Friday, April 25, 2014

Not Good

A couple of days ago I told of a slight uptick in the fishing, something I described as baby steps in the right direction.  Well, since then we have taken some giant steps in reverse. My fishing report can be summed up in two words: NOT GOOD.  I went down today figuring it would be my last chance for a few days due to unfavorable weather coming this weekend.  I slugged it out for hours along the West Wall, that spot that has been mentioned over and over again in recent fishing reports.  Many are reporting good fishing there.  NOT TRUE. I got nothing today and did not see a fish taken in some good conditions. In fact, there has not been a fish landed there for two days now.
Between my sons, friends and me, we have been fishing the oceanfront and the West Wall for the last two weeks.  I can tell you that there have been EXACTLY seven schoolies taken in this spot in the last week that I know of. I suspect that number is quite accurate.  If you figure that there are about twenty fishermen a day that sample this spot, and those guys have put in hundreds and hundreds of hours of  casting and fishing,  I think you can conclude that the fishing there is poor.
I will tell you that there are a lot of frustrated fishermen out there. Most are expecting good fishing by now, but it is not happening. Until an extended spell of warm weather arrives, it will remain poor.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Uptick in Activity

Schoolies are finally starting to move along the oceanfront.  Some of the first ones were caught yesterday according to my son, Ben, who has been trying many times in the last week.  He caught two schoolies yesterday and friends of his got another half dozen. Usually we see a glut of schoolies at the start of the spring migration, but this does not seem to be the case.  While these are small numbers of fish, they are baby steps in the right direction.  Get a couple of days with the right conditions (warm, southwest winds and good surf) and I think you will see the fishing light up.  It is only a matter of time.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


This is one of 4 small schoolies that I landed today in a
quiet backwater spot.  I suspect these fish were holdovers.
The oceanfront continues to be very poor with only
one confirmed fish taken thus far this spring.
I headed to the oceanfront today in search of stripers.  Everyone I met had the same question...."seen or caught any yet?"  I found one sharpie fisherman that told me he caught exactly one small schoolie yesterday along the oceanfront and that was the ONLY fish I know of that has been caught so far. Blame it on the cold water.  Blame it on the lack of fish. Blame it on the seals (yes, they were around again today). Whatever it is , we are off to a very bad start which is very discouraging.
I tried for a couple of hours along the oceanfront.  With no luck there, I decided to test out some backwaters for holdover fish.  I did catch four small schoolies in a quiet backwater spot on Zoom flukes mounted on small jigheads, but I suspect these were not fresh fish but holdovers. Hey, better than nothing.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Late Starts Common in the Past and Seals a Problem in the Present

There are many out there wondering when the stripers will arrive.  Many think the migration should have been here by now.  Not necessarily so.  We've gotten spoiled in recent years, years with warm winters. Following those warm winter years the action started in late March and early April.  However, if you go back ten, twenty and even thirty years, you realize that years ago the action generally started around the third week in April.  Back when I was a kid, my father would often start fishing saltwater for stripers around April 20.  In his mind that was the starting date, and he was usually right on target.
So, have some patience.  They are coming.  With water temperatures along the south shore oceanfront hovering in the low to mid forties, that's a problem.  And, with the temperatures taking a dive in the next few days it will do nothing to help the fishing situation. So, some guys will just have to sit and wait it out or hit freshwater.
On more discouraging note here.  While I was fishing yesterday I saw at least five different seals cruising around in front of me.  At any one moment I could pick one out. I've never seen this many in one spot in the springtime along the oceanfront.  Seals have been on the increase big time here in RI.  I have to wonder how much of a negative effect they will have on our fishing once it gets started.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dead as a Door Nail

I had everything right today.  It was a warm day following several warm days, we had a southwest wind, the surf was good,  high tide was at dark and bad weather was coming.  It should have been a very good day of striper fishing.  It was not.  Contrary to hyped up fishing reports swirling around, I can can you the fish are just not along the oceanfront yet.
I also talked to two of the best fishermen I know from Gansett who were also trying.  These guys have been slugging it out for the past week or two, and they have caught nothing and seen nothing.  In addition, my son, Ben, has been trying and he reports nothing.
With storminess and rain on the way tomorrow and cold, northeast winds to follow later on in the week, you can write off the next several days. Looks like it will be a very late start.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

First Schoolies....WHEN, WHERE and HOW

I'm confident we will have a lot of stripers around sometime in the next two weeks.  Those first arrivals will be schoolies and they should be around in big numbers since they are abundant.  Here's the scoop on what's to come:
Jigs and teasers will often account
for double headers.  The action should begin
within the next two weeks.
When-  I know from keeping logs over the last forty years that it can happen anytime from the first of April (Ya, I know there have been some years where it happens in late March) until about the third week in April.  During warm years, it happens early; in cold years it happens later.  You know what kind of winter we had and we are getting that cold right into April.  Expect a late start.  If I were betting I would say around April 16, give or take a couple of days.
Where- The simple minded will tell you that all the fish hug the shore, almost like a parade proceeding down a street.  I can tell you from experience that is absolutely false.  Yes, some migrating schools hug the shore while other schools of fish come inshore from way out. It's really random.  Sometimes the first ones are found along the oceanfront, but sometimes there are hordes of them way up in the warmer Bay days before a fish is caught along the oceanfront.  Focus on low water spots that heat up quickly on warm and sunny days.  The ponds along the south shore, the jetties along the oceanfront, the rivers on the east side of the Bay and the shallows of the upper Bay are all good places to find the first ones.
How- No need to stuff a surf bag with a lot of plugs at this time of year.  For the first couple weeks, it will be jigs that will take the majority of fish.  There are three hot jigs to stock in your bag.  The plastic, fan tailed Cocahoe (available at Quaker Lane Bait and Tackle) in a pearl or glow color mounted on a half ounce jighead is hot along the oceanfront. The forked tailed Zoom fluke in an albino color mounted on a small jighead is real hot in the Bay.  Small bucktail jigs (under 1/2 oz.) spiced with curly tails are good second choices in both locations.  If you want to get real fancy, set up a teaser rig with one of two shrimp fly teasers mounted ahead of your jig.  Schoolies love to hit teasers at this time of year.  All of this is fished on light tackle, maybe a seven or eight foot rod with a small spinning reel.  Leave that ten foot rod at home. Expect all the fish to be schoolies under 24 inches.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Thank You

I want to thank the fishing community and readers of this blog for all their support in recent days. Your words of kindness, offers of help, and donations have really eased the pain of an awful event.  We are grateful as well as overwhelmed by the support of friends, relatives and even strangers that we don't even know. 
Things are slowly returning to normal for Chris and Kaleigh.  We all went on a shopping spree for clothes this weekend, they are moving into temporary housing today and they are back at work and school this week.  While the mental anguish and trauma of this horrific event lingers, some sense of normalcy is returning. 
Thank you.