Friday, December 30, 2016

2016: One of the BEST Years in a Long Time

It was loaded with big keepers in the Bay in
the spring. 
This past year will go down as one of the best years in recent memory, certainly the best year in the last decade for me. It was a year with unprecedented numbers of schoolies, big  time keeper bass in the spring, tons of bluefish and a memorable but short albie run.  It all came together with terrific fishing from the opening of April fishing for schoolies right through the late fall. In this post I will grade the fishing for each species of fish.
It was one of the biggest
years for schoolies in a long
Schoolies- This was the good ole days of schoolie fishing. Those fish from 8-24 inches were around in astronomical numbers which really bodes well for the future.  I landed over 1,500 stripers this year, and a high percentage of those were schoolies. My two best months of fishing for schoolies was April (219 fish) and November (528 fish).  I saw all day blitzes along the south shore in November that were simply awesome. Some days, many days, it was a fish on just about every cast and this went on for weeks.  I also had some of the best schoolie fishing in Gansett Bay in the spring and summer that I have ever seen.  In near 80 degree water, the fish were hitting big time as they were in a feeding frenzy over vast schools of peanut bunker that stuck around Narragansett Bay from spring through the fall. Grade- A+
Bluefish showed in big
numbers this year.  Some of
the biggest blues were taken
along the south shore beaches
in the fall.
Keeper Stripers-This past spring was one of the best I have ever experienced for keepers in Narragansett Bay.  I was catching consistently from both shore and the boat from spring through the summer.  Boat fishing with live menhaden was especially good in the late spring. I saw an astounding number of keepers in the 36-45 inch range landed by boaters.  We had our best day on June 6 as three of us in the boat landed over 40 keepers up to 45 inches.  It was so good that I would say it was almost a sure bet that we could find schools of menhaden that had keeper bass under them on any given day.  The snag and drag technique worked best for us.  I was also getting good numbers of keepers from shore using white Slug-gos and Jumpin Minnows.  Those keepers in the 28-36 inch range were around through the summer in the Bay. This keeper fishing was so good that by the end of May I had landed more keepers than all of 2015. Unfortunately, the fall fishing from shore was a disappointment for keeper bass.  I had to really scratch to get a few fish up to 38 inches.  I put in a lot of time after dark in the fall and landed loads of schoolies but keepers were hard to find. Grade- B
The albie fishing was short but memorable.
For several weeks there were big numbers
from shore and boat.
Bluefish- Wow, they were back with a vengeance in 2016.  From the boat we found fantastic numbers in the Bay up to the low teens.  Just like the good ole days of the early 2000's, the blues were in the Bay all fall looking for vast schools of peanut bunker and larger menhaden.  All one had to do was drive the boat around and look for birds diving and breaking schools of fish. Twenty fish days were common.  The fish were mostly taking topwater plugs like poppers, spooks and Jumpin Minnows. The oceanfront was also alive with big blues as I saw more big bluefish around this year than the last five years combined. Anywhere large menhaden moved along the shoreline there were big bluefish. I caught a lot of them in Gansett and along the south shore beaches from Sept. to late November.  Some days I saw hundreds of large ones from 10-18 lbs. landed by loads of smiling fishermen. Grade-A
Albies- I got my first one from shore on Sept.11.  For three weeks the fishing for these gamesters was hot and heavy from shore and boat along the oceanfront as they were feeding on large schools of bay anchovies and peanut bunker. While I was splitting my time between fishing for stripers/blues along with albies, I did manage to land over 40 of these little tunny.  The hot lure was a float and blue Deceiver fly. Grade- A-
Overall, I would give this past season an "A".  It was one one of the best years in a long time and sets up what I believe will be very good fishing for stripers and blues for years to come here in RI.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Holdover Fishing Turning into a BUST Again

Thus far, wintering over stripers have been scarce in Gansett
Bay.  The few fish around have also been small like this
10 incher taken a few days ago.
Even in the best of years fishing for holdover winter stripers was usually inconsistent.  And, this year is no exception. While I got some fish in late November and early December, the fishing has taken a dive since we had that cold spell last week.  In the last three outings I have landed four small schoolies and I got those within a fifteen minute period of time.
I focus my winter fishing in upper Narragansett Bay.  Back ten to fifteen years ago I had no trouble catching 1,000 stripers a winter.  While the majority were schoolies, maybe one in 20 fish was a keeper.  So far, this year's fish have not only been sparse in numbers, but they have also been small, real small. Last week I got one schoolie that you would have to stretch to make it 10 inches. Earlier in the winter I saw fish as small as 6 inches being caught.
By now, any wintering over stripers should be in their locations to wait out winter.  While some areas of NE, most notable some CT rivers, are reporting big numbers, my places in the Bay seem to be devoid of any numbers of fish.  Looks like another BUST of a winter for holdovers, just like last year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Passing of Doc Hayek

Doc fished almost nightly for decades and
caught a lot of fish. He loved catching
big blues with poppers.
The RI oceanfront lost a real good fisherman yesterday.  And, I lost a good friend.  It is with sadness that I tell you that George "Doc" Hayek passed away yesterday in a hospital after undergoing major surgery several weeks ago.
Doc was also an
accomplished striper
fisherman.  He fished
the Bay, the RI
oceanfront and the Cape.
Doc was a well known figure along the oceanfront and along the Bay for decades.  He would fish almost nightly. He had a love for the surf which he often told me was like a tranquilizer to him. Like most of us who surf fish, he loved putting the waders on and casting while wading into the sandy surf, in the quiet Bay or along a rocky bar.  He especially enjoyed fishing the Narragansett shoreline with his friends.
He could turn a lousy night of fishing into a barrel of laughs.  He would often tell one joke after another and would have all of us in stitches for hours with his humor.  For him, fishing was a way of relaxing, getting together with friends and enjoying the whole experience.  If we caught fish it was a bonus.
He also was one who would strike up a conversation with all he met. And, he never forgot a name. He would often guide novices and strangers in the fine art of surf fishing and would give others tips on how to cast, plugs to use and hotspots to fish.  He had one of the longest casts I have ever seen and could often reach fish that were breaking way out in places like Matunuck and Pt. Judith, two of his favorite places to fish.
In recent years, Doc did less and less fishing due to deteriorating health.  Yet, he still had that desire.  Several days before he was to undergo major surgery we talked together and he mentioned he might meet me along Gansett for one more shot at fall fishing.  He also talked about how he was going to do more fishing in the spring after his recovery. That desire to get out and fish was still with him until the end.
To all who knew him and fished with him, Doc will be sorely missed.

Doc fishes along the south shore of RI with a friend on a beautiful sunset night.

Monday, December 5, 2016

In the Snow

Yup, that is SNOW on the ground.
For the last two weeks I have been concentrating my fishing in my spots where I catch wintering over stripers. Even in good years winter fishing is inconsistent at best. My experience thus far has lived up to the inconsistency.  I have been out about 8 or 9 times in the last couple of weeks and I have only blanked once.  My best day has been 11 schoolies and I have had multiple days with only one fish so it has not been hot and heavy fishing. Still, in my mind it has worthwhile since little else is going on right now, and besides I love being outside in the winter.
While I normally fish in the evening and at night for winter stripers, I decided to get out this morning in the snow and rain.  I found one lone fish that wanted to hit (see photo at right).  The fish took a Zoom fluke mounted on a quarter ounce jighead, a hot lure for me in the wintertime.
Wintering over stripers exist in many of the river systems in southern New England.  The big rivers along CT seem to be the hottest areas where large numbers of fish hunker down for the winter months. Smaller river systems in RI as well as the backwaters in the coastal ponds also have them if you can find them. They also exist in places where power plants send out warm water outflows. So, if getting a striper in December or January is your goal, look around, because they do exist, even on a cold and snowy December day.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Moving On

I'm off to the slopes from
now till the end of March.
My fishing along the oceanfront is done unless I hear about something big happening, which is doubtful at this point.  Just before Thanksgiving there was a major push of fish, and I have to think that was the grand finale.  Since then, it has been a schoolie here and there for those few fishermen who are still at it.
I'm now moving onto my winter phase of activity.  Here's my agenda:
1.  Look for wintering over stripers-  I have been doing this for the past few days/nights with limited success.  Found a scant few fish and hoping that will improve.  Stripers winter over in many of the river systems of southern New England.  Its a matter of finding them.
Freshwater carping is another winter
alternative for me.  It has been
good in the last two weeks for fish
into the high teens.
2. Turn to freshwater carping- I am doing more of this and finding good numbers of fish up into the teens.  More and more saltwater fishermen are turning to freshwater carp in the off season (Dec., maybe Jan. and Feb., and March).  I have been landing good numbers of 5-15 lb. fish in the last week or so.  Nothing wrong with that! It will stay productive until the ice arrives.Check out my carp blog.
3. Hit the ski slopes-  In winter I ski 4-5 times a week and I will do that until April. I've already hit the slopes at Wachusett several times and it has been surprisingly good due to snowmaking.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

From Tons of Fish to Just About Nothing

It was one lone schoolie for the day
for five hours of casting in multiple spots.
The inconsistency of late fall has arrived.
Like a light switch that was turned off, the fabulous fishing on Tuesday went to just about nothing on Wednesday.  I went down to the oceanfront again yesterday with high hopes of duplicating my success from the previous day. I found no birds, not a single gannet, no bait, few fishermen and even fewer fish.  The masses of stripers that were there one day were gone the next.  Ah, the inconsistencies of late fall fishing.
I fished multiple locations in a wide stretch of the oceanfront and came away with a lone schoolie. I saw dozens of guys come in, look, make a few casts and leave.  It was a revolving door of fishermen as everyone was searching for fish, but no one was finding.  I saw all those guys land a scant few schoolies.
I am guessing this inconsistency of late fall fishing will continue for a while longer before the end is reached. The fish are really on the move right now. I'm sure you can find fish in the next week or so along the south shore with a lot of effort, but expect a lot of blanks along the way also.  The inconsistency of late fall has arrived.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


It was a big day for schoolies
yesterday.  For two hours it was
a fish or a hit every cast
in some cold and blustery conditions.
I had no reports from the oceanfront in the last two days since no one I knew was fishing in the big blow and cold conditions.  So, I decided to layer up and head down for a look for myself.  I figured if I got a fish or two I would be happy.  What I found was simply INCREDIBLE.
My first glance at the water revealed birds everywhere.  There were loads of gannets, Flocks of fifty or more birds were hitting the water in places.  Gulls were in the fray from above and cormorants from below. Now, I was REALLY excited. However, there were almost no fishermen probably due to the 30 mile per hour winds and a wind chill in the 20's.
On my first cast with a jig/Cocahoe, the offering did not even sink yet, and I was onto a fish.  For two hours, I had a striper or a hit on EVERY SINGLE CAST.  The bottom was just paved with schoolies in the 15-26 inch range, and they were aggressively taking.
At one point a huge mass of big bait (think it was herring or menhaden) the size of a school gym moved within a cast of where I stood.  I saw no big splashes after it.  I guess it could have also been a mass of schoolies.
This was probably my biggest day numbers-wise that I have ever experienced this late in the year along the south shore. Yes, things are still hot, real hot.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Is the End in Sight

Will the blues still be around after things calm down?
It's unlikely.
No question about it.  This big blow, rough seas and plunging temperatures will have a detrimental effect on our fishing.  How bad the effect is yet to be determined since no one is fishing right now.  I will be out later on in the week to test the waters.
There are two big negatives coming from this recent cold front.  First off, the winds are severe for an extended period of time.  That northwest wind has been blowing up to 40 knots for the last two days and will continue for two more days.  I suspect a lot of migrating fish and bait have been pushed off shore.  Secondly, the cold has been severe. As I write this, it is 30 degrees outside.  Just two days ago the water temperature off Newport was 52 degrees.  It now stands at 48 degrees, a severe drop in just a couple of days. That will almost surely send the blues packing.  Some stripers may still be around. Water temps in the 40's generally point to the end in sight.
Now, before I start getting e-mails from the diehards who fish throughout December, let's get something straight about the end of the season.  There are really two endings.  One of them I call the end to CONSISTENT fishing.  That is the ending I am talking about.  And, I think you will see this consistent fishing end in a week or so if it isn't already over.  It is always a crap shoot after Thanksgiving, and I can count on one hand the years that have been productive in the last two decades after turkey day. The other ending is the TOTAL END to things.  Sure, there are guys who live near the shore that will fish four or five times a week until the end of December.  And, I have no doubt they will hook into a fish or two, maybe even stumble upon a blitz, but I am guessing they will not see any consistent fishing in December along the RI oceanfront.  It will be a straggler here and there until the total end of things happens in December.
So, regardless if the fishing is over or not, this will go down as an epic November that saw record numbers of schoolies, very good numbers of big blues and enough keepers to keep things interesting! It was fun while it lasted.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Craziness Continues in a BIG Way; Ocean Herring Trigger Blitzes of Blues and Bass

Big blues were on an all day
rampage today chasing
herring and peanut bunker.
There were loads of stripers from
schoolies to small keepers. This near
keeper hit a Cocahoe on a jighead.
I took one look out at the water and I knew this was going to be a wild day.  Gannets were dive bombing from above, gulls were in the fray and cormorants were going nuts. There were all feasting on ocean herring! And, they weren't the only wildlife going nuts as a blitz was stripers and big blues was also taking place. These schools of predators stretched for over a mile of beachfront as they tore through the herring and schools of peanut bunker which were also moving along the surf line. At one point I was standing in the surf watching masses of herring a rod's length away in a frenzy trying to escape the charging bluefish. This went on just about all day as I saw hundreds of big bluefish landed by dozens of hyped up surfcasters.  These blues went 8-15 lbs., and most were fat as footballs.  In addition, there were loads of stripers landed that ran from 20 inches to small keepers.
Because of the big numbers of herring around, I used a white Daiwa SP Minnow (good imitator of herring) to land most of my blues.  I also caught a few stripers on that plug, although the Cocahoe was a better bet to fool the smaller stripers. I saw a lot of other fishermen landing big blues on poppers and other topwater offerings.
While this was going on at the beach where I was fishing, I was in contact with other fishermen that reported blitzes of stripers and blues going on about a mile to the north of where I was fishing as well as miles to the south of where I was fishing.  So, you can conclude that this was a day in which the entire south shore was alive with fish.
November has been simply fabulous thus far, quite possibly the best overall we have seen in many years. With warm and tranquil weather forecasted for the next few days, I see no let up in the action.

Bait in the curl of the wave is being blasted by stripers and blues. There were
loads of ocean herring as well as peanut bunker today.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

An INCREDIBLE November Blitz

The stripers ranged from 14 inch schoolies
to small keepers.
There were even big
blues in the mix.
Today I walked into one of the wildest and most impressive November blitzes I have ever seen at this time of year along the oceanfront. There were tons of schoolies, some small keepers or near keepers and even some big blues in the mix.  They were all after vast schools of peanut bunker that were moving along the shore.
This blitz had nonstop action for the five hours I was there. At any one time in the daylight I could see schools of fish breaking in multiple locations.  The peanut bunker would gather in huge brown spots and with explosion like blasts, the stripers would blow through them.  Birds were picking the bait off from above and stripers and occasional blues were attacking from below. This pandemonium continued in the daylight hours but slowed at dark.
The few fishermen in on this blitz all departed at dark when the action seemed to subside.  I stayed.  About an hour after dark, the fish returned, and it was a hit or a fish on every single cast. The after dark action seemed even more intense than the daytime action, though nothing was showing.
Stripers blast through schools of peanut bunker in one of the wildest November days ever.
Just about all my fish taken in the daylight as well as after dark were caught on white Cocahoes mounted on a half ounce jighead.  I also got a few fish on Slug-gos after dark.
We are in the midst of the best November fishing I have seen for schoolies in years, maybe decades. It is as hot as it gets right now!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Just a Glut of Schoolies

This is one of over 60 schoolies landed today along the
oceanfront. There are record numbers of schoolies around,
but keepers are scarce.
As I walked into a south shore location today, I met a fishermen who was coming out.  I asked the guy if there was anything around.  His response was that he was getting a schoolie or a hit on just about every cast, and he landed about 25 fish.  He said he was sick of catching them and was heading home. Welcome to November fishing, 2016.
There is an unprecedented number of schoolies around right now along the oceanfront.  I'm guessing you could wade and cast a jig along just about any south shore location  and catch them.  They are even around in big numbers when there is no bait in evidence.  In the last week I have seen places with no bait, no fish breaking, no birds working, and it's a fish on every cast.  These abundant stripers are all in the same size range, running about 14-20 inches for the most part.
What is lacking this November is any run of larger fish.  Keepers are not around in any numbers. I have fished day and night just about every day in the last two weeks and have landed exactly one keeper.  And, I have seen exactly one other small keeper caught and that has been it. I have found schools of large bunker that have often had big blues on them but no keeper bass.  Several fishermen came up to me today asking where they might be able to catch a keeper. I had not answer.
Right now, schoolies, and there are a ton of them, and occasional big blues, are the main shows in town.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Photo of the Day

Matt Pickering hoists a schoolie taken at dark.
There are tons of schoolies and some big blues along the
oceanfront right now. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Fantastic Start to November

It's been a hot week for stripers of
all sizes.
The fishing is hot along the oceanfront.  It has been one of my best starts to the month of November.  I have landed over 70 stripers with some hefty keepers, a few huge bluefish and dozens of hickory shad through the first four days of the month.  I am doing well in the daytime as well as catching good numbers of fish at night. I've fished a large swath of the oceanfront and seem to find fish everywhere I go.  It is as good as it gets right now.
Big blues are following schools
of menhaded along the oceanfront.
The big news along the surf is that there are pockets of large menhaden or bunker moving along the shore. There seems to be small pods of them everywhere.  Find those menhaden and you are likely to find some monster bluefish near them as well as some keeper bass.  I saw at least 40 big blues and a few keeper bass taken yesterday in one location.  The blues ranged from 10 lbs. up to the high teens. The stripers were in the 30-36 inch range. These big blues and occasional big bass are taking topwater plugs as well as snagged menhaden.
I have also found loads of schoolies in various locations.  In many instances they are not showing and you will have to cast blindly to find them.  I am doing really well, day and night, using a four inch Queen Cocahoe on a 3/4 ounce jighead. My best day this week was 25 schoolies up to near keeper size.
I suspect this tranquil weather that we have seen this week is responsible for keeping the good fishing going.  The nice weather is supposed to continue and I see this upcoming week as another good week for fishing.  Get out and enjoy.  The best fall fishing of the year is happening right now.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Photo of the Day....The Birthday Blue!

What better way to celebrate your birthday than with a BIG blue!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Gators on the Prowl

Some of the largest bluefish seen in years were caught this week along the RI oceanfront.  These are gators in the 15 pound plus category.  And, they are being caught in a wide stretch of the oceanfront from the rocky shores along the mouth of Gansett Bay to sandy beaches of Westerly.  They are around because adult bunker are around.  Find the schools of adult menhaden, and you will likely find the big blues.
I got down to the oceanfront again today.  I found small pods of menhaden along one beach.  Blues were also on the prowl along here.  I ended up getting the my biggest shore blue of the year.  It was a brute of 15-16 lbs. (see photo at left).  It was caught on a white, Daiwa SP Minnow. I saw several more blues in this size range landed by other fishermen. Word is that yesterday featured even better action.
So, keep you eyes open for menhaden moving along the oceanfront this weekend.  It could by your ticket to a trophy bluefish.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Cold Nights Get the Fish Moving

There were lots of schoolies around
today.  The Cocahoe fished off a
float was our best catcher.
I'm guessing the cold nights of the last few days and dropping water temperatures have gotten the fish moving. Today was a real good day for us along the oceanfront.  My son Jon and I fished the afternoon into the evening and found good numbers of stripers in multiple spots. It was old fashioned October action with big flocks of birds diving and schools of stripers blitzing on small bait. I will admit, though, the fish were fussy as once again, they were feasting on one inch bay anchovies.  We ended up catching over 30 schoolies using such small bait imitators as small bucktail jigs, small Cocahoes off the float, Jumpin Minnows, and even small swimmers. We kept changing lures but nothing proved to be real effective.  The Cocahoe off the float seemed to catch the most fish.  Most of the schoolies we caught were from 20-27 inches (just below keeper size).
While we were catching in the afternoon, I found out that big bluefish along with some keeper stripers seemed to be in multiple locations along the oceanfront in the morning and early afternoon.  These larger predators have been chasing big menhaden in the last couple of days that have been showing up randomly in various locations.  Find that big bait and most likely you will find some big blues and large stripers chasing them.
Who knows what's in store for tomorrow as stormy weather along with a big east wind comes howling? I'm guessing the start of the storm could bring some opportunities for good fishing, but it will likely head downhill real fast.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

From the Observation Deck....

I've been fishing up a storm in the last week.  The past week has been dominated not by fish, but by WIND and big surf.  However, I have managed to catch a few fish in some tough conditions.  Here are a few observations from the last week of fishing:
* This has been a fall season with a lot of schoolies.  It has been loaded with 12-20 inch stripers. Bodes well for the future.
*On the other hand, keeper stripers, especially the larger ones over 40 inches, have been in short supply.
*Bluefish have also been scarce along the oceanfront.  There seems to be a few big ones here and there but no numbers yet.
*Did you see the latest young-of-the-year index from the Chesapeake Bay?.  It is a dismal 2.2, way below the average of 11+. As usual, they blame the weather...too wet, too dry, etc.  I say there is a shortage of breeding fish.
* One thing in abundance this fall along the oceanfront are seals.  I have never seen so many big ones along the beachfront.  Some of these have heads the size of basketballs and must weigh hundreds of pounds.  I have to wonder how many stripers they are eating a day.
*I saw my first gannet a couple of days ago.  You know we are getting late in the season when these birds come around.
*There is a noticeable lack of fishermen around when the fishing is tough.  When fish are busting all over the place, fishermen come out of the woodwork.  Welcome to our high tech world of text messaging and cell phones. Does anyone work for their fish anymore?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

East Wind Lights It Up

This big blue hit a Daiwa
SP Minnow at dark.
The schoolies were
on small stuff like
this jig fished off
a float.
I'm not a fan of the east wind.  Most fishermen will tell you that this is the very worst wind to fish in.  Knowing that, I did go down today and faced a strong east wind right in my face.  But, here's the tricky thing about an east wind.  It can be real good at the start (say the first few hours), but once it is blowing for a while, it can foul the water and ruin the fishing.  Well, today's start was good, real good.
It's been an up and down week for me.  One day lots of fish, the next day a blank.  The last two days were not good for me.  Yet, today I found tons of schoolies with fish breaking and birds diving in the white water where I was fishing.  This went on all afternoon and my son Jon and I had a ton of fish all to ourselves. The glut of schoolies were feeding on small bay anchovies that were one to two inches long.  I was using a small bucktail jig off a float, and Jon was using a small Cocahoe off the float.  Both were very effective.
Later, I hit another spot after dark and came away with the biggest blue of the fall for me, a brute of 11-12 lbs. that hit a Daiwa SP Minnow.  I also had a good size schoolie after dark.
I must say that there have been lots of schoolies around this fall, but keepers have been in short supply.  I've put in a lot of time after dark in October and have landed only a couple of small keepers. Hopefully that will change in the coming weeks.

Today's stripers were feeding on big schools of small bait. Here are two
bay achovies that a striper coughed up. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Lots of Fish on Small Bait

A small bucktail jig landed good numbers
of schoolies that were feeding on bay
A good way to fish a small
jig is off a float.
I've seen a lot of fish in the last few days along the oceanfront.  If you can find the bait, you will most likely find a lot of fish. A couple of days ago my son Jon and I were into massive numbers of schoolies that were feeding on big schools of bay anchovies. When this happens, some fishermen get frustrated because the stripers can get very finicky when feeding on small bait. Seeing the fish and getting them to hit your offering is sometimes not an easy thing. While we landed about 60 fish, I saw many fishermen go fishless.
So, what were we doing that they weren't?  We were using small stuff that closely resembled the 1-3 inch baitfish that the stripers were feeding on.  I was using a small, homemade, flathead, 3/8 oz. bucktail jig with a three inch curly tail attached to it. This is too light to cast with a surf rod so I fished it off an egg float.  At first Jon was using a small Cocahoe off a float.  He did get a few fish on that but the ole reliable Cocahoe was not getting it done this day.  So, he snapped on a small, 4 inch Rapala X-Rap swimmer in a white color.  This is one of his favorites when the fish are on small bait, and it worked wonders on this day.
Most of the frustrated fishermen who were not catching were using big, 5-6 inch poppers, large swimmers, big metal or large jigs.  Those bigger lures are great when the big bait (menhaden, herring and mullet) are around, but are generally ineffective when the stripers are feeding on small bait.
The water is just boiling with schoolies feeding on small bait. There have been
big numbers of fish around this week where there is bait.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Ups and Downs of October Fishing

The beginning of the week
featured schoolies, keepers
and blues and after that things went
downhill.  October fishing
has been inconsistent.
Man, I am on a bad streak.  I've gotten exactly 2 schoolies in the last three days.  And, I have put in some serious time in multiple spots fishing in the daytime as well as at night.  Welcome to fall fishing.
This all comes on the heels of a week that started off super in the beginning of the week.  The week began with good numbers of schoolies and small keepers for me.  Then, my son Jon got into some of the biggest blues we have seen in years in midweek.  And, then it all went downhill.
This is a time of year in which the predators and the bait are on the move.  What is around one day is often gone the next.  The fish are also following the bait. Find the bait and you often will find the stripers and blues.  Such was the case this week with loads of bait in the beginning of the week and nothing at the end of the week. I could not find a stitch of bait on Thursday and Friday in multiple spots along the oceanfront.
In recent years, this all or nothing scenario seems to be a trend in our fall fishing. So, if you don't do anything today, my advice is to get out again tomorrow, because fall fishing can all change dramatically from one day to the next.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

On the Cocahoe

Lots of stripers in the last two
day on this Cocahoe/float set up.
It is a real good choice in rough
The Queen Cocahoe mounted on
a half ounce jighead and attached
to a float has been a big producer.
I've caught big numbers of stripers in the last two days, and they have all come on plastic Cocahoe minnows mounted on half ounce jigheads.  The Cocahoe is a fan tailed plastic body that is a hot lure in the spring, but it is also hot in the fall, especially when the stripers are feeding on bay anchovies.  And, that has been what they have been eating in the spots that I am fishing.
The Cocahoe can be used alone or can be fished off a float.  I used the float today because of some very rough water and a strong wind.  I was able to punch out the heaview float and Cocahoe just far enough to get into fish.  If you are using this set up, simply cast it and reel in.  The white water and the turbulence with give the lure plenty of action.  In calmer water, you might want to pop the float to give the jig added action. All of the fish I have landed in the last two days ranged from schoolies to small keepers.
I sense that the stripers and bait are starting to move.  Suddenly, there are a lot of stripers around and they are spread out all over the state's oceanfront from the rocky shores at the mouth of the Bay to the sandy shores farther southward.
On a negative note, I have seen no albies in the last three days from shore and know of no one that has caught any from shore.  There are rumors that the boat guys are getting a few, but I haven't seen it. I'm guessing that there could still be a few around if you are lucky enough to find them.
So, we are clearly in a fall pattern of fishing.  Yes, it is good right now, but you will have to work around some rough surf and strong winds if you want to catch some fish.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Could the Albie Season be OVER?

Could it be over?
The reports are playing up the great albie fishing along the oceanfront.  But, that was three days, five days or a week ago. That was in the past. NOTHING is going on right now with albies.  That's because the oceanfront is being battered by strong northeast winds, big surf and roiled water.  Trying to find any clean water to fish in is a challenge.
The albies like the calmer water while rough, prolonged stormy conditions tend to move them as well as the bait out. And, I believe that is what is happening right now.  In addition, this cool northeast wind is dropping the water temperature, another negative when it comes to albies.
Judging by past years, their numbers start to decrease as October rolls along even in the best of conditions.  With stormy weather and rough seas predicted right into next week and even the possibility of a tropical storm skirting the coast late next week, things are not looking good.
If I was a betting man, I would guess the big numbers are over.  You might see small pods of them here and there once this weather clears but don't bet on it.
Hey, it was fun while it lasted.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Schoolies in the Rough

The float and jig lured big numbers
of schoolies today in some white
and rough water.
Today was a rough day along the oceanfront, far rougher and windier than the predictions.  I would guess that at times the wind was gusting over 40 knots out of the northeast.  And, that really kicked up the ocean and generated a lot of white water along east facing shorelines.
I like fishing rough water and have had some memorable days in those conditions in the past.  Once again, the roughness delivered as I found big numbers of schoolies right at the water's edge in the white water.  With the wind in my face, I was barely able to heave the float and jig 25 feet, but the fish were a flip cast away.  That often happens in places where the water drops off. That same float that was delivering my fly to albies in the past week was delivering the small bucktail jig to the schoolies today. The fish were around in good numbers yet I saw no bait or fish breaking.
The weather was so bad today that I never met another fishermen all day while traveling from spot to spot. I know many fishermen find these conditions difficult and somewhat dangerous and maybe that was why I found no other fishermen.  It could also be that nothing was showing and many fishermen don't try when they don't see anything, a big mistake in surf fishing.
One key to fishing this rough water brought on by a northeast wind is to find rough but clean water. I looked in many places today but only found clean and rough water in two locations, and both those spots had fish.

Friday, September 23, 2016

They're Back!

After disappearing for nearly a week, the albies are
back in big numbers.  This huge one was the biggest
of many that I have landed in the last two days. The
float and fly is the ticket to catching.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Lure of the Week....Wooden Egg Float

The wooden egg float is one of the greatest gadgets ever invented. It isn't a lure.  It is simply a casting weight that delivers small offerings great distances. And, it is an essential artificial that everyone should have in their surf bag or in the boat.
I make all my own egg floats. Check out this article to find out all the specifics on how it's done. Basically you buy a wooden egg from a craft store or online, drill it and wire it and you are done. Next, run about three feet of 30 lb. test mono off the end of the float and tie on your "small offering".  Flies (suggest Deceivers) are great for albies and can be knotted onto the mono trailing off the float.  Small bucktail jigs, Cocahoes on jigheads and shad bodies on jigheads are great to use for stripers.
In the last week I have landed over 30 albies on the float and fly and over 30 stripers on the float and bucktail jig.  In just about every case the fish were far out, they were feeding on small bait, and the float with a small offering was about the only thing that would get them.
That egg float is a must to have in your arsenal in the next couple of months.

Friday, September 16, 2016

East Wind Changes Everything

I'm sure many of you are reading the numerous reports that talk about the outstanding albie fishing along the oceanfront.  Well, that was Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  It all ended yesterday as a cold front moved through and a strong easterly flow developed. And, the fish disappeared.
I went down yesterday afternoon and clearly the atmosphere changed. I hit a lot of places and the water was dirty, weedy and rough.  There were no signs of bait anywhere and no fish.  I ran into just a few fishermen and all were complaining about the near impossible conditions to fish in.  One guy even asked me if I thought it was all done!
Heck no, it is not done, but this easterly flow which will continue through tomorrow is surely a bump in the road. Without any big storms, the albies should return when the winds turn out of the west quadrant.  I am guessing the albies will be scattered and in smaller schools.  But, still available for those who want to work for them.
In most years, the fishing for albies along the RI shoreline continues into early to mid October, even later at times.  Some years it ends by Oct. 1.  Once again, weather will play a big factor in determining when it comes to an end..

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Fantastic Day from the Boat

We landed big numbers
of albies today from the boat.
We are off to the best start
The albies are on the rampage like I have never seen before.  For three days now, they have been along the oceanfront in droves.  While I have been getting big numbers from the shore in the last two days, my brother Steve and I decided to hunt them down by boat today, and we found BIG numbers of them.  We also landed several real large ones in the ten pound range.
This brute was the largest of the day.
We landed between 25 and 30 albies this afternoon in a number of locations.  In fact we found them for miles along a shoreline in multiple spots. While we saw many other boats in different spots, we saw few being caught.  That's because most of the fishermen were using metal.  Yes, metal will get you a fish here and there, but if you want to get the big numbers, you will have to use the fly and float.  This is the number one artificial to get fussy albies to hit.  All our fish were taken on a blue homemade Deceiver fly that trailed off a wooden egg float that served as the casting weight.  It was deadly once again today as it has been all week from shore.
Most of the albies were feeding on bay anchovies but we found pods of them in one spot blasting through peanut bunker.  The larger ones seemed to be around the schools of small bunker.
This blue Deceiver that was fished off a wooden egg float was the killer
today for albies.  This has also been the hot ticket from shore.

Monday, September 12, 2016


Our fabulous RI fall fishing just got more incredible as tons of albies have arrived along the RI oceanfront. In two glorious hours of fishing yesterday, my son Jon and I landed SIXTEEN albies from the shore.  We probably had another 25 hits and multiple fish on and lost. It was probably the best "first day hit" I have ever experienced from shore or boat. This is a fish that is tough to get from shore and catching just one would have been an accomplishment!
This influx of albies comes at a time when the Bay is chuck full of bluefish of all sizes and the striper fishing is lighting up along the oceanfront. This is our year in RI. As I have predicted many times in this blog in the past month, we are headed for an epic year of fall fishing along the oceanfront. This is just the start!
They are in, BIG TIME!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Color the Bay BLUE

Bluefish are in the Bay, big time.  I have been getting them in the boat and today I decided to really look around the mid Bay from the shore.  I hit a number of locations.  In every spot, I spotted schools of bluefish with my binoculars working way out. In some instances the schools were the size of a football field, and there were few boaters after them.
From shore I found one particular spot that had good numbers of smaller ones in close feasting on huge schools of bay anchovies. These were what I would call skipjacks, or blues in the 8-12 inch range (see photo at left).  I caught a number of them on small bucktail jigs.  In the same location, there were bigger blues breaking out far for peanut bunker.  As sunset approached, these bigger ones came closer to shore where I was able to catch them with a long cast with a Kastmaster XL (see photo at right). I saw only one boat working the bigger fish out far.
You would have to go back 10 or 15 years to find a comparable year to this year's bluefish activity. It has been exceptionally good.  Boat fishing is a sure bet right now while shore fishermen will have to do a little exploring to find the fish.

Birds and small blues are feasting on schools of bay anchovies.

Saturday, September 3, 2016


Today was pure pandemonium.  I have been fishing the Bay for the last 50 years and I have seen some wild bluefish blitzes, but today ranks right up there with some of the best of past years.  For hours it was wild blitzes around the boat with schools of blues tearing through vast schools of peanut bunker, hundreds, maybe thousands of birds diving and boaters in a frenzy chasing down school after school that were popping up along a mile of Bay water.  At one point I moved around in a complete circle and could seen birds working and fish breaking as far as I could see. I saw schools of breaking fish that were hundreds of yards long.
And, the blues were real good size, running 6-10 lbs. on average with a few bigger brutes in the mix.  Anything you threw at them got a hit.  We went with topwater lures. My brother Mike was using a homemade popper while I was using a Zara Spook. I saw boater tossing every plug imaginable and catching fish after fish. I can't tell you how many we caught...maybe 40, 50 or more.
These bluefish have been around the Bay all summer drawn to the vast schools of bait such as bay anchovies, peanut bunker and adult menhaden, that have flooded the Bay. Now, the predators are far more active as they begin their fall feed, and their numbers seem to be ballooning every day. It is about as good as it has ever been right now in the Bay for boaters. Just like the ole days!