Sunday, December 29, 2013

Winter Fishing Hits the Skids

Winter fishing has taken a dive.  What started off as real good fishing a month ago has hit the skids in recent weeks.  I continue to fish several times a week and I hit a lot of spots, yet I am lucky to get even one fish.  My last three outings have produced a grand total of 2 small winter holdovers.  It's not good. But, it's winter fishing and its trademark has always been inconsistency.
The interesting thing about winter fishing thusfar is the lack of keeper fish.  This is consistent with what we have seen all year. In  past years about one winter fish in twenty has been a small keeper about 30 inches long.  This year I've caught close to 200 winter fish, yet not one fish has been a keeper.  While there have been good number of schoolies around all year, the numbers of keepers have fallen drastically this year for RI shore fishermen which is bad news for the upcoming season. It will only get worse next year. Most of us who fish a lot know this, but there seems to be no push from management officials to conserve what we have and reduce the mortality rate of keeper bass for the upcoming season.  Don't expect any changes in the regulations for 2014.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Severe Cold Shuts Down Winter Fishing

Prior to the cold shutting things down,
small swimmers were hot for winter
schoolies.  The 4 inch Rapala X-Rap was
especially effective.
This is one of the coldest early season spells I can ever remember.  It has put solid ice along some shorelines and moving sheets of ice in some of the places I fish for winter holdover stripers.  Because of that, the winter fishing has suddenly come to a grinding halt. I tried to fish some open pockets a couple of nights back, got no hits and was constantly getting hooked on floating ice sheets.
Rest assured the fish are still around, but are probably in a dormant state, just finning along the bottom in a large group in a deep spot.  I expect some of my fishing friends to tell me they have been hitting fish and snagging them on jigs. That happens in the severe cold.
Prior to the shutdown, the stripers were hitting small swimmers with regularity.  Jigs had lost a lot of their effectiveness as I was scoring best on 4 inch, Rapala X Raps in a blue color.  With a warm-up coming this weekend, I expect the winter fishing to get back on track.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Okuma Trio 55.....Could be the BEST BUY in Spinning Reels

Standard retrieve Okuma
High speed retrieve Okuma
Can you buy a quality saltwater spinning reel for just over $60?  I think I have found that deal, and it is an Okuma Trio-55 reel. I used this reel many times this fall from the boat and shore, and my son Jon uses it exclusively from shore. We have caught countless stripers on this reel up to 45 inches and the reel has performed flawlessly.  It is super smooth.  In fact, my brother, Steve, calls it the "smoothest reel he has ever used".  It has a phenomenal drag that is so smooth and silky you almost have to look down at the reel to see if it is going. If you don't believe my assessment, check out the reviews at the link below.  It gets stellar reviews from fishermen who have purchased a Trio.
This reel comes in a standard retrieve, Trio-55, and a high speed model, Trio-55S.  I have both and I prefer the standard model.  I like the handle on this model better and I also thought the standard model was a bit smoother on the retrieve. The Trio-55 weighs in at 15 oz. and matches up well with an 8 or 9 foot surf rod or a 7 foot boat rod.  I spooled my Trios with 30 lb. test Power Pro braid. It is very braid friendly, and I have never gotten a wind know with this reel.
The reel is a super product right out of the box.  However, my big question is how well will it hold up to the abuse of heavy use over time.  I don't know the answer to that question, but for $60, I'm willing to take my chances that it will last at least several years.
You can purchase this reel at at
It lists for $62.50 on this site and that includes shipping. Can you beat that deal!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Winter Fishing So Inconsistent

This hardy angler has landed a hefty
December schoolie in a holdover location.
I am now doing my winter fishing thing in holdover locations in the upper Bay.  For those who have never fished for stripers in the winter, the best way I could describe the fishery would be INCONSISTENT.  This year got off to a fast start.  Back in mid to late November I was getting 15-30 fish a night, and that was just fishing a few hours after dark. These were all schoolies, typical of winter fish.  Well, the fishing has hit the skids in the last week, and it has become inconsistent as I knew it would.  In past years I might blank 4, 5 or 6 times in a row and then, BINGO, the fish are around, and I'd land big numbers.  The fishing might remain good for a few days, and then it would go back to the blanks.
I suspect winter fish move around a lot, especially in warm weather, and that explains some of the inconsistencies.  Sometimes, too, they develop lockjaw and will not hit.  You know this is happening when you start banging into them on the bottom and foul hooking them with your jig.
Regardless of whether you fish for holdovers in such well known spots as the rivers of CT, the south shore ponds of RI, the upper Bay or Boston Harbor, realize that in all these places the fishing is inconsistent and no sure bet. But, hey, it beats sitting at home and watching TV.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Wintering Over Spots Best Bet Right Now

The water temperature along the oceanfront has dipped into the mid forties.  That spells the end.  However, lots of stripers that winter over are now in those backwater places where they will stay throughout the winter.  It's tough fishing.  You'll find few guys willing to go out on a cold night below freezing in search of stripers in the middle of winter.  Yet, for those who do venture out, the fishing can be surprisingly good.  I have been fishing my winter spots for the last two weeks and it is one of the best winter starts I have ever had.  Tonight I was out with only a few other guys.  We had well over a hundred hefty schoolies among us.  The temperature was a cold 28 degrees, but the fishing was hot.
This is one of many stripers landed tonight by just a few hardy fishermen.

FANTASTIC Deal on Camera

I am passing along some info on a fantastic Black Friday deal on a camera.  Many of the pictures you see on this blog and in the articles I write for the magazines were taken with a high end point and shoot camera, a Canon A2200 model.  This camera will fit in your pocket, yet takes fantastic photos and videos.  On this Black Friday, the Canon store is offering an upgraded refurbished model, a A2300 Powershot camera for the unheard of price of $44.99, and that includes a memory card, case and free shipping.  This is a 16 megapixel camera, it has a zoom, it has a variable self timer that lets you get into the picture with plenty of time and takes terrific video.  Don't let the "refurbished" label scare you.  I only buy refurbished.  The company thoroughly goes through these returned cameras and offers the same guarantee as a new one. So, if you are looking to preserve those memories of the big one, look into this.  Can't beat this deal. here is the link:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Top Lures for Winter Holdovers

Just four lures are all that's needed for
winter holdover fishing.
If you are looking for stripers, your best bet right now is to fish the winter holdover spots.  A lot of fish are now moving into those locations. Places like the CT rivers, the backwater ponds of the south shore in RI and rivers of upper Narragansett Bay. These are the places that will produce all winter long if you want to continue catching stripers.
This good size schoolie
was taken 2 nights ago
on a Zoom fluke fished
along the bottom.
Lures and plugs to use for winter holdovers is not complicated.  Unlike the rest of the year when you just can't fit enough in your surf bag, most of what you need in the winter game can fit into your coat pocket.  For the most part, this is a jigging game on light tackle.  Work the bottom slowly because that's where the fish are holding. 
There are three main jigging lures that are "must have" for winter fishing.  The first is the ole reliable bucktail jig spiced with a curly tail.  Next is the Cocahoe mounted on a jighead.  And, finally, the hot producer in the upper Bay is a Zoom fluke mounted on a jighead. All of these lure should be in a light color.  I also like to carry a small swimmer or two like a 4 inch Rapala X-Rap. The small swimmers tend to produce in shallow water when the fish are fussy.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

One Window Closing, BUT Another Window Opening

This hefty schoolie was landed on a
Zoom fluke on a jighead in a
wintering over spot. Stripers are now moving
into those wintering over locations.
There are still fish along the oceanfront.  My son, Ben, has continued to catch a couple just about every outing in the last week.  He's even gotten some small keepers. He knows the spots that produce at this time, and he's good at what he does.  But, I am fishing far from where he is, and I am doing considerably better.
No question, the window along the oceanfront is slowly closing.  There might be a good day here and there within the next week or so, but don't expect sudden fantastic fishing.  Still, if I lived close to the ocean as my sons do, I would be out there trying every day.
Another window is slowly opening, and that's the winter holdover fishing.  I know many guys who fish in the Bay and along the oceanfront who are now catching in those winter spots, backwater locations where stripers will hold up for the winter.  I have been fishing some of those spots in the upper Bay in the last few nights and have scored some good catches.  Yes, they are all schoolies, but that's what makes up the bulk of winter fishing. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Winding Down

There are still a few schoolies around the south
shore beaches and Narragansett.
The signs point to the end being near.  I fished both the south shore beaches and Gansett today.  I did catch a few schoolies, and I saw a few others caught by a sparse number of fishermen.  It was surprising how few fishermen were out and about on the south shore beaches on this beautiful day.  It could be because the fishing has been only marginal in the last four days with a few schoolies here and there.  I've heard of no keepers and no bluefish, but then again, both have been in short supply all fall.  In addition, I saw no birds working and no bait showing. There have been no big schools of herring around. In past years, the consistent fishing tends to wind down about the third week in November.  We are almost there.  Though a good day or two might still occur, I do believe we are seeing the beginning of the end.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hickory Shad on the Move

In the last three outings this week I have caught more hickory shad than stripers.  It tells me the number of stripers are dwindling, and the shad are on the move.  Shad are now exiting RI's coastal ponds and rivers and are migrating southward along the oceanfront.  Shad are often found in the same areas with schoolies.  Hickory shad are aggressive hitters as they will readily take teasers as well as small jigs. I especially like to use shrimp fly teasers and small bucktail jigs (1/8 oz.) to fish for them.
If you want to know the full story about fishing for hickory shad, check out my latest story, Hickory Shad, The Third Option, which appears in this week's issue of The Fisherman magazine (No. 46, Nov. 14).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Still A Lot Going On

Schoolies dominate the fishing scene, but there are also
good numbers of hickory shad mixed in with them.
Keepers are around after dark.
I fished a lot in the last five days and I can tell you that there is still a lot going on from Narragansett to the south shore beachfront.
Yesterday was an interesting day because I caught stripers in three different locations that were miles apart. By day it was all schoolies on Cocahoes, but after dark I had two very good fish (keepers) on but lost both.  It was also day in which I took good numbers of hickory shad.  They have been moving along the oceanfront as well as dropping out of the rivers and ponds as they migrate southward.  Many of them are as big as the schoolies.  Shad can be caught on small bucktail jigs as well as shrimp fly teasers.
Another real positive development is the sighting of ocean herring. My friend Dennis was fishing the  south shore on Sunday and there was a small school right in front of him being harassed. Another guy told me he cut up a big blue he caught and found herring in the bluefish's stomach.  Herring can attract some big bass and blues late into November and even December.
So, the fall marches on with decent fishing continuing.  Once this current cold spell departs, I suspect we will be right back into the decent fishing which could continue into the end of the month.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Schoolies by Day, Keepers by Night

Schoolies were around
in the daytime.
It's been a shore pattern for me all fall, and it has continued into this cold November.  There are schoolies around in the daytime in good numbers.  Keepers can be had but it's a matter of putting in your time after dark.
This keeper was caught after dark
on a large, black Hogy.
Today I fished the south shore beachfront again.  I found some schoolies in the daytime, though there were no big numbers. Heck, I saw more fishermen out today than schoolies caught.   It seems that the numbers of schoolies have dwindled since the big blow on Thursday.  The schoolies I landed today were all taken on Cocahoes.  After dark I slugged it out in the cold for a couple of hours and was rewarded with two keepers in the 28-30 inch range.  These fish hit a large black Hogy.  I had several other hits.  These keepers were typical of what has been around. The keepers seem to mostly be small keepers in the 28-32 inch range.  I have seen and heard of very few larger keepers above 36 inches from shore this fall.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Goodbye Gansett, Hello South Sore

This 12 lb. bluefish was landed yesterday on a snagged
menhaden.  There have been some big blues along
the south shore along with good numbers of schoolies.
About this time every year, I completely switch locations I am fishing.  I am now focusing most of my fishing attention on the south shore beachfront, that area from the West Wall to Westerly.  Of course, the Gansett shore will continue to have fish in the next two or three weeks, but I do think the south shore is a better bet with larger numbers of schoolies, good numbers of keeper bass and even bluefish.
I fished the south shore the last two days and have landed good numbers of schoolies and two large bluefish.  Yes, bluefish, a rare fish this fall.
Yesterday I walked onto one of the south shore beaches.  Immediately, I saw a small pod of large menhaden right in front of me.  I snapped on a snagger, hooked a pogie right away and five seconds later I was onto a big fish that was ripping drag.  That fish ended up being a big bluefish of about 12 lbs., the biggest blue I have landed this year. I got another big blue today and saw several others taken in the last two days.  So, there are some around.  But, realize schoolies are the fish of plenty as I have seen dozens of those landed by a few fishermen.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Where are the Fishermen?

This keeper hit a white Slug Go after dark.
There are schoolies around in the daytime and some
keepers are hitting after dark. But, there are few fishermen.
These days shore fishermen are about as scarce as the bluefish.  Where is everybody?  I fished the Gansett shore today from Narragansett Beach to Galilee and I did not see one guy fishing. Not One!  At the same time, my friend Gene was scouting out the south shore from Weekapaug to Matunuck.  He did not find anyone fishing.  Not One Fisherman! My son, Matt, says it's the cold weather.  Gene thinks many guys have hung it up for the season.  My father says they are not seeing the fish so they're not fishing.  I say most are waiting on the sidelines waiting for something big to happen.
Realize there are good numbers of stripers around.  Most are not showing and most are schoolies.  However, there are also keepers around, especially after dark. I landed 6 schoolies today in the daytime on Cocahoes fishing an area in which nothing was showing.  After dark I landed another 8 fish with one being a small keeper.  The keeper hit a white, 7 1/2 inch Slug Go.  White has been a hot color this fall with white swimmers and white, skinny plastic being hot.
So, we are staring at a fall season with roughly three weeks left of good fishing. Right now there are fish around, but few fishermen are taking advantage of it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Where are the Bluefish?

This is the one and only blue I have caught this year.
It was a three pound bluefish landed in Sept.
Since Sept. 1 I have caught exactly ONE three pound bluefish from shore. I know many fishermen who have caught none.  I'd have to go back 40-50 years ago to find a fall with so few blues. I remember fishing with my father about 50 years ago in Narragansett when a guy fishing on a rock next to us got a strange looking fish while striper fishing.  My father told me the guy had a rare fish....a bluefish.
I have no idea what is going on. There were good numbers around last year and the year before.  They usually appear when large amounts of bait are present.  At times we have had big numbers of bay anchovies, but no blues after them.  I will admit that I have caught some from the boat, but there have not been big numbers.  Last week I was talking to a guy who sets out trap nets along the 'Gansett shoreline.  He even says he has not netted many blues this fall.
Strange fall thus far..... it's been up and down with stripers, though schoolies have been around in big numbers, there were NO albies and there have been NO bluefish.  With colder weather settling in, it is unlikely we will see big numbers of bluefish unless ocean herring come ashore big time.  But, there have been NO herring spotted thus far.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

You've Just Got to Find 'Em

It was all schoolies today in some rough
and nasty water.  There was not another
fisherman to be found.
No doubt about it.  That big blow we had on Friday really messed things  up and cooled the fishing. In fact, the ocean was still charged up today even in a north wind.  As I drove through the 'Gansett spots, it looked like a ghost town.  I could not find one fisherman along the entire shoreline from the beach to Point Judith.  I did see some flocks of birds working way out, a good sign.  However, there was a lot of sandy and rough water in close, a bad sign.
So, I poked around and fished in a number of locations and finally found good numbers of fish.  They were all schoolies, but on a tough day like today, I was ready to take anything I could get.  The fish were hitting small, 3 inch, pearl Cocahoes, a hot lure all fall.  I was using the "new model" Cocahoes.  These seem a little thinner and a little more flexible, giving them more action. Quaker Lane Tackle in East Greenwich has a good supply of them.
Too many fishermen have been driving around and fishing only when they see the fish breaking. Others are sitting at home waiting for the cell phone to ring. If you really work the waters you will find the fish.  It is simply a matter of getting out, putting in your time and fishing.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Very Good Week

A big bucktail jig spiced with pork
rind scored this keeper.
I said a couple of posts back that this dismal fall season could do a turn around.  Well, hopefully, this has been the week of the turn around.  It has been a very good week that saw lots of stripers of all sizes hit the shore.  There were loads of schoolies as expected since those have been around since the summer.  This has also been the best week for keeper bass from shore that I have seen all year along the oceanfront.  I have been getting anywhere from one to several keepers an evening along with lots of schoolies.  My kids are doing the same.
There are several games being played out this week.  Here's the rundown:
This keeper landed tonight
hit a Hogy right at dark.
1. All Out Daytime Blitzes-  Every day this week I have seen the fish somewhere along 'Gansett.  They have been way out for the most part.  But, every once in a while, they hit the shore in a big way.  Most of these are fussy schoolies on bay anchovies, but there are keepers in the mix.  You just have to be at the right spot at the right time. Cocahoes, Kastmaster XLs, and small bucktail jigs are all working when the bay anchovies are around.
2.  Fish in the White Water-  Today I landed 7 fish (3 keepers) with nothing showing in a charged up white water surf.  Yes, there are fish around even in the absence of birds and bait.  You just have to put in your time and work for them. Jigs off the float, Hogys, Slug Goes and needlefish plugs are working well in the white water for fish of all sizes.
3. The Nighttime Game- Try to get into moving water.  Yes, the breachways have been running hot.  I like big bucktail jigs and Daiwa SP minnows.  I also like to add a black Deceiver teaser ahead  my swimmer.  Sharpies using eels are also scoring.
With a big storm hitting the shore tonight, it is sure to change things.  Hopefully, it will get out of here quickly and we can continue on this roll.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A BIG Fish for the Kid

My youngest son, Jon, turns twenty years old in a couple of days.  For his birthday my wife and I got him a new surf fishing outfit which consisted of a 9 foot St Croix Mojo spinning rod along with an Okuma Trio 55 reel.  We gave it to him about a week ago as an early gift.  While he's caught a number of schoolies with his new outfit, he really broke in the gear tonight with the biggest striper he has ever landed from shore.  While fishing after dark with a Yozuri swimmer, the kid landed a 45 inch,  fat striper. He did get an accurate measurement and then released the trophy. He had no camera with him to record the event.  I had a camera with me, but I was fishing a spot five miles away from him.  I'm guessing the fish went over 40 lbs., a terrific catch these days.
Team Pickering is on a roll in the last four or five days as we have scored big numbers of stripers and good numbers of keepers after dark. The after dark fishing has been far more consistent than the daytime fishing, and there are some big fish to be had.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Swimmer/Teaser Combo Getting It Done After Dark

This keeper hit a pearl colored
Daiwa SP Minnow.
This schoolie hit a black
Deceiver fly used as a teaser.
Nighttime fishing has turned surprising good recently and has been far more consistent than the daytime fishing. I've gotten 27 bass while fishing after dark the last two nights. A good number of those have been either keepers or near keepers.  The biggest has gone over twenty pounds. All of these fish have been taken on the same lures.  I am using a swimmer/teaser combination.  The hot swimmer has been a Daiwa SP Minnow in a pearl color.  The hot teaser has been a homemade all black Deceiver fly. The teaser is knotted onto my swivel at the top of a leader of about two feet.  The swimmer has accounted for most of the larger fish while the teaser has tended to catch smaller fish.  With big numbers of bay anchovies around, the Deceiver teaser is a good choice to use as an additional fish catcher.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Newsflash....Massive Numbers of Stripers Hit the Shore Today

A Kastmaster XL got this fish.
Jigs were also working.
I saw the biggest numbers of stripers hit the shore today I have seen in years.  How do you figure?  It had been poor for the last week and all of a sudden the fishing lights up.  This was all triggered by a massive influx of huge schools of bay anchovies.  At one point I could count 7 huge schools of stripers just off the shore with birds working and fish breaking.  I also think that the sudden drop in temperature has contributed to this blitz of fish.
Birds were diving, fish were breaking as massive
schools of stripers were feeding on bay anchovies today.
I will tell you that these fish were fussy.  My son Ben and I were casting for two hours in the daylight into a mass of fish that was the size of a football field.  We landed 13 fish from 20-26 inches but it was a chore to get that.  These fish were feeding on one to two inch bay anchovies and the water was calm and clear, a recipe for fussy fish.  At one point we stood on a rock and looked down into the clear water and could see hundred of stripers.  I was like looking into an aquarium.
The fish hit much better after dark.  I had the biggest night of the fall, landing 23 stripers up to near keeper size.  Most of the fish hit black Deceiver teasers though I caught some on the Daiwa SP minnow.  I did see a number of keeper bass up to 38 inches landed after dark so there are some decent fish around.
Wow, things have really changed! Let's hope it continues.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Not Good

Shore fishing continues to be poor.  I got down a number of times from shore in the last week and all I could scratch together was a few schoolies, and that includes spending quite a bit of time after dark in some very good spots (previous years).  All that bait that I have been seeing offshore in the last month seems to have disappeared.  I saw no evidence of fish or bait way out, a bad sign.
So, here we are at 2/3 of the way through the fall season and I would have to say that thus far, this is the worst year from shore in decades. There have been no albies, very few bluefish, very little bait and a lack of keeper bass. The only bright spot is that there are good numbers of schoolies.  However, the season can still turn around.  In the next couple of weeks the key to what can happen lies with ocean herring.  If you start to see gannets working off the south shore dive bombing into the herring, it will signal something big is on the way. Two years ago big numbers of herring came close to shore in November and it was lights out fishing for weeks for large bluefish and keeper bass.  Yes, it can happen.
I heard an interesting theory as to why there has been so little bait around this fall.  I spoke with a very knowledgeable fisherman who has contacts in the management field.  He claims that when Hurricane Sandy hit the NY and NJ shorelines last year there were vast amounts of baitfish in the bays, rivers and estuaries.  That bait got completely wiped out in the hurricane, and we are seeing the effects of it this year.  Certainly makes sense.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Real Prize from the Boat

It's been a real good fall from the boat for stripers along the oceanfront, but today I got a real surprise as I landed a bonito, a fish I have not caught in years.  The fish was mixed in with good numbers of stripers and bluefish that were all feasting on big schools of bay anchovies.  The bonito, a fish of about 10 lbs., hit an albino colored Zoom fluke mounted on a 3/4 oz. jighead.
There were good numbers of fish once again about a mile off the shore. My bother Steve, my son Ben and I landed close to 20 stripers up to keeper size, a dozen bluefish,  a number of black sea bass and the bonito.  Yes, it was a day of plenty, the kind of day that has been routine from the boat this fall.
This was the prize of the day.  In addition, we landed good numbers
of stripers, blues and black sea bass.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Nighttime Fishing Perks Up

Small keepers in the 28-32 in.
range are hitting at night.
Swimmers like the Daiwa
SP Minnow are good choices
when mullet are around.
This fish was caught last night.
Those big numbers of schoolies that were around last week in the daytime seem to have disappeared.  There are still a few around, but nowhere near what we saw last week.  However, a new game has emerged this week as good numbers of stripers, both schoolies as well as small keepers, are hitting after dark in various locations.
My sons and I have been catching decent numbers of fish along the oceanfront the last three nights using Daiwa SP minnows.  About one in three fish has been a keeper.  The keepers are running 28-34 inches.  This represents an uptick in the numbers of keepers I have seen from shore in recent weeks. Hopefully this trend will continue, and we might even see some larger fish.
What might be bringing these fish close to shore is the appearance of mullet here and there.  I did see a couple of small pods of them in recent days.  When they show up, larger fish are usually close by.  Swimmers are very good imitators to use when mullet are around.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Ocean Calms Down and Fishing Cools Off

Schoolies have been tight
to the shore in the NE wind
and rough water.
Schoolies have been plentiful,
but keeper bass have been scarce.
The ocean has been really stirred up in the last week, but it has delivered very good numbers of fish to the shore. We've had a strong and persistent northeast wind that has sent big waves and a lot of white water pounding the east facing shorelines.  If you could find clean and fishable water, the fishing was hot.  Most of the shoreline along 'Gansett faces east and I have worked that area for the last five days. Birds have been diving along here all week in various spots chasing down small bait (bay anchovies) and lots of stripers were right up against the shore feeding. I fished for the last five days and caught and released a load of schoolies, but surprisingly, I could only manage one lone small keeper after dark last night.  Keeper bass have really been in short supply. Equally surprising has been the total lack of bluefish.  I have only landed one small bluefish from shore this whole fall.  It has been decades since I have seen so few bluefish.  I have no idea what is going on.
The wind switched direction today and the ocean calmed right down.  The fishing calmed down with it, and the big numbers of schoolies seem to have disappeared at least temporarily. Still, there were birds diving here and there today way out, a sign that there is still bait in the area.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Good Times Keep Rolling in the White Water

Fish on was a common event today
as over a hundred fish were
landed by a half dozen  fishermen.
It was very good fishing from the shore again today in a charged up surf.  In fact, yesterday and today were the best two days in a row I have fished this fall.
Either a Cocahoe or
bucktail jig fished off a
float were the hot lures.
I picked a location where the wind was blasting in my face and good size waves were rolling in forming a sea of white.  It is just the conditions that stripers love.  Mix that with a lot of small bait (bay anchovies) and you have the recipe for a great fall day of fishing.  The fish, all schoolies, were around in big numbers.  I fished with about half a dozen other guys this afternoon/evening and I would estimate there were over a hundred fish landed and released.  The hot lure combination was a float and some type of jig, either a bucktail or a Cocahoe on a jighead.  I caught most of my fish on the bucktail (3/8 oz. flathead with curly tail) fished off the float. I also saw a sharpie nailing a good number of fish on a tin lure.
With the northeast wind and rough water predicted for this weekend, it looks like the fishing should remain good.  Find some clean and rough water with bait and you should have decent action. Schoolies and occasional small keepers are around in big numbers.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Coming Alive in Rough Water

Today featured white, rough water with a stiff northeast wind. It was a real stormy day, but it was my type of day for fishing the surf, the type of day that was always a sure bet in the past.
And, it was good.  I met my son Ben in one of our favorite spots.  There was no one else fishing here when we met up.  Of course, most fair weather fishermen stay home in miserable conditions like this, but we live for it. I knew it would be good from my initial glance at the water.  Birds were working all along the surf line, constantly diving down for bait that was within a cast of shore.  Immediately, we began hitting one schoolie after another, some way out at the end of the cast but some within ten feet of where we were wading. This went on for an hour an a half until darkness put an end to the action.  The hot ticket today was the float and Cocahoe, a consistent producer all fall, and a real good choice when stripers are feeding on bay anchovies.
So, once again, a storm lights up the fishing for us.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

From Best Day to Worst Day

Two days ago I had my best day of the fall.  Today I had my worst day of fishing this fall. I was hoping the fishing would perk up after Friday's big hit, but it has died again.  Welcome to this fall's up and down fishing.
Today was one of those days I would have predicted would be good.  The weather was cloudy and drizzly, we a light to moderate northeast wind that produced some moving white water along with a choppy surf and we had a big moon tide.  However, all of that didn't matter because there was no bait around and no stripers.  Unlike other outings where I could see fish way out, today there was nothing in at least four spots I fished.  I fished all these spots hard, but realize it is near impossible to pick off a resident fish from shore.  The fish are under the bait.  No bait, no's that simple.
We are about halfway through the fall season and it has very much been a hit or miss proposition from shore with more misses than hits.  I'm hoping the fishing will become more consistent but don't count on it.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Big Time Shore Blitz! Finally!

Many of the fish today
were small keepers
up to 30 inches.
The hot lure today was a small
white Cocahoe fished alone an
not on a float.
Finally, a big time shore blitz of stripers hit the spot we were fishing in today.  It was the best day of shore fishing thus far this fall.  Unlike the past month when the schools of bait and stripers held way out off the shore, today they hit the shoreline with a vengeance.  Like a storm surge coming ashore, everything...birds, vast schools of bay anchovies and big schools of hungry stripers all charged the shore.  At one point I was standing on a rock and I looked down and right at my feet were dozens of keeper bass along with some smaller ones just tearing through the bait.  It was like looking at an aquarium.  This type of action went on for hours and there was hardly a fisherman around except for my two sons and me.
In all we landed 75 -80 stripers today with at least 25 of them keepers in the 28-30 inch range.  We got no big fish but just about everything was over 24 inches.  These fish were hefty and well fed.  I will tell you that the fish were fussy.  They always are when they are on those small bay anchovies.  The hot lure today was a small, three inch Cocahoe fished alone (no float).  You couldn't cast it way out but when the fish are at your feet, you don't need a long cast.  I tried after dark and landed half a dozen schoolies on black, Deceiver teasers fished ahead of a black Hogy.
It was quite the day and hopefully the start of a trend. We've waited a long time for this.
Bait, birds and tons of stripers all hit the shore today setting
up some wild action.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

After Dark Does It

A homemade black Deceiver teaser
was effective tonight.
Some of the larger schoolies
were hitting the skinny Hogy.
Today was a weird day from shore.  I got down to the oceanfront in late afternoon.  In the first spot I stopped at there were several big schools of stripers way out and well out of casting range. For two hours these fish were on the surface eating away just teasing the few of us on shore.  Once in a while, they would come in close enough for my son, Ben, to reach them with his ten foot rod. He landed several schoolies on the float and jig while I got nothing.

On cue, everything disappeared at dark.  However, I decided to stay and try into the night.  I used a 9 inch, black, skinny Hogy with a black Deceiver teaser rigged ahead of it.  In the past, this has been one of my go to rigs at night.  Well, it worked like a charm as I began getting hit after hit, sometimes two or three hits on a single cast.  I have no idea what the fish were doing, but they were not getting hooked!  I must have had 20 hits before I landed my first fish, a schoolie, on the teaser.  I landed quite a few more fish after that with half falling for the teaser and half on the Hogy.
So, maybe the key to catching those daytime fish that seem to hold way out is to fish after dark.  Clearly, this evening those fish moved close to shore with darkness. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Boaters Have Big Advantage; Shore Fishing Continues Poor

Today's outing from shore
produced this lone schoolie.
I got down today to fish from shore.  I slugged it out all afternoon into the night in a number of locations and landed one lone schoolie at dark.  There was practically no one fishing and for good reason.  Shore fishing has been poor.  Yet, if you ride around and scan the ocean's surface way out with binoculars you can find birds diving here and there and an occasional fish breaking way out. I have spotted fish way out on just about every outing, including today.  Everything....birds, bait, stripers and blues are way out and not close to shore.
Fishing from the boat this weekend was fantastic.
Bait, birds and stripers all seem to be all hanging
way out and well out of range of surfcasters.
We went out in the boat this weekend and had a banner day. I have friends who have been fishing in boats, and they all report good and consistent success along the oceanfront from Narragansett to Charlestown.  However, I also know a lot of fishermen who have been fishing from shore and they all report fair to poor fishing. They all complain that there is little bait near shore and very few blues and  stripers except for occasional schoolies.
I think we need some stormy weather to get things moving.  The beautiful, tranquil weather has been going on for a month now. In the past storms like northeasters and tropical storms have moved a lot of fish and lit up fishing after they have passed.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Phenomenal Striper Day from the Boat

We hit an incredible day of striper fishing today from the boat.   I have said all along this fall that the bait and the fish seem to be hanging way out away from surfcasters.  It was proven today as we fished in water that was generally 15-20 feet deep.  There we found incredible numbers of stripers.  In all my brother Steve, my son Ben and I landed well over 80 stripers.  At least 35 of those fish were keepers.  Many of these keepers were hefty fish in the 32-37 inch range.
The big hit of fish almost didn't happen because these fish were not showing.  We were traveling along a shoreline along the mainland when my son Ben spotted a fish that broke water.  We stopped the boat and started casting. Almost immediately we hooked up with decent fish.  Schools of them would show up on the fishfinder down deep, and when they showed it was a sure bet to get them.  They were so thick in places that all three of us would hook up at once on a drift.  These fish were all caught drifting and casting super Zoom flukes mounted on 3/4 ounce jigheads.  This fishing continued for hours.  We never saw big numbers of fish jumping, found little bait, and saw no birds were working, but the fish were around big time. It proves you just have to work some spots to find the fish, and we did that today in a big way.
These are two keepers from a haul of 80 stripers in an afternoon/evening
 of fishing along the RI mainland shore.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Way Off

I caught this schoolie this evening off the beach.
Schoolies are chasing small pods of bay anchovies
that pop up here and there along the oceanfront.
Keepers and bluefish are scarce.
There has been a slight uptick in the shore fishing this week, but the bottom line is that the fishing thus far in September is way, way off.  In fact, I will tell you that this is one of the poorest Septembers that I have ever seen in recent memory. Between myself and my two youngest sons, we are fishing every day of the week.  We are fishing both daytime and nighttime and cover the south shore beachfront as well as the rocky shores of Gansett.  Here is what is going on:
*Bait continues to be a big problem.  There are  small pods of bay anchovies here and there, but their numbers are way off. These pods have been hanging out well past casting range for the most part.  Every once in a while the bait comes close to shore, like yesterday when my son Jon landed 16 schoolies in a little over an hour in one small area.  Today, it didn't happen.
*Keeper bass are scarce from shore.  Most of the stripers around are schoolies.  They are generally small, averaging about 20 inches, but their numbers are off compared to past Septembers.
*Bluefish are scarce.  Hey, not much bait, not much blues.  Pretty simple.
*False albacore are nowhere to be found.  I'm writing them off.  A big slug of them does not suddenly happen in October. Their numbers generally build during September and we are at zero right now. Without a lot of bait, there will be few or no albies.
*There are rumors around about mullet in some of the breachways. If you can find them, you have a good shot at larger fish.  I have not seen any yet.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dead as a Doornail....Bait, Stripers Disappear; Albies Nowhere to be Found.

We're on a downhill slide once again.  Since Thursday, the fishing along the oceanfront has slowly fizzled.  Today I went down and checked out places that had been producing earlier in the week.  I found no bait, no birds diving, no fish and no fishermen. I fished a lot of white water and rocky drop-offs today but could not even find a schoolie or a bluefish.  It was dead as a doornail.  Just when it looked like fall fishing was gaining some steam earlier in the week, it has suddenly come to a halt. With bad weather forecast tonight it looks like tomorrow could be ugly.
Note also that there are no albies around. If they are not here by now, don't expect a big run of them.  I'm hoping there will be a short run in the next week or so, but I'm not sure that will happen without a big shot of bait.  I can tell you that if you look back over the last twenty or thirty years, there were years in which there no albies.  They are never a sure bet. Many inexperienced fishermen look back over the last couple of years, great albie years, and think it will get better and better every year.  Not so.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Okuma Reels....Can They Compete?

The Okuma Trio-55 has been a solid
performer thus far.
Okuma makes some of the best freshwater reels around.  I have been using them for years for my carp fishing, and I consider them a "best buy", especially the Okuma Avenger baitrunner reels. But, from what I've observed few fishermen use this brand in saltwater.  I'm on a mission to find out just how good they are for saltwater fishing.
I've entered into a "relationship" with the Okuma company and have access to many of their products.  The first reel I'm trying out for saltwater is their Trio model.  This past week I used a Trio-55, a medium size reel that weighs about 15 oz. I spooled it with 30 lb. Power Pro braid and will tell you that this reel is VERY braid friendly.  Not a wind knot in over a week of fishing.  The reel is corrosion resistant and is suited for fishing inshore waters.  I've already caught about 50 stripers on the reel and have used it from the surf and boat.  My first impression of this reel is that it is smooth as silk.  It has a solid feel and the drag is super smooth.  Of course, these descriptions could describe most new reels right out of the box.  The true test of a saltwater reel is how it fares over time and that will have to wait to find out.  The good news is that this reel lists for $89 but you can find it on the Internet for about $70-$75.  In my mind, it is a real buy for a quality reel.
If you are looking for information on Okuma products, check out their website at

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Jigs Getting the Job Done

Schoolies are abundant these days.
This one was taken on a Cocahoe
mounted on a 1/2 ounce jighead
that trailed off a wooden float.
You don't need a whole bag full of plugs and lures to catch fish right now.  Jigs are catching most of the stripers and bluefish because these fish are feeding on small bait such as bay anchovies and small sandeels. Jigs are the best imitators of this small baitfish.  I have been out every day in last five days and have caught between 6-12 fish an outing, so it has been very steady. Most of these have been schoolies with an occasional small keeper.  Stripers are outnumbering bluefish 10 to 1. Here are the top jigs:
1. Cocahoes on jigheads.  I like the larger white or glow colored queen Cocachoe mounted on half ounce jigheads. I either use this as is or off a wooden float.
2. Bucktail jigs.  These are also working well.  I like 3/8 or 1/2 oz. flathead jigs that I make myself.  You will need to add a three inch white plastic tail to make the jig effective.  I like the Bass Pro triple ripple grub tails.  Once again, use the jig alone or off a float. The jig works especially well when stripers and blues are mixed.
3.  Zoom flukes on jigheads.  I like the albino colored super flukes mounted on a half ounce jighead.  Use it alone or off a float. 

Monday, September 16, 2013


All the stripers today were schoolies
in the 20-24 inch range.
A float with a Cocahoe was the hot lure.
Fishing has taken a big upturn in the last couple of days as this roller coaster of a month of fishing has taken a turn for the better.  Big schools of bay anchovies are flooding into the waters along the oceanfront, and stripers and bluefish are on their tails.
The fish are feeding on 1 inch
bay anchovies.
Big schools have moved in.
I got down today and fished with my kids.  You just had to look for the fish and you'd find them.  They were all along a big swath of the oceanfront.  For the most part these schools of fish were out of casting distance but every once in a while a school would pop up right in front of us.  That would cause the three of us to haul the float and Cocahoe combo right into the middle of the school.  At times all of us would hook up at once.  Most of the fish were stripers, schoolies in the 20-24 inch range, but there were also decent numbers of 3-5 lb. bluefish in the mix. I will also tell you that these fish were fussy.  Many times a cast into the middle of a school of fish the size of a gymnasium would not even get a hit.  That's the way it is when bass and blues are on one inch bay anchovies.
The only thing missing from the mayhem of today was false albacore.  To my knowledge, no one has landed one yet along the oceanfront, but with the bait situation building, it's only a matter of time. I expect we'll see some caught before the end of the week.

Friday, September 13, 2013

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

There are some schoolies here and there in white water
along the oceanfront. However, keepers are
 few and far between.
Wednesday was one of the few good days I have seen this month. That's because I found a small pod of bait and the starving stripers and blues were feasting.  One step forward.  I was hoping the fall season was finally on its way.  Wrong thinking.  I went back on Thursday and found some rough, but fishable water along the oceanfront.  However, the bait and breaking fish were nowhere to be found. Two steps back.  I slugged it out all afternoon and evening in a few spots and was lucky to land two schoolies on a float and Cocahoe combo. My kids scouted around today and reported seeing nothing.
The big problem thus far in September is a lack of bait and a lack of resident keeper stripers.  Heck, a big fish these days from the mainland shore is 30 inches.  There are schoolies here and there that get active whenever white water forms. In addition, there have been no false albacore around, a bad sign at this point.
The lack of bait is problematic.  The fishing will remain fair or poor if no run of bait develops.  For small bait it will have to be bay anchovies because that's about all that we have these days.  Forget peanut bunker because breeding adults are at an all time low.  We haven't seen big numbers of peanuts in years.  As far as bigger bait, we can hope that a mullet run will materialize.  In the past that has happened from mid September to mid October.  Some fishermen are reporting a few mullet here and there, but I have seen none.
One more note.  I have never seen so few fishermen out and about at this time of year. In the last five outings, it has been rare for me to see another fisherman plugging for stripers, blues or albies from shore.  There aren't even fishermen driving around and looking.  Even the bottom fishermen are few and far between.  Some will claim it is the high price of gasoline.  I blame the poor fishing.  We are not off to a good start this fall. It should be better.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Find the Bait and You'll Find the Fish

The biggest fish of the evening
was this small keeper.
Today was a big day for us.  We finally found a pile of bait and that led to a big day of fishing from shore for stripers and bluefish. We had our biggest day from shore in months.
The best lure today
was a Cocahoe fished
off a float.
I met up with my two youngest kids and fished the afternoon and evening with them.  We scouted out a big piece of the oceanfront and finally found some birds working bait in one particular spot.  That followed with pods of stripers and bluefish feeding on the bait and jumping for hours.  Yet, these fish were fussy.  It was a classic case of predators on small bait (bay anchovies) that was difficult to imitate.  In  addition, the stripers and blues were not aggressive.  The only thing that would get them to hit was a small white Cocahoe which was fished off a wooden float.  The dozens of stripers we landed were generally schoolies but we had a couple of near keeper fish, maybe a few that were just keepers.
There is no question that saltwater fishing is on an upswing. There have been increasing numbers of stripers and bluefish in the last few days.  However, there are still no false albacore to be found.  I do think it is only a matter of time before these fish show up. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Where's the Bait?

Even with the lack of bait, there are good
numbers of schoollies around.
Keepers, however, are in short supply.
Boaters as well as shore guys are all asking the same question.....where's the bait? At this time last year,  the oceanfront was choking with bay anchovies, but this is a different year.  Without bait there has been very few keeper stripers or bluefish around  and not a sign of false albacore yet.  Until a run of bait develops fishing will remain slow.
My two youngest kids, URI students, are now living in Gansett and have been out every day in the last week.  I got out today and fished with my son, Jon.  Even with the lack of bait, there have been good numbers of schoolies around, especially in any white water.  I landed 3 today and Jon landed 4 schoolies.  These were all cookie cutter clones, 20 inch skinny fish. Both boys have been getting some fish every outing, but no keepers, even when slugging it out at night in some very good spots.  Most serious shore fishermen are complaining about the lack of keeper fish. There have also been very few blues around at a time when they are usually in abundance.
I've been doing this long enough to know things can change from one day to the next at this time of year.  I'm hoping the upcoming cold nights will get things going.