Friday, June 30, 2017

Fish of the Week.....A Rare Sturgeon

I've caught a lot of different species of fish in my days, but this one was a one in a million catch. While carp fishing this week in a tidal section of the Ct. River, I landed my very first STURGEON. These are extremely rare fish in southern New England, so much so that they are on the endangered list of species. I had just landed two good sized carp, and then I caught this one quite by mistake as the fish hit a hair rigged combo bait of maize with an artificial pink kernel of plastic corn.
One memorable thing about this fish was the fight.  It took the bait just like a carp with a couple of bangs on the rod and then a run.  But, as soon as I set the hook, the fish came flying out of the water like a missile.  It must have jumped three feet in the air in a spectacular leap. That's when I knew I hooked a rare sturgeon.
Once on the shore I quickly unhooked it (luckily just hooked in the lip), snapped a few quick photos and it was back in the water in about 30 seconds. Wanting to get the fish back quickly, I did not take a weight or a measurement, but I can tell you this prehistoric looking beast was about three feet long and weighed about 10-15 lbs.
The fish seemed none the worse for the wear as it slowly swam away into the depths of the river.
Note that there is no open season for sturgeon anywhere in New England. It is illegal to possess this fish.  Any caught by fishermen must be returned to the water as soon as possible.
For me, this was a once in a lifetime fish, and I have only seen a few photos of rare catches. I doubt that I will ever duplicate this again!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Small Fish Continue to Dominate

I landed 12 schoolies in the last two
evenings.  Small schoolies are around
in big numbers; keepers are scarse.
Sea robins seem to be
everywhere and are
aggressively taking lures.
It continues to be the year of disappointment if you are a surf fishermen looking for larger stripers. The big ones are not around in any numbers, but the small ones continue to dominate the fishing scene.  I have fished a lot in the last two weeks hitting spots in the Bay and at the oceanfront, and I've caught a lot of small stripers.  I've tried big plugs, small plugs.  I've fished after dark and in the evening daylight.  I've fished rough water and calm.  And, the results have been  the same.  I am getting very good numbers of stripers from 10-20 inches, and that's it. Surprisingly, I am also seeing tons of sea robins everywhere I go, and they have been aggressively hitting a variety of plugs and jigs.
I am not the only one having trouble finding bigger fish.  A frequent theme of The Fisherman magazine's reports have been about the lack of big fish in CT waters in the last month.  The Providence Journal's fishing report told of a surf fishing tournament last weekend in Narragansett in which no large fish were entered.  And, I have numerous friends who have been out trying with little success with larger fish.
So, it is what it is. Grab a light outfit and enjoy the schoolies in the upcoming holiday weekend. Things will change come fall.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Cooler Water Delivers

I landed this schoolie before dark on a jointed
Red Fin swimmer.
After dark, the Slug-go ruled.
Until shore fishing improves in the upper Bay, I am basically done with this area. So, last night I did what I do every year at this time.  Head out in search of fish in cooler water.  And, for me that means heading to the lower Bay and oceanfront and hitting areas like Jamestown and Newport.  Last evening I chose Jamestown.
I found cooler water, way cooler that the upper Bay, and I found very good numbers of stripers.  While I was looking for larger schoolies and even keepers, all I found were a load of smaller schoolies under 20 inches. These looked like the same fish I had been catching for the last two months in the Bay. I landed quite a few fish before dark on swimmers and Jumpin Minnows and landed good numbers of them after dark on 7 1/2 inch white Slug-gos.
The fish were very active in the area I fished as I saw lots of fish whirling and jumping for small bait.  And, I can assure you the water was cool. I could feel a real difference through my waders.  I am guessing it was maybe 8-10 degrees cooler than the upper Bay, and that made a big difference in the fishing.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Heading Downhill

Just a couple of weeks ago, the water was
clean and cool and the stripers were abundant
in the upper Bay.  Things have gone downhill
in the last week.
Ah, it's that time of year. We get to about the third week of June and the fishing changes dramatically in the Bay. In the last two outings I have only managed to scratch a few schoolies in places where I was killing them two weeks ago.
I have been staying in the Bay from shore for the last month because the fishing had been so good for schoolies and bluefish with occasional small keepers in the mix.  That has really changed in the last week due to a number of factors that have sent the fishing in a downward spiral.  Water temperatures have shot up, there is little small bait and the water quality has been poor.
Just a couple of weeks ago the water temperatures in the Bay were in the fifties and low sixties. I checked today and the water temperature at Conimicut was a very warm 72 degrees.  Credit that hot spell last week of three ninety degree days in a row for really upping the water temps.
I have seen very little small bait around.  We still have a lot of adult pogies but they are all holed up in one very popular spot. There are so many they are dying and there are loads of dead ones all around the upper Bay.  I have seen no peanut bunker which was moving into the Bay last year at this time.  If a lot of bait comes around the water can get as warm as it wants, and the stripers will remain active.
The water quality in the Bay is not good.  On the last three outings it looked like I was fishing in a giant cup of coffee with visibility about a foot in the crappy water.  I suspect that large amounts of rain, run off and warm weather have contributed to foul the water.  I have never had good fishing in water like this.
So, this is the time of year in which many fishermen head to the lower part of the Bay and the oceanfront to find better striper action.  Places along Newport, Jamestown, Block Island and Narragansett offer cleaner and cooler water and that generally leads to better fishing at this time. Another summer has arrived.

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Trip to Black Sea Bass Heaven

I have written in the past about the fabulous fishing for black sea bass that Buzzards Bay has to offer.  And, I have written about some real good days we had there.  But, yesterday had to be the BEST.  I have never seen so many good size black sea bass as I saw yesterday. They were all over this Bay.  We even saw some surfacing for bait.
At one point there were birds all around us diving and black sea bass driving the bait on the surface. They were even swimming in schools in the clear water down a few feet right under the boat and this was in water that was 25 feet deep. I've never seen them on the surface like this.  The depth finder at times revealed fish ten feet thick under the bait.  We could not even get our metal offerings to the bottom without a fish grabbing it on the way down.This went on all afternoon in multiple spots as we had a fish on just about every drop of the metal.
The hot lure of the day was a Kastmaster XL which we just dropped to the bottom and jigged it up and down with pulls of the rod tip.  Just about all the fish we caught were keepers with most going 15-20 inches.  We also had a few real big ones that went over 20 inches that we kept.
Buzzards Bay also has the most beautiful specimens of black sea bass that you will find anywhere.  Many of the fish we caught had bright blue heads and fins, a characteristic of fish we find here at this time of year.
Chalk up another great day of fishing in this very best spot on the East Coast for sea bass.

Simply Beautiful!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Mother of All Bluefish Landed on a WILD Day

This bluefish, the biggest we ever caught, measured
a whopping 40 inches.  It was caught on a Rebel
Jumpin Minnow.  It was one of over 60 big blues
landed today in a wild day of fishing.
We've landed some big bluefish over the years from shore and boat, but today yielded the biggest one I have ever seen. My brother Steve landed this Mother of All Bluefish, a 40 inch monster on the best day of fishing for blues we have ever had in June. The state record for blues is listed at 39 inches and 26 lbs.  While this fish bests the state record in length, I don't think it was fat enough to beat the weight.  I would estimate this fish went in the low to mid 20 lb. range. It was unhooked and released so the beast still swims in Gansett Bay.
This was an absolute wild day.  We found big blues stacked up in a corner of the Bay.  For hours we had a hit or a fish on just about every cast using a topwater plug.  Just about any topwater plug like poppers, Spooks and Jumpin Minnows were blasted by these super aggressive blues in the 8-15 lb. range.  The monster blue described above was caught on a black back Rebel Jumpin Minnow. There were so many blues that when we were reeling one to the boat, there were often four or five following the hooked fish trying to steal the plug from its mouth.
And, not only did we get blues.  We also landed half a dozen stripers from 22 inches to small keeper size. There were no small schoolies in this melee. I'm sure they would have been eaten by the ravenous blues.
All of our fish today were caught on plugs.  Interestingly, many fishermen were running all over the Bay today trying to snag or fish with pogies.  We found a ton of pogies miles from where we hit the blues.  But, there was not a single big fish under them and we saw no one land a fish on a menhaden.

This big blue has just clobbered a white popper. Topwater plugs such as poppers,
Spooks and Jumpin Minnows caught all the blues and stripers today.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Another Big Bluefish Year on the Way?

Big blues have been around from shore. I landed
this one a couple of nights ago.
We've also found big numbers of
them from the boat this week. There's
plenty of food to keep them around.
One of the highlights of last year was the resurgence of big bluefish along the south shore oceanfront as well as in the Bay. It was the best year for big blues in at least a decade. This year has all the makings of a repeat if you look at what is going on right now.
My brother and I fished in the boat one day this week.  While we found no big stripers we found plenty of big bluefish.  In fact, this was our best day ever for big bluefish in early June as we boated well over 30 of them while fishing topwater plugs.  They ranged from 8-15 lbs. The next night I fished from shore.  I thought I had a big striper on but when I got it to shore it turned out to be another big blue.  I also know of another guy who reported blues up to 15 lbs. from a shore spot in the Bay.  These are all examples of a growing big bluefish population that should swell to big numbers by late summer.
Add to all this a huge population of menhaden in the Bay. I believe this is drawing in numbers of big bluefish, although my brother thinks the blues could be feasting on the massive number of small schoolies that are in the Bay right now.  Either way, there's plenty of food to keep them coming.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Very Hot Plug

I landed this monster blue on the Jumpin
Minnow along with another 15 big blues
this week in the Bay from the boat.
This small keeper was landed
from shore this week on a
Jumpin Minnow.
The hottest plug in my bag right now is actually the most inexpensive.  How's that for a bargain? I've written many times about the Rebel Jumpin' Minnow, and I have to highlight it again.  I've landed a number of hefty schoolies and small keepers as well as some monster bluefish in the last week and just about everything has come on the minnow. It's far outfished most other plugs in my bag and is the hottest thing going right now.
This is a plug that works well on light tackle and in "small" spots like bays, harbors and backwaters.  It's not a plug that would make it in big, long cast spots.  But, in those calm spots where fussy fish are feeding on small bait, it is terrific.
I especially like the bone, or off white colored model.  As I have said in the past I change the hooks on the plug out of the box and put on VMC 4X, size #1 hooks.
To work the plug, reel in with a slow retrieve while moving the rod tip with short jerks.  This should cause the plug to wiggle back and forth on the surface on the retrieve.  If a fish is whirling in back of it, slow it down or even stop it.

The Jumpin Minnow is best fished with light tackle.  This bone color is
my favorite color.