Saturday, May 30, 2020

Blues from the Yak

It's been several years since I have fished from a kayak, but I used to do it regularly.  An arthritic shoulder put and end to it until this week.  Funny thing about arthritic shoulders...they sometimes feel pretty good in warm weather.  So, I decided to get back into it and go out with my son Jon looking for stripers and bluefish in Gansett Bay.
We found a Mother Lode of blues.  I almost forgot how wild it can be to battle with a feisty blue from the yak.  But, I was reminded in quick order.  The fight of a big one can bring you on a Nantucket Sleigh ride, but even the smaller ones can be a challenge. While getting them to the kayak is tough enough, getting them unhooked can be the biggest challenge. I like to fight the blue until its "slowing down".  Then, I get them near the kayak and try to grab them with my Boga Grip (not easy with a thrashing blue).  Finally, once on the grip, I use the pliers to finish the job and release the fish. Take a look at the short video below that I shot with an action cam attached to a chest harness.
It all works if all goes well, but with unpredictable blues, you never know.  My son Jon had one fish that he got aside his kayak.  The fish suddenly took a high leap into the air, landed on the front side of the yak and landed in the water on the other side. That's what I call a close call.  You can only imagine the mess if the fish would have landed inside the kayak on his lap!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Blues Hit the Bay in Force

Fishing  for bluefish was red hot today from
the kayak.
I'm not sure they are all over the Bay, but the places I have been fishing are suddenly loaded with bluefish. At the same time, the striper numbers have gone downhill.
My son Jon and I went out in the kayaks today. It was simply loaded with bluefish.  At times, it was a hit or fish on just about every cast.  We saw few showing....a break here and there, but big numbers of the choppers around. We also saw little bait.
These skinny early season blues were also super aggressive.  At one point, I had one on. It suddenly leaped high into the air and threw the plug.  As the plug fell to the water and landed another blue immediately grabbed it.  In addition, as I was bringing in a hooked blue, on several occasions, I saw numerous other blues following the hooked one to the kayak. Most of these fish were in the 4 to 7 lb. range, though Jon had one biggie that went over 10 lbs.
The hot plug of the day for us was a Rebel Jumpin Minnow in a bone color.  However, I think these aggressive fish would have attacked anything that moved on the surface.
Note that last year was one of the very best on record for bluefish  in Narragansett Bay.  Will history repeat itself?
The Rebel Jumpin Minnow was a hot plug for us today.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

First Blue....A Monster!

First blue of the year was a 35 inch monster.
It was caught on a Rebel Jumpin Minnow.
We went out in the boat in the Bay yesterday for the first time this year.  We were looking for stripers, but the first fish from the boat turned out to be a big surprise.  It was a monster blue that hit my bone colored Jumpin Minnow in shallow water. While I did not get a weight on the fish, I did get a length. The fish went a whopping 35 inches. That is my biggest blue of the last two seasons.
It would be the only blue on the day.  We did, however, manage to find some stripers.  They were all generally hefty schoolies that ran 20 to 25 inches.  We also had a lot of swirls and hits.  My best lure on the day for stripers proved to be a 7 1/2 inch white Slug-Go. We found most of the stripers in shallow water that was 3 to 8 feet.
Note that we also went looking far and wide for schools of pogies, hoping to find larger stripers near these schools.  We could not find any pogies.
For all you boaters out there, it seems that most of the RI state owned boat ramps are now open.  Some have limited parking.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Holiday Weekend Outlook: Fish Around BUT Parking Problems

It's been mostly small ones this week
for me with an occasional decent fish
from shore.
My son Jon has been scoring
better size fish from the
kayak.  This 30 incher was
landed this morning.
The real hot fishing that I had been experiencing along the south shore has really cooled off. I have been fishing the Bay in recent evenings and doing ok with small fish.  No big numbers but there are fish around. Jigheads with Zoom flukes have been scoring the best. My son, Jon, has been fishing from the kayak and doing a lot of paddling, but he's also finding good numbers of good size schoolies with occassional keepers in the mix up to 30 inches. He's also gotten the first blue in the family, a chopper about 6 lbs. All his fish have come on topwater plugs with the Rebel Jumpin Minnow being the best plug of the week. There have been a few bluefish around both the oceanfront and the Bay but no big numbers.
Parking remains a major issue along the oceanfront and along the Bay. Much of it is still closed down, and it has even gotten a bit worse with South Kingstown Beach closing down this week because of over crowding. Many of the fishermen I know who are fishiing from shore are either parking illegally or walking long distances to get to the water. The few places that are open are seeing a lot of fishermen. You may have heard that some places are opening up, but many of those places are shut down and locked at dusk. Not good since many of the shore fish are hitting at and after dark.
So, your best bet at catching a striper or a blue this weekend would be from a boat or a kayak. Boaters can get access to a lot of water.  In addition, worms are hatching in many of the south shore ponds and places in the Bay. That worm hatch is generally a boating/kayaking thing. I've also seen schools of big pogies in the Bay.  My guess is that many boaters will be looking for these and bigger fish this weekend.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

An Epic Week

Here's a near keeper landed this week on a
Cocahoe Minnow attached to a 3/4 oz. jighead.
Cocahoes and bucktail jigs have been hot lures.
In all my years of spring surf fishing, I have never seen a week like I have just fished. For seven straight days it was blitz after blitz along one area along the RI oceanfront. It had everything you would see in all out fall blitzes, but this was the spring and it was not supposed to happen this way.....diving birds by the hundreds, tons of bait, fish busting all over the place and aggressive fish stalking in the white water and wanting to pounce on anything that moved.
Unlike the fall, you rarely see surface blitzes in the spring.  Spring striper fishing is often a case of fish grubbing along the bottom.  They are often around, but rarely showing.  So, this was very unusual.
I could have caught these aggressive stripers on anything, but I chose to fish jigs all week because the jigs caused the least amount of harm to these fish I intended to release. At times I fished just the jig with a Cocahoe body.  At other times when a long cast was needed, I fished the jig (Cocahoe or bucktail) off a float. Some days it was a fish or hit on just about every cast, on other days it was streaks of fish on five or six casts in a row with a fish and then a lull, only to begin again. I walked away several days with tons of fish still around.
All the fish this week were good size schoolies for the most part (20-26 inches) with occasional small keepers (28 inches).  Between myself and the few others who fished these epic blitzes, I saw thousands of fish caught, yet not one fish measured 30 inches. It says a lot about the lack of bigger stripers.
So, this sets the tone on what will come this season.  Lots and lots of good size schoolies that just might be small keepers in the fall. It will set up terrific action in the coming months with smaller fish.
And, by the way, of the masses numbers of fish I landed this week, not one fish was badly hooked. No mortalities, no bleeding fish.  This says a lot about using jigs with single hooks for schoolies and small keepers you intend to release.
On more tidbit.....I went down yesterday and as the saying goes, "all good things must come to an end." I landed just two schoolies in four hours.  The bait and the fish have moved on.
Birds are hitting the water in a spring blitz of stripers. The last seven days of
fishing have been incredible!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Biggest Spring Blitz I Have EVER Seen!

Yes, I was out today in that wild big blow. It was the biggest wind I ever experienced while fishing in the springtime along the RI coast.  It also delivered the biggest striper blitz I have ever seen at this time of year. Hundreds of birds diving after bait, stripers blasting the bait from below and hitting anything that moved.  The fish were very hungry and aggressive. Take a look at the 9 second video below.  That went on for more than three straight hours right in front of me. And, it was a fish or a hit on every single cast using my float and bucktail jig. The second wave of migrating fish is well underway along the oceanfront and it was epic in the place I was fishing today.
All the fish today were good size. The smallest ones were around 20 inches while the bigger ones were keepers or just below keeper size. The jig was the perfect lure to use for today's catch-and-release fishing.  All fish returned in good shape.

Paddletails- Alone or Off the Float

I've run into some hot fishing along the oceanfront in the last couple of days.  All of my action has been on paddletail bodies, more specifically the 4-inch Cocahoe Minnow in a glow color with a chartreuse paddle tail.  I have been using this alone with a 3/4 oz. jighead or off the float.  Both have been working well depending on the situation.
I tend to favor just the jig alone.  This works well in deeper water or in spots where there are no obstructions on the bottom.  It also works well in places where a long cast is not needed.I like it paired with a 3/4 oz. jighead (see photo at left).
I go with the wooden egg float/ Cocahoe combo under different circumstances.  This works well in shallow water, places where obstructions (rocks) exist on the bottom, in low water areas and in places where a long cast is needed. I make all my own egg floats, and they weigh a bit under 2 oz.  I pair this with a half ounce jighead, and I can make a booming cast with this set-up (see photo at right).
I believe we are in the midst of a second wave of migrating spring fish. Up until a few days ago, I had been seeing inconsistent action along the oceanfront.  The last couple of days have brought very good action with 20 to 27 inch fish. I've even seen birds diving and schools of fish breaking. Hopefully, this big northwest blow we are currently experiencing will not drive them out.