May 31 Kennebec River Striper Fishing Update

Last Cast of the Trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com

 


May 29, 2019 Quick Kennebec River Striped Bass Update

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

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

Fullsizeoutput_12ae

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

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

Fish more.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com

824 Main Rd

Phippsburg, ME 04562


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


Kennebec River Scouting Trip

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

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

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

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

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

mainestripers.typepad.com


Fish Arrive In Maine

I'm up early for an Andro River trip this morning and am greeted by a post from the Tackle Shop in Portland showing a photo of a schoolie bass caught yesterday. My guess would be Scarborough Marsh, but that's no secret. I heard from a friend who caught a few small fish on Sunday down around Kittery. It was a slow start to the season south of us. Word from Cape Cod and Boston was that stripers were about a week to two weeks behind last year in terms of arrival dates and influx of bigger bass.

This time of year the most common greeting I receive everywhere I go is "Are they here yet"? Well, now's the time to get out there and find out. Hope you get a chance to fish this Memorial Day weekend.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon


Second Spring Is Finally Here - Time To Get Ready To Fish

Fishing season is finally, at long last, after much delay, upon us. Striped bass are showing up on the south side of Cape Cod and it won't be long before reports of the first schoolie stripers filter in from Southern Maine. Open inland waters in the lower half of the state are starting to warm, and anglers from Rangeley to Greenville on north are ready for smelt runs to kick into high gear. After what always seems like an interminable wait, everything seems to happen at once. At least that's my excuse for why I still have never been turkey hunting. May is a month of frenzy.

This year, all of us in New England had late season snow and many cold nights that kept extensive melting at bay. I think of spring as being two seasons. The first is tied to prime spring skiing weather and the second is all about final prep for fishing and finally getting out on the water. First Spring is marked by a noticeable increase in day length, softer snow, a beer outside after skiing, and a palpable excitement about the recognition that fishing season is really going to happen again this year. Second Spring features bug-free days in Phippsburg, the first supper on the deck, frustratingly high water in the rivers, and a distinct change of pace in fishing preparations.

I may get the Maverick in the water this weekend for the shakedown cruise. I'm always happier when that milestone occurs in early May instead of at the end of the month. The ski season is finally in the rearview mirror. I'm ready for what's next. I'm sure you are too. Here's to Second Spring.

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


Striped Bass Are Here

IMG_0248There are stripers in the Kennebec and New Meadows and last night I heard from a good source about fish up in the Damariscotta around the oyster leases. The combination of heavy rain and big tides has our waters pretty messy, but the bass will tolerate surprisingly stained water. It does present challenges as it's more difficult to connect the fish with your offering, but it shouldn't keep you on land. Many anglers who fish these waters favor the stronger currents of an outgoing tide for good reasons, but keep in mind that the flood tide brings in clearer, cleaner water. There's no shortage of bait around but this early in the season the bass are usually pretty grouped up. If you're not finding fish, keep moving.

Boston Harbor is also loaded with bait...and dirty water...which I'm not loving. The fishing there has also been feast or famine, with some large schools of bass and a lot of seemly empty water. Once again this year we're seeing a lot of micro schoolies, always a welcome site. The weather has prevented runs down into Cape Cod Bay on days when I could go, but reports from fellow captains to the south are outstanding. Big bass chasing big baits.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

mainestripers.typepad.com


Not Far Off - Striped Bass Working Their Way To Maine

Well, it is finally May (that took a while), and the striped bass are moving up the New England coast. I expect that any day now I'll get word of confirmed catches of migratory stripers from Southern Maine rivers and salt marshes. I've been hearing from reliable sources about fish in Duxbury Bay, Boston Harbor, and around Cape Ann. They've all been small schoolies, taken subsurface. Water temp at the Portland buoy this morning is a balmy 43 degrees and today is the only sunny day in the ten day forecast, but the stripers will keep moving north, and soon, we will feel whole again.

Alewive runs are off to a slow start in Phippsburg and people are blaming the high water. We've had a lot of rain and snow melt upcountry over the past couple of weeks. The Androscoggin River in Bethel is in the trees again. The snow is mostly gone but there's more rain headed our way. I don't know if all the freshwater really does hold off the alewives, but I do know that there's a lot of freshwater flushing down the Kennebec right now.

Early season stripers do seem to seek out warmer water, which you can find on shallow, dark bottomed flats and places where a source of fresh or brackish water meets the colder saltwater. Of course they have to pass by ocean facing beaches and points to get into the estuaries, so you could intercept them anywhere, but paying attention to water temps can really help when there just aren't many fish around yet.

I plan to get the Maverick in the water next week. I'll burn last year's fuel and make a few casts. It's been years since I've trailered down to Scarborough Marsh in mid-May, but maybe I'll get down that way before heading to Boston the following week to start the season in earnest.

Remember, Low And Slow If You Go, often pays dividends this time of year. Enjoy getting back on the water.

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


New Saltwater Fishing Season Has Started

Saltwater Fishing Season - Let's Go

How do I define the demarcation line for the start of my saltwater fishing season? Preparation begins after the last trip in the fall so that doesn't work. Other people have now caught striped bass in waters that I fish in Massachusetts, but that doesn't feel quite right (kind of like "electricity" when tagging team mates free in capture the flag...?). I have yet to catch a bass and I haven't yet run any early season stripers charters in Massachusetts or Maine. How about this for qualifications? I spent yesterday helping my A#1 client take delivery of his brand new Southport 272 and then fished for stripers myself for an hour at sunset. I'll take it.

Southport 272
New Southport 272 - the ideal striper fishing boat for Boston Harbor, Cape Cod, and the Islands.

The Southport 272 (here's one review with photos) is a gorgeous boat that is incredibly well built. We went for a short sea trial in Boston Harbor from the Smith Yacht Sales base at the Hingham Shipyard and I spent some time playing around with the electronics, getting to know the impressive systems set up by Navtronics. The boat is equipped with an Optimus 360 Joystick Control from SeaStar and holy hannah, is this a game changer. I'll post much more about this boat, the way we set it up, how we equip it, and what we learn as we start to use it.

Cohasset Harbor Early Season Striped Bass Hot Spot
Cohasset Harbor early season striper fishing hot spot

When I got back from the boat I noticed that the tide was dropping out of the huge saltmarsh that drains the Gulf into Cohasset Harbor. I rigged a couple of rods and headed over to the location where I caught my first fly rod striped bass in May of 1992. I can tell you the exact spot on the ledge where I was standing, casting a Mickey Finn streamer (last fly I'd used to catch landlocked salmon on the West Branch of the Penobscot River back home in Maine) on my Sage RPL 5 weight that my folks had just given me for my UMaine graduation gift. I wasn't able to repeat those results, but it still felt great to be fishing for stripers again and I drove home with no doubt in my mind that the saltwater fishing season of 2016 has started for me.

Hope to see you on the water soon. If you're interested in a striped bass trip around Boston Harbor, Cape Cod Bay, Vineyard Sound, let me know. If you live in Maine or have plans to visit Maine this summer, I'd love to share with you the Kennebec River striper fishery that drew me to settle in Phippsburg, ME. A striper charter on the Kennebec and surrounding waters is an incredible way to experience the coast of Maine. I run half, full, and multi-day charters and focus on chasing shallow water stripers with fly and light spinning tackle.

Fish more,

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

824 Main Rd

Phippsburg, ME 04562

mainestripers.com

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com

 


Striped Bass Update for the Kennebec River

First Kennebec Fish 2012
Stripers are back in the River with plenty of feed available. In our expeditionary outing, Fritz Folts and I put our time in Saturday, fishing early and fishing late and we were rewarded with one nice "first fish". We saw about six more swirls, strikes or slaps but only landed the one striper.

The Kennebec is loaded with bait of all sizes. Little sand eels around the mouth, brit herring 2 inches long from Fiddler's Reach to Parker Head, macs up as far as Goat Island and adult herring throughout. Water temps ranged from 54 to 66 degrees. We found fish in water that was about 62, but there are sure to be more bass up and down river.

Time to fill the thermos and head back out. Make sure that you are aware of the special regulations for this watershed if you are fishing the Kennebec in May and June. Hope you get to enjoy some time on the water this holiday weekend.

Capt. Peter Fallon

Mainestripers.com


Striper fishing and lilacs blooming

The pioneer striped bass often show up here in mid-coast Maine just as the lilacs bloom. Judging by the flowers I'm seeing next to the shed here in Phippsburg, it's time to go fishing.

I've heard from fellow anglers who caught or seen stripers down in the Saco and Scarborough Marsh at the end of last week, so there should be so early arriving fish pushing through Casco Bay, the New Meadows River and into the Kennebec by now.

Word from waters just north and south of Boston is good and I'll be heading that way next week, but in the meantime, I think I'll go search for some fish closer to home.

Capt. Peter Fallon

MaineStripers.com


Maine Striper Fishing: Now Happening at a Coastal Location Near You

First Fish of year1Stripers are back in the Kennebec River and all along the Maine coast as far east as Thomaston. Just in time for a stellar Memorial Day weekend, the striped bass have returned from points south for another fishing season. 

The stripers we found last night and this morning in the Kennebec were chasing herring to the surface in very sporadic bursts, one fish at a time. We never saw them get their act organized into anything approaching a flurry, let alone a blitz, but it was so satisfying to see the fish here after another Maine winter.

We even found striped bass up on the mud flats at 10:00 this morning. How nice to pole for them here in the month of May. Fritz did a masterful job coaxing a healthy looking 25 inch bass to eat after four swirls of inspection. Water temps were as high as 68 degrees. 68 degrees. That's amazing. The river is filling in nicely with herring. You'll see them flipping on the surface from Popham up past Bath. We didn't find a lot of fish, but this time of the season, that can change dramatically day by day. News from other guides just to the south is encouraging. We may fish Casco Bay or the New Meadows for tomorrow's charter, just to mix it up a bit. Off to the Sea Dogs game tonight but Fritz and I will be back at it tomorrow morning at a coastal location near you.

Capt. Peter Fallon

www.MaineStripers.com


You Can't Make Chicken Salad Out Of Chicken Sh*t...

...or why we need a National Saltwater Angler Registry.

So now you know that you need to register with NOAA (or have a saltwater licenses from an approved state) in order to fish for striped bass in Maine on New Hampshire or Massachusetts. Why? The frequent lament of some anglers is that this new requirement is just another money grab by the federal government or an example of more meddling by Washington in matters best left to individual states. Here's the story.

NOAA is the federal organization charged with managing marine fisheries. They submitted their recreational fisheries data collection program, known as MRFSS, to the National Research Council for review. The NRC is a private, non-profit, independent agency chartered by Congress. The scientists who contribute to NRC studies volunteer their time. The organization has a well deserved, excellent reputation within the scientific community. In 2006 the NRC came back to NOAA with a report that said they weren't doing good science. It wasn't an indictment of their efforts but rather of their systems. Their sampling methods needed significant improvement.

Under the MRFFS program, one of NOAA's  primary data collection methods was the Coastal Household Telephone Survey. NOAA (or state) reps made random calls to households in coastal counties to collect data on recreational fishing by members of that household. Did I ever get one of these calls? No. Could I have received one of these calls. No. Why? Because I don't have a land-line. I use a mobile phone as my only phone and the survey had no way to track cell phone users who resided in coastal counties only. One of the other flaws in this program is that saltwater anglers who didn't live in a county bordering the ocean were never called. The striper fanatic from Farmington, Maine or Worcester, Massachusetts was never going to get a call. Neither was the person from Ohio who spent two weeks on Martha's Vineyard fishing the Derby. What would significantly improve NOAA's ability to efficiently collect data from saltwater anglers? The NRC said "their names and contact info".

As a migratory bird hunter, state and federal agencies have my name, address and phone number. They send me requests for information and wing samples. They ask me questions about my previous season's efforts and harvest when I renew my license. My wife is not a migratory bird hunter. They don't waste their efforts asking her about the number of woodcock that she harvested last year but they do capture that data from every person in the country who legally hunts woodcock. By sharing information between federal and state agencies, the people managing our migratory gamebird populations have a national database of migratory gamebird hunters. The NRC said that NOAA needed the same thing.

The Coastal Household Telephone Survey was not the only flawed program that the NRC flagged and the need for a national database of saltwater anglers was not the only change that they recommended. More on those topics in another post. When Congress reauthorized the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in 2007, it told NOAA to implement many of the changes recommended by the NRC, including the creation of a national angler database. NOAA's stated preference is to have the coastal states enact registry or licensing requirements that meet their data collection needs and then share the contact info. Until all of the states do so, NOAA has created the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) and the National Saltwater Angler Registry. Their goal is to be more efficient in collecting more complete info such as who fishes, what's being caught, how many fish are being caught and when and where people are fishing.

Sound management of any natural resource depends upon sound science. Without good data, you can't have good science, thus the reference to chicken salad. Sound management is also based upon social and economic values and decisions. The data that NOAA looks to collect from those of us who fish in saltwater is also used to determine the social and financial value or worth of our coastal fisheries. I know that I want to be counted. How about you?

Capt. Peter Fallon

www.MaineStripers.com


Maine Striper Fishing: National Saltwater Angler Registry

Preview  I just returned from a meeting of the Maine Assocoation of Charterboat Captains with representatives of NOAA, the Maine Department of Marine Resources and the Chair of the Marine Resources Committee from the Maine House. Like most fisheries management forums that I've attended, there was some contentious and passionate debate, focused on the new law in Maine enacting a state saltwater fishing license for 2011. One provision requires commercial boat operators to purchase an additional license that exempts their clients from buying a saltwater license when fishing on the charter or head boat. A minority of the captains in attendance were incensed that the state was leveling another fee on their business, that the provision was added to the bill at the 11th hour and that they had no option when it came to carrying this license. Most of us in the room expected that Maine would copy most of the other states that already require saltwater fishing licenses and charge charter operators a fee that would cover their clients. I'd prefer to write fewer checks to the State, but I'm glad that I can cover licensing requirements for my clients.

I'll add more details about the Maine saltwater license bill in the coming days, but the law doesn't take effect until Jan. 1, 2011. So what about this year? What do you need for a license to fish for striped bass in Maine in 2010? There has been confusion and debate in various articles. Here's what you need to know.

If you are going to fish for striped bass in Maine in 2010 you must register with NOAA through the National Saltwater Angler Registry. The process is simple and efficient and there is no fee. That's right, it is free. The reason for the new registry is to build a "phone book" of saltwater anglers to significantly improve the data that NOAA collects on recreational fishing.

There are exceptions to the registration requirement. If you are fishing on a charter, head or guide boat you don't need to register. You do not need a license if you come out with us, as we are already registered in the NOAA database and provide them with the information that they are seeking.

If you are under the age of 16 you don't need to register. If you hold a Highly Migratory Species Angling Permit you do not need to register (however, anyone else in in your HMS permitted boat does need to register). If you are a non-resident angler already registered with NOAA either through the National Saltwater Angler Registry or through a state saltwater license (recreational or commercial) that NOAA recognizes, you are all set.

These registry requirements and exceptions for fishing for striped bass in New Hampshire and Massachusetts are the same as Maine for 2010.

I'll write more about the origins of the federal registry, the coming state licenses and why they are good ideas (not always perfectly executed) this week. Let me know if you have questions.

Capt. Peter Fallon

www.MaineStripers.com


Striped Bass in Maine: Confirmed catches in southern Maine this week

Might be time to toss your rod tube, chest pack, stripping basket and waders into the back of your car or truck. I spoke with two friends who've been catching stripers in Maine waters this week. The reports from guides north and south of Cape Cod continue to point to a promising season.

This early and warm spring has the fresh water fishing in Maine peaking right now in many areas. If you want to chase brook trout and landlock salmon (and some browns and rainbows) you should get in touch with Greg Bostater at Maine River Guides. I teach fly fishing with Greg at the LL Bean Outdoor Discovery School. No matter your level of experience, you'll learn much from Greg and have a fabulous time doing so. He's wicked fishy too.

See you on  the water soon.

Capt. Peter Fallon

MaineStripers.com


An Important Question You Should Be Asking Yourself...

Spook up close_2 Why Did I Just Catch That Fish?

If it hasn't happened for you already, it should, soon. You'll feel that tug or tap or whomp and another striper fishing season will be successfully underway. You'll grin, maybe hoot, even possibly do a jig on that ledge or up on the bow. It'll be a mix of excitement and relief that will wash over you as you realize that yes, you can still do it and for a few moments all will be right with the world.

Revel in the joy. Catch another fish. Send a photo to your buddy at work and then get serious. Remember, you're a predator, even if you painstakingly and religiously release every fish you catch in a season. Start asking yourself why you succeeded.

Note what you did to get the hit. Where did you cast relative to the current? What was your rate of retrieve? What depth were you fishing?

Note what prompted you to make those decision. Did you see bait skittering across the surface? Was there a visible eddy line, or depression on a sand flat or an edge to a patch of eel grass that caught your eye? Was a single gull sitting on the marsh bank just beyond where you cast? 

Now see if you can replicate the result. 

If you enjoy analyzing events, and you seek to comprehend cause and effect, think about spending some time on the water with us this season. We don't have all the answers but we're always asking lots of questions.

Capt. Peter Fallon

www.MaineStripers.com


Maine Striper Fishing Info

I’m sitting in front of the Sox game, answering emails, enjoying the transition from winter to summer and thinking about striper fishing. Andrew D. sent as a question about what lures we recommend for targeting striped bass below the Topsham – Brunswick dam on the Androscoggin River. Thought I’d share my response to Andrew:

I’m a huge fan of soft plastics such as Sluggos and Fin-S-Fish and Hogys . They’re ideal baits for the swirling waters below the Topsham Dam. I fish them weighted and unweighted. I’ll add them to a bare jig head or onto a bucktail jig and work the entirety of the water column. When I fish them without any significant weight I’ll occasionally crank them fast so that they skitter and splash across the surface but usually like to dead drift them. I’ll cast across the current and let the lure swing downstream, occasionally adding a twitch. I’ll also cast up current and reel up slack as the bait comes back towards me.

I use all sizes of the above lures over the course of a season. I’d focus on imitating the big bait that draws the bass to the Topsham Dam in late May and June. Even though the Hogys and Sluggos  aren’t shaped like the alewives, they work really well when the stripers are focused on such large bait. I’d sling the 10 and 14 inch Hogys and the 9 and 12 inch Sluggos.

Rubber crank baits such as the Storm Wild Eye Shad also take some really nice fish at Topsham. There are lots of different brands and colors to choose from. Again, go big.

When the water’s dirty I’ll spend some time casting a large Rat-L-Trap. The vibration and noise can lead to some ferocious takes. When the tide slows or when you see fish follow you lure but not commit to eating it, try a big spook style top water plug. I’m partial to the Lonely Angler Zipster but fish a variety of spooks. Watching the fish slap, toss and inhale a top water lure is hard to beat.

Hope you weathered the winter well. Won’t be long before the alewives start running up the Kennebec and Andro and the stripers will be right behind them.

Send us your questions. We'll happily share our insights and opinions. See you on the water before long.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon
www.MaineStripers.com


The Alewives are Running and the Stripers are Right Behind Them.

Alewivesintank1_2 The annual alewife migration is in full swing. These anadromous fish run up the rivers all along the Maine coast in their effort to reach spawning habitat in lakes and ponds. The adult alewives drop back down the rivers to the ocean soon after they have completed spawning. The young of the year alewives begin their trip to the sea starting in July, peaking late August into early October. The large, nutrient-rich adults are important forage for early arriving striped bass. If you've fished with us in the fall you know how the stripers love to gorge on the juvenile alewives in preparation for the long trip south.

Alewivesinbucket2 Watching the alewives navigate falls and fish ladders is an annual rite of spring for many of us in coastal Maine. The alewives are an important, early source of lobster bait when other fish are scarce. Some of the runs are managed by towns with rights sold to the highest bidder. The Department of Marine Resources works with a number of dam operators to ensure alewife passage at other locations.


Img_0293 At the Brunswick Hydro facility, the DMR moves these fish over the dam and also runs a "trap and truck" operation. Some of the alewives that ascend the fish ladder are held in oxygenated tanks and then delivered to pods and lakes via truck. The alewives reach spawning habitat where upstream passage is blocked by dams. The adults, and eventually the juveniles, are able to descend from the lake or pond to return to the salt water.


Img_0297 I stopped by the fish ladder at the Brunswick dam earlier this week. Here are a few updates:


 


  • More than 6,000 alewives have come through the fish passage so far this season.
  • The DMR moved over 80,000 alwives last year.
  • The 3 to 5 trucks per day are delivering fish to Sabattus Pond, Taylor Pond, Marshall Pond, Bog Brook and other locations.
  • Suckers and brook trout are entering the fish passage. No sign yet of atlantic salmon or striped bass.
  • The run will peak towards the end of May. Florida Power & Light will open their viewing room at the fish ladder this week, Wednesdays through Sundays 1:00 to 5:00 PM.

Img_0300Here are two links to more information from the Maine DMR:

http://www.maine.gov/dmr/searunfish/alewife/index.htm

www.fws.gov/northeast/gulfofmaine/downloads/fact_sheets/alewife%20fact%20sheet.pdf


Img_0299If you are around the coast during May, check out one of the alewife runs. You'll be fascinated  as you watch these energetic fish  clear ledges and falls or ascend a fish ladder. You'll also race home to get your striper fishing tackle organized or to tie up some alewife flies.

Capt. Peter Fallon
www.MaineStripers.com



3 Layers of Long Underwear...

...and Gordon's thermos of hot tea were essential items yesterday in our search for the first Kennebec stripers of the year. On a raw day we found fish but only saw them on Gordon's new color fish finder screen. These images sure looked like striped bass holding deep adjacent to structure, all in places that have produced lots of fish for us in past years. We tried to temp these targets with a variety of jigs, but they weren't biting what we were offering. Were these holdover fish that had wintered here in Maine or were they the first wave of the spring migration?

No signs of any surface activity although we did spot alewives on the surface a couple of times. Anglers are taking stripers south of Portland in the coastal rivers and marshes. Any day now we will bring you the news that we are again catching fish in the Kennebec.

Capt. Peter Fallon
Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC
www.mainestripers.com


Opening Day on the Kennebec

It is once again legal to wet a line for striped bass on the Kennebec watershed. The Maine Department of Marine Resources has established special regulations designed to protect breeding (and resident) stripers in the Kennebec. The season is closed from December 1st through April 30th, when it is illegal to fish for striped bass. May 1st markes the opening of the special catch and release season that runs through the month of June.

No fishing for me today. Still too much work to do on the boat. We'll have fish here in meaningful numbers in just a few weeks.

Capt. Peter Fallon
www.mainestripers.com