Saturday, April 30, 2011

Warming Water Lights Things Up

Strange happenings these days. Got down to the oceanfront yesterday. It was windy and rough but the fishing was good. I had my best outing of the spring with well over 20 schoolies. It's been an unusual and unexpected turn of events. Consider these facts:

* Water temps last week were in the 40's. In a matter of a few days it jumped into the 50's. My guess is that the strong south and southwest winds coupled with very rough water sent a lot of "southern" warm water our way.

* I saw a guy land 2 bluefish yesterday. I have never seen a bluefish caught along the RI shoreline in April until yesterday (so much for cold water).

* I also saw several near keeper size stripers (like the one in the photo). It's a good sign that big fish are moving our way.

No question, an influx of warm water has suddenly changed the game.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Check out May Issue of On the Water

I have a feature story this month in On the Water magazine. It is called Upper Bay Options. My article outlines some of the great striped bass fishing opportunities that exist in Upper Narragansett Bay. I believe this is one of the hottest areas to fish for early season stripers whether you fish from shore, boat or kayak, yet it is underfished. The article touches on numerous ways to fish this area.

This month's issue of On the Water is a thick, information filled, 15th anniversary special issue and it is beautifully done. Check it won't be disappointed.

Cocahoes/Teasers Hot at Oceanfront

I got down to the oceanfront for the first time this spring yesterday along with my son, Ben, and I wasn't disappointed. There were good numbers of schoolies in the 14-20 inch range to be had. As usual, the hot lures were Cocahoe minnows (plastic fan shaped fish body) threaded onto a small jighead. I also had a shrimp fly teaser rigged ahead of the Cocahoe. About 40 % of the schoolies that I caught took the teaser.
There is nothing fancy about using a fan shaped lure like a Cocahoe or a Storm shad. Simply cast out, let it sink, and reel it in. I like to vary the retrieve in a fast and slow motion. I also like to give the rod tip and occasionally pull to add a bit of action. However, I do notice that many fishermen who simply reel it in this lure score well also. The key here is to keep it near the bottom the hot zone where most schoolies will be caught in April.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

By Shore and By Boat

I fished the Upper Bay from shore and boat in the last two days and the results were the same. Decent numbers of fish are around. However, you just have to find them. My strategy at this time of year is to move around a lot. On both days I did find good numbers of schoolies, but it took some looking. The schoolies are bunched up at this time of year. For instance, I fished yesterday evening. I tried several spots and then I hooked up. My first five casts in this location produced 3 fish and 2 hits. That seems to be what is happening right now. Find the fish and you will catch multiple fish. Two days ago, my brother, Steve, and I fished from his boat. At first we had little success and then we found the location where the fish were (see photo). Once found, every drift seemed to get a hit or a fish. Once again, it is the super Zoom fluke on a jighead fished with light tackle that is catching all my fish.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

From a Trickle to a Deluge

There has been a trickle of fish moving into the Upper Bay all week. I was picking up a fish or two every outing. These were small fish so I knew they were new fish. However, the floodgates opened today in that warm weather and strong northwest winds. For a solid hour, I banged one fish after another getting a hit or a fish on just about every cast of my albino super Zoom fluke mounted onto a 3/8 oz. jighead (see photo). These were all new arrivals. They were bright, feisty and hungry. Typical of what we see in the Upper Bay at this time, these fish measured 15-20 inches though I had one fish that went about 25 inches (see photo). This is really the start of good spring fishing in the Upper Bay, an area close to home that I plan to really concentrate on in the coming weeks.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

No Schoolies but Keepers Around

The bad news is that there are no schoolies in the Upper Bay yet. The good news is that there are some hefty keepers around. I'm guessing these are holdover fish feeding on herring. These keepers are fat as pigs and real fiesty on the fight. Got this beauty today on a Zoom Fluke while fishing the Providence River. Didn't pick up any schoolies, but no complaints here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

$4 a Gallon Gas Changes the Game

No doubt about it, gas at four dollars a gallon will change how we fish. I know that I plan to fish a lot more closer to home this spring and early summer due to high gas prices. I figure there are tons of productive spots in Narragansett Bay that offer real good spring fishing for stripers, and these locations are less than 15 miles from my house. About a gallon of gas should get me there and back. The upper Bay can be loaded with stripers from shore, and there are far less fishermen to compete with than the south shore. I also plan to fish more from my kayak in the bay. Hey, no gas needed and healthy exercise to boot. My brother and I will also fish from the boat, but we plan to go to boat landings close to where we are fishing and driving around the Bay will be at a minimum. I still do plan to hit my favorite spots along the oceanfront, but I suspect the trips down there will be far fewer than in other years.

My plan is also to do more freshwater fishing. You can't imagine how good freshwater fishing can be as many locations these days are not fished due to access problems. If you can find those "holes in the fence" or a place to drop in a kayak, fishing for largemouths can be terrific. I am also sitting on some of the best fishing for mirror carp in the US. I can walk or ride a bike from my house to many locations along the Blackstone River. With an abundance of fish in the 10-20 lb. range I often ask myself why I'm traveling to find good fishing.

However, I do hope the gas prices drop later in the year since I love fishing the south shore in the fall.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It Has Started!

The 2011 season has started. I have reliable information that a few schoolies were caught this earlier in the week along the oceanfront in that warm weather. There were no big numbers, more like a trickle, but we can say with certainty that things have started. It should be a matter of a short period of time before the big numbers arrive. I poked around the Upper Bay today in some of my usual spring hotspots. To my surprise, I landed a keeper of 30 inches and another decent fish of 25 inches. The keeper was a perfect specimen.... bright, fat and feisty. Whether these two fish were holdovers or new fish, I have no idea. However, they were the first fish I have been able to catch in mid day in a long time. New fish at this time of year tend to hit far better in the daytime than at night. So, things are on the upswing as a new season begins.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Top 5 Lures for Spring Schoolies

The first fish should arrive shortly. For the next two to three weeks, the spring striper action will be dominated by schoolies. There are five top lures that will catch most of the fish here in RI. For fishing in Narragansett Bay, I like Zoom flukes (light colors) mounted onto jigheads. These are hot numbers in the rivers and protected spots in the Bay. Along the oceanfront, the Cocahoe or other slim shaped plastic fish bodies with fan shaped tails mounted onto jigheads are very good in places like the salt ponds and along the beachfront. I often fish this with a shrimp fly teaser tied ahead of it. Don't discount the ole bucktail jig. That seems to work well in the Bay as well as along the oceanfront. Jigheads of 1/2 ounce or less work the best. Make sure you add a plastic curly tail on the jig's hook. I especially like Bass Pro Shop Triple Ripple tails. Finally, a Kastmaster is an old proven standby and works real well when casting into the wind. It is another lure that works well in the Bay and along the oceanfront. Those are my top 5 for early season.

Most early season action will take place along the bottom. Use light tackle and fish all of these lures deep and with a slow retrieve. Most early season stripers are grubbing along the bottom and that will be the hot zone in the first two to three weeks of the season.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Two Blogs= 100,000 Hits

I began writing two blogs about two years ago. Today, those two websites logged a combined 100,000 hits. One blog,, was started as just a local website that would give RI fishermen tips and ideas for fishing for striped bass in the Ocean State from shore, boat and kayak. That site now attracts viewers from all over the East Coast and is one of the top striper fishing websites in New England in terms of popularity and volume. My other blog,, was started to inform RI fishermen about the great potential of this fishery. As the state chairman of the RI Carp Anglers (CAG) group, I used this vehicle to inform carp fishermen about European techniques, equipment and information about the CAG. The interesting thing about this blog is that it attracts viewers from all over North America as well as from the UK and other parts of Europe. It has worldwide appeal that I never anticipated. Thank you to all of my loyal readers for making these sites so popular. I will continue to bring you up-to-date and relevant information about carp fishing and striper fishing here in RI.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Watch is ON!

Sometime within the next three weeks the first migrating stripers will be caught. I have been keeping logs for the last 35 years, and those logs tell me the first arrivals should be caught around mid April, or about April 15, give or take a week depending on the weather. Last year I was catching them the first week of April (unusually early) but last year was exceptionally warm. This year I am looking at snow in my yard as I type this so it could be a late start.

Weather will play a key role in just when the first ones are caught. Warm weather with strong south and southwest winds favor an early start while cold weather with north and northwest winds often point to a later start. An extended warm spell of a few days seems to trigger things in mid April. Many fishermen also mistakenly believe that migrating stripers hug the shoreline when moving northward. I can't tell you how many fishermen will tell me that when the first fish are taken in Charlestown one day, they'll show up at Matunuck the next and be in the Bay in a week. If only it were that simple! In reality fish are migrating just offshore in various schools. Weather events such as strong onshore winds tend to push big numbers within a cast of shore. Bait can also move them in different directions. It can be random. I've often caught large numbers of migrating fish in the upper Bay a week before the first ones are taken forty miles southward at the oceanfront.

April has arrived and the watch is on. Expect the first schoolies to be landed within the next three weeks.