Friday, September 28, 2012

A Rough and Tough Day

Today was a very stormy day along the oceanfront, a day that was marginal for fishing.   By late in the day, a driving rain, high winds, and a big charged up surf were battering the shoreline, making fishing near impossible.  However, my son, Ben, and I toughed it out and worked the very turbulent white water along the rocky shores of  'Gansett.  We saw no big numbers of fish, no birds working and no concentrations of bait, but we did manage to catch some fish.  We landed a total of 8 schoolies and Ben also got a false albacore.  They were all caught on a float and Cocahoe, a good choice to use in tight to the shore in rough, white water. I had planned to fish after dark, but worsening conditions and lots of weed in the water proved to be just too much so I called it quits.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Crazy Good......Stripers, Blues, Albies

Crazy good.  That says it all.  There are blitzes going on daily along the Gansett/ South Shore oceanfront as the fabulous September fishing continues at a blistering pace.  Just drive around, find the birds diving for bait and there are tons of fish under all that.  I've been surf  fishing the last two days and I can tell you that the action has been non-stop.  It seems to be mostly stripers and bluefish, although there are a sprinkling of albies around.  The rain bait has reappeared big time in the last two days, and there are also pods of mullet and peanut bunker around fueling the blitzes. 
The stripers have been all sizes.  Between my kids and I, we have landed over 50 stripers in the last two days.  Most of these have been in the 20-30 inch range, but a few fish were even bigger. My son, Jon, had a 32 inch fish yesterday (photo top left) on a small swimmer.  Ben's friend, Justin, a beginner, landed a 30 lb. striper on his first cast today.  And, this was his first striper EVER.  Talk about luck! 
Everything was working today as the fish were in a frenzy in the strong southwest wind and rough water.  I saw stripers being caught on Cocahoes, bucktail jigs, swimmers, poppers, Jumpin' Minnows and needlefish plugs. However, the hot plug continues to be that Daiwa Salt Pro Minnow which has taken many of our keepers in the last two days. 

The fishing continues to be as hot as it gets in September. This has been an epic month for us in RI and will go down as one of the best Septembers EVER!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Daiwa Salt Pro Minnow.......A HOT Plug

The hottest plug in the last few days for stripers for us has been the Daiwa Salt Pro Minnow. This is the same plug that I wrote about back in June as being red hot at the Cape Cod Canal.  I've never seen anyone using it in RI waters.  But, my son, Ben, and I have been using it the last few nights and racking up big numbers of keeper bass and big blues with it when other plugs are not producing (see keeper I landed last night at right).  With lots of mullet around, light colored swimmers are a very good bet to be using in both the daytime and at night.  The color we are using is a blue mackerel color.  However, it is a very light color overall,  so because of that it sort of has the looks of a mullet.  You can bet it has the movement judging by its effectiveness.  A big attribute of this plug is that it is one of the best casting swimmers I have ever used.  When casting, it cuts through the wind like an arrow and will outcast any other swimmer in your bag, making it very effective where a long cast is needed (that's why it is so popular in the Canal).  Ben was able to cast this plug at least 10-20 yards further than I could cast a Bomber of similar size.  The Salt Pro Minnow also weighs a bit more than other similar six inch plastic swimmers, yet wiggles down only about three feet on the retrieve.  If you are looking for some locally, Quaker Lane Bait and Tackle in North Kingstown does stock them.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mullet Luring Big Fish

Just about every report you read in the last few days talks about mullet showing up along the RI oceanfront.  And, when that big bait shows up it attracts lots of big fish, both striped bass as well as large bluefish.

Last night I fished with my son Ben.  We were in a spot where there were mullet and lots of them.  The predators were in hot pursuit as we could hear and see big fish busting all around us. I will admit that when large fish are on mullet, they can be fussy.  Yet, usually a swimmer with a light colored belly will  lure a big fish or two to hit after dark.  I was using a black back Bomber with a silver belly.  Ben was using a Canal special, the Daiwa Pro A minnow in a mackerel color. Both lures were catching fish.  We ended up with 8 keeper bass up to 36 inches along with one big blue (see pics of Ben's fish). We also had a number of other smaller fish that were close to keeper size.  It's hot fishing right now if you can find the mullet.  So long as the mullet stick around, the big fish will continue to hit.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Stripers Move in on Rough Water

Conditions along the oceanfront have been very rough the last few days as the big storm from a few days ago departed and a strong northeast wind developed in its wake.  The rocky shores along Gansett were taking a pounding yesterday.  Yet, if you could find clean water, you could find fish.  And, all the the fish are stripers. There has also been an influx of mullet along the whole oceanfront and that is also fueling the striper feed.
Yesterday was a good day of fishing.  I ended up with 18 stripers of which four were keepers in the 28-34 inch range (see keeper at left).  I got a lot of fish on a float and jig rig.  The jig was a 3/8 oz. flathead jig with a triple ripple grub tail attached.  That worked real well casting into the wind and moving it along the white water.  The other lure that worked well was a Kastmaster.  I was using a 2 oz. Kastmaster which delivered a long cast, something I needed in the location I was fishing. The stripers were also pouncing on that (see photo at right).

Looks like the stripers have replaced the albies and blues, but no complaints from my end. Our terrific September fishing is back on track.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

From Feast to Famine

Poof, like magic, everything has disappeared.  The acres and acres of bay anchovies, the miles of false albacore busting, the rampaging schools  of blues and the stripers along the rocks....all gone.  With the bait gone, the predators have departed also.  This all happened this weekend as both Sunday and Monday were complete busts along the Narragansett shoreline from the Town Beach all the way to the Walls outside of Galilee.  We went from some of the hottest fishing on record in September to nothing.
I suspect this up and down fishing will be a trend this fall.  You will have outstanding fishing when a lot of bait comes around.  Without the bait, there will be very little.  You see, we have very few resident fish around.  I am trying a lot of places after dark where in the past I could pick up a fish here and there.  It's not happening this year because the fish are constantly on the move following the bait schools.
Today's storm should really be the finishing blow to our great fishing of the past week.  With 30-50 knot winds predicted and seven to ten foot seas, the storm is sure to dirty up the water with sand and weed.  It will certainly take a few days to get back to normal.  Hopefully, by that time, the bait will have returned along with improved fishing.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Best Way to Fool an Albie

Albie fever is gripping the RI shoreline.  There are record numbers of them around and record numbers of fishermen trying.  But, in the crowds there are a ton of frustrated fishermen who can not seem to catch them. Most of these guys are throwing plugs that are too big and metal that is ineffective. PAY ATTENTION TO THIS if you want to catch one..
For spin fishermen, the very best way to catch one of these gamesters is the use of a float.  I am talking a wooden egg float that you will have to make yourself (sorry, baitshops don't sell them (I don't know why)).  If you want to know how it's done, check out this post, . If you can't make the egg float, just take the hooks off a popper or pencil popper and use that as your float.  The egg is simply the casting weight.  Three feet of heavy mono (30 lb. test) is attached to the end of the float.  At the terminal end, you want to tie on a Deceiver fly or a three inch Zoom fluke (light color) that is threaded onto a barbed hook (see top left).

The Deceiver fly that I am using is also homemade (see top right).  It is tied with white thread.  The tail is dark blue saddle hackle and the body is either white thread or fine chartreuse chenile.  Up front the throat is white bucktail and the wing is made with white bucktail with an overlay of chartreuse bucktail.  The hook is a Mustad 34007 size 1/0.
Cast this offering out and simply pop it in while reeling like you'd fish a popper.  I like to do a moderate retrieve, but I will sometimes reel it in very fast if blues are around.  Bluefish will have a difficult time catching up with a fast moving lure, but no problem for the more speedy albies.
Fly fishermen know the effectiveness of using a fly for albies.  However, fly fishermen are limited to a short cast and have trouble fishing a heavy surf.  That float and egg will give spin fishermen a booming cast which is often needed in some spots to get to breaking fish. You have a big advantage when using the float and fly or jig for albies.  It is the very best way to catch them.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Albie Insanity as All Day Blitz Hits Shore

Call it insanity.  I went down to Gansett to meet my sons for a day of shore fishing thinking a couple of bluefish would be great on this beautiful summer day.  Instead, we hit the jackpot as all day blitz of albies and blues  lit up a shoreline that stretched for miles.  The action was non stop  from morning till night.  Between Ben, my friend Dennis and myself we landed well in excess of 50 false albacore along with at least another 70-80 bluefish.  My son, Jon, who joined us much later in the day added a albie, a ton of bluefish and a good size keeper bass.  Ben's friend, Justin, landed his first albies (pic at left) along with a bunch of bluefish. It was one of the biggest shore hits I have seen in a long time and it was the biggest shore hit for albies I have ever experienced.  Once again, massive schools of bay anchovies, bait about an inch long, attracted all kinds of fish right along the shoreline. At times the bait schools looked like a brown moving area of water the size of a school gym and school after school of bait just kept moving along the shore with albies in hot pursuit.  My guess is that shore fishermen were outfishing the boating guys because the fish were so close to the shore.
The hot ticket today was a float with either a Deceiver fly or a Zoom fluke at the end of the mono coming off the float.  It far outfished anything else.  The Deadly Dick, touted in reports as the ultimate lure for albies, can't compare to the effectiveness of the float and fluke or fly.
Bluefish in the 2-5 lb. range were also on the rampage all day and would often tear through the schools of bait along with the albies.  They would hit anything as they were super aggressive.

The fantastic fishing just seems to have no end.  I'm betting this week has been the best EVER along the RI shoreline for false albacore.  Let's hope the good times keep rolling!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Shore Fishing Lights Up Also!

We know that the boat fishing along the oceanfront in the last few days has been phenomenal from what I have been writing about.  Well, I can also tell you that the shore fishing has also lit up in the last few days.  It is all being fueled by huge amounts of bay anchovies along with dropping water temperatures (in the last week, water temps dropped by 5 degrees), and that has set an early fall feeding spree in motion.  It's albies, bluefish, and stripers anywhere you can find the bait.
Yesterday I went down and fished from shore in the afternoon and evening.  In the middle of the daytime under a bright sun I found tons of bait, birds diving and stripers all over the place I was fishing.  These were decent fish in the 24-28 inch range on a rampage after bay anchovies.  I ended the day with 15 stripers and one lone blue.  It was all daytime action since I stayed and tried a couple of places after dark and found nothing.  The key to catching these fish was to go small with your offering.  I was using a small bucktail jig with a curly tail (see photo).  Others who used a Cocahoe on a small  jighead or a Zoom fluke on a jighead were also catching.  Those using big poppers, large metal and big Storm lures came away with nothing.  Go small and get your offering under the bait schools if you want to catch.

I will also tell you that my son Jon was fishing from shore two days ago while I was out killing the albies from the boat.  Just to give you and idea of how many fish were around in this all day blitz, he landed over 70 (said he lost count) stripers and bluefish in an "off the beaten path" spot along the oceanfront.  Of the bunch, he had a good number of stripers, and had at least half a dozen keepers in the 28-35 inch range.  He was getting them on bucktail jigs, Cocahoes on jigheads and small swimmers.
If you can find the bait you will find the fish.  By shore or boat, fishing is as hot as it gets at this time of year right now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Phenomenal Day...Albies, Stripers and Blues

Today was the best day I have ever experienced in fishing for false albacore here in RI.  I went out with my brother in his boat in the morning.  My son, Ben, later joined us in the afternoon.  The false albacore were EVERYWHERE we went.  For miles they were busting all along the oceanfront.  Mixed in along various spots were good numbers of stripers and bluefish.  By the end of the day, all three of us landed the hat trick of albies, blues and stripers.
The totals for the day were staggering: over 45 false albacore, 25 stripers up to 36 inches, and another 10-15 bluefish.  Everywhere we traveled there was vast amounts of bay anchovies that were fueling a  tremendous early fall  feeding  spree.
Best lure today for albies today was the float and fly (blue Deceiver) though the float and fluke also caught good numbers of them.  The best lure for stripers was a 4 inch black back Bomber.  Anything you threw worked for the bluefish.  I opted for a bucktail jig.
Surprisingly, there were  few boaters around but the few we saw were catching some fish.  I also saw very few shore fishermen and I can tell you that a lot of the fish we caught could have been caught from shore.
We are in a period of incredible fishing right now.  The fall run is happening here in RI, and it is as good as it gets!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

FALSE ALBACORE.....They're Here!

I had been hearing rumors about false albacore here and there along the RI coastline, but I hadn't actually seen one until today.  My brother Steve and I went out in his boat today in some big rollers and found good numbers of false albacore tearing up the surface as they feasted on schools of bay anchovies.  There were lots of fish breaking, but getting them to hit was a different story as it often is with these fish.  We were working an area with about 10 other boats and I will tell you that we landed 4 albies and the rest of the boaters got nothing.
How did we do it?  The hot ticket for me was the use of a float and fluke rig (see photo).  This is actually a wooden float in which about three feet of mono is attached and a Zoom fluke is attached to a barbed hook to complete the rig.  Cast and pop  in slowly.  Is is THE deadliest way to catch these fussy fish and will outfish any other lure.  I wrote about this in my recent On the Water story. I landed three of my fish on this rig. My brother got his fish on a small Deadly Dick, an effective metal lure that many fishermen use.

Friday, September 7, 2012

High Surf This Weekend.....Good or Bad?

Given the choice of fishing rough water or calm conditions, I will always opt for the rough water.  Rough conditions tend to charge up stripers. Some of my best outings have occurred in water that most fishermen will not fish.  Stripers can easily swim in roughness, but small baitfish trapped in the turbulence of rough water are easy marks for stripers to feed on.  In addition, rough water tends to mask any artificial plug or lure you might be using.  Stripers just can't get a good look at an offering in rough water as they tend to hit anything that moves.  Forget fussy fish when it comes to fishing rough water.
However, rough conditions do come with risks. Boat fishing is out.  Sandy beachfronts tend to roil with sand and weed very quickly in rough water.  Surf fishermen should forget the sandy south shore this weekend; stick to rocky shorelines that can take a beating yet still remain clean.  Safety also becomes a major issue for surf fishermen.  Make sure you are fishing a high, safe perch if you want to fish rocky shores in rough water.  As an alternative, why not try the backwaters.  In the past, I have made some big scores in the backwaters of the breachways on the outgoing tides in stormy conditions out front.  These places remain fishable and productive, especially on the outgoing water, which tends to run clean.   Places like the Galilee Channel, the insides and backwaters of the breachways at Charlestown, Quonny and Weekapaug along with the back of Narrow River are all good bets in rough conditions.
It looks like hurricane swells and rough surf are on tap for this weekend with waves in the 6-9 foot range.  Yes, you can still fish in this, but it certainly means an adjustment in the places you fish and a priority on safety.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hopeful Signs

I 'm guessing we have turned the corner on the worst summer fishing for stripers that many of us have ever seen on the mainland shore here in RI.  I got out twice this weekend.  Although I hate going down on these crowded holiday weekends, I had to move two of my sons into houses in 'Gansett for the school year.  So, I figured I would take my stuff and try it.  I fished as well as talked to a lot of people.  Here's my thoughts:
*There's a lot of bait around. That includes peanut bunker, real small bait (bay anchovies) and snapper blues.  I saw a massive school of snapper blues that had the water boiling in front of me.  They seem to be everywhere but no big fish are after them.
*I talked to some reliable sources that said they saw false albacore yesterday morning, though none were caught.  The albies seem to be around, though not in big numbers yet, but this is positive info.
* Steve Mc Kenna reports catching a 48 inch striper last week. If you are at the right spot at the right time (late night), it can happen.
*The boys from 'Gansett report a bluefish blitz this past Wednesday.  There were loads of small bluefish around that day after small bait that came ashore.
*Finally, I landed 2 schoolies last night in the Galilee Channel on bucktail jigs.  These are the first bass I have been able to catch in almost two weeks.  I had several more hits.

So, this is not a fall run, but I feel we are slowly moving in the right direction. The fishing will only get better and more consistent in the coming weeks