Fishing Charters For Striped Bass in Phippsburg Maine

Maine Saltwater Fly Fishing Charters For Striped Bass ~ Kennebec River, Phippsburg, ME

Thanks for visiting Maine Saltwater Fishing Reports. Here you'll find updates on striper fishing around Maine and beyond, insights into how I chase these fish, suggestions and techniques that may help you become a better angler, and recaps of recent charter trips. Scroll down for the the latest posts.

I specialize in shallow water sight casting to striped bass and chasing false albacore with fly and light tackle spinning gear. The only thing I love more than the challenge of hunting for these fish is sharing the elation that comes from playing this game. I guide a lot of experienced striped bass anglers who've never cast a fly or a top-water plug to a striper on a shallow flat that is pushing water like a redfish or bonefish. Watching the bass track the baitfish pattern or tail slap the spook and then (hopefully) eat your offering is incredibly satisfying and addicting.

I live in Phippsburg, ME on the banks of the Kennebec River, and guide full-time from May into November. Striper fishing in Maine starts in mid-May, with fish usually showing up just south of Portland before they start to fill into the Kennebec. To get a jump on the season I head south to Massachusetts to get onto bass before they arrive in Maine. I also plan a couple of weeks during May and June to target large stripers in Cape Cod Bay and around Martha's Vineyard. This is big water fishing and where I grew up and first started running charter boats. If I had to pick one week to fish the flats in midcoast Maine, it would fall in early July, depending upon the tides. Fortunately, our fishing holds up all summer and every year we have outstanding days when anglers to our south are lamenting the "dog days". By Labor Day I'm packing up to spend most of September and October fishing the south side of Cape Cod for False Albacore. 

If you're looking to improve your striper skills, or want to try to target them on the flats, or just become a better angler, I hope you'll read on and if you like what you find here, give me a call. Let's get out on the water together this season.

You can also see more frequent updates on Maine Saltwater Fishing Reports Facebook Page.

See the fish. Cast to the fish. Catch the fish.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com


Striper Fishing With A Fly - Kennebec Conditions Are Good, Not Great, But Getting Better

I started a post at 2:45 Wednesday morning that led with my disappointment that fishing wasn't fabulous, as my expectations for the Kennebec at the end of June and first week of July are extremely high. But then I remembered that I wanted to make Ottolenghi's Avocado Toast for our trip this morning and I needed to be at Frosty's by 4:00 am to meet Fritz for his inaugural Kennebec trip of 2019. I was going to write that striper fishing overall in the Kennebec is good, not great, but that fish over 30 inches weren't yet showing themselves (to us, of course) on the flats, and that the water is still stained from a ton of runoff and high releases upcountry, and that the fish just weren't consistently waking, or pushing water, under near perfect weather conditions. We've had good outings casting to breaking fish, but that just isn't quite the same as sightcasting, which had only been ok. Well, that all changed this morning. What an outing.

One day does not make a trend or pattern, but I am brimming with optimism tonight. After working moving water past structure from 4:30 to 6:00 with almost constant hook-ups, we found hoards of striped bass pushing water in wicked shallow water and they were cooperative. We also "jumped" a few much larger bass on a flooding mudflat and even though we didn't connect on their attempt to eat, we were buoyed. Water releases upriver are starting to trend towards more normal levels, forecast is good, and bigger stripers are filling in daily.

Here are a couple of quick suggestions for fly anglers:

  1. Get on the water early. Earlier than that, even. 
  2. Fish big herring flies in fast water around structure but go small on the flats once the sun is pretty bright on the water. If you're in feeding fish and are thinking "Jeezum, I should be hooking up more often", go even smaller.
  3. There are groups of striped bass that are settling into a summer pattern, showing up on deeper ledges that are holding herring at particular stages of the tide. You'll see a collection of boats, most drifting bait, and gulls (not terns) overhead. You may find some active fish in the water column, even coming up to the surface at times. You can try to work the same water with a 400 to 500 grain integrated shooting head and big herring fly that sinks well. But that's not your only option. Work adjacent structure and shallows, especially if the light is reasonably low, even if it is a little before or after the "big bite" is going off. See suggestion #1 above.
  4. Back to shallow water - f you're seeing fishing under bright sun follow then turn away from your fly, pull out the flash from your pattern or switch to a more muted color.
  5. Most importantly, go fish. Just get out there. 

I have many more thoughts to share but I'm beat from a long string of early alarms and lots of sun and have more of both ahead of me. My next open date is Wednesday, July 10. Let me know if you'd like to get out on the water.

Remember, fish more.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com


I Want June To Last 90 Days

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It sure felt like late June on the Kennebec River this week. On Tuesday, we were on fish pretty much the entire trip, from 6:00 am until 4:00 pm, and found the stripers feeding and holding in almost every way you might expect to encounter them up inside the river. Only thing missing for us were bigger bass.

We started on a mudflat that had good numbers of fish very happy to eat on top, although they weren't doing a fabulous job of showing themselves. We kept talking about making a move and another striper would demolish the spook. Our first move ended up being about 200 yards off the flat to spots down the shoreline where the fish kept popping and calling us.

By the time we made our second move, the tide was ebbing nicely and fish in shallow water were gleefully sipping very small bait. I couldn't tell if they were little silversides or something else, but the slender craft fur hollowfleye outfished the the slightly longer, decidedly wider, spun deer hair slider by a wide margin. These fish weren't pushing water, unfortunately, but were rising in the current with frequency.

From there we headed to a cove loaded with bass hugging the bottom and hanging on the ledges when the current moved well past the structure. Then onto a flat that would be uncovered in two hours where we found fish but were working blindly due to the building breeze. A hundred diving herring gulls (aptly named given what they were eating) led us farther downriver to strong current tumbling and roiling over big ledges. Bigger offerings didn't bring us bigger fish, but there were plenty of bass and not all of them were right under the birds.

As the tide started to rise, the wind very cooperatively shut right off, and we poled up an immense expanse of a flat working fish that would reveal themselves with swirls and subtle pushes of water. Oh, what fun, but as is the case in saltwater everywhere, an hour later the conditions had changed enough to change the fish' behavior.

We started back to the ramp but had to check a hump in the middle of the river that had three birds circling high over it as the incoming current built in speed. Yup. Loaded with stripers. After some fun fishing in a completely different way, we called it. Well, we did. But we also made one last stop for a couple last casts and caught two fish in three feet of water that ended the day as we started, inhaling the spook with complete conviction. Whoa. What a trip.

The Kennebec watershed offers an incredibly diverse range of options when targeting striped bass. The rambling recap above of one charter itinerary doesn't even cover it all, as we never fished oceanside ledges or any of the beaches, nor did we get up into the salt marshes.

It feels good to get dialed back into what is happening here on the river after a whirlwind of trips out of Martha's Vineyard, Boston Harbor, a day in the driftboat targeting smallmouth bass, and a quick dash to Barneget, NJ. My only lament is that June is almost over.

Fish more.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestriers.com


Kennebec River Striped Bass Fishing Update - Breaking Fish Bonanza

After what I described as good early season trips all of last week, the striped bass fishing on the Kennebec River here in Phippsburg really lit up this week. We'd all been waiting and searching and watching for big pods of happy stripers busting bait on top and hadn't seen it in the river (although I did get credible reports from around Gardiner about surface feeds 10 days ago) until this Sunday. I was teaching a two-day fly fishing class but a good friend was on a good surface feed Sunday morning on the dropping tide. It's only gotten better since then. Much better.

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Of course it is still fishing, and not always what we expect. I fished Tuesday with my dad and was disappointed by what we found. It was bright, and dry, and cold, and not fishy weather. We got a good early start and had great moving water but were only finding one fish here and one fish there. Eventually we located a good group of bass that we're happy to eat but it was a slower morning than I hoped. Don't get me wrong, it was great to fish together on a stunningly beautiful morning after a fun evening of the season's first lobster feed but I really wish he'd been able to stay one more day. We'd be hearing stories for years about the fabulous fishing.

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I fished by myself on Wednesday. I was wide awake at 4:00 and tied flies for the first two hours of the morning with intensions to get after some desk tasks and house projects. There wasn't a hint of wind on the water and the cloud cover was perfect, so by 6:03 I was in scramble mode, hooking up the Maverick and grabbing some snacks to go. I needed to test out these small hollow fleye variations I'd been working on and I also wanted to try a new SciAngler Amplitude Anadro line that I'd bought for some other purposes. It didn't take me long to find birds working over stripers at the bottom of the out tide. I really, really love to fish shallow water for bass that are visible or pushing water, but after another long winter, I'll take fish going bananas on the surface. I had a blast.

I fished a bunch of different fly patterns, fly line and rod combinations, and connected lessons shared over the weekend with observations on the water. Here are some fly thoughts:

  1. Detecting a hit and setting the hook are learned and practiced skills. Most beginner to intermediate fly anglers would be amazed to learn how many fish have eaten their fly that they never knew about. This early June striper fishery offers an incredible learning opportunity when the fish are on. Ok, a lot of times you could be asleep and hook a striper, but not alway. In perfect conditions it was fascinating to note hw many "takes" would easily be missed - especially when dead drifting a fly pattern with great life. Repetition builds competence. If you go to the driving range, you should be fishing here this week.
  2. Dead drifting. An often overlooked approach in saltwater, especially around breaking fish. If you don't employ this technique very often, here's your prompt to try it. The day before I'd been coaching my dad to make much stronger, more dramatic strips with his herring pattern to elicit strikes from unseen fish. It was working. Wednesday morning, around fish keyed into very small bait, no strip was the ticket. Even with a floating line in reasonably deep water. So much fun. The local warden was fishing a popper on his fly rod over busting bass at the same time and he reported finding best success when he just twitched his fly and then let it sit. He had a great big smile on his face, talking about his morning outing.
  3. Speaking of fun, I really liked the Scientific Angler Amplitude Smooth Anadro/Nymph line. I need to use it more to feel fully dialed in on best applications, but I ended the morning looking forward to using it more. Speaking of more fun, I was fishing it on a Sage X 9 foot 9 weight that I'd only used in heavy wind last fall chasing albies. I like casting and fishing this rod.
  4. Connecting numbers 1 and 2 above, detecting the hit and dead drifting a fly, I was thinking about the number of casts that don't unroll perfectly, even on a windless day, and how often people aren't in touch with their fly. Retrieving with tip at hip level, rod pointed away from the fly, slack in the leader are all streamer sins in most instances. When the fly touches down, get the tip touching the water, pointed at the fly, and strip out any slack in the line-leader...then let it drift.
  5. Fly size and shape matters most. I spent a lot of time answering questions over the weekend about fly patterns, how to choose what to fish, why they are designed as they are, where you start, when to change, and how to fish different types of flies. As I was testing a variety of patterns on Wednesday, it was a perfect reminder that size and shape matter most and that how the fly behaves in the water (inherent movement and as imparted by the angler) comes in at a close second. I loved being in a situation where you could readily discern what the fish preferred. Everything caught fish this morning, but at wildly different rates, and there we're clear common threads.

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Thursday morning was more of the same, kind of old school, Kennebec June fishing, run 'till you see birds, stop, catch fish until they either move on or you decide to see where else the stripers are feeding hard. I got to spend the morning fishing with my great friend Rich Pschirrer and neither of us really noticed the rain we were having such a blast. Just got a text from Rich saying "Let's do more of that, anywhere, anytime." I agree. I'm game.

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One parting suggestion - if you don't have a pair of these gloves for early season outings (or fall tuna runs, December decoy deployment, or mid-winter cash washing), head to your nearest commercial marine supply store, by two pair (your dad, friend, spouse, client, will appreciate it), and stick them in your boat or bag.

Fish more.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

mainestripers.com

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com


May 31 Kennebec River Striper Fishing Update

Last Cast of the Trip

Here's Tim's best striper of the day, but certainly not his only fish. It crushed the Lonely Angler Zipster spook in a shallow backwater cove on the Kennebec River just down current of some nice moving water and rocky structure and came on his final cast of our outing. We were zipping back to the dock at a pretty good clip in the Maverick, working to make time to hit one last location before we had to meet the rest of the charter group. We arrived to find just the current I expected, but no fish (or at least no response) in the ripline. This is a spot where the bass usually key into the sharp demarcation between fast and slow water that is pushed off of a shoreline ledge. There were fish here similar tide yesterday but as we'd discussed early in our trip, past performance is no guarantee of future results. These guys had worked at the SEC and were now involved in futures markets, so they understood the disclaimer. I was hoping for one last eat before wrapping up, so we let the boat drop down with the current to make a couple of quick casts in a secondary lie where a backeddy flows across a mudflat adjacent to these ledges. Eric had pitched his spook into this water a couple of times when halfway through a retrieve, it just disappeared under water in a big gallooop! He landed a similar sized striper to the one in the photo above in some good current to cheers all around. I made the "last cast" call and Tim delivered in similar fashion out of the same water. It was a great way to end a really enjoyable morning.

Striper fishing in and around the Kennebec is improving. It's not yet bananas, but technically, it's not yet June. Every place where we stopped today we at least rolled, saw, or teased a fish and in almost all locations landed at least one. We had a couple of times where we found a good group of fish and landed quite a few before moving on. Once again, best fishing for us was in moving water adjacent to structure of some kind. Yesterday's trip was pretty similar. Both days we started just after high water and fished the dropping tide.

Pretty soon you should be able to run up and down the river, looking for surface feeds and diving birds, but right now I would concentrate on making good casts with decent sized streamer flies, top water plugs, or soft plastics (on a jig or unweighted) in areas where you see current seams close to rocks, marshy points, creek mouths, and other pieces of structure. Keep your eye on the sonar, and have close at hand a jig rod or 400 grain with a Clouser, as you may mark some under you as you drift. We didn't do any dredging yesterday because what we were doing was producing and catching on topwater tackle is too much fun. I don't think I could have pried the spook out of Eric's hands.

On our Thursday trip, we used a similar approach with similar success - fished dropping tide and focused on same type of water but not all same locations. Both outings felt far more productive and consistent to me than my scouting trips earlier this week. We even had a couple of instances yesterday where a fish revealed their presence, we made the cast, and boom. Results.

Tidal height is improving and water temps in the Kennebec were 53 to 54 degrees everywhere we fished yesterday. The water is decidedly clearer, though still quite stained, vs a week ago. I'm teaching all-day, both weekend days, so won't have any first-hand news until middle of next week, but I am in the process of activating my shoreside fish spotting network. It's good to have neighbors who are more excited to call me about breaking fish than to go out at catch them. 

I've got some open days in the beginning of June, so if you'd like to get out, please give me a call or send me an email. 

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com

 


May 29, 2019 Quick Kennebec River Striped Bass Update

Striped bass seem to have moved into the Lower Kennebec watershed in greater numbers over the past week, at least based upon my fishing (and catching) results. It's still not "going off", and I have yet to see more that a handful of single fish come up to the surface to feed (in total - not all at once), but soon it will bust wide open. There are stripers all up the Maine coast to the Kennebec. I haven't yet heard any news of fish east of here, but that doesn't mean that they aren't there for you to catch. 

On Tuesday I fished the dropping tide and it took a little exploring before I found more than a single, lonely fish. Tides aren't great right now, in terms of volume of water flow, so it takes a little longer for the current to get going. High water at Fort Popham is only 7.9 feet. The most consistent fishing was in quick (not ripping fast) current around structure adjacent to shallow areas. I wasn't marking fish in these locations as I was staying off the shore by about a cast. Of all of the offerings I tossed, best producer was a dark fly with lots of action. This dirty water version of the Eldridge Brothers Secret Weapon tied with purple ostrich hurl, purple rabbit strip, and black craft fur plus various darker flash material did the trick.

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This morning I explored different water, working deeper structure with strong current, on the incoming tide. I'll admit that I sipped coffee from the comfort of the kitchen from 4:30 to 5:30 before I decided to launch the boat. It was cold. And wet. And windy. My project list is long, and it was tempting to stay home, but as soon as I was pulling out of the driveway I was happy with my decision. And once I found fish and started to catch on almost every drift, it wasn't so wet, windy, or cold any more. I didn't see a striper come to the surface but they did push some mature alewives or herring up to the gulls and eagles. I didn't play around with different jigs or flies, but just focused on figuring out where the fish were tending to hold. I really do prefer to sightcast, especially when chucking a fly, and will take casting to moving water tight to visible structure as a second choice, but this time of year, catching feels good using any technique.

We'll see significant changes in numbers of fish and surface activity soon. Like maybe tomorrow. Or Friday. I've got trips both days and have tempered expectations but high hopes.

Fish more.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com

824 Main Rd

Phippsburg, ME 04562


Become A Better Fly Caster - Tips And Techniques To Improve Your Fly Fishing Skills - Keeping A Rod Strung Up

So you've decided that you want to become a better fly caster and you're looking for tips and techniques to improve your fly fishing skills. Right? You did click on the link to bring up this post. Ok, lets back up a bit. If you like to fly fish, you owe it to yourself to improve your fly casting skills. You'll have more fun on the water, you'll catch more fish, you might even find yourself fly fishing more often and it's a really enjoyable process that's rewarding on it's own.

I'm not a great fly caster. I'm a good fly caster who gets to work with some amazing fly casters. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to learn from the likes of Macauly Lord, Craig Ucker, Sam Flick, Dave Jacobson, and Rod McGarry. I've worked to become a better caster and to be able to demonstrate effectively the casting techniques that I'm trying to teach and here's the single most significant thing I've done to improve my own casting. Practice.

You know it would help your casting and it can be fun, so how do you practice more often? Keep a fly rod strung up and someplace visible.

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If your fly rod is broken down and bundled neatly in it's sock, secured in it's tube, and tucked behind your waders and boots in a basement closet, how often are you going to go through all the steps of digging it out, putting it together, stringing it up, tying on a yarn fly, and making a few fly casts? Make it easy and accessible and you'll practice far more frequently.

You don't need water to make the basic fly casts (roll and spey casts are exceptions), just some open space with cut grass. I have room in my yard to practice and can even make short casts off my deck. If you don't have space in your yard, keep the rod in your car and stop at the soccer field you drive by every day or step outside at lunch time and cast for ten minutes in the park or on the lawn next to the building. Is there a golf course where you go for a walk? Or an open space where you let the dog run? Right now my driveway has a nice snowpack and is perfect for a few minutes of casting practice after work.

Ideally, you'll use a fly line that you won't fish if you are going to practice frequently. There's a good chance that you're fishing with a line that should be retired because it just doesn't shoot very well anymore, even after cleaning it. Do you have a reel or spare spool that has been on the shelf or in a vest for years without use? Perfect. If not, don't fret. Cast on the grass and then just clean your line before you fish it.

I have two rods that I keep strung up. One is an old Orvis 4 weight that I "caught" on the Moose River in 1995 dredging a nymph at the bottom of Attean Falls. That rod owes me nothing and I don't worry about it sitting outside for seven months of the year. The other set up is an Angler Outfit from L.L. Bean that is on sale right now for $75 for rod, reel, and line. During the guiding season I will grab a rod out of the Maverick, snip off the striper fly, tie on a piece of yarn, and wander around the yard for a few minutes making some casts just to work with an eight, nine, or ten weight for a bit.

If you have or get a rod that can serve this purpose, tack three nails into the side of your porch or shed and keep the rod handy and in sight but out of harm's way and ideally out of the sun. It helps to have the rod up off the ground. I can attest to the rod-shortening ability of a lawn mower that picks up a bunch of slack fly line nestled into the grass. I turned a nine foot, six weight into a four foot, eight weight before I could get the blades to stop spinning and that rod wasn't found and wasn't inexpensive.

Grab your cup of coffee in the morning, step outside to greet the day, and make a few fly casts before you get consumed. Come home from work, visit the beer fridge, make a considered selection, and head outside. The beer sits in the snowbank well while you double haul for a couple of revolutions. In five minutes, you'll make 100 fly casts. And your day will start or end a little brighter. 

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Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service

824 Main Rd

Phippsburg, ME 04562

(207) 522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com


How To Catch More Albies - Tips and Techniques For False Albacore Fishing - Wind Against The Tide

Catching more albies is always on my mind, even on a cross county flight in the middle of the winter. If you fish for false albacore, you know what I mean. I'm cleaning up my laptop somewhere over Nebraska and came across this photo from one of the last days chasing false albacore around Cape Cod this past October. I got to spend some time up on the bow of the boat to close out the season when my wife Sarah was down in Falmouth for the final week of my stay on the Cape. We try to plan a week on the water ourselves after my last charter of the year and mix in trips to Edgartown for coffee or Cuttyhunk for oysters with some fishing time.

Fly casting for false albacore in rough water off Cape Cod

In this image it looks pretty calm but the wind was honking out of the southwest and the tide was dumping out of Waquoit Bay into Vineyard Sound. The albies were exploding out of the water, fighting each other to inhale the bait that was being sucked out by the ebbing current. It was rough enough where the fish were happiest that Sarah would work to hold the boat right in the seam of the strongest flow, on the edge of the largest waves, but close enough so that I could zing the Rio InTouch Striper 30ft Sink Tip line into the action zone. This wasn't graceful, River Runs Through It, fly casting. The wind was pushing the boat at a good clip and as soon as the line would land on the surface of the water it would rip in the opposite direction of our travel. Line management was key and an immediate start to a two-handed retrieve was critical to staying tight to the fly and detecting the hit from the marauding albies. All hell would break loose (that's not an exaggeration) when the fish would eat, which of course often occurred with the fly twenty feet from the boat and eighty feet of fly line swirling in the wind just above the deck. (Here's a good primer on clearing the fly line when a fast moving fish eats your fly.)

Dealing with the bobbing and rolling foredeck, the potential line snags, the sometimes ugly casts, was all worthwhile as these fish ate with abandon when I could get the fly in their path. That week after Columbus Day we had a lot of windy afternoons and day after day when the afternoon breeze would buck the dumping tide the fish were right in that rough water. The few boats coming in or out of Waquoit Bay would fight through the waves, concentrating on the seas but missing the fish, and then start their search for false albacore once they cleared the area where the wind met the strongest tide. I've seen it time and again, in that location and others. Next fall, remember that albies love choppy water and strong current. They won't always be zooming through the standing waves, but you'll catch more false albacore if you seek out these situations and take the time to watch the roughest water. And if your wife is happiest running the boat and spotting fish in these conditions, consider yourself very, very fortunate.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

824 Main Rd

Phippsburg, ME 04562

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com

 

Quick Cape Cod Albie Fishing Update Report

Here’s a albie charter report for the week. I'll try to add more details between fishing trips. You can also check my facebook page for brief updates on current albie fishing.
 
I went to bed last night thinking “Oh no, what if we are in the late innings of the albie season”? The last couple days on Cape Cod have been less than stellar but a nice southwest flow today really seemed to turn on some of the false albacore we found. It had been three days since we were in sustained churning feeds. After working rocky structure, slow cruising small pods, and covering a lot of miles it was a welcome change. We did ok grinding out infield singles. It was nice to hit some long balls today.
 
Overall, pink, albie crack, and olive SI Epoxy Jigs have been top producers on spin gear along with the amber and white Albie Snaxs. Productive fly patterns have been tan or tan and white bay anchovy patterns, even when the fish off Naushon were puking up silversides. The albies in Vineyard Haven harbor have seemed to be focused on bay anchovies, even when feeding around clouds of peanut bunker. 
 
We’ve found fish just breaking the surface from Point Gammon to Tarpaulin Cove, mostly in the morning. Sometimes they’ve allowed us to idle parallel to them and take quartering shots, but other times they just don’t stay up long enough to get aligned or to work up wind or up current of them and wait them out. Best fishing has been around the north side of the Vineyard, with specific locations varying every day. 
 
Forecast for the holiday weekend isn’t bad, with Sunday looking like the fishiest day. Despite what you might be hearing, don’t give up on the albies just yet.
 
Oh, and I almost forgot...on Tuesday mid-day, Craig Ucker caught this guy on a tan and white bay anchovy epoxy fly shortly after landing his first albie on the same pattern. Very cool.
 
Cape Cod Albie Fishing Bonito
Catching more than just false albacore here on the Cape
Fish more,
 
Peter
 
Capt. Peter Fallon
Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC
207-522-9900
pfallon@mainestripers.com

Who Said Albies Don't Eat In A Northeast Wind? More Lessons From A Fall of False Albacore Fishing on Cape Cod.

We finally found some consistency fishing along the Falmouth shoreline this past week. The fishing isn’t better when the albies are in here, but it sure is convenient being based out of Falmouth. More significantly, the first great day of albie fishing I ever experienced was right off the entrance to Waquoit and the only false albacore over 13 pounds I have personally landed was in the same place years later. Add a ton of fabulous other memories, both personal and with fishing charter clients made between New Seabury and Woods Hole, and the sentimental value of finding the fish in here is pretty fulfilling.  
False albacore eats another Albie Snax Lure
Amber Albie Snax
 On Friday we arrived off Craigville Beach before dawn, fully expecting to be disappointed but looking for the first bread crumb that would lead us either east or west from there. It wasn’t long before we pushed away from the gathering albie fleet to fish on the Cotuit flats and Osterville channel. With the forecast for strengthening wind, we continued west finding them off Great Pond and Green Pond and hit the jackpot at Waquoit. It was fabulous fishing and it went on for hours. The white Albie Snax was getting eaten but not as well as it should have been. A quick change to amber and the fish were all over it. By mid afternoon they seemed to get fussy again. We changed to bright pink and wham! First cast and many cast thereafter had fish fighting to get to the bait. I heard from guides who were fishing the Vineyard, Upper Buzzards Bay, and even Rhode Island that they killed it on Friday. Some days these fish make heroes of us all and this was one of those days. 
Another Cape Cod False Albacore
The switch to bright pink Albie Snax pays off again
 The Vineyard Sound forecast for Saturday morning was pretty miserable and we made the mistake of not getting out until 8:00 am. It was pretty cushy in the Southport 272 and the fish were happy and I spent the first two hours swearing at myself for not going at dawn. I always advocate for an early start. Still get’s me pissed thinking about it now. The wind and the forecast kept a lot of people home and it felt more like a weekday out there. We started catching on Nonamesset Shoal where the albies were pinning bay anchovies up against the shoreline. My aggravation with myself (see above) got the best of me and I kept moving us around to busting fish when I should have kept the boat in one place. Settling down by mid-morning we really got in the groove in the fast current off Mink Point at the entrance to Woods Hole. There we no blow ups to attract attention of other boats that motored by, but on the edge of the shallow water the albies were showing one by one and eating with abandon. They were on big bait, and bright colored Hogy SI Epoxy Jigs were easy to throw in the wind and very effective. By early afternoon we moved off Nobska and did well there too. It would have been nice to do without the three boats zooming at WOT into every busting pod they saw, but thankfully there were plenty of fish to go around. End of the day at Waquoit was ok, not better, but ok at 5:00 pm is alright.
False Albacore Big Bait
Big bait by albie standards
 The quote of the week came from Fritz Folts on Sunday. We were trying to run his Southport back to Boston but kept running into funny fish off Falmouth and then again around the Mashnee Flats and west end of the canal. Fritz was in the zone. He was seeing the fish as soon as they surfaced and putting his casts right where they needed to be, time after time. Fritz said “Next year I need to block off four full days in a row to fish. Chasing albies is a lot like high school - by the time you really figure it out it’s time for graduation”
Hogy SI Epoxy Jig Colors for False Albacore
Hogy SI Epoxy Jigs
 Monday was another day of battling stout northeast winds, but our perseverance paid dividends. We worked fish early along the Falmouth shore off Green Pond and Great Pond. Jeff was new to the false albacore challenge and quickly understood my pre-game pep talk on the importance of accurate casts. We continued on to Nobska where we were rocking and rolling, literally, but surrounded by happy fish and zero other boats. All the other charter captains I talked to had understandably pulled the plug on trips that day. As a guy who flies small commercial plans for a living, Jeff wasn't phased by a little turbulence.
 
Jeff is forever spoiled. His first ever albie topped nine pounds. We messed around at Lackeys, seeing albies but only catching blues. Wood Hole kept us entertained for a couple of hours until mid afternoon when the switch flipped (who did that?) and the schools of churning fish shut right off all at once.
Rough weather false albacore
Happy Jeff with his first false albacore
 After an hour of testing the east wind Tuesday morning, we decided to go out to breakfast. Wednesday seemed better suited to errands and chores but Thursday was worth the hassle. The wind was honking but the fish were hungry. It wasn't an easy day to chuck flies at these fish, but it was a productive day to do so. Whoever said albies don’t eat when the wind blows out of the northeast choose going out to breakfast instead of fishing too many times.
 
My last open dates for false albacore charters on the Cape are Monday, October 1 and Friday, October 5. If you want to see what all this albie fuss is about, give me a call or send me an email.
 
Fish more.
 
Peter
Capt. Peter Fallon
Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC
pfallon@mainestripers.com
207-522-9900

What Do Albie Fishing And High School Share In Common?

The quote of the week came from Fritz Folts on Sunday. After two days of finding fish after fish after fish we were trying to run his Southport back to Boston but kept running into albies off Falmouth and then again around the Mashnee Flats and west end of the canal. Fritz was in the zone. I mean he was dialed right in. He was seeing the fish as soon as they surfaced and putting his casts exactly where they needed to be, time after time. After Fritz landed yet another albie, he said “Next year I need to block off four full days in a row to fish. Chasing albies is a lot like high school - by the time you really figure it out it’s time for graduation”.

See the fish. Cast to the fish. Catch the fish.

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

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Yet another Fritz Folts-caught fish

 

 

 


Cape Cod False Albacore Update - Today Isn't Yesterday And Tomorrow Won't Be Today

Here’s a recap of week 2 chasing albies around Cape Cod and the Islands:

The albie -lesson that stands out this week is that today isn’t yesterday and tomorrow won’t be today. I’ve been on the water every day this week, often for 10 to 12 hour trips, and no two days have been the same. The weather has varied, the places where we found fish varied, and the behavior of those fish varied. The rate of change with all things tied to these fish seems to correlate with their frenetic nature and tremendous energy. 
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The best classic albie fishing we encountered was on Friday. We cruised Waquoit to Cotuit at a good clip, only pausing briefly to look and glass the water. When we saw the size of the fleet at Craigville Beach, we kept going and promptly found packs of roving albies off of Hyannis moving courteously into the tide and staying up for for a pleasing length of time. It’s so much fun to set up and wait for the fish to come to you, to see them slash and swirl, and then to try to make “the” cast. This behavior continued throughout the tide and we landed a lot of fish on the 7/8 oz. Hogy SI Epoxy Jig in pink and the Albie Snax in white, pink, and amber. We were never forced to toss anything else at them. Early afternoon was tough for us. The pods weren’t showing as frequently and would quickly splash and sound. Later in the afternoon our perseverance was rewarded with fast moving fish between Great Pond and Waquoit. These guys weren’t so easy, but they were catchable.

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On Saturday we covered a lot of ground and heard reports of a lot of tough fishing. Finally around 10:00 we found good numbers of albies breaking the surface with a slow and subtle rise in the greasy calm water, totally unlike any feeding behavior we've seen so far this season (probably because wind has been our constant companion).We were right on the edge of a sharp drop off that held a lot of bait.This too was incredibly satisfying as the challenge involved boat maneuvering, accurate casts, and the right retrieve. After some experimenting, we struck gold with the hot pink Albie Snax fished with a twitch and pause retrieve, similar to what you’d use on a flat for stripers. They ate it well and we were all smiles, fortunate to have these fish to ourselves for the two hours that they were up  - almost unheard of on a Saturday in September. The most unusual catch of the day came when we paused over structure to jig up a couple of scup and sea bass as a mental break from the albie focus. I dropped my 1 1/8 oz. epoxy jig to the bottom to in a quick jigging demonstration and was tight to an albie as soon as I lifted the jig off the bottom. It’s not the first time we’ve jigged these fish, but it was the most surprising.

Sunday was slow but we had our chances. We took a chance on Nobska lighting up at first light. The wind had been blowing bait in that direction, there would be good water movement just after sunrise, and the fish had not been there in any significant numbers yet. We cruised and cast for an hour with nothing to show for our play. It sounds like we had the right idea but were off in our timing by a tide cycle. Almost every boat coming out of the Inner Harbor, Great Pond, and Green Pond blasted right up to the fleet of 30+ boats clusters off the Waquoit jetty, right past the small groups of fish working the outflows of the Falmouth Ponds and occasionally pinning bait right into the sand shoreline. We finished the morning on fast moving small groups in the shallows between Allen Harbor and Harwichport, but success only came blind casting in areas where we had found the fish the day prior.

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Monday was great in deeper water for fly caught albies, really a standout day. The fish weren't staying up for as long as we would have liked but they were there in huge numbers eating sand eels and were perfect fly rod targets. 250 to 350 sinking shooting head lines on 7, 8, and 9 weight rods worked perfectly and these albies were on average a couple of pounds heavier than what we had been catching elsewhere. 

Tuesday was strange. The fish turned on for 30 minutes and ate hard. The wind was building and the current picking up. It was rough and getting rougher, conditions that these fish usually relish…and… it just changed. Either the fish departed or they sounded and the show was mostly over just when we thought it would go on all morning. It surely wasn’t due to pressure as there weren’t many boats out in that building blow.

And then there was Wednesday. At 9:00 it was like someone threw a switch. Despite slack current, the fish that challenged us to catch 2 in two hours turned on and all of the boats were battling albies. As the fish pushed inshore and had the bait corralled, they became wicked, wicked, fussy. Nobody was catching. There was a lot of furious knot tying going on but the fish kept feeding, just ignoring all of the fake meals tossed their way. At times that type of classic albie behavior can be maddening, but it is also somehow incredibly appealing. It's like a difficult puzzle that has you up too late, as you refuse to give in and give up. We never really figured them out before we had to run for the dock. We had a couple of swings and misses, but no riddles solved.Of course we did run into a pack of chomping albies 5 minutes from the dock that ate with glee on the first cast. Typical albie fishing. We left huge numbers of fish that were giving us the finger and ran into a small group that ate everything tossed their way.

Being on the water every day does help in the search for these fish and in developing strategies for finding "happy fish" when the going gets tough. We use what we've found and learned and heard in previous outings but at least this week you couldn't do exactly what you did the day before and come home happy. If you heard you missed the good bite yesterday at Cotuit, you will often be better served by checking logical spots in the general vicinity verses expecting a repeat of the day before, especially in this all-over-the-place weather pattern. 

If this craziness sounds appealing to you and you have never experienced the rush of adrenaline that comes when casting to busting albies and feeling the energy of their fight, give me a call. I have a few open dates next week and the week after for charters here on Cape Cod. Before we know it, these fish will be gone until next year and we will be left with dreams of darting terns and perfect fly casts.

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon
Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com

mainestripers.com

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How To Catch More Albies - Color Matters - Tips And Techniques For False Albacore Fishing

Fullsizeoutput_efIt's that time of year when I shift all of my attention to chasing false albacore off the south side of Cape Cod. I base myself in Falmouth but fish from Monomoy to Wasque to Cuttyhunk to the Canal and all of the waters in-between. More later about why these fish have such a hold on me and so many other anglers. I'll try to explain in a future post, although the best way to understand, to truly get it, is to come fish for them. For now let's focus on those of you who are already committed to catching albies.

Color matters, not all the time, but often enough that it should factor into your equation of what and how you are presenting your offering to false albacore. If you've found the fish (here's a post that can help you with that endeavor) and you're making the right casts but they aren't biting the way you think they should be, it's time to change up what you're tossing. In many instances a color change is all it takes. 

Pay attention to the other anglers around you. Is someone catching noticeably more fish? If so, the albies want to eat something other than what you have tied on. If you've found your own fish and aren't getting consistent hits, it's time to mix it up. I think about setting up for ducks. Pick a spot where the ducks want to land that morning and you'll have lots of action. Set your decoys in a location that really isn't where the birds want to be and you'll have some lookers and you'll talk a lonely single into lighting at the edge of your spread.
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IMG_1941One simple change is to alter the color of the Epoxy Jig, Albie Snax, metal, Ronz that you are using. I've seen so many instances where we went from one hit every thirty casts to one hit every five casts just by changing from white to pink, or from silver to purple. And in some of those cases have confirmed the color preference with other captains and anglers on the same fish.

While I've experienced the same result with color change in fly patterns it seems to be often much less important than when tossing artificial lures. Why? I don't know but the flies we use are often much closer imitations of the prey, and I think that has something to do with this observation. Don't ignore color when you put together your fly box or watch the false albacore zoom all around your fly without trying to eat it, but I think it's lower on the list that includes presentation, retrieve, pattern shape and size. 

When you're chucking hardware, be ready to tie a lot of knots, have plenty of leader material, rig rods with different lures, and remember to change up color if the albies aren't doing what you expect.

 

 

IMG_4633Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

pfallon@mainestripers.com

207-522-9900


Who Doesn't Want Another Fly Rod?

If you've subscribed to Consumer Reports for years or like to geek out on a Wirecutter review of the best pen and you're a fly angler, you really owe it to yourself to read the Rod Shootout write ups from the Yellowstone Angler. These guys have developed a format that others are now copying, but the original remains the best - far and away, the best. You don't need to be in the market for a new fly rod (what flyfisher isn't pining for yet another rod) to enjoy and admire the passion, precision, and detail that makes these write-ups so compelling. So if you aren't loading tackle into your boat, pack, or truck right now, why don't you pour yourself another cup of coffee (or a Mast Landing Saccarappa if it's that time of day) and dive into the 2018 8-Weight Shootout.

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Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

pfallon@mainestripers.com

207-522-9900 

 


Shallow Water Stripers

Mornings with no wind and good tides have made for some great shallow water fishing charters for Kennebec River striped bass this week. It's nice to be back on the flats, although some mornings have been Florida-hot poling the boat until the breeze comes up. The stripers are eating a variety of bait. The best feeds have been when some current is sweeping young of the year alewives across the edge of the mud or sand flats, but we've also seen them actively chasing little tiny bait fish (no ID, but under 2 inches and somewhat slender) and of course they are still picking off crabs and shrimp. 

Maine shallow water striped bass
Maine striped bass fishing

The water has cleared up but upriver flats well above Popham and around Bath are still somewhat stained. It looks like the weather pattern changes for the long weekend and sighting conditions won't be as good but I would expect that there will be some active surface feeds wherever the stripers and juvie alewives intersect. There should be a fair amount of boat traffic during the day, so an early start will give you the best shot at undisturbed fish. 

I've been tying up a bunch of peanut bunker flies for false albacore season and have tested some on these striped bass. They are a good imitation of the little alewives that are dropping out of the lakes and ponds here in Maine on their way to the ocean. I've been having a lot of fun at the vise the last couple of weeks, using some new materials and furiously working to finish up false albacore and bonito flies. I fall asleep at night thinking about the pattern I'll tie when I have my first cup of coffee in the morning. 

Labor Day is often bittersweet for saltwater anglers in Maine. An extra day, or sometimes two, in the weekend allows for more time on the water. The stripers are often cooperative as we transition from summer to fall conditions. But...the decrease in day length is really noticeable and for many people, September brings a different pace to work expectations and schedules, and the letter from New Meadows Marina about winterization, shrink wrapping, and boat storage stares you in the face. We also recognize that there are already fewer fish here in Maine than we had on July 4th and each passing day will bring us closer to the end of this striper fishing season. 

While I contemplate all of the above, it doesn't consume me, yet. That's because I have albies on the brain. My transition from striper charters to guiding false albacore trips, from Kennebec flats to Vineyard Sound shorelines, from stalking to attacking, has me fired right up. If you'd like to experience this fishery, be prepared to become consumed. Give me a call or send me an email to talk about a charter trip on Cape Cod during September. It will change you outlook on the fall.

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Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com

Mainestripers.com

 


Saltwater Fly Fishing Skills - Clearing The Line

Recently I've been helping a number of anglers with their fly rod hook setting and fish fighting skills. We've talked about stripping and ripping and the virtues of a strong set. On Friday I was guiding two novice fly anglers for smallmouth bass on the Androscoggin River and we worked on keeping a bend in the rod to provide shock absorption for a light tippet. Of course we weren't using anything close to a delicate leader, but it was good practice for their upcoming trout pursuits. 

I just stumbled upon this video while combing through albie season photos.

You'll notice that right after the hook set I have slack line on the deck that is going to scream out as the false albacore takes off. You can see me separate my two hands in an effort to prevent the line from wrapping around the rod butt and the reel then at about 0:19 you'll see me briefly rotate the rod 180 degrees as I notice a small tangle in the line approaching the stripping guide. Sometimes turning the rod upside down helps a cluster-knot exit cleanly. Thankfully in this case it came undone on its own.

I see a lot of people intentionally "put fish on the reel" by trying to reel in slack after the hook set and thus see a lot of fish spit the hook. If the fish isn't taking out the slack line itself, I recommend stripping it by hand - either all the way to landing or until the fish takes off and clears the line itself. You'll do a better job of keeping tight to the fish. Remember, SLACK IS YOUR ENEMY.

It's funny fish season. Bonito are here in good numbers and albies are soon to follow. These fish will give you an opportunity to practice your line management skills. Things happen FAST after an albie eats your fly. If you'd like to get out to chase these amazing fish I've got some open charter dates in September and October, fishing the Southside of Cape Cod.

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com


Change

If you fished the lower Kennebec this weekend and didn’t see 200 diving birds over an acre of bass busting bait...you aren’t alone. The single greatest constant in saltwater fishing is change and we saw proof of that concept. The good news is that it isn’t late October. There are plenty of fish around. There is an unbelievable amount of bait yet to descend into this portion of the Kennebec river and there are lots of days left to get out on the water. The mayhem we saw this past week will happen again, and again, before we put our gear away for the winter.

In the interim, there are plenty of stripers happy to eat what you toss at them. Days are getting noticeably shorter, so fishing prime time is getting easier on the non-fishing part of life. Best fishing Saturday for us was clearly during the early morning until about 9:30. Saturday evening’s conditions were tough with a slack tide and a stout northeasterly breeze but by focusing on the flats we eventually found big groups of fish up against the marsh banks and they we’re very cooperative. Our approach on this full day fishing charter was to split the day up, focusing on the most productive times to chase the striped bass.

I’m off to Boston for bass charter trips around the Haba and Cape Cod Bay this week then on the Androscoggin River Friday for a smallmouth driftboat trip so I won’t have any Kennebec updates until after next weekend.

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com

mainestripers.com


Breaking News on Breaking Fish

Over the last two days we’ve seen more breaking fish than we have in the last two weeks combined. The Kennebec really turned on when small blueback herring and alewives started their exodus to the sea. Wow. Did it change the fishing. There’s been no shortage of bait this entire summer, but when huge schools of bait this size flush through with the tide, the striped bass really go bananas.

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I enjoyed a wonderful day on Monday with a father and son charter. Tom and Tyler, who have a boat of their own over in Southport, wanted to learn more about how to catch striped bass around the Kennebec River, where to fish and why, what gear to use, and fly tactics that work. We started with some fly casting lessons and tune ups on the grass at the Phippsburg boat launch ramp as the sun was rising before launching the Maverick flats boat.

Of course we talked about structure - rocks, edges, bars, drop offs, troughs, current lines - and how important understanding structure is to finding stripers. Well, for an hour or more yesterday morning there were 200 birds over a hell of a lot more bass right out in open water pounding bait in a section of the channel where I haven’t seen surface feeds in years. 

If you’ve followed news about work to restore runs of anadromous fish to Maine’s river systems, you would have been joyed to take in the scene yesterday morning. The Maine DMR and DIFW along with other partners have placed tremendous emphasis and devoted significant resources to improving fish passage throughout the Kennebec River drainage. Their efforts are paying off. While most of the rest of New England struggles with ever declining runs of river herring and alewives, here in Maine we’re blessed with expanding populations. 

GrFfhx5zREmbe08XA0FMKgTides are good and strong right now but they are starting to subside. The strong current flow coupled with a lot of water from upcountry rains is contributing to mayhem that we are seeing. Now through when ever the striper fishing ends for the season there will be surges of these baitfish traveling downriver and the surface feeds will pick up and drop off with the fluctuation in the abundance of bait. It may only be mid-August, but what I witnessed Tuesday and Wednesday tells me that the fishing season is changing.

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com

 


Kennebec Striper Fishing Still Going Strong

Here's a very brief, and long overdue, update on striper fishing in Maine's Kennebec River. The River is still loaded with bait of all sizes and holding bass throughout the typical summer spots. Fishing on the flats has been mixed, more often a result of less than optimal weather conditions when it has been tough. I can't believe how often my trips have coincided with an early morning breeze and/or foggy mid-days. It's been a while since we've been able to spend a couple hours of a charter chasing waking fish early AM.

This morning was more of the same. We checked a couple of flats on the run down river from Bath, but the rippled surface had the fish cruising at a depth that gave us no signs. You can wish the fish were feeding in a particular way or place, but it doesn't make it happen, so we changed up plans and tactics and focused on moving water around shoreline structure where the herring have been abundant. After the third "one-and-done" slap/swirl on the Lonely Angler Zipster we traded out the spook for the Albie Snax (great call Fritz!) and started catching. Next change was from amber to white and first cast Fritz was tight to a nice 30 inch striper. Not being able to watch the fish react to the bait makes establishing cause and effect challenging, but you can bet we kept that white Albie Snax on the hook for the next cast.

The 30 incher was the largest fish of the short morning charter, but there were plenty more bass in the 22 inch to 25 inch range willing to eat. Despite a dropping tide, cloudy skies, and a south wind, we saw only isolated surface boils. The fish we were on were looking up but hanging down and many of the takes were pretty subtle until we were in some really fast moving water.

There are plenty of little schoolies around that can be great entertainment for kids or people new to striper fishing. They can also be a blast on your six or seven weight fly rod when the wind isn't too bad. Herring are all over the place and there are lots of small sand eels on the flats. Shrimp and crabs aren't so visible but there are a lot of striped bass that eat both.

If you're looking for a striped bass charter here in midcoast Maine, I love to show off this fishery. 

I've got lot's of thoughts, observations, and some questions to share from the last couple of weeks on the water but need to get ready to grill some littlenecks for supper. Maybe tomorrow...

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900


Fishing Is Funny

Maine striped bass caught fly fishing on the flats of the Kennebec River near Popham BeachI’ve been trying to figure out how to describe the change in the fishing in the Kennebec River and keep coming up with conflicting thoughts. This week has been incredible and disappointing. I’ve noticed a distinct difference from last week, when there were lots of active feeds all over the River and we were all raving about the great fishing. Where I’ve been, that has changed and not for the better but on the flats, wow...and come on fish. We’re seeing a lot of bass from 18 inch micro stripers to 40 inch cow bass in water from 6 feet to 12 inches deep. A lot. Sometimes they are hungry and aggressive and cooperative. Sometimes they are incredibly fussy. Early mornings on the coming tide have been generally slow for bigger fish. They just haven’t been waking much and thus sightcasting to them is really tough. You get a swirl, and a short push of water, and often a refusal, then nada for a while. Late morning to early afternoon, under bright sun, the larger bass have been much more cooperative and accommodating. Funny, this fishing.

The morning tide has been weak and I am sure that makes a difference, not in our favor. If you’re planning a striper trip far in advance, you’d be well served to target dates when the tides are at or above normal. In the Kennebec, an 8 foot high tide (or less, as measured at Fort Popham) can be challenging. 

Go to fly for shallow water striped bass on the flats of the Kennebec River, MaineMy general approach is to start the morning with a spun deer hair slider in a dark color if we’re fishing on a darker bottom flat up in the marshes. The fish are usually “up” in the water column, at least when we can target individual bass or pods. These flies push some water and often illicit vengeful strikes. Once we shift to more traditional “sightcasting” over light colored bottom flats, the trick is to figure out if the fish are looking up or down. If down, it is time for shrimp, crab, or something that combines attributes of both. If they are looking up, we switch to baitfish patterns, sometimes small sand eel imitations and other times larger hollow flyes. You can get some important clues from the way the stripers break the surface when they feed, but we also rely on what worked yesterday on that flat and then changing fly pattern after two refusals on really good shots.

Part of what makes fishing funny is the mix of predictable fish behavior and the ever-changing reaction, location, travel, feeding patterns, of these game fish. Use what you learned last time out, but don’t get stuck in a rut. Be ready to add a lot of tippet as you try fly after fly. While I believe presentation trumps all, getting to watch the reaction of bass after bass after bass leaves me with zero doubt that on some days finding the right fly is key.

Albie Snax does it again , fooling another shallow water striped bassAs for hardware chucking (which by the way, I’m proud to admit to doing) the standouts in shallow water continue to be the Albie Snax from Fish Snax Lures, the Zipster spook from Lonely Angler, and the small RonZ’s. I’m sure that the Hogy Skinny’s would be well received along with other small plastics. Don’t ignore creature baits if you are fishing the green water rolling off ledges. That largemouth bait also takes big, big stripers in shallow water close to the ocean at times. I haven’t recently tied on any of the small buck tails that I tie up, but maybe we’ll test them tomorrow. 

Tides here in midcoast Maine are improving. Fish whenever you can. Even if it doesn’t turn out to be the day that you will recall for years to come, you will learn more. Wear long pants, as the greenheads are just stating to show up. They aren’t out in force yet, but it will only be a matter of days. 

I’m booked rest of this week and headed back to the Vineyard for another long weekend of trips there but may have the 21st and 22nd open if you want to get out to chase striped bass here in Maine. 

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Pfallon@mainestripers.com

207-522-9900


Should I Stay or Should I Go — Leaving Fish to Find Fish

After three incredible weeks fishing Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and surrounding waters it was wonderful to run down the Kennebec River yesterday morning just after 4:00 am with Fritz Folts, cruising past water loaded with flipping herring and then to be greeted by breaking fish and diving gulls at our first stop. There were individual bass chasing herring up onto a small mud flat and pods of stripers coming up in the middle of the channel and a few fish popping right tight to shore and plenty more revealing themselves on the sounder screen. You know when there are six herons in a span of shore 40 yards long fighting over the best fishing spot with herring gulls, black backs, turns and bald eagles diving from overhead there’s some bait in the area. The mission was to catch fish on the surface with the spook and we found success...but, we weren’t finding fish bigger than about 25 inches. After a short discussion, we made the decision to leave fish.

We could have taken the “quantity” approach, catching as many fish as possible and hoping that a few would end up being larger bass. We did spend a little time fishing adjacent structure instead of the small pods of busting bass, but that strategy wasn’t producing what we wanted. With zero wind and the sun still low in the sky and a southwest flow forecast for the day, conditions were ideal for fishing some shallow water, targeting waking fish. If you’re swallowing noseeums with bites of your Frosty’s donuts (they open at 4:00 am!), then you should be focused on shallow water fish.

We ran to a flat that often holds large stripers. As we were slowly working our way up into the middle of the cove, we could see fish pushing water ahead of us in a couple of different locations. We were about two and half hours into the dropping tide in two feet or so of water and the clock was against us. First pod to approach gave Fritz a perfect head on shot and he made the cast. The fish in the group immediately showed interest in the spook and as one tried to eat it I got a good look at how large it was. With great presence of mind, Fritz calmly twitched and paused the lure, like he was toying with the twenty sixth 18 inch schoolie of the morning. He played it perfectly, keepin these fish interested and competitive, but also giving them a chance to line themselves up for the eat. It’s not always easy for a larger fish in shallow water to grab a surface plug on the first try. Not far off the bow we both watched a big, white mouth open and inhale the zipster after another fish of similar size missed it. The hook stuck and the striper took off. After a well executed fight, Fritz lifted his rod to bring the leader to my hand. I realized that this fish would be a two-hander. Elated, we quickly snapped a few photos and Fritz returned the feisty bass to the water.

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Some people swear by the adage of not leaving fish to find fish. We however, left for good reasons, and it payed off. Part of our decision making was based upon how we most wanted to fish, what would bring the greatest reward if we were successful, and the pretty ideal conditions for doing so. 

I hope you get a chance to enjoy this incredible fishery. If you want to get out on the water, send me an email (pfallon@mainestripers.com) or give me a call at 207-522-9900. I do have a couple of openings coming up before my next trip south.

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


All Good News RE Stripers

I’m wrapping up the last day of a 4 day trip to the Vineyard where we’ve experienced some pretty fabulous fishing. All reports I’m getting from fellow guides at home are good, with a noticeable increase in numbers of fish - meaning more spots will be productive. I don’t have reliable info on the arrival of bigger bass in the Kennebec or Caco Bay, but I’m sure they are there. The great tides these next few days should have you planning time, making time, to fish. This is now peak striper season. Get after it.

I’ll add an update on our findings down here in Vineyard Sound along with some tips on how to best make this trip yourself when I get a chance to put in some computer time. We’re fishing our way back to Boston from Vineyard Haven today.

 

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


Maine Striper Fishing Update

Here's a short video from Friday, June 9, showing stripers moving into shallow water:

It's really cool when you can pattern fish, and as this video shows, there are times when they do what you might expect.

Hope you get out to fish, wherever you are. This is a special time of year.

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

mainestripers@me.com

207-522-9900

 


Two Herring Fly Patterns That Stripers Love

We're off to a good start here on the Kennebec River with more striped bass arriving daily. These fish are hungry and there's plenty of feed in Maine for them right now. I've done a couple of fly-only trips this week and can tell you that fly selection really hasn't seemed to matter. There have been some surface feeds where the bait was clearly small - 2 inches or so - but we weren't forced to try to match what the stripers were eating. There's a ton of herring in the river and I'm a big fan of larger patterns when fishing good moving water around structure. I believe it gives us the best chance at tempting a bigger fish to eat.

I really focus on two aspects of flies when choosing what to use: profile - size and shape - and action - does it look alive, how does it move through the water, does the fly do what the natural does, does it trigger the desired response. Then I also take into account the angler's ability to cast the flies under consideration. More on fly design and selection later. For now let me share two patterns that I really like to use.

 

I fish a mix of flies that I tie myself and flies that I purchase. The two in the video above are from S. S. Flies in Denmark, Maine. I also buy some fabulous patterns from Eldredge Brothers Fly Shop in Cape Neddick, Maine and The Tackle Shop in Portland, ME. All three of these suppliers are tying locally, producing patterns that have been tested and refined on countless numbers of Maine stripers, and creating flies that achieve desired profile and action with the minimum required materials. Check 'em out.

Fish more,

Peter

Capt, Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

 


Stripers Are In The Kennebec

There were plenty of stripers in spots this morning in the Kennebec between Bath and Popham on both the dropping and rising tide. The River isn't full of fish just yet, but they are there and happy to eat. The dropping tide produced some surface feeding activity but even when they weren't showing they were willing to come up top. The water is pretty stained but I couldn't discern a color preference. All white, herring colors, all dark all seemed to work equally well.

Keep moving, searching, casting. When you find fish, they won't be alone. There's no shortage of bait of all sizes and the talk of the town in Phippsburg is how strong the alewife run is this year.

Biggest fish of the morning was 24 inches, but I'm sure there are some larger fish moving into the river.

Pinching down your barbs makes the release so much easier for you and these bass. Remember that there are special regulations in the Kennebec watershed designed to protect breeding striped bass. Here's the link to the details: http://www.maine.gov/dmr/recreational-fishing/regs-tips/documents/2018_striped_bass_regs.pdf

It's finally June. Striped bass are back. Resolve to fish more.

If you are looking for a striped bass charter this June, I'd love to get you out on the Kennebec River. My few remaining open dates here in Maine are filling up fast as I'll also be fishing on Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Island this month.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

pfallon@mainestripers.com

mainestripers.com


Kennebec River Scouting Trip

We looked for stripers in the Kennebec for a couple of hours on Saturday without success. With fish now in the Presumpscot River there should be some bass filtering into the New Meadows and Kennebec. The water visibility was not great, but typical for this time of year. There are plenty of herring in the River.

Here are a couple of quick suggestions for early season striper outing.

  1. Cover a lot of water. With few fish around, there's a lot of empty river out there. Hit the spots that you think might hold feeding fish, but don't get sucked into staying there for very long. Move. Move. Move.
  2. Good water movement is more important than time of day right now. In the Kennebec there are far more prime "moving water spots" on the dropping tide vs. the rising tide, but the intersection of hungry stripers and ample bait is more likely to occur at any peak flow for a particular piece of structure.
  3. Don't ignore the small stuff in your fly box. You'll likely see herring flipping on the surface as you travel up and down the river but there is a ton of other much smaller, less visible bait around. If you find fish feeding that seem like they should be biting your fly with greater frequency, try swapping out your big Grocery or Hollow Flye for something much smaller.

Remember to double check your safety gear, the stuff that you want to bring with you, that you did put the plug in the boat. Much of what will become routine and habit in short order has a little rust on it from a long winter. Make sure that whatever you do forget on the fist striper outing of the year isn't very important.

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

mainestripers.typepad.com