Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fishing before and after storms

Tom Peters of Warwick, RI with the seven pound fluke he caught early last week under the Newport Bridge. Keeper fluke were hard to come by under the bridge, Tom caught this fish using a buck tail on a three way with a teaser tipped with squid strips. Fluke fishing along the southern coastal shores of RI continues to improve.

Safety should be your first concern when fishing before or after storms. Anglers often like fishing in favorite spots (like this one at Conimicut Point) before a storm as the barometric pressure drops fishing generally improves. Fishing after storms can be good too.

Fishing before and after storms

Many anglers believe the best time to fresh or saltwater fish is before a storm… before a cold front moves in. They believe the fish feel the difference in barometric pressure… the front moves in, the pressure drops and it triggers a feeding frenzy. I guess the fish sense bad weather so they eat while the eating is good. Many also believe that during and after a storm fishing is not good as the water is turbid and cloudy so fish cannot even see the most attractive bait.
However, this is not necessarily true. Sometimes fishing after a storm is good. Just like any other time, the right time to fish depends on a lot of variables… water temperature, oxygen level in the water, water movement, structure and most importantly bait in the area that fish can feed on. Safety is the most important thing to remember when fishing before and after storms. I head for shore if the weather is threatening, if on shore do not take any risks fishing near high surf that is unpredictable. Wait until things calm down.
Fishing after can be good after rain storms, tropical storms, even hurricanes… the quality of fishing depends on a lot of variables. For example, flooded areas create new fish habitats with a new food supply of insects, shrimp, shell fish and small fish that arrive with the water. These flooded areas and waters adjacent to them can become good fishing areas as the water starts to recede.
Fishing after storms has been good for shore, near coastal and Bay fishermen. Anytime you can get close to inlets, the shore or underwater structure you will do well. Fishing is good at inlets and outflows because water levels are high due to rain, abnormally high tides and heavy surf. Once water rushes out of rivers, bays, and inlets, bait that may have sought refuge up inlets gets tossed around as they leave for open water where larger fish are waiting.
Other contributing factors to good fishing after storms are geography and storm patterns. For example, with storm winds coming out of the southeast, south and southwest as Irene did earlier this week, bait, crabs, oysters, mussels, clams, etc. get crushed and pushed to the opposite shoreline or get hung up on ridges. These areas become prime feeding grounds for hungry fish. Good idea to try clams and split crabs as bait when fishing after a storm in these areas.
During the hurricane season last year I asked a couple of noted local anglers what they thought about fishing after storms. Here is what they had to say. Fish the opposite shoreline after a storm and you are more likely to catch fish because the bait is there said Steve McKenna of Cranston, an associate at Quaker Lane Outfitters in North Kingstown. Steve said, “I like to fish the fist clearing wind after a big storm once the sea settles down a bit… I caught my last three 40 lb. striped bass after storms.”
Captain Rich Hittinger said, “At the end of the season, storms have sometimes sent the fluke packing to deeper water with no significant bite until the following spring. It also can chase the giant tuna out of here for the season, but we can only wait and see what happens. In any case the scup, sea bass, and stripers will still be here after the storm, but it may take a few days before they settle back into a feed.”
Mark Pietros comments about cod fishing after a storm on the RISAA fishing blog last year, “I went out… a couple days after that rain and wind storm. It wasn't a hurricane but the seas were pretty bad a few days before. When we went out the "weathermen" were calling for a small craft warnings. The seas were actually one foot or less, it was a great day. We had all the cod action we could handle along with a few haddock, pollock and the biggest hake I have ever seen….I have been out several times after storms and have had good luck when fishing in deeper water.”
Two additional theories about fishing after storms: first, big storms do not necessarily bother fish in deep water, so bottom fishing offshore for fluke, tautog and other species may not be affected at all. Secondly, with fish not feeding much during a big blow they are very interested in eating as soon as things clear. Both fresh and saltwater anglers have related success using surface plugs once winds settle down as water throughout the water column may still be turbid and cloudy after a storm even though the seas have calmed. Surface plugs splashing around on the surface will likely get the attention of hungry fish.
Try some of these storm fishing tactics and let us know what works for you by e-mailing your comments to .

DEM announces grant program of boating infrastructure projects
The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces that proposals are being accepted until Wednesday, September 7 for boating infrastructure grants for facilities and associated infrastructure that provide stop-over/tie-up opportunities for transient recreational boats.The federal grants, which provide a 75 percent reimbursable match up to $1.5 million, are for the development or renovation of such facilities as mooring buoys, day docks, navigational aids, transient slips, safe harbors, floating docks and fixed piers, floating and fixed breakwaters, dinghy docks, restrooms and showers, retaining walls, and bulkheads. They can also be used for dockside utilities, pump out stations, recycling and trash receptacles, electric service, dockside water supplies, dockside pay telephones, debris deflection booms, marine fueling stations, and one-time dredging not to exceed 10 percent of the total project costs, including the match.
Any municipality or marina interested in submitting an application should contact Robert Ballou, Acting Chief, Division of Fish & Wildlife, at 423-1926. Proposals must be submitted to by September 7.

RISAA Bluefish Tournament postponed
Due to hurricane Irene, the RISAA Special Bluefish Tournament for members has been postponed. The tournament will now run from Friday, September 2 at 5:00 p.m. to Sunday, September 11 at 7:00 p.m.

Where’s the bite
Chris Catucci of Warwick reports that a, “Rhode Island Junior Bass master tournament was held last week. It was a difficult day to fish with keepers hard to come by. Nick Woodbine of Warwick, Rhode Island won the Tournament with around five pounds.”

Fluke fishing was difficult for most of the week due to high storm winds. However, fishing along the southern coastal shores of Rhode Island continues to improve. Eric Feroldi on the RISAA blog reports catching fluke at a 50/50 keeper to short radio early in the week off southern coastal shores. Many fish 20 inches and over with his largest weighing in at 7.42 pounds in about 57 feet of water. Fishing in the Newport area has slowed with the keeper to short ratio not very good. Tom Peters fished early last week under the Newport Bridge and had a twenty to one radio. High winds Thursday and over the weekend eliminated the possibility of most fluke fishing.

Striped bass fishing continued to be slow off coastal shores and Narragansett Bay last week, and good around Block Island.


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  2. Our first major storm of the season in Southern California has past through over night. Going to the Oceanside Pier to get pictures of the high surf. Taking my Rod And Reel and some long casting lures, cause you never know!