Stripers are back in all of their usual Maine waters and June is the prime month to find surface feeds, hungry fish, and happy anglers. In what seemed like a May that confused itself for April (we only ate supper on the porch twice all month), the striped bass defied some logic and predictions, and filled into our chilly waters slightly ahead of "schedule". Of course our expectations have no bearing on their behavior, but many anglers were thrilled to find better May fishing in saltwater than expected.
Here in the Kennebec, the water has warmed rapidly, to the point where I am exploring the need to calibrate the temperature sensor on my sonar units. Alewife runs are down (as expected given draught that impacted spawning three years ago) but there is still so much bait in the water that the early waves of arriving striped bass don't have to work hard to find food. Yes, the water in the river is still very dirty despite the dry conditions, but these fish are incredibly tolerant of high turbidity, and muddy water shouldn't put you off. Ocean waters well away from the coastal rivers are much clearer, and under the right weather conditions, can afford some sightfishing opportunities.
Here are a couple of early season reminders that may help your fishing, even if they aren't new revelations:
- There are a lot more stripers still making their way to Maine, so if you aren't finding fish...move. The ratio of bass to bait, stripers to unit area, are all improving daily but far from where they will be in a couple of weeks. Fish impatiently this time of year. Move around. Cover some water. Burn some fuel. Check your full list of shore spots.
- Water temps do influence fish behavior but remember that every striped bass in Maine waters migrated through some really chilly water to get here. Coastal rivers are fish magnets this time of year and early season, flats that warm with the afternoon sun can be good places to target as the light gets lower, but don't write off the ocean spots you love to fish. Plenty of fish out there too.
- Speaking of light...yeah, we're more likely to find mid-day surface blitzing fish in June than any other month, but we're more likely to find stripers feeding on top early morning or evening or even at night. These fish still prefer low light conditions. So should you.
- Alewives and blueback herring are far from the only bait around, even in the Kennebec. Stripers that have travelled hundreds of miles to get here are hungry but they still get selective. Imitating big bait can pay dividends, tempting a fish much larger than the one you just caught, but bass of all sizes can get keyed into small bait and that axiom is true even in June.
- See suggestion #1. Be an active angler. I've been on the water almost every day this past week and found feeding fish, but I've seen a lot more ocean with nothing going on. It's June. It's happening somewhere. Go find "there".
When it does all come together, rejoice. It's been a hell of a March, April, and May. That tug of the first striper of the season will make everything seem right with the world for a period of time. Treasure that fish, even if it is shorter than your foot, and give some consideration to changes in tackle and technique that can help improve the odds that one of us will catch that same striper again. Enjoy! You deserve it.
Capt. Peter Fallon
Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC