Sunday, July 30, 2017

Back to Reality

It was ideal conditions yesterday evening along the RI
shoreline, but all I could find was a couple of  schoolies
that I caught on a float and jig.
It was back to reality in the last few days for me. With Canal fishing slowing to a crawl as the week progressed, I decided it was time to get back to the RI surf.  I hadn't fished there in about a week.  What I found was similar to what was there a week ago.  It was a few small, resident stripers.
Yesterday I had ideal conditions. I fished into the northeast wind. The water was rough, but clean as a whistle, perfect by all accounts, and I should have had the fish feeding out of my hand.  But, there was little around.  I saw no bait, a big problem this summer along the oceanfront and in the Bay. I managed to catch two schoolies, each about 16 inches right at dark.  I also had one other hit.
I saw no one else fishing, a telling observation of just how poor things are here in RI from shore.  Heck, even on bad days I see hundreds of fishermen casting away at the Canal.
I'm guessing we are still several weeks to a month away from improved fishing. Hopefully, we will soon get some bay anchovies and peanut bunker moving and that should light up the fishing for stripers, blues and albies.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Mackerel Imitators Scoring Big

The Daiwa SP Minnow in a blue
or green mackerel color is a hot plug
when mackerel come around.
If you fish anywhere from the Cape northward you know the importance of mackerel.  It is THE bait that lures some of the largest stripers found along such places as the Cape Cod Canal, Boston Harbor and the north shore of Boston.  These are all striper hotspots and when the mackerel are around, all hell breaks loose.
I was down the Canal three days this week and two of those days were lights out as far as fishing was concerned.  In both instances I saw large keeper stripers in a frenzy chasing big schools of mackerel that measured six to ten inches long. On the other day, I saw no mackerel, and there were no fish around to speak of.
Jon Pickering holds a good size striper that was caught
this week on a blue mackerel colored Daiwa SP Minnow.
When mackerel are around, plugs that imitate them will score most of the fish.You see a lot of guys at the Canal casting large mackerel colored pencil poppers.  That seems to score when the fish are way out busting on the surface.  My sons and I used Daiwa SP Minnows this week in a blue or green mackerel color to score most of our fish. Of course, when you have huge fish breaking within twenty yards of shore the SP Minnow will get you right into them. I also saw a lot of guys scoring on Sebille Magic Swimmers in a mackerel or white color.  When little is showing the Canal sharpies will often turn to jigging along the bottom with Savage Sandeel jigs in some sort of mackerel color.
And, finally, there's the real thing.  I've seen a lot of guys snagging mackerel, jigging them up or just picking them up frenzied macks driven up on the shore by stripers.  Some of these sharpies will hook them up and fish the real thing.  I've seen some big fish taken this way also.
So, if you head up to waters north of RI, make sure to stock some mackerel imitators. Those will be the prime plugs to score some big stripers if this most sought after bait comes ashore.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


My son Matt and I went off for adventure from shore today, and man, did we find it! We landed some of the biggest stripers we have landed in decades as we managed to bank 12 fish, all of them keepers with the majority of the fish going 40-48 inches.  In fact, the two pictured below were about 4 feet long.  I am estimating these fish were in the 35-40 lb. range, and we had several more in this size range. I might add that all of our fish were released in good shape. Yup, it's all about timing and being in the right spot at the right time in this game. And, we hit it just right today!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Lots of People, Lots of Weed and Few Fish

The sub par fishing along the RI oceanfront just continues.  With a downturn in Canal fishing, I thought I would get back to fishing the RI oceanfront last evening.  It was not good.
First off, the oceanfront is a mob scene.  I never saw so many people on a weekday summer day as I saw yesterday.  Last night, well after dark, the two huge public parking lots at Narragansett Beach were still about 75 % full and there was not a parking spot on the road for well over a mile.  In addition, just about every access point along Ocean Rd. in Narragansett was loaded with cars with little or no parking.
I tried the surf along Pt. Judith, a spot that rarely sees a fisherman at this time of year.  Forget it, as it was totally choked up with red weed.  Weed is a growing problem in the summertime along RI's oceanfront.  I'm guessing all this rain and runoff along with hot weather is fueling this weed growth.
With the Pt. Judith option gone, I headed to the rocky areas with a wind at my back. It was calm, conditions I don't like. but I had no choice. I plugged away for well over an hour before and after dark.  I landed one lone 15 inch striper on a jointed Red Fin swimmer, had another one on, and had two other small hits. That's RI shore fishing in a nutshell...a few small ones around right at dark.
I saw almost no one out fishing.  Everyone you talk to these days is bummed out about the lack of large fish around, and because of that, few are fishing. We seem to be in a major decline here in RI when it comes to bigger fish from shore.  I know they get them at Block Island from the boats and I know they are in the Canal, but the RI surf seems to have few keepers around these days.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Joining the Bike Brigade

Just a hefty schoolie,
but found this one right
away. It hit a Daiwa SP
I'm back on a Cape Cod Canal kick. This is a place that has the fish, but also has the crowds. I'll bet there are more keeper bass caught there on one a good day than what's caught the whole summer along the RI surf. But, the downside of this place has always been the crowds. In one stretch of several hundred yards, I saw at least a hundred fishermen standing shoulder to shoulder today and casting away.
This hefty keeper went
about 20 lbs. and hit a
white pencil popper where
nothing was showing
One observation I have often made about this place is that the majority of fishermen fish within a few hundred yards of the access points or parking lots. The exception are some exploring bike riders who seem to ride up and down the access road scouring the canal for breaking fish and bait. So, after all this time (years of walking), I decided a bike was the way to go.  In addition, I pulled into the Scusset Beach parking lot a couple of days ago, and to my surprise, the parking fees had gone up to the ridiculous price of $20. That was the final straw as I decided I could pay for the bike by saving that fee after several outings.
I bought a good used bike for a good price.  I had a rack put on the back to which I attached a rod holder.  I could use a milk crate for my plug bag and spare clothes, but that will come later.  Once it was set up, I headed to the Canal today.
The bike did the job.  I pedaled away and found fish off the beaten path away from the crowds.  I was able to land a hefty schoolie along with two keepers, and there was no one within 30 yards on both sides of me.  One of the fish went about 20 lbs., a real nice fish.
So, I got my exercise in while fishing in some uncrowded  yet productive stretches of the Canal. Perfect. I'm sold on the bike and have plans to use it in certain locations in RI also!
After years of fishing the Canal, I have come to the conclusion that the bike is
the way to go. Landed three fish today in places where the bike got me
away from the crowds and into the fish.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


The float and jig was hot
yesterday in the white
water along the RI oceanfront.
Your chances of getting a keeper are
far better at the Canal than along the
RI oceanfront right now. Jon landed
several small keepers in the last 2 days.
The last two days have seen a big improvement in the fishing for me.  Yesterday, I hit the oceanfront in the evening.  I had perfect conditions with a good southwest wind, rough but clean water, and lots of water movement in the place I was fishing. It had stripers written all over it. In addition, I had the whole place to myself as few guys are out fishing these days due to the crowds and the marginal fishing from shore.  I found real good numbers of schoolies from 16-22 inches.  All the fish I landed were caught on a float and bucktail jig combo (see photo at right). I saw some fish jumping but they were fussy as they often are in the summer. They would only take that half ounce flathead jig.
Today, my son Jon and I hit the Cape Cod Canal.  He had the day off from work and wanted to get back to the Ditch after a good day that he had there yesterday. We found good numbers of fish breaking way out in multiple spots, but they, too, were fussy as we had lots of hits but only landed a couple of fish.  Still, it was exciting just to cast to breaking fish. Interestingly, many of those Canal fish being caught these days are in the 24-32 inch range, far smaller than I have seen in other years. Still, you see a good size one taken almost anytime you there as I saw a near 40 inch fish landed today.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Great Sunset, Not so Great Fishing

It continues to be a poor early summer for me.  This past week I fished both the Bay and the oceanfront and came away with a big BLANK. I saw a good number of fishermen out and about and they all reported slow fishing also.  Many are especially complaining about the lack of keepers in the surf, a problem all year here in RI, that seems to be even worse in the summer surf.
I did see a lot of bait around.  In the Bay, I found adult menhaden right up against the shore in multiple locations, but there was nothing after them.  I couldn't even find a schoolie or a sea robin willing to hit.  Water in the Bay continues to be murky and discolored. There is a noticeable lack of small bait in the Upper Bay. Last year at this time the Bay was choking with peanut bunker and blues and stripers were on the rampage. Not so this year.  At the oceanfront I did see some birds working way out. There are numerous reports about small sandeels around and I'm guessing that is what they were feeding on.  If you can find this bait close to shore, I would say you have a shot at finding schoolies.
While the fishing sucked two nights ago, the sunset was spectacular. So, all was not lost.
Beautiful...hard to believe there was not striper in this water.