Thursday, June 22, 2017

Article in this week's The Fisherman Magazine

Check out this week's issue of The Fisherman Magazine. I wrote this week's Surf Column
titled "Old Favorites still Catch". As you can imagine, it is an article about lures that used to be hot but are now relegated to the bottom of the surf bag or the basement. It is my first published article this year.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Amazing day at the Connecticut River

My first channel cat. He may not be big, but look at that face. 
All week I hinted to my friend Dave that I really wanted to fish the Connecticut River on Friday if the conditions were right. Dave called me Thursday night while I was surf fishing to see if I still wanted to go. I left him a text to say "hell ya"

We had one of the best days ever. Dave had "the spot" where one rod was just on fire. He caught 12 carp and 2 channel catfish today. I think 9 of them were on one rod. He ended up catching a thirty pound carp and a 32 pound carp. He also had three others over twenty pounds.

My numbers do not compare. I caught a few fish. However, I did catch two over twenty pounds. One of them was a twenty five pounder. The strange thing about it was that it was a Mirror Carp, which is pretty rare for the Connecticut River where Commons prevail.

My other highlight of the day was my first ever Channel Catfish. It wasn't a big one, my guess is that it was just under three pounds. None the less it was a new species, and one I really have wanted to catch for a long time. In Connecticut you can use three rods. I used two of them for carp and one for catfish. The last time I went I used hot dogs and livers and never got a bite. So today, I went au' natural and fished fish. I used a chunk of my bluefish fillet (caught nothing). My other bait was a two inch piece of last night's dead eel. That is what I caught the catfish on.

The carp were caught on a hair rig baited with one piece of plastic corn ( I  used white and pink today) and two pieces of maize. I used a method ball wrapped around the sinker also.

I will post pictures of the twenty and twenty five pounder when I get them. We took the pictures of them on Dave's camera.
Dave's thirty two pounder

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Blackstone Gorge

Believe it or not I have done something other than fish. On Sunday Laurie and I went to the Blackstone Gorge. We did this hike two years ago in June and it was time to go back. The gorge is an area where the Blackstone River cut through hundred foot cliffs. There are walking trails along the side. I don't say this often about short hikes in my neck of the woods, but this little trail is awesome. Whether you are reading this because you are a regular follower of the blog or followed the link from Facebook, this really is a cool little hike.

If you are looking for directions to GPS, it is at the end of County Street, Blackstone, MA off of Route 122

 The dam is at the bottom of the parking lot. The gorge is to the left

 A down river view of the dam

 I don't know what these rocks were called, but they were painted and some had quotes. If one "spoke to you" your free to take it. If you wanted to add to them you could. It gave the place a peaceful vibe.

 Iris down river from the dam. Rapids in the background

 My favorite part of this hike is the Mountain Laurel. It is bloom right now and there is tons of it. As I wrote two years ago, it feels like walking through a mini Eden.

 Strong rapids. Two years ago the river wasn't running nearly as high. It looked more like a trout stream with big pools than a raging river.

 Looking down from a cliff into the river

 Close up of the Mountain Laurel. 

 Laurie after we tackled one of the cliffs

Eden like flower lined path

Monday, June 12, 2017

Sometimes the Guide gets the Big one

Honestly, I would have traded this fish and gone fishless if I could
if it meant Ronnie caught it. But what are you gonna do?
He still did quite well landing a couple of 8-10 pounders
Tonight I took my friend Ronnie in the canoe in search of the big blues I caught Friday. I used to work with Ronnie's mother until they moved to the Carolinas a couple years ago. I took Ronnie fishing a few times when he was younger. The kid (now 16) is a rarity these days. He is an outdoorsman. He fishes and hunts (a lot) having gotten himself multiple deer, ducks and wild pigs.

Ronnie is up on vacation and contacted me to ask if I wanted to go fishing while he was up. I was glad to plan a trip. I had to work today (and tonight) so we fished after I got out of work this afternoon. I put the canoe on the car and met him at 3:45. I really wanted to put Ronnie on those big bluefish if I could.

If the bay was rough we were going to try a pond for largemouth. If it was calm, we were after the blues. When I pulled up to the put in, it was very calm. The shoreline protected it from the southwest wind. We put in, and paddled to the cove I caught them Friday. We didn't get a hit. I was afraid that might happen. This hot spell warmed the water ten degrees in two days.  Luckily we found them in slightly deeper water.

The blues were extremely fussy tonight. We both had roughly 20 hits each. They would swipe the lure or swirl behind it. We only landed two fish each. I got one that my scale said was 19 pounds. However, I am positive there is no way the fish was that big. I might believe 15, but not 19. It was still a very nice fish.

Since I used my new Bass Pro version of a Boga Grip, I landed all four of our fish. Unfortunately, because of this, I did not get a picture of Ronnie with his very respectable ten pounders. I really wish I did.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

On a big fish role

Sorry, crappy phone pic of a fish on the ground.
Not my best work
Starting on Wednesday with the twenty pound striper, I am on a big fish role. Thursday I was treated to excellent sea bass fishing on my friend Eric's boat. As you can see from the post below, Friday I got into some tarpon like bluefish.

Well, I certainly did not expect the fishing to last since I started my work week  today. I went to one of my usual haunts and caught half a dozen small (really small) stripers. On my way  home I went to a spot rumored to have big stripers. I'm guessing the rumors were true because I saw about forty guys fishing a 100 foot stretch (no exaggeration on the number of guys, and the area was only one hundred feet). It looked like Opening Day crowds at your favorite trout lake. There was no way I was going to attempt to squeeze in.

I decided to walk a quarter mile away and try  fishing for a few minutes. I put on a Daiwa SP Minnow.I only fished 45 minutes landing two fish. One was a 20 inch schoolie and a keeper of about 15 pounds.

Although 15 pounds is not a giant, these days it is a good fish. Considering an hour earlier, I was finding fish that could not make 15 inches. Sadly for me, I have no chance of seeing if I can catch any nice fish for a fifth straight day. Laurie comes over Sunday... and she don't fish!

Home of the Blues

Notice the front hooks were taken off of this popper
I don't know where Johnny Cash was drinking his heartache away when he wrote "Home of the Blues" I assume it was in Tennessee somewhere. However, I went to a cove in Narragansett Bay that is home to some really big blues right now. While I was out on Eric's boat, Dave was on his brother's boat. While we were catching trophy sea bass, they were catching monster bluefish

Since I wasn't sure the weather would hold out today, I didn't try to do anything I would consider exotic. ( I want to try for walleye again and fish for pike in Connecticut). Even though I didn't know what the weather was going to do I also didn't want to do anything boring. So I decided to paddle my kayak to the spot Dave caught the big blues.

From my put in, it was a solid 20 minute paddle to my fishing spot. The wind was light out of the northwest which was in my face, but the water was very calm. I paddled into the cove and I started to see fish whirl as I scared them with my 'yak. I knew I was in the right place before I made a cast. Three splashes of my popper onto the first cast I hooked my first bluefish. It took me for a Nantucket Sleigh Ride. I let it tire out some before I brought it to my kayak for a a release.

After my third blue, I realized life would be a lot easier if I took the front trebles off of my popper. This way the fish could only be hooked by the trebles in the back.

   I had fish blowing up on my popper. Sometimes the same fish would hit it three or four times until it was hooked. While I was fishing I saw multiple fish splash. I could hear plenty more behind me. Something that was very interesting was I could see multiple bluefish sunning themselves on the surface. I saw tail fins right above the surface (like shark fins). It was really neat. At one point I was surrounded by bluefish. I could see them in every direction and no matter where I casted I was going to get a hit. Yes, even just cruising on the surface, they were still aggressive. Multiple times I sight fished for them, casting ahead of them and leading my lure in front of them. I had one fish make a V wake like a pickerel does from ten feet away from my popper before crushing it.

Today was one of the best days  ever from my kayak. I landed about 15 blues between 8-15 pounds. I had countless others blow up on my popper. I never went more than five cast without at least a hit and miss. What made it even cooler was being so close to all of those trophy fish just swimming around in the sunlight then coming alive to explode on my lure. Today was incredible.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Buzzards Bay

My friend Eric Meyer invites me out on his boat multiple times a year. I very much appriciate the offer to go on a good friend's boat, but usually I have plans and decline the offer. Sometimes I have plans weeks in advance (such as a Newburyport overnight camping trip) Other times, Laurie and I made plans to go to New Hampshire. On the other hand, you really can't plan a boat trip until you know the weather, which really only gives about 48 hours notice. By then, I've had my next day's off planned for a week.  Eric and I have talked about this, but make no mistake, I am very grateful you keep inviting me, (see what I did there, when you read this Eric, you will know I am talking to you)

However, we do make plans to go the end of May or early June. This is a perfect time for me. It is after my bird migration trips (that were rained out this year!!!!) and before my trips to New Hampshire. We planned this trip weeks ago (weather dependent of course) and I did not try to schedule anything else.  So yesterday, we set out on a picture perfect day on Buzzards Bay.

We fished the entire day from 7 am until 5 pm. I loved the fact we did not have to rush. The tide was low about 2 pm, and Eric's boat is a deep hull. Because of this we had to wait until the tide rose again at the dock. This was absolutely perfect. We had the whole day to fish.

We tried multiple spots through the bay. We found fish everywhere. We didn't find the huge school of sea bass, so the fishing wasn't hot and heavy. We found fish scattered throughout. Sometimes we would go ten minutes without a hit then we would both hook up, then go another couple minutes without a fish. As I said multiple times, it was fishing and not just catching.

I'd estimate we caught about 45 fish a piece. Here is the amazing part, just about every fish was above keeper size. The size limit in Massachusetts is 15 inches. I doubt we caught five fish under that size!. Usually with sea bass half the fish are under that size and half over. Most of those fish  from 13-16 inches with a few big ones and a few in the 9-12 inch range. Not today, I'd say average size was close to 17 inches! Eric got the biggest one at about 21 inches and I landed two, just around 20.

Eric and I have different fishing philosophies. He likes to tip his jigs with bait, while I would rather not. So it is interesting to see how the fish react to the two different styles. Because we tried to trick the fish in different ways, fishing was an experiment.

Early in the day the tide was barely moving. I could use my light 1/2 ounce and 3/4 ounce bucktail jigs. I don't know if it mattered, but the fish were nailing them. Even with Eric's squid, I was far and away catching more fish, This surprised me, because his jigs had smell while mine didn't. He was still catching some fish, but the smaller jigs were catching way more fish.

As the day went on the wind picked up. The current was stronger and my half ounce jigs were useless, and my 3/4 ounce jig was barely effective. Eric had some big jigheads and I used one with a curly tail grub or a Zoom fluke. The tide turned (pun) and the roles were reversed.   Although I was still catching a few fish, Eric was reeling them up one after another. His double jig rig was really staying down near the bottom and proved to be very effective. Earlier, if we went over a few fish, it seemed like I was hooking up before we drifted past the school. In the afternoon, it was the exact opposite. Eric would get the hit, while I waited for the next big pod.

I don't know if the stronger current spread the scent of squid more and that is why the fish hit his. Maybe since I couldn't use my bucktails the fish were not as interested in the single curly tail. I don't really know. It didn't matter in the end, although we didn't keep count, I think we caught damn near the same number of fish. As Eric said, fishing can be streaky. Maybe the size jig didn't matter, maybe the squid didn't matter. Maybe the fishing gods just balanced everything out? We were both catching enough fish during our "slow time" that it didn't really matter anyway.

I was also experimenting with color. While the water was still slow, I was trying multi colored bucktails that I made up. I tried a bucktail with pink/orange/ lime green. I caught a lot of fish on it, but I do think the white bucktail worked slightly better when the fish were spread out and less aggressive.

We ended up catching five species. Besides the large seabass, I got a large scup. We caught a few sea robins, and some small fluke. The biggest surprise was a good size blue that I caught fishing the bottom with the jig. I knew I had a big fish, but I was surprised when I saw a bluefish come out of the water. I'd estimate, it went around eight pounds.

So, all in all, it was a great day. We have had days where we caught twice as many sea bass in half the time on the water. However, I will take quality over quantity any day. When half of the sea bass are around 17 inches, that makes for a really fun day.
Hooked this big scup using a brightly colored jig

The sea bass seemed to like the bright colored bucktail,
but I do think the white worked better on spread  out
less aggressive fish

One of the sea bass puked up this baby scup

A wall hanger of a picture if I do say so myself

My first sea robin of the year