Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: Year of the ALBIE

There were lots of highlights from this year's saltwater fishing, a good year overall.  Striper fishing was great at times, though inconsistent at other times.  Blues were on the rampage on some fall days yet disappeared on other days.  But, in my experience the biggest thrills of the year were provided by false albacore, better known as albies.  From early September right into late October, albie fever gripped most RI fishermen.  Many daytime fishermen became hooked, or should I say obsessed, with chasing and catching these hard fighting, prized gamesters. These fish, hard to find and catch in normal years, were around in astounding numbers at times.  And, they were all over the place whether you fished from a boat or from shore. For sure, many many fishermen caught their first albies.   Fishermen were chasing them along the shores of Jamestown and Newport, the Gansett shoreline ran hot, they were along the south county beaches and breachways and they were tearing up the bait along the far south shoreline in Westerly. At times, they seemed to be everywhere.  In the over fifty years I have been fishing the ocean I have never seen albie fishing this good, not even close. In my best outing from the boat while fishing with my brother Steve and my son Ben, we landed over 50 albies.  From shore my best outing happened while fishing with my friend Dennis and Ben.  That day we had over 60 albies. In other years a good day would have been a couple of fish!  So, 2012 will go down in fishing history here in RI as the best year we have ever seen for false albacore.  Hmm, can history repeat itself in 2013?  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

No Shortage of Stripers in 2012

Before the season began I would have guessed that we were heading for a lean season as far as striper fishing was concerned here in RI.  After all, the young of the year indexes from the Chesapeake Bay, those seining surveys that count juvenile stripers had been poor for the last five years (with the exception of 2011).  That predictor of future abundance would lead one to believe that schoolies would be in short supply.  They weren't!
In fact I would have to say that 2012 was my best year in at least 5 or 6 years.  There were good numbers of schoolies around, and these include all sizes from tiny ones of 12 inches up to hefty ones of 24+ inches.  In addition, there were very good numbers of keepers around, especially those keepers in the 28-38 inch range. It was a year in which a newcomer could go out, start casting and come away with a big fish as his first keeper (see photo at right). There were so many fish around that this fall alone I landed more stripers than I caught the whole year in 2011. Let me emphasize, once again, that most fishermen quit too early.
This abundance came as we basically lost the summer fishing in 2012 due to excessively warm water.  You can cross out the months of July and August, miserable fishing months along the inshore shorelines.  However, winter, spring and fall proved to be real good and more than made up for a bad summer of fishing.
So, why such abundance here in RI?  It sort of reminds me of the days when the moratoriums were in effect in the 1980's.  Back then, we also had good numbers of stripers around, especially schoolies.  We know that many of our stripers come from the Chesapeake Bay where the numbers are monitored closely.  We also know we get a lot of fish from the Hudson River where we know little about their numbers and their abundance.  I suspect more of our fish than we know are coming from the Hudson.
So,  for whatever reason, 2012 goes down as a very good year for stripers here in RI.  Let's hope it continues in 2013.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Most Fishermen Quit Too Early

The lesson to be learned from this fall is that most fishermen quit way too early.  Fish are still being caught in good numbers all over the place here in RI in both the Bay and along the oceanfront.  Yet, there are few fishermen out trying.  I think it's a traditional and psychological thing....the calendar hits Thanksgiving and everyone packs it in.  But, our weather patterns are changing and our warmer weather has greatly affected the striper migrations.  The spring starts far earlier and the fall extends far later than in past years.  As I write this it is 50 degrees outside and it is well after dark, and water temperatures around the state are in the mid to upper 40's, still warm enough to keep the fish active.
I have been out fishing every day since Thanksgiving.  While I can tell you that the vast majority of late season fish that I've been catching are schoolies, some surprise keepers are around.  In the last couple of weeks, I did land a few keepers in the 28-33 inch range and I know of other people catching them.  It's that time of the year where one cast will yield a 20 inch schoolie and the next cast will get you a keeper. You just never know what's going to happen at this time of year.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Review of Shimano Spheros 4000 FB reel

I needed a new “light tackle” reel to fish in the Bay this fall. So, I began to research spinning reels to find the best one out there for the money. If you read a lot of reel reviews, you will discover that the Shimano Spheros gets superlative reviews from just about every fisherman who’s ever bought one. In fact, many of the guides down south are using this reel because of its durability and reliability. So, based on those reviews, I bought one from Cabelas. The model I bought is a 4000FB that weighs about 12 oz. It sells for a little over $100 which makes it a moderately priced reel. I have been using this reel for the last three months and have caught hundreds of fish with it including many keeper bass. Here is what I think of it.

It is one of the smoothest reels I have ever owned and feels like silk on the retrieve. The drag is also one of the best out there that I have ever used. In fact, the drag is far smoother than my Van Staal 150 which sells for six times as much! I also like the fact that there is no anti reverse lever like you find on some of the old Penn reels. This has a built in anti reverse bearing so the reel only turns one way. The line lays on real well on the spool on the retrieve, something Shimano calls a propulsion line management system. Whatever it is called it works, and line twist seems to be non-existent. On slightly negative note, I find I have to spray the moving parts where the bail connects to the reel with WD 40 after a few outings as the bail will tend to lazily flip if it is not lubricated often. I guess that is part of normal maintenance. Note that I am usually fishing dry areas with this reel and it has gotten little splash so I have no idea how it would hold up to that abuse. I will tell you that my pricey Van Staal can really take a beating of salt spray and still performs well. So, if you are looking to buy a good reel at a moderate price this winter or you are looking for a Christmas gift, the Spheros is a winner. On a star rating, I would give it a 4.5 out of 5. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Fishing and Outdoor Show Coming to Worcester

I know many of you have come to the very popular "Worcester Show" in the past.  Last year that show was run by the ASA (American Sportfishing Association).  They are no longer doing the show.  However, a new group called Davis Productions has taken over.  The show is now called the New England Fishing and Outdoor Expo. It is coming to the DCU Center in Worcester, MA from Feb. 8-10.  The planning for the show has been in the works for many months now and it appears that this show will be as good as any out there.  It will feature fishing (freshwater and saltwater), hunting and just about anything else related to the outdoors.  They have put together and impressive list of seminars and speakers.  The ole show favorites like the stocked Trout Pond and the Birds of Prey will be back.  And, they already have a long list of exhibitors who have committed to the show.  It looks like a great time and a chance to escape the winter doldrums.
I will be at the show doing seminars on striper fishing and carp fishing on Saturday and Sunday.  For more information about the show, see

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Do You Cook Your Catch?

If so, you might be interested in a new cookbook that just came out from the On the Water Bookstore,
The book, titled Cooking the Catch, Vol. 2 was written by Dave "Pops" Masch who writes a popular monthly column in On the Water magazine. Pops shares recipes for each month of the year.  He explains the means to catch, cook, clean,and eat the bounty we enjoy here in the northeast. I was reading through some of the recipes and my mouth was watering just thinking about trying some.  This book would make a great Christmas gift for anyone who likes to cook seafood.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Unexpectedly Good

This is the time of year where you just never know what to expect. Most fishermen have given up on the oceanfront as there has been almost no one fishing all week. I reported that the fishing was dying out over a week ago, but I was wrong.  Earlier in the week my son Ben called me from the oceanfront.  He was out fishing and tried all the usual late fall hotspots with no success.  He asked if I had any suggestions where he might find some fish.  I told him a story about what happened to me about 20 years ago.  At the time, late November, the fishing had been pretty much dead for a week and everyone gave up, but I decided to go try anyway.  I went on a whim to a location off the beaten path where no one fishes in late fall.  And, yes, I found fish, tons of them.  I told him to try that spot.  Two hours later he called back reporting he caught a good number of stripers.  They were all schoolies but some were near keeper size.  I went down the next day to the same location and on my third cast a keeper grabbed my shrimp fly teaser.  I got quite a few more schoolies that evening.
So, you just never know at this time of year.  Just when you think the fishing is dying out a pod of fish comes through, and it can be hot for a day or two. It will continue like this for the next couple of weeks along the oceanfront.  You have to just get out and give it a try.  My suggestion is to move around a lot and look at different spots.  Schoolies will be the fish that are most abundant and they will readily take single hooked jigs (Cocahoes on jigheads or small bucktails) that will cause little or no damage to the fish.  However, don't be surprised if you hook a keeper or a large bluefish in the mix.  It can happen at this time of year.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Disgruntled Reader Offensive and Way Off Base

My blog reaches thousands of fishermen a week.  Most are appreciative of the information I post about techniques, reports, spots, trends, lures, etc. I meet hundreds of fishermen a year who thank me for the information I post. However, every once in a while, someone who doesn't like what I write comes along and wants to spew false information.  I got an e-mail from one of those guys this week.  Here it is:

I find that your tips and info on catching 12" striped bass to be irresponsible - if not pathetic. A person in your position shouldn't be exhorting the taking of these baby fish. These fish are easily damaged and should be left alone to go on their journey down south. It miffs me as to how someone over the age of 13 could enjoy catching 50-100 baby fish and then telling 100's or 1000's of others how to do the same. Even if you enjoy the challenge, you should have a bit more respect for these juvenile fish that are easily injured. I see from your own pictures that they are usually torn up in the mouth - and who knows what other harm you have done to them.

Please start respecting these fish and leave the the hell alone. If not, then please try not to influence others as they may not be as careful as you or I as far as release. Although after reading the SOL RI forum, it seems you aren't very careful afterall as you have been seen dragging fish up on the rocks. With all due respect - grow up.

Well,  let me respond.  I am not "taking" baby stripers.  When I cast my lure out, I am hoping for a big one also, but sometimes, small ones are what you have in front of you. With light tackle, they can be sporty to catch AND release. It's part of fishing and you see many of the best fishermen in the state out there fishing for schoolies and releasing them in spring and fall. Highly respected magazines run articles on schoolie fishing.  You are lecturing a guy who released EVERYTHING this year including countless keepers.  I haven't kept one striper.   I also go to great pains to try to minimise damage to the fish.  I often use single hooks, crush the barbs on trebles, and try to handle them with care.  You are way off base and don't know me if you think I don't treat them with respect.  I don't know where the "dragging fish up the rocks" came from, but that also is totally false.  Yes, sometimes when you are fishing high rock perches that happens, but once again, most experienced fishermen try to minimise that rough treatment as I do. Finally, I find your "grow up" comment to be highly offensive and unwarranted.  You are lecturing a guy who is 62 years old and has been fishing all his life and has made a lifelong commitment to conservation in my writings and in my actions. I've released over 50,000 stripers in my career with fish that reached all the way to 50 lbs. Very few fishermen out there will unhook a 50 lber., revive it, and watch it swim away.
Your e-mail was way, way off base and highly offensive.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Nearing the END

The first of ten schoolies landed today. 
Sad to say but the fishing along the oceanfront is coming to an end.  I went to the ocean today, and it just looked dead.  There were few fishermen around which is always a bad sign.  Except for a gannet here and there diving way out, I saw no evidence of any bait and the water was unusually rough and sandy in spots.  I fished that area from Matunuck to Charlestown, a real good stretch of shoreline at this time of year.  After four hours of fishing, it looked like I was going to blank and finally I got my first schoolie (see pic) at 3:30 in the afternoon.  Quickly, I landed 9 more in one particular spot on Cocahoes and teasers right before dark.  These were all very small fish running 12-15 inches.  These small ones are yet another sign that things are coming to an end.
So, I suspect there will be no grand finale this season.  I don't think the herring runs will develop and I think we have seen the last of the keeper bass and bluefish. This schoolie fishing could extend another few days, maybe a week or so. You might even stumble upon a real good schoolie day in the next week if you put in a lot of time and effort.
I've decided my strategy is to start hitting the winter spots that have holdover fish.  I suspect those places will start producing soon if they haven't already.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Anyone Lose This

Found in a south shore parking area yesterday....soft fly wallet with flies and teasers. Initials on the front "TPC".  Contact me by e-mail  if this is yours.
Update: The owner has been found!  I guess just about every fisherman in RI reads this blog!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hot, Cold and In Between

I've been fishing along the oceanfront at the south shore for the last three days and I've had hot fishing, cold fishing and in between fishing.  On Saturday, schoolie fishing was as hot as it could be as my son Ben and I landed in excess of a hundred fish.  We went back to the same spot yesterday with about the same conditions, and our total for the day was three hickory shad and no stripers.  I went back today with my son Matt (see photo of Matt landing a double header).  We landed about 25 schoolies in the first 45 minutes we were there and then, poof, nothing.  Welcome to late fall fishing.  Yes, it can be a hit and miss deal.  That's why I preach that you need to move around to find the fish.  Yesterday and today we did try multiple spots with limited success.  Hey, fishing is not always great, but it sure was a beautiful weekend to get out and fish and spending the day with my sons fishing was great.

Four observations about this weekend's fishing.  I saw only one bluefish caught in three days.  Hard to believe, but they are not around.  Secondly, I saw and heard of no keeper bass caught in the last three days. Thirdly, most guys are using big plugs and catching nothing.  Cocahoes on jigheads (see photo) are slaying the schoolies which are feeding on small bait.  And lastly. rumors are swirling around about herring, but I have seen none which explains the lack of bluefish and keeper bass.  I will tell you, though, I did see about a dozen gannets flying in a flock today and hitting the water way out.  Maybe herring, maybe not.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Huge Numbers of Schoolies, Hickory Shad Invade Oceanfront

It was simply a glut of fish today.  I hit the south shore checking around different spots and fishing.  I can tell you that access and parking has greatly improved all over.  The fishing has also greatly improved as tons of schoolies as well as hickory shad are roaming various south shore beaches in search of schools of silversides that they are moving along the shoreline. I fished with my son Ben and his friend Harry, and we had a combined "over a hundred" schoolies with another forty or fifty hickory shad in the mix.  We were doing real well using a four inch white Cocahoe minnow on a half ounce jighead.  This was fished ahead of a shrimp fly teaser that dangled off our leader.  About half the fish took the Cocahoe and half took the teaser.  We had a lot of double headers (see photo).  The stripers were all schoolies, running 14-23 inches.  I saw lots of other fish caught.  There were no keeper bass and surprisingly, no bluefish.  I saw no gannets around today and no one reports seeing any big bait around (herring or menhaden) which explains the lack of keeper bass.
I am pleased to report that Charlestown Beach Rd. is now open to the breachway lot. It had been closed almost all week. The breachway lot has been all cleared of sand and 15 ft. high mounds of sand encircle the parking area.  Whoever cleared this lot and the road going in did a good job. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Next Week Should be Hot

I expect the next week to offer some of the best fishing of the fall along the RI shoreline.  That's the way it has played out the last few years and I see no reason why it won't happen again this year.  The storms are past us, the water has cleared and the forecast calls for tranquil seas, light winds and relatively storm free weather ahead of us.  People are seeing gannets all over the place along the oceanfront, an indication that big bait (ocean herring, maybe) is around. It has all the makings of a great week of fishing on the way.
I can tell you that today was a very good day of fishing, and hopefully this is a sign of things to come.  I was up in the Bay in the afternoon and evening just banging one schoolie after another.  At the same time, my son, Ben was at the oceanfront sitting on a glut of fish.  He reports catching over 50 schoolies as feeding fish were busting all around him all afternoon.  He was the only guy out fishing. 
So, it's back in business, and I am not surprised.  That is the way it is supposed to be at this time of year.  Hopefully, the access and parking issues have cleared up along the south shore.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Catching in the Rain, Snow and Ice

Zoom flukes on jigheads hot today.
Yes, that is ice and snow under my fish!
One great thing about RI is that you can always find stripers somewhere regardless of the time of year or the weather. Let's call today's outing a preview of winter fishing.  Yes, I did fish in the last two miserable days and I did catch some schoolies.  I was in a protected area in the upper Bay and I was moving around a lot, and the fish were there.  All the schoolies I landed were small, generally 15-18 inches, but very feisty.  They were all taken on albino Zoom flukes mounted on a half ounce jighead (see photo at right)  and fished with light tackle.  I'll be concentrating my efforts in the upper Bay in the next couple of days waiting for the oceanfront to calm down and clean up.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Game Over Unless Access and Parking Improve

Lot at Matunuck filled with sand.  Untouched by state.
Galilee parking lot closed yesterday but perfectly clear.
As of right now, don't waste your time and gas heading to the south shore to fish.  You'll be very frustrated with closed roads, access and parking problems, all of which have not been straightened out since the hurricane.  It's been a very slow response to get the beachfront parking areas open.  Much of it is due to incompetence and ineptitude on the state's part I believe.  For instance, some of the parking lots are still closed though they are completely clear.  This was the case with Galilee.  It was perfectly clean yesterday, though closed off with cones and caution tape.  Near the beach a few guys were shoveling sand off the stairs.  So, why the need to close the entire state parking lot?  At East Matunuck State Beach, crews were also working.  The road in was clear and half the parking lot was clear, so why was it all closed off.  Duh, open up the area that is clean and then clear the rest.  As for Charlestown, I called the police there today.  They said Charlestown Beach Road was open but they warned, "you will probably get a flat due to all the debris in the road." Well, get someone out there and clear the dam road!  They didn't know if the breachway state parking area was clear. And, at Matunuck, the state lot at Deep Hole was basically impassible due to sand unless you have a 4x4 vehicle.  This is a small lot that could be easily cleared in an hour with a bulldozer or plowing truck.  Yet, it is not getting done.  So, if you can't park and can't find a way to get into these areas along the south shore, you certainly can't fish.  It's game over unless things improve mighty quickly.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Report from Oceanfront

I went down and fished the oceanfront all day today and really moved around checking a lot of spots.  My overall impression was this. There are very few fish around and access remains poor. Now, for a rundown of where I fished. 
The East Wall is a mess in spots.

One of three schoolies landed at Galilee.
My first stop was along Gansett where I wanted to fish the Seawall.  Nothing doing.   The damaged sidewalk along the wall was closed and off limits.  Next stop was the East Wall at Pt. Judith.  The parking lot was a mess with big rocks, holes and sand all over the place.  I did manage to park on the main road going in and was able to get onto the wall which was a mess in places.  No luck there.  My next stop was Galilee.  I had to park along the main road since the parking lot was closed off.  I don't know why since it was all cleared of sand.  I did manage to catch three schoolies off the Short Wall on bucktail jigs, my highlight of the day.  Next stop was Matunuck.  I parked in one little spot at Deep Hole, though that parking lot overall was a mess.  I fished the whole Matunuck shore and caught nothing.  I tried to get into South Kingstown Beach but that parking lot was closed also.  Next stop was East Matunuck and the West Wall.  You guessed it.....the East Matunuck lot was closed off, but I was able to park along the road down by the state pier.  I fished the West Wall and the Galilee Channel and caught nothing.  My last stop in the daytime was back to Narragansett Beach.  I was able to park in a private lot and walk down the beach to Narrow River.  I caught nothing.  I was hoping to fish Charlestown also today, but got the word that the road to the breachway was closed.

So, I fished the whole day and got three schoolies, but, hey, that was three more fish than I saw anyone else catch.  I saw no bait around and very few other people fishing.  I did spot a few gannets diving way out so that's a good sign I guess. The water all over was clean and fishable, but there was very little around.  Parking was a real disappointment and clearly the state is dragging its heals to get this cleared up. With another big storm forecast for tomorrow, things are not looking good.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Check Out These Latest Articles

Two of my feature articles on fall fishing have hit the newsstands this week.  South County Herring Blitzes appears in this month's issue (Nov./Dec, 2012) of On the Water magazine.  This article tells you all you need to know about fishing the south shore of RI for large stripers and bluefish at the end of the season in November.  It focuses on chasing the herring (ocean and blueback) runs that usually materialize close to shore in November.  The story deals with tactics, spots and the best plugs to use to catch a late fall trophy. On the Water magazines are sold at many tackle stores or you can find information online at The other story that came out this week is called Adjustments for Late Fall Success In The Surf.  This article appears in this week's issue (No.44, Nov.1, 2012) of The Fisherman magazine.  This article deals with adjusting shore tactics in late fall to fish for stripers and bluefish.  It focuses on a variety of tactics that might work  including targeting schoolies with small lures when small bait is around, fishing at night for large stripers, and fishing for stripers and blues when herring are around in the daytime.  The Fisherman magazine is sold in many tackle shops and you can access their website at Check out both stories if you are looking for ideas for late fall success.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bay Fishable; Oceanfront Remains a Mess

I am back to fishing saltwater.  I got out today and hit a number of places in upper Narragansett Bay, an area that received little damage from the hurricane.  The water in the Bay was clean in most places, though there was some debris like leaves, sticks and trash in the water.  Still, it was very fishable, and there were fish around.  I landed three schoolies in three different spots along with one snapper blue (see pics).  I got them all on bucktail jigs.  The fishing was not hot and heavy, but there were some fish around.  Most of the Bay north of the bridges should be fishable this weekend.

The oceanfront is another story.  The south shore remains a mess.  I had friends who went down to look around today and I am always getting updates from my sons.  The word is that access is a real problem and there are very few places to park.  For instance, Matunuck Beach Road is open but the parking lot at Deep Hole is under two feet of sand and impassible.  Same story with Succotash Rd. and the parking lot at East Matunuck State Beach. Ok, even if you could park, the water in most places is still unfishable.  It is full of mud, sand, weed and debris, making fishing along the oceanfront a waste of time. I think it will take upwards of 3 or 4 more days to clean up barring any storminess or rough water.  The first places to offer fishing will be the backwaters along the oceanfront.  Places like the salt ponds and the backs of the breachways on the outgoing water will be your best bets to find clean water and fish in the next few days. So, my suggestions for the weekend would be to fish the mid and upper Bay or the backwaters along the oceanfront.  These are not big fish areas and would be considered schoolie and hickory shad territory, but it's fishing. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Disaster Everywhere Along Oceanfront

Coast Guard House Restaurant in Gansett destoyed

My brother Steve went down to Narragansett and the south shore to check out the damage today.  He checked out many of the fishing areas.  Just about everywhere is either a mess or destroyed.  Many of the roads along the beaches are impassible due to sand, rocks, erosion and debris.  Police as well as the national guard are keeping everyone out and in most places you can't even get a look.

Succostach Rd., E. Matunuck, a mess and lots of damage.

Here is what he found in the areas he could get into:
*The East Wall, or Camp Cronin parking lot in Gansett is completely destroyed.  It is littered with huge rocks and almost completely eroded.  One ton rocks were just lifted into the lot as if they were pebbles. The sandy beach to the right of the wall is gone and only rocks remain.
*Ocean Rd. in Gansett is impassible.  The Coast Guard House Restaurant is heavily damaged.
*The road going into East Matunuck Beach is all sand and rocks.  It has been plowed and has only one car lane.  Many of the buildings, piers and businesses along the Galilee Channed in East Matunuk sustained heavy damage.
*The lawns from those million dollar homes along Hazard and Newton Ave. are full of debris from the hurricane waves which reached in that far.
* The road going into Charlestown Breachway was closed and being patrolled by the National Guard. The road has been destroyed and homes damaged.  I suspect the camping area and lot is destroyed.
* Matunuck is a mess.  The road was flooded and several homes were lost along there. The road has along the beach has been closed.

So, if you think you are going to get down there to fish anytime in the near future, think again.  It could be weeks before the oceanfront gets somewhat back to normal.  And, by the way, the waves were still huge today.

Parking lot, Camp Cronin or East Wall, destroyed and eroded.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Yes, I Was Out Fishing During the Hurricane!

Yes, I was out fishing today, but it was not for stripers.  Fishing anywhere along saltwater today was simply impossible today due to the enormous surf, high tides, wild winds and closed roads. As most of you know, I have made a career out of fishing in nasty weather in both saltwater and freshwater. So, when I knew we were in for a real bad day with hurricane winds and driving rain, I just had to get out fishing. And, the best bet today would be to fish for carp in a protected spot in freshwater. The three largest carp I have ever caught (36 lbs., 36 lbs. 8 oz and 40 lbs. 8 oz) were all taken on stormy and nasty days that were similar, though not as severe as this. I will tell you that carp just love this weather and usually go on a feeding binge during these events. It was last year during a big storm that I landed the biggest freshwater fish ever taken in RI waters, a 36 lb. common carp.
Today I was in a very safe spot to fish away from blowing trees and debris as safety is always a concern on these types of days. In fact, the wind was at my back and I had a great view of the storm while watching my rods. The rain was coming down horizontally in sheets and the wind was blowing the trees in the distance sideways as branches were coming down.
And, yes, the carp were hitting as I expected they would. The first fish I landed was a 12 lb. common. Next, was a 20 lb. common (see pic at top right). Next fish was the surprise of the fall for me. It was a large mirror koi (see pic) that was a bright red with black spots all over it. It was a rare gorgeous fish, and this fish was only the second koi I have ever landed! Finally, the day ended with a 21 lb. common (see pic at lower right). All the fish fell for pineapple flavored Pescaviva fished on a hair rigged hook and fished ahead of an oatmeal based method ball.
With fully charged seas and rough and nasty weather expected for the next few days, I will keep my attention geared to freshwater where I know I can fish. It might be upwards of a week before the ocean clears up and striper fishing resumes. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hurricane Would Deal Major Blow to Fishing

It seems like a nasty weather event is going to happen late this weekend or early next week.  If we are lucky, it will just be a northeaster.  However, a hurricane or even hurricane waves would deal a severe blow to our fall fishing.  I was just looking at the long range NOAA forecast at  They are calling for increasing waves and wind this weekend with the big blow coming early next week. The coastal forecast is calling for seas up to 18 feet on Tuesday and Wednesday with stormy conditions.  YIKES.  Problem here is that this comes at a time when a lot of fish, baitfish as well as predators, are migrating along our shores. In the past large storms in late October/early November have really messed up the fishing, sometimes killing it for the season. I don't think that will happen this year because it is too early in the fall.  Realize, too, what 18 foot hurricane waves will do.  They will bring sand, silt, debris and weed along with coastal erosion.  Such conditions often take upwards of a week to clear up.  Losing a week of fishing at this time would really hurt since we maybe have only four to five weeks left.  So, let's hope for the best and hope this storm tracks way, way out and leaves us alone.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Daytime Action Slows at Oceanfront; Nighttime Produces

I had been getting a lot of schoolies in the upper Bay in the daytime, but yesterday I was looking for something bigger.  I had a lot of time so I decided to get back to fishing the oceanfront.  I slugged it out there for several hours in the afternoon hitting at least 6 different spots.  It was incredibly dead.  There was no bait, no bird action and few fishermen.  The few fishermen looking around reported that fishing has been poor since last week's big blow.
Things perked up for me after dark.  In one location, I had a lone fish, but it was a keeper of 28-29 inches (see photo).  I got it on a Daiwa Salt Pro Minnow.  It was my only hit, but I was satisfied.  I then moved to a quiet backwater spot and found a bunch of schoolies even though none were breaking as there was no bait around. They were just hugging the bottom.  These were all small fish in the 12-18 inch range but they were quite feisty on light tackle.  A small bucktail jig was catching most of them (see photo).
 Realize, the fishing along the oceanfront has slowed considerably in the daytime due to the sudden lack of bait.  The big schools of bay anchovies are gone. They often disappear at this time of year.  The mullet seem to be gone as they, too, disappear at this time. The albies are also gone as they are mainly a September/early Oct. fish.  Everyone seems to be expecting the herring to arrive soon like they did last year bringing large stripers and big blues, but I can tell you that is no sure bet. So, we are in a lull right now.  We are still over a month away was from the end of the season, but it's a matter of waiting for more bait and migrating fish to arrive.   

Friday, October 19, 2012

Big Waves, Stormy Conditions Shut Down Oceanfront

I've always said there is a fine line between conditions that are just right and conditions that are too rough and dangerous.  Well, we have crossed over to the rough and  dangerous as big waves are battering the coast making fishing impossible.  It has caused our good fishing to die in the last two days along the oceanfront.  On Thursday, there were tropical storm waves hitting the shore from a storm way out at sea.  According to one of my friends, he was watching in awe as waves were going right over the East Wall at Pt. Judith.  Today, we had a southeast wind battering the shoreline with gusts over thirty knots, making for near impossible conditions to fish.  Strong winds with small craft advisories are predicted for tomorrow.
For anyone who wants to fish this weekend, here's your best bet.  Along the oceanfront, concentrate on the backwaters.  I'm talking the backs of the breachways and the coastal ponds.  These are places that will be fishable, especially on the outgoing water though there might be sand in the water.  Note that these spots are not great for large fish and play host to mostly schoolies, small keepers and hickory shad.  Another option would be to fish the Bay, especially in mid and upper Bay locations.  I've been catching good numbers of schoolies all week long in the Bay (see pic of fish I landed on Thurs.).  Just about all of it is fishable even in stormy weather, but once again, the Bay from shore is generally schoolie territory at this time of year.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


In the past week, my two sons and I have landed over 200 schoolies.  Jon and Ben caught most of their fish in Narragansett.  I have taken about half my fish in Gansett and the other half of them in the Upper Bay.  We are catching them in the daytime as well as after dark. Most are falling for some type of jig (Cocahoe on jighead or bucktail jig).  Meanwhile, other fishermen are calling me to report they are getting schoolies in spots along the mid Bay. Still others are reporting hot action along the far south shore beaches.  You can surmise schoolies are just about everywhere that bait exists.  And, they are around in huge numbers.
I don't know where all these fish are coming from.  Up until this fall it had been a fair to poor year for schoolies. The spring run was short lived and summer fishing was poor.  With that young-of-the-year index being low for the last five years, everyone was saying this would be a lean year for schoolies.  It has been the complete opposite this fall.
While these schoolies are great fun on light tackle, I would like to tangle with a big fish once in a while.  That has not been happening in the last week, a time period that has been good for big fish in the past.   Of those 200 stripers we  landed in the last week, only one fish was a keeper and that seemed to be an oddball in a pile of schoolies.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Plan B

Whenever I go striper fishing, I ALWAYS have a back-up plan just in case my spots are not producing.  I like to hit an area in which I can fish several locations, ideally hitting each spot on the prime tide for that spot.  As many of you know, I like to fish the Narragansett area a lot at this time of year.  The spots there are so close together that I can hit many locations in a few hours of fishing.  I never remain in one spot if the fish are not there.  Usually half an hour of casting will tell me if anything is around.  In addition to hitting many spots in an area, I also have a completely different game plan in my mind if the area is not producing.
Today, for example, Gansett was birds, no bait, no fish.  I tried multiple locations and was able to catch just two schoolies in some white water.  These were the only fish I saw caught in the Gansett area in five hours.  Time for Plan B.  I decided to completely ditch Gansett and head for the Bay on my way home.  Good move since I ended up catching 17 schoolies in a couple of hours there (see photo of fish at right). I can't tell you how many times Plan B has delivered fish for me this fall. 
So, my advice to novice striper fishermen is to have a plan before you head out, plan to hit multiple spots in a certain area and  have a back-up plan in a completely different area if things don't work out. You'll probably burn some gas, but it more than likely will lead to fish.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Schoolies, Small Blues Dominate Fishing Scene

I have been out fishing every day this week and have noticed a quite change in what is going on.  Schoolies and small blues are now dominating the RI fishing scene from shore and seem to be in tight pockets where there is bait. The large schools of bay anchovies that were everywhere a few weeks ago seem to be gone.  There are now small pods of them here and there that are still attracting these good numbers of schoolies and blues.  The numbers of false albacore have fallen off big time.  I have seen a few individual fish breaking way out, but there have been no numbers in recent days along the Narragansett shoreline and no fish caught from shore to my knowledge.  Traditionally, albies tend to leave in mid to late October.  The larger stripers are also not around like they were a couple of weeks ago.  In the last three days of fishing I have landed exactly 87 stripers but only one fish was a keeper (see photo at left) and that good size fish was a loner mixed in with a pile of schoolies. My son Ben who has been hammering keepers this fall has landed 40 stripers in the last two outings and not one fish was a keeper.  Note that both of us have been fishing some very high percentage  "big fish" spots and putting in some time after dark. Still, it's almost all schoolies.
My son Matt and I hit the south shore on Monday and we found small schools of marauding bluefish moving up and down the beaches.  We landed about a dozen fish on bucktail jigs. Many of the reports from this week are also reporting schools of blues in the 2-5 lb. range along the south shore beaches.  Without the big bait (herring or menhaden) it is unlikely we  will see an abundance of big bass or large bluefish.  Herring traditionally migrate along the south shore in early to mid November. Large menhaden and peanut bunker are have been in short supply in recent years.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Large Numbers of Schoolies in Nasty Weather

We are catching some big numbers of schoolies in this rough and nasty rainy weather of the last two days.  Yesterday my son Ben fished the oceanfront in very rough conditions.  After trying several spots, he found a place in which the stripers had bay anchovies corralled in a cove.  He told me he had a fish on just about every cast using a Cocahoe on a jighead.  After an hour or so, he landed 35 schoolies. Most of these fish were in the 20-25 inch range with no keepers.  Surprisingly, there were no blues or albies. Today, I stayed in the upper Bay.  I also checked several spots and finally I found a load of fish feeding on small bait.  My catch for the afternoon was 22 schoolies.  I got them all on 3/8 oz. flathead bucktail jigs with curly tails.  Unlike yesterday, they would not take a surface plug today. Most of my fish today were in the 15-22 inch range (see photo).  They were fun to catch on the light tackle (small rod, small reel, 10 lb. test mono)  I was using.
So, suddenly there are a lot of schoolies around along both the Bay and the oceanfront.  Fishing continues to be very good, but you have to really look around to find the fish. They are concentrated in tight areas where there is a lot of bait.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Stripers Jump All Over Jumpin' Minnow

I fished the Upper Bay tonight for schoolies.  As I arrived at my spot, fish started busting all over for small bait.  I reached in my plug bag and pulled out a Rebel Jumpin' Minnow. The fish were all over this plug and I landed quite a few decent schoolies with it.  The Jumpin' Minnow is a plug I should be using more often. It is one of those skimmers like a Zara Spook that seems to dart and jump and swim back and forth across the surface with an erratic motion as you vigorously jerk the rod tip with small pulls.  It drives stripers crazy, and they will aggressively attack this artificial.  In the past I have had good luck with it in the Bay but I know a lot of fishermen who do well with it at the oceanfront where it will usually outfish a popper, especially when the fish are fussy and feeding on top.
As far as plugs go, this one is relatively inexpensive as it sells for about 5 bucks.  I like the 4 1/2 inch model in a bone (white) color.  I suggest beefing up the hooks since the hooks that it comes with are quite flimsy.  The plug is lightweight and is ideally suited to light tackle fishing. Try them and I think you will be surprised just how good they are!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bucktail Jig, My Ace in the Hole

Yesterday was another one of those days in which you could see a lot of fish, but you could not get them to hit. I saw lots of albies, stripers and bluefish.  Conditions were dead calm with little wind and clear water, a curse to begin with.  Add the fact that there were tons of small bait around and it made things even worse.  A lot of frustrated fishermen caught nothing.
I didn't kill the fish, but I did land some stripers (see photo at right) and bluefish, far more than I saw any other fisherman catch.  My key to success was a small 3/8 oz flathead, homemade bucktail jig spiced with a 3 inch Bass Pro triple ripple curly tail.  I can't tell you how many times this lure has saved the day for me, and it did again yesterday.
A small bucktail jig is a real good bet when small bait is around and fussy fish are feeding on them. Unlike other lures, the jig will get under the bait where the predators are lurking.  In addition, the bucktail jig is durable.  Yes, it will get you stripers AND bluefish.  A plastic on a jighead, so popular with fishermen these days, might also work, but the problem with plastic is that the bluefish will chop it immediately and the blues have a nasty habit of chopping the plastic right up to the hook.  Most always, they seem to avoid getting hooked while at the same time rendering the plastic worthless. 
Today, most fishermen don't even carry a bucktail jig in their bag.  These jigs are hard to find in tackle shops in small sizes so you almost have to make them yourself.  I guess plastics are more convenient and readily available.  Yet, I can tell you the bucktail jig remains a potent weapon with all the small bait around.  These days, just like years ago, the bucktail jig still remains one of the best lures you can use for stripers and bluefish.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

ALBIES....Still Around in BIG Numbers

Today my son Matt joined my brother Steve and I out in the boat.  Our main goal was chasing down albies, and we did that all day long.  We found big numbers of them from Galilee all the way to Narragansett.  But, seeing 'em is a lot different that catching 'em.  At times they were busting in wide areas the size of a football field, but they were super fussy and hard to catch as they were feasting on small bay anchovies.  In fact, of the 15 -20 boats we saw trying, we got the only fish that I saw caught today.  We landed a total of 9 good sized ones (all went close to the ten pound range).  All except one were taken on the float and blue Deceiver fly that has been described many times on this blog.  One fell for a float 'n' fluke.  I must say that most of those fishermen not catching anything were using the not so Deadly Dicks.  Hmm, maybe those guys should start reading this blog!

Albies usually stick around until mid to late October.  Maybe there are a couple of good weeks left.  Get them while you can because the action is still hot as this Year of the Albies here in RI  just continues to produce.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bay Back on Track; Oceanfront Remains HOT

The Bay is back.  After not fishing this area for over a month, I fished the Upper Bay today and came away with seven schoolies in various spots using small bucktail jigs (see photo at right).  My father fished this area yesterday and landed a dozen schoolies.  With water temperatures dropping in the Bay and lots of bait around, reports are filtering in about decent fishing for stripers as well as bluefish.
The oceanfront continues to run hot.  Everywhere you find bait, there are lots of fish, generally a mix of stripers, bluefish and albies.  However, you need to find the bait to find the fish.  Today, while I was catching schoolies in the Bay, my son, Ben called from the oceanfront to report some fantastic fishing he was into.  He excitedly told of a pile of keeper bass right in front of the rock he was standing on.  He could see dozens of big fish just tearing through schools of bay anchovies.  His score for the afternoon was eight keepers on small swimmers (see pic at left).
So, things are hot on two fronts heading into this long weekend. If you fish the Bay, hit a number of spots to find fish.  As far as the oceanfront, my advice is to ride around the oceanfront until you find the birds working and the bait. It's a guarantee you will find fish under the bait. It can happen anywhere from Narragansett to the Westerly beaches.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Beefing Up the Daiwa SP Minnow

You know what I think of the Daiwa Salt Pro Minnow from previous posts.  It is the best plastic swimmer out there to catch striped bass (see pic of big one I got last night at right).  However, realize it has its flaws.  The hooks and split rings are flimsy, or a better word would be junk.  Many fishermen, including myself, are finding that big stripers can bend the hooks and split rings.  There is a solution to this problem. I am beefing up all my Daiwa SP Minnows. 
Here's how it's done. Using split ring pliers, remove the original hardware. I then replace all the split rings with heavy duty 5.5H split rings (100 lb. test) from NJ Tackle ( ). Next, add a new set of hooks.  I am using VMC 4X trebles, size 1/0, that I also purchased from NJ Tackle.  That will do it.  Since I have changed the hardware on my plugs, no problem with bent hooks or split rings.
 I'm amazed that a big company like Daiwa did not realize their hardware was sub par on these plugs. Don't these guys test their products before putting them on the market? 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Seeing 'em Does Not Guarantee Catching 'em

Today was a humbling day.  I saw tons of fish breaking, mostly stripers feeding on big schools of bay anchovies that were about an inch long.  It's always tough when stripers are feeding on bait that small.  There is no artificial that can match bait that small and that numerous. Your offering becomes a needle in a haystack. To make matters worse, the ocean was flat with no wind and clear water, always tough conditions to fool finicky fish.  Yikes, I was lucky to catch the 4 schoolies that I did manage to fool in the daylight.  I saw at least 25 other frustrated fishermen trying every artificial lure known to man, and I don't think the whole bunch of them managed 20 fish.
My son, Ben, and I decided enough was enough and we packed it in and went looking for false albacore.  Yes, we found them.......lots of them.  For a solid hour we had a jump to cast to every single throw.  But, they would not hit either.  We each had a whirl on a float and fly and that was it.  There were at least 6 boats in front of us with frenzied fishermen casting away and the whole group of them got nothing.
But, my bad luck day took a turn for the better after dark.   Finally, well after dark, I was able to snare two 35 inch stripers (see photo) on a Daiwa Salt Pro Minnow, a plug that has become  my favorite go to lure after dark. These fish finally made my day.