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