Thursday, January 31, 2013

Stripers Gone WILD

I suppose it can happen at any time of the year.  Winter is no exception.  You hit these rare days or nights striper fishing when everything is just right..... wind, tide, atmospheric conditions, bait, etc.  Get all those things to fall perfectly into place and combine it with a boatload of fish and you have situations where stripers can go wild.
It was one of those times yesterday.  Most fishermen know I fish all winter long for stripers.  Haven't been saying much this year, but still putting in my time and catching with fair success. Winter fishing is a different ballgame than the rest of the year and can best be described as VERY inconsistent.  It's hard to figure out. Sometimes they are around and hitting and sometimes they are not.  You just simply have to get out and try it.
Winter fishing had been completely shut down for the last week due to the extreme cold and severe icing.  In  places where  I fish just a couple of days ago I probably could have walked out, chopped a hole and jigged.  There was that much ice.  Yet, in one day of a big warm up, huge wind, storminess and rough water, the ice was suddenly broken apart and gone.  I mean ALL GONE in a matter of hours.
Whether it was the departing ice, or the storminess of the day or the pressure dropping, all hell suddenly broke loose.  I saw fish busting on the surface and they were in that wild mood to attack anything that moved.  It was as hot as it gets with lots of schoolies and even near keepers landed (see photo of near keeper at left). As usual, all the action was on a Zoom fluke mounted onto a half oz. jighead.
So, yesterday was real good.  Today might be a different story.  But, like all striper fishing, nothing is a sure bet and you just have to get out and try it.  Even in January!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Plan C, Another Freshwater Option

When I go fishing in the wintertime, it is mostly for wintering over stripers.  However, the recent deep freeze has completely frozen many of the places I fish, making striper fishing impossible. Ditch plan A.  My second choice in the wintertime is chasing oversized carp in freshwater, especially in moving water locations.  However, that is impossible also at this point since all those carp spots are also frozen solid.  So, it's onto plan fishing.
Unlike most ice fishermen who like to fish with tilts and shiners as bait, I just jig.  I will go to a pond and walk for hours, cutting holes and jigging with my homemade three foot rod.  It has led to some terrific catches in recent years (not last year, no ice) which include good sized largemouth bass, salmon and oversized yellow perch.  So, in the last week, I have been back on the ice, jigging away.  I have been catching some decent fish (see photo at right of largemouth I jigged up this morning) as well as variety.  Using my go-to set up which is a small gold Kastmaster spiced with a meal worm, I have landed bluegills, sunfish, yellow perch and largemouth bass.  It can be exciting and offers yet another option for fishermen who might be experiencing cabin fever to get out and fish in the winter.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

5 Knots to Learn Before the Season Begins

Many fishermen will tell you that the most important aspect of your terminal set-up is the knot or knots you are using.  The right knot can be responsible for landing that trophy fish.  The wrong knot or a knot that is improperly tied can lead to heartbreak with the loss of a big fish.
There are exactly 5 knots that I always use.  The use of these knots will depend on whether you are using braided line of monofilament. They should cover just about any situation you are fishing from shore.  There are two informative websites that will give you some great illustrated instructions and directions for tying these knots. The sites are  (Grog's Fishing Knots) and (Power Pro Knots).
Here are the knots and the situations in which I use them:
1. Improved Clinch Knot- This is my go to knot when using monofilament line to tie things on.  This knot is used to make mono leaders (tie on swivel and snap), to tie teasers onto a swivel, to tie hooks and plugs directly to the mono, to tie your running line onto a spool that needs line, etc. This knot works great with monofilament line but I don't trust it with braid.  Can be found at the Grog site above.
2. Rapala Knot- This is a looped knot.  I use this at times with jigs since the loop at the tie point allows the jig to move freely.  It is also great to use with swimmers to allow the plug more movement in a direct looped tie.  Once again, only use with mono. Found at Grog site above.
3.  Surgeon's Knot- This is a spicing knot that is used  to attach two sections of monofilament line with different pound test.  It is my go to knot when tying shock leaders onto monofialment running line. Found at Grog site.
4. Uni Knot-  This knot does for braided line what the improved clinch knot does for mono.  Found at Power Pro site.
5. Uni to Uni Splice Knot- I use this knot when attaching braid to monofilament backing on my reel.  It is the best knot I have found to join mono to braid.  Very useful if you purchase braid in 150 yard spools (as many of us do) and you want to add it to your mono backing. Found at Power Pro site.
Knot tying is simply a matter of practice.  On these cold winter nights, why not sit by the computer with some line and get to work learning some of these essential knots.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

At the Vice

I've spent a lot of time at the vice in my basement tying up a number of flies and jigs in anticipation of the upcoming season.  Here is a list of some of the stuff I have been making that should catch a lot of fish next year.
Teasers-  These are really flies that are rigged as teasers.  Two of them have been hot in recent years.  The first is a shrimp fly teaser that is deadly for early season stripers and hickory shad.  My other fly/teaser that has been very effective in recent years is the black Deceiver.  That is a great fly/teaser to use when small bait, especially sandeels, are around at night.  All black is always best if you are fishing after dark for stripers.
Albie Deceiver fly-  I have a great fly that I use as an albie catcher.  It is a blue tailed Deceiver, and it was really effective last year when used with a float and casted with spinning gear.  The problem with this fly is that the bluefish really love it too.  I must have tied at least two dozen of them for next year.  Watch The Fisherman magazine as they will be running a feature soon on exactly how to tie this fly.
Bucktail Jigs-  These are always hot when small bait is around.  I have been tying a bunch of flathead jigs in  3/8 oz. and 1/2 oz. sizes. These jigs work real well when small bait like bay anchovies are around.   They are real good for stripers and blues on light tackle, and they are also very effective for fluke and black sea bass.  I like to tie mine with red thread and white bucktail.  The head of the jig is painted with white powder paint.
If you don't tie your own stuff, consider starting.  It's easy to do and there are many books and Internet resources that will get you started.  It will save you a bundle and will get you some lures that are impossible to find in stores and tackle shops (like shrimp fly teasers).  Winter is a great time to tie.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Saltwater License Needed for 2013

If you are planning to fish saltwater anytime soon, you will need a new 2013 license.  I don't know if the vendors around the state have them yet, but I do know you can get them online at I got mine this morning from the DEM website.  The cost is $7 for residents which makes it the least expensive in New England. There is some confusion with fishing licenses in this state because your saltwater license expires at the end of December while your freshwater license expires at the end of February.  So, freshwater can still fish for two more months with your 2012 license. Only in RI!