Thursday, October 1, 2015

One Fisherman's Disappointment is Another's Good Fortune

This beauty was landed in the last few days. Carp just
love nasty weather at this time of year.
Plain and simple.  The weather is going to suck in the next week to ten days if you are a surf fisherman. Believe me when I say NOTHING will be going on in that time period.  I had one friend at the Canal today reporting disappointment over the big waves, sand and weeds in the canal, making fishing impossible.  My son Jon called to tell me the water was going over the rocks at Pier 5 in Narragansett and even the Harbor of Refuge was all crapped up.  Still, another friend called to tell me that the south shore was all sandy and weeded up due to the big surf.  Hate to say this, but it will only get worse in the coming days.  This reminds me a lot of Hurricane Sandy. The build up to the storm really screwed up the water, the storm itself wreaked havoc and then it took a week to clear up. We are facing the same scenario with this double whammy of a lingering northeaster and the effects of a hurricane offshore.
Now, while all my friends and son were bemoaning the loss of fishing along the oceanfront I was sitting at a local pond tending my carp rods.  I've got to tell you, carp just LOVE this nasty weather. I fished for them during Hurricane Sandy itself and had a banner day. I fished yesterday in the pouring rain and gusty winds and carp were jumping all over the place as if they were celebrating the storm. And, they were hitting.  In a few hours I  had 11 fish up to 21 lbs.  That would even be a great striper outing.  In my old age I have learned not to sweat it when the oceanfront shuts down because there are plenty of other fishing opportunities in lousy weather.Sure, I want to be striper fishing in October, but for the next week I will be taking advantage of the good fortune the nasty weather brings, and I'll be targeting freshwater carp.
For anyone out there looking for info on how to catch freshwater carp, check out my carp fishing blog.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Not Good

The last time the fishing was good was a week ago, During this week we have had persistent NE winds and a heavy surf.  Most east facing shorelines were completely shut down due to high waves, sand, weed and roiled water. Enter round two today with another round of stormy weather on the way.  Only thing, this is even worse. NOAA is forecasting a week of very heavy surf and high winds.  The predictions are generally for 7-12 foot waves for the next 5 days with gale warnings at times.  Not good.  Add to that the fact that we may see hurricane waves later in the weekend as the effects of Hurricane Joaquin come northward.  Not good.
Even once this weather passes, I am guessing it will take days for the water to clear up. I suspect there will be limited or no surf fishing along the whole oceanfront until mid next week at the earliest.
I don't know if this is by coincidence or planned, but my latest article in the Fisherman magazine (which I got today) is called "Rough Water Strategies for Fall Stripers". It basically outlines how to deal with rough water but emphasizes there is a fine line between rough water which can be productive and water that is too rough and dangerous to fish. In the next few days it will be too rough unless you want to fish the protected backwaters, inside the breachways, the coastal ponds or the Bay.
What we find when this mess clears up will be very different than what we had in mid Sept. I suspect the albies will be gone.  Yup, short and sweet this year, but kiss em good-bye.  We'll have to chase the bait on their migration southward (Bay is loaded right now), and hopefully we'll still have a good month left of stripers and bluefish, if we have no more severe weather.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Long Cast Outfit Getting It Done

For the last month I have been using a "long cast"outfit that I set up to specifically cast to false albacore that are way out.  The outfit has really delivered a number of albies as well as stripers and big blues that I would not have been able to reach with any other outfit.
Here are the details of what I am using:
Reel- Shimano Ultegra 5500 XSC- This is one of those reels that has an elongated spool for long distance casting.  It will far outcast traditional narrow spooled reels.  It looks like a big reel but weighs in at just 17.5 oz.  It is one of the smoothest reels I have ever used.  The line lays perfectly in tight, close loops on the reel due the slow oscillation of the reel, and I have not thrown a loop yet. The drag is simply superb. While I wonder how it would hold up to a heavy surf and constant splash, I can tell you it is ideally suited for the beach, jetties and dry, rocky areas, places I fish a lot.  It sells in most places for $189. Well worth the money.
Rod- St. Croix Mojo 10 1/2 footer  (moderate action)- Most fishermen know I am a big fan of St. Croix  Mojos and this one is a home run in my book.  It is 10 1/2 feet long but weighs just 12.8 oz. Check it out at St. Croix rods.  It has the backbone to heave out plugs and lures in the 2+ ounce range yet has a light enough tip to cast lures in the 1/2 to 1 oz. range.  It is ideally suited for long distance plugging. It balances perfectly with the Shimano 5500 described above. Highly recommended.
Line- Power Pro 30 lb. test braided line.  I loaded the reel above with about 50 yards of backing and then loaded it up with a 300 yd. spool of Power Pro. The line lays perfectly on the reel (check out photo) and you can actually load the reel right up to the lip of the spool.
In the last two weeks I have landed at least 15 albies, at least 15 keeper bass and 7 big blues along with some smaller fish with this outfit.  It has really delivered in areas where a long cast is needed to reach feeding fish, and its operation has been flawless.

The outfit has allowed me to cast way out to breaking albies, stripers, and blues
and has really delivered in the last month.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Persistent NE Wind, Big Surf, Roiled Water Slow Fishing

Fishing along the oceanfront, so good most of the month, has really slowed this week.  The oceanfront has seen a persistent NE wind that has been blowing for the last five days.  A big surf has also developed.  This is all a result of a low pressure of storminess in the mid Atlantic and a high pressure area to the north.  Nothing is moving so the winds and waves continue to mess up the water. Many areas are not even fishable. The water is sandy, weedy and roiled in most  places.  That has sent a lot of the bait and predators packing.  The albies, so abundant a week ago, are hard to find right now. There is little fishing activity from shore or boat. Still, there are fish to be had in some of the protected waters, the breachways on the outgoing tides (clean water), and the backwaters.
I got out yesterday early to mainly scout around.  I tried slugging it out in the rough water and had no luck. I searched the ocean way out with my binoculars in multiple locations and could find no breaking fish or diving birds.  All was dead in the daylight. I did fish a protected spot after dark and came away with one keeper striper about 30 inches long.  My son, Jon, who was with me landed a schoolie.
So, the weekend outlook is not good.  The forecast is calling for more of the same with an increasing surf with a moderate risk of beach erosion. Yikes, not good.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Gators on the Prowl

Jon Pickering holds a gator bluefish that
was caught last night.  It was one of ten
big blues that we caught along with multiple
keeper bass.
The Daiwa SP Minnow
accounted for most of
last night's fish.
Our fabulous September fishing just keeps rolling on delivering one surprise after another.  In the last two weeks I have seen acres of small blues, big schools of albies and more keeper bass than I expected.  But, the latest twist this week was the big number of alligator bluefish.  I'm talking blues in the 12-15 lb. range. They are around in a wide area of the oceanfront.  I have not seen blues like this in years, maybe decades!
I fished last night with my son, Jon.  We landed ten of these monster bluefish along with numerous keeper bass and some schoolies.  It was one of the best nights of fishing I have experienced this year.  We got all our fish on Daiwa SP minnows.  I was using a pearl colored one while he was using a mackerel model.
All of this fishing activity is being fueled by massive amounts of bait.  This week I have seen big schools of peanut bunker, adult menhaden and bay anchovies.  All of that bait has set up some of the best September fishing for multiple species that I have ever seen along the RI shoreline.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Keepers Around in Good Numbers

In the last two outings from shore I have landed 11 stripers.  Of those 11 fish, TEN have been keepers.  Yes, keeper bass, especially those fish in the 28 to 38 inch range have been around in good numbers this month.  They are keying on peanut bunker that is around in astounding numbers all along the RI oceanfront.
Yesterday I went down to target false albacore.  They were around in the morning in good numbers and I got a couple, but as the day went on, a big northeast wind developed and put an end to the bite.  I  later found acres of peanut bunker in one location and they were being blasted by large stripers just before dark.  While stripers are fussy when feeding on this stuff, they can be caught with a little persistence on the angler's part.  It is also easier to get them after dark.
So, I worked this area at and after dark and came away with a couple of fish that were just shy of 40 inches (see photos left and right).  Both fish fell for a pearl colored Daiwa SP minnow. The stripers are after this small bunker but there are also adult menhaden here and there along the shoreline.  They, too, are attracting some big fish.
It is interesting to note that I have seen very few fishermen targeting stripers from shore.  Everyone seems to be crazed about the albies and the stripers are getting little attention these days.

Friday, September 18, 2015

A Fantastic Outing from Shore

I hit it big today from shore.  I landed 7 albies and 8 keeper bass (see photos at right and left) as I walked into pandemonium this morning. For hours fish were all over the spot I fished.  Stripers were breaking in close, blues a little further out and albies busting way out.  They were all feeding on massive schools of bay anchovies as well as peanut bunker. At times, there were acres of fish in a feeding frenzy.   Even when the blitz subsided, albies were still roaming around and hitting when nothing was showing.  It was that good.
I got some albies on a Kastmaster XL and some on the float and Deceiver fly.  I saw other guys catching them on swimmers and Jumpin Minnows.  They were aggressive and were hitting just about anything that moves, very unusual for this finicky fish.  The stripers were fussy.  At times there were hundreds in front of me, all keepers in the 28-34 inch range, but they were difficult to fool.  The most successful plug for me was a homemade 4-inch popper.
Hard to believe, but with all these fish around, I saw very few fishermen in a very public spot.  I don't know where everyone is these days as there have been very few shore fishermen out trying. This week has been about as good as it gets in September. It's really happening right now.