Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May.....a Disappointment

The good news is that there were fish around. The bad news is that most were small and their numbers were down (no surprise there!). I managed to snare just over 100 stripers in the month of May. That sounds good but just four years ago I landed 200. Figuring I am fishing about the same number of days in the May that is a 50% reduction in the amount of fish. Oh well, the experts tell us the numbers are down about 60% compared to five years ago. Seems to be running true to form. Disappointing, though expected.
Another major disappointment in my assessment is the lack of large fish. I am embarrassed to say that the biggest fish I landed in May measured 32 inches. Not pounds, INCHES. In all my times out, the biggest fish I saw caught went 34 inches. I fished from shore, boat, kayak, south shore oceanfront and Gansett Bay. Big fish....a real disappointment.
The menhaden fishing has been a major bummer for boaters. There are spotty schools of bunker here and there in the Bay, but where are the big fish that were in abundance just two short years ago? A couple of years back I would see hundreds of keepers caught in day in May within sight of Providence. And, there were plenty of fish over 40 inches. Nothing even close to compare this year.
So, another month is in the books and another month of disappointing fishing. Looks like 2011 is heading in a disappointing direction. Are we surprised?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pogies......I Found Them, Big Time

Rest assured it won't be a pogie-less year. I was out fishing from the shore in the upper Bay and I saw the menhaden big time. I spotted many schools in one area. At one point I saw a school that was hundreds of yards in length. There were only a couple of boats on them since the night was very foggy and there were few boats around. The pogies have arrived just in time for Memorial Day weekend, a big weekend for boaters here in the state. With the arrival of these large menhaden, I am sure there are places where large bass and huge blues can be found close to these schools of bait. Looks like it is shaping up to be a big weekend of fishing in the Bay.
And, I did get fish from shore tonight. There are good numbers of schoolies close to shore for those who want to plug with light tackle. Just one more option for the upcoming weekend.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

When Skinny Plastic Fails!

Yes, sometimes my favorite skinny plastic lures do not work. I had an interesting outing a couple of nights ago. I started off with my ole faithful white Hogy. Fish were around as they were whirling it and following it, but they were not interested in taking it. Under those situations I usually will change the color or change the size or do both. I made those corrections and still, no cigar. So, I made a complete change, going with a Zoom fluke fished on top. I did not opt for the float and Zoom fluke because of the calm conditions. In those conditions, the float usually has a spooking effect on finicky fish. I used no weight....just the large Zoom fluke mounted on a swimbait hook, and I proceeded to fish it like a Hogy with lots of slight twitches of the rod tip. It was immediate success as I started hooking up fish after fish. The tally for the evening was 9 stripers which included 1 keeper (see photo). Sometimes when the stripers are fussy, it's a good move to switch to something smaller that has a different profile and movement than skinny plastic. In this case, the Zoom fluke did the trick.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Where are the Menhaden?

There are a few, small scattered schools of menhaden, or pogies, around the mid Bay, but no large numbers of them. There is also a lack of large stripers in the Bay since the two seem to go together at this time of year. There is also a noticeable lack of boating activity in the Bay as I am guessing most boaters are sitting on the sidelines waiting for the menhaden and large stripers to arrive. With the price of gas through the roof, most boat fishermen probably figure it is not worth the cost of fuel to get out there to plug for the 20-30 inch stripers that make up the bulk of the fish in the Bay right now. It is very late in the spring to be without large numbers of menhaden. Since we know the menhaden population is at a low level, I have to wonder if we are even going to see them at all this year in the Seekonk River and the Upper Bay.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cold, NE Winds Change the Patterns

May has been brutal thus far with lots of cold weather, rough water, rain and northeast winds. This weather has changed the patterns of fishing for this month. The high surf of the oceanfront has been silent for the most part with the coastal ponds as well as the Bay offering far better fishing.

I am finding a lot of fish in "small" spots close to shore. These are places like outflows, sandbars, grassy dropoffs, etc. These are protected spots in which the nasty weather has little effect. I suspect the fish are grubbing along the bottom feeding on morsels of food like grass shrimp and worms. I have seen no bait around. In the past sandeels as well as bay anchovies have been around at this time, but I suspect the cold water has delayed that. There are also no big numbers of large menhaden around. I know that there have been a few small pods roaming the mid Bay, but no big numbers which is also unusual for this time of year. I suppose their presence is never a guarantee. We all know their numbers are in steep decline.

My best producers for May have been plastics on jigheads (Zoom flukes in albino color) as well as Hogys (white is best in 6 or 7 inch....see photo). My friend, Dennis, is really banging them on a rainbow trout colored 7 1/2 inch Slug-Go. Fish these plastics with no weight and a single hook up front.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

May Strategy...Move Around and Find 'Em

I move around a lot in May and it often leads to a lot of fish. I often have several spots in mind to fish on my way to the Bay, and if one doesn't work out I move onto another. I rarely stay in one spot more than a half hour when I feel the tide and wind conditions are just right and I'm catching nothing. The fish tend to move around in schools at this time of year so it is often a matter of finding them.

Of course, you need to be using the right stuff. It's not all that complicated at this time. In the Bay, the choices of effective artificials are few. I like to carry a bunch of Zoom flukes and small jigheads, a couple of small poppers and a bunch of Hogys of various sizes. I will also carry a couple of floats. That will cover most of my fishing situations.

Last night I went down to the Bay. I was going to fish an area where there were several specific key spots to fish. Got nothing in an hour and a half of casting. I finally made a decision to leave this area, get in my car and travel to another location. The move paid off as I found a load of fish. I landed 15 schoolies in just 40 minutes using a Zoom fluke on a half ounce jighead. It's a good example of how moving around really pays off at this time of year.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hogys Hot Right Now

I have landed keeper bass along with a bunch of schoolies on my last four outings fishing from shore in Narragansett Bay. Skinny plastic stickbaits are my hottest baits to use right now. I am using only Hogy baits. I especially like the 6 and 9 inch skinny Hogys along with the original 7 inch ones. There are two ways I am fishing them. The 6-inch skinny is fished off a float. Connect up about three feet of heavy mono to your float and tie on the lure. That float gives me a long cast even into the wind. I will cast it way out and twitch it along on the surface, moving the rod tip as I reel slowly. The 7 and 9 inch models are heavy enough to be cast on their own and retrieved by vigorously moving the rod tip while reeling slowly. I am using only Hogy swimbait hooks these days that have that baitkeeper screw type device up front. The best color this week has been a bone or white color. I suspect the white works well because the fish are basically hitting in daylight. Once they switch over to nighttime feeding, the black will shine.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Float 'n' Plastic

I got my biggest fish of the new season this evening using an ole trick that worked wonders for me last year. I was using a wooden float (as in the float and jig rig), and at lure end via three feet of mono I was using a large Zoom fluke. These large, 4 inch Zoom flukes are deadly on top but how does one cast such a light offering? Enter the float. The float delivers the offering way out and the rig is simply twitched along as you reel slowly. I also used a small white Hogy on the same set up and that caught fish too (see pics). One other note here....I am now using the Hogy swimbait hooks on all my plastics that are fished on top. The swimbait hooks offer a more durable hook up and they extend the lives of your plastics. If you haven't tried them yet, I guarantee you'll be hooked on them when you do.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Keepers Now Hitting

Yes, the fish are getting larger. I landed my first keeper of May today (sorry, no picture) while fishing a mid day dropping tide in Narragansett Bay. The fish went just 28 inches. I had many other nice fish also in the 20-27 inch range. Got them all on Zoom flukes mounted onto jigheads. I'm getting reports of small keepers in the 28-30 inch range being landed throughout the Bay as May fishing is heating up. Strangely, there are also occasional decent sized bluefish in the mix.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Fish Spreading Out

I hit the Upper Bay today and tried a number of spots in different locations. I caught fish in every spot I fished. It tells me that the fish are now spread out throughout the Bay, and they can be caught just about anywhere. The fish I caught today were also decent size with many of the schoolies running 24-25 inches. I got no small ones. As usual, the hot lure was an albino, fork tailed, Zoom fluke mounted onto a small jighead. You want to cast this lure out, let it sink and reel in while bouncing the rod tip. Many of the hits seem to come as the lure is dropping down after the bump upward. Looks like a big schoolie weekend is coming as the fish are now around in good numbers in 'Gansett Bay as well as along the oceanfront.

Monday, May 2, 2011

No Surprise.....April Numbers Way Down

It should come as no surprise that the number of April schoolies was way down compared to the last five years. Management experts have been saying all along that the numbers of schoolies is off about 60% compared to five years ago. And, I believe they are right on target with that assessment. I looked back on my logs and found that in 2007 I landed exactly 177 schoolies in April. This year I landed 82. I fished about the same number of days. Guess what....that is about a 60 % drop.

While many fishermen might think that catching 82 schoolies in one month is a big number, it is not. Back six to ten years ago in the heyday of the comeback, I was averaging 300 fish in the month of April. Thirty and forty fish days were not uncommon. So, times have changed. Get used to it.