Sunday, November 29, 2020

Crawling to the Finish Line


Here's a hefty 25 inch schoolie that
I landed yesterday. The numbers of
stripers along the oceanfront has
dwindled in the last few days.

The striper fishing along the oceanfront has gone noticeably downhill in the last couple of days.  Happens this way at the end.  There can be millions around one day, and a few days later you can't find one. While there are still a few fish around, their numbers have dwindled.  And, with a big blow and storminess on the way for the next two days, it is not looking good. Today I could catch nothing in the daylight.  Fortunately, I found a few small schoolies after dark. It feels like the end is in sight.

It's at this time of year that many of us start looking in the backwaters for stripers that will winter over here in RI. I've already tested the waters in some of those spots and found a few fish. I'm still planning on fishing in the next couple of weeks, but it will not be along the high surf of the oceanfront unless I get a favorable report from some of my diehard friends.  

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Still Going Strong


Here is one of many schoolies that
I landed yesterday in some rough 
water. Schoolie fishing remains
hot along the RI oceanfront.

I fished the oceanfront every day this week except today (Thanksgiving). The fishing has been fantastic for this time of year with an abundance of schoolies in the 14 to 20 inch range along with a few larger fish from 24 to 28 inches. The last three days I fished I landed big numbers of fish on white Cocahoes threaded onto half ounce jigheads. I also got a few on bucktail jigs spiced with white curly tails. Jigs are far outfishing plugs these days.  All these fish are throwbacks. Catch-and -release is far easier with jigs than treble hook plugs. I have also been finding fish both at night and in the daytime, although the best period of time seems to be that hour before dark.

Today my son Ben hit the shore in early morning before the family Thanksgiving festivities.  Fishing some rough water, he landed big numbers of schoolies on Cocahoes with teasers fished ahead of the jig. The fishing overall has been better in the rough water than in calm water.

So, how long will all this last? I don't know. In most years, the consistency is gone by now.  However, I'm guessing this warm weather and warmer than normal water temperatures (low 50's for the most part) are keeping the fish active and feeding. So long as the weather remains warm the fishing should remain good.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Big Time Numbers for this Time of Year

This hefty schoolie was landed yesterday on a 
bucktail jig.  Jigs are your most effective lures
in the daytime right now.

The schoolie glut just continues with unprecedented numbers of fish for this time of year along the RI oceanfront.  This past week was one of the best in terms of numbers of fish this year for me. Favorable conditions helped with warm weather and west and southwest winds.  

I am finding fish in multiple places both in the daytime and at night. The common thread here is that most of them are small, running 12 to 20 inches on average.  I had some hefty fish this week that went up around 25 inches, but no keepers, even when fishing after dark. Many of the larger schoolies came after dark.

Jigs continue to rule in the daytime with both bucktail jigs and Cocahoes on jigheads catching most of the fish. The clueless daytime crowd who are casting big plugs like big poppers, large swimmers and needlefish are catching nothing. At night is a different story with Slug-gos and slowly moving swimmers catching the larger fish.

This hot schoolie fishing shows no sign of slowing and with warm water and warm weather, we could see a couple of more weeks of solid action. Who knows? At this time of year it can be millions one day and totally gone the next.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Back in Business

I've got some good news and some bad news.  The good news is that we are back in business with good numbers of stripers back along the RI coast.  The bad news is that they are all small, I mean really small as these are the smallest fish I have seen all season.

I went down today in this really cold weather. I don't mind the cold since I will be spend all winter outside skiing starting in a couple of weeks regardless of the temperature. The advantage to fishing the cold is that you have the oceanfront to yourself, and that says it all about today.  With wind chills in the 20's the beaches were empty except for a few hearty souls that showed up to make a few casts. I saw little activity. I saw a few gannets hitting the water way out, and at one point I saw a few gulls hitting the water in close and a few fish breaking for maybe 20 seconds. I saw no other bait close to shore. There was little activity to note.  However, the fish were there, maybe just moving along the beaches in small schools.

Using a Cocahoe on a half ounce jighead, I landed good numbers of fish.  I was hoping for a big one in the mix, but they were all 12 to 18 inches.  These were some of the smallest fish I have seen this year along the oceanfront. But, in my mind, still better than staying home and listening to depressing news. If you are going to fish for these small ones, consider using single hook jigs.  They are safer for catch-and-release fishing than treble hooked plugs.

Regardless of what happens in the coming days, I think we have less than two weeks left of consistent fishing. After Dec. 1, it becomes a crap shoot here in RI.

This is one of many schoolies landed today in this cold
weather. Stripers are back along the oceanfront but most
are on the small side.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Fishing Turns Poor- Lull or End in Sight?

When I pulled into the parking lot at Charlestown Breachway on Veteran's Day this week I knew something was up.  I was expecting a big crowd like I've seen there all fall.  Instead, there were only a few cars, and I would later find out most of the owners of those cars were beach walkers.  I saw exactly two fishermen fishing the beach and one lone caster off the rocks. That told me they weren't catching along here in the last few days. Heck, I was here anyway so I decided to give it a try.  I fished for about an hour and came up with one small schoolie.  One guy told me it was the only fish he had seen along here in the past six hours.

I moved around that day to several more locations, yet all I could get was three additional small ones.  Along the way, I saw no bait, no birds working and no fishermen. 

I would fish two more days this week in different locations and would come away with exactly one schoolie.  It was not good. Same bait, no fish.

So, the big questions after this week of poor fishing are as folows. Are we in a lull or are we staring at the beginning of the end? I don't know but here are some things I do know.  The month of October and early November saw massive numbers of stripers move through, maybe the most we have ever seen in October. It was daily blitzes along the south shore beachfront. In other recent years, that seemed to happen more in November.  I also know the masses of bait that attracted all those October stripers is gone. Maybe more is on the way, maybe not.

On the positive side, I know the water is warm, mid fifties for the most part. I also feel it is way too early to be talking the end.  My guess is that we are still about 10 days away from the end of consistent fishing based on past years.  And, at this time of year, I always have my hopes that an ocean herring run will develop, and that would light up the fishing.  Gannets have been around so maybe that is telling us something.

This week will tell us a lot.  If the fishing continues to be poor, it will be a sign that the end is near.  If it improves, expect a couple of more good weeks. I hope it is the latter.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The Subtle Game


This slot limit keeper was landed
tonight on a jointed Bomber. While 
most of the fish around are schoolies,
there are keepers to be had after dark.

In the last few days, I haven't seen the big blitzes that were so prevalent along the RI oceanfront since September.  In fact, I haven't seen birds, no bait, no fish busting. But, I can tell you the fish are still here in BIG numbers. 

It's a subtle game these days. You have to get out and fish, plug a rocky shoreline, cast along the sandy beach and find the fish that are moving along the shoreline.  The guys who fish with binoculars are not scoring. The guys who are not casting are thinking it's coming to an end. The guys riding the beach in their 4x4 vehicles are not finding them unless they get out and fish. Truth is there are still a lot of fish around.

In the last two days I found real good numbers of fish in both the daytime and at night. While the majority of the fish are schoolies that seem to be smaller than a few weeks ago, there are still hefty 24 and 25 inch fish in the mix. And, there is that occasional slot limit keeper that seems to come after dark.  I got one of those tonight.  In the daytime, I continue to catch most of my fish on jigs, either bucktail or Cocahoes on jigheads. After dark, most of my fish are falling for swimmers.  I have landed fish on SP Minnows, jointed Red Fins and jointed Bombers.

The fish are still around but you have to put in the time and effort to catch them. It's just not as easy as it was last week as well as earlier in the fall.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Photo of the Day....Slot Limit Keeper


This slot limit keeper was landed tonight after
dark. Your chances of landing a keeper are
better after dark than in the daylight.  The fish
was released in good shape.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Schoolies, Keepers and Gannets

I have fished every day for the last seven days. Just some observations about the past week:

Here's a good size schoolie landed after dark this
week.  Schoolies have been abundant at night
with an occasional small keeper in the mix.

*Still a glut of fish around the oceanfront.  With this beautiful weather, it seems like there is no end in sight. It's been a very big week of fishing for me.

*So, so many schoolies around.  Astounding numbers of 12 to 27 inch fish.  It could just be the best "schoolie fall" I have ever seen. 

* How many schoolies do you have to go through before you get a keeper to hit.  From my numbers of the past week, I figure 1 fish in 200 is a keeper.  I've landed several keepers in the last week and they often come as a surprise.  One evening I was getting schoolie after schoolie and then suddenly I am onto a better fish of 28 inches. Most of those slot limit keepers are in the 28 to 30 inch range.

*Night fishing is still producing schoolies.  I have fished a lot at night in the last week with the time change hoping I could find better size fish.  I did land one small keeper after dark, but I continue to find a glut of schoolies in the darkness.

*I was treated to a real show this week as I saw a flock of gannets divebombing onto bait.  They are usually after big bait and we see loads of them when the ocean herring start their migration in mid November.  In the past I've seen them bombing onto ocean herring, but I've also seen them hitting large peanut bunker.  I suspect that was the bait on this day.

*With no cold weather in sight, this could be one of those rare years that  striper fishing holds up into December.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Big Storm has Moved on BUT Nothing has Changed!


Jigs continue to be the hot ticket
to catching fall schoolies. This one
was fished off the float.

The wind, the snow, the cold, and the big surf of the last couple of days have all departed.  In past years, a big storm like this would have moved all the fish out and we would have to wait days, maybe a week, for the fishing to improve.  Not this year. Yesterday  I saw masses of birds on bait, stripers breaking out far and fish whirling at my feet. The glut of fish just just seems to continue regardless of the weather.

I started out the day with low expectations, but I came away in awe of the numbers of fish I saw and caught.  I fished three different locations before and after dark along the oceanfront.  Every spot I fished was loaded. I landed big numbers of schoolies, many of them on the small side.  But, I did manage to snare one small slot limit keeper after dark. I also had a few hickory shad in the mix. All the fish I caught were on jigs.

We just finished one of the best Octobers I have ever seen along the oceanfront in RI.  I'm guessing November (at least the first half of the month) will be equally as good.