Sunday, December 29, 2013

Winter Fishing Hits the Skids

Winter fishing has taken a dive.  What started off as real good fishing a month ago has hit the skids in recent weeks.  I continue to fish several times a week and I hit a lot of spots, yet I am lucky to get even one fish.  My last three outings have produced a grand total of 2 small winter holdovers.  It's not good. But, it's winter fishing and its trademark has always been inconsistency.
The interesting thing about winter fishing thusfar is the lack of keeper fish.  This is consistent with what we have seen all year. In  past years about one winter fish in twenty has been a small keeper about 30 inches long.  This year I've caught close to 200 winter fish, yet not one fish has been a keeper.  While there have been good number of schoolies around all year, the numbers of keepers have fallen drastically this year for RI shore fishermen which is bad news for the upcoming season. It will only get worse next year. Most of us who fish a lot know this, but there seems to be no push from management officials to conserve what we have and reduce the mortality rate of keeper bass for the upcoming season.  Don't expect any changes in the regulations for 2014.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Severe Cold Shuts Down Winter Fishing

Prior to the cold shutting things down,
small swimmers were hot for winter
schoolies.  The 4 inch Rapala X-Rap was
especially effective.
This is one of the coldest early season spells I can ever remember.  It has put solid ice along some shorelines and moving sheets of ice in some of the places I fish for winter holdover stripers.  Because of that, the winter fishing has suddenly come to a grinding halt. I tried to fish some open pockets a couple of nights back, got no hits and was constantly getting hooked on floating ice sheets.
Rest assured the fish are still around, but are probably in a dormant state, just finning along the bottom in a large group in a deep spot.  I expect some of my fishing friends to tell me they have been hitting fish and snagging them on jigs. That happens in the severe cold.
Prior to the shutdown, the stripers were hitting small swimmers with regularity.  Jigs had lost a lot of their effectiveness as I was scoring best on 4 inch, Rapala X Raps in a blue color.  With a warm-up coming this weekend, I expect the winter fishing to get back on track.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Okuma Trio 55.....Could be the BEST BUY in Spinning Reels

Standard retrieve Okuma
High speed retrieve Okuma
Can you buy a quality saltwater spinning reel for just over $60?  I think I have found that deal, and it is an Okuma Trio-55 reel. I used this reel many times this fall from the boat and shore, and my son Jon uses it exclusively from shore. We have caught countless stripers on this reel up to 45 inches and the reel has performed flawlessly.  It is super smooth.  In fact, my brother, Steve, calls it the "smoothest reel he has ever used".  It has a phenomenal drag that is so smooth and silky you almost have to look down at the reel to see if it is going. If you don't believe my assessment, check out the reviews at the link below.  It gets stellar reviews from fishermen who have purchased a Trio.
This reel comes in a standard retrieve, Trio-55, and a high speed model, Trio-55S.  I have both and I prefer the standard model.  I like the handle on this model better and I also thought the standard model was a bit smoother on the retrieve. The Trio-55 weighs in at 15 oz. and matches up well with an 8 or 9 foot surf rod or a 7 foot boat rod.  I spooled my Trios with 30 lb. test Power Pro braid. It is very braid friendly, and I have never gotten a wind know with this reel.
The reel is a super product right out of the box.  However, my big question is how well will it hold up to the abuse of heavy use over time.  I don't know the answer to that question, but for $60, I'm willing to take my chances that it will last at least several years.
You can purchase this reel at at
It lists for $62.50 on this site and that includes shipping. Can you beat that deal!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Winter Fishing So Inconsistent

This hardy angler has landed a hefty
December schoolie in a holdover location.
I am now doing my winter fishing thing in holdover locations in the upper Bay.  For those who have never fished for stripers in the winter, the best way I could describe the fishery would be INCONSISTENT.  This year got off to a fast start.  Back in mid to late November I was getting 15-30 fish a night, and that was just fishing a few hours after dark. These were all schoolies, typical of winter fish.  Well, the fishing has hit the skids in the last week, and it has become inconsistent as I knew it would.  In past years I might blank 4, 5 or 6 times in a row and then, BINGO, the fish are around, and I'd land big numbers.  The fishing might remain good for a few days, and then it would go back to the blanks.
I suspect winter fish move around a lot, especially in warm weather, and that explains some of the inconsistencies.  Sometimes, too, they develop lockjaw and will not hit.  You know this is happening when you start banging into them on the bottom and foul hooking them with your jig.
Regardless of whether you fish for holdovers in such well known spots as the rivers of CT, the south shore ponds of RI, the upper Bay or Boston Harbor, realize that in all these places the fishing is inconsistent and no sure bet. But, hey, it beats sitting at home and watching TV.