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.