Grading the 2022 Season – por Dave Pickering
It was a phenomenal year for big
stripers from shore and kayak.
Overall, 2022 was one of the best saltwater fishing seasons ever here in RI. Striper fishing overall was fantastic and the albie season was one the most memorable also. Bluefish, however, was an up and down affair.
My logs reveal that I landed just about 1,000 stripers this year with the majority of the fish being slots and over slots. It was that good.
Here is the way I saw it with a grade for each species of fish:
Striped bass- I will divide this category into three with schoolies, slots and over slots:
Schoolies- Here is a bit of a problem area. Young-of-the-year spawning has been poor in the last few years and we are seeing the results of that. The early season action was fair at best and the late season action (November) was only ok if judged by past years. I got my first migrating fish on April 15 along the south shore beaches. That puts their arrival right on time. I never had what I would call a big day (over 10 fish) along the south shore in the spring, and I fished a lot. It was some fish here and there. I did considerably better in the Bay from both shore and kayak. Still, numbers were way down compared to other years. At the other end of the calendar, November/early December delivered more schioolies than the spring but still numbers were off compared to past years. Grade for schoolies- B-
Slots and even over slots were around in huge
numbers from June till late fall. Shore fishing
was fantastic at times.
Slots- This was the best year I have ever seen for these 28 to 35 inch fish. They were around in massive numbers, especially from early summer till mid fall. There were days I was catching and releasing upwards of 20 and 30 slots, and it seemed like everyday delivered slot fish after slot fish. At one point, I saw packed schools of so many slot fish in one oceanfront location that anglers were snagging them (legal but unethical!) This went on for weeks. In a one month period while fishing from my kayak in June/July I had over 200 stripers that were either slots or over slots. I’ve been fishing since the 1960’s and have never seen a better year for these size fish. Grade for slots- A+
Over slots- These fish also were around in very good numbers. It has never been easy to catch a lot of stripers over 40 inches, but this was an exceptional year for those bigger fish here in RI. My biggest of the year was a 47 incher from shore. I had numerous fish in the 45 inch range from the kayak along with countless fish over 40 inches. Narragansett Bay was especially hot as we had big numbers of adult menhaden enter the Bay in May and they were around in big numbers right into summer. Those large bunker attracted large stripers and large bluefish in astounding numbers. Grade for over slots- A
I landed good numbers of big blues from the
kayak and from shore in the early going.
From late May to July they were abundant
but there were very few around in the fall.
Bluefish- This was a tale of two seasons, early season from mid May to July and late season in the fall. Spring brought good numbers of bluefish especially in the warming waters of Gansett Bay. When I can stand in the water in my waders on May 20 and land 17 big blues (over 10 lbs. ) you know there are a lot around. I was catching good numbers from shore and from my kayak. Many of the big blues in the Bay were chasing down the schools of menhaden and it was often a case of both large blues and big stripers under the same schools of bait. Biggest blues for me in the early going were around 15 lbs. The fall was a completely different story. I saw almost no blues all fall and landed exactly 2 of them. Even at times when there was a lot of bait, there were no blues after the abundant peanut bunker. Note that this pattern of abundant blues in the early season played out almost exactly the same in 2021. Grade for blues-C+
It was a very good year for albies, one of the
best of the last decade. Some albie diehards
reported well over 100 fish landed from shore!
Albies- It was a very good year for albies, one of the best of the last decade. I got my first ones of the year on September 13. While the albie season started off late and slow, things picked up as September moved forward. I did not target them as much as past years because I was chasing down the more abundant and consistent stripers. Also, rough weather also played havoc with these fish. But, I know of diehard albie hunters who landed well over 100 albies from shore this year, a testament to their abundance. Grade for albies- A-