June

Kennebec River Striped Bass Fishing Update - Breaking Fish Bonanza

After what I described as good early season trips all of last week, the striped bass fishing on the Kennebec River here in Phippsburg really lit up this week. We'd all been waiting and searching and watching for big pods of happy stripers busting bait on top and hadn't seen it in the river (although I did get credible reports from around Gardiner about surface feeds 10 days ago) until this Sunday. I was teaching a two-day fly fishing class but a good friend was on a good surface feed Sunday morning on the dropping tide. It's only gotten better since then. Much better.

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Of course it is still fishing, and not always what we expect. I fished Tuesday with my dad and was disappointed by what we found. It was bright, and dry, and cold, and not fishy weather. We got a good early start and had great moving water but were only finding one fish here and one fish there. Eventually we located a good group of bass that we're happy to eat but it was a slower morning than I hoped. Don't get me wrong, it was great to fish together on a stunningly beautiful morning after a fun evening of the season's first lobster feed but I really wish he'd been able to stay one more day. We'd be hearing stories for years about the fabulous fishing.

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I fished by myself on Wednesday. I was wide awake at 4:00 and tied flies for the first two hours of the morning with intensions to get after some desk tasks and house projects. There wasn't a hint of wind on the water and the cloud cover was perfect, so by 6:03 I was in scramble mode, hooking up the Maverick and grabbing some snacks to go. I needed to test out these small hollow fleye variations I'd been working on and I also wanted to try a new SciAngler Amplitude Anadro line that I'd bought for some other purposes. It didn't take me long to find birds working over stripers at the bottom of the out tide. I really, really love to fish shallow water for bass that are visible or pushing water, but after another long winter, I'll take fish going bananas on the surface. I had a blast.

I fished a bunch of different fly patterns, fly line and rod combinations, and connected lessons shared over the weekend with observations on the water. Here are some fly thoughts:

  1. Detecting a hit and setting the hook are learned and practiced skills. Most beginner to intermediate fly anglers would be amazed to learn how many fish have eaten their fly that they never knew about. This early June striper fishery offers an incredible learning opportunity when the fish are on. Ok, a lot of times you could be asleep and hook a striper, but not alway. In perfect conditions it was fascinating to note hw many "takes" would easily be missed - especially when dead drifting a fly pattern with great life. Repetition builds competence. If you go to the driving range, you should be fishing here this week.
  2. Dead drifting. An often overlooked approach in saltwater, especially around breaking fish. If you don't employ this technique very often, here's your prompt to try it. The day before I'd been coaching my dad to make much stronger, more dramatic strips with his herring pattern to elicit strikes from unseen fish. It was working. Wednesday morning, around fish keyed into very small bait, no strip was the ticket. Even with a floating line in reasonably deep water. So much fun. The local warden was fishing a popper on his fly rod over busting bass at the same time and he reported finding best success when he just twitched his fly and then let it sit. He had a great big smile on his face, talking about his morning outing.
  3. Speaking of fun, I really liked the Scientific Angler Amplitude Smooth Anadro/Nymph line. I need to use it more to feel fully dialed in on best applications, but I ended the morning looking forward to using it more. Speaking of more fun, I was fishing it on a Sage X 9 foot 9 weight that I'd only used in heavy wind last fall chasing albies. I like casting and fishing this rod.
  4. Connecting numbers 1 and 2 above, detecting the hit and dead drifting a fly, I was thinking about the number of casts that don't unroll perfectly, even on a windless day, and how often people aren't in touch with their fly. Retrieving with tip at hip level, rod pointed away from the fly, slack in the leader are all streamer sins in most instances. When the fly touches down, get the tip touching the water, pointed at the fly, and strip out any slack in the line-leader...then let it drift.
  5. Fly size and shape matters most. I spent a lot of time answering questions over the weekend about fly patterns, how to choose what to fish, why they are designed as they are, where you start, when to change, and how to fish different types of flies. As I was testing a variety of patterns on Wednesday, it was a perfect reminder that size and shape matter most and that how the fly behaves in the water (inherent movement and as imparted by the angler) comes in at a close second. I loved being in a situation where you could readily discern what the fish preferred. Everything caught fish this morning, but at wildly different rates, and there we're clear common threads.

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Thursday morning was more of the same, kind of old school, Kennebec June fishing, run 'till you see birds, stop, catch fish until they either move on or you decide to see where else the stripers are feeding hard. I got to spend the morning fishing with my great friend Rich Pschirrer and neither of us really noticed the rain we were having such a blast. Just got a text from Rich saying "Let's do more of that, anywhere, anytime." I agree. I'm game.

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One parting suggestion - if you don't have a pair of these gloves for early season outings (or fall tuna runs, December decoy deployment, or mid-winter cash washing), head to your nearest commercial marine supply store, by two pair (your dad, friend, spouse, client, will appreciate it), and stick them in your boat or bag.

Fish more.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

mainestripers.com

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com


Fishing Charters For Striped Bass in Phippsburg Maine

Maine Saltwater Fly Fishing Charters For Striped Bass ~ Kennebec River, Phippsburg, ME

Thanks for visiting Maine Saltwater Fishing Reports. Here you'll find updates on striper fishing around Maine and beyond, insights into how I chase these fish, suggestions and techniques that may help you become a better angler, and recaps of recent charter trips. Scroll down for the the latest posts.

I specialize in shallow water sight casting to striped bass and chasing false albacore with fly and light tackle spinning gear. The only thing I love more than the challenge of hunting for these fish is sharing the elation that comes from playing this game. I guide a lot of experienced striped bass anglers who've never cast a fly or a top-water plug to a striper on a shallow flat that is pushing water like a redfish or bonefish. Watching the bass track the baitfish pattern or tail slap the spook and then (hopefully) eat your offering is incredibly satisfying and addicting.

I live in Phippsburg, ME on the banks of the Kennebec River, and guide full-time from May into November. Striper fishing in Maine starts in mid-May, with fish usually showing up just south of Portland before they start to fill into the Kennebec. To get a jump on the season I head south to Massachusetts to get onto bass before they arrive in Maine. I also plan a couple of weeks during May and June to target large stripers in Cape Cod Bay and around Martha's Vineyard. This is big water fishing and where I grew up and first started running charter boats. If I had to pick one week to fish the flats in midcoast Maine, it would fall in early July, depending upon the tides. Fortunately, our fishing holds up all summer and every year we have outstanding days when anglers to our south are lamenting the "dog days". By Labor Day I'm packing up to spend most of September and October fishing the south side of Cape Cod for False Albacore. 

If you're looking to improve your striper skills, or want to try to target them on the flats, or just become a better angler, I hope you'll read on and if you like what you find here, give me a call. Let's get out on the water together this season.

You can also see more frequent updates on Maine Saltwater Fishing Reports Facebook Page.

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

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com


All Good News RE Stripers

I’m wrapping up the last day of a 4 day trip to the Vineyard where we’ve experienced some pretty fabulous fishing. All reports I’m getting from fellow guides at home are good, with a noticeable increase in numbers of fish - meaning more spots will be productive. I don’t have reliable info on the arrival of bigger bass in the Kennebec or Caco Bay, but I’m sure they are there. The great tides these next few days should have you planning time, making time, to fish. This is now peak striper season. Get after it.

I’ll add an update on our findings down here in Vineyard Sound along with some tips on how to best make this trip yourself when I get a chance to put in some computer time. We’re fishing our way back to Boston from Vineyard Haven today.

 

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


Maine Striper Fishing Update

Here's a short video from Friday, June 9, showing stripers moving into shallow water:

It's really cool when you can pattern fish, and as this video shows, there are times when they do what you might expect.

Hope you get out to fish, wherever you are. This is a special time of year.

Fish more,

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

mainestripers@me.com

207-522-9900

 


Two Herring Fly Patterns That Stripers Love

We're off to a good start here on the Kennebec River with more striped bass arriving daily. These fish are hungry and there's plenty of feed in Maine for them right now. I've done a couple of fly-only trips this week and can tell you that fly selection really hasn't seemed to matter. There have been some surface feeds where the bait was clearly small - 2 inches or so - but we weren't forced to try to match what the stripers were eating. There's a ton of herring in the river and I'm a big fan of larger patterns when fishing good moving water around structure. I believe it gives us the best chance at tempting a bigger fish to eat.

I really focus on two aspects of flies when choosing what to use: profile - size and shape - and action - does it look alive, how does it move through the water, does the fly do what the natural does, does it trigger the desired response. Then I also take into account the angler's ability to cast the flies under consideration. More on fly design and selection later. For now let me share two patterns that I really like to use.

 

I fish a mix of flies that I tie myself and flies that I purchase. The two in the video above are from S. S. Flies in Denmark, Maine. I also buy some fabulous patterns from Eldredge Brothers Fly Shop in Cape Neddick, Maine and The Tackle Shop in Portland, ME. All three of these suppliers are tying locally, producing patterns that have been tested and refined on countless numbers of Maine stripers, and creating flies that achieve desired profile and action with the minimum required materials. Check 'em out.

Fish more,

Peter

Capt, Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

 


Stripers Are In The Kennebec

There were plenty of stripers in spots this morning in the Kennebec between Bath and Popham on both the dropping and rising tide. The River isn't full of fish just yet, but they are there and happy to eat. The dropping tide produced some surface feeding activity but even when they weren't showing they were willing to come up top. The water is pretty stained but I couldn't discern a color preference. All white, herring colors, all dark all seemed to work equally well.

Keep moving, searching, casting. When you find fish, they won't be alone. There's no shortage of bait of all sizes and the talk of the town in Phippsburg is how strong the alewife run is this year.

Biggest fish of the morning was 24 inches, but I'm sure there are some larger fish moving into the river.

Pinching down your barbs makes the release so much easier for you and these bass. Remember that there are special regulations in the Kennebec watershed designed to protect breeding striped bass. Here's the link to the details: http://www.maine.gov/dmr/recreational-fishing/regs-tips/documents/2018_striped_bass_regs.pdf

It's finally June. Striped bass are back. Resolve to fish more.

If you are looking for a striped bass charter this June, I'd love to get you out on the Kennebec River. My few remaining open dates here in Maine are filling up fast as I'll also be fishing on Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Island this month.

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

pfallon@mainestripers.com

mainestripers.com


Maine Striper Season - Off And Running

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

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

Peter

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC

824 Main Rd

Phippsburg, ME 04562

207-522-9900

pfallon@mainestripers.com


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gillies & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


Invasion of the Schoolie Stripers

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

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

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

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

Capt. Peter Fallon

Gilles & Fallon Guide Service, LLC


Foggy Day = Fishy Day

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

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

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

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

Capt. Peter Fallon