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.