Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Going Small Scores Big

Yesterday I saw the most fish I have seen on any outing this year from shore. I hit a spot along the oceanfront where stripers and blues had a massive school of bay anchovies pinned up against a rocky shoreline.  At times hundreds of stripers could be seen tearing through this bait while lesser numbers of false albcore would occasionally rip though the bait also.  It was wild.  It didn't take long for fishermen to find out what was going on and within an hour the quiet spot I had to myself saw at least 20 surf fishermen casting away.
Yesterday stripers and albies
were feasting on one inch bay
anchovies. The fish are super fussy
when that happens.
This near keeper striper hit a
four inch Rapala X-Rap swimmer.
It was the best plug to use yesterday
for stripers.
This was no picnic as the fish were extremely FUSSY.  That is just the was it goes when stripers and albies are feeding on one inch bay anchovies.  There is nothing in a surf bag that will imitate this bait.  However, you have your best chance at scoring if you go small.  So, after trying the old stand-by bucktail jig, Cocahoe and Zoom flukes and getting no fish to hit, my son Jon and I turned to small swimmers.  That did the trick.  We landed good numbers of stripers up to near keeper size on 4-inch Rapala X-Rap swimmers. They weren't killing this lure, but some fish would hit it.  I must say we landed more fish than all the rest of the fishermen combined.  It seems that many of these guys had no small swimmers in their bags and the large poppers, big metal and large swimmers many were using were just not cutting it.
In addition to all those stripers we caught, I also did get an albie on a float 'n' Deceiver fly.  The albies are also fussy when on small bait and that fly works wonders when this happens.

This albie grabbed a Deceiver fly fished off a float.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Still Around in Good Numbers

The epic albie fishing that we have experienced this September just continues.  I got out from shore this weekend with my son Jon and my friend Dennis and we had albies breaking in front of us for a good period of time. And, they were aggressively taking our offerings.  These fish were feasting on schools of bay anchovies that were moving close to shore.  Once again, the hot lure was the float 'n' Deceiver fly combo, though I did get one albie with a small bucktail jig while trying for stripers.  That was my surprise of the day.
Realize that the albie window is slowly closing.  They generally stick around till the first, maybe second week of October and then their numbers thin out greatly.  So, if you haven't gotten one yet, you still have time.
And, I might also add that I did fish for stripers in a number of locations at and after dark but came up empty.  Man, be thankful we have the albies!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

An Hour of Great Fishing

I had what I was looking for today.  It was a northeast wind with some rain and rough water.  It was just the type of conditions that lit up the fishing in the past at this time of year.  So, I headed to the oceanfront with high hopes.  In the very first spot I stopped at I was greeted by diving birds and breaking fish close to shore. I got the rod and my gear and headed for the action.  It was a striper or a hit on every few casts using a float and jig as I really had the fish in front of me in some churning white water.  And, I was all alone in this highly accessible spot with no other fishermen in sight. In one glorious hour I landed more stripers than I caught in the previous month of fishing.  While most of these fish were schoolies in the 18-23 inch range I did have a near keeper (maybe even a small keeper) that I released. It was the type of action that was routine in the past, but rare this year.
This mini blitz ended after about an hour and I figured I was in for a terrific day as I went looking for more fish.  However, I hit several more spots in some beautiful water, but I came up empty in the daylight.  After dark I did manage to pick up one more schoolie on a swimmer.
So, if you have the right conditions with some bait and you look hard enough you just might find a bunch of fish as I did today. However, in this lean year of striper fishing, nothing is a sure bet anymore.
This near keeper was caught on a float and bucktail jig fished in white water
close to shore. It was one of many fish taken today in the northeast wind and rough water.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Striper Fishing Not Good

Striper fishing has not been good in the last week for me.  I'm working on the very worst September I have ever experienced for striper fishing here in RI. Sadly, it is that bad. Oh, there are a few fish around and you hear of fishermen occasionally having a good day/night if they are at the right spot at the right time but the overall picture is not good. Heck, I don't see hardly any fishermen even out trying from shore.
We are now in late September and the fishing should be really perking up.  It's not and here are a few reasons why I think it is not happening:
*Lack of resident fish close to shore.  Yes the numbers are way down and it's having a big effect on the fishing.
*Lack of bait close to shore.  I see birds working here and there but everything is way out much like it was last year.  I've seen no mullet yet this year.  Where are they? There is a lot of bait (peanut bunker and large menhaden) way up in Gansett Bay but whether we see that bait along the oceanfront remains to be seen.
*Migrations have not started yet.  I think you will see better numbers of fish once the fish start migrating but you might have to wait till late October to see that.
*Very few keepers around from shore in RI- This is the way it has been all year with few keepers around. However, even schoolies have been scarce lately.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Albies Back, but Rough Water Continues

The albies are back, though not in the numbers we saw a week ago.  My brother got out in his boat this weekend and landed a few in some long hours of trying.  My son, Jon, got out also and landed some from shore along with a couple of bluefish. There were no stripers for either one as the striper drought continues. However, for both it was difficult fishing due to a lot a wind and rough water.
I had planned to hit the shore today but with wave heights predicted to be 5-8 feet along the shore with a stiff wind, fishing is out of the question. Fall can be a tough time of the year weatherwise and shore fishermen often have to fish those windows of opportunity when the roughness is at a minimum and the wind is manageable.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

NEWSFLASH....Big Waves Pound Oceanfront....Albies Disappear

Big waves were pounding the oceanfront today.  I assume they were coming from a hurricane that was far out in the ocean. The effects, however, were evident close to shore.  There was a lot of sand in the water and weed. Along sandy shores the water looked like coffee.  In addition, most places along the oceanfront were unfishable and dangerous due to 6-8 foot waves hitting the shoreline.
I scanned a lot of areas way out looking with my binoculars for any signs of fish.  I saw no birds, no breaking fish and very few boats fishing protected areas.  I did find a safe spot I could try but came up with nothing.  So, I'm hoping this is just a bump in the road, and the fishing will return to what it was just a few days ago once the ocean calms down. We'll see.  Meanwhile, I think it will take at least  two or three days for all the roughness to subside and the water to clear up.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Float 'n' Fly......Albie Killer

The wooden egg float delivers the fly
to the albies.  The fly is tied to the float
with 3 feet of mono.  Note how the
fly has a slim silhouette when wet.
This blue Deceiver fly is deadly
when albies are feeding on small
bay anchovies as they are right now
in RI waters.
Several days ago my brother and I had that incredible day of albie fishing in the boat when we landed 60 fish.  Towards evening we had a big bunch of fish around us.  We also had about ten boats around us.  At any one time we either had two fish on at the same time or one of us had a fish on.  It was that wild.  Yet, I never saw another boater around us even hook up with a fish.  That is because we were the only ones using the float 'n' fly.  Without question, this is the very best artificial for spin fishermen to use for albies when the fish are feeding on bay anchovies (as they are doing right now in RI waters).  Metal, the lure of choice for most fishermen, will catch them on occasion but comes in a far distant second place when it comes to choosing the best lure.
The float I am using is a wooden egg which can be purchased in craft stores.  I wire mine and paint them white.  Some tackle shops like the Saltwater Edge in Middletown sell them. The fly I am using is a homemade Deceiver that I tie on a Mustad 34007 size 1/0 hook.  The fly is made with four blue saddle hackles for the tail.  It has a chartreuse fine wool body.  The underwing is sparse white bucktail while the overwing is white bucktail topped with a bit of chartreuse bucktail.  The thread I use to tie is also chartreuse though I sometimes use white.  The fly is tied to the float with about 3 feet of 30 lb. test mono.
You want to cast this into breaking fish or even fish it blind in areas where albies exist.  Work a fast retrieve with occasional pulls of the rod tip.  If a fish hits it and misses, slow it down.  This set up is deadly in a boat, and it is even more effective from a shore where a long cast is often needed to reach breaking fish.
Yesterday I hit the albies from shore and landed three good size ones and had another two fish on. This was all in a couple of hours. I also had a couple of more hits.  You guessed it......all the action was on the float 'n' fly.

The float 'n'fly is deadly from a boat but it is even more effective from shore
where a long cast is often needed to reach breaking fish.  This good
size one was landed yesterday along with two others from shore
using the float 'n' fly.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Albie Madness

The Kastmaster XL landed
a few fish but the float and fly
far outfished metal.
The wooden egg float/fly rig was the
hot ticket for albies and accounted
for over 50 fish in one day.  The fly
is a homemade blue Deceiver.
We had the best day of albie fishing we have ever experienced this weekend in the boat. My brother and I fished a number of places along the RI oceanfront in at least a ten mile stretch and found albies all over the place going nuts on bay anchovies.  They just seemed to be everywhere and in astounding numbers. I don't think I have ever seen this many fish in such a wide area.  Yes, record numbers! The score for our best day ended up with us landing between 50 and 60 fish, phenomenal numbers for false albacore fishing.
Without question the best producer was a wooden float with a Deceiver fly. The fly was a homemade chartreuse bodied Deceiver that had blue hackles for a tail.  Our float/fly rig was outfishing most of the other boaters around us who were mostly using metal.  We did also land a few fish on Kastmaster XL's reeled quickly along the surface. The float/fly combo was also fished with a very fast retrieve.  If we threw it into breaking fish, a hit was almost a guarantee.
The albie fishing has attracted a ton of boaters to the oceanfront as the word is out and albie madness has set in.  There are also lots of fishermen along the shoreline looking as well as catching in certain spots.  Boaters, though, have a big advantage when it comes to finding these fish and staying with the breaking schools.
Some of the best albie fishing ever is going on right now along the RI oceanfront.

Friday, September 12, 2014

NEWSFLASH.....ALBIES Hit the RI Oceanfront BIG TIME!

They are here, big time. False albacore, known as albies, hit the RI oceanfront in masses in the last two days.  They are in a wide stretch of the oceanfront from Narragansett all the way to the far south shore beaches.  For all I know they could even be off Jamestown and Newport.
I got down to the oceanfront today from shore and saw albies breaking all over the place in all the places I fished. In one spot, I must have seen about 60 fish caught by an army of fly casters and spin fishermen casting almost shoulder to shoulder that resembled a picket fence.  In addition, I also saw an armada of boats slamming them right in front of me just out of casting range. In all of this there were constant pods of albies tearing through small schools of bay anchovies in a surface display that was simply awesone.  
So, it's happening and that is great news for RI fishermen.  In the absence of any stormy weather the hot action should continue right through September and into early October.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Needlefish a Hot plug Right Now

My hottest plug of the last two weeks has been a homemade needlefish plug.  I've gotten out about 7 or 8 times in the last couple of weeks and have gotten fish every time out.  I'm not catching a ton of fish but I have gotten one to five stripers on every outing.  My best plug in this period of time has been a white, homemade needlefish plug that measures 5 inches long.
This plug has been a hot
producer in the last two weeks.
It is a homemade needlefish
plug that measure 5 in. long.
The needlefish plug is one that is not used by many fishermen.  I don't know why.  I favor this topwater plug over a popper because it has more enticing moves that cause the stripers to hit it.  Here's how I work this plug.  I tend to keep it on or near the surface with a fast retrieve.  While retrieving, I am pumping the rod tip with short pulls much like you would work a pencil popper.  This causes the needlefish to dip up and down as well as wiggle back and forth.  This movement is especially effective when fished in white, rough water.
Most tackle shops tend to stock needlefish plugs in large sizes.  You'll have to look around to find the smaller versions that I think are more effective when small bait is around.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Albies Around, but No Numbers

I can tell you with certainty that some albies, false albacore,  have been caught by shore fishermen.  Last weekend there was a short spurt of activity and some were taken by shore fishermen I know.  Since then there has been little around although I am almost sure I saw several break way out in front of me on Thursday. I could not reach them from shore.
While there are some of these sought after fish, the numbers are not there, and your chances of catching one in RI waters are quite slim right now.  In order to get a lot of them to stay in our waters, we would need a lot of bait and the bait is lacking right now.  The bait has come and gone in the last month and right now it is gone.  I fished the oceanfront and really scouted around on Thursday and Friday and could not find a stitch of bait anywhere within a five to seven mile stretch of the oceanfront.  I was looking for albies by day and found nothing.  In the evening and night my attention turned to finding stripers.  I did find a few but they were all schoolies.  Don't expect to get many stripers either if you don't have a lot of bait.
It's still early in September for big numbers of albies. Mid to late September has been the peak period in other years.  Hopefully, more fish are on the way.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Less People, More Fish

This small, homemade needlefish
plug has been a hot catcher in the
Thank God Labor day has come and gone.  With it the weekday crowds have departed and fishermen have the oceanfront to themselves. You can now scout around, park, and even fish in your favorite spots without worrying about hooking a swimmer.
And, there has been an uptick in activity.  I got out the last two days, and I fished in  the evening into the night.  I landed a total of seven stripers with nothing (birds, fish, or bait) showing.  The needlefish was a hot ticket in the daylight and the Daiwa SP minnow was the hot number after dark. All of the fish I landed were hefty schoolies in the 20-24 inch range.  In addition, I lost a good size fish that was either a big blue (yes, they have been around) or a keeper bass.
There seems to be a lack of bait along the oceanfront in the places I fished.  Unlike my last post from the Bay, I saw no bait or diving birds in  the last two days along the oceanfront.  But, the fish I landed were fat and aggressive, so they must be eating.  I'm guessing if we get a shot of bait, all hell will break loose.  If not, there are enough fish around that you can pick away at them by spot hopping and catching a fish here and there.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Bay Loaded with Bait; No Stripers

There are lots of small blues
in the Bay.  Most are under a foot long.
I went out today in the Bay in my brother's boat.  Everywhere we went there was bait.  I saw thousands of terns diving in a wide swath of the Bay that went on for miles and miles.  In many places the water resembled dark patches that were thick with small bait on the surface. In other places the fish finder lit up the entire water column with bait.  It looked like massive schools of bay anchovies to me.
Scup were also abundant as they were
under the schools of small bait.
Yes, there were some fish around.  We caught many small bluefish under a foot long.  They were chasing and feeding on the bait.  And, in many places under the bait there were good numbers of large scup. We caught several dozen of them while vertical jigging Kastmaster XL's.  However, no stripers.
We've got the bait, but I'm guessing the warm water in the Bay is keeping the stripers away.  In most of the places where we ventured in the mid and upper Bay the surface water temperatures ran from 75 to 77 degrees, way too warm for most fish.  But, things are looking up.  We just might get a run  of stripers in the Bay this fall once the water cools.  I also think we will see fireworks along the oceanfront later in fall when all that bait in the Bay hits the oceanfront as it migrates southward.