Friday, November 27, 2009

The Shift is On

There is a major shift in striper fishing going on right now. The ocean migration along the south shore is down to a trickle, with a few small fish that are few and far between. A better alternative for those still fishing is to target the wintering over fish that are in the backwaters and rivers. Many fish are moving into these wintering over spots right now and will remain there through the cold months. These are stripers that will not migrate. In the last week I have seen evidence of good numbers of fish in these spots and have caught about two dozen fish in some of my late fall/ early winter spots. The best action right now can be found in the backwater rivers and ponds along the south shore as well as the backwater rivers in upper Narragansett Bay.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Back in Business.....Sort Of

Well, the surf is still rough and roiled along the south shore, and the beaches have been reformed in some places, eroded in others. However, there are still fish to be had which is a good sign.

I went down to the south shore yesterday with my son, Matt, We tried a number of different locations and did find some schoolies. These were small fish, no doubt the beginning of the final push. We managed to get 9 fish and had a number of other hits. The hot artificial was the float and jig.

Here's a tip when fishing in roiled water. Use bucktail jigs tied with red thread. That little touch of red sometimes is the enticement to get a schoolie to hit in roiled water with poor visibility. I had a flathead bucktail jig tied to the end of my float rig and that seemed to be the best producer.

I suspect we will have some fair fishing for schoolies until the next storm or extended cold wave puts an end to things. There may also be a keeper or two to be had after dark for the diehards who try. Things are not the same as they were two weeks ago, but then again, we are nearing the end.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kiss it Goodbye

I was down the south shore today trying to fish. It was ugly. Huge waves, dirty and roiled water, and no fishable conditions anywhere. Wave spray was coming over the Seawall in Gansett and landing in the road, big rollers were crashing over the east and center walls, and in some places along the south shore breaking waves were crashing hundreds of yards offshore. This is certain to put an end to the outstanding fishing we enjoyed throughout November. The marine forcast is also calling for much worse conditions predicting gale force winds and wave heights over 15 feet.
This will certainly move out all the fish and bait that was around for the last two weeks. Will it spell the end? I think it all depends on how fast this all clears out next week. I want to guess there will be one more push of schoolies coming along in another week or so, but who knows. Last year I caught my last schoolie along the south shore on Nov. 21. The year before it ended for me on Nov 23. The year before that it ended on Nov. 19. However one looks at it, there is not much time left.

Changing Tactics at Night

By day most fishermen are killing the schoolies. Indeed, we have a bonanza of 15-24 inch schoolies right now along the south shore. These fish are mostly hitting some type of small jig....bucktails, Cocahoes on jigheads or other plastic jig type lure. However, these lure cease to be effective after dark. Darkness is a time to change tactics.

Most fishermen are packing up and leaving as it gets dark and they are missing some quality fishing for keeper stripers. To catch these, you will have to unsnap those jigs and go with something more attractive to large stripers that are prowling the surf at night and looking for a meaty meal.

Here is my top four list:

1. Hogys- These plastic stick baits move enticingly in the water like an eel and are my top producers in the night surf. I like the 9 inch black skinny Hogy hooked Texas style with a large 6/0 curved hook up front. I've also used the large rigged Hogys with success. I like to use this at the end of a leader that has a black Deceiver fly as a teaser. Cast and twitch along on the retrieve.

2. Swimmers- In shallow, moving water I like some type of swimmer. I like the plastic Bombers in shallow water breachways, especially in the backwaters. In the open surf where there is big bait, try a large wooden swimmer like a Danny. Go with the extremes in color, either white (or light color) or black.

3. Needlefish- These are hot where long casts are needed or when there is a wind in your face that prevents a long cast with a Hogy. They work well off beaches or shallow water, rocky areas. I usually fiddle around with fat and skinny models depending on my casting needs. Once again, go with the extremes in color, either a white/yellow or a black.

4. Big Bucktails- Fishing a deep water breachway? Go with a large bucktail jig of 1-2 oz. spiced with a pork rind tail. Fish it right along the bottom with bounces of the rod tip.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

100 Fish Day

My son, Matt, and I went down to the south shore fishing yesterday and hit a bonanza. We landed 133 bass in a day/night outing. We had roughly 15 keepers and the rest were schoolies. The float and jig rig was by far the best producer in the daytime. The jig was a half oz. flathead jig to which a plastic grub tail was added. The video below shows Matt landing one of his keepers. Note the birds working over fish in the background. Toward the end of the video you will see fish breaking in back of Matt as he is holding his fish. At times the fish were all around us! It was one of the wildest November days I have ever experienced.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Picture Says it All!

An incredible push of fish is going on right now along RI's south shore oceanfront. It is big numbers of schoolies by day and keepers after dark.

Friday, November 6, 2009

50,000 th Striper Landed

A long time ago, I set a goal for myself. Try to catch 50,000 striped bass in my lifetime. I knew it was a lofty goal, but achievable. The last ten years have been a bonanza for me with average yearly catches of about 2,000 fish, inching that total closer and closer to 50,000.

I keep extensive records and logs of all the fish I catch. I have been doing this for the past 40 years. I use these logs to determine the patterns and places to fish from year to year; rarely do I base my fishing strategies on a fishing report. I also use these logs as a tally of fish I have caught and my kids have caught. Though most of my fish are caught from shore, I also do occasionally catch them from my brother's boat or my kayak. However, surf fishing has always been my passion.

So, as far as I can determine, tonight I hit the magic 50,000 with a fifteen pound keeper I caught in one of my favorite spots. My son took a picture of it, I unhooked it and released it. It was a beautiful fish.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Action Shifts to South Shore

Just as I had predicted in the magazine article and in my last post, the striper action has shifted big time onto the RI south shore. My son, Matt, and I went down today. We started off in the Pt. Judith area of Narragansett where the action for schoolies and small keepers has been non-stop for three weeks. Well, today it wasn't happening. My next move was to head to the south shore beaches.

We only had to hit one beach, and it was schoolie heaven! We landed schoolie after schoolie along with a couple of bluefish and shad. Just like in Gansett earlier in the week, there was nothing showing, no bait and no birds yet the bottom was paved with fish. The hot rig today was a double teaser rig with shrimp fly teasers (see some of my earlier posts that outline how to tie shrimp teasers and set up the rig) along with a Cocahoe minnow mounted onto a half ounce jig head (see pic at right) . That set up accounted for multiple doubles and even some triple headers. Matt brought ashore five triple headers (see pic at left). The fish were that thick! In all we landed over 80 schoolies in less than three hours.

So long as the weather cooperates and we get no big storms, I suspect this type of action will continue. November fishing along the south shore is finally heating up!

South Shore Finale

The way I see it, there are two to three more productive weeks left to the fishing along the RI oceanfront. I expect the action to really pick up along the south shore in the immediate future. My latest article to appear in the New England Fisherman magazine (Nov. 5 edition) is titled "South Shore Finale" and it outlines everything you need to know about the ending to the season along the south shore beaches from Matunuck to Westerly. It covers places to fish, the best lures, techniques, etc. Check it out if you are planning to wet a line soon.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lack of Bait, But No Lack of Schoolies

Ah, the bird watchers and blitz seekers are out in full force these days. I see them pulling in and out of the parking areas scanning the surface of the water with binoculars looking for diving birds, pods of bait or breaking fishing. No diving birds in sight and these fishermen move on to the next spot. Many of these fishermen will drive from Watch Hill to Narragansett in a day without ever making a cast.

You won't find a lot of bait around. With the peanut bunker nowhere in sight again this year, it will be a lean November, baitwise. However, schoolies are still around in big numbers. In the last three weeks, my sons and I have managed to catch well over 200 schoolies with nothing showing on most days. I can only surmise the bass are grubbing along the rocky bottom because they are only taking bucktail jigs or Cocahoes mounted onto jigheads. Occasionally, you can get one to come up and hit a needlefish, especially in shallow white water. Many of these fish are unusually skinny for this time of year, proof that there is little food around.

I have concentrated my efforts in recent weeks in the Narragansett area from Pt. Judith to Galilee. Lots of fish seem to be holed up in this area and they have remained for weeks even though the area has been hit with high winds and very rough water, making shore fishing challenging. Maybe they are sticking around because there are no schools of bait to follow southward.

So, to all the bird watchers out there who are complaining that there are no fish around.....get out and cast. You may be surprised at just how many stripers there are!