Friday, December 30, 2011

News Flash....RI Bans Felt Soled Waders

Our totally inept DEM just hit a new low.  It passed a new regulation for 2012 banning felt soled waders in fresh and saltwater (listed in the new fishing regs for 2012). Here is the regulation:
1.17 It is prohibited that any person use foot gear with external felt soles in any state waters, inclusive of freshwater, tidal, or marine. This shall include any waters
shared with adjacent states in which any Rhode Island Fishing Regulations apply.
It was very quietly passed with no one knowing anything about it and no public hearing or comment. It is meant to stop the spread of invasive weeds, but in saltwater?  Get real.  There is no evidence of invasive weed being spread in saltwater. Without felt on your feet, there will certainly be a lot more injuries due to falls on rocky shorelines.  And, what about the high cost of replacing your highly priced waders that you have recently bought. How about all the ducks and geese that move this weed around.  Are we going to ban webbed feet next?  Like everything else this state does, little thought went into this one.
So, where is the uproar?  Oh, there is some chatter on the saltwater forums, but little noise is coming from the tackle shops and fishing clubs. This has to be changed.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Consistent Winter Fishing

The last week has featured consistent winter fishing in the upper Bay.  Things are not hot and heavy, but I am picking up a steady 3-5 schoolies an evening, and one night I even caught 13 fish. Most of the fish are running 15 inches up to near keeper size.  It's a vast improvement over what was going on in mid December. Credit cooler weather and dropping water temps with moving a lot of fish into their winter locations.
Some clear patterns for success have emerged. All of the action has been after dark with early nighttime producing better than later.  All of my fish have been taken on Zoom flukes mounted on 3/8 oz. jigheads.  The smaller flukes (3 inches) have outscored the bigger ones.  I've also had very good success on a new color, white ice (see photo).  That sparkly white fluke seems to score better than the ole reliable albino color. The retrieve should be slow and right along the bottom.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas Gift of Stripers

Today was a day of visiting, exchanging gifts and eating.  We were on the go most of the day.  When we got home about six o'clock, I needed to get out and get some fresh air, go for a walk or do something.  So, I decided to get my fishing gear and head to the upper Bay in one of my favorite winter spots.  I went with the idea of just getting out, making some casts and not expecting to catch much.
When  I got to the location, I immediately began seeing fish whirling all over the place in some very quiet water.  Oh no, I thought to myself, menhaden are around again.  Since the pogies were in thick for the last two weeks, I just assumed it was them whirling on top.  My first cast told a different story.  Immediately after the jig and fluke hit the water, I was onto a fish.  I figured I had snagged a menhaden.  Wrong.  It was a schoolie of about 18 inches.  I suddenly thought that maybe, just maybe, all these jumps and whirls in front of me could be schoolies.  Next cast, another schoolie confirmed my thoughts were correct.  The place was just crawling with stripers.  For the next hour and a half I had a jump to cast to every single cast.  That's how many stripers were around.  I have no idea what they were feeding on since I could see nothing in the water.  The fish were fussy. I managed to get 13 stripers ashore and lost at least another half dozen.
So, on this Christmas night, the fish were around in big numbers.  And, on this night when I would have been thrilled to catch one fish, I came away with a bundle.  Not a bad way to end this Christmas holiday.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

And Now, SEALS

I knew the pogies in the upper Bay would eventually attract something big.  That big stuff I thought would be stripers.  Wrong.  It's seals.  I saw a real big one today in the Providence River feasting on menhaden.  That spells trouble for stripers.  In the past, I have noticed that when the seals move in, the stripers move out, or they are preyed upon relentlessly. Not good news for the winter fishery.

Lots of Pogies; Very Few Stripers

I was fishing some dead calm water last night in the upper Bay.  Menhaden dipping on the surface looked like big raindrops on the water.  They were all over the place. You'd think that would attract some big fish.  Nope.  I got one small schoolie that was loaded with myco skin fungus, and that was about it.  I saw several other fishermen trying, but they got nothing.
So, lots of big bait, but very few fish.  Winter fishing should be hopping by now, but it isn't.  Realize that this has been a poor year of fishing in the upper Bay for stripers.  Their numbers were way down in this area for much of 2011, so it only makes sense that winter numbers will be way down.  I've been out at least 8 or 9 times so far.  The bad news is that I have landed a total of 4 stripers.  The good news is that 2 of them were keepers. If I didn't live so close, I would say the effort was hardly worth it.  I saw on a recent striper Forum that someone was commenting that it was time to head north (upper Bay) for some hot winter striper fishing.  I have to wonder what planet this guy is living on.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Menhaden Still in the Upper Bay, CRAZY

In the last post I added a picture of a decent sized striped bass that I landed last night in the upper Bay.  What I didn't say was that this fish was taken with a jig (4 inch Zoom fluke on jighead) fished under a school of menhaden (pogies).  Yes, they are still in the Upper Bay in big numbers. Crazy, they should have left a month and a half ago.  In fact, there was so many of them, it was rare for me to retrieve the jig without snagging one (see pic) on the single hook!  I'm guessing they were in schools that may have been 10-15 feet THICK. With menhaden still around, I'm hoping we see good number of large stripers around. In the past I have landed wintering over fish that measured over 40 inches. This could happen this year with the abundance of big bait around.  We could also see some big blues. You would be very surprised if I told you I landed a blue one year in the upper Bay on Christmas Eve, and that was in a cold winter. You never know if this winter fishing will materialize, but I am hopeful that we will at least see fair to good numbers of keepers in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Still a Few at South Shore

My son, Ben, who lives in Narragansett called to give me a report on the fishing.  I was on the ski slopes at Wachusett Mountain when I got his call from the RI south shore. He went out fishing this afternoon and landed 2 schoolies and a hickory shad.  Yes, they are still around, though few fishermen are trying.  Ben ran into one other guy who reported getting one schoolie earlier in the day. Some "oldtimers" I know tell stories about people they knew way back who went for walks along the shore on Christmas.  Some saw fish breaking so they went to their cars, got their fishing outfits and landed schoolies on Dec. 25.  If ever there was a year in which that could happen again, it is this year.  So, if you head out to take a walk on the beach on Christmas, my suggestion is to make sure you have a fishing outfit in the car. You just never know.  It's been one heck of a crazy fall!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Let the Winter Games Begin

I've been looking and I've finally found some fish.  First cast in one of my winter spots in upper Gansett Bay produced a small keeper tonight, making this the start of my winter fishing.  Half an hour later I landed a 26 inch schoolie.  The last two nights were cold and the days have been seasonable, and I think that was just enough to drop the water temps and get the fish moving into winter spots.  It's not hot and heavy, but those two fish represent the start of winter striper fishing for me.

Not Much to Report

I have absolutely no news to report.  I have tried fishing the upper Bay for wintering over stripers several times in the last week and I have not gotten a hit.  I met others who have tried and they report nothing.  A few fishermen have been trying along the south shore and it appears to be slim pickings with a small fish here and there, generally what you'd find at this time.  Most likely, you will blank.
So, the waiting game for wintering over stripers continues.  My theory is that the water is still too warm and the few fish that are around in the Bay are in deeper water.
Meanwhile, my freshwater carp fishing is still going in high gear.  I landed 20 fish in the last 4 days with many going in the teens. Check out some of my December catches on  That is one fishery that is still hot at this time.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shifting Gears

I am now shifting gears.  I have ended my striper fishing along the south shore due to lack of fish.  However, realize there are still a few fish around, and for those who want to put in the effort, you may even catch some right up until Christmas.  I'm figuring my best bet is to now focus closer to home in the Upper Bay and the Providence River for holdover stripers.  In the past this area has been productive in December and I am hoping it's good this year.
I'm also looking forward to winter carp fishing.  As many of you know, I do fish seriously for these monsters of freshwater, and last winter I  did catch them all winter long in moving, ice free water.  I am also planning to ice fish if the ice ever comes.  In the past I have jigged extensively in many of the ponds in RI and usually catch good numbers of crappie, bass, bluegills, perch and pickerel.

Finally, what I do more than fish in the wintertime is skiing.  What many of you don't know is that I am a nationally certified ski instructor, something I have been doing in the wintertime for the last 40 years (yikes, I am getting old).  I ski 3-5 times a week, teach at Yawgoo Valley, and usually get up to Wachusett Mountain once a week. On many winter days I am skiing in the daytime and fishing for striped bass at night. You gotta love New England winters!
So, I am in the process of shifting gears and have already started looking for wintering stripers in the Upper Bay.  I haven't found any yet, but it is only a matter of time.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Winding Down, but Still Fish

The good news is that there are still stripers and bluefish along the RI south shore.  The bad news is that there are a lot less of them compared to a week ago.  But, hey, it's Dec. 4 and normally things are over by now.

I got out today and fished all afternoon along the south shore.  I ended up landing 2 schoolies and 1 bluefish on Cocahoes (see pics).  It was a strange afternoon in which there were spurts of fish along the beach, but never lots of fish.  For instance, in about a half hour stretch, I saw about 10 blues landed and then no more bluefish for the rest of the day.  Same deal with stripers.  At one point six fish were landed in a ten minute period, then nothing.  Clearly there were small pods of fish moving along, but there were no big numbers.  So, our fantastic fall fishing is winding down, but there are still a few fish to be had if you want to put in the time.  Hey, it's Dec. 4.   I have no complaints.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Stripers, Blues and Shad in Dec.! CRAZY!

For anyone who might think our fabulous fall season is over, think again. We had a big storm on Tuesday night, and the fishing was poor for two days afterwards, leading many to think the season just might be over..  But, today the water calmed down, and the action lit up for us once again. My son, Matt, took a vacation day from work and we headed down to the south shore for some December surf fishing on this beautiful Friday afternoon. It turned out to be our best December day ever.  We landed a total of 13 stripers (all schoolies), 5 bluefish (yikes, in December) and 4 hickory shad.  In fact, Matt hit the trifecta, catching all three species (see photos). The bass and blues were taken on Cocahoes and the shad were caught on small bucktail jigs.  Ok, we did luck out as we caught all the blues and bass in a one and one half hour stretch in one of our prime spots. We hit a slug of fish that I think were moving by.  Realize most of the few people out fishing today reported catching very little.  So, things weren't crazy down there.  But, for the lucky Pickerings, 22 fish on Dec. 2 was certainly a day to remember. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Last Two Days.....Not Good

The nasty storm that blew through on Tuesday night was not good.  In its wake, it left a big rolling surf and lots of sandy water which cancelled out any fishing for Wednesday.  Today things calmed down considerably and my son and several friends gave it a shot along the south shore.  They got nothing but one guy did see "a couple" of small schoolies caught but no sign of the abundant bluefish that were all over in the beginning of the week.  There were also very few fishermen around at mid day, a bad sign that suggests very little around in the morning. On a positive note, there were loads of gannets hitting the water off East Beach, a sure bet that herring are still around.  However, this bait and the birds never came close to shore today. No question, things are really winding down, but hey, it is December and we just had the best November fishing the RI south shore has ever seen. I'm still not ready to pack it in as I am hoping to find some more fish in the next few days.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blues by Day; Keeper Bass After Dark

Our November to remember just keeps on rolling along.  Today started off as blue Tuesday with bluefish all over the place along the south shore.  At my first spot  I had a blue on the first cast and had a hit or a fish on every cast for at least half an hour.  I ended up getting twenty bluefish from 4-8 lbs. here on poppers.  My son, Ben, came down to join me and he landed a good number also (see photo). Other than a few schoolies in the early AM, no one seemed to be getting many stripers today and the ones that were caught were small.  That changed for me after dark.
I switched spots and switched lures to a rainbow trout colored nine inch Slug Go fished ahead of a black Deceiver teaser.  Right at dark I landed my first keeper of the night, a fish about 28 inches long on the teaser.  A few casts later, a much larger fish slammed my Slug Go, and that fish measured about 32 inches (see photo).  Next cast produced an even larger keeper on the Slug Go.  Twenty minutes later, I landed another good sized keeper. So, on this Nov. 29, I came away with 4 keepers, the most post Thanksgiving keepers I have ever been able to catch in one outing. It's been one heck of a November!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ultralight Gear Saves the Day, Again

Yesterday was not a good fishing day for me.  I moved around a lot along the south shore in the daytime and had little success finding anything other than bait.  The old skunk was staring me in the face until the end of the day when I managed to nail three shad and a small schoolie just before and at dark.  However, I had one more ace in the hole as I had my ultralight gear stowed in the back of my truck and tailor made for nights like this when I'm looking for more action.  I decided to hit some of my quiet backwater spots in which the ultralight gear had proved so effective in the past.  These are places with calm water in which small schoolies love to feed after dark.  I suspect they are feeding on shrimp since I rarely see baitfish in these spots.  My five foot trout rod with a small Okuma reel with just six pound test mono was delivering 1/8 oz. round head bucktail jigs.  It worked to a charm as I caught 7 schoolies in just an hour after dark in one of these quiet spots.  Had I been using a regular surf rod and bigger jigs, I guarantee I would have caught nothing.  As has happened so many times in the past, the ultralight gear comes through once again.

Friday, November 25, 2011

For Most, it was BLANK FRIDAY

Things are thinning out.  That big storm on Wednesday has sent a load of fish packing.  The south shore was loaded with fishermen taday, but there were more fishermen than fish.  I'm guessing most came up empty as I saw very few fish caught, and the ones I did see were small, nothing like what was around in the beginning of the week.  I lucked out as I first hit one of my hotspots.  I was able to catch 8 schoolies there on Cocahoes (see photo) in about half an hour. However, for the rest of the day, it was slim pickings as I added just 3 more schoolies in the next six hours while fishing multiple spots.  My eleven fish was more fish than I saw the rest of the hundred or so fishermen land all day. I heard there were a few small blues taken in the early morning, but I saw no blues later in the day.
So, as is typical at this time of year, there can be a million fish around one day. You get a storm and there are few fish around a couple of days later.  Accept the fact that the season is winding down.  That's just the way it is in late November. We're nearing the end.
On a positive, note, though, I did see a lot of gannets hitting the water way out meaning big bait is still around.  However, are  the big fish (bass and blues) still around???

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Striped Bass Release

My son, Ben, who has caught and released countless keepers this year up to 50 inches, shows the correct way to release a tired fish.  You want to ease the fish into the water.  Once in the water, grab its tail and move the fish forward and back.  This will get oxygen into its gills.  When holding the fish, you will feel the fish start to swim on its own.  At this point, the fish usually gives a mighty swish of its tail to let you know it's ready to go.  Release it and enjoy the sight of your prize swimming off.

It just keeps going...and going....and going.......

Our fabulous November fishing just keeps rolling along with no end in sight to the fantastic fishing.  I went down to the RI south shore today, and it was similar going to yesterday with lots of fish, though smaller overall.  Today featured mostly schoolies in the 20-25 inch range along with bluefish in the 4-7 lb. range. I did see about a dozen keeper bass caught, though, along with several big blues. My friend, Gene, got the biggest bass I saw today (check out the pic) on a popper. Once again, these fish were on blueback herring as many of the hooked blues would spit them up almost whole.  Just like yesterday, poppers were the hottest artificials with swimmers, Kastmasters and Cocahoes on jigheads catching a lot of fish too.  In all, I ended the day with 20 blues and 17 stripers (2 keepers).  It was real hot fishing for this time of year.  You get so used to this that you come to expect this fantastic fishing every outing, and it has generally lived up to expectations this November. I've now concluded that this is the very best November I have ever fished!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Best Big Fish Day in Years!

This was one of the best big fish days we have had in years in the RI surf.  At a time of year in which my kids and I would have been happy to land one more keeper bass, we landed a whopping twenty keepers today.  We're talking 28-40 inch fish.  We had at least a few fish that pushed the 40 inch range.  In addition, we landed at least a dozen more stripers that were just below keeper size.  On top of all that, we had 20 bluefish that went 5-13 lbs.  It had to be one of the biggest big fish days I have ever had along the RI south shore beaches at this time of year.
I knew we were in for a spectacular day as I scanned that shoreline with binoculars and saw a pile of bait and birds working.  Gannets were hitting the water within ten yards of the sand. There were gulls and cormorants also going crazy.  When I went down to the shoreline, I noticed blackened water and baitfish whirling.....blueback herring.  Just the big bait I was looking for.
The fish were active and most of the artificials we used were producing although poppers did the most damage.  We also landed fish on needlefish plugs and swimmers. Surprisingly, my sons and I had all the fish to ourselves as we never encountered another fisherman.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Loaded, no other word to describe it.  The kids (Ben, Chris, Jon) and I met at the south shore for an afternoon of fishing.  We were in for quite a day. At times, all of us were onto fish at the same time.  This was one of the biggest hits of stripers that I have seen this fall.  There were schoolies, a few keepers and some blues in the mix.  It did not go without notice as a picket fence of fishermen numbering upwards of 50 surfcasters were casting for the easy pickings.  The kids and I landed over 60 stripers and a lone blue.  I estimate that collectively, the whole bunch of guys fishing probably landed several HUNDRED stripers with most of the fish going 14-22 inches, but there were also some keepers in the mix.  Once again, the Cocahoe mounted on a jighead caught most of the fish, though I also saw a lot of fish taken on Storm lures too. This fabulous November we are experiencing just continues to produce at a record pace. Numbers wise it has to rate as one of the best Novembers I have ever seen.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bluefish Bonanza; Stripers Mixed In

Today featured a bonanza of bluefish along the south shore beaches, and there were also stripers in the mix.  I met my two sons, Jon and Ben along with Ben's girlfriend Allie, and we fished for the afternoon together.  In all we landed 30 blues that ranged from 5-10 lbs. and 15 stripers that ranged from  18-26 inches.  It was one of those wild days with everyone on the beach landing fish.  The fish were not particularly fussy today. Jon and I caught most of our fish on poppers while Allie and Ben landed most of theirs on Cocahoes and teasers. The whole beach cleared out at dark, and by five o'clock I was the only one left fishing in the dark.  I landed 5 more stripers and one blue using swimmers and a black Deceiver teaser while plugging after dark.  It shows that the fish are still hitting after dark if you can stand the cold.  From the reports that I am getting yesterday was equally as good as today with a big bunch of blues providing most of the action. Our fantastic November fishing along RI's south shore just continues to produce big time. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Hickory Shad Option

If hickory shad grew as large as stripers., no one would chase bass anymore. We'd all be pursuing shad. These fish are about the best fighting small fish you can find.  They will rip drag and take wild leaps, sometimes jumping feet into the air on the fight.  They generally run 1-2 lbs. and are tailor made for  light tackle.
There are two ways we target them.  I've always write about using teaser rigs with a Cocahoe to fish for schoolies in the fall.  Well, that shrimp fly teaser on  this rig is one of the most effective lures you can use to catch hickory shad. This explains why we often catch shad when targeting schoolies.
The other way to get them is with very small bucktail jigs on ultralight tackle.  I'm talking a small eighth oz. bucktail jig spiced with a one inch curly tail.  The outfit I use to fish these micro jigs is a freshwater four and a half foot twig of a rod with a tiny Okuma reel spooled with 4 lb. test mono.  Yes, this is super light stuff.  I keep this light outfit in the back of my truck just to use in quiet backwater spots that I might hit on the way home after a slow day of striper fishing.  It often leads to an exciting ending to a slow day.

My kids love to catch these fish.  They have always liked fishing for them as my son, Matt, is the state record holder for these fish.  His record is 2.12 lbs. (21 inches) that he caught when he was just 4 years old!  His record has stood for 21 years. Yikes!

Lots of Small Ones Moving Through

I'm sick of waiting for calm water so I headed down to the south shore today in this sixty degree weather.  It was very rough (as it's been for several days now) with loads of white water and rolling waves, but there were also lots of fish. My son, Jon, and I slugged it out in the rough conditions and came away with 27 schoolies, 1 blue and a couple of hickory shad while fishing Cocahoes and teasers (what else!).  The fish today were quite small with most of the schoolies going 12-18 inches long with a few stretching out to maybe 20 inches.  Typically we see a lot of these small ones as the season is winding down.  However, I also saw a load of gannets hitting the water way out.  I have to wonder if they were dive bombing for big bait with big fish under them.  Make no mistake about it, warm water or not, the season is winding down with maybe a week to ten days of consistent fishing left along the south shore. I'm still  hoping to hook a keeper or two in the coming week.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Rest of the Way....Play the Calm Water

For most of the year, I have advised surf fishermen to play the rough water.  Now, the game changes as the season winds down. At this point, I am doing most of my striper fishing along the sandy south shore of RI rather than the rocky shores of Gansett.  The south shore is a fragile place and rough water or storminess can quickly roil up the water with sand and weed, making for impossible fishing conditions.  Because of that, I would much rather take my chances in calm water that is fishable rather than trying in rough water that is not. In past years, the best fishing for me has occurred in calm conditions, even with the wind at my back in mid to late November. Those calm conditions seem to bring the bait closer to shore at this time as they tend to avoid the turbulence brought on by a rough sea. If you can find bait at this time of year, you are almost certain to find schoolies.  As far as late season keepers, play it the same way as the rest of the night for the most part.  Keepers will also be in the big fish spots like along bars, in the breachways, off points and along structure.  As the season winds down in the next two weeks, expect to find dwindling numbers of keepers.  I usually end my fishing along the south shore  around Thanksgiving, but I will readily admit that I have had some real big days in the past after Thanksgiving. Good fishing at this time is highly dependent on warm weather.  After Thanksgiving, I usually begin targeting wintering over stripers in upper Narrragansett Bay, a better bet for me in recent years.. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Move to Freshwater Results in Record Fish

What many of my readers don't know is that I am also an avid freshwater fisherman.  In fact, I freshwater fish just about every morning and then fish saltwater in the afternoon/evening and nighttime.  In recent years, I have been fascinated with carp fishing, and I have really targeted these monsters of freshwater, and I learned the very complicated and non traditional European techniques to catch them.  In today's crappy weather, I decided to put in some serious time in freshwater since I had all the right conditions to have a successful day of carp fishing.
Well, the results were astounding.  I landed 10 fish with most in the high teens and twenties (we're talking pounds), but my real prize was the biggest carp ever caught in RI, a monster 36 lb. common.  In fact, this fish is the largest freshwater fish ever caught in the state, surpassing a 35 lb. record pike.  The carp would have certainly smashed the official state record (32 lbs., 8 oz.) if I had it officially weighed.  The only way that would have worked is if I either killed the fish or brought it to an tackle shop with an official scale.  It would have been near impossible to keep a fish this size alive in a cooler for a long period of time.  So, I weighed the fish on my very accurate Berkeley Digital Scale, took a few pics, and proudly watched the beast swim away.  Beautiful!
The fish will be recognized by the Carp Anglers Group (CAG) as the RI state record since all that group requires is a weighing, a photo and a witness, and I have all three. This is my fourth thirty pound plus carp that I have landed this year.  I wish I could say that about stripers!
If you are interested in learning about carp fishing, check out my very popular carp fishing blog at

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

All Good Things Must Come to an End.......

And, the hot fishing will end tomorrow.  This last five days have brought one of the best runs of stripers I have ever seen in November.  My sons and I have been out just about every day, and we have landed 200 stipers in just the last four days!  In these days of decreased striper numbers, these are astronomical numbers.
Beware, though, things are changing,  Today saw decreased numbers of fish and a building sea.  There were rollers as high as 7 or 8 feet crashing onto the south shore sands. The weather forecast for tomorrow is stormy with rough water, strong winds and heavy rains.  In addition, there is a tropical storm churning in the Atlantic south of us heading northward.  This predicted rough water in the next two days will move many of these fish away from our shores.  That's the bad news.  The good news is that the weather is supposed to turn more tranquil and warm next week, hopefully setting up more good fishing.  In addition, the water is warm for this time of year, suggesting an extended season if the weather and water continue to be warm. If November fishing ended tomorrow, I would have to say it was a very good month.  However, I do expect to be catching many more stripers in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Glut of Fish Continues...Schoolies, Keeper Bass, Bluefish and Shad!

We are in the midst of one of the best November streaks in recent years and there seems to be no end in sight.  Today I fished the daytime along the south shore with my son, Ben, and we caught all kinds of fish.  There were schoolies, keeper bass, bluefish and hickory shad. We must have landed about 50 fish with most being taken on Cocahoes mounted on jigheads. Ben, who was fishing with teasers, had a couple of triple headers! I also landed a keeper bass, something I haven't been able to do in over a week now. Besides great fishing, it was a gorgeous day along the oceanfront  with temperatures around seventy degrees and little wind.  Just a great day all around.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mother Lode has Arrived

If you are looking for numbers of fish, this is the best it is going to get.  Suddenly, there are all kinds of fish around.  Today I met my two sons, Ben and Jon, at the south shore and along Gansett.  We fished together for the afternoon and evening and landed over 75 fish!  These included mostly stripers, but we also had about a half dozen hickory shad and a lone bluefish.  There was also all kinds of activity.  I saw gannets slamming down on the water for big bait, terns diving for smaller bait and even pockets of small bait spraying out of the water with occasional fish breaking. As has been the case most of the fall, a Cocahoe mounted on a jighead did most of the damage.  We also got a few fish on shrimp fly teasers.

With the warm and tranquil weather along with southwest winds predicted for the next few days, I see no reason why this bonanza will not continue.  If you are looking for big numbers of schoolies, it is happening right now. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cocahoe+Teasers=Schoolies+Hickory Shad

Today was one of my biggest schoolie hits of the year. Fishing at both Gansett plus the south shore, I landed 35 schoolies and 4 large hickory shad.  The key to catching all these fish was the use of a double teaser rig (shrimp fly teasers) with a Cocahoe on a jighead at the lure end of the rig.  This is about the hottest set up you can use for late season schoolies and hickory shad.  Today was typical of what you find in the late season.  There was nothing showing, but the fish were around and active.  With the absence of baitfish, the shrimp fly teasers are deadly since a lot of time these predators are grubbing along the bottom and the teasers are just the type of thing these fish will jump on.  I had three triple headers today, two double headers and the rest were single fish.  I caught about half my fish on the teasers and the other half on the Cocahoe. With the southwest wind forecast for the next few days, I suspect this hot fishing for schoolies and shad should continue.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Parade of Monster Fish Continues

Some huge fish continue to be caught along the RI oceanfront this fall.  In the last month I know of at least a half dozen stripers from 45-50 inches that have been landed.  Last night the parade of monster fish continued as a well known RI striper surfcaster fishing right next to me landed this 40 + pound fish.  To his credit and his commitment to conservation, he released the fish after I took the picture. 

A Move to the South Shore and Back on Track

It's November and my time to abandon Narragansett and head for greener pastures along the south shore beaches.  I did just that yesterday and it put me back into fish.  Yesterday I hit a number of high percentage spots and came away with 9 stripers and 2 hickory shad.  Most of the stripers were schoolies but I had one keeper of about 32 inches (see pic, right) on a big bucktail jig.  Yes, I practice what I preach....see previous posts. Most of the schoolies (see pic, left) that I caught were taken on a Cocahoe off a float (4 fish) and teasers (4 fish).  In addition, I had two other "big" fish on that I lost.  November usually signals that time for me to start seriously fishing the south shore oceanfront, and it paid off yesterday. We're back in business.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Incredibly DEAD for this Time of Year

I went down fishing this morning hoping to catch some action on the high tide before the arrival of the big blow and heavy rains predicted for later in the day.  There was a northeast wind blasting at the eastern shoreline of Narragansett.  There was very good white water and it was rough, conditions that have produced much of the fall.  Unfortunately, I found no fish while casting in multiple spots.  The only sign of life was a bunch of gannets divebombing out in front of Point Judith along with lots of cormorants going down for bait (see photo).
Most fishermen from Narragansett to the far south beaches of RI are complaining about the lack of stripers.  It has been dead now for about 10 days since that last northeaster a week and a half ago.  With the exception of a few big fish showing up in the breachways in the late night hours, the fishing has been horrible, and this should be prime time based on past years.  I've blanked now three times in a row. With the decreased numbers of stripers around, the game has changed.  The resident population of stripers is just not there in any numbers, and it is a matter of waiting until the next school or two of migrating fish passes our way. Who knows when or even if that will happen? 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

How to Fish a Bucktail JIg in a Deep Channel

Many people have asked me exactly how to fish a large bucktail jig in a deep water channel.  Well, here goes...a video explaining it.  The critical key to using the jig in moving water is to get it and keep it on the bottom.  After casting, you want to finger the line off the spool until you feel a slight pause.  That's when the jig hits the bottom.  Next, start the retrieve.  You want a sharp pull of the rod tip and reel slightly, then pause.  Do this again.  As the jig straightens out in the current, it is rising.  At that point, reel in. Check out how this is done in my You Tube video.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Add Enticers to Your Bucktail Jigs

I fished the Upper Bay yesterday.  It was hot for schoolies as I landed 13 fish.  They were all caught on quarter oz. flathead, white, bucktail jigs spiced with plastic grub tails.
The bucktail jig is a real hot lure right now and it will continue to catch fish right up until late November.  When using bucktail jigs, it is imperative that you add some type of enticer to your jig's hook.  Here's the way I play it.  On small bucks of 1/2 oz and under, I use a 3 inch triple ripple grub tail sold by Bass Pro in a white color.  For mid sized bucktail jigs of 1/2 to 1 oz., I will use 4 inch triple ripple tails.  On real big bucks over 1 oz, I generally use Uncle Josh pork rind strips of 5 1/4 inches.  Adding these enticers really makes a difference in the effectiveness of your bucktail jig.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ben Pickering Lands 50 Inch Striper

The Pickering success in 2011 just keeps on rolling.  My son, Ben, who has been having fabulous luck this fall with numbers as well as big fish has come up with the fish of a lifetime as he landed a 50 inch striper (measured) from the surf late last night.  The huge bass engulfed a black Bomber swimmer.  According to Ben, the fish took out a lot of line and the fight went on for at least 20 minutes before he was able to get the beast ashore.  As he pulled it onto the shore, the line broke, but the fish by now was on dry ground and he was able to rush over and grab his prize.  After unhooking the fish and taking a pic, the trophy fish was revived and released. He said the girth of the tail was so large, he had to use two hands to swish it back and forth in the water to revive it!  Great job and true sportsmanship.
The only pic he got was from a cell phone....not great quality, but nevertheless, a remembrance of the event.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In a Major Downturn

We are in a big time lull at a time when things should be hopping.  Big winds have battered the oceanfront for the last week and that has driven out the bait as well as the bass and blues.  It has left the Gansett shore a dead zone as far as fishing is concerned.
I went down today and the oceanfront was very fishable.  Problem was that there was very little around.  I managed to scratch one schoolie in front of Point Judith on a swimmer, and that was it from afternoon until well after dark.  I saw no bait in close and no birds working way out.  Heck, I never even saw another fisherman until after dark when I found one lone caster vacating a spot. To make matters worse, my son Ben reported that he saw several seals along the Gansett shore this morning, not good news for any stripers in that area.
Some fishermen are wondering if this is it.  I say we are in for some more very good fishing especially in early November.  We just have to wait for a pile of bait to lure those migrating stripers close to shore .  My advice is to start looking along those south shore beaches and breachways.  They become the best bet area as November arrives.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Five Top Producers for the Next Month

We're heading into the home stretch.  There's about one good month of striper fishing left along the oceanfront and after that, it's a crap shoot.  Here's my line-up for the best artificials to use in the coming month to catch stripers here in RI.
1.  Some type of small jig.  I like a plastic Cocahoe minnow in white threaded onto a small (1/4 to 1/2 oz.) jighead when fish are on small bait.  I also like flathead bucktail jigs with curly tails when there is a mix of bass and blues.  You can use these jigs alone or off a wooden float. Great for schoolies in the daytime.
2.  Needlefish plug.  I've gotten away from poppers and use the needlefish much more these days, especially in rough water or with a wind in my face. Works well in daytime and at night.
3.  Skinny plastic.  It doesn't matter whether you use Hogys or Slug Gos.  Both work well.  I like a black color after dark and I like to use the new swimbait hooks. I don't weight my skinny plastic as weighting takes away from the movement. Best with a wind at your back.
4.  Plastic swimmers.  I like the Bombers in a six inch length.  Light colors or black back models work well. Good at night in skinny water.
5.  Big bucktail jigs with pork rind.  This is my go to lure in deep, moving water such as you'd find in some of the breachways.  The fish are on the bottom in day or night and a big buck of 1-2 oz. will get you there.
That's it.  No need to stock a ton of artificials. A few others to consider include metal (Kastmasters), poppers, Storm shads and large wooden surface swimmers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Disappointing Day in NE Wind

I would have predicted this would have been a great day of fishing in this northeast wind and stormy weather.  But, I would have been wrong!  The northeast wind has led to fantastic fishing all fall along Narragansett, but it was not to be today.  I slugged it out all afternoon and evening and came away with five schoolies, only fair results for the time I put in.  Problem today was that there was too much of a good thing.  The ocean was already churned up and sandy from a big west wind for the past several days.  The vicious northeast wind just churned up the soup.  Most of the afternoon the wind was very strong and the rain was coming down in horizontal sheets.  You could not even face into the rain and wind as the rain was like needles stinging your face. The waves were choppy six to eight footers along Point Judith and the water was a sandy colored white.  It was simply too much.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Crappier the Weather, the Better the Fishing

One pattern that has consistently emerged this fall is that real lousy weather has produced very good striper fishing.  I'm talking cloudiness or raining, a rough white water surf and lots of wind.  I love fishing in this type of weather and will always get down to the oceanfront  and try when the weather is lousy. I've hit numerous blitzes this fall in that type of weather.  Remember that striped bass are opportunistic feeders and there is no question that they are far move active and moving close to shore in lousy weather with rough conditions than in calm and tranquil conditions.  In addition, few fishermen will go out and fish in bad weather so I've had many blitzes to myself numerous times this fall with not another fisherman in sight. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Big Time Hit Today...60 Stripers in Two Hours!

I met up with my two sons today in Gansett for some fishing.  It was discouraging at first as I could not find another fisherman anywhere within the six mile stretch from Gansett Beach to Pt. Judith.  With the fishing cooling off in the last few days, there was no one even trying.  Yet, the water and conditions were just right....the water was rough and clean and it was overcast and raining. I knew there were fish somewhere. After some searching I found the Mother Lode.  With stripers ripping through schools of rain bait, my sons, Ben and Jon, and I started casting into the frenzy.  With our float and Cocahoe rigs we landed one fish after another.  These were all schoolies with a few blues mixed in.  The schoolies were decent sized with the fish running 20-27 inches.  In less than two hours of fishing, we landed 60 stripers and 2 bluefish.  Not bad for a day in which everyone thought there was nothing around. Take a look at the video we shot of the action.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Biggest Fish in Years

What started out as a slow day ended with a monster fish.  Tonight I landed a huge striper of 46 inches after dark on this rainy and stormy night.  This fish  was probably my biggest fish in over a decade.  I suspect it was in the 40+ pound range.
The day did not start off well.  I had all the right conditions in Gansett with a stiff northeast wind and rough water, but very few fish.  I was only able to catch one schoolie in the daylight and I tried in a lot of places.  My luck changed after dark as I found a spot that had some schoolies and I quickly landed 5 fish.  Then the big fish blew up on my jointed Red Fin swimmer. It proved to be quite a struggle to land this fish in rough water and the fish pulled out a lot of line from my Van Staal 150 reel.  Fortunately the new VMC trebles I put on the plug recently held, and I got the brute ashore.  A quick measurement with my tape and she was released to fight again.  I have no pictures of the fish since I left the camera in the car figuring I wasn't going to catch anything.  Boy, was I wrong!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hot Fishing Dies Out

I just knew it was too hot to last.  Last week's phenomenal fishing along Narragansett has faded into a memory.  It has gone from red hot to ice cold within a few days.  I went down yesterday and blanked.  I could not even find a fishermen who caught or saw a fish.  There were no birds diving, no breaking fish and no big schools of bait.  Heck, there weren't even many fishermen around, a bad sign.
My son, Ben, my scout down Gansett way, got out this evening and found nothing (very unusual for him).  Other fishermen I know fished earlier in the day and came up empty.  Clearly things are dead.
With the forecast calling for NE winds the next few days, who knows what will happen.  It's a matter of waiting until the next pile of bait comes along and almost for sure the stripers and blues will be in hot pursuit.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Some of the biggest blitzes in the history of RI striper fishing have been taking place at Narragansett this week. There seems to be no end to this terrific run.  What is fueling these blitzes are vast schools of bay anchovies that are being driven ashore by hungry stripers, blues and false albacore.
Yet, while there appears to be a million bass in front of you at times, they are tough to catch.  That's because the conditions are calm, the water is clear and the bait is small and plentiful. 
I got a call from my son, Ben, today.  He excitedly told me he landed over 30 stripers (6 keepers) and 10 bluefish in a couple of hours of fishing.  However, none of the twenty or so fishermen around him seemed to be able to catch even one fish.  How did he do it?  He was using a very small freshwater plastic swimmer, casting close to shore and was reeling it in very slowly to keep it near the surface as the fish were on a rampage in only a couple of feet of water.  That small swimmer measured only a few inches and closely resembled the bay anchovies (see photo at right) that the fish were feeding on.  Those other guys who were blanking were probably using large pencil poppers, big wooden swimmers or large metal.  Come on guys, you know the deal is to try to match the hatch.

Bay anchovies are small, anywhere from a half inch to a couple of inches.  When they are around, some good imitators are small swimmers, three inch poppers, three inch Cocahoes (see photo at left), small bucktail jigs and even small Zoom flukes running off a float.  While the guys tossing the big wood and big plastic may get an occasional big fish, their hook up rate is often dismal or non existent when bay anchovies are present.  So, my word of advice right now is Go Small if you are looking to catch some fish.