Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Not Good

The last time the fishing was good was a week ago, During this week we have had persistent NE winds and a heavy surf.  Most east facing shorelines were completely shut down due to high waves, sand, weed and roiled water. Enter round two today with another round of stormy weather on the way.  Only thing, this is even worse. NOAA is forecasting a week of very heavy surf and high winds.  The predictions are generally for 7-12 foot waves for the next 5 days with gale warnings at times.  Not good.  Add to that the fact that we may see hurricane waves later in the weekend as the effects of Hurricane Joaquin come northward.  Not good.
Even once this weather passes, I am guessing it will take days for the water to clear up. I suspect there will be limited or no surf fishing along the whole oceanfront until mid next week at the earliest.
I don't know if this is by coincidence or planned, but my latest article in the Fisherman magazine (which I got today) is called "Rough Water Strategies for Fall Stripers". It basically outlines how to deal with rough water but emphasizes there is a fine line between rough water which can be productive and water that is too rough and dangerous to fish. In the next few days it will be too rough unless you want to fish the protected backwaters, inside the breachways, the coastal ponds or the Bay.
What we find when this mess clears up will be very different than what we had in mid Sept. I suspect the albies will be gone.  Yup, short and sweet this year, but kiss em good-bye.  We'll have to chase the bait on their migration southward (Bay is loaded right now), and hopefully we'll still have a good month left of stripers and bluefish, if we have no more severe weather.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Long Cast Outfit Getting It Done

For the last month I have been using a "long cast"outfit that I set up to specifically cast to false albacore that are way out.  The outfit has really delivered a number of albies as well as stripers and big blues that I would not have been able to reach with any other outfit.
Here are the details of what I am using:
Reel- Shimano Ultegra 5500 XSC- This is one of those reels that has an elongated spool for long distance casting.  It will far outcast traditional narrow spooled reels.  It looks like a big reel but weighs in at just 17.5 oz.  It is one of the smoothest reels I have ever used.  The line lays perfectly in tight, close loops on the reel due the slow oscillation of the reel, and I have not thrown a loop yet. The drag is simply superb. While I wonder how it would hold up to a heavy surf and constant splash, I can tell you it is ideally suited for the beach, jetties and dry, rocky areas, places I fish a lot.  It sells in most places for $189. Well worth the money.
Rod- St. Croix Mojo 10 1/2 footer  (moderate action)- Most fishermen know I am a big fan of St. Croix  Mojos and this one is a home run in my book.  It is 10 1/2 feet long but weighs just 12.8 oz. Check it out at St. Croix rods.  It has the backbone to heave out plugs and lures in the 2+ ounce range yet has a light enough tip to cast lures in the 1/2 to 1 oz. range.  It is ideally suited for long distance plugging. It balances perfectly with the Shimano 5500 described above. Highly recommended.
Line- Power Pro 30 lb. test braided line.  I loaded the reel above with about 50 yards of backing and then loaded it up with a 300 yd. spool of Power Pro. The line lays perfectly on the reel (check out photo) and you can actually load the reel right up to the lip of the spool.
In the last two weeks I have landed at least 15 albies, at least 15 keeper bass and 7 big blues along with some smaller fish with this outfit.  It has really delivered in areas where a long cast is needed to reach feeding fish, and its operation has been flawless.

The outfit has allowed me to cast way out to breaking albies, stripers, and blues
and has really delivered in the last month.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Persistent NE Wind, Big Surf, Roiled Water Slow Fishing

Fishing along the oceanfront, so good most of the month, has really slowed this week.  The oceanfront has seen a persistent NE wind that has been blowing for the last five days.  A big surf has also developed.  This is all a result of a low pressure of storminess in the mid Atlantic and a high pressure area to the north.  Nothing is moving so the winds and waves continue to mess up the water. Many areas are not even fishable. The water is sandy, weedy and roiled in most  places.  That has sent a lot of the bait and predators packing.  The albies, so abundant a week ago, are hard to find right now. There is little fishing activity from shore or boat. Still, there are fish to be had in some of the protected waters, the breachways on the outgoing tides (clean water), and the backwaters.
I got out yesterday early to mainly scout around.  I tried slugging it out in the rough water and had no luck. I searched the ocean way out with my binoculars in multiple locations and could find no breaking fish or diving birds.  All was dead in the daylight. I did fish a protected spot after dark and came away with one keeper striper about 30 inches long.  My son, Jon, who was with me landed a schoolie.
So, the weekend outlook is not good.  The forecast is calling for more of the same with an increasing surf with a moderate risk of beach erosion. Yikes, not good.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Gators on the Prowl

Jon Pickering holds a gator bluefish that
was caught last night.  It was one of ten
big blues that we caught along with multiple
keeper bass.
The Daiwa SP Minnow
accounted for most of
last night's fish.
Our fabulous September fishing just keeps rolling on delivering one surprise after another.  In the last two weeks I have seen acres of small blues, big schools of albies and more keeper bass than I expected.  But, the latest twist this week was the big number of alligator bluefish.  I'm talking blues in the 12-15 lb. range. They are around in a wide area of the oceanfront.  I have not seen blues like this in years, maybe decades!
I fished last night with my son, Jon.  We landed ten of these monster bluefish along with numerous keeper bass and some schoolies.  It was one of the best nights of fishing I have experienced this year.  We got all our fish on Daiwa SP minnows.  I was using a pearl colored one while he was using a mackerel model.
All of this fishing activity is being fueled by massive amounts of bait.  This week I have seen big schools of peanut bunker, adult menhaden and bay anchovies.  All of that bait has set up some of the best September fishing for multiple species that I have ever seen along the RI shoreline.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Keepers Around in Good Numbers

In the last two outings from shore I have landed 11 stripers.  Of those 11 fish, TEN have been keepers.  Yes, keeper bass, especially those fish in the 28 to 38 inch range have been around in good numbers this month.  They are keying on peanut bunker that is around in astounding numbers all along the RI oceanfront.
Yesterday I went down to target false albacore.  They were around in the morning in good numbers and I got a couple, but as the day went on, a big northeast wind developed and put an end to the bite.  I  later found acres of peanut bunker in one location and they were being blasted by large stripers just before dark.  While stripers are fussy when feeding on this stuff, they can be caught with a little persistence on the angler's part.  It is also easier to get them after dark.
So, I worked this area at and after dark and came away with a couple of fish that were just shy of 40 inches (see photos left and right).  Both fish fell for a pearl colored Daiwa SP minnow. The stripers are after this small bunker but there are also adult menhaden here and there along the shoreline.  They, too, are attracting some big fish.
It is interesting to note that I have seen very few fishermen targeting stripers from shore.  Everyone seems to be crazed about the albies and the stripers are getting little attention these days.

Friday, September 18, 2015

A Fantastic Outing from Shore

I hit it big today from shore.  I landed 7 albies and 8 keeper bass (see photos at right and left) as I walked into pandemonium this morning. For hours fish were all over the spot I fished.  Stripers were breaking in close, blues a little further out and albies busting way out.  They were all feeding on massive schools of bay anchovies as well as peanut bunker. At times, there were acres of fish in a feeding frenzy.   Even when the blitz subsided, albies were still roaming around and hitting when nothing was showing.  It was that good.
I got some albies on a Kastmaster XL and some on the float and Deceiver fly.  I saw other guys catching them on swimmers and Jumpin Minnows.  They were aggressive and were hitting just about anything that moves, very unusual for this finicky fish.  The stripers were fussy.  At times there were hundreds in front of me, all keepers in the 28-34 inch range, but they were difficult to fool.  The most successful plug for me was a homemade 4-inch popper.
Hard to believe, but with all these fish around, I saw very few fishermen in a very public spot.  I don't know where everyone is these days as there have been very few shore fishermen out trying. This week has been about as good as it gets in September. It's really happening right now.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Suddenly, Bluefish Dominate Oceanfront

The big story of the last few days has been
the arrival of tons of bluefish along the
oceanfront.  Some of them have been huge.
There are some schoolies
around but there are no big numbers.
There are some albies around, but it remains spotty.  There are some stripers around, but you have to really look to find them. And, there are tons of bluefish around.  The big news of the last few days is the arrival of loads of bluefish of all sizes.  These are being caught from shore as well as from the boat. Today I got out in the boat and hit the trifecta, landing stripers, bluefish and a lone albie. The blues were the most abundant of the three species as they were feeding on the masses of peanut bunker that have been moving along the oceanfront.  We found blues in numerous locations.  Poppers worked especially well for these aggressive feeders.  While most of the blues were in the 3-6 lb. range, we did manage a huge one that went into the teens.  If you hit the right spot there are some schools of real big blues moving around.
So, if you like bluefish, they are around now in big numbers. Compared to recent years, this is already the best bluefish year we have seen in a long time.  Credit the peanut bunker for delivering the blues.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Albie Fishing Heats Up

I got my first one from the shore today.
Albie fishing has really heated up
in the last couple of days.
Albie fishing has taken a BIG turn for the better in the last few days.  I got out today and landed my first one from the shore this year on a Kastmaster XL.  I saw good numbers landed from the shore in multiple spots, and there was an absolute glut of them way out in front of me at one point.  I saw lots of boats chasing them.
All of this began a couple of days ago. Up until then it was a few pods here and there with no big numbers.  That has all changed as more and more albies have hit the oceanfront.  No doubt this is happening because we have massive amounts of bait to draw in these fish.  There are huge schools of peanut bunker around.  We haven't seen this many in years.  There are also good numbers of bay anchovies.  With all this bait and a lack of stormy weather, I see this albie fishing remaining very good for some time to come.
While  albie fishing is not as hot as last year yet, the numbers are building.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Photo of the Day

Yup, they are around if you can find them.  Would you believe 7 keepers from shore today!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

TONS of Bait but Where's the Fish

A guy walked up to me on the beach yesterday and asked, "Did you see all that bait? What's going come there are no fish?"
Indeed, I saw the most bait yesterday that I have seen in years.  One massive school (size of a school gym) after another was passing right along the shore.  One massive bunch area of dark water moves by, and thirty yards in back of it is another huge bunch.  It was all peanut bunker.  And, NOTHING was after it!
I figured there must be a black sea bass, fluke, striper, or bluefish under it so I worked below it with a bucktail jig.  All I could jig up for an afternoon's effort was a big sea robin.
Strange times. There are tons of bait and few fish except for an occasional small pod of albies, but even they are scarce. In the past those peanut bunker would attract loads of blues, stripers and albies at this time of year.
I have to think the real warm water is having a big effect on the slower than normal shore fishing.  The surface water yesterday was in the low to mid 70's.  I was fishing in a bathing suit and the water felt just as warm as the air on that hot day.
I ended up seeing three small pods of albies yesterday, but they were way out. Up for about ten seconds and then gone. So, I  got none from the shore and I know on no one else that got any yesterday.  From what I can piece together, there have been a scant few taken from shore along the oceanfront, better numbers from the boat, though still way off. Many fishermen are beginning to question whether we will see the good fishing for albies this year.  I know of fly rodders who have been out in good numbers in one particular location,  They have been at it just about every day for the last two weeks.  One fish has been caught by these guys. Not good.
All was not lost yesterday.  I did manage to nail two stripers right at dark and one was a keeper. I got them in a dropaway deep water spot in which, surprisingly. there was no bait. I got both on a white Slug-go.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Big ALBIE Hit Today!

Up until today I had not seen an albie in RI waters and I did not know of anyone who had caught one.  I was beginning to think this albie season would be a bust. That all changed with an afternoon blitz that we ran into along the south shore from the boat.
They were around the location we fished, big time.  We found marauding schools of them tearing through schools of bay anchovies. The water would be boiling with them at times as they were really in a feeding frenzy.  However, as is often the case, the fish were fussy.  I started off with the ole reliable Kastamster XL and got one fish on it.  After casting it into several boiling schools and getting nothing, I switched to the float and blue Deceiver fly set up, my albie killer from past years.  That did the trick as my brother Steve and I landed good numbers of them.
While we got all our fish from the boat, I can tell you these fish were close enough for shore anglers to catch them.  At times they were busting practically in the wash.  But, I saw no one fishing from the shore for them.
I will also tell you that these fish were along one specific shoreline today.  They were not in multiple spots.  We searched miles and miles of shoreline before finding a concentration of them along with bait.  There was little or no bait along most of the oceanfront that we covered. So, while we hit it big today, I don't feel as if there are a lot of them around yet. They are concentrated in specific locations and you have to find them. Not like other years when they were all over the place.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Walking into a Daytime Blitz

There were good numbers of stripers
today blitzing peanut bunker.
The fish ranged from large schoolies
to small keepers. The fall fishing
has started with a bang.
Wow, we found something hot today.  My son Jon and I headed to the oceanfront this afternoon to escape the afternoon heat.  We weren't expecting much in terms of fishing till right before dark.  Were we wrong!
We walked into a daytime fall blitz in progress as good size stripers (25-28 inches) were tearing through schools of peanut bunker.  It was wild with birds diving and fish breaking.  At one point I was standing in water in my waders and I had peanut bunker all around me, and stripers were ripping through the bait right in front of me.  Further out I saw some serious breaks as larger fish (albies or bonito?) were charging through the bait like torpedoes blasting through the water.
We landed good numbers of stripers though they were fussy (they always are when on peanut bunker). The best lure today was a small flathead bucktail jig spiced with a curly tail and fished off a float.
Make no mistake about it.  Fall fishing is here. With huge amounts of bait around and increasing numbers of stripers and bonito along with albies on the way, it is shaping up to be a banner fall.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Black Sea Bass Regs Change......Bag Limit up to 7

Black sea bass have been one of our most abundant gamefish
this summer. You can now keep 7 a day.
This monster was in the 7-8 lb. range and was landed recently.
Good bye to one of the dumbest regulations in the history of saltwater fishing here in RI regarding black sea bass.  All summer the limit was one fish a day. This comes at a time when we have record numbers of them all over the oceanfront.  In places the bottom was just paved with them and you could catch all you wanted. They are one of our most abundant gamefish. As of today, you can now keep 7 of them.
Here's a suggestion for our Marine Fisheries Council that comes up with these regulations.  Instead of allowing one fish a day for all the summer months and then increasing it to 7 fish in the fall, why not make it 3 or 4 fish a day for the year.  That would seem to make more sense to me.