Friday, March 30, 2012

NEWSFLASH....Big Numbers of Schoolies Arrive at Oceanfront

There has been a trickle of fish all week along the oceanfront.  But, the Mother Lode arrived today.  My son, Ben, gets the first big numbers of the season in the Pickering family as he fished the oceanfront today and came away with 25 schoolies.  He was not alone in the spot he was catching as about 100 schoolies were landed in just one place today by five lucky early season fishermen.  The hot ticket to catching them was using a Cocahoe on a jighead along with shrimp fly teasers.  In many instances Ben reports catching double and even triple headers using a double shrimp fly teaser rig with the jig.  These were all small fish under 20 inches, typical of early season migrating schoolies.  The oceanfront had ideal conditions today with a west wind and a bright sun to warm the water.  Unfortunately, the weather will head downhill this weekend with rain and northeast winds.  Those are not the best of conditions for early season schoolies, but who knows what will happen with this unpredictable start to the season.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Few Fish Caught But No Spring Run Yet; Freshwater Running Hot

The news certainly spreads when a few fish are caught along the south shore oceanfront of RI in March.  Yes, two schoolies were taken this week off a famous spring jetty, and there are rumors of a couple of more taken further south.  But, realize a few fish does not mean a spring run is in progress.  If I heard 20 or 30 were caught in one evening, that would be a different story.  My guess is that there are a few stripers that hang around the south shore all winter long.  We know some winter over in the ponds and rivers along the oceanfront and I suspect there is some movement of those fish along the shoreline.  These few fish that were caught could have been migrating fish, but maybe not. You will know when a spring run is in progress as a lot of fish will be caught.  I'm still sticking with the first or second week in April as the time that will happen.  It will be even later if the cooler weather returns (as it is supposed to this week).
Right now if you want to get out fishing, your best bet is freshwater.  I have had a week to remember in carp fishing here in RI and in nearby MA (check out reports on ).  I have also run into a lot of guys bass fishing in non trout stocked waters here in RI and they are also catching.  I know fishermen who are fishing in MA for trout where the waters are open with no closed season (great idea, maybe RI DEM will catch on) and they are catching big numbers of stocked trout.  So, lots of options out there if you want to fish.  As far as stripers....still too early in my mind.

Friday, March 23, 2012

No Stripers but Unexpected Catch

I tried a number of early season striper hotspots in the upper Bay yesterday.  These are spots that usually produce the first spring run fish.  I got in one location and casted my Zoom fluke on a jighead outward.  As I began reeling, bang, I felt what I thought was a hit and a fish.  But, my catch was coming in like an old tire, running little line.  I figured I had foul hooked a striper.  Nope, turns out my catch was a horseshoe crab that I snagged.  Can you believe this?  Horseshoe crabs around in March!  Usually I see the first ones in the Bay around the first week of May.  With Bay temperatures in the 60's (62 degrees today at Conimicut as reported by NOAA), there is strange stuff happening.  Still, I can't seem to find any new stripers, though I keep hearing about some holdovers being taken in the upper Bay and the backwaters of the south shore. From my end, it is still nothing doing.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

No Stripes But Plenty of Beef

I blanked seven times in a row for stripers in the upper Bay and that was enough for me.  In the last week I have not gone, but I have not given up on fishing.  I have been targeting freshwater carp, something I have been doing in the daytime all winter long.  But, now I am trying at night as well. I have had the best week for big fish that I have had since Jan. with many fish in the teens and 4 carp that weighed from 20-26 lbs.  These are monsters for freshwater (see pic of 23 lber. at right).
Freshwater carp will hit as soon as the ice leaves most waters.  Most fishermen mistakenly think these fish will only hit in warm weather.  Right now you can fish for these fish in MA and RI.  In RI you can only fish in waters that are not stocked with trout.  After Opening Day (April 14), all waters are open.  These fish are terrific fighters, comparable to a large striper.  In fact, I would recommend saltwater gear to catch them as you are overmatched if you try to subdue one of these monsters on traditional freshwater gear. They are about your best bet at this time of year if you want to tangle with a big fish.
For more information about carp fishing in RI, visit my blog at

Thursday, March 15, 2012

First Stripers....When Will It Happen?

It's that time of year when many cabin fevered fishermen will start fishing for stripers hoping to jump start the season, get ahead of the crowd and catch the first one. I'm guessing there are those who are trying along the oceanfront right now. Here's a breakdown of when I have gotten the first ones in the last three years.  In 2009, it happened on April 24, in 2011, it was on April 11 and last year, 2011, I got my first ones on April 20.  Traditionally, the average start along the south shore oceanfront seems to be around the third week in April.
But, this is not an average year.  We are coming off the warmest winter ever, water temperatures are above normal and the current weather is a month ahead of schedule. So, how will that affect this year's fishing? I fully expect to see an early start.  If I had to bet, I would say that week from April 8-15 should be it provided the weather remains warm.  Things could even happen earlier from the last few days of March until the first week in April.  We've never seen big numbers of schoolies in March and I don't think it will happen this year.  It can be warm in March, but hey, it's still March.
Expect that fishing will light up in the Bay as well as along the south shore at about the same time.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lots of Menhaden; Found no Stripers

I fished the Providence River this evening and night.  I saw school after school of menhaden up and down the river.  Some were flipping, others were leaving wake trails, and schools of them were hanging around the lighted areas.  But, I tried many spots with a Zoom fluke and could not find a striper.  I keep hearing rumors of stripers showing up here and there in small tight schools, probably chasing peanut bunker (yes, I can't believe it either but I did snag one last week). You have to simply be lucky to walk into a small school of fish and you might get a couple.  Other than that, the fishing remains poor.
However, the upper Bay in general is loaded with menhaden that never left.  I have to think that if we get a slug of big stripers in the early part of the season, this place has potential to really produce.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

RISAA Saltwater Fishing Show, March 9-11

The biggest saltwater fishing show in the northeast is at the RI Convention Center on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  I've gone to it several times in the past, and it is an extravaganza.  Just about everyone who is connected with saltwater fishing is there.  There are manufacturers, dealers, tackle shops, plug makers, guides, charter boat captains, etc.  You can also get some great buys if you are looking for equipment.  It is a great time if you enjoy saltwater fishing. For more information and discounts, visit their website at
I might also add that the show is loaded with free seminars that run continuously.  Although the seminar schedule is top heavy with boating seminars, there are a couple of surf seminars mixed in. Many people have asked if I will be there doing seminars there and unfortunately, the answer is no.  For a complete listing of seminars, visit the show website listed above.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Wish I had Something to Report

I wish I had some good news to report regarding winter striper fishing, but I have nothing.  I have blanked 5 times in a row and know of other fishermen who have not seen a thing in over two weeks.  Not good. I'm actually giving up on fishing the Providence River on a regular basis, and  I am now freshwater carp fishing at night and in the evening and catching a good sized one here and there. At least I am catching.  My gut feeling is that the upper Bay fishing for schoolies will pick up dramatically around the first week of April as new fish arrive earlier than in other years due to the mild weather.  Until then,  it will be little or nothing.  The fish are gone.