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.