Friday, June 28, 2019

Photo of the Day....."Catch-and Release"

A near keeper swims away after being caught and released.
Many conservation minded anglers are releasing everything
these days.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

On the Circle Hook

Here's a keeper caught recently with chunk
bait on a circle hook.  The lip hook is generally what
happens with a circle hook. The fish's chance
of survival are much better with the circle hook.
I've been bait fishing on and off the last two weeks.  I've had good success catching some larger schoolies as well as a few keepers (up to 35 inches). Since I was releasing everything, I went with circle hooks because I didn't want any gut hooked fish, something that happens often when using chunk bait with regular hooks.  Chances for survival are dim with a gut hooked fish that's released.
The circle hook worked like a charm.  Every single fish that I hooked was hooked around the mouth or lips.  Nothing was hooked deep.  Note that I was also hitting the fish fast when I got a take.  From my past experiences with circle hooks, I found out that you could still gut hook a fish on occasion if you let it take the bait a long time.
A law has already been passed in MA requiring the use of circle hooks in 2020.  There are some exceptions to the rule, but it looks like if you plan on fishing with bait next year in MA, you will have to use a circle hook. Other states are discussing the possibility of doing the same for 2020.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Rainy, Cool Weather Keeping Fishing Hot

Here is a keeper caught recently
on a pencil popper.  Fishing has
been very good thanks to the cool water.
I'm coming off the best week of shore fishing for me since the spring fishing started.  I've found loads of schoolies, but I've also been able to get a few keepers in the mix. My sons, Matt and Jon, are also doing well.  Matt is getting them from shore and boat in Boston Harbor while Jon is getting good numbers in the Bay from the kayak. This is a time of year when traditionally things start slowing down due to warming waters.  Not this year.  For the most part, the Bay is a cool 62 to 65 degrees (surface water temps.) while the oceanfront is in the upper 50's. It's all about 5-8 degrees below normal and that is keeping the fishing going.
I've fished a lot of places in the last two weeks, Narragansett Bay, Boston Harbor and the Canal.  They have all been anywhere from fair to outstanding, but they all hold fish. With this weather continuing, the good shore fishing might just hold up right into July.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Happy Father's Day

My father, myself and my brother Mike fishing for
tautog at Jamestown in 1960.  There was rarely a
weekend when we didn't fish.
Fishing is one of those hobbies that often gets passed down from father to son or daughter. If anyone were to ask me who the best fisherman I know is, I would have to say it's my father. He taught me everything I know about freshwater and saltwater fishing, and I just continued that tradition by passing it down to my four sons.
My father was the hardest working guy I ever knew.  He worked in a shoe factory for much of his life, and even worked second jobs when he needed the money to support his three kids.  Yet, he always found the time to fish with his kids.  We often fished freshwater for bass and trout during the weekday evenings, and on the weekends we fished the ocean for stripers.  In the off season, we built plugs in the basement or tied flies at the kitchen table.
It's 1965 and my brother Mike and I stand in front
of the "beach buggy" my father built. Here we
are camping in a dirt parking lot at East Matunuck
and catching bluefish!
From spring to fall, we spent most weekends at the oceanfront.  Back in the 1960's, my father built his own "beach buggy", a 1950's bread truck that he rigged for camping and fishing.  It slept 5 people and a dog.  It was outfitted with a beer barrel on the roof for water and an ice box (yup, it worked with ice) for a refrigerator. We cooked on a Coleman stove.  We had everything we needed for a weekend of fishing as we would fish the RI south shore as well as the outer Cape.  He named his buggy "Connie" after my mother.
Those were the good, ole days.  No computers, no smart phones, now even color tv's.  Yet, we enjoyed really ourselves and lived simply without the stress of our new age gadgets.
My father, Ralph, turns 90 this year. I don't know how many Father's Days he has left, but I can tell you his memory will last forever.
Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Hot Plug of the Week....Yo-Zuri Hydro Pencil

A decent one from Boston
Harbor falls for the Hydro
This one came from
Narragansett Bay.
Most of you know I am a big fan of the Rebel Jumpin Minnow Plug.  In fact, I am a big fan of all those spook-type plugs.  I think they are far more effective than traditional poppers when it comes to a topwater plug. The latest hot plug for me has been a Yo-Zuri Hyro Pencil.  This spook-type plug moves similar to a Jumpin Minnow, but it is far beefier.  The plug is 5 inches long and weighs in 1 ounce.  It comes with beefed up hooks, split rings and anchors.  Unlike the Jumpin Minnow, this plug can be used straight from the box without any modification. I did, however, crush the barbs on the trebles to make for easier and safer catch and release.
I fished Narragansett Bay and Boston Harbor on back to back evenings this week, and it was the Hydro Pencil in a bone color that outfished any other plug in my bag.  I caught decent numbers of stripers (schoolies up near keeper size) on this plug.  It casts like a bullet and has that back and forth movement when you give it a "walk the dog" action with your rod tip.
I don't see many fishermen using this plug, but I can tell you that I am sold on it.  If you like to use spook-type plugs, you will really like this one.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Striper Numbers and Outlook Not Good

Here's a hefty schoolie landed in the Bay yesterday. Fishing has
been marginal this spring with less schoolies around than in
previous years and way less keepers.
We are into June now, and as far as I am concerned the spring season is over.  It was just fair overall.  The numbers of schoolies were down from previous years, and keepers over 30 inches have become really scarce. If I were grading the spring fishing, I would grade it a "C" overall, and I would probably rate 2019 as the worst spring fishing I have seen in the last 10 years here in RI. From the complaints I am hearing along the shore, most fishermen seem to agree with that assessment.
So, what's the problem? Pick any or all of the possible reasons below:
* Weather- Yup, it's been bad.  Lots of cold weather, lots of rain, lots of stormy weather. Water quality in the upper Gansett Bay is a diluted coffee color, really stained. It's been that way all spring. There is also an excessive amount of weed growth. I am assuming this is from all the rain and runoff. But, it has been rainy and cold in other years, and still good fishing. Not this year.
*Lack of bait- I have seen very little bait around. No bay anchovies, no mummies, few shrimp. Even when I do find bait (such as yesterday in the Bay (large menhaden)), there was nothing under it.
* Stripers in trouble- We know from studies the numbers overall are down.  Keepers are really down. I know of many good fishermen who have yet to catch a keeper this year.  Could we see the big downfall this year? This year I am catching roughly half of what I have caught in my spots compared to recent years. I was out in the boat all day yesterday in Mt. Hope Bay, a real hotspot in recent years at this time.  All I could manage was 6 schoolies. Three of us in the boat and no keepers. Just fair or marginal fishing overall.
*Poaching and mortality from recreational guys a big problem- Poaching is at an epidemic rate here in RI.  I was in a bait shop yesterday and the owner told of many undersized schoolies he knew of that were being caught, kept and filleted in the upper Bay. I have written about the same thing along the oceanfront. Recent studies also point to a high mortality rate among stripers caught by recreational anglers.  That rate is as high as 45%. It's all dead fish being released.  The causes are many....poor fish handling, treble hooks in the gills, swallowed bait, fish dropped into rocks to name a just a few. Think about all the recreational anglers out there.....the toll has to amount to millions of fish a year.
Big changes are on the horizon for next year.  But, will it be too little, too late? Maybe it would have made sense to put those conservation measures put into effect this year.