Friday, April 29, 2016

Pic of the Day- "First Keeper of the Year from the Boat"

Yes sir, they are in the Bay, and there are some decent ones!
This one fell for (you guessed it) a white Slug-go.

One of the Best April Days EVER; Float and Slug Rule the Day

It was one large fish after another in a
spectacular April evening of fishing.
I have been having a banner spring, but yesterday far exceeded anything I have been experiencing.  It was one  of the best April days I have seen in my over 50 years of surf fishing. The numbers and sizes of the fish were unbelievable for April, a month that generally delivers small schoolies. In a short period of time, I landed well over thirty fish.  I can't tell you how many were keepers because they were all close to or just over keeper size.  My smallest fish of the day was probably 25 inches. It was that spectacular.
I have to credit what I as using for getting most of these fish.  I had a strong wind in my face so my steady, fish catching 7 1/2 Slug-go was no good as it barely casted.  So, I tried an old trick.  I used a wooden egg float with a smaller 6 inch Slug-Go at the hook end.  That was able to cast a good distance to where the fish were holding.  That set up did the trick.  You can find details of how to rig this and fish it in my latest Fisherman magazine article (April 21, "The Lure of Skinny Plastic". It is a novel and innovative way to fish the Slug and works well with a wind in your face.
We are just rolling along this spring with one of the best Aprils ever in terms of numbers and sizes of fish. Certainly, no shortage of stripers here in RI.

The hot lure combo today was a wooden egg float and a six inch Slug-go.
This is a terrific combo to use with a wind in your face in a spot where a
long cast is needed.  It delivered Big time today.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

On the Slug

I landed this near keeper tonight on a white
Slug-go. This is one of my hottest lures
for early season keepers.
I especially like the white, 7 1/2 inch
You just know that things are heating up when keepers start hitting topwater lures.  It's been happening for me in the last couple of days.  I have been concentrating my fishing in the Bay in the last week and have found decent numbers of fish there.  In the last couple of days I have been plugging away with my white Slug-gos and getting some better fish.  Last year this was a real hot lure and it looks like it is heading in the same direction this year.  I especially like the white, 7 1/2 inch model.
If you want to know the ins and outs and all the finer details of fishing skinny plastic, check out this week's edition of the Fisherman magazine (April 21, 2016). I wrote the surf column story which is called "The Lure of Skinny Plastic". It outlines everything you need to know about fishing skinny plastic from hooking to rigging options to fishing technique.  Check it out!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Spreading Out in the Bay

I found good numbers of schoolies
in the Bay today.  Zoom flukes
on jigheads were the hot lures.
Migrating schoolies have now moved into the Bay.  I fished Narragansett Bay today in multiple locations miles apart and landed good numbers of fish in different spots. That tells me that they are now spreading out all over the Bay in good numbers.
The hot lure in the early going in the Bay is a fork tailed fluke, the lure that landed all my fish today.  I like a light colored (albino) Zoom fluke fitted onto a half ounce jighead.  While Cocahoes rule the oceanfront in April, flukes are a far better choice in the Bay.
Today I was catching the same size fish in the Bay that I have been catching all week along the oceanfront.  For the most part, these are small fish in the 10-15 inch range.
I also made an important discovery today.  In one of my spots that I was fishing I found a huge school of adult menhaden, or pogies. April is very early to find them in the Bay. Watch out when this big bait comes around because it is only a matter of a short time before large keeper stripers find them.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Quite the Day

I got out today with my brothers Steve and Mike and we hit a number of locations along the RI south shore and its backwaters.  We found fish everywhere.
We are off to a phenomenal start to the striper season here in RI. I can't remember a year when I have seen this many schoolies around in April. It is practically non-stop action every single day.  Some spots have bigger fish than others, and you often have to find those larger fish spots by moving around.
Most of the schoolies we caught today were on the small size, but I did manage to land one respectable 25 inch fish.  Just about everything was on Cocahoes.  While we were catching, I saw lots of other people catching too.  I estimate that between our catches and other anglers' catches, I probably saw in excess of 200 fish landed.
I got the surprise of the early season right before dark when I was catching loads of schoolies.  Suddenly I had a different fish in front of me splashing around.  It was a huge white perch (see photo at bottom).  I haven't gotten one of these in years in saltwater.  I later landed three more as a bonus. Yup, they were running along with the stripers!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Fish Spreading Out, Getting Bigger, FIRST KEEPER Landed

There were staggering numbers of fish today with most of them
averaging over 20 inches.  The white Cocahoe minnow
continues to be a very hot lure.
Wow, things are hot right now.  I got out today and fished multiple spots along the oceanfront and found fish in every spot. The big difference between this week and last week is that the fish are getting bigger.  Most of the fish I landed today averaged around 20 inches, considerably bigger than what was around last week.
However, the big news of the day for me was my first keeper.  I got a fish that was just about 28 inches long if you stretched the tail.  It was considerably bigger than any other fish I had today. It was caught on a Cocahoe minnow.
I landed staggering numbers of fish.  In my best one hour stretch, I had thirty fish so the numbers on the day were off the chart.  I also landed fish on a variety of lures.  Cochahoes on jigheads, Zoom flukes on jigheads and shrimp fly teasers all worked in various spots.
Right now the spring schoolie fishing is as good as I have ever seen it. Hopefully, it will continue.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Keeping Things Simple in the Early Going

A Cocahoe on a jighead lured this
By now, it is safe to say a lot of fish, all schoolies, have been caught along the oceanfront. Certainly, the number of fishermen has increased also. I'll be hitting the Bay this week in search of fish there.
My son, Jon, made a comment the other night that holds true about early spring striper fishing.  He told me that it seems like just about anyone (beginner as well as expert) can catch them at this time of year. Yes, it is that simple.  Snap on a Cocahoe on a jighead and cast away.  If the fish are there, you are going to catch them. It will get a lot more complicated in the coming weeks as the fish get larger and more picky, but for now, everbody's an expert.
Shrimp fly teasers will get as many
fish as the jig.

My advice is to keep things simple in the early going.  Stock the surf bag with a variety of jigs and jigheads along with plastics.  Cocahoes are hot along the oceanfront; Zoom flukes are hot in the Bay. Teasers are also good along the oceanfront and will catch as many schoolies as the jig.  I like the shrimp fly teaser. I also stocked my bag with a number of small plugs. I put in small swimmers, small poppers and a few Rebel Jumpin' Minnows.  The plugs will work in late April in the Bay from shore and boat. I might even put in a few Slug-Gos that will work at the very end of April for larger fish when the water warms up into the 50's.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Off to a BIG Start

The Cocahoe minnow mounted on
a small jighead was a hot producer.
Shrimp fly teasers rigged ahead of the
jig also accounted for good
numbers of fish along with several
double headers.
Finally, the wait is over.  The first of the migrating schoolies have arrived.  I was out fishing the last two days and landed almost half a hundred fish.  Yes, that many. That southwest wind of the last couple of days along with somewhat milder temperatures moved a big slug of fish along the south shore oceanfront.
These were all small fish, typical of what you find in the early going.  The fish averaged just 10-16 inches, but they were perfect specimens. Many were bright in color and loaded with sea lice, an indication of migrating fish.
I got all my fish on a combination of shrimp fly teasers along with a white Cocahoe minnow mounted on a jighead. The best period of the day for me was that last hour before dark, although I had quite a few fish in the afternoon also.
I saw very few fishermen around and at times, there was no one.  I can only guess that many are waiting on the sidelines or looking for a positive report.
With warm temperatures coming this weekend into next week, I suspect the fishing will explode all over the state, from the oceanfront all the way up into the Bay.  And, expect to see some bigger ones in the next couple of weeks.
It's happening early this year, and I now have my sights on an April keeper!
The first striper of the year was a 15 inch schoolie taken on a Cocahoe.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Unexpected Cold Ends Chance of Early Start

How I wish this photo was taken this weekend. But,
I have heard of no fish. It's just not happening yet
and the cold will delay it longer.
I had my surf bag packed last week and I was ready to go.  I was looking for at least three warm days in a row (60's) and that might just do it.  We did get those three days but the wind was horrendous making fishing along the oceanfront impossible. So, I ended up fishing a backwater location along the south shore which had produced at this time in other years.  I got nothing. And, I don't know of a single fish that has been caught along the oceanfront yet.
As I type this the temperature outside is 25 degrees. And, we are forecast to get about 5 inches of snow tomorrow.  Add to that the water temperature at Newport is 44 degrees according to NOAA. It all puts the brakes on an early start to the striper season.
In past years, I had gotten fish along the south shore oceanfront when the water temperature reached 48 or 49 degrees. With that real warm winter behind us, everyone was hoping for the warm weather to continue and provide an early run of fish. But, hey, this is New England, and you never know what is going to happen.  Suddenly, long range weather predictions call for a much colder than normal April here in the northeast.
So, let's recalculate things and look toward a more traditional start to the fishing, say around the third week in April if we are lucky.
 But, that will only happen if the weather turns warmer.