Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Day of Firsts: First Stripers from Bay, First Keeper!

Zoom flukes on a
jighead were hot today
as I got my first ones
from the Bay
Today was yet another sign that the fish are on the move in their spring migration.  I landed my first stripers of spring from the Bay from shore.  These were all decent schoolies that averaged 20 inches.  They were considerably bigger than what I saw along the oceanfront this week.  I also got my first keeper today. It was a fish that I measured that went exactly 28 inches.  All of today's fish were caught on 4 inch, albino Zoom flukes that were threaded onto a quarter ounce jighead.
I really was not surprised that the fish are now in the Bay.  In most years, I get my first ones in the Bay about 2 weeks after I catch my first fish along the oceanfront. I also usually get my first keeper about 2 weeks after the first schoolies along the oceanfront. So, everything is moving right along schedule.
Next on the list will be the first bluefish.  They should be here around the first week of May.

I also got my first keeper of the year in the Bay today.  This fish went
exactly 28 inches and was caught on a Zoom fluke. Expect to see more and
more keepers in the coming days and weeks.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Best April Ever in Terms of Numbers?

There are record numbers of schoolies right now along
the oceanfront. This one took a Cocahoe minnow, a hot
lure in April.
Staggering numbers of schoolies continue to move along the oceanfront. I can't remember an April where we have had this many fish.  It is simply phenomenal, maybe the best April ever in the places I am fishing.
Thusfar I have been out 11 times in the month of April.  My logbook indicates I've landed very close to 500 stripers, all schoolies.  Think about this...that's close to 50 fish an outing.  And, I haven't once fished all day.  I've been out on  3 to 5 hour sessions.  Yes, there are that many fish around.  I'm guessing that there are guys who have been pounding it hard every single day who must have 1,000 fish so far. If there is any downside to this glut of fish, it is the fact that I have yet to see a keeper caught.  That shouldn't be a big surprise since April keepers tend to be rare and there have been many years in which I have not caught one until the first week of May.
Even with the wrong conditions, the fish are still on the rampage.  I went down today in the pouring rain with all the wrong conditions. Many experienced fishermen would tell you today's wind was from the wrong direction, the water was too cold, the ocean was too flat and the sun was not out.  All that didn't seem to matter as I landed 36 schoolies in just a few hours of slugging it out in the pouring rain.  The hot lures today were Cocahoes on jigheads (what else?) and shrimp fly teasers. Most fishermen must have thought the fish would not be hitting because I saw very few fishermen around today.
With favorable weather coming at the end of the week and the weekend, the spring bonanza should continue, and don't be surprised if you land a keeper or see some caught.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Photo of the day....Another Decent One Comes Ashore!

Another decent fish, just under keeper size, comes ashore in the RI surf.
The phenomenal spring fishing just keeps rolling along.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Photo of the Day.....Getting Bigger!

Yes, they are getting bigger by the day.  Hit another big day in the
south shore surf today, and the fish were considerably bigger
than earlier in the week.  Cocahoes continue to be the hot lure.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Astronomical Numbers of Schoolies Arrive

Cocahoes on a small jighead
were hot producers today.
My shrimp fly teaser was
also a hot number and led to
numerous double headers.
They are here.  I mean REALLY here.  I hit the MOTHER of all spring blitzes today as astronomical numbers of schoolies hit the shore in the location I was fishing along the RI south shore.  This was an all day bonanza.  I saw an army of shoulder to shoulder anglers land over ONE THOUSAND schoolies. Guys were walking off because they were "sick of catching fish". I had a fish or a hit on every cast for at least 4 hours.
Credit those recent warm days and a southwest wind for blowing the main migration of stripers our way.  And, yes these were migrating stripers.  Nearly all the fish I landed were bright colored and loaded with sea lice.  These fish were all on the small side, running as small as 7 inches and as large as 20 inches. The average fish seemed to be about a foot long.  There are rumors swirling that some small keepers have been taken in the last couple of days, but I saw nothing that came close today.
I landed all my fish on either three inch Cocahoes on a half ounce jighead or the shrimp fly teaser rigged ahead of my jig.  I probably had at least 25 double headers with that rig.
The good times have arrived in a BIG way.

Check out the sea lice on the tail and lower body of this fish.  Nearly
all the fish I landed today had sea lice, a sure sign of a migrating striper.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Holdovers or Migrating Fish?

Many fishermen ask me how you can tell a holdover from a migrating striper. The simple answer is you can't.
This skinny schoolie, landed on a Zoom fluke on
a quarter ounce jighead, was one of  many
fish landed tonight in a backwater location.
Is it a holdover or a migrating fish? I just
don't know.
There are a few things you can look for.  Migrating fish might have sea lice on them, especially if caught along the high surf of the ocean in April. However, I've caught many along the oceanfront with no lice.  Holdovers might be caught somewhere near fresh water where they hold up for the winter.  These areas can be backwater ponds or rivers that flow into the ocean.  But, migrating ones can also be found  there in April as they are drawn to these warmer backwaters where food is more plentiful.
I have landed staggering numbers of schoolies (close to 200 fish)  in the last week. I found scarse numbers of them along the oceanfront, yet the backwaters I've fished have been crawling with them. At first I thought these were all holdovers, but I am unsure. I've never found this many holdovers at this time of year in these places so I am beginning to think I might be finding a mix of holdovers and new fish.
But, I just don't know.

Thursday, April 13, 2017


My first schoolie of the new year was landed today along
the oceanfront.  There has been a trickle of migrating fish all week.
Things should improve with the warming water.
The good news is that the migrating fish have arrived along the RI oceanfront. The bad news is that there are not many of them. But, the way I see it, some are better than none.
I landed my first ones along the south shore today as I got 4 schoolies in a 2 1/2 hour period.  I saw about 8 other fish caught by a picket fence of about 25 fishermen, all itching to get their first ones of the year.  Since Monday it has been a trickle of migrating fish in the cold, 45 degree water.
I got all my fish on a four inch Cocahoe minnow mounted on a half ounce jighead.  The fish ranged from 12-16 inches.  However, the most exciting thing that happened to me today was what I saw and not what I caught.  While standing on a rock, I looked down in the water and saw a keeper striper of about 28 inches swim right by me.  It wasn't interested in hitting, but was a sign of things to come.  Yes, some larger ones are around, and it won't be long (another week or so) until the first small keepers are caught. Before that happens, the water has to heat up a bit, and with the warming water will come hotter fishing for schoolies and small keepers.
A new year has begun.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Best Jigs for April Schoolies

Spring striper fishing, especially in April, is not complicated. Jigs fished on light tackle pretty much rule the surf as the new arrivals and the holdovers are grubbing along the bottom for food. Here is a list of the three best bets pictured at the right from top to bottom:
This schoolie was landed last
evening on a Zoom fluke.
1.  Cocahoe on jighead- These are the hottest along the oceanfront. I like a light colored Cocahoe.  These come in three and four inch lengths and you will choose the size according to the size jighead you are using.  Three inch models work well with jigheads of half an ounce or less while four inch models are best suited to jigheads over 1/2 oz.
2.  Bucktail jigs-  These work well in both the Bay and along the oceanfront.  Go small with your jig with bucktail jigs of 3/8 and 1/2 ounce working the best.  Add three inch plastic grub tails to the jigs to make them even more effective. I especially like this flathead model.
3. Zoom flukes on jigheads- These are deadly in the bay, not so hot along the oceanfront.  I like the four inch models in an albino color.  These match up well with jigheads of 1/4, 3/8, or 1/2 ounce.

All the lures above can be fished on the bottom (most effective way to go) or off a float if you need to make a long cast.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Photos of the Day

Don't get excited.  This is a holdover striper I landed tonight.  It was one of many as
the holdover fish were active in this warm weather.

Besides holdover stripers I also found some white perch in the same waters.
Both the stripers and white perch were caught on Zoom flukes mounted on
quarter ounce jigheads

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Striper Watch is On

Look for the start to happen in a couple of weeks. Cocahoe
minnows mounted on jigheads should be hot producers.
It will happen some time this month. We are down to a matter of weeks.  The oceanfront will go from nothing to millions of schoolies. Just when it will happen is open to opinion. If you look back over the years, the big start generally takes place from April 10 to April 20.  A good indicator is a series of warm, sunny days with southwest winds. If we look back over the past three years, the start varied greatly.  These were the days I landed my first ones.  In 2014, I got my first ones on April 22.  In 2015, it happened late on April 29.  And, last year, 2016, I landed the first ones on April 11.
Back in the dead of winter, everyone was predicting an early start because of the warmer than normal winter.  However, March has been one of the coldest on record and that has cooled off the early start talk.  I don't know what all this means, but I am guessing it will be a later start than last year.
The start should see huge numbers of stripers in the 16-24 inch range based on the record numbers of small fish we saw last year. Your best bet will be to hit shallow water spots along the oceanfront that heat up quickly.  Your best lures will be jigs like Cocahoes on jigheads or bucktail jigs with grub tails. Shrimp fly teasers knotted onto your leader can also be very effective.
Watch the blog in the coming weeks for updated reports as I will be looking for those first ones in a couple of weeks.