Thursday, August 31, 2017

Photos of the Day...."From the Kayak"

My son Jon and I fished the Bay this evening from the kayaks. We found
good numbers of schoolies.  The hot lure was a Zoom fluke mounted on a
quarter ounce jighead.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Rough, White and Productive

The schoolies were active in the rough,
 white water today.
The float and bucktail jig
was hot today and landed
all the fish.
I knew that before I even left my house today that the fishing would be good if I could find a safe spot to fish.  We had a storm off the coast that was sending in big waves, rough water and a stiff east wind. At this time of year, that means a turn on at the oceanfront, and I also knew the start of that east and northeast wind is often the most productive time to fish. There are no better conditions to fish from shore than rough,white, moving water, and I had it today.
I did find a safe pocket to fish along the RI oceanfront that was rough but fishable. It was full of good size schoolies that were just lurking in the white currents.  The hot ticket today was the wooden egg float and jig, one of my fall favorites.  I was using a 3/8 ounce white flathead homemade bucktail jig that had a white plastic curly tail added. That was the only thing they would hit because I tried other plugs and got nothing. My son Jon and I landed 17 good size schoolies, and we had a load of other hits. It was very good for a late August outing.
Hopefully, this is the start of something big along the oceanfront.  With the Cape Cod Canal cooling off and weak tides coming up there, I plan to focus my attention on the Bay and the RI oceanfront in the coming weeks where I'll be targeting stripers, blues and albies.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Photo of the Day- "High Noon Keeper"

Ben Pickering hoists a high noon keeper that was taken on this bluebird day.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Back to "Little" Rhody

Little Rhody offers fishermen a lot of small schoolies. This
one, landed tonight, was taken on a Rebel Jumpin Minnow.
There has been a real shortage of keepers from shore this
summer here in RI.
After fishing the Cape Cod Canal most of the week, it was back to fishing RI this evening. Fishing both places could not be more different.
The Canal has been like a wonderful dream. It is loaded with big fish, and there are lots of them.  I saw hundreds of fish taken this week and they were just about ALL keepers. These were not small keepers.  The majority of the fish went over 36 inches. In the mix were some real monsters in the 40 lb. plus range, with news of a fifty or two taken just about every day. Most days fish were busting for schools of mackerel under a noon day sun, and there was an army of guys hauling out plugs to them. It's all attracted a load of fishermen with some days seeing hundreds, if not thousands, of fishermen standing shoulder to shoulder for miles. Best day for me this week was 8 keepers up to 30+ pounds.  It was as good as it gets when it comes to catching big fish.
Now, back to reality here in "Little" Rhody. I got out this evening and fished the Bay. There was lots of small bait which looked like both bay anchovies and small peanut bunker.  But, there was little after them.  I did manage to get a couple of schoolies on a Jumpin Minnow right at dark when a few small fish started breaking. Like it's been all summer long, these were small schoolies, maybe 15 inches. I saw no one else fishing, pretty much like it's been all summer long.
Here in RI we have been cursed with an abundance of small schoolies this summer with very few keepers around from shore. In the last two months my biggest striper has been a mere 24 inches from RI waters. I have been fishing both the Bay and the oceanfront.
Hopefully, fall fishing for bigger fish will improve as those migrating Cape Cod Canal fish move southward by our shores.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Pencils Making a Splash

Light or mackerel colored
pencil poppers were scoring
the best.
Here's a real large fish that hit one of my
homemade white colored pencil poppers.
In the last week I spent a good amount of time at the Cape Cod Canal fishing for stripers, and what I saw and caught in the middle of the day was astounding.  There were days I saw hundreds of guys catch hundreds of keeper stripers that ranged from fish in the teens to fish in the forties (pounds not inches). At times the fish were just about everywhere in the Canal. The plug that was scoring the best was a pencil popper.
Pencil poppers are made for Canal fishing.  It is one of the longest casting plugs you can sling when teamed with a long cast reel (I use a Shimano Ultegra 5500) and a 10 or 11 foot rod (I use a 10 1/2 ft. St. Croix Mojo) .  Because of its aerodynamic shape and rear weight, a pencil popper casts like a bullet.  Its slender shape also allows it to move well in strong currents when popped along with short rhythmic pulls of the rod tip.  Since a lot of fish were busting for mackerel way out, the pencil popper was one of the few artificials that could consistently reach those "way out" fish. Even when the fish were breaking in close, the pencil popper still scored well.
It seems that everyone fishing the Canal has their own favorite brand, favorite size and favorite color to use.  I was using my homemade variety in a white color and scored many fish up into the thirties. One characteristic, though, in all those various pencils stood out.  Most sharpies were either using a light colored pencil popper like a white color or a mackerel color.  Some of those mac colors included green macs, blue macs and even a pink version made by Guppy that seemed to score well.
So, if you do head to the Canal in the coming days and weeks to sample the tremendous fishing going on there, make sure to pack some pencil poppers.  They are THE plugs to use when fishing the Canal.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Photos of the Day...."Back in the Groove"

Pencil poppers were the hot number today. It hooked
this 20 lber.

Here's a high noon keeper.  Doesn't get any better than this
in August.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Where are the Bluefish?

While they are not around right now, I am guessing they
are coming soon.
At this point there are few, if any blues, along the RI mainland shore or in Gansett Bay.  I have landed exactly one four pounder in the months of July and August, and I am out just about every day.  Heck, I still have not seen a snapper blue in the Bay, and usually it is loaded with them at this time.
The interesting thing about the lack of bluefish is that there is a lot of bait along the shore to lure them in.  There are loads of adult menhaden in Narragansett Bay and there are increasing numbers of schools of peanut bunker moving along the oceanfront and into the Bay.  I've also seen loads of small bay anchovies around. All of that bait has attracted large numbers of small schoolies to both the Bay and the oceanfront, but the bluefish continue to be a no show.
I'm confident this will all change.  I know there are good reports of blues coming from Block Island, so I'm assuming they are still out in deep, offshore waters.  In recent years the fall has been the time to catch blues here in RI.  In the last couple of years, the blues have arrived on the tails of migrating menhaden as they exit the Bay.  I'm guessing that will happen again this year. So, while there are few around right now, expect to see increasing numbers of them in late August into September.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Albies, Bonito and Fake News

Don't get excited.  This was an albie from last fall.
Though fishermen are already looking, don't expect
the big numbers of albies to appear until September.
Already the hype has started.  In the last few days I have actually seen fishermen "looking" for albies and bonito along the oceanfront. There have also been reports of sightings, reports of fish breaking and even some fishermen saying they have caught some. I say it's as fake as the nightly news from the mainstream media!
Here is the real story on bonito and albies and what to expect in the coming weeks.
Bonito: Yes, they can be caught in August but they are few and far between.  You probably have a better shot at winning the lottery than you have of catching a bonito from shore in early August.  That being said, your chances increase as the month nears its end. In all my years of fishing, I have landed exactly one in August from shore and several from the boat.  Expect to see the first ones around the last week in August or the first week in September.  Even when they do come around, your chances of catching one are slim. They are not around in big numbers.
Albies: In the last fifty years I have caught more of these from shore than anyone, yet I have only landed one in late August.  These are a September fish.  If I were to pick a date in which they make their appearance along RI's oceanfront, it would be in the time period from Sept.10 to Sept. 15. I only know of only one year in the last five decades in which some were landed in late August.
Albies are a strange breed and everyone thinks these fish are a sure bet to hit the shore.  But, if I looked back at my logs over the last 50 years, I can tell you that about a third of the years there were NONE, about a third of those years we had a few for a short period of time, and about a third of those years were good with lots of fish for weeks. Bad weather such as a tropical storm or a hurricane will drive them out in quick time.
We have been spoiled in recent years since four out of the last five years have been very good.  One of those years had none.
So, when you begin to hear reports about these fish showing, consider the sources. Social media is very unreliable, and it is loaded with attention seekers and self proclaimed experts who know very little about fishing.  I will believe these fish are in when I see one or catch one! I expect that will happen in September.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Small Ones Dominate RI Summer Surf

I was out this evening with my son Jon.  We landed over
50 fish on jigs and flukes.  Most went 10-16 inches with one
lone "biggie" going 24 inches. Small ones have been numerous;
keepers have been rare from shore in RI.
Tonight I landed a bunch of schoolies.  The biggest fish went 24 inches, and that is the biggest fish that I have taken in the last month. I've caught hundreds of them in the last four weeks, and 24 inches has been the biggest from from the Ocean State. Welcome to RI shore fishing.
Small schoolies, mostly in the 10-18 inch range, continue to dominate the fishing.  Keepers are rare.  Everyone seems to be complaining about the lack of bigger fish from shore this summer.  In addition, I have spoken to divers, netters and eel fishermen and everyone has the same thing to say.  Keepers have been rare this summer along the RI shore.  They are getting good size fish from the boats at Block Island.  And, there have been some massive blitzes of big fish this summer just to the north at the Cape Cod Canal.  So, good size fish do exist in New England, but they don't seem to be along our shores in any numbers.
Maybe things will improve in the fall,  but I am not expecting it.  Our falls in recent years have been dominated by schoolies, big bluefish and albies and I suspect that same trend will continue starting in mid September.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Bait Changes the Game

The last couple of days have seen loads of
small stripers chasing bait in the Bay.
Up until the last couple of evenings, it had been weeks since I caught a fish in the Bay. Yes, the water was warm but the main culprit was the fact that there was little or no bait around.  That all changed on the weekend as a large influx of small bait (bay anchovies as well as small peanut bunker) moved into the areas I was fishing.  It suddenly lit up the fishing for schoolies and an occasional bluefish. I saw schools of fish breaking in a frenzy as well as individual fish here and there tearing through the bait schools.
The hot lure has been a fluke
body on a quarter ounce
Summer fish are especially fussy when keying on small bait, and these fish were picky.  I had to go down to a quarter ounce jighead with a fluke body to entice the fish to hit. They would not look at a surface lure.
Most of the stripers I have found are small, running 10-20 inches long. Heck, this is what we are seeing along the oceanfront also, and this is what we have been seeing all year from shore. But, grab a light freshwater rod, and it can be exciting.
There has been a lack of bluefish so far, even when there is a lot of bait around. In most years, the big numbers of bluefish seem to arrive in late August and early Sept. The giant alligator blues that were around last year came later in the fall as they were chasing large menhaden that were dropping out of the Bay.  We'll see if that all happens again this year.