Finally. After a long winter and spring, I've been able to get out on the water recently. Hard to fathom that it is already the middle of July. Wow. Here are some notes from my past few days on the Kennebec.
There are fish around. In what amounts to a very limited sample size, my survey says a little better than last year but really quite similar. I did manage to get out twice in mid-June and had fabulous fishing, but that was a month ago and the stripers have changed their patterns to more typical summer behavior.
In speaking with a number of other captains, I hear some folks talk about finding more fish than this time last season and others talk about it being about the same in terms of numbers caught per charter. Everyone agrees that there are more "schoolies" around, striped bass ranging from 16 to 20 inches. There are also bigger fish around, 36 to 46 inches long, as there were last season.
The water is cooler than last summer. Our spring and early summer warm up in 2010 was historic. River temps at the end of May were almost 70 degrees near Bath. The lobsters crawled inshore well ahead of schedule. Absolutely unlike the prior year. I need to look at notes from past logs to judge water temps right now, but my gut tells me that the readings I found were much more "normal".
The water is murky, even out at Small Point. I haven't check river flow data upcountry, but they must still be releasing a lot of water. The visibility is ok under bright sun on the lighter bottomed flats, but as soon as the wind ruffles the surface or you get a little deeper the fish get much harder to spot.
There is no shortage of bait in and around the Kennebec. There are schools of herring up inside the river, mackerel just off the mouth in either direction, shrimp on the mudflats and along the marsh banks and a ton of very small bait on the sand flats. I haven't netted any of this "rain bait", so I can't tell exactly what it is, but a small, sparse Clouser will be a good imitation. I also found gulls diving on a number of upriver mudflats three days in a row, picking up worms off the surface, but saw no indication that the striped bass were focused in on the same meal.
The insect population is healthy. The salt marsh mosquitoes aren't on anyone's threatened list and in places the noseeums warrant a mask over nose and mouth. It's also greenhead time, so for the next couple of weeks, wearing long pants and socks will keep you from doing the dreaded dance and limit your vulgar outbursts to times when you blow a cast on the perfect opportunity. Just remember that on the predawn mornings when the bugs at the launch ramp are awful, you're more likely to find happy fish cruising just under the surface, swirling to sip shrimp and hopefully, your fly.
The area that we fish is gorgeous. Stunning. Spectacular. I think I do a good job of noticing what a beautiful place this is every time I'm out and I don't take it for granted...but after too long away from the water I found myself marveling at this scenery again and again.
My ski injury is still quite limiting and although I'm not yet able to guide clients I can connect you with a guide who will take great care of you. Gordon has some openings in his schedule. If he isn't available, I work with a number of experienced, talented captains all along the coast and can help you find the "right fit" for your fishing trip. Send me an email or give me a call and get out on the water.
Capt. Peter Fallon