Friday, May 31, 2013

Check Out The Fisherman Website

I was just at The Fisherman magazine website at I have to tell you that I am very impressed.  The website is loaded with information and free articles about all types of fishing from saltwater to freshwater from boating to shore to cooking your catch to how-to articles and more.  It has videos,  info on the current regulations, events information,  and subscription information. The Fisherman has long been a regional force in the media world of fresh and saltwater fishing, and they have a big loyal following here in southern New England. For a long time, it was just a paper magazine, but recently they've added a website.  And, it is terrific!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Popper Does it Tonight

The popper has not exactly been a great plug for me this spring, but it was the best plug in my bag tonight.  I was fishing some shallow water in the Bay with a bucktail jig and a Zoom fluke with no success.  Then, I spotted a couple of fish breaking after bait way out in front of me.  I went right for the popper, a good choice when stripers are chasing bait on the surface in the spring. The plug I used was a 4 inch Creek Chub popper, one of those $2.50 specials that I picked up at Walmart. Small poppers on light tackle are a good bet in shallow water spots in the Bay. Well, they jumped all over this plug tonight with some spectacular hits.  I landed quite a few hefty schoolies in the 20-25 inch range, good size fish on my light outfit with 10 lb. test mono line.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Focus on Lures....What's Working, What's Not

I've been catching big numbers of schoolies in the Bay from shore in this nasty weather of the last few days.  While many fishermen will guess it's the spot I am fishing that is delivering the fish, I will tell you that is only half of the puzzle.  I will also tell you that there are stripers in just about every cove, river  and shallow area in the Bay right now.  Some places have more than others, but there are fish  all over.  Focus on the other half to the puzzle which is using the right stuff. I constantly see fishermen in the right places, but because they are using the wrong plugs and lures, they are blanking.
Here is what has really worked for me in the last four evenings to land over 30 fish:
1.  Jigs- middle of photo- I have been scoring well using both the 4-inch Zoom fluke on a jighead and a small half ounce bucktail jig with a curly tail.  I think the fluke has worked better in calm water and the bucktail has worked well in rough water.  Both are key lures to use in the Bay right now.  Cast them out and bounce the rod tip as you retrieve.
2.  Float and jig or float and skinny plastic- top of photo- Both have worked well when the wind has been blowing in my face and a long cast is needed.  The float and bucktail seems to work best before dark while the float and 6 inch Slug Go seems to work best at and after dark.  Cast and reel slowly with slight pulls of the rod tip.
3.  Skinny Plastic- bottom of photo-  I have been using a pink Slug Go or Hogy in the daylight and I have shifted to black after dark.  They have been the only thing working on top.  Cast and vigorously jerk the rod tip while retrieving slowing.  The 7 1/2 inch Slug Go seems to be the best size.  Note that this only works well when the wind is at your back. 
Here is what is not working in the Bay right now: poppers, Cocahoes and swimmers.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Outlook for Holiday Weekend

I'm sure a lot of fishermen are looking forward to the holiday weekend and will take the opportunity to do some fishing.  Here's the outlook the way I see it.
Contrary to a lot of reports, striper fishing is really a hit or miss type of deal. I think it should be better.  The number of schoolies has declined in recent weeks as they always do around this time.  Keepers are no sure bet and will take a lot of effort to find them from boat or shore.  I was out earlier in the week in the Bay and could only find a few blues. There seems to be a few blues around in a number of locations but no big numbers.  I kept moving around and I found decent numbers of schoolies from shore the last two evenings.  Last night I landed 16 schoolies on bucktail jigs from a Bay location.  However, I will tell you that I know a lot of good fishermen who are blanking and complaining about the sudden lack of fish.  Boaters in the Bay could find a school of pogies that might have big fish under them, but weather will not be in their favor this weekend.  I suspect the weather will also put a damper on fishing along the oceanfront. You have a better shot at catching a keeper there if you fish at night or in the early morning or evening.
If you really want to catch something to eat (scup and black sea bass), nearby Buzzards Bay is the place to be if you fish from a boat. I saw boaters there this week just hammering large scup along with good numbers of keeper black sea bass.  In some places the bottom seemed to be paved with them.  There are also big schools of bluefish roaming this Bay chasing schools of small sandeels. Nothing close to  this exists in RI waters right now.
Finally, freshwater is also a terrific bet right now.  My son, Jon, and I got out largemouth bass fishing this week at a local pond and we landed good numbers of them on plastic worms.  I have also been out carp fishing a lot in the last two weeks and have gotten phenomenal numbers of large fish. I had two fish in the thirties (pounds!) and 10 fish in the 20's.  I also had countless fish in the teens.  If you are interested in how this non-traditional fishing is done, check out my carp fishing blog at

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Day in Buzzards Bay

We mixed it up a bit today.  Based on past logs, this was a good time to hit Buzzards Bay by boat for a variety of fish so that's where we decided to fish. The move to this area proved to be a good one.  Our main goal was to fish for black sea bass.  We began hitting some of our past hotspots that were marked on the GPS.  We initially picked up a few keepers on bucktail jigs along with several large scup, but the action was on the slow side.  So, we headed off in search of stripers and bluefish.  Along one point we found a bunch of terns diving and fish breaking.  It was all bluefish feeding on a mass of small sandeels.  We caught the blues on poppers and bucktail jigs.  They went from 5 lbs. up to a large one of 10-11 lbs. that Steve caught (see photo).  This proved to be almost non-stop action and we were the only boaters fishing for them. When we got sick of catching blues, we headed back to our original spot to try again for black sea bass.  And, they were there in good numbers.  We landed two or three on just about every drift by bouncing 3/4 oz flathead bucktail jigs that were spiced with 4 inch white, triple ripple plastic curly tails.  All the sea bass we caught were keepers in the 14-16 inch range (see photo).  There were no real big ones, but no small ones either.
Buzzards Bay is one of those spots that offers a lot of variety at this time of year and a lot of fish. It's really a short drive from RI and is well worth the effort. The place is loaded with black sea bass, large scup, bluefish and stripers. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013


I went out in my brother's boat this evening in the Bay.  We wanted to liveline menhaden and rode around looking for pogies to snag.  We could not find any.  Who knows where all that bait went that was so abundant in mid week. So, we ditched that plan and plugged with artificials instead. We found a shallow cove that had a good amount of fish.  Some were whirling, while others were being spooked by our drifting boat.  I began working a pink Hogy.  I was getting follows and whirls but no real strikes.  Sometimes a fish making a big wake would follow in back of the Hogy and turn away right at the boat. I tried varying the retrieve, moving it faster, moving it slower, giving it more rod action, but nothing seemed to get a fish to strike.  I've seen this type of thing go on before and sometimes these fish never do turn on. 
My brother was using a small swimmer with no success and all of a sudden, he hooks into a decent fish.  The keeper bass was over 28 inches (see photo) but that was his only hit as fish continued to whirl around us.  I switched to a white, 7 1/2 inch Slug Go, and the same follows and whirls continued until finally I was onto what I thought was a good fish.  Darn, turns out to be a bluefish (see photo).  I got the 5 lb. fish in, released it and and replaced my cut up Slug Go with a smaller six inch model, hoping to fool a striper.  Same story.....lots of whirls and follows, but no takers.  All of sudden, bang, I am onto a decent fish.  Maybe a keeper? Nope, turns out to be a good size blue in the 7-8 lb. range. I got that fish in and released it.  By now, it turned dark and all the activity ceased ending what was a very frustrating night.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Far Less Fish but Bigger

The reports paint a rosy picture of our striper fishing this week.  I don't see it that way.  There has been a noticeable decrease in the numbers of schoolies around in the last week in both the Bay and along the oceanfront, but there are reports of some large fish being taken here and there.  However, it will take considerable effort to catch one of those few big fish.
The ocean has been rough this week with the fronts going through.  Many places have been dirty with sand and weed and as of yesterday, good size rollers were still pounding the shoreline.  My sons and friends have been out along the oceanfront many times in the last week. The numbers of fish, particularly schoolies, are down, but there are occasionally big fish being taken.  I'm talking fish over 20 lbs.
I have been hitting the Bay from shore.  The numbers of schoolies are down along the Bay, but bluefish are on the increase.  I haven't seen big schools of blues, but these are loners who play havoc with plastic offerings.
My brother has been out in the boat a couple of times this week.  He got a couple of small stripers and small bluefish, but his target was mainly keeper bass.  The upper Bay has a lot of menhaden right now, but not that many big fish under them.  My brother live lined pogies most of one day in some real good spots.  He had several chases from stripers, but the fish were too small to take the bait.  He was also harassed by large blues that were just chopping up the offerings.
So, for the first time in  a month, I would rate the fishing as only fair right now. That could change in the coming days, especially in the Bay where lots of big bait is holed up.  Yes, there are some bigger fish around, but you will have to really work to catch one.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Warning: They're Around

I am talking about bluefish.  Yes, they are around in increasing numbers along both the Bay and the oceanfront.  I fished from shore tonight in the Bay and saw four of them caught and only one striper taken. I got my first bluefish of the year, a scrappy 5 pounder on a pink Hogy (see photo).  Strange thing about these blues tonight was that they would not hit a hard plug.  They were keying on plastics and just tearing these expensive offerings to shreds.  It's always a dilemma in the early going because the stripers tend to key on skinny plastic in the Bay, and they won't hit a hard plug either in some spots.  So, sometimes you just have to keep feeding the skinny plastic to the blues if you want to eventually get to a striper.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Bay a Good Bet Right Now

In the last five evenings I have been fishing the Bay.  It is the first time this year in which I have out fished my son, Ben, who has been slugging it out at the oceanfront.  Problem with the ocean has been that big waves battered the coast in mid week sending in a lot of sand and weedy water.  The rough water has also moved a lot of fish out.
Bay fishing has been very good but not spectacular for me.  I have been getting between five and fifteen fish an evening.  One fish in ten has been a keeper in the 28-30 inch range (see photo of keeper caught last night on bucktail jig). My brother, Steve, hit it real big earlier in the week while fishing from his boat.  He landed an astounding 25 keepers on artificials in one morning of fishing.  Six of those fish went 32-35 inches.
Note that there are loads of pogies in the upper Bay right now, though there seems to be no big numbers real large fish under them.  That could change, though, in the coming days.
So, right now, I think the Bay is the best bet for shore or boat fishermen.  Whether you fish the upper Bay, the mid Bay or the lower Bay, there are lots of stripers to be had if you can find them.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Lure of the Week....the Bucktail Jig

This has been one of the hottest weeks of spring fishing I have ever seen along the oceanfront. My kids and I have landed hundreds of stripers.  While most have been schoolies, there have also been a good number of keepers in the mix.  The hottest lure of the past week has been the bucktail jig (check out pic of angler with a fish taken on a bucktail jig yesterday).  Oh, the Cocahoe has also been getting its share, but when the water kicks up and it's rough, the bucktail jig far outshines the Cocahoe.
The bucktail jig tracks much deeper than the more buoyant plastic Cocahoe minnow.  At this time of year, the stripers are right along the bottom and the lure that can stay in the productive zone the longest tends to score the most fish. So, in the last few days when the strong northeast winds kicked up a big surf, I went to the bucktail jig.  I was having my best  luck on a homemade 3/4 oz flathead jig.  The jig has a white painted head and white bucktail and is tied with red thread.  For those making or buying bucktail jigs, the key is to stock a number of sizes from 1/4 to 1 oz.  The size of the lure you choose will depend on the surf conditions.  It is also important to add a plastic curly tail to the jig.  I prefer the triple ripple tails from Bass Pro (see photo).  The three inch size goes well with the jigs I am using.
Here's how I work my jigs.  Cast out and let it sink to the bottom or close to it (need to develop a feel for this).  Reel at a slow to moderate pace with an occasional bounce of the rod tip. Pull back on anything you feel.  Braided line will give you the best feel when working a jig.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Getting Out With the Boys

As many of you know, I have four boys. My boys are now pretty much all grown up and range in age from 19 years old to 26.  I taught them all to fish when they were young.  When they were little, I often took them to a local pond pushing two in a double baby carriage and holding the hands of the other two. They all continued doing it as they grew into adults.  Even as adults, they still love to fish with their father.  Yes, I am lucky!  So, it didn't take much prodding when they called yesterday to see if I wanted to meet three of them along the oceanfront. My son, Matt, drove down from Boston where he lives and works, and my sons, Jon and Ben, live in Narragansett since they are students at URI. My other son, Chris, was in Kansas City for the weekend.  You never can get all of them together at once.  So, Matt, Jon, Ben, and I headed for one of my favorite spots for an evening of surf fishing for stripers.
We went to a location where I often took them when they were kids.  When they were seven or eight years old they could  just barely get around in a baggy pair of waders and swinging an eight foot surf rod was a chore.  But, they loved wading in the surf, tossing a lure into the waves and battling stripers. It was in their blood. I have photo books of them hauling in some decent fish on the spring runs catching fish that were half as tall as them.  It was like deja-vu yesterday.
The fabulous spring run of fish along the RI oceanfront was still in full swing.  The three kids were excitedly hauling in striper after striper, sometimes scoring double and triple headers using a teaser rig.  The fish were all sizes, ranging from 10 inch schoolies up to keeper fish of 28-30 inches.  There were increasing numbers of larger schoolies in the 22-26 inch range. I took pictures in between catching fish.
The four of us landed and incredible number of fish, and yesterday will be remembered as a great fishing day that we'll talk about many times this year when we have family get togethers.  Just another memorable day of family fishing in a lifetime of many.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Menhaden, Keepers, and Bluefish

Things are moving fast in the Bay as fishing has exploded.  I went out last evening and was treated to quite a sight.  Before dark, there were menhaden flipping here and there in front of me.  While this was happening I landed a keeper bass (second of the evening...see photo) along with some smaller fish.  However, right at dark the menhaden came to the surface in astronomical numbers.  They were like rain all over the water as you could hear them and see them.  Occasionally one came flying out of the water as I assume it was being chased by big fish. It was awesome.
While this was going on in front of me, a friend of mine was fishing about ten miles away in another section of the Bay.  He reported the same thing going on in front of him.  There were also decent numbers of stripers in his area as he landed two keepers.  Surprisingly, two guys fishing next to him also landed several bluefish! Yikes, they are here already, no doubt lured into the Bay by massive numbers of pogies.
While all this was going on, my son Ben was thirty miles away fishing the oceanfront.  He landed 20 stripers (one keeper of 32 inches) along with 5 hickory shad.
I can tell you that fishing is as hot as it gets in the springtime right now.  Big numbers of fish are along the oceanfront and the Bay. There are lots of schoolies around but increasing numbers of keepers are also available.  And, you might even hook into a blue!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fish Spreading Out in Bay

I fished the last two evenings in the Bay.  Yesterday I fished from shore and tonight I fished from my brother's boat.  The good news is that there seems to be fish all over the place.  The bad news is that there are still not real big numbers of fish.
I had an interesting outings last evening.  I fished a number of locations in the upper Bay.  I landed two fish on Zoom flukes.  The big surprise is that one of the fish was a keeper of 30 inches.  I got that fish in a location in which menhaden were popping all over the place.  Yes, this big bait is around.
Tonight we hit a number of locations in the mid and upper Bay from the boat.  Just about every shallow water spot we plugged yielded a hit or a fish, but it was simply one here, one there.  We found no big numbers.  However, a couple of fish that we caught were hefty schoolies in the 24-26 inch range (see photo).  All the hits and fish fell for Zoom flukes on half ounce jigheads.
So, fishing in the Bay is on the upswing and should certainly improve in the coming days and weeks.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Big Numbers of Fish Continue Along Oceanfront

I got down to the oceanfront again yesterday to fish with my son, Jon. Everything seemed to be wrong, and I had my doubts that I'd find good numbers of fish.  It was sunny and tranquil with a light east wind and clear water, BUT loaded with fish.  There are so many fish right now that conditions don't seem to matter. My first four casts produced 5 stripers (one double header on a teaser).  Jon and I landed big numbers of schoolies in the few hours we fished.
Right now you have lots of stripers around and they are all different sizes.  One cast might yield a 10 incher, the next cast it might be a 20 inch fish while the next cast could deliver a keeper. There seems to be increasing numbers of larger fish from 24 inches up to over 30 inches, though small schoolies still dominate the fishing (see photo of Jon with a good fish).  In addition, there are increasing numbers of hickory shad in the mix (see pic of one caught yesterday).  We landed 4 of them yesterday and they all fell for shrimp fly teasers.
The hot lure combination continues to be Cocahoes fished ahead of a shrimp fly teaser.  Small swimmers are also working and tend to catch bigger fish.
I would rate the spring fishing right now as about as good as it gets.  I don't know whether these are the same large group of fish just hanging around the oceanfront or whether there is a continuous line of migrating fish coming through.  What I do know is there are lots of them. With the weather predicted to remain unchanged for the next five days, I suspect the fishing will continue to be very good.