Thursday, August 28, 2014

More and More Striper Guys Turning to Freshwater Carp

There is no question that the number of shore fishermen who are targeting stripers is dwindling at a rapid pace.  The last four outings I fished I barely met another fisherman. Shore fishing is poor for stripers right now, particularly keeper bass here in RI.  Many striper guys have adapted by going after the more abundant, but smaller bottom fish like scup and black sea bass.  However, many of the fishermen who looking to catch big fish are turning to freshwater carp fishing.
This large mirror carp, just shy of 30 lbs., was landed
recently.  Many saltwater striper fishermen are turning
to freshwater  carping until the saltwater fishing improves.
Carp are one of the most interesting fish I have ever targeted. They are a great fighting fish, they hit in all types of weather and they are abundant in many places in southern New England.  The gear, rigging and techniques used to catch them are very non-traditional.  Oh, I know you can get occasional fish on a doughball wrapped around a hook, but those sharpies who consistently catch and consistently catch big ones are using Euro techniques, hair rigging and non-traditional baits. There are carp fishermen in NE who consistently catch hundreds of them a year over 20 lbs.  Thirty and even forty pounders are taken every year.
We have some world class carp fishing right here in this area.  Rivers like the CT River in MA and CT, the Merrimack River in MA and even the Blackstone River in RI are nationally known carp locations that give up some monster fish. The area is also loaded with ponds and lakes that support common and mirror carp.
While thinking about this post I got an interesting call today from Pat Abate of Rivers End Tackle in Old Saybrook, CT.  I know Pat from striper fishing, but his call focused on carp gear.  He, like other tackle dealers in NE, is stocking carp gear as the popularity of this fish is greatly increasing and fishermen are looking for tackle, rigs and bait that they can purchase locally.
For more information on carp fishing, visit my blog at You might also want to check out the Forum at The Carp Anglers Group is the largest carp organization in the US and has active chapters in RI, CT and MA.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Albie Hype

This was a day back in 2012 in which we
landed an astounding 65 albies from shore
in one afternoon of fishing. Last year there
were none.  It's a 50-50 chance they will
show up this year.
It's starting.  No, not the albie fishing.  I'm talking about the hype.  It's in just about all the reports. Hey, not much to report on stripers or blues so why not hype the albies. Most reports are telling fishermen to get ready for the start of it in September.
False Albacore (albies) are probably the most sought after fish of fall.  They are unequal in their fight, and they are a real prize for anyone who can catch one, especially from shore. Their presence lures tons of trophy hunters to the shoreline in the hopes of catching just one.
But, here's the real story about them.  They don't always come around.  Their presence is not a sure bet.  In the last forty years, they were probably in our waters only about half those years.  And, in some of those years it was a quick shot where they were around for only a week or two and then gone.  Most fishermen out there remember the great years of 2011 and 2012 when we had them for 2 months in big numbers for shore and boat fishermen. Most hope this year will be a repeat of that outstanding fishing.  But, how many remember last year, 2013, in which there were NONE.
So, will we see them?  I'm calling this a 50-50 deal.  Maybe, maybe not. And, if you don't see any by the second or third week in September, forget it. Albies are basically a September fish.  If you see none in September, they are not coming in October.
The key here is to be ready.  Without question your best lure from shore or boat will be a float with a fly trailing off a two to three foot leader.  I like a blue Deceiver for a fly. Another good option is to replace the fly with a plastic fluke threaded onto a barbed hook.  Metal like Kastmaster XLs or the Not So Deadly Dick rate a distant third in lure choices. Pack some of these albie catches into your surf bag now because their time is coming soon.....if it happens.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Not Much Doing

I went down to the oceanfront yesterday evening and night.  I fished a good number of locations and put in several hours of casting.  The lone schoolie.
I had all the right conditions.  The first spot I fished had everything just right.  The northeast wind was driving in a wind driven surf that was white, rough and fairly clean.  It was the type of conditions that in the past would have yielded multiple stripers.  Not this year.  I plugged all around this place until dark and did not get a hit.
The next place I hit was calmer, more protected water.  It was another high percentage spot for this time of year.  I did manage to get one schoolie on a Red Fin swimmer and I did have a Slug-go chopped by a blue.  But, that was it after two hours of fishing.
That massive amount of bait that was around for the last couple of weeks seems to have departed in the latest round of northeast winds.  It could be hanging way out and deep, but I saw no bait and no concentrations of birds yesterday.  I also saw just about no fishermen around. I know we are still in August, a poor month in past years here in RI.  Let's hope better days are coming in September.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Moving in the Right Direction

This was one of three fish landed last evening from the surf.
There's a lot of bait around that is attracting stripers and bluefish.
It's the middle of August but the fishing seems more like early September.  Last week's storm with its 8-12 foot waves knocked off the fishing for about five days.  But, things seem to be moving back to normal.  The bait has returned though it seems to be hanging further off the shore.  The stripers and blues are back chasing the bait, and fishing is on the upswing.
I got out last evening/night.  I fished a spot where I could see birds constantly working way out and occasional fish jumping. I fished both a needlefish and a Kastmaster XL for about an hour before dark and came away with two schoolies and a bluefish as well as a couple of more hits.  So, there are fish around even though nothing might be showing.  As dark approached and the wind calmed down I saw a massive school of bait on the surface about a quarter of a mile off the shore.  It was about the size of a football field.
I continued to fish after dark in two other locations, but I didn't get a hit in the dark. I did see bait though in the spots I fished.
So, the fishing is definitely moving is a good direction.  The bait is in place and I'm guessing the fishing will continue to improve as we move into September.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wanna See Some Bait....

All Stripers

I just knew this was going to happen.  Loads of bait around  attracted blues and fluke two nights ago.  Well, last night it was all stripers as I was treated to a spectacular display for August.
I got down to the oceanfront a little after 6 o'clock.  As I walked toward the water immediately I could see splashes of fish in close tearing through the masses of tiny bay anchovies.  First cast with a swimmer and I was onto a good fish.  For sure it was either a keeper bass or a big blue as it was tearing off line and drag. Unfortunately I lost that fish.  But, that set the pace for the evening with fish breaking continuously for the schools of bait and good numbers of schoolies caught on small swimmers. In fact, it was my best night of striper fishing in months.  Oh, I did land one bluefish at dark also.
There was so much bait that it was impossible to even fish a plug at times.  There were times that I would bring the swimmer through the bait only to hook baitfish on every hook on the trebles, thus disabling the plug. I've NEVER seen this much bait in August along the oceanfront.
The hot plugs for the night were either a jointed Red Fin (blue back) or a 4-inch Rapala X-Rap.  While both caught good numbers of stripers, there were hundreds of fish that didn't even give those plugs a look. They were fussy, but many were still hitting.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Massive Schools of Bay Anchovies Arrive; Schoolies, Blues and Fluke in Pursuit!

The bay anchovies have arrived in
big numbers.  They are small now,
less than an inch in size, but there
are tons of them.  They will light up
the fishing!
Things are looking up along the oceanfront.  I mean REALLY looking up.  The most positive news in a long time is that huge schools of bay anchovies are moving along the oceanfront shoreline. This bait makes things happen.  The bait has drawn in fluke, bluefish and schoolies as we see a preview of fall developing.
I went down today to check out shore fishing with my son Jon.  I was tipped off that this was happening from my brother Steve who is on vacation at the oceanfront.  We found huge schools of bay anchovies as far as the eye could see. I also saw loads of snapper blues and big numbers of larger bait that I could not identify. Terns were diving and fish were occasionally breaking, but they were fussy.
We ended up catching good numbers of fluke on bucktail jigs fished under the bait and good numbers of blues on Kastmaster XLs.  I also saw a number of schoolies break water but they would not hit. The water was calm and there was just too much bait to fool the finicky schoolies.
I believe we are seeing an early fall preview of what's to come.  While the shore fishing has been very poor this summer, it will have no bearing on what will happen this fall. I suspect that barring any big storms these big schools of bay anchovies will light up the fishing for stripers, blues and false albacore.  Only a matter of time and cooler weather. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Death of a Shore Fisherman

Tragedy struck once again today along our shores as a shore fisherman got swept off the rocks at Beavertail in Jamestown and drowned.  It seems like this is almost a yearly occurrence along our rocky shores.  It reminds us just how dangerous this game can be especially when the water is rough like it was today. I've seen a lot of crazy stuff in my days along the shores.  A couple of years ago I saw a young person (college age) go down close to the water at the East Wall to retrieve a plug.  When he hit the wet rocks he slid right into the water.  Luckily it was not rough and he was able to get out with some help.  On an other night I saw an older guys walk off a bar at Narrow River in Narragansett in complete darkness.  He was quickly over his head and in serious trouble as his waders were filling with water, but a fishermen nearby was able to grab the guy and pull him to shore. On still another occasion I saw a fisherman leaving the rocks of the West Wall completely covered in blood.  He had fallen on the rocks and was badly injured. 
In addition, a couple of years ago a fisherman drowned at Matunuck when he fell into the water.  And, we all know about the dangerous rocks along Narragansett where over a dozen people have drowned over the years after being swept into the water there,  Many of those were fishermen. I was actually fishing one year along Gansett as a double drowning occurred.
So, proceed with caution if you are going to fish a dangerous, rocky spot.  When fishing these spots, I don't like to wear waders.  It only adds to the danger if you fall in.  I also like to fish high perches where the rocks are dry beneath my feet.  Wet rocks can be as slick as ice.  While I know most of these rocky areas like the back of my hand, I still proceed with extreme caution at night.  I know most people will not venture in these spots at night, probably a good idea if you are not familiar with the area.  Finally, it is always a good idea to fish these dangerous spots with a partner.  I am often fishing with my sons along these dangerous areas at night.
No fish is worth losing your life.  If you fish these dangerous spots, do it  with a lot of caution and common sense.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Friday, August 1, 2014

Stripers in the White Water

There were some schoolies yesterday evening from shore.
The hot plug was a homemade, white needlefish.
A rough, white water surf is about the best condition to fish for stripers from shore. I found some beautiful water yesterday evening along a rocky shoreline here in RI.  The water was white but clean, something you don't often get.  There was also an onshore breeze that was moving the water in a turbulent current that looked like I was fishing a raging river. It was just perfect, conditions that often led to some big catches in past years in this spot.
I'd like to tell you that I killed the fish, but the truth is that I caught two schoolies.  Hey, better than nothing.  I also had two other fish come up and hit my homemade, white needlefish plug.  Before I fished here I drove along a good piece of the oceanfront and did not see one other fisherman, a telling observation about just how bad things are. I also fished after dark with no luck and once again, I could not find another fisherman.
So, word is that there are a few schoolies along the oceanfront, but you have to work for them.  As far as keepers, they are available to boaters in deeper water, but continue to be scarce from shore.