It only took a few degrees of separation from cold and rain to warm up the shoreline and welcome back stripers. Squid have slowly appeared in the lower bay followed by a few tautog. From Jerusalem’s West Wall to the beaches of Jamestown and Newport, schoolies reappeared en mass in May, finally signalling the real end of all those winter blues. Cocahoe minnows have been spotted hanging from rods on roof racks, life jackets stranded on roadsides, victims of hurried boaters racing for boat ramps and best of all, fish stories were filling up social media and text messages.
It won’t be long until The Narragansett Surfcasters return to holding court at Monahan’s, talking about new equipment, swapping pictures of sea lice on young stripers, who caught what where and when big fish will arrive.
They’re a sure sign of Spring.
Tom Adams, an albie and a very big smile
Tom Adams and Brian Hall have been featured and mentioned here, mostly for their fishing prowess and relentless desire to catch fish from kayaks. They helped form the Ocean State Kayak Anglers Association and on May 17, they hosted a fishing season opener, something like a first of the season fishermen’s social. Joining forces with Peter Jenkins and his crew, they invited fishermen to stop by The Saltwater Edge in Middletown. The first hour or so was all about food, meeting other fishermen and shaking hands with folks you may know from internet fishing groups but never actually met while the rest of the night featured presentations by Peter, Adam Siegel and the always entertaining Brian Hall.
Peter spoke to the power of reading the water. Considering how frustrating it can be to fish amongst piles of bait and structure yet still get blanked, he began by showing fishermen how to eliminate certain pieces of water first. He show you why ten percent of fishermen catch ninety percent of the fish, how to find what he calls “better water,” and in his words, “help you understand how the topography, hard and soft structure as well as whitewater can provide clues to help you eliminate 98% of the ocean.”
Peter said to, “Fish the edges, the nnatural edges.”
Peter Jenkins knows his fish and how to find them
“Pitch to a boulder field, not just a boulder,” he said. He recommended walking spots at low moon tides to look for barnacles and waves, big waves, adding, “not all waves are created equal.”
Adam Siegel talking first aid in a kayak
Army medic Adam Siegel covered first aid for kayak fishermen. Anyone who’s reached for an irritated bluefish only to retrieve the treble first, snagged the back of their head with a smooth eight weight cast or worse, been in a remote situation when something went sideways, would appreciate his knowledge. A Stop The Bleed instructor and EMT, Eric walked the crowd through various ways people get hooked on fishing and then how to remove them. Everything he said drove home how critical it is to carry some type of first aid kit in a kayak and know how to handle a situation right there on the water.
Hydration is key when fishing all night. The water you drank last night is the water which will hydrate you today, he reminded the room. Adam covered how to apply pressure at certain points to control bleeding and then, with a warning first, showed the room a few gory pictures of hooks gone wild. Some were tough to see but they are the occasional reality of fishing, especially when fishing through the night in a confined space, like a kayak.
Then there was Brian Hall.
Oh that Brian Hall…
Veteran, experienced kayak fisherman, self-inaugurated fishing comedian. He spoke to the best methods for fishing with live eels.
With an almost DNA level hatred for eels, bass seem to attack them even if they aren’t feeding or even hungry. There’s a few theories that stripers know eels eat bass eggs so therefore whenever a bass comes across an eel, it instinctively attacks it.
He talked about mono leaders, which stretch then recoil as opposed to fluorocarbon, which just stretches once. Tom said he was a fan of Andre Back Country for leaders. Brian uses 7/0 Gamagatsu circle hooks, running the point through the lower jaw and out the eye socket for the best hook up.
In less than twenty feet of water, he doesn’t use a weight but for deeper spots, he recommended a small egg weight with 8-15′ of 20# leader and a three way to support the whole deal. A preferred situation is to troll slowly against the current which helps to keep the bait up a bit higher.
Brian’s talk quickly segued into a Taylor Swift discussion. Letting Brian talk about the pop star should come with a parental warning.
“Statistics don’t lie,” he’ll tell you, “fishing improves exponentially when listening to Taylor Swift. At least 75% I’d say.”
Brian did indeed try to influence the crowd about some supposed positive powers of being or at least tuning in “Fearless”while fishing. While there’s no questioning his fishing records, the Swift records thing, well, I don’t know how that’ll play.
“Call It What You Want,” Brian will say, because fishermen cling to superstitions, favorite rigs, favorite reels or lucky sweatshirts, so to each his own, I guess, but the man knows how to fish.
It was a good night, a lot of information was passed around and Peter, of course, was the perfect host. I hope there will be more of these fishermen’s socials on the calendar and that everyone who attended takes all that knowledge and catches a kayak load of fish.
I'm a fisherman, occasional hunter, occasionally sarcastic outdoors writer and father. My weekly outdoors column, Fish Wrap, can be found at www.fishwrapwriter.com, read more at On The Water magazine as well!
View all posts by Todd Corayer