Friday, August 28, 2015

Albie Watch

None around yet, but if  it is going to happen,
it should occur in the next week to ten days.
There's a lot of fishermen looking.  One of the most anticipated events of the fishing season is the arrival of the false albacore, or albies.  These fish are the ultimate light tackle gamesters as they will put on a fight that would most fish to shame.  They are the most sought after fish by fly rodders.
To my knowledge (and I talk to a lot of people and have gotten out a lot in the last week), there are none around yet.  Last year they showed up at this during the last couple of days of August. In previous years, the start for the most part has been the first week of September if they are going to show.
And, that is a big "IF". These fish are not a sure bet. If we look back at the last few years, 2014 and 2013 were banner years that saw record numbers of them along the RI shoreline but there were none in 2012. If we look back over the last 30 years, about a third of those years there were none, a third of those years a few were around and it was good to great about a third of the years.  So, what will happen this year is anyone's guess.
If I were a betting fisherman, I would bet it will be a good year.  There is a lot of bait in place and the bonito have been around in good numbers.  Good numbers of bonito usually means good numbers of albies.
The next week to ten days should tell the story.  If they are going to show, it will be in that time period.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Monsters From the Depths

This is the biggest fluke we have ever taken
from the boat.  The fish was close to 30 in. and
was caught on a bucktail jig fished
in 70-80 ft. of water.
My brother Steve and I got out in the boat today.  We were looking for bonito and big blues, the fish we have had so much success with this week.  But, we found none. We looked all over the oceanfront and found tons of bait but not a darn thing after it. So, we went to our back-up plan which was to fish the bottom for bottom feeders such as black sea bass and fluke.
Big black sea bass were in
abundance today as we
landed many between 5-7 lbs.
That's when we hit the jackpot.  With surface water temperatures running 76 to 77 degrees today (way too warm), we tried working the bottom in 20-30 feet of water. But no luck doing that so we decided to head out further and try our luck in deep water reasoning that the deeper water would be cooler and possibly more productive.  We were fishing in 75 to 80 feet of water.  We were vertically jigging Kastmaster XLs and bucktail jigs spiced with fresh squid that we jigged up.
Our luck changed dramatically. My brother Steve landed the biggest fluke that we've ever caught from the boat, a doormat that measured close to 30 inches and that we estimated went about 8-9 lbs.  We also landed some of the biggest black sea bass that we ever caught in RI waters.  We had many in the 5-7 lb. range along with countless other keepers.  The bottom seemed to be paved with large black sea bass. We also had another big fluke that went over 20 inches.
So, a day that started off poorly turned into one of our best days of the year.  As I've said many times before.....the fish are there, you just have to find them!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Everything in Place for a Great Fall

For the boat fishermen, big blues have been around in
good numbers this past week. Expect this action to
continue into the fall with albies, bonito and stripers
joining the hit parade of September fish.
It is shaping up to be a great fall.  All we need now is a little cool weather to drop the water temperatures and the fishing will explode.  There is a large amount of bait along the oceanfront.  I have seen more peanut bunker than I have seen in years. Already it is attracting good numbers of bluefish and bonito.  Bay anchovies are also around in abundance.  There is even squid around as we hooked a couple yesterday with a jig.  A big blue I landed yesterday was puking both squid and baby scup. In addition, there is the occasional school of large menhaden. With all that bait around, the fishing has to get real good once the fall migrations begin.
Right now the surface water temperatures along the oceanfront are in the low to mid 70's.  Way too warm for stripers.  That explains the downturn in striper fishing for shore fishermen in the last couple of weeks. Once the cooler weather arrives and the water temperatures drop into the upper sixties I expect the striper fishing to explode. The blues are active in that warm water. That explains why we are catching them.  I've landed more blues this week than all of last year, and they have been good sizes.
I know of no albies that have been caught yet, but I suspect it is a matter of time.  In the past they have arrived in the final days of August or the first week in September. By mid September, that fishery should be hopping.
So long as we don't get any big storms such as a tropical storm or a hurricane, expect September to be a banner month.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Photo of the Day

The bonito continue to hit along RI's south shore oceanfront.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Found 'Em

We have been looking all week and we finally found what we were looking for. BON ITO!  Yes, they are around as we found them blasting through a pile of bait along the south shore where we fished from the boat today.  It was a mix of good size bluefish along with good size bonito.  They were tearing through big schools of peanut bunker.
The lure that got them was a Kastmaster XL reeled in at a fast pace just below the surface.
Steve Pickering holds a good size bonito that was landed from the boat
along the oceanfront today. They were around in good numbers.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Best Day for Bluefish in YEARS!

There were big numbers of bluefish around yesterday
feeding on big schools of peanut bunker.
We got out in my brother's boat yesterday, and found big numbers of bluefish.  Schools of marauding blues covered a large area of the south shore oceanfront that we were fishing.  In fact, this was the most bluefish we have seen in years, either from the boat or from shore.
Suddenly, there are massive schools of peanut bunker around to add to the massive number of bay achovies.  We now have the bait, BIG TIME, and that is attracting all kinds of fish.  These blues, which ranged from 5-10 lbs., were in small schools attacking pods of peanut bunker. They were quite fussy and would not take a popper, usually the artificial of choice when blues are around.  The best lure we used yesterday was a Kastmaster XL worked fast.  I kept it just below the surface or actually "popped" it on the surface.  Either way, it was very effective.
While we were catching these fish from the boat, they could be caught at times from the shore.  Pods of them were close enough to reach, but we never saw anyone fishing from the shore. Where are all the shore fishermen?
With massive amounts of bait along the RI shoreline, it's looking like this will be a fabulous early fall. When we get some cooler weather, look for the fishing to really explode with stripers, bluefish and albies leading the hit parade.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Bait, Stripers Back, BUT Loads of Weed

I landed this hefty schoolie last evening right at dark.
There's lots of bait around the oceanfront and some
fussy stripers feeding on it.
There's a lot of bait around and stripers are also around in good numbers though the oceanfront has really been kicked up in the last week making fishing from shore difficult in many areas.  I got out a couple of times this week and landed some fish, but no big numbers.
Here's what has been happening.  First off, you have to find a weed free spot to fish which is not that easy.  Most of the south facing shorelines are so clogged with weed that fishing is impossible from shore.  The rocky, east facing shorelines are better, but not great.  Each time I fished, you could see birds working way out in the evening daylight.  As it got closer to dark, the birds and schools of small bait moved closer to shore.  Right before dark I would see sporadic jumps of stripers hitting the small bait.  There was no frenzy as they were just whirling and lazily feeding.  There were also no schools of fish as there were jumps here and there in the places I fished.  These fish were very fussy.  About the only thing they would occasionally hit was a 7 1/2 inch white Slug-Go.  I tried everything else in my bag with no success.  I suspect that the warm water combined with the tiny bait (bay anchovies) has them very finicky. Once it was pitch dark everything seemed to come to an end.
One other note here is that I never saw another fisherman in the two evenings I fished.  From what I have heard, the few fishermen who are getting out are hitting the shore in the early morning and doing fairly well.
With all this bait around, expect the fishing to explode in September with albies and stripers leading the hit parade.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Yesterday's Super Storm Really Messes Things Up

Yesterday's super thunderstorms really did a job on the state with damage, downed trees and power lines.  From a fisherman's point of view, it also wreaked havoc on the oceanfront and the fishing.
I went down yesterday afternoon, almost twelve hours after the storm blew through.  The ocean was fully charged.  I would estimate there were 6-10 foot waves crashing ashore, making fishing impossible in most places.  Couple that with a big southwest wind.  To add to the misery, the water near any beach was a mess with sand and weeds.  Even far from the sandy beaches, weed and some sand seemed to be everywhere. In some places the breaking waves were brown with thick, globby weed.  Along miles of a rocky shoreline that was clean a day earlier, I could find only one small spot where there was some weed, but barely fishable water.  I saw no birds diving anywhere, no bait visible, no stripers jumping and just about no fishermen.  I was able to catch one lone schoolie at dark on a Slug-Go, and I was darn lucky to get one fish considering the conditions.
My brother was out this morning in his boat and covered a wide area of the oceanfront.  While the waves had calmed down, there were still rollers coming in and the water was still a weedy and silty mess as far out as a mile in some places.  He found no birds working and for all his efforts, he landed one small bluefish. Not good.
Only time will tell if this storm has ruined our very good summer fishing and sent the stripers and bait packing.  The oceanfront will need to calm down and clear up.  This might take a few days before things return to normal.  What the fishing will be like is any one's guess.

Monday, August 3, 2015

More and More Bait, Snapper Blues Arrive and Lots of Weed

Wild!  That is the only way I can describe the scene yesterday.  I got down to the oceanfront in the evening and as I looked out in the first spot I stopped I could see hundreds of birds diving in a wide area.  They were in close, out far, everywhere.  So, I quickly grabbed my rod and headed to the shore. What was causing all the commotion were vast schools of tiny bait.  That was being attacked by big schools of small snapper blues.  And, that was being attacked by an occasional striper.  Everywhere you looked there was bait and some kind of fish breaking.
It was all schoolies yesterday.  A small bucktail jig with a
curly tail was the hot lure.
The stripers were scattered.  It was an individual fish here and there breaking or just hanging in the white water.  They were not schooled up and not very aggressively feeding.  Maybe it's the warm water (low to mid 70's).  Still, I managed to pick up a few fish on a bucktail jig and the other guys I was with were also picking up a few. Yesterday's fish were schoolies in the 22-24 inch range. These fish seem to be everywhere that bait exists.  Some places have more fish than others.  It's a matter of finding them.
For anyone looking for action, I will warn you that there is a lot of weed around, especially along the sandy south shore that is vulnerable to a south and southwest wind.  I know one state beach where even swimming is impossible in some sections in the thick red and black weed that covers the shoreline and shallow water.  From my travels I can tell you that there is more weed south of Point Judith than there is north of there.  The rocky areas around Narragansett, Jamestown and Newport seem to have cleaner and more fishable water than along the south shore beachfront. There are pockets of clean water along the beachfront, but you have to find them. If you are fishing from a boat it doesn't matter since the weed is generally close to shore.
So, we are in the midst of a very good stretch of striper fishing.  I would say unusually good for early August.