Thursday, December 30, 2010

Winter Striper Fishing Seminars

There are tons of striper fishermen out there with cabin fever in the wintertime. That could be why fishing shows are so popular these days. I've got a loaded schedule this winter of fishing seminars. Here are some of the highlights on where I will be doing my striped bass seminars. I've included the websites that will list the seminar schedules, times and directions to these shows.

Jan. 30- East Bay Anglers Fishing Expo, Barrington, RI. Website:
Feb. 11- ASA Eastern Fishing and Outdoor Expo, DCU Center, Worcester, MA. Website:
Feb. 26- Springfield Sportmens Show, Big E, Springfield, MA. Website:
March 25-27- Shallow Water University, Sheraton Inn, Warwick, RI. Website:

Hope to see some of you at these shows.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Winter Fishing Way Off

I have been fishing for wintering stripers for over a month now. It should come as no surprise when I report that winter fishing for holdover stripers thusfar is the slowest I have ever seen it. There was a lack of schoolies in Gansett Bay this year, and we are seeing low numbers of wintering over stripers.

I get out in the Providence River 4-5 nights of the week. With the exception of a couple of 4 and 5 fish nights, it has been a fish here, a fish there, and lots of blankings. Compare this to just a few years ago when a ten fish night would have been a slow night! It is just one more piece of evidence that points to a serious decline in striper numbers along our shore.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Big Pit Reels, The Next Rage?

I'll bet most of you have never heard of a big pit reel. If you lived in Europe, you would see them sold in every tackle store around. I have seen them used here in the US in carp fishing tournaments by fishermen who bought them from UK online stores. I even saw a few used in the Cape Cod Canal this summer by Big Ditch sharpies. I believe they will be the next rage for striper casters who fish areas where long distance casting is a plus.

Big pit reels are large spinning reels that feature way oversized spools. They are engineered to hold a lot of line with an even line lay. It's main advantage is that it will cast significantly further than traditional spinning reels. These reels also generally feature high speed retrieve and beefed up drags. In a place like the Cap Cod Canal, they would be super tools to use on a ten to eleven foot rod to achieve casts way out in the middle of the Canal.

So, why don't we see them around. Quite simply, they have not been sold in the US (except for Diawa). Companies like Shimano produce a whole line of them that are only sold in Europe and Japan. Daiwa has now come up with a new release of a big pit for US fishermen. It is called the Emblem Pro-A reel (to replace the old Emblem) and it has more corrosion resistant bearings and material than their old model. I believe these will soon become popular in specific striper spots where long casts are needed and salt corrosion is not a big issue (not for Van Staal junkies who dunk reels in the surf). In places where one stands on a dry beach or rocks and casts long distances, these are ideally suited. They are also ideally suited to fish with bait on the bottom.

One more thing to note here. These reels are fairly heavy. The Daiwa model tops out at 22 oz., which is not overly heavy, but not light either. They retail for about $160. Check them out at

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

RI Reps Vote to Increase Commerical Catch, HUH?

Recently the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council took a vote on increasing the commercial take of striped bass along the Atlantic coast. Each state had a vote as did the National Marine Fisheries Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Fortunately, the motion was defeated 10-4.
Guess what RI voted for? TO INREASE THE COMMERCIAL CATCH. Huh? After the poor year of striper fishing we just experienced and with dwindling stocks of stripers, our representatives, Robert Ballou (Acting Chief of RI Div. of Fish and Wildlife), William Mc Elroy and State Rep. Peter Martin (Newport) decided to cast their vote in favor of expanding the commercial take. Apparently, this was after public hearings in which 92% of the public urged no increase. Why hold public hearings if you are not going to listen to your constituents? Just one more example of poor representation from RI public officials.
The latest newsletter from RISAA has numerous informative articles on this matter. You can read the entire newsletter from the RISAA website at

Licenses Not Yet Available, HUH?

I went down yesterday to purchase a 2011 saltwater license since I plan to fish on Jan.1 which is just two weeks away. Guess what......the vendors who are selling them don't have them. The state has not distributed them yet (do they even have them?). So, I called the state looking for an explanation. Of course, I got the message "I am away from my desk, leave a message....". So, I sent them an e-mail. I did get a response. Sure enough, I got a message that the licenses supposedly will be available Jan.1.
If you need a license on Jan. 1, wouldn't it make sense to have it available for sale before then. Freshwater licenses are sold well ahead of time. How about selling them as Christmas gifts? Anyway, that's the way the state is doing business. So, if you plan to fish on Jan.1, you'd better drive to a vendor to pick up a license first or purchase one online before you go.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Saltwater License Needed Jan. 1

For those who fish saltwater in early winter, here's a reminder. You need to will have a saltwater license to fish starting Jan. 1, 2011, just several weeks away. I'm sure there will be some confusion here since the 2010 freshwater license remains good to use until the last day of Feb. The saltwater license runs according to the calendar. Only in RI!
The once free National Registry will not work this year here in RI. In 2010, you could fish with either the free National Registry card or a state license. In 2011, you will be required to purchase a RI license that will cost residents $7. Here's another interesting fact. Our RI license will be good in the bordering states of MA and CT which have reciprocal agreements with RI. You can purchase licenses online or at a number of vendors. Check out the state website for more information at

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Gift Idea....Fishing Show Tickets

Looking for a unique Christmas gift idea? How about buying a ticket or two for the upcoming East Bay Angler Show in Barrington on Jan. 30. You can even get a discount on the ticket if purchased before Jan.1.
I will be doing my latest seminar at that show called "Secrets of the Striper Surf" and Mike Laptew will be doing a show called "The Fish-Eye Perspective". There will also be an Expo flea market, exhibitors, refreshments and a giant raffle. A show ticket sounds like a great gift for someone who likes to fish.
Tickets can be purchased online at

Winter Striper Fishing Turns Ice Cold

Well, my first outing was a real good one, but it has all been downhill since then. Many of you know I fish the Providence River extensively in the wintertime. Winter fishing in general can best be described as very inconsistent, but in the last few years, December fishing has been very good and consistent. Not this year.

In the last 5 outings, I have landed a grand total of 4 fish! Not exactly setting the world on fire. And, that is fishing the right spots, the right tides and the right times. I suspect this will be a poor winter of fishing in the Providence River. This is a fishery dominated by schoolies. There were not that many schoolies this summer/fall out in the Bay and that is usually an indicator of how the fishing will go. On the other hand, there were decent numbers of small keepers around so maybe we will see a lot less fish but bigger ones. Who knows. So long as there are still a few around, I plan to fish for them.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What Went Wrong this Fall?

If you asked ten good fishermen who fished the RI shoreline from shore how their fall fishing went, I guarantee 9 of them would say it was a poor fall. Numbers wise, it was the poorest fall for me in over a decade. So, what was the problem?
1. Schoolie numbers were way off. No, they didn't take a track way offshore this fall. This was a problem all year. Young of the year indexes from the Chesapeake Bay show a sharp decline in juvenile stripers in recent years and we are seeing the result of those numbers. However, we did have decent numbers of keeper bass around this fall. No shortage of those 28-40 inch fish, and that's why there are few fishermen pushing the panic button. However, keep in mind those large fish are being removed from the population in record numbers with few small ones to take their place. I can tell you that most people involved in the striper industry are quietly worried about the future of the fishery.
2. There was a lack of bait. There were only two outings this fall in which I saw a lot of bait. The water was black with it, the birds were diving and fish were busting. Just 2 times. In the past that would happen daily sometimes for weeks. The peanut bunker are in short supply and scarce. That is because the number of spawning adult menhaden are at record lows. I saw very few schools of bay anchovies this fall, the abundant bait last year. I never saw one school of adult menhaden all fall. No surprise there since the pogy boats go right into Gansett Bay in early summer and wipe them out once they reach a certain level of abundance. Gone are the big baits like the blueback herring and mackerel. On the bright side, there were good numbers of mullet at times that attracted some of those big stripers and large blues.
3. Terrible weather- I would say that weather wise, this was the worst fall I can ever remember. We had several tropical storms skirt the coast and send in huge waves, several northeasters that tore up the south shore and several fronts that sent in gale force winds. Most of the nasty weather lasted for days, sometimes a week. There were few ideal days and if you fished where there was sand, the water was sometimes roiled and unfishable for weeks, not days. It was some of the toughest conditions that I have ever seen. If you owned a small boat, you may have gotten out 5 times all fall and those days were dicey. Can we blame global warming for all this?
I'm hoping the striper fishing rebounds in 2011, but I, too, am quietly worried that we could see many of the same trends above reappear next year.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Winter Fishing Begins, BIGTIME!

I don't know if the Fat Lady sang yet along the oceanfront, but my logs tell me to move to the upper Bay to begin searching for holdover stripers. Today was ideal with a storm approaching, cloudy conditions and warm weather. My first time out was a big hit with large numbers of schoolies.

I went to the upper Bay early to check out some old favorite spots as well as to explore some new areas. It was a new area that I had not previously fished in the past that really produced. Landed a grand total of 37 stripers, all of them schoolies from 14-24 inches (see photo at right). At times the fishing was wild with fish busting on the surface and aggressively hitting my Zoom fluke before I even had a chance to retrieve it! I think these aggressive fish were keying on the lure hitting the water and they immediately attacked it. Numbers wise, this was my best day of the fall. So much for the lack of schoolies in RI!

The hot lure as it always has been for winter fishing was the 3 or 4 inch Zoom fluke mounted on a small jighead of 1/4 to 1/2 oz. (see photo at left). No need to carry lots of lures for winter fishing.

Stripers winter over in many locations in Narragansett Bay in such places as the Seekonk River, the Providence River, other river systems on the east side of the Bay as well as the ponds of the south shore and Narrow River. Winter stiper fishing is often a matter of finding fish that want to hit as I did this evening.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Stripers

There was no way I was going to be anywhere near a mall today. I detest shopping in general and hate the crowds even more. So, I found myself headed for the tranquility of the RI oceanfront for one more shot at fall stripers. I wasn't disappointed.

First spot I stopped at I saw a total of 12 stripers caught. I got 3 of them and my friend, Chris (pic at left), landed 4 fish. Chris had one nice keeper of about 29 inches while the rest of our schoolies averaged around 20 inches. Of course, everything was taken on small bucktail jigs and Cocahoes mounted onto jigheads.

Next stop was for some at and after dark fishing. No fish or hits in spot #2 after an hour of casting a number of different lures.

Spot #3 was a quiet backwater spot where I like to use a small, light rod to fish for 16 inch schoolies and hickory shad after dark. So, I was quite surprised when a big fish grabbed my jig and tore off on a drag screaming run. It was a battle with my twig of a rod and just 6 lb. test line, but I finally landed a 28 inch keeper bass, a real beauty on ultra light tackle (see pic at right) and a great late season catch.

Just like I have done all fall- I hit a number of locations today in the hopes of finding fish in one or more spots. It was a great way to spend Black Friday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Not Hot and Heavy, but Still Going!

It felt like a September day today down the RI south shore with balmy temperatures and a stiff southwest wind. But, a look at the calendar says we're at the end of November and striper fishing should be slowly coming to an end. It doesn't seem to be as good as a week ago, but there are still fish to be had for those wanting to wet a line.

I went down with my friend Nick today and we caught fish in a couple of spots. A few other fishermen that I met along the beachfront were also getting a few. It was not hot and heavy action, but I managed four schoolies with a couple of more hits and fish on. Hey, it's the end of November and anything at this time is a bonus. Small stuff worked again with the Cocahoe nailing two fish and a jointed Red Fin Swimmer luring my other two fish. All the other guys caught their fish on Cocahoes on small jigheads (must be readers of the blog!). With no severe cold on the way, it looks like the ending trickle of fish will continue.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Small Jigs Rule the Day

I went down to the ocean today and found some very decent fishing in the white water. Once again,, it was a day in which small jigs were by far the most effective lures to use.

First stop was along one of my favorite south shore beaches. The white water was moving, driven by the wind, but it was clean . I snapped on a 3-inch Cocahoe mounted on quarter ounce jighead (see photo) and almost immediately started taking fish. It was not a hot and heavy affair but I was catching a fish every 20 minutes or so. These were decent fish today with most of them schoolies averaging about 24 inches. In the mix, I also had one small keeper of the seven fish I landed here.

My catching seemed to attract a crowd. Most were using big stuff....large poppers, big metal lipped swimmers, large Storm shads, etc., and of course, they were catching nothing. What's with these guys using such big lures? Am I missing something here? The prevalent bait (and it is sparse these days) are small silversides. My small jig with a Cocahoe was a very good imitator of that bait. The big plugs would probably have worked if you had big bait like menhaden, blueback herring or mullet. Mullet are gone, herring have not been around in years and menhaden are scarce so forget the big bait idea. I'm guessing that many fishermen think that a small jig will simply lure small fish. Nothing could be further from the truth since I catch many decent fish every year on small artificials, especially late in the season.

Later on in the evening, I hit one of my quiet backwater spots after dark. Once again, small jigs ruled as I landed three more schoolies on my 1/8 oz. bucktail jig, the killer lure in this spot (see pic). Snap on something big and you won't get a look here.

My advice in late fall.....start off with small jigs (bucktails or Cocahoes on jigheads) at this time of year. Unless you have proof that big bait is around, stick with the small stuff if you want to catch any fish!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Still Worthwhile

It has been a miserable week weather wise along the oceanfront with big easterly swells messing up the water and shutting down the fishing. However, we got somewhat of a break today as the winds calmed and the swells lessened before yet another storm hits tonight.

I went down to the oceanfront today. The water was still sandy and weedy but fishable in many locations. As has been my strategy most of the fall, I hit a number of locations along the south shore and Narragansett, and fished mostly after dark. I found fish in a couple of locations, and landed 10 schoolies from 20-25 inches. My son Ben (pic at right) joined me late and he picked up a couple of fish. Small bucktail jigs spiced with curly tails (see pic at left) did most of the damage as has been the case all fall. I even found a few fish busting on bait after dark.

I know it is difficult for many fishermen to move around after dark. However, if you can hit multiple spots after dark on ideal tides and fish each for about an hour or so, you can come away with some fish. Yes, they are still around.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Big Waves Continue to Pound RI Shoreline

If you didn't know it, you'd think there was a hurricane sitting right off the RI shoreline. The shoreline right now is taking a pounding from an ocean storm. The easterly swells are huge and messing up the water big time with sand and weed. These conditions are killing the fishing as most oceanfront spots remain unfishable.
I went to the oceanfront to fish today. The waves were so big in Gansett you could hear them pounding the beach from the Sprague Bridge, roughly a mile from the water. The waves were crashing over the front of Pier 5, they were going over the Center Wall in front of Galilee as if there were no wall there and five to six foot rollers were pounding Salty Brine Beach. Need I say more. This has been going on for nearly a week and there is no fishing activity whatsoever along the oceanfront. Many say the fall fishing is all over with another stormy week on the way.
Even the backwater spots were non productive today. I managed one schoolie in a protected backwater location and that was my only hit. With few fish and little bait out front this fall to fuel the backwater fish population, these places are also running on empty. The poor fall fishing extends beyond the oceanfront.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Big Wind, High Surf Kill Fishing, AGAIN

It was almost too good to be true. As fast as the fishing heated up (one day), it has suddenly cooled off and shut down again thanks to more bad weather. Along the oceanfront the wind is gusting to about 30 knots right now out of the northeast with a gale warning in effect. Five to eight foot waves are churning up the ocean into a brown soup of weed and sand, sending the fish packing. Fishing was near impossible yesterday, and I managed only one schoolie in a backwater spot after dark.
It is a pattern we have seen many times this fall. The ocean calms for a day or two, the fishing perks up and bad weather returns and shuts down the action for days, sometimes a week or more. Judging from weather reports, the weather will not calm down until Saturday or Sunday.
One optimistic note here is that I did notice large flocks of gannets hitting the water way out off South Kingstown Beach yesterday. I also noticed seagulls and cormorants feeding way out off of Charlestown Beach. So, hopefully when this weather clears we will get another shot of fish. I'm in this game until Thanksgiving week.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fishing Comes Alive as Bass Blitz Peanut Bunker

Finally, a fall blitz. I was down the south shore beaches today and I hit a wild day. Vast schools of peanut bunker (see photo at left) moved along a mile long stretch of beachfront as stripers were feeding on this prime bait. It was an old fashioned blitz with loads of seagulls diving, bait being blasted out of the water and fishermen chasing the bass all along the beach. For the most part the bass were schoolies but there were some keepers of 28 inches taken. There were also some bluefish landed. Most fishermen who were there several hours landed 15-30 fish apiece!

Get out the jigs if you are looking for success when peanut bunker are present. The stripers can be finicky when on this bait and it is important to get your offering below the school of bait where the stripers lurk. I like to use a half ounce flathead bucktail jig with a three or 4 inch plastic curly tail attached(see photo at right). Storm lures as well as shad bodies threaded onto jigheads work well. Kastmasters are also effective.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Big Surf Kills Weekend Fishing

It was a wild weather weekend along the oceanfront. On Saturday I saw waves of 7-10 feet crashing ashore in the Gansett area. The heavy surf roiled the water with weed, silt and sand and even produced beach erosion. There was no fishable water anywhere along the oceanfront except in the backwater ponds. This is the way this fall has been going with some of the nastiest weather imaginable. When it clears up, it seems to leave no fish along the shoreline. Unfortunately, the forecast for the next week is not good with cold temperatures and lots of wind. A mix of rain and snow is coming tomorrow and once that moves out the winds are supposed to blow 25-35 knots all week from the north or northeast. Maybe that will put an end to a crappy fall season that is now on life support.

My son, Matt, and I fished on Saturday. We hit some backwater locations in back of Galilee and Narrow River with light tackle hoping to snare some schoolies or hickory shad. In the past the backwater spots would really produce on these bad days. Well, there is a lack of fish even in these spots. We did manage to get two schoolies (see pic at left), and that was about it. Very disappointing for this time of year.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fishermen Packing It In Early????

I was out scouting around on Tuesday and Wednesday, beautiful days along Rhode Island's south shore. I checked out places like Matunuck, Charlestown, Green Hill and Moonstone Beach. The beaches were empty, devoid of any life (see photos of a barren Charlestown and Green Hill). Unlike previous years at this time when 4x4 vehicles would be zipping up and down the beaches or fishermen would be in lawn chairs fishing the bottom or surfcasters would be working up and down the beaches, there was no one around. I can only assume that many, many fishermen have packed it in for the season. I noticed in the report section of this week's Fisherman magazine that many are reporting that same thing....fishermen giving up for the season.

It's been a tough fall for sure. Other than an occasional school of mullet, there has been a serious lack of bait. Bluefish and striper numbers are way off. The weather has been awful. I would rate this fall's fishing as the worst in over a decade (thusfar). Some will say the striper numbers have fallen off a cliff. Others claim the fish took a track southward way out, bypassing the shoreline. Others say the big push is still coming!

I know that it is way too early to pack it in. There is still decent fishing going on at night for large fish as proven by a 50 lber. that was taken from the surf this week, the biggest I have heard about along the mainland shore in years. In other years that time period around Veterans' Day has been red hot, the peak of November fishing. Maybe it will happen that way again. I'm still hopeful the fishing will perk up.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nighttime Spot Hopping Produces

I was not optimistic about my chances of catching a fish yesterday. I decided to head down in early afternoon to check out some south shore spots in the daytime. I checked out Matunuck, South Knigstown Beach, Green Hill and Charlestown in the daylight. NOT A THING. No fishermen, no birds, no bait, no vehicles on the beach, NOTHING. I even fished some of these spots...barren. So, contrary to those sugar coated RI fishing reports you are reading about, there seems to be little around in the daytime.
I was determined to stay after dark and try to reverse my luck in pitch darkness. As has been the case all fall, the after dark fishing seemed to light up. I moved around in several locations like I have been doing all fall. Every spot seemed to have some fish, though not a lot. I ended up the night with 9 bass and 8 large hickory shad which were keying on my Deceiver teaser. It was not hot and heavy fishing, but decent action. If you know your way around the dark (tough for novices) and you can stand the cold (in the 30's last night), then expect to catch some fish after dark.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Schoolies Off but Keepers Around

The 2010 fall striper season is taking on its own personality along the RI oceanfront. What I am seeing is a lack of bait along the oceanfront and a big decline in schoolie numbers. However, there are some decent keepers from 30-40 inches around.

Larger stripers are simply not easy to consistently catch. It requires a lot of searching after dark or looking in rough and stormy waters by day. It also requires a high level of expertise and experience which explains why most novices are coming up empty. And, don't expect to find a lot of these around either. In the last two weeks I have been averaging one or two keepers an evening/night, getting at least one good fish every outing. I've also been moving around a lot, sometimes fishing many spots in an outing, and sometimes picking up one or two fish in every spot. Much is happening in pitch darkness. In the last week I have taken 10 fish from 30-39 inches. Last night my son, Ben, nailed a fish that measured close to 40 inches (see photo). These are decent fish these days from shore. It's not hot and heavy fishing and the numbers are off, but there are some good fish to be had.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tying the Black Deceiver Teaser (Revisited)

Looking for directions on making your own fly teasers? Here is the video on how to make my all black Deceiver that was used to catch that 40 inch striper in the previous post.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Quite the Surprise

I was fishing a quiet, backwater spot tonight. Just after dark, a few small fish started breaking. I casted my teaser and swimmer rig toward the jumps. A small fish hit the teaser but missed it. On the next cast I threw right to the same spot. Almost immediately an explosion engulfed my offering and I was onto a freight train. I thought at first I had a big blue because the fish was peeling out drag. However, after a short battle, I had the stripes in sight. The striper was just shy of 40 inches (see pic at right). And, it took the teaser.

At this time of year I always fish a homemade black Deceiver fly/teaser (see pic at left) tied ahead of my offering (in this case, a jointed Red fin swimmer). The teaser can be set up on a leader of about 3 feet. The teaser is tied onto the top swivel and should dangle about 8-10 inches off the swivel. When big fish are onto small bait, the teaser can be deadly. This is the third keeper in a week that I have landed on teasers!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Striped Bass Show Coming to Barrington Jan. 30

I'm honored that that East Bay Anglers have asked me to do their big show in Barrington on Jan. 30, 2011. I've already started work on the show titled "Secrets of the Striper Surf", and it will be the best show I have ever produced. The digital slide show is loaded with how-to information on fishing from shore and features the latest in hotspots, artificials, and techniques. The show is loaded with lots of video clips as well as digital photos.
In addition, Mike Laptew will present his latest video called "The Fish-Eye Perspective". This show will feature Mike's ten most important tips for connecting with trophy fish.
Discounted tickets can be purchased right now at The show brochure which includes everything from directions to show information can be downloaded from this website.
The East Bay Anglers originated winter seminars 26 years ago to fund charitable activities that they continue to support today.

Monday, October 18, 2010

White Bucks Scoring Big

I'm finally on a roll. Over thirty fish in the last 3 outings of which 5 have been keepers up to 38 inches. The killer lure that has caught most of these fish has been the white bucktail jig.

Though the bucktail jig is probably the most versatile lure to use in saltwater, you rarely find them being sold in tackle shops. Plastics have overwhelmed the retail business. But, make no mistake about it, the bucktail jig is still one of the most potent weapons a striper fisherman can possess.

I like to use my homemade bucktail jigs in current situations. I have gone with the smaller flathead jigs (1/4 -1/2 oz.) in the daytime when fishing shallow water flows. After dark where the water is deeper and moving, I have opted for hotlips jigs up to 1 1/2 oz. The velocity of the flows as well as depth often determine the size of the jig needed to reach the bottom.

It is very important that you add enticers onto your jigs. For those smaller jigs described above, I like a three inch triple ripple grub tails made by Bass Pro. These have the best action of any grub tail on the market. On the big jigs described above, I like to add a 5 1/4 inch Uncle Josh pork rind strip.

The key to fishing bucktail jigs (without the float) is to scratch the bottom and keep the jig moving slowly on or near the bottom. An occasional pump of the rod tip will give the jig added action.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hogys are Hot on Fall Nights

I'm on a roll this week using Hogys. My last 8 stripers and 2 large blues have all been caught on the original 10 inch Black Hogy fished with a #10/0 Hogy swimbait hook. I have always touted their 9-inch Skinny Hogys as my favorite. However, with the rough water and wind that we have been having lately, I have turned to the 10 inch Hogy. This bait weighs in at 1 oz. compared to the nine incher that weighs 3/4 oz. That extra quarter ounce does make a difference in casting into the wind. It also tracks better in rough water.

I might add that the Hogy swimbait hooks have been terrific. That 10/0 hook has an extra long baitholder (screw-type device) which does wonders when it comes to holding the bait in place. This is also a very durable set up. With just one rigged bait, I was able to land a whopping ten fish before I lost it to a blue. With a Texas style hook, I would be lucky to land three fish.

First Striper

It's always great to see a newcomer catch his first striper. I was standing next to one excited angler last night who just happened to land his very first striper. I was just as thrilled has he was as I snapped his picture. Congratulations and hopefully many more will come your way.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Disappointing Columbus Day Weekend

In the past this has been a hot weekend of striper fishing in RI for those working folks who have a three day weekend. Not so this year. I fished very hard on Friday, Saturday and Sunday putting in a lot of time at some very good locations before and after dark. I managed two large bluefish and half a dozen schoolies and that was it. I saw a lot of guys out and about looking for fish in those three days. Based on past years, they were all expecting good fishing that just was not there. The biggest striper I saw was a 32 inch keeper.
There is still little bait around and the stripers are scarce. There are a few here and there but no big numbers on the mainland shore. You also can't find any birds working over bait, even way out. The small pods of mullet that we saw a week ago are gone. There are no large schools of rain bait like we had last year at this time. Large menhaden are few and far between.
I think the lack of stripers should raise concern about the health of the fishery. Fishing should be a whole lot better than what it is.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Uptick in Keeper Action

The last week has seen an uptick in the number of keeper bass and large bluefish along the 'Gansett shoreline. The strong northeaster in the beginning of the week and the big west winds that followed have set up some rough water that is attracting larger fish close to shore. There are also small pods of mullet moving along the shore and that is drawing in some large fish.

I have been out fishing just about every day in the rough water and my sons, Chris and Ben, who live in Narragansett (tough life as students at URI!) have also been fishing. In the last five days we have all landed keeper bass every day along with some big blues and schoolies. Surprisingly, many of the keeper bass have been caught in the middle of the daytime in the rough, white water and anywhere currents exist. These fish tend to run in the 30-38 inch range, not real large but a big improvement over what has been around in the last month.

Don't expect to go down fishing and see a big blitz. It's not working that way. The large numbers of bass and blues along with masses of bait are just not around yet. However, there are keeper bass here and there and it is a matter of putting in the time to catch one.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Float 'n' Jig Scoring in White Water

Once again, the float and jig combo is hot for stripers and bluefish and scoring in shallow, rough water along the RI shoreline. This lure combination is ideal to use in shallow, rocky water such as you find in RI places like Pt. Judith, Matunuck, Green Hill Pt. and Watch Hill. It also works along shallow beaches.

The rig is simple. It consists of a wooden float. Mine is homemade for a wooden egg and wired through. To the end of this is attached 2-3 ft. of heavy mono. Onto the end, tie a small jig (under 1/2 oz.). The jig can be a bucktail, jighead with plastic, or Storm lure. If you bang a nail into your float and clip off its head, that nail will serve as a jig holder on the cast and will get you fantastic distance. The whole thing is cast into white, turbulent water and simply reeled in slowly. It is deadly when stripers and blues are feeding on small bait.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Playing the Storminess

For the last three days the oceanfront has been battered by a northeaster sending big waves and lots of white water ashore. While many fishermen will not fish in the rough water, it does open up some opportunities for good fishing if you fish in the right locations.

In the past I would have killed the stripers in such weather. Not this year as the number of stripers has fallen off a cliff. However, there are still some to be had along with some decent sized bluefish. The key to fishing in rough water is to find clean water. Usually rocky areas will remain clean when the water is rough. Such spots as the entire east facing shore of Narragansett fish well in a northeast wind. The drawback is that these areas can be dangerous and fishermen should proceed with extreme caution. It is not for novices, especially after dark. The south shore beaches do not fare as well since lots of sand and silt come ashore in the roughness. Other areas that fish well in the northeast wind are the breachways on the outgoing tides. Clean water is flushing out of the ponds and many times large stripers will come into these spots to feed especially at night.

My kids and I have been out and about this week. We are catching some schoolies, some big blues and some keeper bass after dark in the roughness. There are not a lot of fish, but hey, that's they way it has been all season. Nevertheless, it is still worth the effort. Check out the photos of some fish taken in the last two days.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Goodbye to a Crappy September

It's been a year of poor striper fishing here on the mainland shore. Why should September be any different? We got hit with a double whammy this month as we had both a lack of fish and some unusually bad weather. Big problem is that there are few resident fish around. Especially alarming is the lack of schoolies. We are also about to get hit with our third tropical storm in as many weeks. These storms have brought huge waves, big wind and have caused the water to be roiled for days afterward. I was down last night and fished a building sea that was near impossible to fish effectively.
Will things turn around? It's hard to say. It is a waiting game, waiting for migrating bait and fish to move southward. With water temperatures way above normal, that is not likely to happen until late October and early November like it did last year. However, without a shot of bait, those fish will move quickly past RI. You will have to be there when it happens, if it does.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

St. Croix Mojo Surf Rods

I must say that I was skeptical at first about the new, St. Croix Mojo Surf Rods. These are radical in design like no other rods on the market. The most striking change in the guides. The spinning rods features lightweight guides with a high sloping frame and small zirconium rings. It is all meant to accommodate braided line and reduce large "casting loops" on the cast that sometimes lead to line twist and wind knots. It works like a charm and casts terrific.

My rod is a one piece eight footer and it weighs a mere 8.8 oz. It has just the right stiffness to haul out plugs up to 2 oz. using my VS 200 reel with 30 lb. test Power Pro braided line. It has a lightweight feel like no other rod I have ever used, but at the same time, it also the beef to fight large stripers. It's moderate price (list at $170) makes it one of the best bargains for rods on the market these days.

For more information, visit the St. Croix website at

Back in Business

It took a week, but the water along the 'Gansett shoreline has finally cleared of sand and calmed down. And, the fishing for stripers and blues has perked up.

I was driving down along Ocean Drive yesterday and a glance to the ocean revealed a huge school of blues working close to shore near the Coast Guard House Restaurant. I immediately stopped and began fishing for them. In a short period of time, my son, Ben, and I landed about 12 blues from this school on poppers. Earlier in the morning, Ben was into a mix of blues, stripers and false albacore just to the south of this location. All day long yesterday small schools of fish were popping up here and there wherever the rain bait would come ashore. Although it was usually a quick hit and run, there was plenty of time to pick up a fish or two every time they showed.

After dark, the sharpies have been banging a keeper bass here and there along with some big bluefish along the 'Gansett shoreline. The hot plugs after dark have been swimmers (either plastic or wooden Danny-type) as well as skinny plastic (Hogys or Slug-gos).

Things are definitely moving into a fall pattern.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hurrincane Waves Wipe out the Fishing

Just as the fishing showed signs of perking up in the last week, we get hit with some major rough water that will kill the fishing for as long as a week.
Fishing was on the upswing. Last week saw some of the best false albacore fishing I have ever witnessed. I was also in on a major blitz of bass and blues, the best I have seen along the oceanfront this year. There were also fish to be had here and there in most locations, a noticeable change from what had been a dismal year along the oceanfront. That all came to an end with the passage of a front on Thursday night and with the arrival of huge hurricane waves this weekend. All this big surf has dirtied the water with sand, silt and weeds, sending the bait and predators packing and making fishing near impossible in most spots. It also does not look like it will clear soon with predictions of heavy surf and wind for the next few days.
Things have got to get better. I'm still sticking with my prediction that mid October to mid November will offer the best and most consistent fall fishing along the mainland shore.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bluefish/Striper Strategies

I was out last night wading in one of my favorite spots. What was happening in front of me was phenomenal. All around me the water was black with bay anchovies. It was equally darkened by a boiling mix of stripers and bluefish that were going crazy. In knee deep water I could have netted all the blues I wanted as they were bumping into my legs!

The story of fishing these days is a mix of stripers and bluefish everywhere you go. Even after dark the blues are on the prowl. So, how do you target stripers with so many toothy blues on the rampage?

First off, put the plastics away. You know I am a big fan of using Hogys but one cast into the scene described above reduced my nine inch Hogy into a one inch cigar within seconds. Forget Storm lures and Cocahoes. Forget live eels.

I really wanted to target the stripers last night which were running up to keeper size so I went to hard plugs. A needelfish was my top choice. I also used a jointed plastic swimmer. Another choice could have been a bucktail jig which will take a pounding and still hold up fairly well. Using these choices, you still will catch some bluefish, but you will also get some stripers. My score last evening was 6 bass and 5 blues, typical of the mix I am seeing on just about every outing these days.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Albie Alert

They are in! Take a look below at the one I landed today. The albies (false albacore) have been roaming the south shore oceanfront for the last several days chasing huge schools of bay anchovies that have also showed along the oceanfront. With albie fishing, it's a matter of being in the right spot at the right time type of thing. At times they are in such shore hotspots as the south shore breachways, along the walls at the Harbor of Refuge and along the dropoffs of Gansett.

They will hit a variety of metal lures such as Deadly Dicks and Kastmaster XL's (had on on that lure today). Many fishermen pursue the challenge of trying to catch one of these torpedoes on a fly rod. My favorite lure to use with a spinning rod is a wooden float to which three feet of mono is tied with a fly at the end (see photo at right). My favorite fly is a homemade blue Lefty's Deceiver. Pop it along the surface and watch for an explosion. Hang on because pound for pound these fish are the best fighting fish we have along the oceanfront.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back in the Game....Sort of

As most of you know, I had elbow reconstruction surgery back in July. It has been a long two months of wearing a cast, then using a sling and now daily doses of grueling therapy. But, all is on the mend and coming along ahead of schedule.

The good news is that I am able to fish on a limited basis with a very light rod and reel. I'm mostly casting lefty, but hey, I am able to get out and about. Two weeks ago, the arm was in a sling and I was barely able to bend it. I suspect I will not be able to swing a surf rod in the high surf and be able to go after larger fish until sometime in October.

I have been fishing the upper Bay the last two days. I landed my first schoolies in months today (see photos) with a small bucktail jig with a curly tail. Also landed several small foot long blues in the last couple of days, so things seem to be perking up. I also saw good numbers of bay anchovies along with lots of small, snapper bluefish. Everything seems to be more active. I think those last two cool nights have finally gotten the fish in a feeding mode.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Top 5 Lures for September

Here's my list of the top 5 lures (in no particular order) for striper fishing along the RI shoreline in Sept.:

1. Bucktail jig- Get a lot of sizes, styles and plastic grub tails. Fish the small ones off a float in rough water, fish the big ones along the bottom. They will all catch fish in Sept., especially when bay anchovies are around. My top choice is a flat head or lima bean shape. I especially like to use Bass Pro triple ripple tails in a white color.

2. Needlefish plug- Far better choice than a popper if you want to fish topwater. It has that subtle dart to it and works well in the daytime and at night. I like the lighter colors, even at night. My homemade 5 1/2 inch fat needlefish (all white/yellow back) is my favorite.

3. Skinny plastic- Whether you opt for the Hogy or the Slug-Go, these are very hot to lure large fish, especially after dark in a place with a wind at your back. I like the extremes in color, either a black or white. My favorites are the nine inch skinny Hogys rigged with the Hogy swimbait hook and fished near the surface.

4. Teasers- I like a black Deceiver teaser used as a teaser and tied ahead of my main plug. I tie my own Deceivers on a size #5/0 hook. When the fish are feeding on small sandeels, these are deadly and the stripers will often hit these over a larger plug. Many fishermen opt for the old plastic, Red Gill teaser, also effective.

5. Swimmers- I especially like to use the 6-inch Bombers in either a pearl or a silver with a black back when fishing shallow water at night. The pearl color is deadly when mullet are around in late September. Other brands of swimmers work equally well as do the wooden Danny-type swimmers.

When Will the Fishing Light Up?

Many will tell you this is the very worst year of fishing for stripers and bluefish along the RI mainland shore in a very long time. I have to agree. Will it perk up? If so, when will it begin to happen?

It began to perk up last year around the beginning of Sept. with a mix of stripers, bluefish and false albacore around. That was all lured close to shore by large schools of bay anchovies (see pic at right). But, not this year. Back luck for us this year that we had the huge waves from Hurricane Earl last weekend and then very strong southwest winds afterward that dirtied the water with sand and weeds. Last year also saw a big second wave in the numbers of stripers and bluefish along the oceanfront around mid September (see photo at left of last year's fishing). Once again, there were large numbers of bay anchovies around and that perked up the fishing. I am hopeful that will again this year if this bait arrives. We also need some cool weather to drop the water temperatures which are running way above normal due to this record breaking heat which has persisted into September. Watch for a string of several cool nights into the low fifties to perk things up. Better yet, hope for a northeaster. That always perks perks up the fishing at this time of year.

There are no sure bets here, but I have never seen a year without a decent fall run here in RI. With lots of fish to our north in the Cape Cod Canal area, along the outer Cape, and around the islands expect those fish to move through RI eventually. I'm confident it will happen.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Seminar at RISAA Meeting

My next seminar will be at the monthly RISAA meeting on Monday, August 30 at 7:00. The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) meets monthly at the West Valley Inn in West Warwick. Information about the club, directions and upcoming events can be found at their website at

My seminar is called Breachway Strategies. It will be a Power Point show that will take an in depth look at how to fish the five breachways or outflows along the south shore. These include Narrow River, the Galilee Channel, and Charlestown, Quonny and Weekapaug Breachways. These are some of the hottest spots to catch big stripers and bluefish from shore in the fall. See the pic at right of a fish I caught two years ago in one of the breachways.

Club members attend the seminar for free, but the public can also attend for a fee. Hope to see you there.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sebile Magic Swimmers

I saw the pricey Sebile lures at the shows last winter, but I have never seen a shore fisherman using one in RI. I did, however, see plenty of them being used at the Cape Cod Canal this summer. These were the hottest plugs to use at the Big Ditch and at least half of the crowd that fished this place daily were using them and catching keepers at an astounding rate.

The hottest plug in this series is the Magic Swimmer 165, a lipless swimmer that is put together in three sections (see photo at left ). This slow sinking plug wiggles like a snake just below the surface on the retrieve. It measures 6 1/2 in. long and weighs 1 1/2 oz. The hot color in the canal was all white though the blue and green back models were also catching.

The plug is pricey, generally around 25 bucks, but I found them online at for twenty dollars with free shipping on orders over $50. I bought a few. I suspect they will be hot in the fall in RI when mullet or large menhaden show up.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lack of Big Bait=Lack of Big Bass

We are having a poor year along the RI mainland shore for large stripers. By contrast, it has been a banner year in the Cape Cod Canal. The difference between the two areas is that they have the big bait (herring and mackerel) and we have NOTHING at this point.

If large numbers of mackerel or big menhaden suddenly appeared along the shoreline, things would light up just as they do in the fall when mullet are around. This is not likely to happen. The macs have been gone from our area for years and the large menhaden are wiped out of the Bay by the netters by July. In fact, menhaden all along the East Coast are in trouble with low numbers of fish and the large breeding fish over 1 year old at an all time low. That probably explains why we no longer have peanut bunker. There is an excellent article outlining the menhaden problem in this month's RISAA newsletter that is online at

With mackerel gone from our waters, menhaden just about wiped out, and no blueback herring near shore in recent years, mullet have become the most plentiful big bait of the fall. When the mullet come around (mid Sept. to mid Oct.), big fish are around in big numbers.

One more note. Notice the small keeper stripers (28-32 in.) we have had around this year are very skinny (see pic at right). I blame that on a lack of big bait also. By contrast, I saw some real hogs pulled from the Canal this summer.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Glimmer of Hope?

As most of the serious striper shore fishermen know, we are in the middle of one of the poorest summers on record in mainland RI. Narragansett Bay is especially bad. Since June, the Bay has had little bait, few stripers of any size and even very few bluefish. The water temps. from the mid seventies to even an unheard of eighty degrees have taken their toll. But, there just may be a glimmer of hope.

I took my son, Jon, out fishing for snapper blues the last two days in the upper Bay. This is something he enjoys doing with light tackle. In the last two years there were very few of these baby blues around. This year it is loaded. I was amazed at the numbers. In some spots, they were like heavy rain hitting the surface. They were going crazy for small bait about half an inch long that was also around in huge numbers. Stripers and even blues love to feed on these snappers. This all bodes well for the fall. If we can get some cooler weather and rain to lower that water temperature, I suspect the fishing will come alive just as it did last September. There is a glimmer of hope but I think we still have a good month to wait until things really start happening.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hot New Kastmaster XL

There are some hot looking new lures out this year from Acme. They are called Kastmaster XL's. They look like a slender version of the time tested and popular Kastmaster. They also look like a terrific imitation of a sandeel or even the slender shaped bay anchovy, our primary baitfish. With a lot of those baitfish around these days, I suspect these will be very effective to fish from both shore and boat for stripers, bluefish, false albacore and bonito from late summer into fall.
The Acme people have been around a long time and they know how to design lures. These Kastmaster XL's come in four sizes, 4 1/2 in. (almost 2 oz.),4 in. (1 1/2 oz.),3 1/2 in. (1 oz.), and 2 3/4 in. (1/2 oz.). They all have that aerodynamic shape and should cast like bullets, even into the wind. They also have that flashy chrome look matched with prismatic tape that should attract a lot of attention.
Looks like a winner to me. They are already packed in my surfbag ready to be used at the first sign of an albie or bonito.
For more information, visit the Acme website at