Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Rain, Cold, Wind Cool Off Fishing

Here's a nice fish from yesterday. Fishing has gone downhill
in the cold and nasty weather.
Things were going well until this nasty weather hit.  The cold northeast winds, low temperatures and rain put the skids on the good April fishing that we had been enjoying. Nothing new, we've seen this pattern many times before as good early season striper fishing is often dictated by favorable weather.
In all this bad weather I was still fishing.  I was catching a few fish in both the Bay and along the oceanfront, but numbers were off.
With better weather on the way, I suspect we'll be back in the groove by the upcoming weekend.

Friday, April 24, 2020

April Trends Encouraging

Here is a near keeper taken a couple of nights
ago on a Zoom fluke on a half ounce jihead.
Jigs are great choices for those practicing catch
and release fishing.
This has been one of the best Aprils I've seen for striper fishing here in RI. The fish arrived two weeks ahead of schedule, and they have been plentiful in both the Bay and along the oceanfront. While early fishing in past years tended to be a lot of real tiny "micro" fish, this year's early migrating fish have been very good size, some of the best I have ever seen in April.
Remember that last year we saw massive numbers of schoolies in the 18 to 24 inch range along the RI coastline in the fall. I saw some of the biggest blitzes ever, and most of the fish seemed to be cookie cutter 22 inch schoolies. If you subscribe to the theory that schoolies grow about 4 inches a year, that would mean that we should see big numbers  of  22 to 28 inch fish.  And, we have!
I was out the other night in a spot from shore. I landed 14 fish.  Most were schoolies over 20 inches. A couple were close to 28 inches.  At the same time, my son was fishing in the kayak in another location.  He had over 40 fish with most of the fish going 22 to 28 inches, just the size I figured would be around in abundance.  Of that mix of fish, he had at least a couple of small keepers.
While most of the fish are larger schoolies so far, only a small percentage reach that 28 inch keeper size. I think that trend will continue into May and early summer. We'll probably see some bigger fish caught in the usual big fish hotspots like the Canal and Block Island towards mid June, but don't expect to find many of those over 30  inch fish anywhere else. They are just not abundant (another trend that should continue from year).
On another note, access continues to be a headache with so many closed parking areas along the Bay and along the oceanfront. That has put a lot of fishermen in some of the few spots that are open. For the life of me, I don't get this closing of oceanfront parking areas in April when no one is using them except a few fishermen and a few walkers.  State and local officials will tell you they are trying to protect everyone and it sounds good. However, I was out on one of the local bike paths riding my bike on Sunday. Yes, bike paths have remained open.  There were HUNDREDS of people walking, riding bikes and walking dogs in the hour I was there.  Most were observing social distancing, but I also saw big groups of people bunched up.  Few were wearing masks. We pick and choose what we want to close in the state with no consistency, and some of it just
makes no sense.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Sea Lice Tell the Story

Check out the sea lice on the body of this fresh run striper.
Migrating fish tend to have sea lice which they pick up from
migrating in the cold, deeper water.
I was catching decent numbers of schoolies last evening. All of them had sea lice on their bodies.  These are small orange/brown lice that cling to the stripers' bodies.  The stripers pick them up in deeper water as they migrate northward. It's a sure bet that these are migrating fish. They will lose this lice over time and as the water warms up.
The holdovers that reside in many of the state's saltwater ponds and rivers do not have sea lice. That is one way that fishermen often tell whether they are catching holdovers or fresh run stripers.
Migrating stripers continue to stream into RI waters.  They are along the oceanfront and in the Bay in increasing numbers.  The sizes are also increasing with good numbers of fish in the 24 to 28 inch range, though there are a lot of small ones under 20 inches. I have not caught or heard of a fish over 30 inches.
Parking continues to be a massive headache and is keeping lots of fishermen away from the water's edge.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Photo of the Day

There are increasing numbers of stripers around in the Bay and along the oceanfront.
 This is one of several decent size schoolies that I landed this evening.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Surprise of the Day

Here's a big, bronze colored white perch that I caught today
while fishing for stripers.
I was in a spot today catching small schoolies.  In the mix, I hooked what I thought was a bigger schoolie. To my surprise it turned out to be a big white perch. In fact, this perch was one of the biggest ones I have caught in recent years.  The fish was a darkish, bronze color, unlike the silvery ones I have caught in the past.  It could be the bottom color where it resided.  The perch hit a Zoom fluke mounted on a half ounce jighead.
White perch are a mystery fish here in RI.  They reside in many of the brackish waters of the state. Experts will tell you that they move between the brackish and fresh water to feed.  However, I have caught many in pure saltwater. They are also landlocked in many big lakes and river systems.  The landlocked variety are considerably smaller than the saltwater/brackish white perch.
I have been piecing together my fishing and focusing on spots where I can find some sort of parking (not easy to do).  Today I parked in a private spot and had to walk about half a mile to the shore. The oecanfront continues to be a mess with parking with just about everywhere shut down.  The Bay is slightly better. But, overall, it is not good. I've heard horror stories of fishermen being kicked out of spots.
As for the fish, migrating stripers are now in both the Bay and along the oceanfront. It's a very early start, and they have been around for about a week now. I haven't seen big numbers yet, but they are around.
Very frustrating when you know the fish are around, but you can't access deserted shorelines because the parking is shut down in most places.
 It's one thing to be safe, another to be reasonable. Parking restrictions along the water in much of the state is unreasonable.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

First Keeper Comes from the Yak

First "freshie" of the year on
a Zoom fluke.
One of many decent schoolies
from the kayak today for my
son Jon.  Fish went 23 to 28
My son, Jon, got the first keeper in the family in this new year today from the kayak.  He hit something hot in a new location as he landed quite a few decent fish from 23 to 28 inches. I'm not surprised as we should see good numbers of fish in the size range he caught today based on the big numbers of schoolies around last year.
The kayak is a good access busting craft.  If you can put it in somewhere, and if you have the stamina to paddle good distances, you could score big in the early season.  The use of a kayak is best done in the backwaters along the oceanfront and in the calmer areas of the Bay. Be careful if you go out in a kayak at this time of year since the water is super cold and the wind is often howling, a dangerous combination.
On another note, I have been searching high and low for places to fish.  I can tell you that just about 90% of the fishable saltwater spots in RI (both Oceanfront and Bay) have no access right now.  It's really tough  to find the scant few parking areas that exist, and you just might have to do a lot of walking to get to the water. Still, I managed to find a spot today, and did land my first "freshie" of the year. So, the fish are definitely migrating into our area.
Stay safe everyone and good luck finding that parking spot to get in to fish.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

WAY OVERBOARD....Fish Around, NO Access

Parking along the Sate Pier at East
Matunuck is completely shut down.
"Too much, ridiculous, overreaction, PIA" These are not my words.  These are some of the reactions I got from talking to people along the oceanfront yesterday. These were from a scant few pissed people who wanted to just go for a walk or cast a line. The parking along most of the oceanfront is non-existent unless you know someone that will allow you to park in their driveway. Basically, all fishing is shut down along deserted beaches because you can't get onto those beaches.
The entrances and exits to East Matunuck
State Beach are barricaded.
I decided to take a ride down to the oceanfront yesterday to see what was going on.  I had my stuff with me and had all intentions of fishing. I went to the West Wall, a popular early season spot that everyone knows about. I drove down Succotash Rd. by East Matunuck State Beach.  The entrances were barricaded shut.  No access there.  I then went to the end of the road down across from Skip's Dock where there is on street parking for about 8 cars.  There were all red signs indicating "No Parking. Police Emergency.  No access there.  I continued a short drive to the State Pier where there is parking for about a dozen cars.  There were barricades, cones and signs that indicated no parking. No access there.  Finally I went down the dirt road just north of the pier.  I know there are two small lots there where a few people go to walk dogs (Dog Beach).  Those lots had boulders blocking the parking. No access there.  On the way back, I went along many of the side streets of East Matunuck.  They all had those red "No Parking signs" put up by the Narragansett Police I assume. This place was completely shut down.
On the way back, I went through Narragansett.  It was similar.  No parking on side streets, no parking on Ocean Rd. (both sides), no parking in any beach or town lots.
In my opinion, way overboard. East Matunuck Beach sees NO ONE at this time of year. Unlike Narragansett that draws a lot of college kids, no one is at East Matunuck. If the state fears big groups, why not open only a small section of the lots? The closing down of on street parking down across from Skip's Dock is a head scratcher. A grand total of 8 cars can fit there, hardly a place where crowds can form.
On street parking across from
Skip's Dock is shut down. It's
a head scratcher since only
about 8 cars can fit here.
Finally, I drove by the parking lot at Stop and Shop in Narragansett and the Walmart in North Kingstown.  These parking lots were loaded with cars and loaded with people. I guess if you are a Walmart shopper it is ok to be in a crowd.  But, if you want to walk along a deserted beach or fish along a deserted beach, that's not ok.
Both the State and the town of Narragansett are painting this crisis situation with a  broad brush.  "Lets just shut down everything even though some places see limited or no activity." No one should be surprised at this in the Town of Narragansett since the Town has the reputation of being very anti-outsider even in good times.
Yes, the fish are beginning to move along the south shore, but forget going down there to fish.
I hope the State develops a plan to at least partially open some of those empty parking lots along the waterfront. Do what RI did with freshwater fishing by allowing a limited number of fishermen to fish (on/off days) and making sure anglers observe social distancing. Just shutting down all beach access along the oceanfront is really ridiculous.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Newsflash: RI Trout Season Suddenly Opens Up

Trout fishing season suddenly opened today in RI. Under normal circumstances, trout fishing would normally open the second Saturday in April, or April 11 this year.  The DEM wanted to avoid the big crowds that come out on Opening Day so they decided to go with a “soft” opening at mid week, similar to what CT did this year.  Smart move considering the coronavirus situation we are in.
There is a twist to this opening. DEM has said that you can fish for trout on odd/even calendar days.  If your last name begins with A to M, you should be fishing on even days.  If your last name begins with N to Z, you should fish on odd days.
There are other restrictions in effect. State parks are not open for parking, there should be no more that 5 people together and social distancing (at least 6 feet) are if effect. Additionally, trout will be stocked throughout the season but will not be publicized. They are also suggesting if a pond or lake is crowded, look for other areas which are not so crowded.
All of the details and information about this unusual trout opening can be found HERE.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

It Will Not be Business as Usual

The stripers should be along the RI south shore in a couple of weeks, but will the fishermen be there? At this point, things are not looking good.  Most of the oceanfront is shut down and locked up.  Every state park, every state campground, every state beach parking lot, some town beaches and a lot of on street parking has been closed down.  Here is just a partial list from the state DEM of the closed areas.  The list keeps growing by the day.  You can technically walk in and fish the oceanfront, but you have to keep the social distances.  But, at this point, nearly all the parking is shut down.  If you do want to fish, you will have to get creative on how to get into certain spots. And, surely if a lot of fishermen congregate in certain areas, those places will be shut down.
Keep in mind, too, the state of RI has been very aggressive toward out-of-staters. I know a lot of fishermen come from out of state to fish the RI oceanfront in the spring. By order of the Governor, any out-of-staters should quarantine for 14 days upon entering RI.  Just this week, three golfers from MA came into RI to play golf and were stopped by the police and cited. There have been other instances where local police and the national Guard have been checking out of state cars parked in south county and knocking on doors to check on occupants. It's not good.
Much of the Bay is affected just like the oceanfront so no better there. As for boaters who might want to try the Bay, a lot of the state ramps that are in state parks are also closed.  I have no idea about private ramps and marinas.
As you all know, these are unusual and difficult times, and most of us see fishing as a means to relax and put the problems of the world behind us. I'm not sure we will have that option in many places.  Certainly, this spring will not be business as usual.