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.