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At least a dozen dead filleted schoolies lie on the shore of the Charlestown Breachway boat ramp. Abuses are on the increase.
Fish abuses are in the increase here in RI. I saw one of the most disgusting abuses a couple of days ago. A friend of mine sent me a photo of at least a dozen schoolies that were filleted at the boat ramp at the Charlestown Breachway. These were all small fish in the 15 to 20 inch range. He called DEM enforcement and they said they were aware of the situation since others had called or e-mailed. Many of us try to be conservation minded, but it takes one jerk (or maybe more than one) to stick the middle finger right in the face of most conservation minded anglers by doing such an unthinkable act. I hope they catch the SOB. Make no mistake, abuses are on the increase here in RI and elsewhere in southern New England. I also found a filleted schoolie this week on shore in the upper Bay, an area where lots of abuses occur. Last year I saw anglers taking buckets of small, snapper blues along the East Providence Bike Path. I also saw fishermen at Hazard and Newton Ave. in Narragansett taking undersized tautog. In both cases I contacted DEM. I could write an entire page of abuses I saw last year at the Cape Cod Canal. My suggestion is to not confront these abusers. A few years back I was fishing the Hurricane Barrier in Providence. A fisherman there caught a small bass and kept it. Another fisherman confronted the law breaker about this, and the discussion quickly deteriorated into a fist fight. It ended when the abuser grabbed a knife and went after the good Samaritan. Yes, people are nuts these days, many have little respect for the law and many are violent. It's a reflection of the society we live in. The DEM Enforcement here in RI makes every effort to investigate any abuse reported. Every time I have called they have taken down the info about what's going on and tried to get someone there as soon as possible. Unfortunately, they are understaffed and often arrive late when these things happen. If you see any abuse, I suggest you call the DEM at 401-222-3070. I think it is about time we toughen up the fishing laws. If you keep undersized fish, the penalty should be at least $1000. a fish along with confiscation of your equipment. If you can't pay the fine. it's a trip to the ACI. In addition, the state needs to hire more game wardens. And, we as law abiding fishermen need to be more vigilant and report any abuses.
Yes, those yellow eyed piranhas of the sea are here. Whether you like them or not, you can't deny they have spunk!
It took just one eighty degree day and the bluefish are here. I got my first ones of the season last evening. Like everything else, they are late this year. In most years, I get my first one in the first or second week of May. This year it was May 20th. My son Jon and I were out in the Bay last night and we found a mix of active stripers and blues. Together we landed 11 stripers and 7 bluefish. The big surprise of the night was when I hooked what I thought was a decent striper. Once near the shore I saw I had TWO bluefish hooked on the same plug! One blue had the rear hook of my Sebille Magic Swimmer and the other blue had the front hook. I wish I had a picture of this, but the weather was so bad I left the camera gear in the car. In all, I saw about 20 blues landed by a half dozen fishermen. These blues were on the small side running 3 to 5 lbs., but they were very aggressive and spunky. If you like catching blues, they are here. Just in time for Memorial Day weekend!
Here's a hefty schoolie I got a few nights ago. Fishing this spring has been mediocre at best and way off compared to recent years.
It's not bad, but it's not great either. Mediocre is the best way I could describe the striper fishing thus far this spring. The problem here is that we have been used to GREAT fishing in recent years, and this year lags way, way behind recent springs. I was out the last two evenings in a very good spot in the Bay. I had the right wind, the right tide and the right surf conditions. I worked a lot of shore and came away with exactly 6 schoolies. In past years I would have landed 20 to 25 fish an outing in this spot in these conditions. It has been like this in other places that I am fishing too. Just mediocre. My numbers at this point are about half of what I have landed in the last few years at this point. The few fish I have been catching in the Bay have been decent schoolies in the 20-25 inch range, bigger than the micros that seem to be in numbers along the oceanfront. Keepers remain rare. The last one I saw was the one I caught about a week and a half ago. So, what's the problem? Some say the cold and rainy weather is the culprit. Others blame a lack of bait. Still others point out what the fisheries managers have been saying recently. They say numbers of stripers, especially larger ones are in a major downward cycle.They claim the whole fishery is in trouble. For now, the fishing is simply mediocre. Still worthwhile in my book, but not what nowhere near what we have been used to in the spring.
First keeper of the year falls for a Sebille Magic swimmer.
Overall, this has been a disappointing spring. There have been good numbers of micro bass (10-14 inches) around, but larger fish have been scarce. I have been out a lot and I have seen thousands of fish landed, but up until tonight I had seen exactly ONE "sure" keeper landed. Well, tonight I saw my second one, and I got it. In the last couple of days, I had decided to move from the oceanfront, which has had mostly small fish, to the Bay. I was rewarded for the move. Tonight I was having a good night fishing the Bay with good numbers of 20 to 25 inch fish. Suddenly, I had an explosion on my Sebille Magic Swimmer, and I knew what I had. This fish thrashed around and peeled some serious line. I knew it was my first keeper of the year if I could land it. I estimate this fish went 15 to 20 lbs., a real good fish for this time of year from shore. It's not surprising that this fish was landed in the Bay. Most years I get my first keeper in the Bay. I guessing the many herring runs and early schools of pogies attract good numbers of early season keepers to the bay waters.
The Jumpin Minnow has been my most effective plug this week in the Bay.
You just know the fish are getting more active when they will come up and hit a surface offering. With the oceanfront fishing cooling off this week, I spent several evenings fishing from shore in the Bay. I landed a number of fish, and all were taken on the surface with a Rebel Jumpin Minnow. I've mentioned many times about the effectiveness of this lure.....far more effective than the traditional popper because of its erratic action. Pump that rod with a lots of short pulls to dance this lure on the surface, and expect some memorable hits if there are any stripers around. There is nothing more exciting in striper fishing than seeing a bass come up and smash a surface offering. If you do decide to use this plug or any other plug with multiple trebles, consider crushing the barbs on the hooks for an easier catch and release.
These are your three best choices in jigs to use this spring.
Just about all the stripers I have caught thus far have been taken on some sort of jig. From my observation, just about everyone catching can say the same thing. But, that word "jig" can take on many meanings and looks. Which are best? For me, it depends where I am fishing and what the conditions are. Here are the three jigs that I generally use in spring and fall: 1. Cocahoe Minnow mounted on a jighead- This is your best lure to use overall along the oceanfront in the spring. I like an all white or glow "Queen" Cocahoe mounted on a half or 3/4 ounce jighead. I notice that many fishermen are doing real well this spring using a white/green tail model. This lure works well under calm to moderate surf conditions. It doesn't cast well with a stiff wind in your face. 2. Bucktail jig with curly tail- My favorite here is a once ounce, bullet shape, homemade bucktail jig with a 4 inch Tripple Ripple, Bass Pro, white plastic tail added. I use this jig along the oceanfront in rough water with a stiff wind in my face. In the last week, I have scored real well with this lure in tough conditions. It scores real well in both spring and fall. 3. Zoom Fluke with jighead- This is the lure to use in Narragansett Bay. For some reason, it is far less effective along the RI oceanfront. I like to use this 3 inch albino (favorite color) fluke with a half ounce jighead. This also works well off a wooden egg float when the wind is in my face and the water is rough.
I know the fish are spreading out when I catch my first ones in the Bay. I did just that tonight getting a couple of hefty schoolies on a Zoom fluke mounted on a 3/8 oz. jighead. I knew they had been in the Bay for the last few days but with fishing on the upswing along the oceanfront, I chose to stay there. Look for the Bay to really perk up in the coming week.
First one from the Bay this spring fell for an albino Zoom fluke.
This schoolie hit a one ounce bucktail jig spiced with a 4 inch curly tail.
The Yo-Zuri Hydro Minnow was my best producer today. It also seemed to lure larger fish.
The fishing really took a turn for the better today in some rough and stormy conditions along the RI oceanfront. I had my best day yet with 22 fish onto the shore. Most were bigger than what I have seen in recent days with the average fish running 20 to 25 inches. I also saw some keepers landed this week. A couple of days ago, my friend Dick Geldard, fishing right next to me, landed a beautiful fish that had to go at least 15 lbs. (roughly 32-33 inches). I have seen a few other smaller keepers (28 inch range) taken this week. I had several fish this week that were just shy of keeper size, so the average size fish seems to be getting bigger. The fish are also getting more active. Today was the first day I have been able to catch stripers on something other than a Cocahoe Minnow on a jighead. Yes, I got a few on that. I also got a few on a bucktail jig with a curly tail attached to it. But, I had my best luck today using swimmers. I landed good numbers of fish on both a Sebile Magic Swimmer and a Yo-Zuri Hydro Minnow. Both of those lures in a white color were getting it done and seemed to be attracting larger fish. If you want to use a swimmer, consider crushing the barbs of the treble hooks for easier catch and release. With the fish being so active, I'll bet I could have even gotten one to hit a popper, but I did not have one in my bag.
I've been catching spring run stripers for over a week now, and I can sum up the fishing in three words. SHOULD BE BETTER. In the last few years, that initial push of fish has been phenomenal. Not this year. In the last eight days, either I have been out fishing or my son, Jon, has been out fishing the RI south shore. In total, the both of us combined have landed 55 schoolies. Heck, in the last few years, I could get that alone on a good night. My best outing has been 18 schoolies, but it took me almost all day to get them. Last night I was fishing in a real good early season spot. I had beautiful water in front of me....a perfect "10". The water was rough but clean and the water was moving with a rising tide. It was ideal for late April. I plugged that spot for three hours and came away with just three schoolies. Not good. I've also been disappointed by the size of the fish. A lot of what I am seeing are small schoolies in the 12 to 16 inch range. Because we had a lot of 20 to 24 inch fish last year, I figured this year's bunch would be real good size schoolies over 24 inches. Those fish have been scarce. I realize we are still real early in the season, and for sure, more fish are on the way. The first week of May has always been a real hot time to fish. Realize, too, the ocean has been unusually rough and stormy. Lots of big water, lots of rain and lots of wind. In short, it's been too much of a good thing. So, maybe when things calm down a bit, the fishing will perk up, especially for the larger fish. On one bright note, I did hear of several schoolies caught already in the upper and mid Bay. So, they are spreading out. I'm guessing the Bay should light up with big numbers of fish in about a week.