Friday, May 29, 2015

One Heck of a Week of Mixing it Up

I think I have fished more this week than I ever fished in a week, and that's saying a lot!.  I was working double shifts most of the week fishing freshwater for carp in the mornings and fishing for stripers in the evenings.  I even managed to get out a couple of days in the boat chasing both stripers and black sea bass.
In freshwater, I had the biggest carp week of the year as I landed at least a dozen fish over twenty pounds along with a bunch more in the 15-19 lb. range. They were on the feed.  Biggest fish of the week went 27 lbs.
I fished several evenings from shore and once in the boat in the Bay this week and found good numbers of schoolies.  These weren't big. I got a number of fish on Zoom flukes threaded onto half ounce jigheads fished from the shore.  I found good numbers of schoolies in shallow water spots in the Bay from the boat and landed them on small poppers.
I even got up to Buzzards Bay to fish from the boat.  This place is the black sea bass capital of the East Coast.  And, it didn't disappoint.  In fact, the fishing was the best I have ever seen there.  My brother and I boated well over 200 of them in an afternoon, and we had at least 75 keepers (yes, we did release most of them). These were taken by vertically jigging with
bucktail jigs and Kastmaster XLs.  Hard to believe, but I even got some trolling a swimmer!  We drifted over areas in which they were ten feet thick on the depthfinder. In addition, we caught some huge scup, a bunch of bluefish and even a striper.  It was simply phenomenal fishing for this time of the year.
Check out the photos of this week's action.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Similarities to Last Year Developing

It's been a better spring than last year for
Well, it's a different year, but already we are starting to see some similarities to last year developing. I've had two lousy outings my last two times out from shore with only one bluefish to show for my efforts.  Already there are rumblings among many fishermen complaining that the abundant schoolies of early May seem to have moved on. This same type of thing happened last year and the year before and the year before, etc. So, here's a quick summary of what I have seen thus far and how it compares to last year (only a fair to poor year according to most):
* There were real good numbers of schoolies around in late April until recently.  I like the fact that there were all sizes from small ones to near keepers.  That bodes well for the future. This spring was BETTER than last year.
*Already fishermen are complaining about the lack of keepers. Some of the boaters fishing menhaden seem to be scoring, but I have to agree there should be more of them from the shore. Of course, this is why we've dropped down to one fish a day.  This was a problem last year and this year so far it is about the SAME.
*There is little or no small bait to hold the schoolies along our shores. That is why they migrate and then just keep moving to other places where there is food.  I've seen a good amount of adult menhaden but very little small bait.  In other years we have not seen the abundant small bait until fall when the schoolies seem to reappear. About the SAME as last year.
*Bluefish numbers are abysmal.  There are a few here and there, but no numbers close to shore.. Maybe it's too cold; maybe they are in more trouble than the stripers. No one seems to care about the blues. This is about the SAME as last year.
* The number of fishermen from shore is down, way down.  All this negative press about the decline of the stripers have caused a lot of fishermen to give it up or cut back.  But, this same thing happened last year also.  About the SAME.
So, you can draw your own conclusions about where we are headed this year. Meanwhile, I plan to just keep on fishing and hope for the best.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Loads of Small Ones and a BIG Surprise

First blue of the year, a fish of about
3 lbs.
There was a glut of small schoolies
around today. Most went 8-14 inches.
I had to go down to the oceanfront today to move my son Jon back home from his apartment in 'Gansett.  So, I decided to kill two birds with one stone by fishing as well as doing the move.  We fished in the middle of the day along the oceanfront and found big numbers of schoolies.  These were real small fish as they ran 8-14 inches on average.  This was the first time I have seen fish this small, but it is a good sign for the future of the fishery.  Jon reports that there have been big numbers of small ones in the last few days along various spots along the south shore oceanfront.
I, did, however get two unexpected surprises.  The first was my first bluefish of the year that I landed on a bucktail jig.  The second, and this is hard to believe, was that I landed an Atlantic salmon on a shrimp fly teaser. At first I thought it could be a squeteague but it didn't have the right fins or mouth to be a weakfish.  The salmon was about 14 inches, the size of many of the stripers it was hanging with. Check out the photo below.

Here is the surprise of the spring, an Atlantic salmon that was caught
on a shrimp fly teaser!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Stripers, Hickory Shad and Now, BLUEFISH!

Our terrific spring fishing of 2015 has suddenly gotten ever better.  My son, Jon, has been fishing big time along the oceanfront in the past week.  He has landed big numbers of stripers up to near keeper size, lots of hickory shad and even landed the first bluefish of the year (that I have heard about) today. He is fishing multiple locations.  He is having all this success while using small swimmers (4-inch Rapala X-Rap) along with shrimp fly teasers. The small swimmers have far outfished jigs and plastics in the last week along the oceanfront.
I have focused my attention on the Bay in the last two weeks.  I am still getting good numbers of stripers up to keeper size. The fish are hitting in the daytime as well as after dark. Most of my fish are falling for small skinny plastic fished off a float.  I would predict that by the weekend we will see some bluefish in the Bay.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Exceptionally Good

There are lots of them and they are hitting a
variety of lures.  They are spread out all over
the state along the oceanfront and the Bay.
Man, the fishing is good.  I'd say it is about the best spring fishing for stripers that I have seen in years. And, the fish seem to be all over the place.  In the last two days, I have landed 33 stripers that ranged from 14 inches to 30 inches.  There were several keepers or near keepers in the mix.  While I was having success in the upper Bay, my son, Jon, was slamming the fish at the oceanfront.  He had over 30 stripers along with 8 hickory shad his last two outings.  While we were both catching fish from shore, my brother Steve was killing them from the boat in the Bay, grabbing over 30 fish yesterday up to keeper size.
And, the fish are active.  Lots of different lures seem to be working. Yesterday, I was standing in a spot just watching fish break here and there all around me.  I don't know what they were feeding on, but they were hitting my small Slug-Gos fished off a float.  I was also getting some on a Zoom fluke threaded onto a half ounce jighead.  My son Jon was catching most of his fish at the oceanfront on small swimmers and shrimp fly teasers.  My brother Steve was scoring on small poppers. So, a lot of variety seems to be working.  That's what happens when the fish are plentiful and active.
As long as this weather remains cool and water temperatures remain cool (below 70 degrees), the fishing should continue to be exceptionally good.  It's been a great first month so far.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Very Effective Trick

The float and 6 inch Slug-Go is
very effective on fussy fish.
This lure combo led to big numbers
of stripers tonight up to keeper size.
Here's a neat lure trick I used tonight to catch big numbers of stripers up to keeper size in the Bay. I was fishing a spot from shore in which the fish were there as some were breaking and others occasionally hitting the jig I started off with.  But, my offerings were just not real effective on these fussy fish.
So, I snapped on a killer artificial I use when the fish get this way.  I was using a homemade wooden egg float with a small, 6 inch Slug-Go.  The skinny plastic was tied to about 2 1/2 feet of 30 lb. test mono which was tied to the float. To fish this artificial combo, reel in slowly while twitching the rod tip.  Occasionally, stop the retrieve for a few seconds.  This lure combo is deadly when fishing rough water and a wind in your face. The float allows a long cast while fishing a small and lightweight artificial (the Slug-Go) which can't be cast on its own. That 6 inch Slug-Go is a good size to use for fussy fish which I had in front of me tonight.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Pic of the Day......."Getting Bigger"

Steve Pickering holds a real good size fish that was taken from the  boat in the Bay.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Biggest Night of the Year; First KEEPER

First keeper of the year hit a white Slug-Go.
I landed several fish on
a Red Gill teaser that was
fished ahead of the Slug-Go.
Wow, the fishing is hot, about as good as it gets at this time of year.  Tonight I had my best outing of 2015 from shore as I landed over 30 fish in a short amount of time while fishing the Bay.  Most of the fish were hefty schoolies in the 20-26 inch range.  I even landed my first keeper of the new year, a fish of about 30 inches.  The white Slug-Go that I talked about in my last post was the killer tonight.  I also got a number of fish on a white Red Gill teaser fished ahead of the Slug-Go.
The fish are all over the state right now.  While I was fishing the Bay from shore tonight, my son Jon texted me that he was getting good numbers of fish along the oceanfront.  My brother Steve went out in the boat this morning and he caught good numbers of fish. All three of us were fishing completely different locations.
So far I have to say that while we had a late start to the fishing, it has become about as good as it gets in the springtime here in RI. No question, banner fishing right now!

Friday, May 8, 2015

On the Skinny Plastic

Skinny plastic like this Slug-Go was hot tonight.
For the first time this spring, I caught good numbers of schoolies tonight fishing skinny plastic from shore.  It is a sure sign that the water is warming and the fish are getting more active.
Tonight I was using a 7 1/2 inch white Slug-Go. Typically, you cast this out and twitch the rod tip on the retrieve to give this lure its action.  Tonight the stripers were fussy in some very calm water.  At first they would whirl it and follow it, but few actually hit the lure.  That changed when I adjusted the retrieve. On the retrieve, I would just stop stop reeling on occasion, letting the skinny plastic just sit there suspended for a few seconds.  This is something that really works for fussy fish. It  did tonight as nearly every fish I landed was hooked when I stopped reeling. Try it the next time you are into fussy fish while fishing skinny plastic.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

From the Boat in the Bay...

Yes, the schoolies are in the
Bay also.  Zoom flukes
(right photo) threaded
onto lightweight jigheads
proved hot.
Also, the Bay was loaded with
schools of large menhaden but
there were no keepers on them.
Yes, the stripers are in the Bay also. We went out today in my brother's boat and did find some schoolies.  There were not a ton of them, but we did get some and had a good number of hits from some fussy fish.  The hot ticket to catching them was to use Zoom flukes on lightweight jigheads.  Like the oceanfront, the schoolies are generally averaging 20-22 inches, good size for early season fish..
The big surprise today in the Bay was the astounding numbers of large menhaden we found.  At times we were sitting in acres of them. And, they seemed to be all over the place. We did snag some and tried livelining this big bait, but got nothing.  There was no evidence of larger stripers under this abundant bait, but I can tell you it is only a matter of time before the large stripers find this big bait. Things are really looking up.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Spreading Out into the Bay

Here's a good size
schoolie taken from
shore in the Bay this
The fish hit a small
popper, unusual
in this early going.
Migrating schoolies are really sreading out throughout the state. For the first time this spring I fished the upper Bay, and caught stripers there too. I had been hearing reports from friends who have been catching in the lower Bay and mid Bay locations so I decided to try the Bay myself.
The crazy thing about tonight is that I caught two stripers, one a near keeper and the other about 20 inches, on small poppers. Both fish were super active and just blasted my surface offering. Usually you don't start getting them on topwater lures until things really warm up, but these fish were taking on top, a sure sign that things are heating up.  I also saw a couple of fish break for bait, another unusual activity in this early going.
So, it's happening all over right now.  With warm temperatures expected all week, look for some bigger fish and maybe even a few bluefish to arrive soon.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Really Good

Jon Pickering hoists up a triple header that
was landed on shrimp fly teasers and a Cocahoe
on a jighead.  That has been the hot lure combo.
The water is cold (40's), the air is cold, the winds have been wrong, but the fishing is hot. I have hit the oceanfront hard in the last three days and I can tell you the fishing is about as good as it gets at this time of year. I've found the fish in multiple spots along the oceanfront, and when you find them, there are a lot of them to catch.  My totals for the last three days are well over 50 fish. Those results have really exceeded my expectations.
The hot ticket to catching them has been a Cocahoe minnow fished on a jighead and fished below one or two shrimp teasers.  I've seen others scoring well with Clouser flies used as teasers.  I've had numerous double headers as well as some triple headers on this rig.  To get three schoolies to hit at the same time, there has to really be a big bunch of them.
I am also surprised at the size of the schoolies.  Last year there were lots of really tiny ones in the 10-14 inch range. However, this year's fish average about 20 inches with some being near keepers. There are really good size early season fish.