Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Winter Schoolie Numbers Plunge in Recent Years

We are in big trouble with schoolie numbers. Winter fishing is way off. I also saw it this whole season where my catches were way down. In fact, numbers of the last several seasons have been dropping like a lead balloon. Everyone in southern New England seems to be concerned about what's coming this season.
To illustrate just how far down we have plunged, I looked back over my logs of the last 4 years of winter fishing in the Providence River. These are my numbers for the months of January and February. Note that I went about the same number of times each year so it's a good comparison.
2008- 235 stripers
2009- 78 stripers
2010- 15 stripers
2011- 12 stripers
I think the winter fishing is certainly a reflection of what is going on in Narragansett Bay and along our coastline in recent years. It is not a pretty picture.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Persistence Pays Off

You have been reading in my blog just how poor the winter holdover striper fishing has been in the Providence River. In one stretch about a month ago I had blanked nine times in a row!

However, I stuck with it, and I have now caught fish seven out of my last eight outings. While this is an improvement over the previous run of poor fishing, I will also tell you that the numbers are way off. These recent "good" nights have generally produced one or two schoolies per outing. Living just ten minutes from the River, it is worth giving it a shot several times a week. For anyone living a good distance away, I'm not sure the effort is worth it this winter.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Shallow Saltwater University Coming

Once again this year, I will be part of the Shallow Saltwater University line-up of seminars that will take place on the weekend of March 25-27 at the Sheraton Inn at Warwick, RI. This weekend of seminars will feature an all star line-up of some of the best saltwater shore and boat fishermen in New England who will present seminars all weekend long. I was part of this show last year and it was a big success. To order tickets and to get a schedule of seminars, check out the website at:

Monday, February 7, 2011

Next Shows...Fri., Feb. 11, DCU Center, Worcester

My next stop on my 2011 seminar tour will be at the DCU Center in Worcester, MA on Friday, Feb. 11. This will be at the ASA Eastern Fishing and Outdoor Expo, one of the largest fishing and outdoor shows in New England. I will be doing my "Secrets of the Striper Surf" seminar at 4:00 PM and 6:30 PM. The link to the show information is pasted below. Hope to see you there.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Van Staal Reels.....Worth the Price?

One question I am frequently asked is whether a Van Staal reel is worth the over $700 price tag.

I have been using bail-less Van Staal reels since they came out over a decade ago. I have a VS 150 and VS 200 reel and I have had them for about 12 years. I got the reels as gifts from the original company after I made a very successful promotional video for them when they were just getting started. Since then the company has been sold several times.

Here are the positives. The reel has become the workhorse of real good surf fishermen. Fish a spot where the sharpies hang out, and I would say 7 out of 10 of them will be reeling Van Stalls. Their toughness and durability is unequaled in the surf and breakdowns are rare. They are sealed reels and completely corrosion resistant. I also love the instant anti reverse bearings that only allow the reel to move in one direction. I also favor a bail -less reel. Maintenance is minimal....spray them down after use, occasionally lightly lubricate exposed parts.

Here are some negatives. I was never that thrilled with their drags, not real smooth, but only adequate. Their rollers suck as I tend to replace them (about $30 apiece) just about every year because of grooves that develop from the braided line, and rollers are not covered under my lifetime warranty. Casting distance is only adequate; big pit reels will easily outdistance them. And, maintenance is costly. I curse every year when I have to send my two reels in for yearly service ($50 apiece) in order to maintain the lifetime warranty. I love reels that I can take apart and repair myself like the old Penn 704's and 706's.

So, that's about it. Are they worth it? They are costly, no doubt, but most diehard fishermen say they are well worth the big bucks. If there is a better reel on the market these days for a reasonable price of under $200 I think it would be a hit. I haven't found that reel yet.