Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Water Warms Up, Fishing Cools Down

Water temperatures today were running in the mid 70 degree range in Narragansett Bay.  It's a bit cooler at the ocean. This hot weather of the last week has steadily heated up the water.  The result is that the fishing has steadily gone downhill for stripers and blues, especially from shore. In my last three outings I've gotten only two schoolies, way off compared to what I had been getting prior to the warm-up.
Those in boats are faring better these days.  I've heard of some good catches in the Bay in the last week from boats, but recent days have been slow for them also.
Your best bet right now from shore in RI is to fish along deep water dropoffs along the oceanfront where the water is cooler. Best times will be the cooler times of the night or early mornings.
My own strategy to deal with the declining fishing in RI will be to move to greener pastures. It's that time of the year for me to load my bike onto the truck, pack the heavy gear and head north rather than south.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Photo of the Day

The sunset was spectacular; the fishing was not!

Friday, June 12, 2020

Biggest Surprise So Far

Here's a decent blue taken recently from Gansett Bay.
They have been abundant.
It's not schoolies.  Everyone predicted a ton of these and that has happened. We've got everything from the hefty varieties of 24 to 26 inches to the micros of 10 to 14 inches and everything in between.
It's not keepers.  Everyone was predicting they would be in short supply, especially the bigger fish over 35 inches. That's why we have a slot limit. A big RI striper from shore these days is 30 inches. Just not a lot of bigger fish around from shore.
But, ah, the bluefish.  Nobody thought we would see an abundance of these.  That's why the bag limit went down to only 3 fish per day.  But, to everyone's surprise, these fish have been really abundant so far this year in Narragansett Bay. They have generally been running from 4 to 7 lbs., but there are some biggies around too.  I'm talking big ones over 10 lbs. Some recent evenings I've fished it has been hit after hit of aggressive blues. They have especially liked my Rebel Jumpin Minnow or my Yo-Zuri Hydro Pencil. But, to be honest, on some nights they are so aggressive they would hit a cigar with a hook attached to it. I've gotten big numbers from shore, boat and kayak.
With the blues so abundant, I've gotten word of some fishermen piling bluefish like cord wood in the trunk of their cars.  Not surprising since this business of keeping undersized fish or more than the bag limit was rampant last year in Gansett Bay. Here we go again this year. The law is 3 blues per day for all those who want to follow the law.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Buzzards Bay....Nothing Like it in NE!

The place is loaded with
large black sea bass.
Buzzards Bay also has a good striper
population.  This biggie hit a Slu-go
in one of the shallow water coves.
Buzzards Bay in June has to be the most unique and productive spot in all of New England for a variety of fish.  We hit this spot yesterday from the boat and as usual, it was very good for a variety of fish. 
Buzzards Bay is the black sea bass capital of the east coast at this time of year, and it didn't disappoint yesterday.  We had all we wanted as we had fish after fish on many drifts. And, most were over the 15 inch keeper mark with some real bruisers mixed in. We also got quite a few scup in the mix.  My brother Steve was getting his fish vertical jigging bucktail jigs spiced with curly tails. I was getting mine jigging a Kastmaster XL.
When we got tired of the black sea bass, we went exploring along many of the coves and outflows for stripers and bluefish.  We found good numbers, catching several keeper stripers and quite a few blues to 6 lbs. While the bass loved my white Slug-gos, the blues chopped them mercilessly.  I then went with a Sebile Magic swimmer which seemed to work with equal effectiveness.
Buzzards Bay should continue to produce until the water warms up. Good fishing generally holds up well there until late June.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020


In a stunning development, the Cape Cod Canal was closed today to commercial striper fishing. This is a place that saw a lot of shore commercial fishermen targeting stripers in the last few years because it was one of the few shore spots that had lots of big fish. This move had been rumored since March, but most of us doubted it would happen.
The complete story can be found HERE. Note that the comments at the end of the story are quite heated on both sides as this is sure to touch off a firestorm between commercial fishermen and recreational fishermen with property owners in the mix. Lots of passion on all sides.

Big Happenings

This good size blue was landed on Sunday
from the boat.  There are good numbers of
them in the Bay.
The last few days have produced some of the best fishing for us this year in terms of numbers and sizes.  We've gotten them from the boat, from the kayak and from shore. It's all been happening for us in Narragansett Bay.  There are not fish all over so you might have to do some looking, but once you find a big pocket of them, it can be lights out.
This 32 inch bass  was one of 15
fish from 28 to 42 inches that Jon landed
from the kayak in "skinny" water.
On Sunday we went out in my brother's boat. We found tons and tons of big menhaden but no big fish after them.  So, plan 2- hit some skinny water and plug for bass and blues.  That worked big time as we landed 40 blues and 10 bass, mostly on bone colored Rebel Jumpin Minnows.  The bass were hefty schoolies all around 24 to 26 inches.  The blues went 4-7 lbs., but some were larger. Right now, there are big numbers of blues in many locations in the Bay.
On Monday and Tuesday I fished from shore. It was big numbers of small schoolies with an occasional hefty one landed.  All the action was on Zoom flukes on a half ounce jighead.
My son Jon had the highlight reel of the week.  He fished Monday and Tuesday from the kayak. He had a whopping 15 stripers from 28 to 42 inches. He also had several hefty schoolies.  That 42 inch one (measured) was the biggest in the family this year. It was a white 7 1/2 inch Slug-Go that caught most of the fish.
So, things can be hot right now, but as I said, you might have to do some looking and you might have to have a little luck. The fish are around.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Blues from the Yak

It's been several years since I have fished from a kayak, but I used to do it regularly.  An arthritic shoulder put and end to it until this week.  Funny thing about arthritic shoulders...they sometimes feel pretty good in warm weather.  So, I decided to get back into it and go out with my son Jon looking for stripers and bluefish in Gansett Bay.
We found a Mother Lode of blues.  I almost forgot how wild it can be to battle with a feisty blue from the yak.  But, I was reminded in quick order.  The fight of a big one can bring you on a Nantucket Sleigh ride, but even the smaller ones can be a challenge. While getting them to the kayak is tough enough, getting them unhooked can be the biggest challenge. I like to fight the blue until its "slowing down".  Then, I get them near the kayak and try to grab them with my Boga Grip (not easy with a thrashing blue).  Finally, once on the grip, I use the pliers to finish the job and release the fish. Take a look at the short video below that I shot with an action cam attached to a chest harness.
It all works if all goes well, but with unpredictable blues, you never know.  My son Jon had one fish that he got aside his kayak.  The fish suddenly took a high leap into the air, landed on the front side of the yak and landed in the water on the other side. That's what I call a close call.  You can only imagine the mess if the fish would have landed inside the kayak on his lap!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Blues Hit the Bay in Force

Fishing  for bluefish was red hot today from
the kayak.
I'm not sure they are all over the Bay, but the places I have been fishing are suddenly loaded with bluefish. At the same time, the striper numbers have gone downhill.
My son Jon and I went out in the kayaks today. It was simply loaded with bluefish.  At times, it was a hit or fish on just about every cast.  We saw few showing....a break here and there, but big numbers of the choppers around. We also saw little bait.
These skinny early season blues were also super aggressive.  At one point, I had one on. It suddenly leaped high into the air and threw the plug.  As the plug fell to the water and landed another blue immediately grabbed it.  In addition, as I was bringing in a hooked blue, on several occasions, I saw numerous other blues following the hooked one to the kayak. Most of these fish were in the 4 to 7 lb. range, though Jon had one biggie that went over 10 lbs.
The hot plug of the day for us was a Rebel Jumpin Minnow in a bone color.  However, I think these aggressive fish would have attacked anything that moved on the surface.
Note that last year was one of the very best on record for bluefish  in Narragansett Bay.  Will history repeat itself?
The Rebel Jumpin Minnow was a hot plug for us today.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

First Blue....A Monster!

First blue of the year was a 35 inch monster.
It was caught on a Rebel Jumpin Minnow.
We went out in the boat in the Bay yesterday for the first time this year.  We were looking for stripers, but the first fish from the boat turned out to be a big surprise.  It was a monster blue that hit my bone colored Jumpin Minnow in shallow water. While I did not get a weight on the fish, I did get a length. The fish went a whopping 35 inches. That is my biggest blue of the last two seasons.
It would be the only blue on the day.  We did, however, manage to find some stripers.  They were all generally hefty schoolies that ran 20 to 25 inches.  We also had a lot of swirls and hits.  My best lure on the day for stripers proved to be a 7 1/2 inch white Slug-Go. We found most of the stripers in shallow water that was 3 to 8 feet.
Note that we also went looking far and wide for schools of pogies, hoping to find larger stripers near these schools.  We could not find any pogies.
For all you boaters out there, it seems that most of the RI state owned boat ramps are now open.  Some have limited parking.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Holiday Weekend Outlook: Fish Around BUT Parking Problems

It's been mostly small ones this week
for me with an occasional decent fish
from shore.
My son Jon has been scoring
better size fish from the
kayak.  This 30 incher was
landed this morning.
The real hot fishing that I had been experiencing along the south shore has really cooled off. I have been fishing the Bay in recent evenings and doing ok with small fish.  No big numbers but there are fish around. Jigheads with Zoom flukes have been scoring the best. My son, Jon, has been fishing from the kayak and doing a lot of paddling, but he's also finding good numbers of good size schoolies with occassional keepers in the mix up to 30 inches. He's also gotten the first blue in the family, a chopper about 6 lbs. All his fish have come on topwater plugs with the Rebel Jumpin Minnow being the best plug of the week. There have been a few bluefish around both the oceanfront and the Bay but no big numbers.
Parking remains a major issue along the oceanfront and along the Bay. Much of it is still closed down, and it has even gotten a bit worse with South Kingstown Beach closing down this week because of over crowding. Many of the fishermen I know who are fishiing from shore are either parking illegally or walking long distances to get to the water. The few places that are open are seeing a lot of fishermen. You may have heard that some places are opening up, but many of those places are shut down and locked at dusk. Not good since many of the shore fish are hitting at and after dark.
So, your best bet at catching a striper or a blue this weekend would be from a boat or a kayak. Boaters can get access to a lot of water.  In addition, worms are hatching in many of the south shore ponds and places in the Bay. That worm hatch is generally a boating/kayaking thing. I've also seen schools of big pogies in the Bay.  My guess is that many boaters will be looking for these and bigger fish this weekend.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

An Epic Week

Here's a near keeper landed this week on a
Cocahoe Minnow attached to a 3/4 oz. jighead.
Cocahoes and bucktail jigs have been hot lures.
In all my years of spring surf fishing, I have never seen a week like I have just fished. For seven straight days it was blitz after blitz along one area along the RI oceanfront. It had everything you would see in all out fall blitzes, but this was the spring and it was not supposed to happen this way.....diving birds by the hundreds, tons of bait, fish busting all over the place and aggressive fish stalking in the white water and wanting to pounce on anything that moved.
Unlike the fall, you rarely see surface blitzes in the spring.  Spring striper fishing is often a case of fish grubbing along the bottom.  They are often around, but rarely showing.  So, this was very unusual.
I could have caught these aggressive stripers on anything, but I chose to fish jigs all week because the jigs caused the least amount of harm to these fish I intended to release. At times I fished just the jig with a Cocahoe body.  At other times when a long cast was needed, I fished the jig (Cocahoe or bucktail) off a float. Some days it was a fish or hit on just about every cast, on other days it was streaks of fish on five or six casts in a row with a fish and then a lull, only to begin again. I walked away several days with tons of fish still around.
All the fish this week were good size schoolies for the most part (20-26 inches) with occasional small keepers (28 inches).  Between myself and the few others who fished these epic blitzes, I saw thousands of fish caught, yet not one fish measured 30 inches. It says a lot about the lack of bigger stripers.
So, this sets the tone on what will come this season.  Lots and lots of good size schoolies that just might be small keepers in the fall. It will set up terrific action in the coming months with smaller fish.
And, by the way, of the masses numbers of fish I landed this week, not one fish was badly hooked. No mortalities, no bleeding fish.  This says a lot about using jigs with single hooks for schoolies and small keepers you intend to release.
On more tidbit.....I went down yesterday and as the saying goes, "all good things must come to an end." I landed just two schoolies in four hours.  The bait and the fish have moved on.
Birds are hitting the water in a spring blitz of stripers. The last seven days of
fishing have been incredible!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Biggest Spring Blitz I Have EVER Seen!

Yes, I was out today in that wild big blow. It was the biggest wind I ever experienced while fishing in the springtime along the RI coast.  It also delivered the biggest striper blitz I have ever seen at this time of year. Hundreds of birds diving after bait, stripers blasting the bait from below and hitting anything that moved.  The fish were very hungry and aggressive. Take a look at the 9 second video below.  That went on for more than three straight hours right in front of me. And, it was a fish or a hit on every single cast using my float and bucktail jig. The second wave of migrating fish is well underway along the oceanfront and it was epic in the place I was fishing today.
All the fish today were good size. The smallest ones were around 20 inches while the bigger ones were keepers or just below keeper size. The jig was the perfect lure to use for today's catch-and-release fishing.  All fish returned in good shape.

Paddletails- Alone or Off the Float

I've run into some hot fishing along the oceanfront in the last couple of days.  All of my action has been on paddletail bodies, more specifically the 4-inch Cocahoe Minnow in a glow color with a chartreuse paddle tail.  I have been using this alone with a 3/4 oz. jighead or off the float.  Both have been working well depending on the situation.
I tend to favor just the jig alone.  This works well in deeper water or in spots where there are no obstructions on the bottom.  It also works well in places where a long cast is not needed.I like it paired with a 3/4 oz. jighead (see photo at left).
I go with the wooden egg float/ Cocahoe combo under different circumstances.  This works well in shallow water, places where obstructions (rocks) exist on the bottom, in low water areas and in places where a long cast is needed. I make all my own egg floats, and they weigh a bit under 2 oz.  I pair this with a half ounce jighead, and I can make a booming cast with this set-up (see photo at right).
I believe we are in the midst of a second wave of migrating spring fish. Up until a few days ago, I had been seeing inconsistent action along the oceanfront.  The last couple of days have brought very good action with 20 to 27 inch fish. I've even seen birds diving and schools of fish breaking. Hopefully, this big northwest blow we are currently experiencing will not drive them out.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Rain, Cold, Wind Cool Off Fishing

Here's a nice fish from yesterday. Fishing has gone downhill
in the cold and nasty weather.
Things were going well until this nasty weather hit.  The cold northeast winds, low temperatures and rain put the skids on the good April fishing that we had been enjoying. Nothing new, we've seen this pattern many times before as good early season striper fishing is often dictated by favorable weather.
In all this bad weather I was still fishing.  I was catching a few fish in both the Bay and along the oceanfront, but numbers were off.
With better weather on the way, I suspect we'll be back in the groove by the upcoming weekend.

Friday, April 24, 2020

April Trends Encouraging

Here is a near keeper taken a couple of nights
ago on a Zoom fluke on a half ounce jihead.
Jigs are great choices for those practicing catch
and release fishing.
This has been one of the best Aprils I've seen for striper fishing here in RI. The fish arrived two weeks ahead of schedule, and they have been plentiful in both the Bay and along the oceanfront. While early fishing in past years tended to be a lot of real tiny "micro" fish, this year's early migrating fish have been very good size, some of the best I have ever seen in April.
Remember that last year we saw massive numbers of schoolies in the 18 to 24 inch range along the RI coastline in the fall. I saw some of the biggest blitzes ever, and most of the fish seemed to be cookie cutter 22 inch schoolies. If you subscribe to the theory that schoolies grow about 4 inches a year, that would mean that we should see big numbers  of  22 to 28 inch fish.  And, we have!
I was out the other night in a spot from shore. I landed 14 fish.  Most were schoolies over 20 inches. A couple were close to 28 inches.  At the same time, my son was fishing in the kayak in another location.  He had over 40 fish with most of the fish going 22 to 28 inches, just the size I figured would be around in abundance.  Of that mix of fish, he had at least a couple of small keepers.
While most of the fish are larger schoolies so far, only a small percentage reach that 28 inch keeper size. I think that trend will continue into May and early summer. We'll probably see some bigger fish caught in the usual big fish hotspots like the Canal and Block Island towards mid June, but don't expect to find many of those over 30  inch fish anywhere else. They are just not abundant (another trend that should continue from year).
On another note, access continues to be a headache with so many closed parking areas along the Bay and along the oceanfront. That has put a lot of fishermen in some of the few spots that are open. For the life of me, I don't get this closing of oceanfront parking areas in April when no one is using them except a few fishermen and a few walkers.  State and local officials will tell you they are trying to protect everyone and it sounds good. However, I was out on one of the local bike paths riding my bike on Sunday. Yes, bike paths have remained open.  There were HUNDREDS of people walking, riding bikes and walking dogs in the hour I was there.  Most were observing social distancing, but I also saw big groups of people bunched up.  Few were wearing masks. We pick and choose what we want to close in the state with no consistency, and some of it just
makes no sense.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Sea Lice Tell the Story

Check out the sea lice on the body of this fresh run striper.
Migrating fish tend to have sea lice which they pick up from
migrating in the cold, deeper water.
I was catching decent numbers of schoolies last evening. All of them had sea lice on their bodies.  These are small orange/brown lice that cling to the stripers' bodies.  The stripers pick them up in deeper water as they migrate northward. It's a sure bet that these are migrating fish. They will lose this lice over time and as the water warms up.
The holdovers that reside in many of the state's saltwater ponds and rivers do not have sea lice. That is one way that fishermen often tell whether they are catching holdovers or fresh run stripers.
Migrating stripers continue to stream into RI waters.  They are along the oceanfront and in the Bay in increasing numbers.  The sizes are also increasing with good numbers of fish in the 24 to 28 inch range, though there are a lot of small ones under 20 inches. I have not caught or heard of a fish over 30 inches.
Parking continues to be a massive headache and is keeping lots of fishermen away from the water's edge.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Photo of the Day

There are increasing numbers of stripers around in the Bay and along the oceanfront.
 This is one of several decent size schoolies that I landed this evening.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Surprise of the Day

Here's a big, bronze colored white perch that I caught today
while fishing for stripers.
I was in a spot today catching small schoolies.  In the mix, I hooked what I thought was a bigger schoolie. To my surprise it turned out to be a big white perch. In fact, this perch was one of the biggest ones I have caught in recent years.  The fish was a darkish, bronze color, unlike the silvery ones I have caught in the past.  It could be the bottom color where it resided.  The perch hit a Zoom fluke mounted on a half ounce jighead.
White perch are a mystery fish here in RI.  They reside in many of the brackish waters of the state. Experts will tell you that they move between the brackish and fresh water to feed.  However, I have caught many in pure saltwater. They are also landlocked in many big lakes and river systems.  The landlocked variety are considerably smaller than the saltwater/brackish white perch.
I have been piecing together my fishing and focusing on spots where I can find some sort of parking (not easy to do).  Today I parked in a private spot and had to walk about half a mile to the shore. The oecanfront continues to be a mess with parking with just about everywhere shut down.  The Bay is slightly better. But, overall, it is not good. I've heard horror stories of fishermen being kicked out of spots.
As for the fish, migrating stripers are now in both the Bay and along the oceanfront. It's a very early start, and they have been around for about a week now. I haven't seen big numbers yet, but they are around.
Very frustrating when you know the fish are around, but you can't access deserted shorelines because the parking is shut down in most places.
 It's one thing to be safe, another to be reasonable. Parking restrictions along the water in much of the state is unreasonable.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

First Keeper Comes from the Yak

First "freshie" of the year on
a Zoom fluke.
One of many decent schoolies
from the kayak today for my
son Jon.  Fish went 23 to 28
My son, Jon, got the first keeper in the family in this new year today from the kayak.  He hit something hot in a new location as he landed quite a few decent fish from 23 to 28 inches. I'm not surprised as we should see good numbers of fish in the size range he caught today based on the big numbers of schoolies around last year.
The kayak is a good access busting craft.  If you can put it in somewhere, and if you have the stamina to paddle good distances, you could score big in the early season.  The use of a kayak is best done in the backwaters along the oceanfront and in the calmer areas of the Bay. Be careful if you go out in a kayak at this time of year since the water is super cold and the wind is often howling, a dangerous combination.
On another note, I have been searching high and low for places to fish.  I can tell you that just about 90% of the fishable saltwater spots in RI (both Oceanfront and Bay) have no access right now.  It's really tough  to find the scant few parking areas that exist, and you just might have to do a lot of walking to get to the water. Still, I managed to find a spot today, and did land my first "freshie" of the year. So, the fish are definitely migrating into our area.
Stay safe everyone and good luck finding that parking spot to get in to fish.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

WAY OVERBOARD....Fish Around, NO Access

Parking along the Sate Pier at East
Matunuck is completely shut down.
"Too much, ridiculous, overreaction, PIA" These are not my words.  These are some of the reactions I got from talking to people along the oceanfront yesterday. These were from a scant few pissed people who wanted to just go for a walk or cast a line. The parking along most of the oceanfront is non-existent unless you know someone that will allow you to park in their driveway. Basically, all fishing is shut down along deserted beaches because you can't get onto those beaches.
The entrances and exits to East Matunuck
State Beach are barricaded.
I decided to take a ride down to the oceanfront yesterday to see what was going on.  I had my stuff with me and had all intentions of fishing. I went to the West Wall, a popular early season spot that everyone knows about. I drove down Succotash Rd. by East Matunuck State Beach.  The entrances were barricaded shut.  No access there.  I then went to the end of the road down across from Skip's Dock where there is on street parking for about 8 cars.  There were all red signs indicating "No Parking. Police Emergency.  No access there.  I continued a short drive to the State Pier where there is parking for about a dozen cars.  There were barricades, cones and signs that indicated no parking. No access there.  Finally I went down the dirt road just north of the pier.  I know there are two small lots there where a few people go to walk dogs (Dog Beach).  Those lots had boulders blocking the parking. No access there.  On the way back, I went along many of the side streets of East Matunuck.  They all had those red "No Parking signs" put up by the Narragansett Police I assume. This place was completely shut down.
On the way back, I went through Narragansett.  It was similar.  No parking on side streets, no parking on Ocean Rd. (both sides), no parking in any beach or town lots.
In my opinion, way overboard. East Matunuck Beach sees NO ONE at this time of year. Unlike Narragansett that draws a lot of college kids, no one is at East Matunuck. If the state fears big groups, why not open only a small section of the lots? The closing down of on street parking down across from Skip's Dock is a head scratcher. A grand total of 8 cars can fit there, hardly a place where crowds can form.
On street parking across from
Skip's Dock is shut down. It's
a head scratcher since only
about 8 cars can fit here.
Finally, I drove by the parking lot at Stop and Shop in Narragansett and the Walmart in North Kingstown.  These parking lots were loaded with cars and loaded with people. I guess if you are a Walmart shopper it is ok to be in a crowd.  But, if you want to walk along a deserted beach or fish along a deserted beach, that's not ok.
Both the State and the town of Narragansett are painting this crisis situation with a  broad brush.  "Lets just shut down everything even though some places see limited or no activity." No one should be surprised at this in the Town of Narragansett since the Town has the reputation of being very anti-outsider even in good times.
Yes, the fish are beginning to move along the south shore, but forget going down there to fish.
I hope the State develops a plan to at least partially open some of those empty parking lots along the waterfront. Do what RI did with freshwater fishing by allowing a limited number of fishermen to fish (on/off days) and making sure anglers observe social distancing. Just shutting down all beach access along the oceanfront is really ridiculous.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Newsflash: RI Trout Season Suddenly Opens Up

Trout fishing season suddenly opened today in RI. Under normal circumstances, trout fishing would normally open the second Saturday in April, or April 11 this year.  The DEM wanted to avoid the big crowds that come out on Opening Day so they decided to go with a “soft” opening at mid week, similar to what CT did this year.  Smart move considering the coronavirus situation we are in.
There is a twist to this opening. DEM has said that you can fish for trout on odd/even calendar days.  If your last name begins with A to M, you should be fishing on even days.  If your last name begins with N to Z, you should fish on odd days.
There are other restrictions in effect. State parks are not open for parking, there should be no more that 5 people together and social distancing (at least 6 feet) are if effect. Additionally, trout will be stocked throughout the season but will not be publicized. They are also suggesting if a pond or lake is crowded, look for other areas which are not so crowded.
All of the details and information about this unusual trout opening can be found HERE.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

It Will Not be Business as Usual

The stripers should be along the RI south shore in a couple of weeks, but will the fishermen be there? At this point, things are not looking good.  Most of the oceanfront is shut down and locked up.  Every state park, every state campground, every state beach parking lot, some town beaches and a lot of on street parking has been closed down.  Here is just a partial list from the state DEM of the closed areas.  The list keeps growing by the day.  You can technically walk in and fish the oceanfront, but you have to keep the social distances.  But, at this point, nearly all the parking is shut down.  If you do want to fish, you will have to get creative on how to get into certain spots. And, surely if a lot of fishermen congregate in certain areas, those places will be shut down.
Keep in mind, too, the state of RI has been very aggressive toward out-of-staters. I know a lot of fishermen come from out of state to fish the RI oceanfront in the spring. By order of the Governor, any out-of-staters should quarantine for 14 days upon entering RI.  Just this week, three golfers from MA came into RI to play golf and were stopped by the police and cited. There have been other instances where local police and the national Guard have been checking out of state cars parked in south county and knocking on doors to check on occupants. It's not good.
Much of the Bay is affected just like the oceanfront so no better there. As for boaters who might want to try the Bay, a lot of the state ramps that are in state parks are also closed.  I have no idea about private ramps and marinas.
As you all know, these are unusual and difficult times, and most of us see fishing as a means to relax and put the problems of the world behind us. I'm not sure we will have that option in many places.  Certainly, this spring will not be business as usual.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

What Will Happen with Opening Day of Trout Fishing?

What is going to happen with Opening Day of Trout fishing here in RI? As of right now, it is slated to open on April 11. This is a day that traditionally sees tens of thousands of fishermen descend upon the stocked waters of RI in search of trout.  Some places like Carolina Trout Pond, Lincoln Woods, Silver Spring Pond and many other hotspots see hundreds if not thousands of fishermen standing shoulder to shoulder.  In other places dozens of people camp in close quarters waiting for daybreak. Under the present circumstances, I see no way this will be allowed to happen. So, as of now, no one seems to know what will happen.
Nearby CT has taken a novel approach to this, one that I think RI should immediately adopt. Yesterday they opened all their trout waters to fishing.  They previously had the same Opening Day as RI, but they decided to open early to avoid the masses of fishermen that would normally hit the waters on April 11. It was also smart to open during the week.
Here is the press release from CT:
On March 24, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont issued an Executive Order opening many lakes, ponds, rivers and streams to fishing statewide.  Opening the fishing season early helps to limit community spread of COVID-19, by eliminating the large crowds that often accompany the traditional Opening Day of fishing in April. During this time of social distancing, fishing should be enjoyed as solitary experience or with members of your immediate household, not as a group activity. 
DEEP is encouraging all anglers to follow social distancing practices.  Anglers should maintain a distance of at least six feet from others, practice good personal hygiene, and stay home and away from others if you feel sick.  If you arrive at a favorite fishing spot and see that crowds are forming, choose a different location, or return another day or time. “
Smart policy!  Now, will RI follow? 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Wading into the Unknown

In just about three to four weeks, the first migrating stripers will hit the RI oceanfront. We know the fish will be there, but will the fishermen? With social gatherings in RI  limited to 10 people, does anyone think you'll see crowds of fishermen lined shoulder to shoulder in some of our spring striper hotspots like we've seen in previous years? No social distancing practiced in those spots.  I have to wonder how that's going to be controlled. I also have to wonder what will happen to beach parking lots and on street beach parking, access points that lots of fishermen as well as beach goers use to get to the water. I hate to say this, but I'm guessing a lot of those places will be shut down if this current crisis persists.
I'm guessing that many of the experienced guys will hit the "off the beaten path" spots that get little attention and few fishermen. There are loads of these places tucked away along our shoreline, but you have to know how to get into these spots and you have to be able to park. Nighttime fishermen should have easier opportunities to get out and fish while at the same time avoiding any crowds since so few people fish at night anymore.
As for boaters, will those state ramps be open and available? They can get mighty crowded on weekends...certainly more than ten people at times.
We are headed for uncharted waters here in the next few weeks.  After what's happened in the last week or two to society in general, nothing would surprise me.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Look on the Bright Side, You Can Still Fish!

Here is a holdover striper that I landed just a couple of days
ago.  They are around the backwaters and rivers along the Bay
and oceanfront, but you have to find them.
Holy smokes, what a mess we are in right now. Did you ever think you would see a pandemic in your lifetime? Whether it's fear or panic or a combination of both, all you hear about is the coronavirus, and its disruptions on our daily lives. With just about everything all around us closing down, about the only bright spot is that we can still fish and be safe doing it.
I can tell you that just about no one is fishing right now.  Both freshwater and saltwater fishermen just don't think about fishing at this time of year even though it can be quite productive. And, with few people out and about, social distancing is not much of a problem. For those who may be bored and holed up at home, there are opportunities to get out and fish in saltwater and saltwater. Here is the scoop:
\Large carp are a freshwater option at this
time of year.  I got this one in the morning
the same day I landed the striper (top photo).
Saltwater- There are wintering over stripers to be had in many of the backwaters and river systems in the Bay as well as along the oceanfront. You'll have to do a lot of looking and casting to find these fish. In the last week my son Jon and I have gotten out and caught fish every time out on Zoom flukes mounted on jigheads.  Not many, but enough fish to say we caught.  While all these fish we landed were schoolies, I also know of keepers that have also been landed.  In addition to stripers, white perch also inhabit these same backwaters, particularly brackish rivers.  The perch will hit the same small jigs that the stripers are hitting. If we are lucky, the masses of migrating stripers should arrive early, maybe around April 10-15. It could be even earlier if this weather stays warm.
Freshwater-  All stocked trout waters are off limits to any type of fishing in RI right now until Opening Day, but all other waters are open to fishing.  I know some fishermen are now targeting crappie, white perch and largemouth bass in these spots.  I have been targeting carp and doing fairly well.  I've gotten many fish in the last two weeks up to 10 lbs., decent size for this time of year.  The hot bait has been sweet corn on the hair rig or combo baits.  Carp fishing at this time is best in shallow water spots that warm up quickly on warm, sunny days. Note that if you want to fish freshwater now in RI, you will need a new 2020 freshwater license.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

It's Official...Slot Limit, 28-35, for RI for 2020

It's been settled.  After many meetings in which the slot limit was debated, tweaked and argued over, the DEM director, Janet Coit, has made the final decision.  It will be a slot limit of one fish of 28 to less than 35 inches for RI recreational fishermen as well as charter boats in 2020.The RI regulations will now be consistent with all the states from NY to Maine which have adopted similar limits for recreational fishermen. Like many other concerned fishermen, I hope this works in reducing mortality and preserving our stocks of larger fish.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

First Ones from Shore

First one of the year from shore.
Second fish, a bigger one!
While my son, Jon, continues to catch holdover stripers from the kayak, I also got in on the action today from shore.  I landed my first ones of the year.  Based on the place I was fishing these were holdover fish.  I landed two of them right before dark.  Both were taken on light tackle with an albino Zoom fluke fished on a half ounce round head jighead. Both were released in good shape.
Holdover stripers exist in many of coastal rivers and ponds along the oceanfront and in Narragansett Bay. It's a matter of looking and trying to find them.  Your best shot at catching a holdover at this time of year is on a warm day and fishing the warmest part of the day....late afternoon into evening, just as I did today.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

First Stripers of the Year are Holdovers Caught from the Kayak

I'm predicting my son Jon will catch more stripers from the kayak this year than he will get from shore. He has become our expert kayak fisherman in the family. This started several seasons ago, and he has been fishing from the 'yak more and more. In his travels he has found some interesting spots that hold serious numbers of fish at various times of the year.
He's been poking around numerous places in the kayak in this mild winter weather, and today he found his first stripers of the year. Before anyone gets excited, these were holdovers.  He landed several schoolies on Zoom flukes and had several more hits.
Stripers are known to hold over in many of the river systems in Narragansett Bay and in many of the ponds along the south shore of RI. But, holdover striper fishing in the winter can tricky.  Sometimes they are willing to hit; sometimes they are not.  They also will bunch up in certain spots, and it is a matter of finding those places that hold fish.  Tough from shore, easier in a kayak or a boat.
I plan to start looking for holdover fish from shore in middle to late March.

Friday, January 31, 2020

On To the Springfield Sportsmen's Show

My next stop on the winter seminar circuit is the Springfield Sportsmen's Show at the Big E in Springfield, MA. The show will be running Feb. 21, 22, and 23.  Check out the website here for more information.This is a massive show in a huge venue. It's got everything "outdoors" for the hunter, fisherman and general outdoor person.  It's also very family friendly, and usually draws a big, loyal crowd who return year after year.
I will be at the show doing seminars on Saturday, Feb. 22. As of right now, the seminar times are not set, but they should be posted on the website prior to the show's start.  I will be doing my carp fishing seminar titled Seasonal Strategies for Carp Fishing.  I'll also be doing this year's saltwater seminar titled Stripers, Blues and Albies: A Multi-Species Approach.  I did both seminars at the New England Fishing Expo at Boxborough, MA, last week, and both were very well  received.
Hope to see some of my followers at the show!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

New Fishing Seminar to Debut at New England Fishing Expo, Boxboro, MA

My latest saltwater seminar that I'll be running this winter at many of the big outdoor shows is called "Stripers, Blues and Albies, A Multi-Species Approach". I wanted to do a show this year that dealt with more than just stripers since many of today's saltwater fishermen are doing just that for whatever is the best bet. The seminar is in three segments and I will talk about some of the best strategies to target these "Big 3" species. I've got some great video footage of some wild blitzes and have all new photos that were taken in 2019. I think this will be a hit with the show goers.
My first stop in running this seminar will be at the New England Fishing Expo at the Boxboro Regency in Boxboro, MA. I'll be doing the seminar on Saturday, Jan. 25 at 5:00 PM in the Seminar Room. For those who don't know, this is the old Worcester Show, but it has been completely revamped as a pure fishing show.  I've been there in the last few years, and it keeps getting bigger and better! It also boast about the best line-up of  freshwater and saltwater seminar speakers of any show that I've ever been to.
Note that I will also be there on Sunday at 11 AM to present my newest carp fishing seminar titled "Seasonal Strategies for Carp".
Hope to see some of my followers this year at the New England Fishing Expo.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Loading Up

I've been tying up a storm in my basement.  I think bucktail
jigs will be hot tickets again this year, like always, for stripers.
This is a lure you can easily make yourself.
I'm already planning for next season. I've been loading up on what I think will be hot based on last year's fishing. Here's what I've been buying and making:
1. Bucktail jigs-  I caught a lot of stripers last year on bucktail jigs.  They became my go to lures most days in the fall.  They also are great for catch-and-release fishing.  I make all my own bucktail jigs.  I really like both the spire point jigs and flat head jigs. If you are looking for the molds for these, check out Do-It Molds. When I'm going with a big jig, the spire point in  1, 1 1/2 and 2 oz. sizes are the ticket.  When I'm fishing the bucktail jig off a float, I like the smaller flathead in a 3/8 or 1/2 oz size.  All my jigs have white heads, white bucktail and are tied with red thread.
2. Topwater plugs- I'm stocking up on Rebel Jumpin Minnows in a bone color.  These inexpensive spook type plugs were the hottest surface lures last year in Gansett Bay for stripers and bluefish in the summer and fall. I suggest changing out the hooks on these plugs to VMC 4X.
3. Cocahoes- I've ordered a bunch of these paddle tail lures in a glow/chartreuse tail color.  I like the Queen or 4 inch model.  Plain white and plain glow also work well. They were real hot along the oceanfront last year in both the spring and fall for stripers.  Again, great for catch-and-release when mounted on a single hook jighead.
4.  Big stuff for the Canal- I bought a bunch of 9 inch Sebile Magic Swimmers in a ghostescent color.  These has been the hottest plugs in the Canal for big fish in the last few years. You can get them now, but come July, good luck finding any.  I've also bought several Guppy pencil poppers, the topwater lure that proved to be my best last year.  They come in various sizes.  The best size will be determined by what your outfit can throw. I like the Jobo Junior in a pearl or Ghost mackerel color in a 3 oz. size.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Circle Hook Regulation Coming to MA in 2020. RI to Follow in 2021

In this case, my circle hook
did just what it was intended
to do as it hooked this small
keeper right in the lip. The fish
was released in good shape.
If you are a bait fisherman who fishes for striped bass in MA, inline circle hooks will be required in 2020. This reg was put into law to help reduce the mortality rate of stripers caught on bait since the use of circle hooks greatly reduces, though does not eliminate, a bad hook-up (swallowed hook or hook in the gills).
Here is a copy of the MA regulation:
Effective next year (2020), recreational anglers not fishing aboard for-hire vessels will be required to use inline circle hooks when fishing for striped bass with whole or cut natural baits. This will include fishing with whole or cut natural baits while in possession of striped bass as well. This circle hook mandate will not apply to natural baits attached to an artificial lure to be trolled, jigged, or casted and retrieved (e.g., tube and worm). Nor will the mandate apply to any natural bait affixed to a treble hook and fished using the snag and drop technique. A hook is considered to be an in-line circle hook only if it is manufactured so the barb of the hook is in-line with the shank and bend of the hook and is turned perpendicularly back to the shank to form a circular or oval shape.
The above law answers many of the questions I had and doesn't address some. Here are just a few of those questions and how I interpret this:
*How about offset circle hooks? No good
*Snagging pogies on a treble hook and letting them drop? That seems to be ok to do.
*Fishing with squid strips on a jig? ok
*Using a rigged eel with traditional hooks? not sure
*Use of eel skin plugs with a treble hook? ok
*Use of live eels? Need to use a circle hook.
*Fishing for blues, black sea bass or other fish with traditional bait hooks? not sure
So, you can see there are some gray areas here. We might see further clarification of this regulation in the coming months.