Minnow, the Yo-Zuri Hydro Pencil, the float and jig, jigs alone and small swimmers.Usually, one of  those will do the trick as it did last evening.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Going Beserk

What I have seen in the last week is nothing short of astounding. Every day I have been out I have seen a blitz or multiple blitzes of some kind.  Yesterday I ran into acres and acres of striped bass feeding on the surface in a frenzy unheard of in August. These fish were all clones of 24 to 25 inches. At times, they were right at my feet. I swear I could have reached in and just grabbed a fish! They were after massive schools of juvenile peanut bunker with schools of bay anchovies also around.  At one point as I looked out over the ocean, I could count 6 different massive schools of fish in front of me spread out in a quarter mile stretch.  And, not a fisherman in sight. No one expects this on a 90 degree day in mid August, and just about no one is fishing!
The video below is just a sampling of what went on ALL DAY.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Find the Bait and You Find the Fish

Birds are working a school of
 peanut bunker along the
oceanfront.  Stripers are under the
bait in big numbers.
The Bay has the most bluefish
right now.  They, too, are on
schools of peanut bunker.
Both the oceanfront and the Bay are producing right now. If you didn't know it, you would think this is fall migration fishing. That's because big schools of peanut bunker have entered our waters and it is attracting stripers, bluefish and bonito.
The key to success is finding the bait (isn't it always?). In the last four days I fished both the oceanfront and the Bay.  At times, I had to look in different spots to find a place with some bait.  Once I did, it was non-stop action.  Right now, the Bay seems to have the majority of the bluefish. These are fish in the 3 to 6 lb. range.  The oceanfront is loaded with schoolie stripers (20 to 25 inches) and there are good numbers of bonito around, especially along the south shore beachfront.
In those places where there is no bait, there are no fish.


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

All Hell Breaks Loose

The Cocahoe off a float was the hot ticket
yesterday. Plus, the single jig hook made for
easier catch and release.
Have you ever gotten in that zone where everything goes right in fishing? You pick the right spots, you have loads of fish in front of you, they are hitting, and you are alone and have it all to yourself. And, you are doing this day after day. Well, I've been in that zone for the last week.
Yesterday, I decided to hit the RI oceanfront even though I had been doing very well in the Bay. I had a hunch, a sixth sense you might say. Conditions and tides were right, the time of year was right and even though I had marginal reports about what was going on, I decided to give it a try.
As soon as I arrived in my spot, I saw the signs.  Birds were flying around all over, occasionally picking up bait. I saw occasional fish breaking way out. Then, out of nowhere it happened. The surface erupted in front of me. Multiple schools of fish busting all over the place.  Peanut bunker flying out of the water.  And, suddenly I was onto a rare striper blitz in mid August, a time when this is not supposed to happen.
Blitz like conditions continued for three hours.  It was a hit or a fish on just about every cast.  My float and Cocahoe jig were nailing hefty schoolie after schoolie. The fish were running 20 to 25 inches. I landed no keepers, but that's the new norm here in RI. You want to fish for stripers, it's all schoolies here in RI.
So, fishing has definitely taken on a fall feel even though we are still in the middle of August. That's what peanut bunker will do. Looks like we are heading into a real good fall season.
Birds are diving and fish are breaking for big schools of peanut bunker.


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Bluefish Around in BIG Numbers

The blues are after big schools of
peanut bunker.
The Yo-Zuri hydro Minnow has been my best
lure for bluefish in the last few days.
Suddenly, the bluefish are around in big numbers, the likes of which we have not seen in years, maybe a decade.  In the last three evenings I have landed more bluefish than I have caught in the last three years! I've found schools of them busting for big schools of peanut bunker that are streaming into our RI waters right now.  While I am getting my blues from shore in the Bay, I have reports of them all over the place.  My son Jon has been fishing the mid Bay from a kayak, and he is killing them every evening.  I have another friend who fished the oceanfront recently and he, too, saw big numbers.  There are stripers mixed in with the bluefish as I am getting a few bass every outing. Most of the blues are on the small side, running 3 to 6 lbs. on average.
Topwater lures are getting the blues for me, though they are not fussy.  I have been using a Yo-Zuri Hydro Pencil.  This plug looks like a Jumpin' Minnow on steroids.  It is just about the same length as a Jumpin' Minnow, yet weighs almost twice as much, making it a great caster.  It's also heavy duty with sturdy anchors and heavy duty hooks (no need to change out anything). It twitches on the surface with quick pulls of the rod tip and the blues have found this irresistible.  My son Jon has been getting his fish on a Rebel Jumpin' Minnow.


Friday, August 9, 2019

Slow Down those Top Water Plugs

Slow down those topwater plugs for increased
success.  The slow retrieve works with pencils,
standard poppers, spooks and Jumpin' Minnows.
It's been a real good week for me, sort of a fall preview, with lots of stripers of all sizes and good numbers of bluefish.  The bite has been a topwater one.  Most of my fish have been taken on either pencil poppers or Rebel Jumpin' Minnows.
Whatever you choose as a topwater plug, try to work the offering at a slow pace.  Last week I watched a guy put on a clinic in using a pencil popper.  This guy was catching one fish after another while most of us just watched. The key to his success was two fold.  He was cranking the reel oh so slowly, just enough to keep the plug on the surface.  He was also twitching the tip of the rod with short, fast rhythmic pulls. The rod was working his plug and not the reel.  His right hand was high up on the rod above the reel to achieve this.  The nose of the plug was simply bouncing up and down (not going crazy) while slowly coming ashore. It got me thinking that I, like everyone else, was moving the pencil too fast.  I was getting hits, but not hooking up.  When I slowed things down, it made a big difference.
I used this slow approach all week in various spots, and it has really made a difference with my catch success on my topwater offerings.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

On the Guppy

Earlier in the week I did a post on pencil poppers.  We'll, I've been fishing them lately with good success.  My best producer this week has been a Guppy Jobo Jr. XH in a ghost mackerel.  That is an all white plug with streaks of chartreuse in the body. This plug weighs about 3 1/2 oz. and is a great caster.  It also tracks well on top. It got me this hefty keeper along with several other big fish. By the way, this fish was realeased immediately after this photo, and with one mighty swish of its tail, it was gone.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Large Amounts of Bait Light Up RI Fishing

I've had my best three days in a row of fishing that I've had in months here in RI. I found big amounts of bait in both the Bay and along the oceanfront, and it delivered big numbers of stripers, blues, fluke and black sea bass.
Several days ago I went back to fishing in the Bay.  To my surprise, I found big schools of peanut bunker in the area I was fishing from shore. It didn't take long the find the stripers and bluefish as I started getting fish after fish on Zoom flukes mounted on jigheads. Towards dark, fish started breaking all over the place. While these were all schoolies and smaller blues, they were great on the light tackle I was using.  Hey, it's the end of July and I'll settle for anything.  By the way, this is very early for peanut bunker, and a real good sign of what's to come.
I went back to this spot again last night and once again, fish all over the place with a mix of stripers and blues.  Same deal, fish breaking all over the place at sunset. I got good numbers of fish on jigs.
Today, my brother and I decided to hit the oceanfront from the boat. We found big amounts of bait that looked like bay anchovies. We began our day by catching good numbers of fluke up to keeper size along with a number of black sea bass.  We got those vertical jigging bucktails.  While doing this, we suddenly ran into an area of schools of breaking fish and diving birds.  It turned out to be schools of both stripers and bluefish attacking the schools of bay anchovies. These were like wild October blitzes with big schools of fish feeding on the surface.  It went on for hours. The stripers were good size schoolies in the 20 to 25 inch range.  The blues went 4 to 7 lbs.  All the action was on topwater plugs with the Rebel Jumpin Minnow being the hottest plug.
It's the end of July, but suddenly, the fishing has a fall feel to it.  That's what bait can do, and we have it right now. The RI fishing has awoken from the summer doldrums!