Friday, November 29, 2013

Wintering Over Spots Best Bet Right Now

The water temperature along the oceanfront has dipped into the mid forties.  That spells the end.  However, lots of stripers that winter over are now in those backwater places where they will stay throughout the winter.  It's tough fishing.  You'll find few guys willing to go out on a cold night below freezing in search of stripers in the middle of winter.  Yet, for those who do venture out, the fishing can be surprisingly good.  I have been fishing my winter spots for the last two weeks and it is one of the best winter starts I have ever had.  Tonight I was out with only a few other guys.  We had well over a hundred hefty schoolies among us.  The temperature was a cold 28 degrees, but the fishing was hot.
This is one of many stripers landed tonight by just a few hardy fishermen.

FANTASTIC Deal on Camera

I am passing along some info on a fantastic Black Friday deal on a camera.  Many of the pictures you see on this blog and in the articles I write for the magazines were taken with a high end point and shoot camera, a Canon A2200 model.  This camera will fit in your pocket, yet takes fantastic photos and videos.  On this Black Friday, the Canon store is offering an upgraded refurbished model, a A2300 Powershot camera for the unheard of price of $44.99, and that includes a memory card, case and free shipping.  This is a 16 megapixel camera, it has a zoom, it has a variable self timer that lets you get into the picture with plenty of time and takes terrific video.  Don't let the "refurbished" label scare you.  I only buy refurbished.  The company thoroughly goes through these returned cameras and offers the same guarantee as a new one. So, if you are looking to preserve those memories of the big one, look into this.  Can't beat this deal. here is the link:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Top Lures for Winter Holdovers

Just four lures are all that's needed for
winter holdover fishing.
If you are looking for stripers, your best bet right now is to fish the winter holdover spots.  A lot of fish are now moving into those locations. Places like the CT rivers, the backwater ponds of the south shore in RI and rivers of upper Narragansett Bay. These are the places that will produce all winter long if you want to continue catching stripers.
This good size schoolie
was taken 2 nights ago
on a Zoom fluke fished
along the bottom.
Lures and plugs to use for winter holdovers is not complicated.  Unlike the rest of the year when you just can't fit enough in your surf bag, most of what you need in the winter game can fit into your coat pocket.  For the most part, this is a jigging game on light tackle.  Work the bottom slowly because that's where the fish are holding. 
There are three main jigging lures that are "must have" for winter fishing.  The first is the ole reliable bucktail jig spiced with a curly tail.  Next is the Cocahoe mounted on a jighead.  And, finally, the hot producer in the upper Bay is a Zoom fluke mounted on a jighead. All of these lure should be in a light color.  I also like to carry a small swimmer or two like a 4 inch Rapala X-Rap. The small swimmers tend to produce in shallow water when the fish are fussy.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

One Window Closing, BUT Another Window Opening

This hefty schoolie was landed on a
Zoom fluke on a jighead in a
wintering over spot. Stripers are now moving
into those wintering over locations.
There are still fish along the oceanfront.  My son, Ben, has continued to catch a couple just about every outing in the last week.  He's even gotten some small keepers. He knows the spots that produce at this time, and he's good at what he does.  But, I am fishing far from where he is, and I am doing considerably better.
No question, the window along the oceanfront is slowly closing.  There might be a good day here and there within the next week or so, but don't expect sudden fantastic fishing.  Still, if I lived close to the ocean as my sons do, I would be out there trying every day.
Another window is slowly opening, and that's the winter holdover fishing.  I know many guys who fish in the Bay and along the oceanfront who are now catching in those winter spots, backwater locations where stripers will hold up for the winter.  I have been fishing some of those spots in the upper Bay in the last few nights and have scored some good catches.  Yes, they are all schoolies, but that's what makes up the bulk of winter fishing. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Winding Down

There are still a few schoolies around the south
shore beaches and Narragansett.
The signs point to the end being near.  I fished both the south shore beaches and Gansett today.  I did catch a few schoolies, and I saw a few others caught by a sparse number of fishermen.  It was surprising how few fishermen were out and about on the south shore beaches on this beautiful day.  It could be because the fishing has been only marginal in the last four days with a few schoolies here and there.  I've heard of no keepers and no bluefish, but then again, both have been in short supply all fall.  In addition, I saw no birds working and no bait showing. There have been no big schools of herring around. In past years, the consistent fishing tends to wind down about the third week in November.  We are almost there.  Though a good day or two might still occur, I do believe we are seeing the beginning of the end.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hickory Shad on the Move

In the last three outings this week I have caught more hickory shad than stripers.  It tells me the number of stripers are dwindling, and the shad are on the move.  Shad are now exiting RI's coastal ponds and rivers and are migrating southward along the oceanfront.  Shad are often found in the same areas with schoolies.  Hickory shad are aggressive hitters as they will readily take teasers as well as small jigs. I especially like to use shrimp fly teasers and small bucktail jigs (1/8 oz.) to fish for them.
If you want to know the full story about fishing for hickory shad, check out my latest story, Hickory Shad, The Third Option, which appears in this week's issue of The Fisherman magazine (No. 46, Nov. 14).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Still A Lot Going On

Schoolies dominate the fishing scene, but there are also
good numbers of hickory shad mixed in with them.
Keepers are around after dark.
I fished a lot in the last five days and I can tell you that there is still a lot going on from Narragansett to the south shore beachfront.
Yesterday was an interesting day because I caught stripers in three different locations that were miles apart. By day it was all schoolies on Cocahoes, but after dark I had two very good fish (keepers) on but lost both.  It was also day in which I took good numbers of hickory shad.  They have been moving along the oceanfront as well as dropping out of the rivers and ponds as they migrate southward.  Many of them are as big as the schoolies.  Shad can be caught on small bucktail jigs as well as shrimp fly teasers.
Another real positive development is the sighting of ocean herring. My friend Dennis was fishing the  south shore on Sunday and there was a small school right in front of him being harassed. Another guy told me he cut up a big blue he caught and found herring in the bluefish's stomach.  Herring can attract some big bass and blues late into November and even December.
So, the fall marches on with decent fishing continuing.  Once this current cold spell departs, I suspect we will be right back into the decent fishing which could continue into the end of the month.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Schoolies by Day, Keepers by Night

Schoolies were around
in the daytime.
It's been a shore pattern for me all fall, and it has continued into this cold November.  There are schoolies around in the daytime in good numbers.  Keepers can be had but it's a matter of putting in your time after dark.
This keeper was caught after dark
on a large, black Hogy.
Today I fished the south shore beachfront again.  I found some schoolies in the daytime, though there were no big numbers. Heck, I saw more fishermen out today than schoolies caught.   It seems that the numbers of schoolies have dwindled since the big blow on Thursday.  The schoolies I landed today were all taken on Cocahoes.  After dark I slugged it out in the cold for a couple of hours and was rewarded with two keepers in the 28-30 inch range.  These fish hit a large black Hogy.  I had several other hits.  These keepers were typical of what has been around. The keepers seem to mostly be small keepers in the 28-32 inch range.  I have seen and heard of very few larger keepers above 36 inches from shore this fall.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Goodbye Gansett, Hello South Sore

This 12 lb. bluefish was landed yesterday on a snagged
menhaden.  There have been some big blues along
the south shore along with good numbers of schoolies.
About this time every year, I completely switch locations I am fishing.  I am now focusing most of my fishing attention on the south shore beachfront, that area from the West Wall to Westerly.  Of course, the Gansett shore will continue to have fish in the next two or three weeks, but I do think the south shore is a better bet with larger numbers of schoolies, good numbers of keeper bass and even bluefish.
I fished the south shore the last two days and have landed good numbers of schoolies and two large bluefish.  Yes, bluefish, a rare fish this fall.
Yesterday I walked onto one of the south shore beaches.  Immediately, I saw a small pod of large menhaden right in front of me.  I snapped on a snagger, hooked a pogie right away and five seconds later I was onto a big fish that was ripping drag.  That fish ended up being a big bluefish of about 12 lbs., the biggest blue I have landed this year. I got another big blue today and saw several others taken in the last two days.  So, there are some around.  But, realize schoolies are the fish of plenty as I have seen dozens of those landed by a few fishermen.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Where are the Fishermen?

This keeper hit a white Slug Go after dark.
There are schoolies around in the daytime and some
keepers are hitting after dark. But, there are few fishermen.
These days shore fishermen are about as scarce as the bluefish.  Where is everybody?  I fished the Gansett shore today from Narragansett Beach to Galilee and I did not see one guy fishing. Not One!  At the same time, my friend Gene was scouting out the south shore from Weekapaug to Matunuck.  He did not find anyone fishing.  Not One Fisherman! My son, Matt, says it's the cold weather.  Gene thinks many guys have hung it up for the season.  My father says they are not seeing the fish so they're not fishing.  I say most are waiting on the sidelines waiting for something big to happen.
Realize there are good numbers of stripers around.  Most are not showing and most are schoolies.  However, there are also keepers around, especially after dark. I landed 6 schoolies today in the daytime on Cocahoes fishing an area in which nothing was showing.  After dark I landed another 8 fish with one being a small keeper.  The keeper hit a white, 7 1/2 inch Slug Go.  White has been a hot color this fall with white swimmers and white, skinny plastic being hot.
So, we are staring at a fall season with roughly three weeks left of good fishing. Right now there are fish around, but few fishermen are taking advantage of it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Where are the Bluefish?

This is the one and only blue I have caught this year.
It was a three pound bluefish landed in Sept.
Since Sept. 1 I have caught exactly ONE three pound bluefish from shore. I know many fishermen who have caught none.  I'd have to go back 40-50 years ago to find a fall with so few blues. I remember fishing with my father about 50 years ago in Narragansett when a guy fishing on a rock next to us got a strange looking fish while striper fishing.  My father told me the guy had a rare fish....a bluefish.
I have no idea what is going on. There were good numbers around last year and the year before.  They usually appear when large amounts of bait are present.  At times we have had big numbers of bay anchovies, but no blues after them.  I will admit that I have caught some from the boat, but there have not been big numbers.  Last week I was talking to a guy who sets out trap nets along the 'Gansett shoreline.  He even says he has not netted many blues this fall.
Strange fall thus far..... it's been up and down with stripers, though schoolies have been around in big numbers, there were NO albies and there have been NO bluefish.  With colder weather settling in, it is unlikely we will see big numbers of bluefish unless ocean herring come ashore big time.  But, there have been NO herring spotted thus far.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

You've Just Got to Find 'Em

It was all schoolies today in some rough
and nasty water.  There was not another
fisherman to be found.
No doubt about it.  That big blow we had on Friday really messed things  up and cooled the fishing. In fact, the ocean was still charged up today even in a north wind.  As I drove through the 'Gansett spots, it looked like a ghost town.  I could not find one fisherman along the entire shoreline from the beach to Point Judith.  I did see some flocks of birds working way out, a good sign.  However, there was a lot of sandy and rough water in close, a bad sign.
So, I poked around and fished in a number of locations and finally found good numbers of fish.  They were all schoolies, but on a tough day like today, I was ready to take anything I could get.  The fish were hitting small, 3 inch, pearl Cocahoes, a hot lure all fall.  I was using the "new model" Cocahoes.  These seem a little thinner and a little more flexible, giving them more action. Quaker Lane Tackle in East Greenwich has a good supply of them.
Too many fishermen have been driving around and fishing only when they see the fish breaking. Others are sitting at home waiting for the cell phone to ring. If you really work the waters you will find the fish.  It is simply a matter of getting out, putting in your time and fishing.