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 http://weather.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/fmtbltn.pl?file=forecasts/marine/coastal/an/anz235.txt  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 dead.....no 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 (http://www.njtackle.com/ ). 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.

Monday, October 1, 2012


The month has switched to October, but the results are the same.  The fishing continues at a blistering pace as I witnessed an all day blitz of stripers and bluefish today along the oceanfront.  There were so many fish that at one point that I stood on a rock and just watched hundreds of bass and blues in front of me swimming in the water whirling and feeding  in a slick of bay anchovies.
I fished with my son, Jon, today.  Together we landed ridiculous numbers of fish, maybe 40 bass and an equal number of bluefish.  We actually lost count.  He was using a Yo-Zuri swimmer which far outfished my bucktail jig.  But I stubbornly stayed with the jig because I did not want to deal with the treble hooks.  I also landed several decent fish on a Cocahoe on a jighead.  We probably had at least 8 keeper bass from 28-32 inches.  The rest of the stripers went 24-28 inches, real decent size.  The blues went 5-6 lbs. on average, but Jon had one big one that went about 12 lbs.

Today was no isolated blitz.  From what my sons and others tell me, this has been going on for three straight days.  It's mostly equal numbers of stripers and blues, but there are also false albacore in the mix.  Just wild fishing!  Our great fall fishing just keeps going.