Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Coming Attractions


Bucktail jigs can be hot producers
in the early going. Expect the action
to begin in about a month from now.

I'll be knee deep in snow tomorrow at the ski slopes so it's hard to get my mind on fishing.  But, I also know that things change fast around here at this time of year, and I am guessing that I will be catching migrating stripers a month from now.

Overall, this has been a warm winter, but I think it will have little effect on when the fish arrive. I have been keeping logs over the last 40 years, and it has taught me that regardless of how cold or warm the winters are or how cold or warm the water is, the fish arrive at just about the same time year after year regardless of the weather.

Start time: If I were to guess at a date in which the first good numbers of fish arrive along the RI south shore beachfront, I would guess APRIL 15 give or take a few days. Last year I landed my first migrating "bright" striper right on my target date of April 15. That evening I landed 3 schoolies on Cocahoe Minnows. In 2021, my first fish came on April 19.  In 2020, my first ones came on April 14. All of the early season stripers will likely be schoolies in the 12 to 20 inch range. Most of them will be caught on some type of jig with paddle tails and bucktail jigs being the top producers.

First Keepers (Slot fish)- Just about every year my logs reveal that I will get the first migrating keepers (slot fish0 before the close of April, roughly two weeks after I land those first ones.  Last year I landed my first 28 inch fish of the year on April 28 on a large bucktail jig. In recent years, my best early season big fish lures have been big bucks spiced with curly tails.

Onto the Bay in the kayak- the first week of May will bring good numbers of schoolies along with some slots into the Bay.  Last year my first outing in the kayak was on May 3, and I landed several fish in the Bay on weighted and unweighted flukes.  One of those fish was a 32 inch beauty.

Don't be fooled by holdover fish: Expect to read numerous reports of stripers being taken in the next few weeks "along the oceanfront".  These will most likely be holdover fish that exist in multiple locations in the backwaters along the oceanfront. Note that this has been a fair to poor year of holdover fishing.  I've landed some fish in December, January and February, but their numbers have been down compared to last winter.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Kayak Rods


Key to a good kayak rod.....a short handle, 7 feet
in length and some backbone to the rod to fight 
the fish.

At a recent seminar that I did in Boxboro, MA, I was asked a question about kayak rods, and what I use from my yak when fishing for stripers. I can tell you that no one makes a specific kayaking rod for saltwater.  St. Croix has one for freshwater, and I guess it could be used for light saltwater applications.

Think about this.  When fishing from a kayak, you are sitting in a seat while casting, reeling and fighting a fish while the rod's butt end rests on your stomach. The key here is that the butt of the rod can not be very long otherwise the set-up feels awkward with the reel up in your face.  In fact, I would say that distance from the butt cap to the reel seat should be from 12 to no more than 17 inches long.  The handle on most surf rods are too long and even most boat rod handles tend to be long. I also like to use a rod that is stiff that has a medium to heavy action when fishing from the kayak. These rods, ideally are from 7 to 7 1/2 feet.  For my Old Town PDL 10 1/2 foot kayak, a 7 foot rod is ideal.  Like any other type of fishing, you will need to carry different rods depending on the type of fishing you are doing. Below is my line-up of rods that I use:

Light Applications- schoolies, slots, small blues- St Croix Triumph, 7 foot, medium heavy matched with a Daiwa BG 3000 and 20 lb. test braid.  This rod is great for trolling or casting light plugs and jigs.

Light to medium applications- schoolies, slots, blues- St. Croix Triumph (older version), medium matched with Daiwa BG 4000 and 30 lb. test braid.  This is the outfit I use mainly for plugging for blues and stripers. The 30 lb. line gives me a little more beef.

Heavy- St. Croix Mojo Salt 7 foot medium matched with Daiwa BG 5000 and 50 lb. test braid. This is new this year and I plan to use this for big stripers and big blues. I can snag menhaden with this outfit and I can use big plugs. The rod has a lot of backbone to deal with big fish. 

Heavy- Homemade 7 1/2 foot fiberglass boat rod matched with Daiwa BG 5000. I used this last year for heavy applications and it worked well live lining menhaden. It also worked well for casting big plugs and jigs. I landed many over slot stripers up to 45 inches with this outfit and blues up to 15 lbs. last year.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Next Seminar Stop.....Springfield Sportsmen's Show....Feb. 25

 My next stop on my 2023 seminar tour is the Springfield Sportsmen's Show on Saturday,  Feb. 25.  As of this date, I do not know my times.  You would have to check the website right before the show at www.osegsportsmens.com 

I know I will be doing my popular striper fishing seminar that drew huge crowds last weekend at the show in Boxboro. This seminar features striper fishing from shore and kayak.  The emphasis was on catching big fish- slots and over slots.  I will also be doing my carp fishing seminar. This show deals with understanding carp fishing in southern New England with an emphasis on bait and rigging.

The Springfield Sportsmen's Show is held at the Big E in Springfield.  It features everything outdoorsy- fishing, hunting, camping, boats, guides, etc. It runs for three days from Feb. 24 to Feb. 26.  It is one of the most popular outdoor shows in the northeast.

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

First One for 2023!

Today, I landed my first striper
for 2023.  It hit a Cocahoe on a

 Don't get too excited.  Yes, I did land my first striper of 2023. But, it was a holdover.  The first migrating fish are still months away from hitting our shores.

Holdover stripers do inhabit many of the coastal ponds and rivers along the RI oceanfront and in the Bay. There are some, but their numbers pale in comparison to the big populations you hear about in the big rivers in CT. It's often a case of finding a fish or two that want to hit. And, in RI, finding holdover stripers can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. 

I like to get out on days like this (warm and rainy) when I'm not skiing and just cast away in a number of spots hoping for a hit or a fish. If I get a fish, great; if not, it was nice to get out and cast in the middle of January. Catching any number of fish is simply a bonus.

Today's fish was a schoolie about 20 to 22 inches.  It hit a Cocahoe minnow.  It was the only hit I had.  This was my third outing for holdovers in January.  I found good numbers of holdover stripers in mid to late December, but so far, January has proven to be difficult. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2023


  In a couple of weeks I begin doing my winter seminars at many of the big outdoor shows in New England.

My first show will be the New England Fishing and Outdoor Expo in Boxboro, MA at the Boxboro Regency.  This show runs three days on Jan. 27, 28 and 29.   This is a big fishing and outdoor show that covers freshwater fishing and saltwater fishing with a lot of exhibitors, displays, dealers and seminars. 

On Saturday, Jan. 28 at 11:00 AM, I will be running my all new saltwater seminar for 2023.  It is titled "Stripers from Shore and Kayak". This seminar will take show goers on a year long journey of catching stripers from both shore and kayak here in southern New England. It will outline some of the best lures, techniques and places to catch stripers from both shore and kayak.  The emphasis will be on catching after large stripers, slots and overslots.

I will change hats on Sunday, Jan. 29 at 11:00 AM as I do my freshwater carp fishing seminar.  My new carp fishing show for 2023 is titled "Understanding Carp- Choosing the Best Baits".  This show will feature rigging as well as baits to catch trophy size carp in southern New England.  It will be an eye opener and a wealth of information for those who are beginners as well as experienced carpers.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my Loyal Readers


A rainbow forms along RI Sound.
For the most part we found a pot of gold at the end of 
the rainbow that brought outstanding fishing in 2022.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Grading the 2022 Season


It was a phenomenal year for big 
stripers from shore and kayak.

Overall, 2022 was one of the best saltwater fishing seasons ever here in RI.  Striper fishing overall was fantastic and the albie season was one the most memorable also.  Bluefish, however, was an up and down affair. 

My logs reveal that I landed just about 1,000 stripers this year with the majority of the fish being slots and over slots.  It was that good. 

Here is the way I saw it with a grade for each species of fish:

Striped bass- I will divide this category into three with schoolies, slots and over slots:

Schoolies- Here is a bit of a problem area. Young-of-the-year spawning has been poor in the last few years and we are seeing the results of that.   The early season action was fair at best and the late season action (November) was only ok if judged by past years.  I got my first migrating fish on April 15 along the south shore beaches.  That puts their arrival right on time. I never had what I would call a big day (over 10 fish) along the south shore in the spring, and I fished a lot. It was some fish here and there.  I did considerably better in the Bay from both shore and kayak. Still, numbers were way down compared to other years. At the other end of the calendar, November/early December delivered more schioolies than the spring but still numbers were off compared to past years. Grade for schoolies- B-

Slots and even over slots were around in huge 
numbers from June till late fall. Shore fishing
was fantastic at times.

- This was the best year I have ever seen for these 28 to 35 inch fish.  They were around in massive numbers, especially from early summer till mid fall. There were days I was catching and releasing upwards of 20 and 30 slots, and it seemed like everyday delivered slot fish after slot fish.  At one point, I saw packed schools of so many slot fish in one oceanfront location that anglers were snagging them (legal but unethical!) This went on for weeks. In a one month period while fishing from my kayak in June/July I had over 200 stripers that were either slots or over slots. I've been fishing since the 1960's and have never seen a better year for these size fish. Grade for slots- A+

Over slots- These fish also were around in very good numbers. It has never been easy to catch a lot of stripers over 40 inches, but this was an exceptional year for those bigger fish here in RI.  My biggest of the year was a 47 incher from shore.  I had numerous fish in the 45 inch range from the kayak along with countless fish over 40 inches. Narragansett Bay was especially hot as we had big numbers of adult menhaden enter the Bay in May and they were around in big numbers right into summer.  Those large bunker attracted large stripers and large bluefish in astounding numbers. Grade for over slots- A

I landed good numbers of big blues from the
kayak and from shore in the early going.
From late May to July they were abundant
but there were very few around in the fall.

- This was a tale of two seasons, early season from mid May to July and late season in the fall. Spring brought good numbers of bluefish especially in the warming waters of Gansett Bay. When I can stand in the water in my waders on May 20 and land 17 big blues (over 10 lbs. ) you know there are a lot around.  I was catching good numbers from shore and from my kayak. Many of the big blues in the Bay were chasing down the schools of menhaden and it was often a case of both large blues and big stripers under the same schools of bait. Biggest blues for me in the early going were around 15 lbs. The fall was a completely different story.  I saw almost no blues all fall and landed exactly 2 of them.  Even at times when there was a lot of bait, there were no blues after the abundant peanut bunker. Note that this pattern of abundant blues in the early season played out almost exactly the same in 2021. Grade for blues-C+

It was a very good year for albies, one of the
best of the last decade.  Some albie diehards
reported well over 100 fish landed from shore!

- It was a very good year for albies, one of the best of the last decade.  I got my first ones of the year on September 13.  While the albie season started off late and slow, things picked up as September moved forward.  I did not target them as much as past years because I was chasing down the more abundant and consistent stripers. Also, rough weather also played havoc with these fish.  But, I know of diehard albie hunters who landed well over 100 albies from shore this year, a testament to their abundance. Grade for albies- A-