Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Black Sea Bass Heaven

When things aren't going well with striper fishing, I often target other species.  So, yesterday my brother and I headed for black sea bass heaven, better known as Buzzards Bay, in Steve's boat.  Boy, this place is loaded with sea bass.  What I especially like about this place is that the fish readily hit artificials along here. A 3/4 oz. flathead bucktail jig spiced with a plastic curly tail is deadly.  It's a matter of dropping the jig to the  bottom and bouncing it along as the boat drifts. 
There is always a possibility of catching some real big sea bass in this Bay.  We landed several yesterday in the 5-7 lb. range, very large fish for this species of fish.  We also had a lot of small ones that seemed to be in big schools.  At times the depth finder would light up with fish showing schools that were 5-7 feet thick at times. It seemed like we landed 3-4 fish on just about every short drift we made, and this went on for several hours!
Black sea bass were not the only types of fish we caught.  We also landed some bluefish, several large scup and schoolie stripers.  Buzzards Bay is well known for delivering multi species of fish for those fishermen who fish there. It happened that way for us yesterday.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Bay Waters Clearing BUT Only Marginal Fishing

Thank goodness the Bay waters are clearing.  That tea or coffee color brought on by the heavy rains and floods of the last two weeks is clearing and water quality seems back to normal in the upper and mid Bay locations. The lack of rain in the last few days and the exceptionally high tides have contributed to improve things.  That's the good news.
The bad news is that the fishing has only slightly improved.  I got out the last two evenings in the upper Bay and landed 4 schoolies from shore on bucktail jigs and plastics on jigheads (see photo of last night's fish).  The biggest fish might have gone 22 inches.  I have seen very few boats around so I suspect the pogies have moved out of the upper Bay as they often do in late June. I've run into a few guys fishing, and all are complaining about the lack of fish in the Bay for shore fishermen.  In recent years, the Bay fishing has taken a nosedive in late June.  At this time of the year stripers and blues exit the upper Bay waters and move toward the cooler waters in the lower Bay and along the deep water drops along the oceanfront. Unfortunately, I'm not hearing any better fishing reports from shore guys in those locations either. Ho hum, summer fishing has arrived in RI. The next two months will be tough.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Big Difference Between Shore and Boat Fishing Right Now

My last post focused in on how poor shore fishing was right now, especially in the upper and mid Bay.  The oceanfront, too,  is not fishing well from shore for larger fish.  I got out last night and landed several small ones, but we are talking very small fish of about 12 inches.  I spoke with a couple of guys and they were complaining about the lack of larger fish around.
However, if you check out the boating reports, they are glowing with accounts of large fish.  It's true.  My brother and son, Ben, were out at Block Island yesterday in Steve's boat with a fleet of other boats.  There the keepers are plentiful (see two of them they landed), and there are some real monsters being caught. We're talking a number of 50's and even 60's taken in the last week.  Many fishermen are also reporting good catches of large stripers in the mid and lower Bay.  Many of these large fish are in deep water and they are falling for bait.  Pick your offering....eels, live menhaden, chunks, yo-yoing menhaden, scup, etc. are all getting the job done from the boat.
Most shore guys prefer to plug rather than fish with bait.  Those guys are finding the large fish hard to find because they are not close to shore.  Many of these fish moved off into deeper water when we had the flooding rains of the last two weeks.  You might get lucky, though, and have a school of menhaden hit the shoreline where you are fishing.  If you can snag one of these large baitfish, you have a shot at catching something big.
So, there's a  big difference right now in catches here in RI.  The shore guys are having a tough go of it while the boaters who know what they are doing are hauling up good numbers of big fish. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bay Fishing Poor

Yesterday afternoon I rode my bike along the bike path that borders the Blackstone River in northern RI.  The river was a torrent of rushing brown water that looked like coffee.  It has been like that for two weeks now as heavy rains and flooding have caused this.
In the evening I fished a good spot in the mid Bay that seemed to always produce at this time of year in the past.  As I waded into my spot, I noticed the water had a similar off colored look I saw earlier in the Blackstone River.  I would call it a diluted coffee color.  I plugged away for two hours and came away with one fluke and a couple of sea robins.  There was not a sign of a striper or a bluefish and there was no bait at all.  I also spoke with a regular in this spot who told me he has not caught a striper or a bluefish here in two weeks.  
The Bay is sick right now with dirty water and a lot of freshwater emptying out into the Bay.  It has sent the fish packing.  Heck, I don't even see the boaters in front of the Hurricane Barrier in the upper Bay. I also saw no boaters in the mid Bay last night.
My suggestion if you are looking to fish RI waters would be to fish the oceanftont.  Fishing there is not great either from the reports I am getting, but there are some schoolies to be had and an occasional small keeper.  Most fishermen are complaining about the lack of keepers for shore fishermen. 
As proof of the lack of fish, consider this story. Two weekends ago there was a RI surf tournament called the MS Surf Challenge in which many anglers from a half dozen clubs competed for three days.  They caught a grand total of one keeper.  June should be prime time, but it's not turning out that way.  Maybe it's the weather and all the rain, but maybe we are seeing a big decline in the number of stripers.   I don't know. But, I do know that shore fishing for stripers and blues in RI is poor right now.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cape Cod Canal....No Sure Bet

The number of fish and fishermen are down so far this June.
My sons and I  have been quietly fishing the canal quite a few times in the last month.  Contrary to what many of the reports are saying, I will tell you that this place is no sure bet just like all the other striper spots along the New England coastline. This year, in particular, the Canal has been an on and off deal.  Oh, I've had some good days there, but I have experienced some blanks too.
Many sharpies view the Canal as the very best place to catch large stripers from shore in southern New England.  In the last few years the place has been on fire producing almost daily, especially in the month of June into early July.  In the past the place was loaded with mackerel, and that attracted large amounts of big stripers.  Almost daily fishermen would line the canal, sometimes by the hundreds, and it seemed like everyone was catching fish on the good days.
So, when I went down there this week at the right tide I was quite surprised to find no more than a few guys fishing.  I asked one of them, a sharpie on a bike who fishes every day, what was going on.  He told me that the fishing has only been fair, an on and off deal and that there were far fewer fish around this year than in year's past. Also, he reported the previous few days had been slow.  That day there was only a few of us fishing, and we did catch decent numbers of keepers, but you had to work for them since little was showing.
My son, Ben, planned a mini vacation around the early morning tides that happened this weekend, the so called current breaks at dawn in which the current moved westward.  The kid was there for three days and fished daybreak and evening every day.  He landed a grand total of one keeper bass of 32 inches.  He saw only five other fish caught in 3 days, and nothing was bragging size.  On Saturday morning at daybreak he counted over 100 fishermen casting away.  Once guy landed three fish and another guy landed one fish and that was it. He saw no bait in the three days he was there, which is why there were so few fish.
So, that  June inconsistency that's been happening all over has even stung the canal this year.  Whether it will continue to be inconsistent  or not is anyone's guess. On thing , though, is certain.  Unlike past Junes, the Cape Cod Canal is no sure bet this year.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Keepers, Big Blues Falling for Daiwa SP Minnows

It's been a hot week this week for big fish.  In the last post I mentioned that I had gotten away from the smaller fish in the Bay to go after some larger fish elsewhere in this nasty weather.  The result has been over a dozen keeper bass up to 40 inches along with some big bluefish that my kids and I have landed. There have been two keys to our success.  We are fishing moving water, always a good choice when looking for larger fish.  And, we have caught all of our fish on Daiwa SP Minnows.  I believe this is the very best swimmer to use in moving water.  It's got a narrow, tight wiggle that fish can't seem to resist.  And, that moving weight in the center allows it to be cast further than any other swimmer in its size range. The mackerel color, either the blue mackerel or the green mackerel, has been especially effective for us.  Check out my son Jon in the photos from today with a good  size blue and a good size striper  that he landed on the green mackerel Daiwa SP Swimmer. 
Daiwa swimmers are sold in many of the state's tackle shops.  I know that both Saltwater Edge and Quaker Lane carry a good supply.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Holy Cow....Now That's A Fish

I've been catching lots of schoolies lately, but I hadn't caught a keeper in two weeks so I made some big changes.  I got  out of the Bay and started fishng a different location.  Well, it paid big dividends with 7 keepers in the last two days including this biggie that measured over 40 inches. There were also good numbers of hefty schoolies in the mix.  The hot plug has been a Daiwa SP minnow, a plug that I wrote about a lot last year. Maybe  the weather also had a lot to do with my success.  The weather has been cloudy, stormy, rainy and crappy, my type of weather to be fishing in the daytime. So, for all those fishermen out there complaining about the lack of fish, my advice is to look around and keep moving because they are somewhere, and you might just luck into something big.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Float 'n' Jig Working

The float and jig has been the hot artificial the last two evenings for me.  I went to this lure combo for two reasons.  First off, there was a lot of weed along the bottom in the area I was fishing and a straight jig (bucktail or plastic on jighead) was picking up too much of the weed.  The float kept my offering higher in the water column and away from the lettuce weed which lined the bottom  Secondly, I needed a long cast since all the fish were hitting way out.  The float and jig is the ticket to a booming cast.
My float is a homemade wooden egg float that I make myself.  The bucktail jig I used was a homemade half oz. flathead jig with a plastic curly tail added.  It is cast out and bounced along with pulls of the rod tip while reeling slowly.
I have caught a good number of fish in the last two evenings while fishing with the float and jig in the Bay.  All my fish have been schoolies.  It's tough to catch a keeper in the Bay on an artificial right now since most of the keepers  are being taken on bait.  Chunks as well as livelining menhaden are accounting for most of these big fish.  And, the boaters seem to be catching far more than the shore guys which is usually the case in the Bay.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Key to Big Fish is Finding the Pogies

This keeper bass was caught on a live pogy.
I was fishing a spot in the Bay last evening from shore plugging away hoping to catch a striper.  It was completely dead with nothing around, not even a hit.  Suddenly, just off to my left a big school of menhaden, or pogies, surfaced not more than 30 feet from shore.  Immediately, I reached into my bag and pulled out a snagger, hoping to snag one and let it swim around.  First cast, first pull, I had a pogy.  I let it  swim around for no more than 30 seconds when a large fish almost ripped the rod out of my hand.  I was onto a good fish that was tearing off drag.  In a flash it surfaced jumping clear out the the water.  It was a big blue, at least 13-14 lbs.  I did manage to get it to my feet when the leader parted.
Whether you fish from a boat or shore in the Bay finding the pogies is the key to finding the big fish right now.  For the most part large stripers and big bluefish are right under the schools of big bait.  Many fishermen are having success snagging and letting the the snagged fish swim around.  Others prefer to reel in the snagged fish and rehook it onto another outfit to fish it. Still others are reeling in the bait and slicing it up and using chunks for bait.  However  you choose to do it, fishing with bait is the way to go right now if you are looking for large fish in the Bay.  It's simple a matter of finding the pogies which is far easier to do in a boat than from shore.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Big Fish Under Menhaden

It's been a good couple of days for big fish in the Bay.  Good numbers of large stripers from 34-40 inches and big alligator blues in the 10-15 lb. range are chasing schools of large menhaden that are popping up here and there in 'Gansett Bay.  We've been on it for the past two days.  On Friday, my brother Steve hit a big slug of fish and landed 5 stripers up to 40 inches and another 6 bluefish up to 15 lbs. all on menhaden (either livelined or chunked).  We went back out yesterday with my son, Ben, and we landed anther 5 keeper bass and one very large bluefish (see photos).  Big problem we had was that blues kept chopping up our live offerings but would not take the chunk. Occasionally, an aggressive striper beat the blues to the offering.
The key to this hot fishing for big fish is to find the schools of menhaden, or pogies, which seem to be around an area one day and gone the next.  After quite a bit of looking, we found a real glut of them yesterday in an off the beaten path spot that few people fish.  There were so many that you could see masses of them under the boat at times.  Snagging all we wanted was no problem.  In fact, several times we would snag one and the line would get another one in the gills and we'd haul two aboard.  The large fish were often around or even right under these schools and you would see occasional explosions of the large feeding fish in the menhaden schools.