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