After a wicked slow start to the striper season here on the Kennebec, the fishing has really picked up since the end of last week. Fritz and his son Alex were up for three days to mark the start of their summer. They will be here a number of times over the next four months, but that doesn't dampen their enthusiasm for this first outing. I made sure to give them a realistic picture of the slow fishing that we were encountering the previous two weeks. Saturday afternoon and evening we found fish in every location where we stopped. Sometime just a single fish, other times three, four or five. No blitzes but we did see a couple bass chase big bait right to the surface. The Rat-L-Trap was the hot lure that evening in the dirty water left over from the recent rain and new moon tides, but we also took fish on the surface and with the Storm Wild Eye Shads. It was nice to see a few fish 23 to 25 inches.
Sunday morning was perfect - absolutely still, water just starting to move at dawn. Fritz and I were underway early, heading for our favorite flats. Our conversation on the run down the river was all about how much we'd looked forward to this event since the end of last fall. As we ghosted up onto the flat we could see a couple of stripers pushing water about 100 yards ahead. A perfect first cast by Fritz had the fish charging towards the Lonely Angler spook. Fish on, thank you very much. Perfect. Well, that was the high point of the morning , both emotionally and piscatorally. We were able to stalk a few more striped bass cruising in the shallows and convinced a couple to eat the spook, but the intermissions between strikes was way too long. As the current picked up we changed tactics and started to work eddy lines and ledges with good moving water. We found a few fish but it was decidedly slower than the day before. Once again, the Rat-L-Trap landed the fish of the trip.
After a midday break (nap, lunch, shopping run) we headed out for another afternoon/evening trip. It took us about an hour to get dialed into the fish but once we did it was a hoot. The stripers would pop up to the surface for ten seconds and hit anything if you could get it near their location right away. We had a good time with this game of hide and seek while we waited for the ebb to increase, anticipating that the flashes of surface action would evolve into full bore feeding frenzies. Our patience was rewarded by 6:30 and the next hour was non-stop, giddy fun. These fish were feeding out in the middle of the strongest current in 30 to 50 feet of water. We'd pick off fish popping tight to shore and occasionally one of the coves would erupt, but the bulk of the bass were coming to the surface away from the structure.
Starting off from Sebasco early on Monday morning we fished our way down to Hermit Island with no fish to show for our efforts. By 8:00 we realized why we weren't finding fish, so we blasted back to the resort to wake up Alex (he decided to celebrate his first day of summer vacation by sleeping past 4:30 AM) and get him into the boat. We ate breakfast and headed out again, this time on a long planned boat ride from the New Meadows over to Popham and back. We only stopped to fish long enough to catch mackerel at the fort at Popham - that's right, mackerel. After two years in a row of tardy arrivals, the mackerel are here in the Kennebec and in the New Meadows. Wow, did it feel like summer on Monday. Hot at Sebasco but reports from inland about the oppressive heat made us chuckle as we cruised past Small Point and thought about putting on a jacket.
I didn't fish on my way back up the New Meadows but I did stop into Cundy's Harbor to talk with some of the guys that I used to work for, hauling and tuna fishing. They were full of reports about stripers hammerin' bait up in Mill Cove every evening. There have been big pogies over in the New Meadows and like the Kennebec, the herring are now up into the river. After spinning our wheels in the mud the last couple of weeks our season is finally getting some traction. I know that it will happen, but it is awfully reassuring to finally see it in person.
Capt. Peter Fallon