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


Fishing Charters For Striped Bass in Phippsburg, Maine And False Albacore on Cape Cod, MA

Saltwater Fly Fishing Charters For Striped Bass And False Albacore ~ Kennebec River, Phippsburg, ME And Cape Cod, MA

Thanks for visiting Maine Saltwater Fishing Reports. Here you'll find updates on shallow water striper fishing around Maine and beyond, updates on September and October false albacore fishing around Cape Cod and the Islands, 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 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


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


Maine Striper Season - Off And Running

Striped bass are here, in the Kennebec, all over waters to the south, upriver as far as they can swim, in the Damariscotta and even up into the Penobscott north of Bangor. Both mornings this weekend fished very well and it's clear that there are more fish around above our past "slot size" than we saw this time last year. If you like to chase striped bass here in Maine, you want to go fishing now. Water temps are ideal, bait is everywhere, and the stripers are hungry.

We were seeing fish chase small herring that looked about two to three inches long and small sand eels . The size of the stripers ranged from "holy shit, I've never seen them that tiny" to "wow, that's a much bigger fish". We didn't land any bass over 30 inches but did get reports of bigger fish being taken on macs over on the Lower New Meadows. Best action for us came once the tide turned and started going out. We had acres of breaking fish and our only competition was an eagle. Not another boat in sight.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

824 Main Rd

Phippsburg, ME 04562

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com


Strong Fishing in Maine Continues - Stripers of all Sizes Ready to Oblige

The striper fishing here in Maine continues the strong start we saw in early June. There are many more age classes of fish now scattered all over the Kennebec River and surrounding waters. The micro bass have also run way up the Penobscot River and I'm sure have filled into many of the smaller estuaries and rivers east of here. It's been quite a few years since a kid in Bangor could ride a bike down to the river and catch a couple of striped bass.

The menu for the stripers is still varied. Macs abound, herring of all sizes seem to be everywhere, and there are schools of little sand eels and spearing in most of the bays and along beaches towards the mouth of the Kennebec. I've also seen photos of schools of pogies over in Casco Bay, but I have yet to launch over in the New Meadows to check out that side of the peninsular. I plan to get out the minnow seine next week when my niece and nephew arrive. We'll make a couple of "tows" on the edges of some of the firmer flats. I expect that there are plenty of small shrimp around the mouth of the Back River, which is an often overlooked target for these fish. Fly anglers have the best shot at fooling what can be fussy customers when the bass get really focused on the shrimp being swept along with the tide.

Much of June in Boston Harbor was disappointing for us relative to last year. That long stretch of brutally windy days earlier in the month really seemed to shut things down for a while. I haven't fished there since last week, but fishing seemed to be improving with more striped bass of decent size moving into the harbor itself chasing herring. I heard reports of some good sized bass that people were catching under the schools of mackerel around the outer ledges. According to Capt. Bill Smith at FishBoston, he had a great July last summer. Given the good reports from this week, I expect things in the Haba are trending in the right direction.

The schools of 30 to 50 inch bass that have been hanging off Ptown, Billingsgate, and other Cape Cod Bay locations may stick around or may start to spread out around Mass Bay and points north. We had a good (not great) day focused on chasing these fish, finding best surface results first thing in the morning about halfway between Race Point and Peaked Hill Bar and then again late morning on the north side of Billingsgate Shoals at the bottom of the tide fishing deep in about 25 feet of water. The fleet of boats around Race Point rivaled anything I'd seen off of Chatham and seemed like a scene out of Long Island Sound.

About a week and a half ago we found some tuna crashing the surface for very brief feeds. We got off a few casts but never had the feeling like we were just about to get bit. There we quite a few stick boats working an area on the east edge of Stellwagen Bank but we were finding the surface activity closer to Race Point and Peaked Hill Bar. Holy Hannah, there is some bait out there.

You could cut the grass after work this week, or get up and on the road early to beat the traffic, but I'd suggest you go fishing instead.

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


Invasion of the Schoolie Stripers

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The lower Kennebec River is full of schoolie striped bass right now. The first charter of the season started a little slow on Thursday morning but finished with a flurry, as we drifted over a couple acres of busting fish and diving birds that wouldn't quit until the tide did. Most of the stripers were micro-sized to 20 inches, but we did land some fish up to 26 or so inches. The bass were pushing herring of all sizes to the surface and the living was easy. What an introduction for some people new to fishing. Four fish per angler on each drift gets people pretty excited about this sport.

I was on the water Saturday afternoon taking friends to lunch at Five Islands and we made a quick stop at one of my favorite spots where the dropping tide sweeps past a series of ledges, rocks, and islands. One of our friends jumped at the chance to try to catch a fish and promptly went six for six. What a way to start.

I didn't have a charter on Sunday so I got a chance to fish with a friend, Capt. Dan Wolotsky of Sweet Action Charters, who also happened to be free. We had a blast and were into fish from the first cast at 5:00 AM until about 8:30, working our way down river from Morse Cove towards the mouth, finding stripers at almost every place we stopped. Once again most of the fish were little little guys but we also landed ones of all sizes up to 26 or so inches. Once we lost the outgoing current at about 8:00 our success rate slowed considerably but we still found fish willing to eat. I dropped Dan off at the ramp at Morse Cove around 10:30 and promptly ran into yet another school of micro bass chasing inch long bait to the surface. After quickly landing a bunch of fish I left that action to scout some more locations. My intent was to haul out around 11:00 but I kept running into fish and 11:00 became 12:00 and 12:00 soon looked more like 1:00. I finished in the narrows at Fiddlers Reach with little stripers coming to the surface on both sides of the river along almost the entire length of the shoreline.

Enjoy these schoolies. Get out with a friend who hasn't fished in years or take a kid fishing. Play around with your six weight and your smallest poppers. Experiment with different tackle. Just go and have fun.

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gilles & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


Foggy Day = Fishy Day

We had a spectacular day of top water fun on Monday, as the persistent fog kept the stripers happy. After focusing on the Inner Harbor, Governor's Flats, Dorchester Bay area we made a move over to Hingham and Hull and we were rewarded for changing venues. The tide was flooding in, the fog was hanging thick, the wind was totally absent, and the surface feeds just went on and on and on.

The first pod of stripers we found were chasing little silversides, but most of the blitzes involved bass mauling schools of juvie herring. These were the kind of feeds that seemed like they would continue forever (even though we all know they are fleeting) and it was fun to experiment with different offering. These fish were not shy about hitting something big and the meal vs. snack approach helped target the bigger bass in the pods.

Once the tide slacked the surface feeds did the same. I found the striped bass up on the surrounding flats on my run home to Scituate later that afternoon as the water was moving off and out. They were willing to eat but not staying up or in one spot for very long. I suspect that late in the tide, as the light got a bit more favorable, the intensity of their feeds would have picked up.

I love fishing a foggy day. It can buy you more of that magic time that comes from getting up early and staying out late. Boston Harbor is no place to fool around with limited visibility navigation but if you know what you're doing and where you're going, and fortunate enough to find the fish without the aid of birds waving you over, waking up to foggy view can be a blessing.

Capt. Peter Fallon

 


The Striped Bass Are Back In Maine

Stripers are back in the Kennebec River and all seems right with the world again. There are fish all along the Maine Coast, from Muscongus Bay to Kittery. After a long winter, feeling the tug of that first striped bass really is so encouraging and rewarding.

The water has been slower to warm this spring compared to the last two years. It's a good strategy to fish up the rivers a bit from the open ocean and on mudflats and in coves that are warmed by the sun. The alewife and herring runs are in much better shape here in Maine vs. Southern New England. Here's to hoping that some of the big stripers that anglers are catching to the south find the feed here in Maine.

I'm fishing Boston Harbor, Mass Bay, and Cape Cod Bay for the next couple of weeks. Between fishing trips, teaching commitments at Bean's, and work at Sunday River, I am fully booked for the month of June. If you are looking to get out on the water (and you should) here on the Kennebec River, anywhere in Maine, or down in Boston or on the Cape, send me an email or give me a call at 207-522-9900 and I'll do my best to direct you to a great guide who will be a good fit for the way you want to fish. I do have some open dates in July and August.

Get out on the water. November will be here before we know it.

Capt. Peter Fallon

 

 


Quick Maine Striper Fishing Update

Despite continued dirty water, the Kennebec River is still fishing well for striped bass from Bath through Phippsburg to Popham and around to the New Meadows. The combination of a lot of water coming from upcountry rains and some high full moon tides, has the river a mess. Once the stripers are done waking, sighting on the flats is non-existant much past the beaches on the way upriver and running in the dark is not a good idea given the lumber floating around but...the stripers are here and happy to eat.

We fished both fly and spin gear this morning. The Lonley Angler Zipster was far and away the best producer, which makes sense (surface splash, rattle) given the water conditions but we also caught bass on Hollow Flyes, Mushies, small Clousers and surface sliders. The average size of the fish was pretty small this morning, but it really varies day by day, angler by angler, cast by cast.

The guides I know who are drifting live bait back into the surf along the beaches are doing well. We've got some cloudy days on the way, good news, but also some more rain, bad news. Casco Bay should be cleaner and I expect to get over there early next week after a quick trip to fish Boston Harbor again this weekend. If you have the chance to get out and fish, don't let it pass you by.

 

Capt. Peter Fallon

mainestripers.com

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


Good Reports on Striper Fishing in Maine

Everything I'm hearing about striper fishing in Maine is supporting what we're finding in the Kennebec River and Eastern Casco Bay. The striped bass are here and in good numbers. The bait is here and nervous, for good reason.

Schools of mixed sizes from under 14 inches to 32 inches were popping to the surface this morning, sometimes for a short burst and other times for a sustained feed. Most of the stripers we found were in 2 to 6 feet of water which was nice to see. The Kennebec is still very muddy. The bass could find the fly, but they would "miss" often and I think it was due to water clarity issues. A little surface splash went a long way in helping the stripers locate the faux meal we were serving.

Tides aren't strong right now, but that isn't a deal breaker by any means. Pay attention to water movement, look for subtle signs on the surface and don't forget to use your ears. The best feed of the day came to our attention from some distance away when we tuned in to the slaps all the way across the river.

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Serice, LLC

MaineStripers.com


Time to Head Home to Chase Maine Striped Bass

Photo-8It's been a great couple of weeks fishing early season stripers down here around Boston Harbor but now it's time to head home to Maine to fish the Kennebec River and Casco Bay. I'll post a recap of adventures in urban angling soon but I need to hit the road. I'm excited to get back up on the poling platform of the Wasabi and work across mud flats, sandy bays and mussle bars seaching, searching, searching for those telltail signs of striper activity. I'm not looking forward to seeing the color of the Kennebec when I get back to Phippsburg. We need a halt to all of this rain. Reports from fellow guides in Maine are encouraging.

Capt. Peter Fallon

www.MaineStripers.com

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


Summer Day

More good striper fishing news from the Kennebec this morning. We had the crew down from Sunday River along with a gentleman that I'll write more about soon. The fish were up on the surface early, making Forrest Faulkingham and I think about years past. The first pod we found we're mostly small (with some slot fish mixed in), but the hoots and hollers coming from Forrest's boat we're a sure sign that catching fish after fish was good way to start the day.

There were stripers giving us the finger in one cove. Individual fish popping up to the surface here and there, but fussy, fussy, fussy. We did manage to track down a school of bigger bass right at the end of the ebb tide. These fish were pushing herring two feet into the air. Here's Neil Scanlon's fish of the day.

Neils fish

Perfectly played on light line, Neil danced around the boat bow to stern, steered the bass around the push pole, navigated past the platform a couple of times and landed it with ease and confidence. This sweet striper made us all smile. Hopefully Neil is in such a good mood tonight that his wife will forgive me for calling her mobile phone by mistake at 4:43 this morning, as I was trying to check on his progress driving down from Bethel.

Overall, the fishing was good but the day was great. The bright sun wasn't ideal, given that the water is still too stained to see well on the flats. I would have paid for a little fog until mid morning. It was interesting to see a lot of stripers keyed in on very small bait when the river is absolutely loaded with adult herring. It felt a bit like Florida out there at 8:30 but when the tide really turned the breeze came up and the temp was perfect and the run to Five Islands for lunch was ideal. Great company makes for a great day under challenging circumstances. Add glorious summer weather, some cooperative fish and a stellar lunch...you get the idea.

Capt. Peter Fallon

www.Mainestripers.com

 

 


Striped Bass Update for the Kennebec River, Maine

Striper fishing in the Kennebec is getting back on track after the awful weather earlier this month, but it is still up and down. The River is slowly cleaning itself, but it is taking its sweet time. The water is stained (still) and towards the bottom of the ebb tide it looks like coffee milk. Sight casting is still limited to early morning or evening, when the stripers are waking in the surface. You just can't see down into the water at any distance, even from my perch up on the poling platform.

The herring in all sizes are everywhere, as they should be in mid June. I have seen bass chasing small bait such as sand eels up river from the mouth almost to Bath. Sometimes, these fish have been fussy, even when chasing the bait to the surface.

Father's Day +1

The striped bass that my dad is holding in this photo came out of two feet of water on Monday morning. We searched for the first hour of the morning with no results and then found happy fish slurping bait right at the bottom of the tide. The wind stayed down, allowing us to follow the fish up onto a big flat as the water started to rise. Unlike other pods of breaking fish that I've seen in the past week, these were mixed in size from small schoolies to ones about 28 or 29 inches. We went back out Monday evening to see if the pattern would repeat itself. The wind was up out of the south and the tide was running well, but we found nothing.

The weather change seemed to really turn on fish this morning. Second cast into a current seam past a ledge and bam, fish on. Next location, schoolies going nuts on the surface. Third stop, nada, but fourth stop was on again. This continued for the first couple hours until the tide died out. I thought for sure that I'd start to see fish working up onto the flats as the tide started to rise but they were stealthy and given the lack of water clarity, had to really prospect for them.

I was hoping for three or four days of southwest wind, but the wind forecast is all over the place. This strech of hot, humid weather isn't ideal for my wife's project of moving a dismantled chimney but might be just perfect for the striper fishing.

Capt. Peter Fallon

www.mainestripers.com


Maine Striper Update

I fished with Fritz in his gorgeous new 20 foot Maritime Skiff this weekend. Part of our mission is to teach him to be able to run the boat, competently, confidently and comfortably. Part of our mission, is of course, to catch fish. We are succeeding at both.

Saturday evening we spent the bulk of our time sorting through new gear, figuring out how to best stow everything, fueling procedures and putting some hours on the engine and the new owner. It was slack tide when we got underway, so we ran to the mouth of the Kennebec, scouted a couple of coves, made a few casts and then headed back up river for dinner at The Cabin.

On the east shore of Stage Island we found 200 gulls (mixed species), innumerable cormorants, terns, eagles, osprey, egrets and eiders. It was clear that there was something going on there. Our casts produced no results but our sonar screen was lit up with balls of bait.

Sunday morning we didn't dare start out in the dark. The Kennebec is still loaded with debris from the flooding. We were rewarded at our first stop with breaking fish. Schoolie stripers. This wasn't water boiling, birds screaming, bait fleeing, frenzied action but consistent, single breaking fish spread along a couple hundred yards. The tide was just starting to move and the stripers tended to hang on the drop off where it went from 6 to 15 feet deep.

We found the same pattern in a couple other coves for the first few hours of the morning. Half of our stops produced no results. We checked one flat that we both love to fish. No signs, no strikes.

All of the fish that we caught we little, little guys. We spent some time fishing deep in the areas where we were finding the fish, looking for a heftier return, but no luck.

First Fish

The water is clearer but still a mess. By half tide the draining river was again filled with swirling silt. There was far more bait visible that the previous week, but still not as much as prior to the flooding. I'm heading back over to eastern Casco Bay early this week but optimistic about the Kennebec for the coming weekend.

Capt. Peter Fallon

www.Mainestripers.com


Striped Bass Update for the Kennebec River

I don't have a striped bass fishing update for the Kennebec River for you as the water is still high and dirty but I'll be back out there Friday evening and over the weekend. Water levels upriver in both the Kennebec and Androscoggin are down significantly from a few days ago but both rivers are running about twice as high as what we were seeing last week before all the rain. That's a lot of water.

Here are a couple of photos that I took at the Kennebec Tavern on Tuesday. Folks there said that they hadn't seen the water that high in the 16 years they'd been there. They have a lot of clean up work ahead but amazingly enough they were hosting the Bath Garden Club Luncheon at the time I was snapping these shots. If you look real close in this first photo you can just make out the pink jackets and summer blouses through the front windows. I suspect that a few extra Manhattans were consumed that afternoon.

Kennebec River 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kennebc River 2

I did hear from a friend who was fishing from shore around the mouth of the Saco yesterday that the water there is starting to clear. He was seeing small schools of breaking fish that stayed well out of casting range.

I expect that I'll be over in Casco Bay for some part of this weekend and for at least two of my charters next week I will fish around Harpswell. Having the Maverick on a trailer is a huge benefit when the weather throws us a curveball.

Here are a couple of thoughts that might help you deal with all of this stained water:

Try fishing dark patterns - olive, purple, black.

Remember that the incoming tide brings cleaner water and the end of the dropping tide will be the muddiest.

Make some commotion on the surface with a popper or gurgler.

If you're chucking hardware, make some noise. Searching with a Rat-L-Trap can be a trip saver.

Find the bait. Everything has been disrupted by the flood waters. As normalcy returns, you need to hit the reset button on your own understanding of what's happening where.

Be very careful out there. There are still trees and logs and stumps and broken up docks and bolts of puplwood and deck furniture floating around. As much as I love to get an early start, I won't be launching until I can see what's ahead of me and I'll be back to the dock before it's truly dark. Also be mindful that the mud flat that you have run across a hundred times my now have a 70 foot oak tree stuck in it, lurking just below the water.

The most amazing thing about this whole event is that the water will drop, and the bait will show and the stripers will eat and we'll be singing the praise of June in Maine.

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service

Mainestripers.com


Maine Striper Update - Good News, Bad News

Striped bass continue to move up the Maine coast, filling into rivers and bays south of Portland, Casco Bay and the Kennebec watershed. We're seeing the schools of little stripers that I was finding down by Cape Cod last month, which is welcome news. And the bait. Wow.

Unfortunately, we are also watching floodwaters tear through coastal Maine, dumping dirty water into every bay, river and harbor. There are rocks sitting on the mudflat in Dromore Bay next to my house that were in the streambed two days ago. The combination of runoff, dam releases and high tides with the full moon has put a lot of junk into the Kennebec. And the rain. Wow.

Here are some graphs from the USGS that show what's happening upriver:

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The forecast for the week calls for rain the next three days, but in lesser amounts. I'm hopeful that by the weekend, we may find some of the waters starting to clear and fishing picking back up.

Capt. Peter Fallon

Mainestripers.com


Maine Saltwater Fishing: Striped Bass Update

Fritzwithlincfish Stripers are transitioning to a more typical summer pattern. There is still a lot of herring in the Kennebec River and the schools of these critical baitfish are setting up on the ledges and humps. The herring range in size from 3 to 10 inches. If you can locate the larger bait, you increase your chances of taking a bigger striped bass. We caught our two largest fish of the season on Sunday afternoon in just such a setting.

The flats fishing has ranged from ok to excellent. Our best success has come on the incoming tide regardless of the time of day, as long as it was cloudy or foggy. The beaches are also fishing well, even though the schools of mackerel have thinned out here. Plenty of small bait to go with the pollack and crabs.

Catch and release season in the Kennebec special area ends today (July 1), and along with that change, it is now legal to fish bait. Here's to all angler's sharing the drifts instead of anchoring up.

Should be a busy holiday weekend on the waters in Maine. The forecast has everyone talking about getting out. Today and tomorrow may be a bit challenging fishing wise, but we're set up for a stable SW flow after Friday, a real summer pattern, that might make some fish very willing to eat your fly.

Capt. Peter Fallon

www.MaineStripers.com


Scattered Fish Thoughts

Let's play good news, bad news. The good news is that there's great fishing all across Maine and New England right now. Name the species and and it's prime time for that gamefish. The bad news is that the days are now getting shorter. Takeaway lesson: Go Fish.

Lightship1 Just back from an amazing wedding on the Nantucket Lightship down on Martha's Vineyard. Who plans a wedding during peak fishing season? Well, I guess I'm guilty of getting married on the opening weekend of deer season. Sorry about that. And Martha's Vineyard isn't a bad place to spend four days in June if you like to fish. We got to Scituate and decided to avoid the Friday afternoon traffic to the Cape by running my father's boat down to Vineyard Haven. Very smart move. Most travel to wedding's involves flight delays, stops at DSW, searching for a gift. We tangled with bluefin tuna on the way down and back.

I have a tuna problem. I kept it in check last season, trying to stay on task and filling dates with as many striper chartes as possible, but I just LOVE the hunt for big fish.

Do you fish Hogy soft plastics? If not, you should. Both eats from the tuna came on Hogy soft plastic baits. We used Hogy hooks as well, and they stood up well. They've been a hot striper lure for us these past couple of seasons.

Calmsea The RonZ jig caught multiple scup, bluefish and fluke on Hedge Fence. That lure does it all.

Be sure you keep spare fuel filters and a filter wrench on board at all times. A gallon milk jug is the perfect container for a spent filter until you get back to the dock or ramp. Leaving Vineyard Haven Harbor the On The Fly came up on plane and then slowed to 1200 rpm's on its own. A quick change of the fuel filter and we ran back through the canal, out to Ptown, back to the Gurnett and up to Scituate without incident.

If you are in Portland, Maine, go to Harbor Fish. Even if you don't plan to buy anything. It is the most impressive fish market that I've visited, save the Tsukiji market in Tokyo. Last night we grilled two pieces of sushi grade yellowfin tuna that were spectacular.

Cambiw No morning trip today. We'll fish the dropping tide this afternoon and then look for stripers pushing up onto the flats with the rising water as the sun gets low. Hope the thunderstorms pass through early or hold off for us. Very busy stretch coming up. Time to re-rig some leaders and get to the grocery store.

Cam Arnett. Seven years old. Learned how to cast a spinning rod yesterday. He loved checking out the shipyard at Bath Iron Works and driving the Wasabi back to the launch ramp. First time he felt a striper hit his lure he said "It felt funny in my heart". How insightful is that observation? I loved it. "It felt funny in my heart."

Capt. Peter Fallon

www.MaineStripers.com


Maine Striper Fishing Advice: Go Fish

Cody with full fish

Maine striper fishing must interest you if you are reading this post. Here's the most important bit of knowledge that I can share with you: Go Fish. It's June, the stripers are hungry and there is a ton of bait in our waters. You may find bass busting herring on the surface, you may stalk stripers in the skinny water as they sip shrimp, you may just enjoy a couple of hours in the boat or wading the beach, but it is worth the effort to make the time to fish. It won't get easier than this month, and you can learn a lot when the fish are active. Just think back to January if you need some extra incentive to get out on the water.

It's been a very good week of fishing on the  Kennebec River with surprisingly little boat traffic. Each day has produced different opportunities but always consisted of a really nice mix of shallow water sightcasting and strong moving water angling. Remember that the stripers have the greatest advantage over large bait (herring) when and where the current is strong. When the water slows a bit, the bass are more likely to shift their attention to smaller, less elusive forage.

 EarlyChris fighting fish in fog morning is early this time of year and it is easy to start the trip at 4 AM and still feel like I'm a little late getting going. I can haul the boat at 9 PM and still see color in the evening sky. Low light conditions aren't the only time to chase stripers (we caught the bulk of the fish we landed today between 8:00 and 11:00 when the ebb was at its peak) but if you love chasing fish up on the flats, plan to sleep some other month.

As is typical for June, we've experienced all kinds of weather this week: foggy and slightly muggy, bright and crisp, rainy and cool. All have been worth fishing. Let the weather help guide you to where the fish want to be and what they'll be doing during the course of the day/tides.

I'm off to Martha's Vineyard for the next four days. It will be odd to be off the River, but at least I'll be on the water. Get out there and have fun.

Capt. Peter Fallon

www.MaineStripers.com

IMG_1285


Maine Striper Fishing: Ups and Downs

Cranes and rods_2 Striper fishing keeps you wondering and makes you think. After a stellar Thursday afternoon/ evening on the Kennebec River, Friday morning was disappointing for us. The fish that we found, which wasn't many, just had to be coaxed to eat. No reckless abandon. No surface feeds. No repeat of the show from the day before. The scenery was stunning, with early morning fog giving way to a spectacularly blue sky and an absolutely calm water surface. A great day for a boat ride.

We managed to track down a few stripers in various types of water during the course of the morning. Chuck's spent a lot of time on a lot of waters but it had been a while since he'd been cruising around the Kennebec. Tony shot 486 photos. Chuck had to answer his phone 37 times. Tony was lamenting his commitment to running T-ball practice in the early afternoon. We laughed, ran around, poled some flats, explored some salt marshes and had a lot of fun, even if I was cursing the crisp, dry, great to be alive day.

Back in gear this afternoon, the falling tide was kind to us. Made the first drift at 3:00 PM. Not as many fish showing on the surface compared to Thursday afternoon, but plenty of stripers just horned up about all the herring in the river. It seemed like any structure with strong flowing water held fish.

Mr greenlaw_2_2 I was surprised by the limited boat traffic. I noticed two boats alter course as they ran up river, drawn to a cove with gulls circling overhead. Each boat slowed to an idle, as the occupants scanned the surface of the water. For those few moments, no herring tried to flee the water in panic, no swirls gave away the stripers holding in the strong rips. Off the angler's went, maybe in search of "more productive water", maybe late for a cookout. Drifting down current, we were taking a break, wiping fish slime off our hands, re-rigging leaders and getting ready to make another pass. Gulls circling high means bait holding deep. There were also about a dozen birds sitting on the tide exposed ledge, just waiting for the next flurry. The action in this particular cove continued for an hour and we left feeding fish to check other locations. Those birds were dead giveaways. They were expending the energy to fly overhead for a reason.

Second to last stop of the evening had less current than the other places we'd fished. That, coupled with the shallower water and more surfacing fish, made for perfect popper conditions. It was time to get out a rod with a floating line and have some fun. Enough of that deep water work.

End of the trip In a perfect finish to the outing, there were striped bass prowling a flat in one to three feet of ultra calm water just as the tide was starting to rise and the sun was about to set. An olive hackled hollow flye seemed appropriate...and worked just fine. Really nice way to end the day. Catching stripers any way, any where is great. Shallow water sightcasting with a fly rod for cooperative fish just rocks.

Should be a good day tomorrow. Weather forecast is favorable, although thunderstorms may chase us off the water in the afternoon. If you want to get out in some stunning settings and chase these marvelous gamefish, send us an email or give us a call.

Capt. Peter Fallon

www.MaineStripers.com


Maine Striper Fishing: Good to Wicked Good

Striper fishing in this slice of Maine went from good yesterday to wicked good today. Despite the East wind, the fish were assaulting herring all tide long this afternoon.

My good friend Rich called early this morning to see if I wanted to join him on a quick dash down to the Merrimack River. I reluctantly declined, as I had a regular client trying to extricate himself from the office in Boston to come up for an afternoon then morning of fishing. I spent my morning diligently crossing off items on my to do list, but by 1:30 I just couldn't sit at my desk any longer. My angler wouldn't be able to make it up Maine, and I kept thinking about Rich drifting across the flats of the Merrimack. By 2:00 I had the Wasabi in the water.

It didn't take long to find the fish and they were not shy. After bringing four chunky stripers to the boat, I called Gordon to tell him to meet me...now. He was already in his truck leaving North Bath, but I couldn't convince him to ditch his responsibilities (he did waiver).

The wind was pesky enough that handling the boat in the rushing tide got to be a pain and I stowed the 8 weight fly rod and started chucking a Hogy 10" double-wide plastic bait (my wife always chuckles at that description) up against the ledges and into the current lines. Whomp. It was getting eaten every other cast for about fifteen minutes. I'm out of fishing shape. My arm was tired.

The surface action slowed so I caught a few fish by going deep just to confirm that the bass were still there then decided to run around for a while. The thirty circling and diving gulls kind of gave away the next place I should check out. The breeze kindly let up and I drew the 8 weight again. I played around with about ten different fly patterns. They all worked. I couldn't really tell if color made any difference, but maybe white was better than purple? Patterns ranged from hackled hollow flyes, to traditional grocery flies to striper dragons to poppers. All of the bait I saw was herring so that's all I offered.

This went on for a while. I had yet to see another boat on the water. I eventually left breaking fish to check some other locations and all held stripers willing to eat. Every fish I caught was covered in sea lice and fairly bright. We caught fish last night but it wasn't anything like this. Maybe it was the overcast skies, maybe it was just being in the right place at the right time but it sure seems like we just had a big group of striped bass push into the Kennebec.

Action slowed as the tide died. I didn't land a fish much over 30 inches but some of them were just fatties. The water is dirty from the rains of last weekend but it didn't damped the enthusiasm of these bass. The timing of the ebb only gets better over the next couple of days. I know where I'll find Gordon at 4:30 tomorrow morning.

Capt. Peter Fallon

www.MaineStripers.com


Maine Striper Charters: My Most Important Client

Had my dad Dadwithflyrodout on the Wasabi Friday for a great striper fishing trip. We started slow but finished strong. Here are a few of the highlights from the day:

Polled a couple of flats in the early AM fog. Perfect light, no wind, stunning scenery (why didn't I grab the good camera?) but only a few groups of fish showing themselves. We had a couple of decent shots and one school come in for attack but we never hooked a fish. We just weren't seeing the numbers of fish that I had earlier in the week.

Dadfishwithfly Ran around for a while looking for action, wakes anything and waiting, waiting, waiting for the tide to really get going. My dad accused me of making up fish sightings to keep my client's interest focused. I did my best but couldn't prove him wrong.

Came back to a spot that my father remarked looked so good but had never given up a fish for him. First drift through he was hooting "Whoa, this is a big fish". Before we could cycle through the eddy again he was making sure that I was emailing the photo of him with the fish to my niece and nephew in San Francisco. "They'll check email on their iphones at breakfast before they go off to school". I guess this is now normal for a lot of third and fourth graders.

Dadwithfish Headed to another ledge that is so consistent. Another spot that my father has never fished. Fifth cast of the big herring fly, his line comes tight just as the fly makes its downcurrent swing through the seam. Another nice striped bass get's sent to San Francisco. We only plucked one more fish off this point before continuing our tour.

My father declares that it is time to breakout the spinning rod and see if a fish will eat the Lonely Angler Spook. Eat? They crush it. They're just pissed about that thing dancing over their heads. He catches a couple more bass and then has a bigger fish inhale the surface plug. This is a photo-email worthy fish, even if my niece and nephew are in class. Just as we get the fish to the side of the boat a big gray shape zooms up from the darker water and grabs a hold of the striper. Done in by a seal.

Spook My father's work is done. Mission accomplished. His arms are tired and he's ready for a sandwich. He run's the boat up the Kennebec back to the ramp. There's just enough chop on the water in a couple of stretches for me to show him that in the Maverick, faster is often smoother. I get him comfortable zipping across the top of the waves at 40 mph while I down my sandwich.

Home in time for a nap and some chores before my mother arrives back from Portland and the Brunswick farmer's market toting bread from Standard Baking, pie from Two Cats Bakery, lobster's from Gilmore's, salad from a local grower and a variety of pre-dinner snacks from who knows where else. My father has made his customary stop at the NH liquor store, so we have plenty of wine.

Once it's martini time, I have my dad grab his glass and join me on the lawn for Lobsters some fly casting practice. I'd noticed that he was often using only a single haul on his backcast, so we want to program the haul on the forward cast to automatic. Maybe its the joy from the day, maybe its the couple sips of gin...he gets it right away and is double hauling every time without thinking about it.

Sarah and my mother get to hear fish stories (again) from our day over dinner. Perfect.

Capt. Peter Fallon

www.MaineStripers.com

 

Fly Fishing for Stripers: "What are you using?"

3flies Fly fishermen tend to get very focused on what fly to use. I'm guilty. Come on admit it. You do too. Stripers on the flats, brookies in a beaver pond, browns on a big river, we often ask and hear "what fly are you using?" When we ask, "what worked", we're really asking about the fly that caught fish. The reality is that variables such as presentation, depth, movement, time (of day, of season, tide in saltwater) are usually much more important factors in success than fly selection. But...it's still fun to talk about flies.

Here are three of the four flies that worked for Roger yesterday. [Bottom to top: bubblegum hackled hollow flye, herring grocery fly and black slinky snake fly] The fourth fly was Andy's purple haze Clouser.

We started the day poling a mudflat off a salt marsh with a small creek opening. The tide was dropping but the current in the river really hadn't yet picked up steam. Zero wind and just the right amount of fog made for perfect conditions. The stripers were pushing water and swirling on bait and we could see it all. First fish came soon after we started. A small pod of a couple bass were cruising down the edge of the marsh over some flooded grass. They kindly offered us an ideal presentation as they were tracking straight towards us, set to pass down the left side of the boat. Roger made the cast and two strong strips and then bam! A big swirl then splash and smiles all around.

We playMaine saltwater fly fishinged around up on the mudflat for a while. Landed another nice striper, had some other chances and lined a fish or two. Roger showed up this morning with his rod rigged with a small purple over white with pink glimmer Clouser that his long time fishing companion Andy had tied for use on the Morse River. The section of the river where we started our trip was loaded with herring and we could see and hear them flipping on the surface less than 50 yards from where we were fishing but the bass that were feeding on the flat weren't chasing big bait. The "rise form" was far too subtle, just that telltale swirl of a striper slurping something small. Andy's purple haze Clouser wasn't a fancy shrimp imitation but it worked just fine. Roger and I talked about emailing a couple of photos to Andy who was stuck in his office back in Connecticut, but decided that we wanted all of the good fishing karma that we could get.

Once the current in the river picked up the action on the flats slowed down. We ran around for a while, checking some other edges and rips. Only saw one brief blow up in about a foot of water but by the time we could pole up on the fish they were gone. We made the switch to the bubblegum hackled hollow flye and a 350 grain RIO line and started working along ledges that faced the ebbing current. Wasn't long before we tracked down individual stripers coming up to chase a herring. We picked up a couple more fish working the eddy lines and switched to the herring grocery fly just to see if we could discern a preference. Worked..but no better than the hollow flye.

We ranMaine Saltwater Charters down river to pick up Roger's wife for the last two hours of the charter. Nothing remarkable to report from our prospecting at the mouth of the Kennebec as the tide was filling back onto the flats. We did see Chester Rowe returning from a very successful mackerel outing with two of his longtime clients. Chester kept one eye on the fishfinder screen while cranking in mac after mac but never saw a big arch under the schools of striper bait.

 Our last stop was on another mudflat adjacent to a marsh and creek. Roger was surprised when I clipped off the Clouser and replaced it with the black slinky snake fly. He remarked that he often used a black snake fly when fishing at night but never would have considered using it at noon. I'm a big fan of black, olive and purple in stained to murky water over a mud bottom at anytime of day. The wind was up and the sky still overcast, so we had no visibility down into the water but it wasn't long before we found fish giving themselves away. It wasn't quite sightcasting, but if we could get the fly in the area where a fish had just swirled it resulted in an explosion and then that sweet sound of zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. These were also pudgy stripers, dark in color and absent sea lice, just like all of the other fish we had landed.

Roger and I kept talking about how much fun it is to cast to fish that you can see and to catch striped bass in skinny water. We really enjoyed ourselves. Roger was thrilled to kick off his Maine striper season with some success. Hope you get out wherever you are. It's June and all over New England, now is the time to fish.

Capt. Peter Fallon

www.MaineStripers.com


Shallow Water Striper Fishing

The last three days have been a lot of fun. Either the fish that have been hiding out in or off the river are becoming more active or we've had a push of new bass move into our waters. I suspect that it the latter, but until I get my acoustical tags I'll have to keep on guessing.

Richdawn12   We were lines in by 4:15 Monday morning. Despite our early start we didn't find any stripers until the water just started to rise at 5:00. We were perfectly positioned to have single and double waking fish pass by us as they cruised in a foot of water, up a bar and turned the corner to move onto the flat. We only took one fish just over the slot in that spot but had lots of fun for about 45 minutes. With no wind the water was glassy calm and we could see these bulges of water pushing towards us from a hundred yards away.

We prospected on a couple of other flats with no sign of fish and then moved out to cast into the surf that was rolling up on the island off the mouth of the river. Nothing but mackerel out there that we could find. About half tide we were back on fish in shallow water with just enough sunlight and water clarity to see them fairly close to the boat and get an idea of what they were up to. The water was too deep to expect wakes and we saw no swirls or splashes but could watch the stripers grubbing on the bottom in an area rich with crabs and shrimp. We couldn't spot fish way off and plot our cast, but we could get an idea of where the fish were milling and cruising and make some quick, short casts. The crab flies were the ticket. Didn't try any shrimp imitations so can't report on their effectiveness.

We finished our 12 hour marathon by working the deeper ledges on the bottom of the tide as we headed back upriver, finding fish willing to eat at every stop. The water is still amazingly muddy in the Kennebec at this stage of the tide but the bass could find what we were tossing. This wasn't fly water so we went to the  1 oz. Lunker City Pro Jig with 5 3/4 inch Fin-S-Fish. This is my stand by jig choice, versatile and effective - sinks readily, great action, quality hook, catches fish.

IMG_0702 Tuesday was in many ways similar to Monday, without the light later in the morning. We didn't see as many waking fish. Maybe it was the tide being an hour later, maybe it was the guy who kept trolling back and forth close off our bow right in the travel lane for the fish, maybe it was just a different day. We had a number of shots but just couldn't put it together. Fishing with Roger and John is always a blast. These guys can cast, tie gorgeous and effective flies and know how to catch fish.

IMG_0699 We messed around chasing a big lone fish on another mud flat before moving to find the crab patrol bass. They were cooperative and it was fun to see them act just as I expected. I told Roger and John to "think nymphing", that the takes would be subtle and come when the fly was right on the bottom and the bass would spit more than they could imagine. After a few minutes Roger kept exclaiming "it's just like nymphing, it's just like nymphing...that hit was nothing like a classic striper take." Roger was dialed in and took a number of fish. We haven't had many stripers in Maine that are under 20 inches and we all rejoiced at finding some schoolies. The best fish of the day spit the hook on Roger after five minutes through no fault of his. Played perfectly it was one of those fishing moments where you toss up your hands and have no thoughts of what you could have done differently.

When we lost the water movement we made a big move. Roger and John made a quick trip back to the Gun Club to check in and announce that there were more fish still to be caught. I hauled out at Morse Cove, relaunched in the New Meadows and picked up John and Roger to fish the top of the dropping tide under perfect cloudy skies. It took us some exploring to find the flat that the fish were favoring but there was no mistaking where they were when one of Roger's casts caused thirty fish to swirl and bolt. They didn't go far and four casts later the Gurgler was harassed and finally inhaled by a nice fish. We caught a few more and then...they were gone. We then found actively feeding fish under diving birds for the first time in weeks. The stripers were spread out and coming up as singles, but once again the Gurgler was the perfect call on Roger's part. Can you guess what I was tying last night after another 12 hour day (I had to do some prospecting on my own after Roger and John headed home to stay married) while sipping a Bud, listening to the Sox and trying to stay awake until 9:00?

Capt. Peter Fallon
www.MaineStripers.com


Okay pookey, do the honors!

I fished out of my new boat yesterday morning for the very first time. Stunning day, crisp, bright, ultra clear, vibrant, not so fishy. Driving up to Morse Cove I was debating my plan – explore some areas that we didn’t fish over the weekend or go directly to the spots where we were catching fish. I decided on the latter. Exploring made more sense from a guiding perspective, but I thought it would be fun to just go fishing (well, really I mean to just go catching). On my first cast I landed a nice chubby 26 inch striper. Now that’s the right way to christen a boat.

At each stop I was able to tempt one or two fish to come to the surface, much slower than what we found on both Saturday and Sunday mornings. A 400 grain line and a large herring fly would pick up another fish or two along the ledges. As the tide dropped out there we fish hugging the bottom in 15 to 25 feet of water. Occasionally one fish would surface to chase a herring but I never saw anything even approaching a flurry of activity. Drifting and jigging a picked up a couple more fish.

As the striped bass continue to move up the Maine coast we'll see more fish filling into the Kennebec and New Meadows Rivers. Water temps in the rivers are ideal, ranging from a low of 56 to a high of 63 degrees. The amount of bait that is here is hard to comprehend until you witness it first hand. Things should really take off in short order. I expect that the cloudy weather of the next couple of days should also help bring more bass to the surface.

Having sated the need to land a few Maine stripers I poled across a couple of flats just looking for fish moving up with the rising tide. I spotted countless sturgeon but nothing with stripes on its side. I finished the morning by taking my wife for her first ride in the new boat. She approved. Her poling lessons start tomorrow.

Capt. Peter Fallon
www.MaineStripers.com


Big Improvements

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
www.mainestripers.com


Holy Bait, Batman

Wow. I haven't seen this much bait in and around the Kennebec River in a couple of years. There are clouds of sand eels along the beaches, ledges and flats. There are acres of small bait that look like silversides swarming the flats. There are herring all through the river from just above Popham to beyond Bath. There are mackerel gorging on the sand eels and "silversides" from Phippsburg Center to Five Islands to Small Point. There are even pogies over in the New Meadows River.

Now, what about stripers, you ask? Yes ,they are here and hungry but it has been an inconsistent start to our season. The second week of June should be as easy as it get. The mouth of the Back River around sunrise and sunset on the dropping tide should be erupting with schoolie bass that will eat anything you toss their way. Until the very end of last week the surface action we found was minimal. I heard reports about evening blitzes at Popham, with some big fish eating tiny bait in skinny water - a fly fisherman's dream. On charters last Monday and Tuesday, we found fish throughout the day but never saw a striper so much as swirl, fin or sip on the surface. The surface signs have been increasing since then, concentrated in the low light periods of the day. It has paid dividends to get out early and stay out late. Get the coffee maker loaded the night before, have the boat hitched to the truck and set the alarm. If you're headed out in the afternoon, don't make plans to be home for supper, check your nav lights and bring the bug dope.

If you aren't seeing surface action, look for a couple of gulls sitting on a ledge or flying high over head and fish the adjacent structure working close to shore and also deep along current seams. We've taken a LOT of fish bouncing a jig along the bottom in water 15 to 30 feet deep. We've also been very successful concentrating on rocky structure when the tide is pouring out of the river. One stretch of ledges kept us tight to fish for hours on Sunday morning and Sunday evening and Monday morning. We never saw a striper come to the surface, but did have good luck with top water plugs right tight to the rocks. So often in mid-June finding striped bass can be as simple as running up and down the rivers and beaches looking for the birds crashing the water. Not so for much of this month. Last evening it was just as it should be. There were huge flock of terns and gulls working over breaking fish and the action went on for hours. Ah, rejoice. Now it is finally June.

Capt. Peter Fallon
www.mainestripers.com


What a Difference a Day (or so) Makes

The fish are back on. As evidence I offer my thumb, raw and sore. The runoff coming down the Kennebec from last weekend's rains had somewhat tempered the enthusiasm of the striped bass. The past few days we've seen steady improvement in water clarity, with today significantly clearer than yesterday. The stripers have responded by showing themselves on the surface again, although most of the fish that we found were still hugging the bottom. We had a great crew from Sunday River and American Skiing Corp. out in the two boats today. There was no shortage of hooting and hollering with all of the hook ups.

We saw a few herring flipping in Morse Cove at first light. I'll be keeping my eyes open for concentrations of these larger striper snacks. The prime time for saltwater fly fishing in Maine is about to kick off. The next three weeks should be top notch. We do still have some openings for charters during this period, so if you're thinking about striper fishing in Maine, now is the time to act.

Capt. Peter Fallon
www.mainestripers.com


Sea Serpents

Sea_serpent_3 Loch Ness has nothing on us. Look at the photo of the monster we saw yesterday on our run up the river to Augusta. All of the runoff has the upper river full of tree creatures and log serpents ready to eat your prop for lunch. Many of the bouys above Richmond have been displaced by flood waters and floating debris. The current around the bridge pilings in Augusta is fercoious. The waterfront park at the Gardiner landing had alewives or herring swimming above the level of the sidewalk.

Despite the turbid water, the Kennebec below Bath has been fishing well over the past week. At times the surface action has been so widespread that the birds are having a hard time deciding which school of fish to follow. They aren't wanting for feed either. No problem getting the active fish to eat. They aren't fussy about size, color, or retrieve. Most of the bait has been small. As the large baitfish move into the river, we will be seeing bigger bass chasing them.

We'll give you another update after Wednesday's charters.

Capt. Peter Fallon
www.mainestripers.com


New NMFS Tuna Regulations

Tuna_headon1_5 The National Marine Fisheries Service has announced final regulations regarding harvest of bluefin tuna. In previous announcements they had indicated that there would not be any harvest of "school sized" bluefin ("27-47" curved fork length) this season due to harvest totals compiled from 2005. There will be a season for retention – keeping a fish – of the school-size class in New England waters, from August 25th until September 14th. At first glance, the NMFS tuna regulations seem to be written by the same folks who brought us our tax code. If you have questions, call or email the NMFS for help.

Here's the link to the NMFS website with all of the details:http://216.12.134.122/News.asp#news232
For more informationyou can aslso contact Dianne.Stephan@noaa.gov.

Capt. Peter Fallon
www.mainestripers.com

Rain and Runoff

No drought concerns here in Maine. With all of the runoff from recent rains the rivers are murky, clouded with silt. The fish remain active and when you find surface action they will find your fly or lure. Fishing away from the blitzes or below the smaller fish the challenge is getting your offering noticed in the coffee with cream colored water.

A lure or fly that incorporates a rattle transmits vibrations that the bass detect with the sensitive receptors of their lateral lines. A jig or Clouser bounced along the bottom also appeals to senses not handicapped by the turbid water. Flies featuring spun deer hair heads are thought to "push water". A gurgler or popper can be an excellent fly for these conditions.

Chartreuse is always a popular color on the Kennebec, no matter the water clarity. In these poor visibility conditions I like the following color combinations: yellow/olive, chartreuse/olive, olive/black, purple, purple/black. I'll also try patterns tied entirely out of flash material such as angel hair.

Don't let the stirred up water hold you back. As I write this, I am watching fish busting on the surface out in front of the house. Gotta go...

Capt. Peter Fallon
www.mainestripers.com