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.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Albie Watch

I have nothing to report yet. The rumors are around.....some say a few albies have been taken in the traps, others report seeing some small pods jumping.  But, I know of none that have been caught.
A lot of fishermen are itching to get out and hook up with these gamesters.  Here are the dates on which I have taken them in the last three years.  In 2010, I got my first one on Sept. 15.  In 2011, it happened again on Sept. 15.  In 2012, I got the first ones on Sept. 9.  Historically, false albacore appear in big numbers around the middle of September and that's when I think it will happen again this year. I plan to start seriously looking for them next week.
In the past they have appeared when a lot of bait shows up.  That hasn't happened yet.  The bait that was around about two weeks ago seems to have disappeared.  If we don't get big amounts of bait to attract albies, all bets are off. I will also tell you that there have been years in which I was not able to catch a single albie.  They are not a sure bet. We have been spoiled in the last few years.  Last year, especially, was probably the best year ever here in RI for albies.  I sure hope it happens again this year.