Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Holdover Fishing Slow

 

A holdover comes ashore yesterday.  Holdover 
fishing has been slow. The masses of migrating
fish should arrive in a week to ten days.

This has not been a banner year for holdover stripers here in RI.  I have tried many times in the last month, and it has been a fish here and there.  My best day was 6 schoolies, but there have been a good number of blanks. Unlike other places (CT for instance), we have a very limited holdover fishery in RI which exists in a number of locations. It is generally inconsistent.

I got out yesterday from shore.  I fished about 2 1/2 hours along a shore that had been productive for holdovers in the past.  I came away with two fish, 16 and 20 inch schoolies.  I got them both on a Zoom fluke on a half ounce jighead, about the best holdover jig you can use.

Everything will change in the next week to ten days when the migrating fish arrive. Last year I landed my first migrating stripers along the oceanfront on April 15. I expect the same timetable this year give or take a few days. It's coming!

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Photo of the Day- "A Sure Sign of Spring"

 

The weather is warming and the holdover stripers have become 
more active.  I landed this one today on a Zoom Fluke.
We are about two to three weeks away from seeing the migrating stripers!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

First Impression....Old Town Sportsman PDL 106 Kayak....."WOW"

 

My Old Town Sportsman PDL 106
is a pedal drive kayak. This kayak
is in high demand and gets rave
reviews.  It was built for fishing!

The wait was over for me this week as I had my Old Town Sportsman kayak on pre order for months  and it finally came in.  I made the drive up to Kittery Trading Post in Maine yesterday to pick it up. My first impression was "wow". This thing is built like a tank, and looks like it will be a fishing machine. My son Jon called it a "BEAST"  We'll find out in the coming months just what the beast can do.  I have big plans for this baby!

The Old Town Sportsman PDL is arguably the best pedal kayak on the market today for the price. If you don't believe me, check out any reviews.  They are just stellar.  In addition, this kayak comes with a lifetime warranty on the hull and a five year warranty on the pedal drive.  Those are unmatched warranties for a kayak.

I bought the smallest of the Sportsman models.  Measuring 10 ft., 6 inches and weighing 76 lbs. (hull weight without drive) this was about the limit I could handle at 70 years old. It is also  just the right size to fit in the bed of my Toyota Tacoma Truck. I bought a Malone Wide Track Kayak Cart to assist me in moving it when I'm not real close to the water. But, don't think this boat is small.  It is a whopping 36 inches wide and has a boat capacity at 450 lbs.

As for its fishing attributes, it offers hands free paddling, so you can cast, troll, do whatever as both hands are generally free. In addition, the pedal drive which powers the kayak moves in forward and reverse, a big bonus when fishing from a kayak. It also comes with 3 built in rod holders. And the seat looks like it came out of my living room. It's padded and looks very comfortable. It also has floor pads for standing while fishing.  Yes, I plan to stand and cast when in calm water. It also has two hatches for storage as well as rubberized compartments to hold small stuff. Finally, it comes with two built  tracks for mounting accessories such as a fish finder, an additional rod holder and/or camera mounts.

If you think you can go out and buy one of these, think again.  They are being scooped up as soon as they hit the stores, even before! In most cases, you would have to preorder one of these to be assured of getting one, and even at that you might wait months.  They are that much in demand. Some Old Town dealers nearby include Kittery Trading Post in Maine, The Kayak Center in RI, and Black Hall Outfitters in CT to name a few.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Just Nothing to Report

 I have nothing to report on the holdover striper fishing front.  While I have been skiing just about every day, my son Jon as well as friends have been trying for holdover stripers. It's been a lot of time and effort for very few fish. Just not good yet this March compared to recent years. I've always maintained that winter holdover striper fishing is very inconsistent and that is proving true this year.

Last year my fishing for holdovers began in late Feb. and continued right though the spring. I could average a couple of fish an outing, but there were also some blanks in there. I was also catching some white perch along with the holdovers.  But, last year was much warmer than this year. I think we need an extended period of warm weather to perk the fishing up.

With all this cool weather in March, I have to wonder how this will affect the migration. We'll see, but I am still betting on a big influx of fish in mid April along the oceanfront.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

No Stripers, No Problem

 

Yesterday's fish was a beauty and put up quite
a fight.  While holdover striper fishing is slow
right now in RI, the carp are on the feed!

It's been slow going for holdover stripers.  My son, Jon, has put in a good amount of time and effort and is scoring a few, but I have come up empty. I tried last weekend and blanked.  So, in the last couple of days I have set my sights on carp fishing instead, and that has lit up in this warm spring weather.

Yesterday I skied in the morning/afternoon and carp fished in the evening. Only in new England!   I came away with a real good size common carp that was at least in the high teens.  Today I went out and landed 4 more fish from 6 to 10 lbs. Yes, the carp have come to life in this beautiful weather, and just might be a better bet (at least for me) than holdover striper fishing right now.

Carp will go on the feed as soon as ice out arrives.  That is happening in many places right now in RI, CT and MA freshwaters.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Happenings Now and Coming Soon.....

 

Expect jigs to catch most of the early season 
stripers.  This April schoolie, caught last year, hit
a chartreuse tail Cocahoe threaded onto a half
ounce jighead.

We are currently playing out the preseason in saltwater striper fishing here in RI.  There is a limited inconsistent holdover season in play right now in a few select places in the state. My son Jon has been out fishing for stripers a number of times in the last week, and he has gotten a few fish. His highlight has been a big 35 inch holdover that he landed last week. Holdovers tend to be on the small side, generally 20 to 25 inches so this was quite a catch.

We are still a month away from what I call the regular season.  At that time, migrating stripers will head northward.  They should hit the south shore oceanfront about the middle of April, give or take a week depending on the weather.  Last year I landed my first "ocean" striper on April 15.  The year before I got my first ones on April 16.  Could they show earlier, say in late March?  Unlikely.  If I look at the past three decades, there was only one year in which good numbers hit the south shore in late March and that was an unusually warm winter.

When it happens, it should be lots of fish, big time.  I expect we will see increased numbers of slot limit keeper, those fish from 28 to less than 35 inches.  There should also be big time numbers of hefty schoolies in the 24 to 28 inch range.  Those fish were around in huge numbers last year and I see no reason why we won't see a lot of them this spring.

If you want to pack the surf bag early, stock a lot of jig type lures. Lures like bucktail jigs with plastic curly tails, plastic flukes on jigheads and Cocahoes on jigheads will be the hot lures in the early going. Small swimmers and metal will be a distant second in terms of effectiveness.  Leave the poppers home until May.


Monday, February 15, 2021

Only Show in Town


Jon Pickering holds a nice
bass that he caught on a
shiner today.

We are still all iced over in RI, and holdover striper fishing is non-existent in this state (as far as I know). My carp fishing in open water has also taken a dive this winter.  So, the only show in town is ice fishing in freshwater.

I'm reconnecting with ice fishing.  Many years ago when we had ice from late December to early March, I would jig just about every afternoon after work and before supper. The kids and I used to catch a lot of fish back then in many of the local ponds. I'm back to fishing those ponds in between my skiing. And, the action lately has been real good. For instance, I went out this morning for about an hour and a half and went back to my holes for another hour this afternoon. Using a small gold Kastmaster with a meal worm on the hook, I jigged up a combination of bluegills, sunfish,

I jigged up this largemouth
using a Kastmaster tipped 
with a meal worm.

largemouths and crappie.  In all, I must have gotten at least 50 fish as they were actively feeding today.  While I was doing that, my son Jon was fishing with shiners and tilts in another pond.  He caught a combination of yellow perch, pickerel and largemouth bass. 

At this point, the ice is not thick.  There was about 4 solid inches where I fished today, and Jon reported a similar amount where he was. With warm weather and a lot of rain in the next 24 hours, that ice will become very iffy in the coming days.  I sense we might be seeing the beginning of the end of ice fishing in 2021. But, it was fun while it lasted!


Thursday, February 11, 2021

Photo of the Day....Frozen Stuff is Where it's Happening!

 

It ain't a striper, but it's one hell of a nice bass! Great catch!

Monday, February 1, 2021

On the Hard Stuff




 It's on to ice fishing.  For the first time in a couple of years, I fished the ice this morning with my son Jon.  We jigged one of our favorite ponds and came away with quite a mix of fish.  We landed largemouth bass, crappie and bluegills.  They were hitting small Kastmasters tipped with a meal worm on the small treble.  This is a deadly combo for jigging, something we used a lot of in past years.

The ice was thicker than I expected on the small pond that we fished.  It was about 5 inches of hard, clear ice.  My son also fished a larger lake yesterday and that also had about 5 inches of hard ice.

If you are into ice fishing, now is the time to get out and fish.  No telling how long this will last.



Thursday, January 28, 2021

At a Standstill

 

Just about everything fishing related in RI is at a standstill right now.  On the saltwater striper scene, nothing is going on. The holdover fishing has been shut down in every spot I know due to icing.  In freshwater, my carp fishing is also in a dormant stage due to icing.  I can fish running water, but that has not been producing.  I saw a photo today of someone ice fishing in RI and catching stocked trout. So, apparently there is safe ice somewhere.  If it’s not safe now, it’s a good bet you’ll find safer ice this weekend if you are into ice fishing. But, the window here will be short. Expect a snowstorm in the beginning of next week.  I hate the feeling of walking onto snow covered ice since I just don’t know how much ice is under the snow.  Real dangerous.  In addition, expect a warm-up at the end of next week with rain which should mush up the ice. Doesn’t it seem like just about everything these days is screwed up including the weather?

Fortunately, I’ve got my skiing to turn to.  That has been great, and I’ve been sliding down the hills almost every day!

If you’re a fisherman, hang in there, because who knows what will come our way in a week or two. Things can change very fast in February.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Coming Attraction: My Old Town Sportsman PDL 10.6 Kayak

 

My latest fishing machine, an Old Town 
Sportsman PDL (pedal) kayak!

I'll be doing more kayak fishing in the coming year in Narragansett Bay. While I currently own two paddle kayaks that I've had for years, I am making the move to a new pedal kayak. I ordered one yesterday. Pedal kayaks are the latest rage in kayak fishing. You move these more efficiently with your feet like pedaling a bike, freeing up your hands for casting. Most serious kayak fishermen these days are opting for these types of kayaks.  If you want to paddle them, you can easily take out the drive and paddle. Another reason I made this purchase was because I have developed minor arthritis in my shoulder (an old age thing!), and the paddle kayak does rub my shoulder the wrong way so I figured this pedal kayak was the way to go.

The kayak I ordered is an Old Town Sportsman PDL 10.6. This will fit great in the bed of my truck. With a weight of 75 lbs.,  I might purchase a kayak cart to get it to the water in some spots that are a distance from where I park. For info, check out the PDL kayaks and the Old Town website here. This particular model that I purchased gets phenomenal reviews and the Old Town PDLs are some of the highest rated fishing kayaks on the market today, and they also carry the best warranties. Here is some additional info:

*Kayak measures 10 ft., 6 inches long

*Width is 36 inches wide, making this craft extremely stable

*Weight is 75 lbs. without the drive and seat (both removeable)

*Weight capacity is a whopping 450 lbs.

*Pedal drive moves forward and reverse depending on how you move the pedals

*Steering is by rudder with a control on the side of the seat

*Hull and pedal drive come with and industry leading 5 year warranty

*Seat is a rigid high back adjustable mesh seat

*Comes with 2 rod holders in the rear and one on the side

*Fitted with a transducer mount if I want to add a fishfinder

*Tracks along the sides for adding camera mounts, rod holder or fishfinder

*Multiple wells and hatches for additional storage

I plan to do a more extensive hands on review of this kayak in the spring on this blog along with posts about my fishing adventures in my new toy! Stay tuned!


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Tackle Tinkering, Carping and Skiing

No snow in the backyard, but more 
than enough at Wachusett Mountain.
I've been out skiing 5 days a week!

 I'm doing a lot in January, but it does not involve striper fishing.  I tried a couple of times for holdovers in January.  I had to cope with icing, moving ice sheets, freezing water and little action.  So, the holdover striper fishing is currently on hold.

But, a lot of stuff is going on.  Like many other fishermen, for me, winter is a time to get the gear in order.  I've already cleaned all my reels, done some rod guide repair, changed out rusted hooks on plugs, tied a bunch of bucktail jigs and made a bunch of floats. So, right now, I am ready to go!

I am still doing some fishing.... open water carp fishing.  It's been quite good.  On Jan. 2, I had an outing that produced 10 fish from 10 to 19 lbs. Those numbers  would have been a great day for striper fishing. I will continue to do the carping all winter long so long as we don't get a hard freeze. I might do this a couple of times a week.

What I have been doing the most is skiing.  I will do this about 5

Carp fishing has been good in open water
in January.  Here's a fish in the teens 
coming ashore.

days a week. I am very comfortable skiing down a steep hill that I would not dare walk down.  I've been doing it so long, it's like walking. I have a season pass at Wachusett Mountain where I ski midweek.  I teach at Yawgoo Valley on the weekend. It keeps me in shape and I enjoy the thrills of zipping down the hills. It's healthy and safe exercise outside in the winter.

As for my winter fishing shows and seminars, everything is cancelled this winter due to Covid.  Still, I have more than enough to keep me busy!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Daiwa Parts a Reel Problem

 I have written favorably many times about the Daiwa BG series of reels.  They are inexpensive and work great out of the box, but when a problem develops...well, it's a problem.

This fall I was fishing a lot with my Daiwa BG 4000, a reel that was a year and a half old.  One day I went to cast and the line parted and the plug flew off.  Ok, thought it was just a weak spot in the braid. Later, I had a hit, pulled and the line parted again. So, now I knew I had an equipment problem.  I immediately suspected a cracked guide, but when I checked with a magnifying glass at home, no cracked guide.  Next, suspect....the reel, more specifically, the line roller.  Upon inspection I found out the roller was frozen in place and the braid had grooved a sharp edge into it which was cutting my line.  So, I figured I would simply order a new roller.

I found out the part # J08-9902 was the same roller used on the BG2000, BG2500, BG3000, BG3500 and BG4000.  So, this was a very common part.  I also found out through the Internet that this grooving of the line roller caused by corrosion was a common complaint of the BG4000 because the roller rested on the bail with no sleeve or bearings under or around it. Corrosion can develop very easily under the roller without you knowing it. 

I called or went online with every Daiwa parts dealer in the US.  Not one of them had this part....all backordered.  I then called the Daiwa headquarters in CA. They did not have the part either.  The rep told me the part was backordered till at least mid March. I did order the part but who knows when it will come in. 

I began this whole process of trying to find a line roller in November.  It continues.  Meanwhile, the reel remains useless until I can get a 5 dollar line roller. As I have stated in the opening lines.  These Daiwa reels are great until you have a problem.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Grading the 2020 Season

Huge schools of schoolies were busting
all over the place off this beach.  This went 
on for three solid months this fall
along the RI oceanfront!

 Every year I do my own fishing evaluation of the past year. I usually evaluate the fishing for stripers, blues and albies. Here is the review for 2020:

Stripers (Schoolies)-  From the first ones that I got along the oceanfront until the last ones in early December, it was simply loaded.  I got my first migrating fish along the oceanfront on April 15, right on schedule.  Late April and early May brought a bunch of hefty schoolies in the 20 to 27 inch range. The oceanfront was particularly hot as the float and bucktail jig was consistently luring big numbers of them.  This was the first spring in which I saw schools of fish on the surface attacking small bait.  There were birds hitting the water and loads of fish breaking on a daily basis in spots. I left RI in early summer as the fishing slowed and fished the Canal a lot.  Same deal there- loads of hefty schoolies with some keepers in the mix. August brought big schools of peanut bunker to the oceanfront and that lit up the striper fishing once again in RI.  From August right through November, it was massive amounts of bait and schoolies.  Some days it was smaller schoolies in the 12 to 20 inch range.  On other days it was 20 to 27 inch fish. The fall brought more schoolies to our shores than I have seen in any other year in over 60 years of fishing....simply astounding numbers. Grade for schoolies- A+ 

Stripers (Slot Limit Keepers)- I thought we would see tons of these this year.  We did not. There were

My best bet for a slot limit keeper this year was
the Canal.  I fished there a lot in the summer.
Big fish over 40 in. were a disappointment there
this year.

some around, but when the percentage is one slot limit keeper in every 150 fish landed, the odds were not that good. I got my first slot limit keeper along the oceanfront on April 23, once again, right on schedule. They were a pick along the RI oceanfront in the spring.  My son, Jon was scoring more slot limit keepers from the kayak while fishing in the Bay in the spring. My percentage of slot limit keepers proved better in the Canal last summer where there were better numbers of 28 to 32 inch stripers mixed in with the more abundant schoolies. The fall RI fishing proved much of the same....lots of schoolies, far fewer slot limit fish. Even fishing at night was not what it was in the past for larger fish. Grade for slot limit keepers- C

Stripers (Bigger Fish over Slot Limit)- Let's talk 40 inch fish.  They were rare from shore. I got exactly one 40 inch fish from the boat.  My son Jon got several from the kayak when fishing near schools of menhaden in the Bay. He also got several on one "lucky" morning at the canal in early summer. I know that sharpie boaters get a lot of these bigger fish way out off Block Island, but near shore it was a bust. I saw tens of thousands of stripers landed from shore this year and I only saw one fish that was in the 38 to 40 inch range landed from shore. Not good. Grade for big stripers- F

Bluefish- Back in 2019, we had a banner year for blues in the Bay and I was convinced we would see

Bluefish were a disappointment overall. 
However, Jon and I had some hot fishing for
them for a short period of time in June from
the kayak.

that upswing continue this year.  I was wrong. They never came around in big numbers for any length of time. Jon and I hit one outstanding week of them in June where we landed big numbers of 4 to 7 lb. blues from the kayak along with a few in the teens.  But, that was it in the early going.  Along the oceanfront, I landed exactly 20 of them from September to late November. It was really poor numbers despite the fact that the acres and acres of bait that was around at times. Grade for bluefish- C-

Hardtails, Albies and Bonito- I got my first albie along the oceanfront on September 5.  This was sooner than expected and the initial numbers were good. However, the run did not last and the rest of the fall delivered a few fish here and there. It was somewhat disappointing compared to a few years ago when we saw big numbers of them. Rather that sitting on a rock all day waiting for a fish or two to show, I quickly turned my attention to chasing stripers which was the better bet. I ended up landing about a half dozen of them and never really found any big numbers from shore. I always say with albies three scenarios can happen: there can be a lot of them, some or none.  This year was mediocre with some. Grade for albies and bonito- C