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.