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.