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 year.....at 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 http://www.ricarpfishing.blogspot.com/

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.