Tuesday, July 31, 2012

MILLIONS of Bluefish

I hit the biggest bluefish blitz of all time that I have ever seen in July yesterday.  Bluefish by millions were rampaging through bait along a popular RI south shore beachfront.  They were out far, in close, and in the wash. At times they were on the side, in front and even in back of swimmers that were in the water.  I saw schools the size of football fields just boiling in a froth, devouring massive schools of bay anchovies.  This went on for the three hours I fished in the evening.  I spoke with other fishermen who claim this has been going on for the past THREE DAYS non-stop.
By the end of the evening I landed over 15 bluefish that ran from 3-5 lbs.  These aggressive fish would slam any artificial that was thrown their way with poppers catching most of my fish.  The schools were so thick that if you threw a lure into the froth of boiling fish, you would be cut off immediately.  There were that many.  I could have caught tons more if I chose to run down the beach chasing the schools that were moving along.  Instead, when there were no blues breaking in front of me, I snapped on a bucktail jig and landed one fluke after another as they, too, were along the bottom chasing bait.  I landed over a dozen fluke doing this.
In the past, July has not been a big bluefish month.  It's starting real early this year.  What I saw yesterday only confirms what I have been saying all along that this will be a real big year for blues.  However, in all the mayhem I saw yesterday, not one striper was caught.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bluefish Popping up All Over

Bluefish are now dominating the fishing scene along the oceanfront from RI waters to the Cape.  Two nights ago my son Ben was fishing the east end of the Cape Cod Canal.  There were no stripers but Ben reports pods of bluefish smashing the surface after bait,  He did catch a couple on a pencil popper.  That same night two friends of mine were fishing at Beavertail at Jamestown. They report catching a bluefish and having skinny plastic cut and chopped by blues.  The next day my brother Steve was fishing along the RI south shore from his boat.  He reports blues tearing through schools of rain bait off the Matunuck shoreline.  He caught quite a few fish in the 5-8 lb. range.  Get the picture.  The blues are showing in all parts of southern New England and fishermen from shore as well as boats are catching them.  It is shaping up to be a big year for bluefish.  There are lots of them around right now feasting on an abundance of bait and we're a month away from September, a month that usually sees the upsurge in bluefish action.

Friday, July 27, 2012

My Favorite Surf Fishing Outfit

Whether it's at the fishing seminars I do or when talking to someone about my magazine articles, the topic that always comes up is "What outfit are you using in most locations?".  I will tell you that no one outfit cuts it in all locations.  I really have three outfits I use.... a light outfit, a medium set up and a heavy duty one.  However, if I had to choose one outfit that I use  90% of the time and that works well in most places it would have to be that medium outfit.
This outfit happens to be my favorite set up of all time.  My reel is a Van Stall (VS) 150 bail-less reel (retail- $699).  This powerful and pricey reel weighs in at a mere 12 oz. yet can handle anything that swims within a cast of shore.  My rod is a St. Croix Mojo 8 ft. surf rod (retail- $170).  This one piece spinning rod weighs a mere 8.8 oz. making my whole set up about 20 oz. in weight.  The rod is unique in that it has high guides that have small rings, advertised as suited for braided line.  Yes, it does seem like wind knots are few and far between with this rod.  I might also add that the rod is intended for handling plugs that range from 3/4 to 3 oz., quite a range for this small stick.  The rod is stiff, a plus when casting large plugs or fighting good sized fish.  The line I am using is Power Pro 30 lb. test braid.

I've landed stripers from schoolies  up to big keepers of 46 inches with this outfit and have taken tons of large bluefish and false albacore.  I also use it to jig for fluke and black sea bass from shore and from the boat.  With its light weight I can fish for hours on end without tiring.  While it lacks that ability to make a very long cast (not ideal for the Cape Cod Canal),  it has the beef and castability to tackle most surf spots in southern New England. If I had to choose one outfit to use, this would be it.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Black Sea Bass Info....Check out Article

My most recent saltwater fishing article appears in this week's issue of the Fisherman magazine (July 19, issue #29).  The article is titled Black Sea Bass on Artificials.  It outlines fishing for black sea bass from a boat using artificials.  I've caught good numbers of these this year in Buzzards Bay and caught all of them on bucktail jigs, a novel way fish for them.  Most fishermen tend to use bait, but these fish will readily hit an artificial. Check out the story if you are looking for info on catching these plentiful bottom fish.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Lousy Weather; Good Fishing

I fished the oceanfront yesterday because I had the right conditions.  It was rainy and overcast with a light northeast wind and a fairly rough surf.  It was the type of conditions that have been favorable in the past.
I got down in late afternoon and scouted the Narragansett shoreline first.  The surf was rough but the northeast winds had sent a lot of weed onto the shorelines along the Avenues, making fishing difficult.  I headed to Pt. Judith where the water looked good, but the place was crawling with surfers.  It was onto the East Wall where the waves were breaking over the wall and the water was filthy with weed.  So, I gave up  on this side and headed to the West Wall.
There I found lots of bait and landed a variety of fish.  I started off with a bucktail jig and landed 5 fluke up to 16 inches.  I had quite a few other hits and fish on.  Bluefish were also breaking sporadically here and there in small pods, though their surface antics would only last about ten seconds.  If you didn't get the plug into the commotion in that period of time, you got no hits.  I ended up with 2 small blues on poppers, though I had quite a few more hits.  Right at dark, a few stripers were breaking close to the wall after bait.  I landed three bass on Cocahoes and one on a popper.  These were all schoolies that ranged from 16-22 inches.  So, lots of action and a good day for small fish in this lousy weather.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What is Happening to Our Stripers?

Log entry......July 15.
"Sandeels by the millions have hit Narragansett Beach and the stripers have found them. Landed 32 bass on teasers and swimmers from shore.  Most of the fish went 5-8 lbs., but had a number of keepers in the 10-12 lb. range.  Action began around dusk and continued till about 11 PM.  Fish rolling all along the beach in the surf line."
No, this is not this year. The year was 1993, almost 20 years ago.  That summer I would head to the Cape to catch loads of keeper bass from shore at Chatham.  I would also fish such Gansett spots as the East Wall, Pt. Judith, the Avenues, Narrow River and Galilee.  It seemed like every spot had fish.  I would go on to tally 215 stripers in just this month of July.

My, have we fallen on bad times.  Most good surf fishermen I know are reporting about the worst fishing they have ever experienced along the mainland RI shore this summer. In fact, many striper fishermen in RI have either given up until fall, cut way back on their outings or have turned to fishing for other species. Here's what I think is going on.
Lack of fish-  No question, the numbers of schoolies, fish under 28 inches that have made  up the bulk of our summer fishing in past years, are way down in numbers. Keeper bass  are also way down in places close to the mainland, but seem to be in abundance way out along Block Island.  There are also scarce numbers of resident fish.  In the past we would have places that would consistently produce all summer long because resident fish would reside there. Not any more.
Warm water- Our water temperatures have risen to unseen levels this year because of the record warm winter and very warm summer.  Right now according to a NOAA site I visit, the water temperatures in the Bay and along the oceanfront range from 73-82 degrees.  I suspect these temperatures are driving stripers and baitfish out to deeper water and further north.  Those fish that have moved out will not return until the fall.
A False Sense in Spring-  Most fishermen were all excited when spring fishing got off to a great start in late March and early April.  With good numbers of migrating schoolies around, everyone was doubting the predicted shortage.  It was short lived, and it all dried up as we moved into summer.  The truth is that we have been on a trend of decreased numbers of stripers for the last 5 summers and the trend continues downward for whatever reason.
Will the Season Turn Around this Fall?- Yes.  Once again, the last 5 years show that fall is by far the best time to fish the mainland shore in RI.  We seem to get a lot of migrating baitfish from bay anchovies to peanut bunker to ocean herring and that all coincides with the striper and bluefish migration.  I think late fall from mid October into early December will be the prime time.
So, for now, put up with the poor striper fishing or try for other species of saltwater fish such as bluefish, scup and fluke which are fairly abundant.  Or, give freshwater a try. Better striper fishing is coming, but you will have to wait a couple of months for it to happen.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Building up the Fall Arsenal

We're in a big lull right now as far as shore fishing is concerned.  However, better days are ahead as fall fishing is just around the corner. I usually begin getting ready for fall fishing in the summertime.  I like to go into my cool basement and make plugs, jigs and other tackle that will be used in the fall.  Here are some of the projects I am working on:
1.  Plug Building-  I made a dozen four inch poppers and 7 needlefish plugs in the last week.  The best colors last year were all white with a green back.  That color combo was real hot in late fall when ocean herring were around in big numbers.  I am also making some mackerel colored needlefish, a hot plug for us in the Cape Cod Canal.  If the RI shore does not produce in the fall, I am heading for the canal and I plan to be ready.
2.  Bucktail Jigs-  I have been tying up a storm in the last few weeks.  Jigs are especially good when small bait such as bay anchovies are around as they were in big numbers last year in early fall.  I especially like the 3/8 and 1/2 oz. flathead jig.  I am also making some big 1 1/2 oz. hotlips jigs to use at night in the channel areas.  All white jigs tied with red thread seems to be the best color combo overall.
3.  Floats-  I use the float and jig rig a lot in fall using this rig for schoolies, bluefish and false albacore in rocky areas.  The float will be used to deliver small bucktail jigs, jigs and plastic and flies.  I bought a bunch of wooden eggs a while ago and I am now getting around to wiring these up.
4.  Wire Leaders-  I suspect we will see good numbers of blues this fall and I will need wire leaders on my terminal set up.  Wire leaders are easy to make if you have the wire, sleeves, snaps, swivels and crimping pliers.

5.  Ordering Stuff-  I just bought a bunch of treble hooks from www.njtackle.com .  I also need to order some Bass Pro triple ripple grub tails in a three and four inch lengths.  These are the best grubs to add to small bucktail jigs. I also need more bucktail and I get that from a place called Hook and Hackle. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Freshwater Best Bet Right Now

Unless you own a big boat capable of getting offshore to Block Island or off the rough waters of Newport or Jamestown, striper fishing is mighty slow in RI in this heat of summer.  I know of some fishermen who are slugging it out from shore at night along Jamestown and Gansett and the results are slow going. Others have simply given up until fall.
So, as I often do when saltwater sours, I have turned my attention to freshwater fishing for largemouths and carp.  Both these fish love hot weather and are active in the heat of summer.  In the last week I have landed over 40 carp with sizes from small ones up to the low twenty pound range.  Carp are fantastic fighters and are plentiful in many southern New England states. If you are looking for info on how to fish for these fish, check out my carp fishing website at www.ricarpfishing.blogspot.com .  My son, Jon, loves to fish the local ponds for largemouths.  We went a few days back, a day in which the temperature was near 90 degrees.  In two hours of fishing in the evening, we landed over 20 largemouths and 2 pickerel.  Many of the bass went 3-4 lbs., very good sizes.  They were all taken on plastic worms.  So, while many surf fishermen sit home just moaning about the lousy summer saltwater fishing, realize some hot fishing is available close to home in freshwater.
Give carp or largemouth bass a try......it might just open up a whole new world of possibilities for summer action.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Crowds, Warm Water and Marginal Fishing

I usually don't fish the oceanfront on  Fourth of July week because it's a zoo. However, yesterday I had an errand to do at south county and was down there anyways so I took a rod with me to give it a try.  I got to the oceanfront about 5 PM.  The crowds at that point were unbelievable.  Parking lots were  filled, restaurants jammed and traffic was moving at a crawl.  But, I did manage to find a parking spot near the West Wall, and I decided to go looking there hoping to find the abundant bluefish that have been reported. I found no bluefish, but I did manage to catch five fluke with a bucktail jig. All were undersized. There was lots of bait along the Wall, but no bluefish.  There were also no fishermen which tells you a lot about what has or hasn't been happening.  From there I headed to the East Wall about 7 PM.  Same story, people and traffic jams all over the place.  I was barely able to park there as the free beach was loaded.  Got one fluke off the Wall and saw no bait and no blues.  Finally,  my last stop was at Narragansett Beach where I arrived just before dark.  Ocean Rd. was jammed with cars and people walking around, and there were hundreds of people on the beach and in the water at dark.  I walked a ways down the beach and finally found an open spot where I would not hook a swimmer and I started plugging. Boy, the water was warm.  Also, there was no bait around.  I did manage to pick up a schoolie (see pic) about 20 inches long on a Slug Go well after dark after most of the swimmers had departed.  That was it.
So, striper fishing from shore is in a summer slow down here in RI with lots of people, disruptions and few fish around.  Daytime and evening fishing is pretty much a waste of time in the daylight. Even bluefish are nowhere to be found. Word is that those venturing out very late from midnight to 5 AM are getting an occasional keeper bass on eels.  Most fishermen I know are cutting back on their trips to the oceanfront or giving up until the fall.  Summer fishing is not looking good at this point.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Holiday Week Possibilities

The next two weeks are vacation weeks for most people.  Many of you out there might want to fish. So, here are some good bets that might just get you a fish or two.
Stripers from shore-  It is very tough going right now.  There are lots of disruptions, tons of people everywhere and not a lot of fish inshore.  Striper fishing has become a summer nighttime game with dusk, darkness and dawn offering the best possibilities to catch fish.  The one exception here is the Cape Cod Canal.  Though this place has really cooled off in the last week, it can light up even in the daytime if the bait comes around. Other than that spot, look to the deep water places along RI that offer cooler water, and fish at night.  Places like Jamestown, Newport, the south shore breachways and the dropoffs along Narragansett offer the best shot at stripers right now.  Expect to fish long hours for a fish or two if you are lucky.
Stripers from the boat- Stripers are hanging in deeper water right now as they usually do at this time.  Places like Block Island and areas off Newport and Jamestown will fish the hottest. Eels fished along the bottom while drifting are your best bet to snag a big bass.  Be aware, though, there are lots of pesty bluefish around that will chop up those expensive eels.
Other saltwater fish-  Small, pesty blues seem to pop up just about anywhere there is bait in the Bay and along the oceanfront.  These are great fighters on light tackle.  Consider going after them.  Scup are also plentiful right now along deep water areas.  They will take bait such as clam bellies and worms right in the middle of the daytime.
 Freshwater-  Real hot weather...no problem for such species as carp and largemouth bass.  My sons have been fishing for largemouths and getting good numbers up to three and four pounds on plastic worms.  I have been fishing for carp and taking decent numbers up to ten pounds while fishing chick peas and doughballs on the bottom.