Sunday, April 29, 2012

Location Strategy....Shallow, Moving Water

I got out fishing last evening.  My main focus was to fish shallow, moving water.  I got in this one Bay location where I had a small outflow spilling water into the Bay. The place looked like a nothing spot but with water movement, it had really produced for me in the past. The tide was near low but the flow was still strong.  Immediately, I started hitting fish right at the edge of the flowing water.  Every three or four casts, I would get a hit or a fish on my Zoom fluke mounted on a half inch homemade jighead. This went on for about 40 minutes.  During that time, the water flow lessened and the hits lessened with it until the flow stopped.  At that point the fishing ended.  Yes, water flow or movement made a major difference in my fishing success last night (12 schoolies landed....see pic).  It says a lot about early season striper fishing.
To find the best locations to target early season stripers, think shallow and moving waters.  I'm talking places like rivers, estuaries, outflows, channels, and backwater ponds that have movement.  Fish these places where there is current.  That current can be generated by a big tide that is dropping or coming in, wind, or natural water movement like a river current.   It can also be generated by places where the current is squeezed or constricted as you find where there is a bridge or in a breachway opening that separates a coastal pond from the Bay or ocean.  Stripers are naturally drawn to moving water because that's where the food tends to flow.  If you can find these spots in shallow water that heats up quickly, you probably have a good bet for early season fishing.  Avoid places where the water is deep or where there is no movement.  These places, in the absence of bait, are dead spots in the early going.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Two Keepers on Back to Back Casts!

You know the numbers of keepers are on the increase when you can hook two of them on back to back casts.  It happened to me tonight while fishing the Bay from shore with a Zoom fluke on a small jighead with light tackle.  The two fish looked like clones.  Both were healthy looking fat fish at 28 inches apiece,  These weren't the only ones I got this evening as I landed another 6 schoolies.  They were all decent fish in the 20-25 inch range, and all hit the albino Zoom fluke.  Yes, I did try other lures but once again, the fluke proved to be the hot number in the Bay.  Surpringly, I saw no boats and no other fishermen around.  While the oceanfront has been crowded, the Bay has seen  relatively few fishermen.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Fish of All Sizes

I got out today with my son, Matt, who lives Boston.  He was coming down for his brother's birthday party and he figured he'd come down early so we could do some fishing in the upper Bay.  We hit 4 different spots and found fish in all but one location.  Odd thing today is that the fish were all different sizes.  We caught stripers as tiny as 8 inches and schoolies as big as 24 inches.  There were also not a ton of fish in any one spot.  Every place had a few, and we ended up landing 10 stripers but had a lot more hits.  All of today's fish were landed on Zoom flukes mounted on lightweight jigheads. The lesson from today is move around looking for spring fish.  They are around and the more spots you can fish in an outing the better your chance of catching.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Break Out the Skinny Plastic

Skinny plastic is now my go to lure for large stripers in the Bay as well as along the ocean.  I'm talking using either a Hogy or a Slug Go.  Yesterday evening I was fishing the Bay with a 6 inch Slug Go fished off a wooden float and took several hefty schoolies (see pic).  My son, Ben, has been fishing along the oceanftont all week and has taken quite a few keepers up to 34 inches using a nine inch pink Hogy (that's right....PINK, a great daytime color).  My friend Dennis used a black Slug Go to land a twenty pound fish in a mid Bay spot earlier in the week.  While Cocahoes and Zoom flukes continue to catch their share of small schoolies, skinny plastic is the best lure to use right now to catch keepers, especially if you are fishing near dark.
There are two main ways to fish these.  You can fish them with a single swimhook impaled in the head of the lure.  This works well with the larger plastic in a 7 1/2-12 inch size.  Or, you can hook up a smaller one and fish it off a float (3 feet of mono from the float to the plastic).  This works well with 6 inch plastic (see pic) and it also works well when casting into the wind.  In both cases, twitch the rod tip vigorously on the retrieve to give the lure action. 
Skinny plastic will far outfish a popper at this time of year.  So, I have to ask myself, why are so many fishermen using a popper?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Boat Fishing in Bay Very Hot

I've spent the last two evenings out in my brother's boat fishing for stripers in Narragansett Bay. And my brother, Steve, and I have hit the jackpot.  In two outings we have landed 70 fish and have not seen another boat fisherman anywhere in the Bay.  I suspect some boaters have no clue the fish are in this early while others simply don't have their boats ready to go on this early date.  But, it is true.  Big schools of stripers are streaming into Gansett Bay in numbers never seen before in April.  Yesterday we found a school of fish along with tons of bait that stretched out for almost a mile.  Birds were working this whole stretch and for an hour it was non-stop action.  We were quietly drifting and casting Zoom flukes mounted on jigheads to catch our fish.  These fish went anywhere from 14 inches up to near keepers.  Today, the action was not as hot and heavy, and we had to hit multiple spots to plug up fish here and there.  But, I managed to catch two keepers today that measured 28 and 30 inches, real decent fish for this early in the year.  Most of the other fish we landed today were all good size schoolies in the 22-24 inch range. Our hot spring fishing just keeps rolling along here in RI.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Some of the Hottest Spring Schoolie Fishing in Years in RI

Just about everyone expected a shortage of schoolies this spring.  Looks like that prediction is off since we are in one of the best spring schoolie runs in years here in RI.  Yesterday I was fishing the upper Bay where I landed 10 schoolies. I met up with two other guys who had about 20 schoolies together. My son, Ben, was at the south shore oceanfront where he landed 25 schoolies.  Two other friends were at a different south shore spot landing 9 schoolies.  Still, another guy I know was fishing a mid Bay spot and he landed three fish, one of which was twenty pounds.  Get the picture. THEY ARE ALL OVER THE PLACE!  The hot lures have been Zoom flukes on jigheads up in the Bay and either Cocahoes on jigheads or bucktail jigs with curly tails at the ocean.  Shrimp fly teasers are also hot at the oceanfront.  That mid Bay twenty pounder hit a Slug Go right at dark.  With the warm weather coming in the beginning of this week, expect the hot fishing for schoolies to continue with  increasing numbers of keepers around.  I'd be willing to bet the first blues will also be taken this week.  Yikes, and it's still April!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

First Keeper of April

Got my first keeper of the spring season today (see pic).  It came from the Bay where I have had a great couple of days of fishing from shore.  Today I landed 14 stripers in multiple spots that I tried.  The big one, a skinny fish of 28 inches, nailed an albino Zoom fluke that was mounted on a half oz. round head jighead.  In the last couple of days I have landed 36 fish.  On average, these fish have been considerably larger than the fish I caught at the oceanfront in the beginning of the week.  These Bay fish are also more active and seem to fight harder since the Bay water is about 5 degrees warmer than the ocean water.  I even saw quite a few fish breaking water today as they were chasing bait that has also moved into Bay waters.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Shore Fishing in Bay Busts Open

Yesterday I went fishing for stripers at the ocean.  I was there four and a half hours and landed 9 fish.  Today I fished the upper Bay from shore and had 9 schoolies in ten minutes!  Yes, I found some real hot fishing today from shore in the Bay and landed a total of 22 schoolies.  These were all decent fish that ran from 16-24 inches, far bigger on average than I have seen along the oceanfront.  They were all caught on albino Zoom flukes mounted on a lightweight jighead.  At the same time I was getting them in the upper Bay a friend of mine was fishing a mid bay location and he reports seeing schoolies landed there this evening.  Clearly, the stripers are all over the Bay right now.  It is just a matter of moving around, doing a lot of casting and finding the good numbers of fish.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Getting Bigger and Spreading Out

I fished the oceanfront today in some very good conditions.  I landed nine stripers, but the big news is that I had one fish that was a near keeper (see photo) that I landed on a bucktail jig.  I also saw other near keepers taken.  It is obvious that larger fish are starting to mix in with the small schoolies that have dominated the scene recently.  I have also heard reliable reports of several keepers taken in the last week. The other good news is that the fish are spreading out. Many spots along the oceanfront are now producing, and I believe fish can be caught just about anywhere right now. Spring fishing along the oceanfront is now in full swing!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Schoolie Fishing in the Bay Heats UP

My brother and I got out this morning in the upper Bay as we took the boat out on its first voyage of 2012.  Yes, we found good numbers of schoolies.  Together we landed about 15 fish, all new ones I suspect judging by their small size and bright colors.  The hot ticket was Zoom flukes mounted on small jigheads and fished with light gear.  The fish tended to be bunched up.  If you found one, you caught several.   I've heard rumors of fish around in the Bay for the last week but these are the first I have actually seen and caught. This is the earliest I have ever caught migrating stripers in the upper Bay. It's starting here too!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bucktail Jig Scores Big Time

I went to the oceanfront yesterday and fished a popular early season location for schoolies.  I was greeted by a wicked southwest wind that was blowing in my face along with a charged up surf.  I started off with the ole reliable Cocahoe and teaser rig.  Nothing doing as I could barely heave the offering in the 25 knot winds.  The problem with a teaser rig is that it gets caught up in the wind and does not cast well in these conditions.  So, I took off the teaser rig and went with just the Cocahoe and jig.  No hits.  Once again, I could barely cast this into the wind as the plastic tends to not cast that well into the wind.  In addtion, the plastic on a jighead does not scratch the bottom in rough conditions as the plastic makes the offering somewhat buoyant.  Meanwhile, a picket fence of over twenty fishermen now took up positions along this location and they were just about all using plastic and catching only a fish here and there.  So, not much doing.  At this point, I snapped on a bucktail jig and that did the trick.  The bucktail jig casts well into the wind and it digs the bottom, keeping the lure in the zone.  My homemade 3/8 oz. flathead jig with a plastic curly tail (3-inch Bass Pro Triple Ripple) nailed 20 schoolies in a couple of hours.  I would say those numbers were about as many as the rest of the fishermen caught altogether.  We tend to forget about bucktail jigs in the spring, but they are just as effective as they were 25 years ago when there were no plastics around.  And, in the right conditions like last night, they were the most effective lures you could use. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

On the Scoreboard

I went to the oceanfront fishing today and picked up my first schoolies of the spring season.  These were small fish in the 10-18 inch range, typical of what has been caught down there in the last week.  I caught 7 fish today and interestingly I got my first  fish of the new season (see photo at left) on a shrimp fly teaser.  I was using a double teaser rig with shrimp fly teasers (see photo at right) with a Cocahoe on a jighead for my jig.  Of the seven fish I landed today, 4 took the teaser and 3 fish took the Cocahoe.  Teasers are very effective at this time of year and should be part of your spring arsenal.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Check Out US Harbors

For those of you who visit the website  you will notice that many of my blog posts appear on their site under the RI Harbors thread.  I have agreed to let them use my material.  This is a TERRIFIC site and has just about all the data and information that a striper fisherman is looking for.  It has extensive information on tides (many locations in your area) and a lot of weather information on wind speed, temperature, weather predictions, etc.  In addition, the site runs informational articles that have to do with fishing, boating, history stuff, sailing, etc.  The link to the RI information is  I'm on the site just about every day.....a fantastic resourse for RI fishermen and for those who enjoy the Bay and the oceanfront.  Check it out!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Packing the April Surf Bag

My surf bag is packed and I am ready to go.  I just need the right conditions and I am off to the south shore. I thought my readers might just be interested in exactly what I pack into the April surf bag.  The emphasis here is on schoolies and jig fishing.  Here goes:
1.  Bags of plastic.....Zoom flukes for the bay, Cocahoes for the oceanfront and curly tails for the bucktail jigs.
2.  Bucktail jigs in the 1/4-3/4 oz. size range (in curly tail bag).
3.  Box with jigheads for all the plastic.  Heads run 1/4-3/4 oz.
4.  Two floats for the float and jig rigs.
5.  Two jointed swimmers- a Bomber and a Red Fin
6.  Three poppers- 2 small ones for the bay and a one ouncer for the ocean (meant for late April)
7.  Three needelfish plugs- 2 small ones and one large (meant for late April)
8.  Skinny plastic Hogys and Slug Gos in different sizes (meant for late April)
9.  Leader wallet packed with extra mono leaders and shrimp teaser rigs
10. Tools- pliers and scissors
11. Film container with extra snaps and swivels.
Yes, it all fits in the surf bag! And, yes, I am ready to go!