Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Late Starts Common in the Past and Seals a Problem in the Present

There are many out there wondering when the stripers will arrive.  Many think the migration should have been here by now.  Not necessarily so.  We've gotten spoiled in recent years, years with warm winters. Following those warm winter years the action started in late March and early April.  However, if you go back ten, twenty and even thirty years, you realize that years ago the action generally started around the third week in April.  Back when I was a kid, my father would often start fishing saltwater for stripers around April 20.  In his mind that was the starting date, and he was usually right on target.
So, have some patience.  They are coming.  With water temperatures along the south shore oceanfront hovering in the low to mid forties, that's a problem.  And, with the temperatures taking a dive in the next few days it will do nothing to help the fishing situation. So, some guys will just have to sit and wait it out or hit freshwater.
On more discouraging note here.  While I was fishing yesterday I saw at least five different seals cruising around in front of me.  At any one moment I could pick one out. I've never seen this many in one spot in the springtime along the oceanfront.  Seals have been on the increase big time here in RI.  I have to wonder how much of a negative effect they will have on our fishing once it gets started.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dead as a Door Nail

I had everything right today.  It was a warm day following several warm days, we had a southwest wind, the surf was good,  high tide was at dark and bad weather was coming.  It should have been a very good day of striper fishing.  It was not.  Contrary to hyped up fishing reports swirling around, I can can you the fish are just not along the oceanfront yet.
I also talked to two of the best fishermen I know from Gansett who were also trying.  These guys have been slugging it out for the past week or two, and they have caught nothing and seen nothing.  In addition, my son, Ben, has been trying and he reports nothing.
With storminess and rain on the way tomorrow and cold, northeast winds to follow later on in the week, you can write off the next several days. Looks like it will be a very late start.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

First Schoolies....WHEN, WHERE and HOW

I'm confident we will have a lot of stripers around sometime in the next two weeks.  Those first arrivals will be schoolies and they should be around in big numbers since they are abundant.  Here's the scoop on what's to come:
Jigs and teasers will often account
for double headers.  The action should begin
within the next two weeks.
When-  I know from keeping logs over the last forty years that it can happen anytime from the first of April (Ya, I know there have been some years where it happens in late March) until about the third week in April.  During warm years, it happens early; in cold years it happens later.  You know what kind of winter we had and we are getting that cold right into April.  Expect a late start.  If I were betting I would say around April 16, give or take a couple of days.
Where- The simple minded will tell you that all the fish hug the shore, almost like a parade proceeding down a street.  I can tell you from experience that is absolutely false.  Yes, some migrating schools hug the shore while other schools of fish come inshore from way out. It's really random.  Sometimes the first ones are found along the oceanfront, but sometimes there are hordes of them way up in the warmer Bay days before a fish is caught along the oceanfront.  Focus on low water spots that heat up quickly on warm and sunny days.  The ponds along the south shore, the jetties along the oceanfront, the rivers on the east side of the Bay and the shallows of the upper Bay are all good places to find the first ones.
How- No need to stuff a surf bag with a lot of plugs at this time of year.  For the first couple weeks, it will be jigs that will take the majority of fish.  There are three hot jigs to stock in your bag.  The plastic, fan tailed Cocahoe (available at Quaker Lane Bait and Tackle) in a pearl or glow color mounted on a half ounce jighead is hot along the oceanfront. The forked tailed Zoom fluke in an albino color mounted on a small jighead is real hot in the Bay.  Small bucktail jigs (under 1/2 oz.) spiced with curly tails are good second choices in both locations.  If you want to get real fancy, set up a teaser rig with one of two shrimp fly teasers mounted ahead of your jig.  Schoolies love to hit teasers at this time of year.  All of this is fished on light tackle, maybe a seven or eight foot rod with a small spinning reel.  Leave that ten foot rod at home. Expect all the fish to be schoolies under 24 inches.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Thank You

I want to thank the fishing community and readers of this blog for all their support in recent days. Your words of kindness, offers of help, and donations have really eased the pain of an awful event.  We are grateful as well as overwhelmed by the support of friends, relatives and even strangers that we don't even know. 
Things are slowly returning to normal for Chris and Kaleigh.  We all went on a shopping spree for clothes this weekend, they are moving into temporary housing today and they are back at work and school this week.  While the mental anguish and trauma of this horrific event lingers, some sense of normalcy is returning. 
Thank you.

Friday, March 28, 2014


Chris was a lucky fisherman.
He was also lucky in life two
days ago.
Luck plays a big role in fishing; it can also play a big role in life. We got a big taste of luck in the last couple of days as it waved its wand on my second son, Chris.
Chris fished the least in the family because of his heavy commitment to sports in high school and college.  However, when he did fish he was lucky.  He liked to fish and he often would catch a lot of fish or a big one when he did get out with me or his brothers.  Yes, he was lucky fisherman.
Chris is now working and living in Boston with his girlfriend Kaleigh.  Two days ago, he encountered what could be the luckiest (or quite possibly the unluckiest) day of his life depending on how you look at it.  He was sitting in his living room when he heard fire trucks outside his apartment building.  As he looked out his third floor window at the commotion, he realized firemen were frantically entering his building.  Suddenly, he heard shouts in the hallway to "Get Out".  "Fire!".  He and Kaleigh ran to the door, opened it, and immediately were staring at thick, black smoke.  They smartly shut the door and ran for the window where there was a fire escape.  Smoke was also coming up the side of the building.  They climbed through the window and slowly made their way through the smoke to safety.  Chris says they were the last out of the burning building.
Chris' apartment was located
on the third floor of this burning
building in Back Bay in Boston.
He and his girlfriend narrowly escaped.
In the last few days the news has been filled with accounts of this tragic fire in Back Bay in Boston where two fire fighters lost their lives. I can't help thinking about those firemen who lost their lives and  I think how this could have turned out far differently for us.  Chris and Kaleigh are lucky to still be alive.
They literally escaped with the clothes on their back. However, they lost everything.....clothes, keepsakes, memory items, furniture, books, photos, appliances, etc.
Friends have set up a fund for them to help rebuild their lives.  The fund is located here:
They are currently in a hotel in Boston courtesy of the Red Cross.  They are determined to rebuild their lives.  Support from friends, family, co-workers and even strangers has been overwhelming.  Yes, we are all grateful and thankful they are still alive.  Luck was shining on them that awful day.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Just Nothing to Report

We are in a dead time of the year right now.
We are looking at close to a month before we get the springtime migrating stripers.  I'm almost sure this will be a late year due to the cold water and weather.  The wintering over fish seem to be semi dormant with the snow melt and ice melt causing very cold water temperatures.  The few fish being taken in the upper Bay have mostly been snagged.  I have only gotten one small fish in my last four outings and that was snagged.  It has been a poor winter of fishing with numbers way down and sizes very small compared to other years.
So, I'll continue to get out and try for those wintering over fish, but I know it's more or less a waiting game until the springtime action begins.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Snagging Dilemma

Tonight's lone fish was snagged in the tail.
Snagging does happen at this time of year.
Expect to also catch some fish in the mouth.
It's a late winter phenomenon that you rarely read about anywhere.  SNAGGING.  It happens and it happens with more regularity than most would admit. Most fishermen are not trying to snag fish, but it can't be avoided.
In early March, water temperatures have bottomed out.  Because of the cold water, these fish are sluggish and almost in a semi-dormant condition.  Most are not hitting.  These sluggish fish are also moving in tight, balled up schools, another late winter phenomenon.
As you move your jig along the bottom it bumps into these sluggish fish, and it feels like a hit.  You pull back.  The result is often a snagged fish.   However, in between those snagged fish, you do seem to get some fish to take your offering in the mouth.  Some active fish are still hitting. I don't like snagging fish, but I'm often faced with a dilemma of continuing to fish or calling it quits. I usually continue fishing because I also know that  winter late winter fishing often comes down to accidentally snagging some fish to get to those that want to hit.  It is just part of the winter fishing game.