Sunday, August 30, 2020

No Albies, No Bonito Yet

Don't get excited.  This photo is from a couple of 
years ago. No news of any bonito of albies along
the RI oceanfront yet.

There's a lot of fishermen out there trying, but I have yet to see a bonito or a false albacore (albie) caught here in RI. I have not seen any breaking either, and I have been out just about every day this month.  But, no panic.  Still plenty of time for this to happen.

Albies and bonito are pelagic species. That means they spend most of their lives way off shore in the depths of the ocean.  In the fall they sometimes come close to shore to feed. Their movements are impossible to predict. Some years we see a lot of them; some years there are none.

In the past the bonito tended to show up in numbers (if they do show up) around the last week in August along the oceanfront, although last year they were pretty much around all of August. Albies are a September fish.  Based on my logs of the last 50 years that time period from September 10 to September 15 should bring  good numbers if they show. A few early arrivals might be caught in late August and early September. Note that fishermen are catching them right now in Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay, the first place they arrive in southern New England waters.

Last year was a big year for bonito, but albie fishing around here was a disappointment.  What will happen this year is anyone's guess.  But, I can guarantee, there will be a lot of fishermen looking and trying as albie fever is already here.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Thursday, August 27, 2020

On the White Bucks


Here's a near keeper landed yesterday
on a Spire Point bucktail jig. White
bucktail jigs are great for catch-and-
release striper fishing.

We are in the midst of the best August striper fishing I have ever seen from the RI shore. They are along the oceanfront; they are in the Bay.  Daily blitzes are occurring somewhere every single day thanks to massive schools of peanut bunker that the stripers are feeding on.  Since August first I have landed over 300 bass from shore. A telling fact is that I have not caught a single keeper, and while I have seen thousands of fish landed, I have yet to even see a keeper in August.  Tells you a lot about the state of our striper stocks. These are all hefty schoolies that are generally running 20 to 27 inches. 

Since this is all catch-and-release fishing, I have tried to use lures that will do the least amount of damage.  That is why I have caught just about all my fish on jigs this month.  The hot numbers in the last couple of weeks have been white bucktail jigs.  When I need a long cast, I'll fish these off a wooden egg float.  When the fish are in tight, I will just use the jig without a float. I have done well using homemade flathead jigs (half ounce) and homemade Spire Point jigs.  I will always use a curly tail or a plastic strip on the end of the jig for added action.

Of those 300 fish I landed, I can tell you that there has not been a single bad hook-up.  ALL of the fish were released in good shape thanks to the single hook jig.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Peanuts Fueling Massive Daily Blitzes


Peanuts have collected in a tidal pool.
This striper was just caught on a Rebel
Jumpin' Minnow, the best topwater
plug to use when peanuts are around.
EVER DAY there is a blitz or multiple blitzes going on somewhere along the RI oceanfront.  This is all being fueled by massive numbers of peanut bunker that have been around for all of August. Some of these peanuts are micros under an inch long.  Others are larger, one to two inch specimens.  Whether small or large both stripers and bluefish are in hot pursuit wherever this bait gathers.

Back in the beginning of the month I did an article for The Fisherman magazine titled "Peanut Bunker Explosion." The article discussed how August, in recent years, has become a real hot month of fishing because of the early arrival of peanut bunker to our waters. This all used to happen in September, but like everything else that is changing, it now happens in August. The article goes on to outline approaches used to catch stripers and blues when they are feeding on peanuts.

Here are some ideas that have worked in the last three weeks:

1. Jigs- Jigs are hot when peanuts are around because they mimic the baitfish's movement and size.  I like a flathead half ounce bucktail jig with a plastic curly tail.  Use it alone in close or off a wooden egg float when a long cast is needed.  Three inch Cocahoes will work the same way though not quite as effect as the bucktail.

2. Rebel Jumpin' Minnows- The best topwater plug when fish are on peanuts. Reel slowly with short pulls of the rod tip much the way you would work a pencil popper. Bone or white is your best color.

3. Kastmasters or other metal- Looks like a peanut moving through the water with its flash and will give you a long cast if needed.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Adjustments in the Rough

 The last couple of days have been rough, real rough, along the oceanfront. There was a big northeast

This small jig attached to a wooden
egg float caught lots of fish yesterday
in real rough conditions. The jig has
a Fat Cow jig strip attached.
wind that sent in a lot of turbulent white water and big waves. It's conditions that stripers just love, and there were lots of them to be had for those who fished in these rough conditions.

When I fish this type of water, I will make many adjustments to the way I fish.  Here are just some of my strategies:

Spots matter- I have several different places I like to fish in a strong northeast wind.  These are places that are slightly protected and places where the wind tends to come from the side.  You want a spot that has all of the advantages of white turbulent water, yet at the same time is safe. Clean water is also a key.  If you take on a strong northeast wind in your face, you tend to get a lot of weed coming at you, making conditions unfishable.  Note that the places I fish in a northeast wind are far different than the places I would choose in a southwest wind. 

Bigger plugs- I tend to also beef up the plugs I use in a strong wind.  It helps with the casting and a heavier plug tracks better in the wind.  I had been getting a lot of fish earlier in the week in calm water with a Jumpin Minnow. Forget that plug in a northeast wind.  Instead, I went with a Yo-Zuri Hydro Pencil, a plug that is similar to the Jumpin Minnow but almost twice the weight.  It worked terrific in the last two days.

Jigs- Big jigs of an ounce or more are good bets to cut through the wind.  These are best where you have deeper water.  In shallow water with rocky bottoms, go with the float and jig.  The float tracks well in turbulent water and this set up works wonders where fish are feeding on small bait.

Be safe- Rough conditions can be dangerous conditions. Proceed with caution in areas with deep water and slippery rocks. I always try to position myself on a dry rock in a safe spot in these conditions.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Monday, August 10, 2020

MA Accepting Public Comment on Adding Commerical Striper Days

 Things are not going well for commercial striped bass fishermen in MA these days. As of August 7, only 24% of the quota has been met. Is anyone surprised about that due to the lack of big fish (over 35 inches) around?

Right now commercial striped bass fishermen in MA can fish two days a week- Monday and Wednesday.  Because of these low catch numbers, the MA Division of Marine Fisheries is proposing an in season adjustment to the fishing days which would double the days commericals can fish adding Tuesday and Thursday. This could take effect on Sept. 2. In addition, on October 2, the commercial days would be extended to 7 days a week. These same proposals came up last year and after written comments came in from fishermen, no action was taken by the Director.

I know a lot of people are very passionate about this topic on both sides of the aisle. If you would like to give your comments, pro or con, on the proposal, you can send an e-mail to Director Dan Mc Kiernan at 

For more information and detail, check out On the Water's article at .

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Fall Abundance in August


The blues are back in good numbers in places.
They are keying on schools of peanut bunker
along the oceanfront and in the Bay. I got this
one from shore two nights ago.
I've been fishing every evening in the past week.  It has been the best fishing in RI since the heydays of this past spring migrations.  Huge amounts of small peanut bunker have entered both the Bay and the oceanfront in the last week, and that has set off some wild, pre-fall fishing for stripers, bluefish and "funny" mackerel.

In the beginning of the week, I concentrated on the oceanfront in the rough conditions. The wind and surf delivered big numbers of schoolies in the 20 to 27 inch range. At times, loads of fish were breaking on the surface feeding on the small bunker. I could also see big schools of chub and bullet mackerel tearing through schools of bait way out.  Later in the week, I concentrated my efforts in the Bay from shore.  There I found big schools of bait being attacked by schoolies in close and bluefish out far.   For the first time since spring I saw roving schools of bluefish slashing on the surface through schools of bait.

The only thing lacking this week was larger stripers. The bigger fish I landed were just shy of keeper size. Shore guys have been complaining about the lack of bigger fish (fish over 35 inches) so far this year.  I think that trend will continue and you will be lucky catch a striper over 35 inches from shore this year in RI . That's just the way things are.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Yes, we did fish in that STORM!

Yes, my son Jon and I did fish in that storm on Tuesday.  It was one of the most intense storms I have ever fished in along the RI oceanfront. It featured everything “stormy”. There was wind with gusts up to hurricane force.  There was a driving, pelting rain.  And, the surf was kicked up as angry as it gets with moving water. We were in safe spots casting from mostly dry shoreline.  I know full well that stripers love these kinds of conditions, and they didn’t disappoint.

Upon arriving at our spot in mid afternoon, the wind was brisk from the southeast and the ocean was kicked up but not unmanageable.  We found stripers whirling in the white water feeding on small bait. The bucktail jig off the wooden egg float did the trick.  If I casted into the white, moving water left behind by a wave, I had a hit or a fish on just about every cast.  These were 20 to 27 inch hefty schoolies with the bigger fish just under keeper size.

After about an hour or so of fishing and catching, the skies suddenly darkened and within what seemed like minutes, everything took a turn for the worse.  It started pelting rain and the wind picked up dramatically with gusts that nearly knocked us over.  The water also began to rise from the surge of a pushing wind and waves or water. What should have been low tide looked like high tide. I was getting worried a tornado was somewhere out in front of us.

At that point we decided to head back to the truck for a break. Just as fast as the storm arrived, it began to let up and soon the skies were blue, but the wind was still ferocious. We headed back out and found our spot now loaded with weed pushed in by a wind that had turned south and in our faces.

We moved to a new location that had cleaner water, but the abundant fish that were around earlier in the day were now few and far between.  We did manage about a dozen more fish before dark but the easy pickings were gone.

It was a day to remember…rough conditions, a charged up atmosphere and sea and lots of fish, just what I was expecting.

The water was rough but clean and the fish were there. Stripers
love to forage in rough water.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Rough Water Turns It On

I went down to the RI oceanfront last evening, the first time in weeks I had fished this area. I knew it would be good because I have seen this pattern play out over and over again in past years. We are in the doldrums of summer and suddenly a big storm comes along.  It can be a north

A hefty schoolie comes ashore last evening on
the float and jig.  It was hot fishing in the rough water!
easter or a tropical storm. Out of nowhere, loads and loads of stripers come ashore with the wind and roughness. And, what’s been a dead shore for months comes to life.  It played out just that way last evening.

When I arrived at my location, I just knew it would be good. The water was white and moving from the roughness and the wind. In ten minutes, I had ten hefty schoolies with my float and jig (Cocahoe or bucktail and curly tail) combinations.  It continued like that on and off for the rest of the evening.  I also saw dark patches of bait, some fish breaking and birds diving.  If you didn’t know the date, you would think this was the middle of October.

If you get out to fish in the coming days, proceed with caution.  There is a fine line between rough and dangerous and just right.  Last evening it was just right!