August 19, 2014 In the freshwater lakes and rivers, the cooler water temperatures have extended the surface feeding for the coldwater species such as trout and salmon and have made for some exciting fishing. The saltwater fishing seems to have been cooled off a bit by the muddy incursion of water from some of the big rivers feeding the saltwater bays and nearby ocean, from the recent rainstorm that dumped several inches of rain in a hurry into the watersheds. The muddy water also had a negative impact on fishing in many of the local rivers and streams.
“Why do a lot of the big lake guide services welcome the dog days of summer, and especially the month of August, as some of the prime time to fish for landlocked salmon, lake trout and other trout species that are available in many of our region’s largest lakes?”
“It is because the extreme heat of the day, and before the coolness of September starts to creep onto the scene, has the cold water species of trout and salmon concentrated in the deeper waters of these big lakes in the layer just under the thermocline, a layer of water where sharp temperature drops invite both gamefish and the prey fish they feed on to be there in numbers,” according to Seth Legere at Kittery Trading Post’s fishing department.
“The guides and more astute deep water fishing specialists can’t wait for August to come about, because this is the time for some of the most intense fishing, that for the first few hours of light in the morning create a short window of often fantastic fishing.”
“It begins with what appears to be a cloud of tiny particles lifting off bottom as seen on your depth finder. These seem to be both small baitfish and the plankton that they feed on. And soon after this phenomenon, those larger telltale inverted V-marks show up that are apparently the gamefish that are ready to have a short-term banquet while their prey, smelt in many instances along with landlocked alewives or young of the year white perch, present a great feeding opportunity for the trout, salmon and lake trout.”
Because this is an early in the morning and short time opportunity for some great fishing, you’d better be well prepared to present your baits or lures to those fish at those depths quickly. As soon as the sunlight begins to penetrate the depths, probably in a short two hours, the fish, both prey and game fish, will disperse and the often fantastic fishing action will go with them.”
“Although downriggers seem to be the name of the game, plenty of guides and also recreational anglers will produce some good action on both leadcore line or copper or steel lines. And some in the know will also get some surprising action using a full 100 foot length of sinking fly line, knowing that it only takes an observant trout or salmon a quick couple of seconds to swim up several feet to inhale the fly or lure fished on this fly line. So, it’s a good idea to be equipped with a full variety of deep water gear as well one or two fly rods rigged with the proper line.”
“Since bag limits are small and often the caught and released fish are very vulnerable to problems involving their release in the warmer surface waters, it’s important to lower a fish to be released into the water, supporting it with a hand under its belly and then just letting the fish swim off when it has acquired its balance and strength. Be patient! Don’t just flip them over the side and hope for the best. If there’s one knock on this type of deep water, mid-summer fishing it’s the hook and release mortality that sloppy fish handling can cause!”
“People that want to extend their fishing day beyond this early morning bite can do so by dropping their rigs down near bottom and targeting the huge lake trout fishery that exists in many of our regions big lakes. Also, if you are a smallmouth bass fishing type, look for opportunities in water depths off of steep-banked points or deep submerged rocky bottom—in the 20 feet and deeper locations,” Seth suggests.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Tom Caron at Tall Timber Lodges on Back Lake in New Hampshire’s most northern town of Pittsburg reports of a very beautiful brook trout from yesterday’s excursion –“The colors were pretty nice, and look at those fins! He fought well and was released – another victim of the switch rod, once again proving its value in being able to fish seemingly inaccessible water.”
“With a full day off and some time on my hands, I went fishing with Chuck DeGray of North Country Fly Shop, exploring some water that I had never fished before and that Chuck had fished only once.”
“While there were a few risers that were periodically coming up (Chuck caught a few rainbows on dries), most of the action was below the surface on this sunny day. A combination of Woolybuggers of varying colors and a Rolled Muddler on a sinking leader helped me take five—all brookies. Nothing dramatically big but there is certainly that potential here.”
“We also lost our share of trout here too, so we’ll have to get back there another day.”
“We all have our own reasons for fishing – learning and mastering a new discipline, or just to be outdoors trying some new techniques and being pleasantly surprised when you actually succeed (that would be me). Yesterday was one of those great fishing days – new water, fishing with a friend, and some eager trout made it a great one.”
“The fishing in the Trophy Stretch of the Connecticut River continues to be pretty good, though the water temperature is a little higher than we would like. That will change in a couple of weeks though. Our fishermen that were nymphing did the best, though a well-placed Stimulator or X Caddis would do the trick too. Woolybuggers, also.”
Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region reports: “The rains continue here in the Lakes Region, and lake levels remain high. With the increased flows, we have seen some downstream movement of alewives leaving Lake Winnisquam recently. The Winnipesaukee River has schools of alewives, from the mouth all the way up to Avery Dam.”
“Bass and white perch are taking advantage of this forage, in and around the river mouth. Salmon fishing is steady on Winnipesaukee, now that a strong thermocline has set-up. Salmon are averaging around 20 inches, with a few larger ones mixed in. The areas off Welch and Diamond Islands, and south to Rattlesnake Island and Black Point are all great areas to target salmon and rainbows too.”
“Any type of hardware, flutter spoons, Top Guns, micro-Mooselooks will do the job. Even some action has been reported from anglers using streamers, not too far down in the water column.”
“As a precaution, when releasing fish, stay with them until they either roll to the surface or head to deeper waters. We have many avian predators out there–eagles and ospreys, which will dive right in on a stunned fish laying on the surface. Sure it’s neat to see this activity, but in my experience, rainbows especially, will lie on the surface for a time before flicking their tail to propel them down.”
“Now is a good time to hit the mountain streams, as water levels are great and the brook trout are on a feeding spree with insect hatches and terrestrials washing into the streams.”
“I recently hiked the Ammonoosuc Ravine trail, which follows the Ammonoosuc River up to the headwaters on the side of Mt. Monroe. There are some awesome pools up there, up to 3–4 feet deep, which hold native brook trout. There are a multitude of these streams in the Whites (Mountains) that harbor populations of native trout. Fly fishing for these natives is a blast, with short casts and stealth movements to get near the pools.”
“Fisheries staff recently worked a bass tournament on Little Squam Lake, and I was impressed with the quality of bass, both large and smallmouth, brought in to the weigh-in.”
Alan Nute at AJ’s Bait and Tackle in Meredith on Lake Winnipesaukee confirms the fact that the landlocked salmon and rainbow trout are on the bite there. “It’s been pretty awesome for the middle of summer. While all the early summer we’ve been wondering where the four-pound and larger salmon and rainbow trout have been hiding, now it’s fairly common to see fish of this size in the catch, making us wonder where have they been hiding. It’s not just happening here but over at Squam Lake, along with those four-pounders they’ve recently caught some landlocked salmon and rainbow trout in the six-pound range!”
“We were out Wednesday in that big wind and in spite of it we did very well trolling mostly spoons in the metal colors—silver, gold, brass in combination with yellow/orange and some red. Top Gun spoons were our biggest producer but we also caught a few fish on flies, which is picking up. Best colors in the files kind of mimics what we were having luck on with the spoons, with Golden Marvels, Golden Demons and the various bright smelt patterns such as the Fire Smelt and Maynard’s Marvels.”
“The recent stocking of brood stock brook trout in nearby Winona Lake has drawn the attention of a lot of fishing lately, though it seems the brook trout have been scarce. There has been a lot of nice rainbow trout, but the most action is coming from really big white perch—fish to two and a half pounds, and lots of them. Most of the fish are being taken by trolling trout-style lures.”
Master Guide Tim Moore at Suds-n-Soda Sports in Greenland reports that, in spite of the inflow of muddy water from the freshwater feeder rivers, the striper fishing in Little Bay and the Piscataqua River has really picked up lately with lots of the fish being keeper-sized (28 inches or over).
“People fishing with metal jig lures near bottom have been producing a lot of the action with the areas around the big bridges doing the best. We’ve been doing quite a bit of that jig (2 ounce) fishing and, along with the stripers, we’ve caught a ton of black sea bass, but almost universally they are under keeper-size.”
Tim warns that the season for cod and haddock will come to a close on September 1, so if you want to get in on a trip, better act soon.
Bored with your everyday saltwater fishing experience? Then you may want to check in with Eastman’s Fishing Docks (Eastmansdocks.com) in Seabrook, NH, where a super marathon trip (one night and all next day) is planned for the last of that kind of trip for the season. Here’s the skinny: LAST SUPER MARATHON OF THE SEASON.... going out to ‘Fipps’ (Fippennies ledge) for cod & haddock. Leaving at 11:00pm Mon, Aug 25 and returning between 7–8pm on Tue, Aug 26. Price: $230 per person with payment due at the time of booking. Max Passengers: 31.
Captain Rocky Gauron Sr. at Gauron’s Fishing Boats in Hampton reports: “The half day bottom fishing has been the biggest surprise this past week. More and more legal-size haddock were being caught—over twenty, yesterday morning. To go along with some nice pollock, cod, cusk and redfish, there were quite a few fish around the boat. Plus, mackerel are really great and they are everywhere! Still taking nice cod on the all day trips. Fishing through the hard running tide made it tough duty during parts of each trip. You have to have the heavy lead to put down when the tide comes through. At least an hour or sometimes two hours of fast moving tide during trips this past week. That should get better now that we are getting on the backside of this full moon.”
MAINE: This info from the all-day trip of Captain Tim Tower’s legendary Bunny Clark charter/party boat on Friday: “The fishing was tough with the very strong current, however, not a single dogfish was seen. And, although the swells were a negative factor in the fishing, they were not nearly as big and bad as they were yesterday. The tide made up for it. The catching was good. Landings were good. Most legal fish landed were pollock. Legal landings also included eighteen cod, three haddock and one cusk. They drift-fished and anchored. Drifting was the best. Jigs and cod flies (combination) worked the best for boating legal fish. Mark Hesselink (NJ) was high hook with twelve legal. His largest fish was a 13.25 pound pollock, a tie for the third largest fish of the trip. He also caught the best double keeper catch of the trip with a 10.5 pound pollock and a nine-pound pollock, both fish caught on the same line at the same time. Peter Volkernick (ME) won the boat pool for the largest fish with a 15-pound pollock. The second largest fish was a 13.5 pound pollock caught by Mike Parent (ME). Will LaRose (ME) tied with Mark Hesselink for third in size. Will's fish was also a pollock of 13.25 pounds. Other Angler Highlights: Steve Giuffre (CT) caught a 12-pound pollock, his largest fish. Sean Piel (CT) landed an 11.5 pound pollock. Peter Grant (ME) caught a 12-pound pollock, his biggest fish of the trip. Martha Hesselink (NJ) caught an 11.5 pound pollock. This might be the biggest pollock she has ever caught. Matt Giuffre (CT) caught an 11-pound pollock. Larry Gill (ME) landed the hard luck award for getting the most tangled lines.
“Captain Ian Keniston and Alec Levine ran the afternoon half day (4pm–8pm) trip. The fishing/catching was good. The current made the fishing no better than that. Landings depended on fish preference. Most legal fish caught were mackerel. Only six anglers were using cod flies, but those six anglers caught almost fifty-five mackerel, fifty of which were released alive. I love to eat mackerel, and I love to freeze them for bait when the dogfish aren't around. But it's customer preference first. And their preference was to let them go. Landings also included one cusk, a redfish and two squirrel hake. A few sub-legal cod, redfish and pollock were also caught. Anchoring was the method. A jig caught the largest fish, flies caught most of the mackerel and bait caught the rest. Ken Meade (NJ) caught the largest fish, a 5.75 pound cusk. He did not get in the boat pool. Blake Alois (NY) won the boat pool for the largest fish with the second largest fish, a .75 pound mackerel. Cecilia Meade (NJ) caught the third largest fish, a .5-pound redfish. Ryan Egan (MA) landed the hard luck award with a pretty good backlash in his reel.”
“Weather has been more like early September than the hot lazy days of August,” according to Master Maine Guide Stu Bristol of Lyman.
“Anglers still need to employ techniques normal to hot weather as the surface water temperatures have dropped very little and the daily routines of game fish have not changed significantly. Largemouth bass are still being found under beds of lilies and beneath submerged logs and stumps. Some of the heaviest catches are being reported on some of the smallest lakes and ponds. Long Pond in Parsonfield gave up an eight-pounder this week as well as the normal double-digit catches of two to three-pounders. Smallmouth bass in the same water are clinging tightly to the submerged boulder fields on the east shoreline, while the brown trout have retreated to the center of the lake in deeper water. Trout, however, are coming to the surface to feed on late afternoon hatches.
“Algae and aquatic vegetation blooms are making life difficult for anglers on nearby Sokokis Pond in Limerick, but vertical jigging and splash lures on the surface are bringing fish early morning and late afternoon. The white perch and black crappie anglers are still having the best luck on Sabattus Pond in Green/Sabattus in the usual locations. Crappies are holding very tight to submerged structure while white perch in the two-pound plus are roaming in large schools. Saltwater anglers have taken to the beaches at night for larger fish using cut baits and surface poppers, now that the full moon has passed.”
Saco Bay Bait and Tackle on US Route 1 in Saco is often the central part of the offshore pelagic fishing tournaments in our region. Here’s their report: “The Atlantic bluefin tuna bite has been getting better with fish taken off the backside of Platt's, the Kettle, Sagadahoc and the Mud Hole. Sharking has been good for those targeting blue sharks and there also have been some reports of decent makos and threshers taken. The minimum size for keeper sharks (makos, porbeagles, threshers and blues) is 4.5 feet in length, and basking and white sharks are federally protected.”
“Vessels fishing recreationally for Atlantic tunas, sharks, swordfish and billfish must have an Atlantic HMS angling permit. For more information about permits and regulations contact the NOAA fisheries at 888-872-8862 or visit their website at http://hmspermits.noaa.gov/.”
“Groundfishing remains steady on Tanta's, Jeffrey’s and the Trinidad. Anglers can expect to catch mostly pollock, haddock and cod. New for 2014, the minimum size for cod is 21 inches, nine fish per person daily bag limit. Also new for 2014, three fish per day per angler daily bag limit and a minimum size of 21 inches for haddock. The minimum size for halibut in federal waters is 41 inches and the taking of halibut in Maine territorial waters (inside three miles) is closed from July 1 to April 30. Sea surface temperatures, as reported from Jeffrey’s Ledge and the Portland weather buoy, are running in the mid to upper 60′s.”
Master Maine Guide Dan Legere at the Maine Guide Fly Shop at Greenville on Moosehead Lake filed this report: “As summer sunshine warms the waters of Moosehead Lake and its tributaries, trout and salmon begin retreating to the lakes seeking cooler waters in the depths of the lake. Many of the East Outlet resident fish either drop back into Indian Pond or pass through the fish ladder into Moosehead Lake. Although fish still remain in the river, trout and salmon numbers in the rivers fall off. Ten to twelve inch salmon that have spent the first year and a half of their life decide a diet of only insects is not enough and head to the lake to seek cooler water and begin feeding on a diet of smelt, the high protein food they need to mature into adult fish. The same goes for the Roach & Moose River.”
“The West Branch of the Penobscot below Ripogenus Dam is a different story. It's a very unique landlocked salmon fishery where fish are born and spend their entire life in a river environment. There is no fish ladder at Rip Dam so fish are stuck in the river. The reason they thrive is the passage of smelt through the power plant turbines and through flood gates during high water events. There is enough smelt dumped into the river to maintain a large healthy population of salmon and trout. It's a unique situation that exists in very few places.”
“Because it is a tailwater fishery, angling remains very good during the heat of summer. Caddis and stone fly hatches hold up and fish continue feeding on top all summer long. This season, water flows remains very favorable and fishing is still very good. So when you give up on your favorite spot remember, that's not the case everywhere.”
MASSACHUSETTS: Friend and fellow striper angler Eric Bouchard of Epping, New Hampshire found some great striper fishing in Newburyport’s Merrimack River over the weekend and with his two guests, Eric Lebonte and Eric’s son Sam Lebonte. The threesome landed several big stripers while fishing with live eels at night there. Eric said the secret was to keep going back into the same drift, as the fish were pretty concentrated in that one area. Their largest striper was over 45 inches long which was landed by Sam. The smallest one was landed by Bouchard. Wouldn’t you know it?
At Fishing FINatics in Everett, Pete Santini is finally onshore when we called him but full of good reports: “It’s always good for us when the stripers finally really tune in on our Santini tube-n-worm rigs. We don’t really understand what causes this impact this time of year but we guess it’s probably because the mature eels are starting off on their migrations. But whatever is the cause, we’ve received more and more striper success on our tube-n-worm rigs and they are the big stripers that are hitting them. It’s hard to pick out a particular color but red, black, orange and honey mustard seem to be the best producers. We do have to add to this information. Fish will not, repeat–will not, take this combo without the very important sea worm bait on the hook. And remember to freshen it up whenever you go awhile without a hit.”
“Consistently, we’ve found that fishing slow and low are the way to go. We like to use leadcore line in varying lengths, to keep our rigs near bottom and we troll as slow as our boat will go.”
“Once in a while you’ll get a slight tug and no fish hooked. Hold on, as there’s a very good chance that fish will come back again in a matter of seconds!”
“Also, we’re happy to note that finally there’s a little bit of a bite on for big bluefin tuna out on Jeffrey’s Ledge, with the area known as the Curl being one of the most active spots.”
Because of the inherent time restrictions of gathering fresh, up-to-date information, editing and producing this report in a timely manner, occasional errors or marginal information may slip by us. We try our hardest to provide accurate information. We urge readers to use this report as a tool to increase their fishing pleasure and not to rely on as their sole resource. First or second hand information is offered by fishing guides, commercial fishing charters or party boats, bait and tackle dealers, well known successful anglers and state and federal fisheries and natural resource law enforcement officials. We also welcome and use reports forwarded to us by fishermen that use this report.