Friday, August 5, 2022

Sometimes They Just Won't Hit

 

Here's a big school of stripers feeding on the
surface on tiny bait. They would not hit a thing
yesterday.

I was out yesterday looking for those peanut bunker and stripers that I found the day before. I didn't find any, but what I did find was a glut of stripers feeding on schools of tiny baby bay anchovies.  This was micro bait no wider than your fingernail.  I knew nothing could "match the hatch", but I figured I would run through my best bets from year's past.  That included small bucktail jigs, Cocahoes, float and fly, and Jumpin Minnows. None of those offerings got a hit although they did get a few follows that I saw in the calm, clear water.  At one point, I threw those offerings into a school of stripers the size of a school gym.  You could see all their heads just moving slowly on the surface slurping up the tiny bait. But, not my offerings.

After a while, the feeding stopped and it seemed to be over.  Nothing showing.  I walked to the edge of a large rock and peered down into the clear water.  Amazingly, I saw thousands of stripers just moving slowly along the edge of the water.  I tossed a few offerings right in front of their noses and didn't even get a sniff. Simply, not interested in what I had to offer.

It's frustrating to find situations like this, but I've seen this phenomenon many times before in the past. The stripers will be especially fussy when the water is warm, clear and calm.  You have a much better chance at catching in rough, white water.  And, when the stripers are feeding on bait that is tiny, especially those bay anchovies, they are nearly impossible to catch.  No artificial is going to match a half inch baitfish! 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Peanut Bunker Fuels Wild Blitzes

 I saw my first schools of peanut bunker yesterday along the oceanfront, and I also saw some wild blitzes of stripers.  At one point, the bass had the bunker pinned right up against the shore. They were after the peanuts in mere inches of water.  Most of the stripers are hefty schoolies in the 22 to 27 inch range that tend to be fussy.  I did land very good numbers of them in the last two days. I also had several slot fish from 28 to 30 inches.  Small artificials like three inch Cocahoes, bucktails off a float and Rebel Jumpin' Minnows were all working. 

If you didn't know it, you'd think this was an October blitz.


 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

One of the Best Julys EVER in RI

The first  half of the month brought good 
numbers of big blues into the Bay.  I got this
one from my kayak.

 An abundance of stripers of all sizes- hefty schoolies, slots, over slots. Big bluefish. Big bait. Small bait.  Hot fishing in the Bay from the kayak. Great fishing along the oceanfront from shore. If you didn't know, you'd think I would be talking about October fishing.  But, this is July and it has been one of the best Julys I have ever seen.  Normally, I am fishing the Cape Cod Canal in July.  Not this year....it has been all RI fishing.

In the first half of the month, the cooler half, I was fishing just about every day in the Bay from my kayak. I was chasing down schools of menhaden, and there were loads of big stripers and big bluefish under most of those schools. About a quarter of the fish I was catching and releasing were over slot fish with the rest being slot fish.  Mixed in were good numbers of big bluefish up into the teens. I have never seen the good fishing for big fish extend this late into the summer in the Bay.

There were also good numbers of big stripers (slots
and over slots) from the kayak in the Bay.

Once the hot temperatures arrived around mid month, I began fishing the cooler times of evening and nighttime along the oceanfront from shore.  There I found loads of stripers of all sizes that were chasing down big schools of baby bay anchovies.  I fished some evenings where decent sized stripers were busting all around me in the white water.  Most of the fish were hefty schoolies in the 24 to 26 inch range, but I had some slots also and even one big fish of 41 inches that I measured. Most of these fish fell for jigs fished along or off a float.  I fished just about every evening in the second half of the month and never got skunked.  It was consistently very good.

This good size bass was taken from the shore 
later in June along the oceanfront. Large numbers
of stripers are feeding on tiny bay anchovies
along the oceanfront.

So, as we move into August, I believe this hot RI fishing will continue, especially along the cooler waters of the oceanfront.  Boaters will have a big advantage as they can move around a lot.  Still, shore fishermen should have good fishing especially during the cooler hours of evening, nighttime and early morning.




Another big fish comes ashore on a Cocahoe 
minnow. Jigs have been hot lures
along the oceanfront in the past two
weeks.


Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Big Stripers on Tiny Bait

 

This 30 inch slot fish took a three inch
Cocahoe mounted onto a small jighead.
Expect to find some big fish feeding on
small bait in the coming days and
weeks.

With all this heat and wind, I put the kayak in the garage and I am back to fishing the surf in the evening/night. I hit an interesting situation last evening where I found a lot of stripers in very close feeding on tiny bait.  I mean so tiny I couldn't even see the bait.  I suspect they were baby bay anchovies since I have seen a lot of them in Narragansett Bay. 

The usual big plugs were not going to work here so I had to go small.  I started off with a quarter ounce flathead jig along with a curly tail.  They were hitting that quite well, but the tails kept pulling down after a few fish.  I then went with something more durable....a small, three inch Cocahoe mounted onto a quarter ounce jighead.  That worked fairly well, and I stuck with that set-up for the rest of the evening.  I might have even tried my float and fly since that set-up has been deadly in the past under these circumstances.  But, I had none in my bag since I usually fish this in late summer and early fall.  You can bet I'll have some in the bag tonight.

The fish last evening were a mix of hefty schoolies (22 to 27 inches) and slot fish into the low thirty inch range.  There were a lot of them and it was non-stop action for three straight hours.  Make no mistake about it....this is turning out to be a HUGE year for stripers here in RI and whether you fish from a boat or from shore. On average, the stripers are also good size with big numbers of hefty schoolies, slots and even over slots around. I can almost guarantee our hot RI striper fishing will continue right into the fall.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Revival for Survival

 

I am swishing around this slot fish
before releasing. It's a good idea to 
revive a big fish prior to release, 
especially when the water if warm.

It's that time of year where the water is warm.  Any stripers caught in these dog days of summer are stressed to the limit after a battle. It's especially important to properly handle these fish you are going to release, especially a big fish, and to try to revive it to prevent the fish from going belly up. Here's a few tips that I have tried to follow in warm weather:

1. Get the fish back in the water as soon as possible. When I am out in the kayak these days, I try not to even take the fish out of the water.  Yes, easier to do in a kayak.  I will grab a big fish with a Boga grip and hold it in the water while unhooking.

2.  If you want to get a photo, have everything ready ahead of time, and do it fast.  I have a Go Pro set up on a camera boom in the front of my kayak.  It is voice activated and set up in just the right location.  If I get a big fish and want a photo, I quickly lift the fish into the kayak and say "Go Pro, take a photo".  I might take two or three photos and the whole process takes seconds.  The fish is then quickly returned to the water. I see people in boats fiddling with the fish, unhooking it on ther floor of the boat, passing the fish around to other people on the boat for photos, and usually the camera person is not even ready to take the picture.  Those fish might be out of the water for minutes which is way too long.

3.  Try to revive before releasing.  Even those fish that I keep in the water should be revived.  I will

If you want a quick photo of a big
fish, do it fast.  I have my Go Pro
on a Ram track mount all set up 
ahead of time.  The camera is voice
activated and takes seconds to
get a photo or two.

quickly get them off the Boga while holding onto their jaw with my thumb. I try to swish them back and forth in the water getting oxygen in their gills until I feel the fish start to swim. Only then will I let the fish go. It's easy to do in a kayak since I am low to the water.  I've seen some boaters net their fish with a long handled net.  After unhooking they will lower the fish back in the water in the net and swish it around before releasing it. That works and is far better than throwing the fish in the air and back into the water.

4. Realize the bigger the fish, the faster and more stressed it can get.  These days a lot of us are catching over slot fish that must be released.  Those are the ones that you really have to be careful with if you are going to have a successful release.

I think all of this is much easier to do from shore than in a boat.  And, it takes more effort to revive a big fish in a bigger boat. But, something to think about in these days of catch-and-release fishing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Photo of the Day....."BIG Blues Taking Over?"

 

With the warming waters, big gator blues are on the increase.
They are mixing in with stripers, and at times have outnumbered
them in recent days. I expect this trend to continue in the Bay.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

The Art of Snagging

 These days a lot of the big stripers that are being caught are being caught on bait.  And, that bait of choice here in RI is adult pogies or menhaden.  Most boating fishermen tend to snag their own bait and then place it in a baitwell to be used later as live or chunk bait.

These Smith "Guide's Choice" sunglasses have
been excellent for spotting schools of menhaden
under the water.

I've seen some crazy techniques this spring when it comes to snagging.  Some fishermen will just cast randomly and pull away with one yank after another in an areas where they think menhaden exist. It's what I call the "torn rotator cuff" technique.  It's just not efficient.

The way my son Jon (who by the way is the best snagger I have ever seen) and I do it is that we cast to an area where pogies are present.  We then reel our 1 1/2 oz. snag hooks very slowly toward the kayak.  When we start to feel slight taps on the rod tip caused by hitting the bait, we then will pull. Note that you almost have to be using braided line for this to work since the braid will give you the best feel.

Another key ingredient to snagging is a stiff rod.  Many boaters are using equipment which is far too light for snagging. A stiff spinning boat rod that's 7 to 7 1/2 feet and rated for 20 to 50 lb. test line will do the trick. Jon uses a spinning rod geared for tuna that he calls "the Beast" when snagging.

Most fishermen get their menhaden
that will be used for bait by snagging.
There is an art to snagging and some
fishermen are very efficient at doing it.

Finally, where do you cast?  Menhaden often give away their presence by flipping on top of the water.  Cast ahead of where you see the jumps and reel the snagger in slowly.  Another way to do this is to spot those light brown patches of bait schools under the water.  I have some fantastic polarized sunglasses that I bought this year that really allow me to see the schools.  The are Smith "Guide's Choice" sunglasses made specifically for fishing.  They are the best I have ever used. I'll warn you they are not cheap, but they are some of the highest quality glasses you can find for fishing.