Quick Cape Cod Albie Fishing Update Report

Here’s a albie charter report for the week. I'll try to add more details between fishing trips. You can also check my facebook page for brief updates on current albie fishing.
 
I went to bed last night thinking “Oh no, what if we are in the late innings of the albie season”? The last couple days on Cape Cod have been less than stellar but a nice southwest flow today really seemed to turn on some of the false albacore we found. It had been three days since we were in sustained churning feeds. After working rocky structure, slow cruising small pods, and covering a lot of miles it was a welcome change. We did ok grinding out infield singles. It was nice to hit some long balls today.
 
Overall, pink, albie crack, and olive SI Epoxy Jigs have been top producers on spin gear along with the amber and white Albie Snaxs. Productive fly patterns have been tan or tan and white bay anchovy patterns, even when the fish off Naushon were puking up silversides. The albies in Vineyard Haven harbor have seemed to be focused on bay anchovies, even when feeding around clouds of peanut bunker. 
 
We’ve found fish just breaking the surface from Point Gammon to Tarpaulin Cove, mostly in the morning. Sometimes they’ve allowed us to idle parallel to them and take quartering shots, but other times they just don’t stay up long enough to get aligned or to work up wind or up current of them and wait them out. Best fishing has been around the north side of the Vineyard, with specific locations varying every day. 
 
Forecast for the holiday weekend isn’t bad, with Sunday looking like the fishiest day. Despite what you might be hearing, don’t give up on the albies just yet.
 
Oh, and I almost forgot...on Tuesday mid-day, Craig Ucker caught this guy on a tan and white bay anchovy epoxy fly shortly after landing his first albie on the same pattern. Very cool.
 
Cape Cod Albie Fishing Bonito
Catching more than just false albacore here on the Cape
Fish more,
 
Peter
 
Capt. Peter Fallon
Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC
207-522-9900
pfallon@mainestripers.com

Who Said Albies Don't Eat In A Northeast Wind? More Lessons From A Fall of False Albacore Fishing on Cape Cod.

We finally found some consistency fishing along the Falmouth shoreline this past week. The fishing isn’t better when the albies are in here, but it sure is convenient being based out of Falmouth. More significantly, the first great day of albie fishing I ever experienced was right off the entrance to Waquoit and the only false albacore over 13 pounds I have personally landed was in the same place years later. Add a ton of fabulous other memories, both personal and with fishing charter clients made between New Seabury and Woods Hole, and the sentimental value of finding the fish in here is pretty fulfilling.  
False albacore eats another Albie Snax Lure
Amber Albie Snax
 On Friday we arrived off Craigville Beach before dawn, fully expecting to be disappointed but looking for the first bread crumb that would lead us either east or west from there. It wasn’t long before we pushed away from the gathering albie fleet to fish on the Cotuit flats and Osterville channel. With the forecast for strengthening wind, we continued west finding them off Great Pond and Green Pond and hit the jackpot at Waquoit. It was fabulous fishing and it went on for hours. The white Albie Snax was getting eaten but not as well as it should have been. A quick change to amber and the fish were all over it. By mid afternoon they seemed to get fussy again. We changed to bright pink and wham! First cast and many cast thereafter had fish fighting to get to the bait. I heard from guides who were fishing the Vineyard, Upper Buzzards Bay, and even Rhode Island that they killed it on Friday. Some days these fish make heroes of us all and this was one of those days. 
Another Cape Cod False Albacore
The switch to bright pink Albie Snax pays off again
 The Vineyard Sound forecast for Saturday morning was pretty miserable and we made the mistake of not getting out until 8:00 am. It was pretty cushy in the Southport 272 and the fish were happy and I spent the first two hours swearing at myself for not going at dawn. I always advocate for an early start. Still get’s me pissed thinking about it now. The wind and the forecast kept a lot of people home and it felt more like a weekday out there. We started catching on Nonamesset Shoal where the albies were pinning bay anchovies up against the shoreline. My aggravation with myself (see above) got the best of me and I kept moving us around to busting fish when I should have kept the boat in one place. Settling down by mid-morning we really got in the groove in the fast current off Mink Point at the entrance to Woods Hole. There we no blow ups to attract attention of other boats that motored by, but on the edge of the shallow water the albies were showing one by one and eating with abandon. They were on big bait, and bright colored Hogy SI Epoxy Jigs were easy to throw in the wind and very effective. By early afternoon we moved off Nobska and did well there too. It would have been nice to do without the three boats zooming at WOT into every busting pod they saw, but thankfully there were plenty of fish to go around. End of the day at Waquoit was ok, not better, but ok at 5:00 pm is alright.
False Albacore Big Bait
Big bait by albie standards
 The quote of the week came from Fritz Folts on Sunday. We were trying to run his Southport back to Boston but kept running into funny fish off Falmouth and then again around the Mashnee Flats and west end of the canal. Fritz was in the zone. He was seeing the fish as soon as they surfaced and putting his casts right where they needed to be, time after time. Fritz said “Next year I need to block off four full days in a row to fish. Chasing albies is a lot like high school - by the time you really figure it out it’s time for graduation”
Hogy SI Epoxy Jig Colors for False Albacore
Hogy SI Epoxy Jigs
 Monday was another day of battling stout northeast winds, but our perseverance paid dividends. We worked fish early along the Falmouth shore off Green Pond and Great Pond. Jeff was new to the false albacore challenge and quickly understood my pre-game pep talk on the importance of accurate casts. We continued on to Nobska where we were rocking and rolling, literally, but surrounded by happy fish and zero other boats. All the other charter captains I talked to had understandably pulled the plug on trips that day. As a guy who flies small commercial plans for a living, Jeff wasn't phased by a little turbulence.
 
Jeff is forever spoiled. His first ever albie topped nine pounds. We messed around at Lackeys, seeing albies but only catching blues. Wood Hole kept us entertained for a couple of hours until mid afternoon when the switch flipped (who did that?) and the schools of churning fish shut right off all at once.
Rough weather false albacore
Happy Jeff with his first false albacore
 After an hour of testing the east wind Tuesday morning, we decided to go out to breakfast. Wednesday seemed better suited to errands and chores but Thursday was worth the hassle. The wind was honking but the fish were hungry. It wasn't an easy day to chuck flies at these fish, but it was a productive day to do so. Whoever said albies don’t eat when the wind blows out of the northeast choose going out to breakfast instead of fishing too many times.
 
My last open dates for false albacore charters on the Cape are Monday, October 1 and Friday, October 5. If you want to see what all this albie fuss is about, give me a call or send me an email.
 
Fish more.
 
Peter
Capt. Peter Fallon
Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC
pfallon@mainestripers.com
207-522-9900

What Do Albie Fishing And High School Share In Common?

The quote of the week came from Fritz Folts on Sunday. After two days of finding fish after fish after fish we were trying to run his Southport back to Boston but kept running into albies off Falmouth and then again around the Mashnee Flats and west end of the canal. Fritz was in the zone. I mean he was dialed right in. He was seeing the fish as soon as they surfaced and putting his casts exactly where they needed to be, time after time. After Fritz landed yet another albie, he said “Next year I need to block off four full days in a row to fish. Chasing albies is a lot like high school - by the time you really figure it out it’s time for graduation”.

See the fish. Cast to the fish. Catch the fish.

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

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Yet another Fritz Folts-caught fish

 

 

 


Cape Cod False Albacore Update - Today Isn't Yesterday And Tomorrow Won't Be Today

Here’s a recap of week 2 chasing albies around Cape Cod and the Islands:

The albie -lesson that stands out this week is that today isn’t yesterday and tomorrow won’t be today. I’ve been on the water every day this week, often for 10 to 12 hour trips, and no two days have been the same. The weather has varied, the places where we found fish varied, and the behavior of those fish varied. The rate of change with all things tied to these fish seems to correlate with their frenetic nature and tremendous energy. 
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The best classic albie fishing we encountered was on Friday. We cruised Waquoit to Cotuit at a good clip, only pausing briefly to look and glass the water. When we saw the size of the fleet at Craigville Beach, we kept going and promptly found packs of roving albies off of Hyannis moving courteously into the tide and staying up for for a pleasing length of time. It’s so much fun to set up and wait for the fish to come to you, to see them slash and swirl, and then to try to make “the” cast. This behavior continued throughout the tide and we landed a lot of fish on the 7/8 oz. Hogy SI Epoxy Jig in pink and the Albie Snax in white, pink, and amber. We were never forced to toss anything else at them. Early afternoon was tough for us. The pods weren’t showing as frequently and would quickly splash and sound. Later in the afternoon our perseverance was rewarded with fast moving fish between Great Pond and Waquoit. These guys weren’t so easy, but they were catchable.

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On Saturday we covered a lot of ground and heard reports of a lot of tough fishing. Finally around 10:00 we found good numbers of albies breaking the surface with a slow and subtle rise in the greasy calm water, totally unlike any feeding behavior we've seen so far this season (probably because wind has been our constant companion).We were right on the edge of a sharp drop off that held a lot of bait.This too was incredibly satisfying as the challenge involved boat maneuvering, accurate casts, and the right retrieve. After some experimenting, we struck gold with the hot pink Albie Snax fished with a twitch and pause retrieve, similar to what you’d use on a flat for stripers. They ate it well and we were all smiles, fortunate to have these fish to ourselves for the two hours that they were up  - almost unheard of on a Saturday in September. The most unusual catch of the day came when we paused over structure to jig up a couple of scup and sea bass as a mental break from the albie focus. I dropped my 1 1/8 oz. epoxy jig to the bottom to in a quick jigging demonstration and was tight to an albie as soon as I lifted the jig off the bottom. It’s not the first time we’ve jigged these fish, but it was the most surprising.

Sunday was slow but we had our chances. We took a chance on Nobska lighting up at first light. The wind had been blowing bait in that direction, there would be good water movement just after sunrise, and the fish had not been there in any significant numbers yet. We cruised and cast for an hour with nothing to show for our play. It sounds like we had the right idea but were off in our timing by a tide cycle. Almost every boat coming out of the Inner Harbor, Great Pond, and Green Pond blasted right up to the fleet of 30+ boats clusters off the Waquoit jetty, right past the small groups of fish working the outflows of the Falmouth Ponds and occasionally pinning bait right into the sand shoreline. We finished the morning on fast moving small groups in the shallows between Allen Harbor and Harwichport, but success only came blind casting in areas where we had found the fish the day prior.

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Monday was great in deeper water for fly caught albies, really a standout day. The fish weren't staying up for as long as we would have liked but they were there in huge numbers eating sand eels and were perfect fly rod targets. 250 to 350 sinking shooting head lines on 7, 8, and 9 weight rods worked perfectly and these albies were on average a couple of pounds heavier than what we had been catching elsewhere. 

Tuesday was strange. The fish turned on for 30 minutes and ate hard. The wind was building and the current picking up. It was rough and getting rougher, conditions that these fish usually relish…and… it just changed. Either the fish departed or they sounded and the show was mostly over just when we thought it would go on all morning. It surely wasn’t due to pressure as there weren’t many boats out in that building blow.

And then there was Wednesday. At 9:00 it was like someone threw a switch. Despite slack current, the fish that challenged us to catch 2 in two hours turned on and all of the boats were battling albies. As the fish pushed inshore and had the bait corralled, they became wicked, wicked, fussy. Nobody was catching. There was a lot of furious knot tying going on but the fish kept feeding, just ignoring all of the fake meals tossed their way. At times that type of classic albie behavior can be maddening, but it is also somehow incredibly appealing. It's like a difficult puzzle that has you up too late, as you refuse to give in and give up. We never really figured them out before we had to run for the dock. We had a couple of swings and misses, but no riddles solved.Of course we did run into a pack of chomping albies 5 minutes from the dock that ate with glee on the first cast. Typical albie fishing. We left huge numbers of fish that were giving us the finger and ran into a small group that ate everything tossed their way.

Being on the water every day does help in the search for these fish and in developing strategies for finding "happy fish" when the going gets tough. We use what we've found and learned and heard in previous outings but at least this week you couldn't do exactly what you did the day before and come home happy. If you heard you missed the good bite yesterday at Cotuit, you will often be better served by checking logical spots in the general vicinity verses expecting a repeat of the day before, especially in this all-over-the-place weather pattern. 

If this craziness sounds appealing to you and you have never experienced the rush of adrenaline that comes when casting to busting albies and feeling the energy of their fight, give me a call. I have a few open dates next week and the week after for charters here on Cape Cod. Before we know it, these fish will be gone until next year and we will be left with dreams of darting terns and perfect fly casts.

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon
Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com

mainestripers.com

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How To Catch More Albies - Color Matters - Tips And Techniques For False Albacore Fishing

Fullsizeoutput_efIt's that time of year when I shift all of my attention to chasing false albacore off the south side of Cape Cod. I base myself in Falmouth but fish from Monomoy to Wasque to Cuttyhunk to the Canal and all of the waters in-between. More later about why these fish have such a hold on me and so many other anglers. I'll try to explain in a future post, although the best way to understand, to truly get it, is to come fish for them. For now let's focus on those of you who are already committed to catching albies.

Color matters, not all the time, but often enough that it should factor into your equation of what and how you are presenting your offering to false albacore. If you've found the fish (here's a post that can help you with that endeavor) and you're making the right casts but they aren't biting the way you think they should be, it's time to change up what you're tossing. In many instances a color change is all it takes. 

Pay attention to the other anglers around you. Is someone catching noticeably more fish? If so, the albies want to eat something other than what you have tied on. If you've found your own fish and aren't getting consistent hits, it's time to mix it up. I think about setting up for ducks. Pick a spot where the ducks want to land that morning and you'll have lots of action. Set your decoys in a location that really isn't where the birds want to be and you'll have some lookers and you'll talk a lonely single into lighting at the edge of your spread.
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IMG_1941One simple change is to alter the color of the Epoxy Jig, Albie Snax, metal, Ronz that you are using. I've seen so many instances where we went from one hit every thirty casts to one hit every five casts just by changing from white to pink, or from silver to purple. And in some of those cases have confirmed the color preference with other captains and anglers on the same fish.

While I've experienced the same result with color change in fly patterns it seems to be often much less important than when tossing artificial lures. Why? I don't know but the flies we use are often much closer imitations of the prey, and I think that has something to do with this observation. Don't ignore color when you put together your fly box or watch the false albacore zoom all around your fly without trying to eat it, but I think it's lower on the list that includes presentation, retrieve, pattern shape and size. 

When you're chucking hardware, be ready to tie a lot of knots, have plenty of leader material, rig rods with different lures, and remember to change up color if the albies aren't doing what you expect.

 

 

IMG_4633Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

pfallon@mainestripers.com

207-522-9900


Who Doesn't Want Another Fly Rod?

If you've subscribed to Consumer Reports for years or like to geek out on a Wirecutter review of the best pen and you're a fly angler, you really owe it to yourself to read the Rod Shootout write ups from the Yellowstone Angler. These guys have developed a format that others are now copying, but the original remains the best - far and away, the best. You don't need to be in the market for a new fly rod (what flyfisher isn't pining for yet another rod) to enjoy and admire the passion, precision, and detail that makes these write-ups so compelling. So if you aren't loading tackle into your boat, pack, or truck right now, why don't you pour yourself another cup of coffee (or a Mast Landing Saccarappa if it's that time of day) and dive into the 2018 8-Weight Shootout.

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Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

pfallon@mainestripers.com

207-522-9900 

 


Shallow Water Stripers

Mornings with no wind and good tides have made for some great shallow water fishing charters for Kennebec River striped bass this week. It's nice to be back on the flats, although some mornings have been Florida-hot poling the boat until the breeze comes up. The stripers are eating a variety of bait. The best feeds have been when some current is sweeping young of the year alewives across the edge of the mud or sand flats, but we've also seen them actively chasing little tiny bait fish (no ID, but under 2 inches and somewhat slender) and of course they are still picking off crabs and shrimp. 

Maine shallow water striped bass
Maine striped bass fishing

The water has cleared up but upriver flats well above Popham and around Bath are still somewhat stained. It looks like the weather pattern changes for the long weekend and sighting conditions won't be as good but I would expect that there will be some active surface feeds wherever the stripers and juvie alewives intersect. There should be a fair amount of boat traffic during the day, so an early start will give you the best shot at undisturbed fish. 

I've been tying up a bunch of peanut bunker flies for false albacore season and have tested some on these striped bass. They are a good imitation of the little alewives that are dropping out of the lakes and ponds here in Maine on their way to the ocean. I've been having a lot of fun at the vise the last couple of weeks, using some new materials and furiously working to finish up false albacore and bonito flies. I fall asleep at night thinking about the pattern I'll tie when I have my first cup of coffee in the morning. 

Labor Day is often bittersweet for saltwater anglers in Maine. An extra day, or sometimes two, in the weekend allows for more time on the water. The stripers are often cooperative as we transition from summer to fall conditions. But...the decrease in day length is really noticeable and for many people, September brings a different pace to work expectations and schedules, and the letter from New Meadows Marina about winterization, shrink wrapping, and boat storage stares you in the face. We also recognize that there are already fewer fish here in Maine than we had on July 4th and each passing day will bring us closer to the end of this striper fishing season. 

While I contemplate all of the above, it doesn't consume me, yet. That's because I have albies on the brain. My transition from striper charters to guiding false albacore trips, from Kennebec flats to Vineyard Sound shorelines, from stalking to attacking, has me fired right up. If you'd like to experience this fishery, be prepared to become consumed. Give me a call or send me an email to talk about a charter trip on Cape Cod during September. It will change you outlook on the fall.

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Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com

Mainestripers.com

 


Saltwater Fly Fishing Skills - Clearing The Line

Recently I've been helping a number of anglers with their fly rod hook setting and fish fighting skills. We've talked about stripping and ripping and the virtues of a strong set. On Friday I was guiding two novice fly anglers for smallmouth bass on the Androscoggin River and we worked on keeping a bend in the rod to provide shock absorption for a light tippet. Of course we weren't using anything close to a delicate leader, but it was good practice for their upcoming trout pursuits. 

I just stumbled upon this video while combing through albie season photos.

You'll notice that right after the hook set I have slack line on the deck that is going to scream out as the false albacore takes off. You can see me separate my two hands in an effort to prevent the line from wrapping around the rod butt and the reel then at about 0:19 you'll see me briefly rotate the rod 180 degrees as I notice a small tangle in the line approaching the stripping guide. Sometimes turning the rod upside down helps a cluster-knot exit cleanly. Thankfully in this case it came undone on its own.

I see a lot of people intentionally "put fish on the reel" by trying to reel in slack after the hook set and thus see a lot of fish spit the hook. If the fish isn't taking out the slack line itself, I recommend stripping it by hand - either all the way to landing or until the fish takes off and clears the line itself. You'll do a better job of keeping tight to the fish. Remember, SLACK IS YOUR ENEMY.

It's funny fish season. Bonito are here in good numbers and albies are soon to follow. These fish will give you an opportunity to practice your line management skills. Things happen FAST after an albie eats your fly. If you'd like to get out to chase these amazing fish I've got some open charter dates in September and October, fishing the Southside of Cape Cod.

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com


Change

If you fished the lower Kennebec this weekend and didn’t see 200 diving birds over an acre of bass busting bait...you aren’t alone. The single greatest constant in saltwater fishing is change and we saw proof of that concept. The good news is that it isn’t late October. There are plenty of fish around. There is an unbelievable amount of bait yet to descend into this portion of the Kennebec river and there are lots of days left to get out on the water. The mayhem we saw this past week will happen again, and again, before we put our gear away for the winter.

In the interim, there are plenty of stripers happy to eat what you toss at them. Days are getting noticeably shorter, so fishing prime time is getting easier on the non-fishing part of life. Best fishing Saturday for us was clearly during the early morning until about 9:30. Saturday evening’s conditions were tough with a slack tide and a stout northeasterly breeze but by focusing on the flats we eventually found big groups of fish up against the marsh banks and they we’re very cooperative. Our approach on this full day fishing charter was to split the day up, focusing on the most productive times to chase the striped bass.

I’m off to Boston for bass charter trips around the Haba and Cape Cod Bay this week then on the Androscoggin River Friday for a smallmouth driftboat trip so I won’t have any Kennebec updates until after next weekend.

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com

mainestripers.com


Breaking News on Breaking Fish

Over the last two days we’ve seen more breaking fish than we have in the last two weeks combined. The Kennebec really turned on when small blueback herring and alewives started their exodus to the sea. Wow. Did it change the fishing. There’s been no shortage of bait this entire summer, but when huge schools of bait this size flush through with the tide, the striped bass really go bananas.

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I enjoyed a wonderful day on Monday with a father and son charter. Tom and Tyler, who have a boat of their own over in Southport, wanted to learn more about how to catch striped bass around the Kennebec River, where to fish and why, what gear to use, and fly tactics that work. We started with some fly casting lessons and tune ups on the grass at the Phippsburg boat launch ramp as the sun was rising before launching the Maverick flats boat.

Of course we talked about structure - rocks, edges, bars, drop offs, troughs, current lines - and how important understanding structure is to finding stripers. Well, for an hour or more yesterday morning there were 200 birds over a hell of a lot more bass right out in open water pounding bait in a section of the channel where I haven’t seen surface feeds in years. 

If you’ve followed news about work to restore runs of anadromous fish to Maine’s river systems, you would have been joyed to take in the scene yesterday morning. The Maine DMR and DIFW along with other partners have placed tremendous emphasis and devoted significant resources to improving fish passage throughout the Kennebec River drainage. Their efforts are paying off. While most of the rest of New England struggles with ever declining runs of river herring and alewives, here in Maine we’re blessed with expanding populations. 

GrFfhx5zREmbe08XA0FMKgTides are good and strong right now but they are starting to subside. The strong current flow coupled with a lot of water from upcountry rains is contributing to mayhem that we are seeing. Now through when ever the striper fishing ends for the season there will be surges of these baitfish traveling downriver and the surface feeds will pick up and drop off with the fluctuation in the abundance of bait. It may only be mid-August, but what I witnessed Tuesday and Wednesday tells me that the fishing season is changing.

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com

 


Kennebec Striper Fishing Still Going Strong

Here's a very brief, and long overdue, update on striper fishing in Maine's Kennebec River. The River is still loaded with bait of all sizes and holding bass throughout the typical summer spots. Fishing on the flats has been mixed, more often a result of less than optimal weather conditions when it has been tough. I can't believe how often my trips have coincided with an early morning breeze and/or foggy mid-days. It's been a while since we've been able to spend a couple hours of a charter chasing waking fish early AM.

This morning was more of the same. We checked a couple of flats on the run down river from Bath, but the rippled surface had the fish cruising at a depth that gave us no signs. You can wish the fish were feeding in a particular way or place, but it doesn't make it happen, so we changed up plans and tactics and focused on moving water around shoreline structure where the herring have been abundant. After the third "one-and-done" slap/swirl on the Lonely Angler Zipster we traded out the spook for the Albie Snax (great call Fritz!) and started catching. Next change was from amber to white and first cast Fritz was tight to a nice 30 inch striper. Not being able to watch the fish react to the bait makes establishing cause and effect challenging, but you can bet we kept that white Albie Snax on the hook for the next cast.

The 30 incher was the largest fish of the short morning charter, but there were plenty more bass in the 22 inch to 25 inch range willing to eat. Despite a dropping tide, cloudy skies, and a south wind, we saw only isolated surface boils. The fish we were on were looking up but hanging down and many of the takes were pretty subtle until we were in some really fast moving water.

There are plenty of little schoolies around that can be great entertainment for kids or people new to striper fishing. They can also be a blast on your six or seven weight fly rod when the wind isn't too bad. Herring are all over the place and there are lots of small sand eels on the flats. Shrimp and crabs aren't so visible but there are a lot of striped bass that eat both.

If you're looking for a striped bass charter here in midcoast Maine, I love to show off this fishery. 

I've got lot's of thoughts, observations, and some questions to share from the last couple of weeks on the water but need to get ready to grill some littlenecks for supper. Maybe tomorrow...

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900


Fishing Is Funny

Maine striped bass caught fly fishing on the flats of the Kennebec River near Popham BeachI’ve been trying to figure out how to describe the change in the fishing in the Kennebec River and keep coming up with conflicting thoughts. This week has been incredible and disappointing. I’ve noticed a distinct difference from last week, when there were lots of active feeds all over the River and we were all raving about the great fishing. Where I’ve been, that has changed and not for the better but on the flats, wow...and come on fish. We’re seeing a lot of bass from 18 inch micro stripers to 40 inch cow bass in water from 6 feet to 12 inches deep. A lot. Sometimes they are hungry and aggressive and cooperative. Sometimes they are incredibly fussy. Early mornings on the coming tide have been generally slow for bigger fish. They just haven’t been waking much and thus sightcasting to them is really tough. You get a swirl, and a short push of water, and often a refusal, then nada for a while. Late morning to early afternoon, under bright sun, the larger bass have been much more cooperative and accommodating. Funny, this fishing.

The morning tide has been weak and I am sure that makes a difference, not in our favor. If you’re planning a striper trip far in advance, you’d be well served to target dates when the tides are at or above normal. In the Kennebec, an 8 foot high tide (or less, as measured at Fort Popham) can be challenging. 

Go to fly for shallow water striped bass on the flats of the Kennebec River, MaineMy general approach is to start the morning with a spun deer hair slider in a dark color if we’re fishing on a darker bottom flat up in the marshes. The fish are usually “up” in the water column, at least when we can target individual bass or pods. These flies push some water and often illicit vengeful strikes. Once we shift to more traditional “sightcasting” over light colored bottom flats, the trick is to figure out if the fish are looking up or down. If down, it is time for shrimp, crab, or something that combines attributes of both. If they are looking up, we switch to baitfish patterns, sometimes small sand eel imitations and other times larger hollow flyes. You can get some important clues from the way the stripers break the surface when they feed, but we also rely on what worked yesterday on that flat and then changing fly pattern after two refusals on really good shots.

Part of what makes fishing funny is the mix of predictable fish behavior and the ever-changing reaction, location, travel, feeding patterns, of these game fish. Use what you learned last time out, but don’t get stuck in a rut. Be ready to add a lot of tippet as you try fly after fly. While I believe presentation trumps all, getting to watch the reaction of bass after bass after bass leaves me with zero doubt that on some days finding the right fly is key.

Albie Snax does it again , fooling another shallow water striped bassAs for hardware chucking (which by the way, I’m proud to admit to doing) the standouts in shallow water continue to be the Albie Snax from Fish Snax Lures, the Zipster spook from Lonely Angler, and the small RonZ’s. I’m sure that the Hogy Skinny’s would be well received along with other small plastics. Don’t ignore creature baits if you are fishing the green water rolling off ledges. That largemouth bait also takes big, big stripers in shallow water close to the ocean at times. I haven’t recently tied on any of the small buck tails that I tie up, but maybe we’ll test them tomorrow. 

Tides here in midcoast Maine are improving. Fish whenever you can. Even if it doesn’t turn out to be the day that you will recall for years to come, you will learn more. Wear long pants, as the greenheads are just stating to show up. They aren’t out in force yet, but it will only be a matter of days. 

I’m booked rest of this week and headed back to the Vineyard for another long weekend of trips there but may have the 21st and 22nd open if you want to get out to chase striped bass here in Maine. 

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Pfallon@mainestripers.com

207-522-9900


Should I Stay or Should I Go — Leaving Fish to Find Fish

After three incredible weeks fishing Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and surrounding waters it was wonderful to run down the Kennebec River yesterday morning just after 4:00 am with Fritz Folts, cruising past water loaded with flipping herring and then to be greeted by breaking fish and diving gulls at our first stop. There were individual bass chasing herring up onto a small mud flat and pods of stripers coming up in the middle of the channel and a few fish popping right tight to shore and plenty more revealing themselves on the sounder screen. You know when there are six herons in a span of shore 40 yards long fighting over the best fishing spot with herring gulls, black backs, turns and bald eagles diving from overhead there’s some bait in the area. The mission was to catch fish on the surface with the spook and we found success...but, we weren’t finding fish bigger than about 25 inches. After a short discussion, we made the decision to leave fish.

We could have taken the “quantity” approach, catching as many fish as possible and hoping that a few would end up being larger bass. We did spend a little time fishing adjacent structure instead of the small pods of busting bass, but that strategy wasn’t producing what we wanted. With zero wind and the sun still low in the sky and a southwest flow forecast for the day, conditions were ideal for fishing some shallow water, targeting waking fish. If you’re swallowing noseeums with bites of your Frosty’s donuts (they open at 4:00 am!), then you should be focused on shallow water fish.

We ran to a flat that often holds large stripers. As we were slowly working our way up into the middle of the cove, we could see fish pushing water ahead of us in a couple of different locations. We were about two and half hours into the dropping tide in two feet or so of water and the clock was against us. First pod to approach gave Fritz a perfect head on shot and he made the cast. The fish in the group immediately showed interest in the spook and as one tried to eat it I got a good look at how large it was. With great presence of mind, Fritz calmly twitched and paused the lure, like he was toying with the twenty sixth 18 inch schoolie of the morning. He played it perfectly, keepin these fish interested and competitive, but also giving them a chance to line themselves up for the eat. It’s not always easy for a larger fish in shallow water to grab a surface plug on the first try. Not far off the bow we both watched a big, white mouth open and inhale the zipster after another fish of similar size missed it. The hook stuck and the striper took off. After a well executed fight, Fritz lifted his rod to bring the leader to my hand. I realized that this fish would be a two-hander. Elated, we quickly snapped a few photos and Fritz returned the feisty bass to the water.

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Some people swear by the adage of not leaving fish to find fish. We however, left for good reasons, and it payed off. Part of our decision making was based upon how we most wanted to fish, what would bring the greatest reward if we were successful, and the pretty ideal conditions for doing so. 

I hope you get a chance to enjoy this incredible fishery. If you want to get out on the water, send me an email (pfallon@mainestripers.com) or give me a call at 207-522-9900. I do have a couple of openings coming up before my next trip south.

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


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


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


Albies Are Still Here

I finally got back out on the water Sunday at first light. Anticipating heavy fog and choppy waters, we stationed ourselves off Nobska and waited for the light to hit the water and for the albies to show themselves. We drifted, and made blind casts, and watched and saw nothing. At 7:00 we started exploring down the Elizabeth Islands at found fish off Naushon and in and around Robinson's Hole. What a relief! I just didn't know what to expect after the extended bout of shit weather. Finding the first pod of busting albies, followed by another, and another, and another was uplifting. Getting the first false albacore to eat was joyous. Ah, what we live for...

There were large sections of really dirty water, but for about an hour plus it didn't seem to bother a group of ablies that were roaming through the current and blowing up on hoards of peanut bunker. When the current slacked we made a run down to scout the waters east of Cuttyhunk and found no signs there or in Quick's, but back at Robinson's, on the Bay side, there we groups of fish that would stay up just long enough to get one shot at them. I couldn't tell if they were feasting on peanut bunker or bay anchovies or something else. The water was reasonably clean and clear and the fish were moderately fussy.

We followed those fish all the way up the west side of Naushon, taking shots as they came, leapfrogging the blow ups, until we got close to Woods Hole where all hell was breaking loose. It was great fun to be back in the game, fully and completely, with all worries about an early end to the season set aside. The pink albie snax was drawing some ferocious strikes and the pink and electric chicken Hogy epoxies were also greeted with glee by these happy fish.

Fog is the challenge early this week.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


Albie Season - Press Pause

IMG_1881The first week plus of chasing albies was really pretty fabulous. As is always the case with these fish, there are times when they eat with abandon and times when they are fussier than a four year-old at the dinner table, and we experienced plenty of both. Thankfully we usually were able to stay on the fish. The long runs across seemingly barren water only to find nada gets old. Much better to have albies balling and busting bait while you frantically search for THE fly or race to tie on a different color epoxy jig while the fish are still up.

Mornings were most consistently productive, but a couple of afternoons and evenings stand out in my memory. One of those late day cooperative feeds was in some reasonably rough water, with a good breeze kicking up against a stout tide all along the Falmouth shoreline, but last Sunday down in Robinson's there wasn't a ripple on the water and the fish couldn't have been happier. And the last day on the water prior to the storm, whoa. All of the overused superlatives don't adequately describe how good it was. Where's the photo of the biggest false albacore I've landed in five years? Due to an stupid iPhone that wouldn't f*ck1n turn on, only in my brain.

But...that seems like a long time ago. Monday was the last day I fished. One boat has been on the trailer and the other on a storm mooring since then. The wind and waves from Jose have us all on hold, waiting for the first weather window, wondering what we will find. Conditions had been incredible, with more peanut bunker than I'd seen in fifteen plus years and the usual clouds of bay anchovies that thankfully were not the fingernail sized bait that drives us crazy. There were lots of albies of all sizes spread from Harwich to Craigville to Falmouth and Woods Hole and on down to Cuttyhunk and up through Buzzards Bay. What has happened to all of that bait? Is this churned up water going to turn the albies back offshore? My guess and my hope is that all of the worrying will melt away as we find plenty of hungry and happy fish still blasting along the Cape and Island shores, blitzing plentiful bait and eating our jigs and flies, but until I get to see it, I'll keep fretting.

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


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


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


How To Catch More Albies - Tips and Techniques For False Albacore - Use Your Binoculars

Here's a short and simple suggestion; use your binoculars when searching for false albacore. When we're covering some ground and burning some fuel, searching for signs of albie activity, it is amazing what we miss with the naked eye. Every time you stop to scan the water, and I encourage you to stop frequently, grab your binoculars and extend your vision. I'm amazed at how often we find a clue, maybe the first bread crumb, at a distance just beyond our sight limit. Those two terns diving can be tough to see, but may be the key to finding the next pod of fish or school of anchovies. If you've had the experience of scanning the horizon, looking, looking, seeing nothing and then once you use your binoculars, you spot 100 gulls diving on bait, you know what I mean.

The key to using your binoculars is keeping them handy. You need a spot where they are secure and protected but readily available. If they are buried in a tote bag in the bottom of the center console or stuffed in the bottom of a locker, you aren't going to dig them out each time you stop. When the boat is rocking, I make a triangle with my index fingers and thumbs and brace the tips of my fingers against my forehead to steady the binoculars. You can also employ tension on the strap to aid in stability.

I like to run the boat at a moderate speed when actively searching for these fish. I find I notice more when we're cruising at 3300 rpm vs. screaming to the next spot. Pause in likely places, areas where you've found fish in the past, water with good movement, and scan the horizon, first unaided and then with your binoculars. You may be astounded at what you'd been missing.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


How To Catch More Albies - Fishing Structure & Educated Blind Casting

Albie Head ShotMost of the time when we're chasing albies we're looking for fish showing themselves on the surface. The search pattern we have in our brain involves seeing signs of bait spraying, birds diving, and that distinct tunoid slashing across the surface of the water. It's easy to fall into the mindset that the fish are always just eating in open water but if you spend time in one particular location and really pay attention to what the fish are doing you'll notice that they often cycle through an area in a general pattern. It's incredibly helpful when you can get a sense of that pattern. A lot of times the pattern involves the fish relating to structure, whether it be a bar that creates a subtle rip, a drop off, a junction of jetty and beach, a deeper edge with stronger current. Even a boulder field or a big rocky ledge will influence where the fish travel. Obviously the baitfish seek shelter around structure and we're all used to fishing structure for species like striped bass, but it's amazing to learn how frequently false albacore use structure in a similar way, not exactly the same, but similar. Make a note of where the fish show themselves adjacent to some type of structure. Even when you're not seeing signs of the fish on the surface it can be worth casting to that structure.

There was a spot in Woods Hole Harbor that produced quite a few fish for us last year, especially at times when there wasn't a lot of surface activity. It's a ledge adjacent to the channel with great current running past it and it borders a shallow shelf and rocky boulder field. We would occasionally see the albies blitz for an instant, spraying bait right up against that ledge. Obviously, if you can get your offering into the water while the fish are coming up, you've got a great chance of hooking up but we were successful basically blind casting into this spot. We would only see the albies every fifteen minutes but they were hanging right in the eddy line down-current from the ledge. We'd hold the boat bow into the current and cast perpendicular to the moving water just upstream of the ledge and let our fly or soft plastic get swept back into the zone and BAM!

There were about four other similar spots in Woods Hole that we really started to understand last fall. We were applying techniques familiar to us from fishing stripers in heavy current around rocky structure. It was fascinating and tremendously satisfying to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Lackey's Bay at the north end of Naushon Island seemed to always have a school of albies in it for three weeks last September. While we didn't always catch up, we would usually land a couple of fish. Often a couple of fish would break the surface for an instant. A number of times we were spotting fish underwater on clear sunny bright days, never seeing them feed on the surface. They were working around a large ledge and a boulder field on the outer edge of the bay anywhere from 6 to 15 feet of water. We would start our drift at the ledge and blind cast as the tide moved us over the boulder field. We'd often hook a fish every drift while other anglers chasing the sporadic surface signs caught only frustration.

Some of the structure isn't quite so obvious. It's demarcated by current lines, seams, and eddies. Fishing where the fast water meets the slow water can be really productive for false albacore at times when searching for surface feeds isn't paying off. If you've seen the fish come up in a particular area and you're drifting, waiting, watching, pay attention to where the water is moving. These fish love fast moving water and strong current.

Waquoit BuoyIn 2013 one of the pieces of structure that produced for us pretty consistently for about five or six days and then intermittently for the next week or two was actually the bell off the entrance to Waquoit Bay. When the tide is running hard that's a popular spot to fish, as the water pours out of the bay bringing bait with it. There are a lot of places where the fish will show up, anywhere from right against the jetties, to the fastest moving water, to what is essentially a back eddy either side of the fastest current, to some of the bars that are just to the east of the jetties. For a stretch of time we would drift by the bell, casting as close to it as we could get without getting fouled and find fish. Sometimes they were just up-current of the bell but most frequently we'd connect in the eddy just down-current of the bell. We'd make our cast slightly up-current and try to have it swing right into the eddy lines created by the buoy. The bay anchovies were using the buoy as shelter and the albies were onto them. Of course the last two years we went 0-for in that patch of water immediately down-current of that buoy, but that's albie fishing. Thankfully, that lesson paid dividends beyond 2013, as we found other pods of false albacore relating to buoys and the eddies they create.

 


How To Catch More Albies - Tips and Techniques For False Albacore Fishing

Early morning fish off Falmouth Cape Cod
Albies eat best at this time of day

For quite a few years now I've been intending to share lessons learned from chasing False Albacore around Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, the Elizabeth Islands, and Buzzards Bay. I catalog albie catching thoughts in my mind and mentally file epiphanies for future blog posts and then...the alarm rings at 3:00 AM and I'm making colossal egg sandwiches and loading ice onto he boat and before I know it I'm running in past the jetties at Waquoit Bay admiring the post sunset glow on the horizon and thinking about rerigging leaders, how many packs of Owner 5132 Twist-Lock hooks I need to restock in the tackle bag, rustling up something for our supper, a beer, and then bed. I try to eek out every opportunity I can to chase these amazing fish in September and October and then all of a sudden the frenzy of the approaching ski season takes over, and my thoughts on how to catch more albies get stashed away until the next August. The forecast for the next five days is not conducive to the routine above, so here goes...

How To Catch More Albies -- Fish At First Light

First albie of the day
First albie of the day

After four months of setting the alarm for 2:30 AM for striper charters it is tempting to fall into the trap of thinking that albies only feed during daylight, so we don't need to be out there until after the sun is up. And to reinforce that specious logic, we all find epic feeds at 9:30 in the morning and even 2:00 in the afternoon, but day in and day out the time when these fish will be least selective and most aggressive is just after first light. It's not always true, as timing of the tide and water movement play heavily in albie behavior, but, if you pick the right spot to start your day, 12 minutes after sunrise you can can be on fish that are fighting each other to eat whatever you're throwing.

 

Early albie run - get fishing before sunrise
Running the boat along the south side of the Cape

If you are going to take the morning to fish I highly recommend that you be out "on station", where you want to fish, before sunrise. There's no better feeling than getting out there with everything rigged and ready, making a couple of test casts with each rod, sipping your coffee, eating your egg sandwich, sharing the spot with maybe one other boat, waiting and watching. Most mornings the wind is down, nobody is motoring through pods of fish, the ocean is yours. We have developed an informal contest of guessing how many minutes after sunrise we spot the first fish, with the prize usually something special in the cooler, like the last remaining half of the Maria's roast beef sub.

 

 

 

Ready for the albies
Ready for the albies

More often than not, the first signs of fish are not quarter acre blitzes, but single splashes or small pods busting bait for brief periods of time however, these fish want to eat. They are usually not fussy. A well placed cast gets rewarded and a lot of times a not so well placed cast turns out to be right in front of albies that weren't showing themselves on the surface.

 

 

 

Sunrise false albacore
Get fishing early for albies

So re-rig leaders, restock fly boxes, and change out hooks (more on that to come) the night before. Have the coffee maker loaded and set the alarm. Check the running lights on the boat and have your headlamp and wool hat draped over your to-go mug. Leave the dock or the ramp in the dark. Enjoy the spectacular run to your selected spot as the horizon brightens and start you trip feeling like your are ahead of the fish instead of chasing behind them.

 

 

 

Catch more albiesPeter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

 


Low Water Upcountry Makes for Clear Water Downriver

Skinny water bassBy focusing on shallow water in and around the lower Kennebec, we were able to avoid any kind of a summer slow down in our striper fishing. No dog days here, just lot's of solid outings with good water visibility on the sand and mud flats and along the beaches. While the low levels of water coming down the river have given us great fish sighting condition, the limited fog and rare drizzly day have cut down on the visible surface activity that we expect in late August. There have been days when the weather, tide and bait supply all align and the bass are going bananas, but usually conditions dictate stalking fish in the skinny water, which is more than ok with me.

On three charters this month that stand out in my memory we experienced an overnight weather shift from a hot, humid, southwest flow to a much cooler, drier pattern with a breeze out of the north or northwest. The change in the fish behavior was dramatic and unmistakable. Flats that were filled with waking and slurping striped bass the morning prior were much quieter, with fish revealing themselves only briefly. The noseeums were almost non-existent at dawn. Strikes were often halfhearted or a single tail slap or chase-chase-chase-ok-nevermind. Our best results on those days came late morning, when the sun was high enough to be able to spot the fish and cast to individual bass or small pods of stripers up on the flats.

If you've never chased striped bass in clear, shallow water, you owe it to yourself to experience this side of the fishery. It is demanding at times but oh so rewarding.

We are seeing more young of the year alewives dropping down river on their way to the ocean, and a strong outgoing tide can produce some good surface feeds when the bait and bass intersect. On one of those challenging weather morning, we tracked down a dispersed group of stripers on a flat that had decent current washing across it at the end of the out tide. The north wind had robbed us of much of our visibility into the water but the bass were popping these little alewives as they were swept across the flat. It was a fun way to finish the trip as the stripers put all fear aside and demolished anything that we threw near them.

I've been getting good reports from other guides about the fishing along the beaches from Popham to Small Point, which is in keeping with trends of past years. Our nights have been noticeably cooler recently and it is clear that we have one foot in summer and one in fall here in Maine. This is a fabulous time to fish and with the clock ticking on the season, there's no time to put off a trip. Get out.

I'm furiously rerigging lines, restocking fly boxes, reordering jigs, as I prepare to head to the Cape for albie season. I have the fever...in a bad way.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC.


Prime Time for Flats Fishing Stripers in Maine

If you love to chase striped bass in shallow water, get out there NOW. This stretch of hot weather has not deterred the fish from moving up onto the sand and mud flats of Midcoast Maine. There will of course be times when the fish are more fussy, but for the most part, they have been very willing to oblige with an eat if you make a good presentation and offer them the right treat. We've had a lot of windless mornings, and the bass have been happy to show themselves with their tell tale V-wakes. Late morning through early afternoon, no wind allows us to see into their world and spot the fish cruising lighter colored bottom. I'm not seeing stripers over 30 inches yet, but have been getting reports of some bigger fish showing up in Southern Maine and around Portland.

I blew off cutting our overgrown lawn last evening to get out myself for a couple of hours either side of sunset, and I'm so thankful that I made the right decision. Between 6:30 and 7:30 I landed ten or more fish, all between 24 and 28 inches, out of two feet of water, in one of the most gorgeous places on the coast of Maine. I have another full day of teaching fly casting ahead of me and then have to get on a plane to Michigan for three days (this trip is killing me!) so I needed  a fix to sustain me through the coming week. I'll update with more details and suggestions from the Detroit airport.

Oh...and I received word (via Littleton, CO) that the bluefish were tearing up the pogies in Maquoit Bay yesterday.

Tight Lines,

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


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

IMG_5208

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


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

 


False Albacore Cape Cod Week One

Albie Snax Week one of chasing False Albacore around Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard was filled with long runs, warm days, clouds of peanut bunker, and enough albies to keep us smiling and searching for more funny fish. We found fewer instances of wave after wave of surface crashing albies vs last two years and spent more time blind casting (and blind catching) than I ever remember. We burned a lot of fuel, covered a lot of ground, and learned a few things. And we caught fish.

A typical day would start exiting Waquoit Bay in the dark and running to Edgartown to be in place for the 6:08 bite. Once activity and tide slowed significantly there we began searching, checking the outlet to Cape Poge Pond, State Beach and then running the length of the eastern side of the island down to Wasque. Nothing happening there so back through Vineyard Haven Harbor and over to Wood Hole. A few hours in and around Woods Hole and we'd blast to the West End of the canal to work flats and beaches around Onset and Mashnee and then make the run back to Waquoit at sunset.

This past weekend required much less traveling as the albies really picked up their activity in and around Wood Hole. There were pods of fish hanging in Lackey's that were not crashing the surface or making single distinct splashed, but casting to very subtle signs such as nervous water or subsurface flashes really paid off. Wood Hole had both churning water voracious feeds and fish hanging out of sight in the strong current. A little farther down the islands towards Cuttyhunk, there were pods of false albacore happily cruising the surface of the still water. They were the most fun to fish. Make a good cast and you were rewarded.

The most consistently productive locations for us for the week were Wood Hole, Lackey's, Edgartown, and Upper Buzzards Bay. The south shore of the Cape from Falmouth Inner Harbor to New Seabury didn't produce for us, a real change from previous seasons. Of course by today it could be on fire.

When the fish were down, we spent a lot of time fishing structure, working eddy lines, casting around rocks and pilings and boats and we caught a lot of fish this way when nothing seemed to be happening. The traditional small metals and Hogy Epoxies took fish in these spots but the real workhorse was the Albie Snax from Long Cast Plastics. More about techniques and lessons learned later...

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


Strong Striper Fishing Continues on the Kennebec River Here in Maine

Maine striped bass caught fly fishing on the Kennebec River
Let Me Help You Become A Better Striped Bass Angler

There are plenty of stripers in the Kennebec right now and they continue to eat well. We've had some really, really good trips and some outings that qualify as solid but not spectacular (in terms of catching). If you're thinking we've hit the "dog days of summer" in terms of striper fishing, hold off on that assumption. The warmer weather has provided us with some foggy mornings and still evenings; fishy conditions for sure.

There are stripers available to you, no matter how you like to fish. Is sight casting to big bass on a sandy flat what gets you out of bed well before dawn? Well the water is gin clear in and around the mouth of the river and the bass are roaming the shallows on almost all of the flats within 2 miles of Popham Beach. Prefer chucking a crease fly with your 9 weight rod? Get after them in the shallow water early and late in the day when the light is low and you can be rewarded. You a top water junky? Fish the strong moving water on the outgoing tide around ledges, edges, and other structure and you can watch the surface show that is so much fun. If drifting deeper structure is your game, a lot of the traditional summer hot spots closer to Bath, especially from BIW down to Lee Island, are loaded with herring and can produce fish after fish on every drift once you find the stripers.

At some point, we'll find the fish more fussy in the shallow water and less likely to smack a fly striped slowly in the surface film or hopped across the bottom, but if you can go now, do it. Remember that not every day is great. Even when the timing and strength of the tide seems to be perfect for the way you want to fish, there is variation in how cooperative the other party will be. If you have a trip that is underwhelming, don't jump to the conclusion that "the stripers aren't running" or "the water's too warm and the bass must have moved out of the River". Resolve to get up early again or slip out of work in time to launch for the last hours of daylight. If you can choose your days, a foggy or overcast morning or evening is ideal.

If you want to know more about how to find striped bass on your own, you can accelerate your learning by hiring a guide. My favorite striper charters are ones where my anglers are curious about why we are fishing in a particular spot and why we passed up other water that looked so good. I'd love to share with you what I know about striped bass and help you become a better striper angler. Give me a call or send me an email if you're interested in a striped bass charter when you're here in Maine.

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com


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

 


Strong fishing continues in Boston Harbor, as we're finding consistent surface feeds at all times of the day. When the bass have been on smaller bait (silversides) they seem to alternate between getting a little fussy and focused on smaller offerings and going bananas for for much larger imitations that we throw their way. Smaller bait has generally meant smaller stripers. When the bass are pushing herring to the surface, our average size goes up significantly.

We've focused most of our attention on the entrance to the Inner Harbor, the flats off Logan, Dorchester Bay and Quincy Bay. I expect that any time now we'll see fish setting up consistently in President's Rhodes and all around the outer islands. We haven't spent time fishing the flats and channels around Hingham and Hull and can't report on activity on that side of the Harbor.

Reports from Maine continue to be positive. Friends at home are finding surface feeding schoolies in the Kennebec. Hope you make time to fish.

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

 

 


Ready for the Next Season - Bring on the Stripers

Monday, April 21 is the last day of skiing (and the free day) here at Sunday River and although I'll get in a couple more days on snow at Sugarloaf, I'm ready for spring and what follows. It was great to see Capt. Blaine Anderson of Connecticut Guide Service posting photos of striped bass caught on the Connecticut River this morning. The fish are on the move and will soon return to the Cape, Duxbury Bay, Scituate, Boston Harbor and eventually the Kennebec River here in Maine.

I've caught fish as early as April 14 in Duxbury Bay. No word from Capt. Dave Bitters on bass in the bay yet, but it will happen, and he will share the news. The earliest stripers I've found in the Kennebec came exactly a month later, May 14, but in a different year. I don't think we have a good idea of when the first striped bass arrive in this huge watershed as there just aren't many anglers on the water here in early to mid-May. It's a short trip to trailer down to Scarborough Marsh or the Saco River, and worth the extra effort prior to June 1.

Reels are back from winter service, rods are repaired and new fly lines sit on the tackle table, awaiting my arrival home to Phippsburg. The Maverick is in the driveway, uncovered, ready for a spring cleaning. I'm firming up dates to fish Boston Harbor and tying with a purpose. It will all happen again and I will be thankful.

Capt. Peter Fallon

MaineStripers.com

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


The Albie Hunt Continues

Cape Cod False Albacore
One of 40 plus fish we found off Falmouth

After a day that ranks in my top five for the lifetime fishing list of "Holy Shit. This is unbelievable." yesterday was not epic, unreal or better than you ever imagined in your wildest funny fish dreams. But it was a ton of fun.

The wind was up out of the SW and we thought the fish would eat well in the rougher water. They thought different. There were up and down very sporadically and running just under the surface. We boated four or five beautiful fish but it was a different day.

Forecast today calls for less wind, still west southwest, which will be...? And the Albies today will behave like...? And we're going to find them...? And the best tide will be...? Well, you get the picture.

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


Back from Cape Cod, at least for this week, I spent today sorting through tackle, drying out gear, washing clothes and plotting the next albie trip. It won't be until mid-October when I can get south again, so we'll have to see where the fish are still showing. I'm thinking Stonington, CT.

I have been getting reports from friends who are finding more tuna inshore from New Hampshire to the Outer Cape. Mid-October can be prime tuna time in Cape Cod Bay, so maybe I won't stray far from Scituate.

Planning fishing trips in October is bittersweet. I'm not ready to give up fishing for the winter, but accustomed to shifting my focus to bird season as soon as September ends. I love to chase woodcock and grouse around the Maine woods and pine for a return to Montana and North Dakota, but my dog Hebie seems to be past the point of safely venturing out into even small local coverts. I love fall but this year the foliage makes me cringe. Time to drive south and get back out on the water.

Capt. Peter Fallon


More Albie Fun

Albie smile
Albie smile

I'll show you
Ned the hardware chucker

Fly in mouth
Gotcha

Albie puke
Larger bait is relative term


 

 

Had a great time catching up with my good friend and Hebron roommate Ned Hutchinson and a couple of his friends from Jackson, WY. It took a bit of running to find concentrations of fish and the weather all morning was stuck blowing northeast, but we caught enough to keep us happy and were casting to fish frequently. After the albie fun we ran around looking for supper for the guys to bring home to their families. Jed was high hook working the jig, plucking a sea bass or a fluke from every shoal. We eventually found the school we were looking for and put enough on ice for the whole gang.

After dropping these guys off I headed back out to scout for this afternoon's trip. The front had passed, the sun was out and the wind kindly shifted to the southwest. Even though the tide had slowed and then died, the fish were clearly more cooperative. I caught a couple on the fly, which made me smile even if there was no one there to photograph it, and then ran back to Falmouth and raced home to a late supper with my folks.

Heading back to the Cape in a few minutes. Will update more about yesterday and next two days soon. Weather looks good.

 

Capt. Peter Fallon


Albies Around Cape Cod, Stripers in Maine

Another AlbieEvery year I look forward to spending time down around Cape Cod chasing the funny fish. After four months focused on the flats and sightcasting to stripers, I really enjoy the change; of being on open water, of the faster paced hunt, of adjusting my mindset and approach.

And these fish, my god, they are awesome. The sensation of that tail set on super oscillate that travels up the line makes everyone grin. Figuring them out (or not, on some days) satisfies something that drives every passionate angler. And the runs, whoa. Too often we're all guilty of overusing the term "screaming drag", right? Set your fly into a 10 lb albie or drive a hook home on a 75 lb bluefin tuna and you can use the term all you want.

The logistics involved in the trips sometimes seem foolish and the weather these months laughs at plans but when you set eyes on that first pod of busting fish and know that they aren't blues and they aren't stripers, all the worries and hassles melt away. I might have an opening towards the end of next week. Let me know if you'd like to join me.

Albie fly

Now, please don't take any of my comments as disparaging remarks about fishing for striped bass. No, no, no. And if you're thinking about fishing in Maine right now, there is some fabulous fall action in full swing. The reports that I've been getting from friends guiding on the Kennebec and Casco Bay are glowing. There are a lot of fish that have moved inshore recently. All of this weather has made fishing the beaches and outer points an on again/off again game, but the Kennebec and the flats in Casco Bay are fishing very well. Please let me know if you need a recommendation for a guide. I'd be happy to help you out while I'm down south.


Capt. Peter Fallon

Mainestripers.com


Quick Update: Maine Saltwater Fishing

The one constant in fall fishing is change. There certainly are patterns, year to year, day to day, but your fishing plans always need to be flexible this time of year. In June, a group of stripers may work the tidal currents in a section of the river a mile long for a week straight. In July, stable weather has pods of bass on the flats acting according to script day after day. In September and October, things are always in flux.

I fished with Fritz Saturday and Sunday of this holiday weekend. Saturday morning we went looking for a pattern that repeats itself every fall, stripers setting up in moving water over great structure, looking to ambush young-of-the-year alewives. Our first stop produced a couple fish, but far less action than we'd hoped. Sticking with our plan (not always the right call), we found what we were looking for at stop number two. It was a hoot. Therapy for Fritz after a long week in the office. A perfect way to slide mentally into the holiday weekend that sadly marks the end of summer. The fish were happy. The Lonely Angler Zipster was money. We didn't see an other boat all morning.

Photo

Sunday morning we were underway before 4:30 AM and set up on a draining flat before 5:00, well before sunset and two hours before low tide. Perfect, right. This was a spot that has been so consistant, even in late July and early August, when the fishing was at its ebb. Nada. Well, not quite, but we only saw two pushes of water on the glassy surface, heard no slurps or slaps, and had one little schoolies striped bass swat at the surface plug.

 

 

Photo

 

We made a big move and ran out to fish the beach from Popham to Small Point. What a place to be at sunrise. There we fish out there, chasing small bait that I never got a chance to identify. The only signs we saw were a couple of these snacks skipping across the surface of the water in a race for their lives. No swirls or splashes. No big feeds. Once we lost the tide, the signs stopped and we moved on.

 

 

Photo-1

Arriving on an oceanside flat just as the water was rising, we found large schools of stripers cruising in the shallow water over the sand bottom. After watching them for a while, tossing at them with no results we moved on. We saw no signs of any feeding activity and no reaction to our offerings.

 

The water temperature has dropped significantly over the past ten days. Out along the beach it was 54.5 degrees. That's a significant change. The large schools of bluefish that had been so predictable the last two weeks have moved on. There are still chopper blues and gator blues around, but they are much more dispersed. The mackerel are back along shore. The mouth of the Kennebec was loaded with them both mornings. There was also huge schools of macs on a line between Jacknife Ledge and Fuller Rock in about 60 feet of water. Keep your eyes open and you may run onto a pod of stripers or a swarm of blues going nuts on these mackerel. If your timing is right it will be a day you remember all winter.

Capt. Peter Fallon

Mainestripers.com


Whoa, has it been that long since I posted a fishing update for the saltwater scene in mid-coast Maine? I guess so. It's been a busy stretch for me, highlighted by time with visiting family, living the summer life; digging clams, paddling, swimming with the dog, going to the fair, eating lobster and of course, catching fish.

The stripers are still often fussy, but I've noticed a change over the past two weeks. Is there a hint of fall in the air? I've seen more bass busting bait in the last two weeks than in the previous month. These have not been wide spread events and the striper fishing isn't "hot", but when we've been in the right place at the right time, we've had some excellent outings.

The bass in the lower Kennebec have been keyed in on the britt herring. I have found fish right in the surf along the beaches from Reid to Small Point but I can't report what they are eating. Sand eels? Shrimp? More herring? Starting two weeks ago, I saw stripers chasing young of the year alewives, a very nice sign.

The bluefish are still in the river. Some days they are in "full bluefish mode", going bananas, just as you'd hope but most often there are small pods of fish popping up here for two seconds and over there for four. "Chasing unicorns" is the description one friend gave to the chase. One technique that has worked for me is to cover moving current toward the bottom of the dropping tide. Bounce a Clouser or small jig right along the bottom, drifting with the current. The other option that can be a blast is to look for pods of blues finning on the surface up on the flats. We've had a lot of good calm mornings, perfect for this approach.

This week I found myself out along the beach, waiting for the tide to turn, sipping coffee and eating blueberries, when I decided to scoot just offshore to one of the rock piles south of Small Point. I came home with three cod, all around 26 inches. Hadn't done that in a long time. One fish fed three of us the other evening. What a delicious meal. The whole thing was a lot of fun.

Everyone is counting the days as summer starts to fade. School is around the corner. Days are noticeably shorter. Don't waste a tide. If you've had a tough outing recently, get back out there. I promise that you won't catch anything from home.


More Fun on the Flats

Big bass

The greenheads are out in force, which in addition to wearing long pants all day, means that the stripers should be up on the flats in good numbers. Some of the most consistant sight casting of the entire summer often happens right here in the first half of July. A stable, southwest flow coupled with high overhead sun makes me feel like I'm in Florida...sneaking around in two feet of water, changing flies to see what the fish want, kneeling on the bow of the boat to minimize profile, wiping sweat from around the eyes, mouth dry with excitement as 40 inch bass track the fly. It is all so much fun I can't stand it. I spend all day doing it and just want more. Three times this week the breeze started to wrinkle the surface of the water just as the light got bright enough to spot the fish, not just the wakes, fins and tails and then, it just died right off again. 11:00 AM and the water was unblemished. So lucky.

Fly fishing striped bass

A cloudy or foggy morning right about now would go over well with me. The stripers are super fussy and a little fog would help the early morning bite. The timing of the tide has also been a bit funky. The fish aren't very active when the water isn't moving, even at 4:30 AM. The neap tides do slow everything down, keeping the bass up on the flats longer, giving us more time to try to figure them out.

Maine fly fishing

The forecast through the weekend is good, although it looks like the breeze will kick up each morning and may not settle until right at sunset. The Kennebec is still brimming with bait of all kind. I've heard rumors of bluefish of Seguin and Small Point but haven't been able to confirm them with anyone who I know well. Hope you get a chance to get on the water and enjoy the amazing sight casting opportunity we have right here in Maine.

Recycled fish

 

Capt. Peter Fallon

 


Skinny water game on

What a fun day. Started up on one of my all time favorite flats at first light. The stripers were amazingly fussy. They were grouped up into schools that were too large. Drop the fly just a little too close to the pack and vooooom, the entire group erupts and scoots. I much prefer chasing pods of four, six , ten fish, where there is enough competition to encourage eats but not this skittish behavior. I was surprised at how almost all of the bass on this flat were in schools of twenty, thirty, fifty fish. It was very demanding, very cool and very satisfying.

As the tide dropped out of this bay there was one pack of striped bass that packed themselves so tightly together and roamed making tight circles as they went. The sun was high enough that they looked like a large patch of weed on the bottom from a distance, just a black glob. They were exposing fins on the surface, swirling, cavorting but not eating.

Splash

I picked up Sarah at 10:30 and ran back to a spot were I had fished at the end of the dropping tide. There were waking fish for a while as late at 9:00 which was a treat. On this flat the water was still murkey enough that unless the fish were pushing water, there was little chance to see them until right on top of them. I did spook one huge fish. This striper was over 40 inches. It had broad shoulders and a huge light colored tail. Under bright sun a few of the fish started to pop bait right on the edge of the still ebbing current. It was a nice way to finish the morning.

IMG_3055

Well, the real finish to the morning was running out past Reid State Park to Five Islands for lunch.

There was more from today that I'll share tomorrow but its late and the alarm is set for early.

Capt. Peter Fallon