Sunday, November 30, 2014

Inconsistent Winter Fishing

This fish was taken this week on one of the
good days.  Winter holdover striper fishing
is generally inconsistent.
I'm in my winter fishing mode targeting areas far from the oceanfront in search of holdover stripers.  I got out five times in the last week.  One day was terrific, one day was good and the other three days were blanks.  Welcome to winter fishing. Weather makes little difference.  The terrific day happened in the rain; one of the blanks happened in the rain. One cold day was good; another cold day delivered a blank. The fish are either there or not.  Or, they also might be around but have little interest in hitting. This is typical winter fishing where inconsistency rules the game.
From now till March winter holdover fish will exist in numerous rivers and backwaters along Gansett Bay as well as along the oceanfront.  Only a few diehards will take advantage of this fishery.  It is just not a popular thing to do here in RI regardless of how good the fishing is.
I do find winter fishing to be a challenge and an adventure.  There's just something unique and exciting about going out on a sub freezing December or January night in the hopes of catching stripers.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

In a Transition Period

This schoolie was caught today in
one of my winter fishing locations.
There are also still fish around the
 south shore beachfront.
We're in  that funky period of time in the year if you are still looking for stripers.  Some fish are still moving along the oceanfront.  Some fish have settled into those wintering over spots.  Some bait is also moving along the oceanfront.  Some bait has stripers under them; some schools of bait have no stripers around them.  The weather is warm; the weather is cold.
I've heard from some of my friends that there were good numbers of schoolies along the far south beaches this weekend if you were in the right spot at the right time.  My son Ben found big numbers of herring right up against the shore getting attacked by gannets in another location but there were no stripers after them. And, I have settled into my winter striper spots, and I have been getting decent numbers of fish.
Yes, we are in a major transition period that I think will go on for another week or two. Flip a coin, pick a spot and hope you find some fish.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Plummeting Water Temps Spell Trouble

The recent cold spell has dropped the surface water temperatures big time.  Last week temps were running in the low to mid fifties.  Today I checked a NOAA site,
Dropping water temperatures and rough water have made
scenes like this a memory in the past.  It has been a tough
last couple of days with little to report.
and the water temperature along the ocean (Newport) was 48 degrees.  Parts of the Bay were 46 to 48 degrees. Those are big drops, certainly enough to send the fish packing. In addition, the oceanfront has remained rough since Monday's big blow. My source along there reports little fishing activity, no bird activity and no fish that he knows of. 
Is it all done?  I just don't know.  There will be a recovery in temperatures next week.  Will it come too late?  I suspect there will still be a few fish coming through in the next week or so, but you will have to be there when it happens. The consistent fishing could be over.
Unless I hear of something along the oceanfront, my plans are to start searching the winter locations that I fish.  I'm guessing that will start up very soon if  it hasn't already.

Monday, November 17, 2014

As Wild as it Gets

A Cocahoe trailing off a float was the hot producer today
as stripers were on the rampage in some nasty weather.
I love fishing nasty weather and in the past stormy weather has led to some of my biggest days of striper fishing.  Today was another example of how nasty weather just turns on the fishing.
I fished a beach along the south shore that was devoid of fishermen but had loads of fish, bait and birds diving.  My day started off this morning as I walked into this spot in which flocks of gannets were divebombing, seagulls were hitting the water and cormorants were constantly diving. Yes, the bait (peanut bunker) was around big time and stripers were under it, breaking along the beach.  I looked like a nut running up and down the beach casting to fish that were constantly moving.  It was a wild scene.  This went on just about all day.
The fish were active and hitting.  A Cocahoe trailing off a float was the top producer although my friend Gene was getting some fish on poppers. By the end of the day I had my biggest day in over a month with dozens of schoolies landed. I got no keepers.
In late afternoon, there was a sudden wind shift and a surf build up that went from a few feet to six to eight foot waves in a matter of less than an hour.  That dramatic change in conditions ended the fishing as the birds disappeared and the bait and stripers departed.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Peanut Bunker Lights up the Weekend Along South Shore

Stripers were in good supply in some
south shore locations this weekend.
However, some places had lots of bait, but
few fish
Big schools of peanut bunker were
on the move along the south shore this
For the first time this year I found a lot of peanut bunker.  All weekend long it moved along the south shore beachfront in big schools.  At times there were good numbers of stripers after them; at other times, it was only the bunker with little or nothing after them. You simply had to find those spots that had bunker and stripers.  There were some big catches reported this weekend by fishermen I spoke with.  I talked to one guy who told be he arrived at the beach yesterday afternoon at 3:00 and by dark he landed 24 stripers.  He said the fish were busting all over the place on the bunker.  Another guy told me he fished another spot and had continuous fish all afternoon yesterday.  He also had 4 keepers up to 34 inches.  He said the keepers were spitting up herring.  Yet another guy told me he fished multiple spots today and landed over 20 stripers with one keeper.  So, there are some fish in some spots, but you have to find them.  I only got a few fish today, but was continuously chasing schools of peanut bunker hoping stripers would find them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

In a Major Lull or Seeing the End?

The beaches were empty yesterday, Veterans' Day. At one point
there was only one fisherman plugging this popular spot. The
fishing has been poor so far in November.
I don't know.  I want to say that this is too early for the season to end, but on the other hand, things are not looking good.  In recent years the season continued to fish well right into the third week of November.  Some years it even pushed into early December.  In other years Veterans' Day was a very hot time along the RI south shore, probably the peak time in November for stripers and big blues.  But, not this year.  I was out yesterday and saw only one schoolie landed in several spots along the oceanfront. I did manage to get a couple of schoolies after dark in a backwater location.  In  the daylight  I saw no birds working. The few fishermen who were fishing were complaining about the poor November fishing, the lack of stripers and the lack of bait. Even today's fishing reports in The Fisherman noted slow striper fishing in the last week along the RI shoreline.
The water temperatures for the most part are in the low 50's right now.  Expect that to change, though, in the next week.  In other years, water temperatures in the 50's produced good fishing while temperatures dipping into the 40's produced a rapid decline in the fishing.  In other years there was a lot of bait like herring and peanut bunker around at this time; this year there is little or none.  I can also tell you that the number of fishermen has also declined greatly so that must tell you something.
So, we'll see in the coming week if there is one last big push of fish. Maybe it's coming, maybe not.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Backwaters Saving the Day

This has been a disappointing November so far.  There has not been many schoolies around, very few keepers, no bluefish and there has been a lack of bait. It's not what we are used to seeing in November, a time that has been hot in past years.  It has been particularly slow in the last two days.  I have been unable to find any fish in the daylight. I have fared no better after dark along the south shore beachfront.
So, I turned my attention to some quiet backwater spots before heading home.  These places have saved the day for me as I have landed big numbers of hickory shad as well as some schoolies (see photos) on ultra light tackle and small bucktail jigs.  These backwaters are generally "small fish" spots, yet when little is around, these types of spots sometimes can save the day and provide some fast action.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sporadic Action as Small Schools of Fish Move Along South Shore

This hefty schoolie was landed on a Cocahoe threaded
onto a jighead. It was part of a quick hit school of fish that
was there one minute, gone the next.
This is no last hurrah yet.  I've been down to the south shore surf in a number of spots twice in the last four days, and I can tell you the action is sporadic at best.  There are small schools of stripers chasing small schools of bait.  A few birds will suddenly start diving signaling the presence of fish.  You might get a couple of fish if you are there at the right time, and just as fast as they appear, they are gone.  These are all schoolies for the most part that are running 18-25 inches. In the last two outings I landed 10 schoolies. With decreased numbers of stripers and a lack of big schools of bait, this is the type of action  I expected.
On another note, I have been unable to find any keepers after dark.  Other fishermen are reporting the same story as the large fish that were around a couple of weeks ago seem to be gone.  They were around mostly when big menhaden were around.  They, too, are gone. More schools of this big bait that are dropping out out Gansett Bay could be coming.
Did you look at the forecast for the next week?  An Arctic blast will be coming our way at the end of the week.  The cold is forecast to stick around for a week to ten days with daytime highs in the 30's and low 40's and nights in the 20's. That will certainly drop the water temps into the 40's.  If that happens, it will probably put an end to the worthwhile fishing.  So much for all the armchair reporters predicting a longer than normal season!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Disappointing Day for Stripers

Steve Pickering lands a double.
Black sea bass saved the day as
there were poor numbers of stripers
around the south shore today.
You've probably seen a lot of recent reports that tell about the terrific fishing that is going on along RI's south shore beachfront. Well, my brother and I headed down there and covered the entire area from Matunuck to Westerly in a boat.  We landed exactly one small schoolie.
Like every kind of fishing, nothing is a sure bet. Fall striper fishing, often a hit or miss deal, was a big miss today. This outing was a disappointment to say the least.  We saw only one area that had a small amount of bait and some birds diving,  This spot had a few stripers breaking, but there were so few and the action was so sporadic that we could only catch one schoolie. Another telling fact was that we saw just about no one fishing from shore for miles.
To save the day, we decided to try for black sea bass.  We fared much better with them, catching about 20 of them with most being small keepers. We located pods of them using the fishfinder and we focused on those spots that seemed to have a lot of them.  The hot ticket for catching them was jigs on the bottom.  Zoom flukes and Cocahoes mounted on jigheads were our best lures for the black sea bass.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Focus Shifts to South Shore Beachfront

It's November and it's time to move.  My fishing focus will now shift from points north of Galilee to places to the south.  I believe your best bet to catch stripers and bluefish will be the RI south shore beachfront that runs from East Matunuck to the beaches in Westerly. This area offers easy access off Rt. 1 to beachfront parking lots along the water. From those lots, it's a matter of walking to some very good fishing.
The south shore is a mix of straight run beaches, rocky points and beachway flows.  While many fishermen will focus on the breachways for larger fish, the fact is that fish can be caught anywhere along this south shore stretch.  It is simply a matter of finding the bait which tends to migrate southward right along this shorefront.  In the past, I've seen schools of large menhaden and ocean herring right off deserted beaches where no one is fishing. Every time I have found this big bait, I've found big fish.
I've already been fishing the south shore and I can tell you that this is where the most bait is located, and this area has better numbers of stripers compared to the areas to the north. I have a reliable report that there have been gannets divebombing along the beaches in the last few days.  Could this mean a run of ocean herring is starting?
There are about three good weeks of fishing left.  After that, it's a crap shoot.  The south shore will be your best bet from shore in the coming weeks if you are looking for late season action.