Striper Fishing Essentials: What’s Working, What’s Not

I caught big numbers of schoolies in the Bay from shore in the nasty weather we had recently. While many fishermen will guess it’s the spot I am fishing that is delivering the fish, I will tell you that is only half of the puzzle. I will also tell you that there are stripers in just about every cove, river, and shallow area in the Bay right now. Some places have more than others, but there are fish all over.

Focus on the other half to the puzzle, which is using the right stuff. I constantly see fishermen in the right places, but because they are using the wrong plugs and lures, they are blanking. Here is what has really worked for me to land over thirty fish in four evenings of fishing:

1. Jigs: I have been scoring well using both the 4-inch Zoom fluke on a jighead and a small half ounce bucktail jig with a curly tail. I think the fluke has worked better in calm water and the bucktail has worked well in rough water. Both are key lures to use in the Bay right now. Cast them out and bounce the rod tip as you retrieve.

2. Float and jig or float and skinny plastic: Both have worked well when the wind has been blowing in my face and a long cast is needed. The float and bucktail seems to work best before dark, while the float and 6-inch Slug Go seems to work best at and after dark. Cast and reel slowly with slight pulls of the rod tip.

3. Skinny Plastic: I have been using a pink Slug Go or Hogy in the daylight and I have shifted to black after dark. They have been the only thing working on top. Cast and vigorously jerk the rod tip while retrieving slowing. The 7.5-inch Slug Go seems to be the best size. Note that this only works well when the wind is at your back.

Here is what is not working in the Bay right now: poppers, Cocahoes and swimmers.

Remember, contrary to a lot of reports, striper fishing is really a hit or miss type of deal. I think it should be better. The number of schoolies has declined in recent weeks as they always do around this time. Keepers are no sure bet and will take a lot of effort to find them from boat or shore. I was out early last week in the Bay and could only find a few blues. There seems to be a few blues around in a number of locations but no big numbers. I kept moving around and I found decent numbers of schoolies from shore during two evenings. On May 23, I landed sixteen schoolies on bucktail jigs from a Bay location. However, I will tell you that I know a lot of good fishermen who are blanking and complaining about the sudden lack of fish.

If you really want to catch something to eat (scup and black sea bass), nearby Buzzards Bay is the place to be if you fish from a boat. I saw boaters there last week just hammering large scup along with good numbers of keeper black sea bass. In some places, the bottom seemed to be paved with them. There are also big schools of bluefish roaming this Bay chasing schools of small sandeels. Nothing close to this exists in RI waters right now.

Finally, freshwater is also a terrific bet right now. My son, Jon, and I got out largemouth bass fishing last week at a local pond and we landed good numbers of them on plastic worms. I have also been out carp fishing a lot in the last two weeks and have gotten phenomenal numbers of large fish. I had two fish in the thirties (pounds!) and ten fish in the 20s. I also had countless fish in the teens. If you are interested in how this non-traditional fishing is done, click here to check out my carp fishing blog.