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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