September 29, 2015With the open water fishing winding down, this is our final report until the first of the year (2016) when ice fishing should be in full swing and a few fanatics will still be out there fishing open water.
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MAINE: Master Maine Guide Dan Legere at the Maine Guide Fly Ship in Greenville on Moosehead Lake gives some tips for fishing the fall: “Totally different water conditions apply for good fishing in the spring than do in the fall. In the spring we want falling water levels and rising water temperatures. After high spring run-off becomes more stable and water temperatures start to rise, hatches begin and fishing gets better and better. In the fall the opposite applies. When either fall rains or scheduled dam releases raise river levels and fall's cooler conditions drop water temperatures spawning fish begin to enter the rivers. It's a simple equation but very predictable.”
“Fall fishing can be feast or famine. If conditions are ideal you’ll talk about the great fishing for years to come. If the stars don’t line up, this year September has become our newest summer month, there are very few easy fish and you’ll earn everyone.”
“A little note about fall fishing: Fish fresh from the lake are usually very eager to chase streamers. There is no screwing around and the strike is ferocious. If a fish misses your fly just leave it there and jig it a bit. New fish will almost always return and be more aggressive, not missing on the second strike. It's like they want to rip the rod from your hand and there is nothing like it. Make sure you are using good stout leader material or that biggest fish of the season will own your fly and you're left with just another sad story.”
“After fish have been in the river for a while, have seen plenty of streamers and likely been fooled a time or two the strikes become just passes at your streamer and don't return when teased. A quick change of the fly may get the fish to come back but not always. Now it's time to do a little nymph fishing. It's about delivering a Lays potato chip to couch potatoes that have stopped chasing streamers. Drift, say a pheasant tail by their nose and they are apt to pick up the little morsel. After all they have eaten hundreds of them in the past.”
“We have always said fall fish do not feed. It should read, fall fish don't eat much and they often don't eat the same thing twice. So don’t be shy to change the flavor of the fly that isn't working. Interview any number of late season fishermen about what they were using and you'll get ten different flies that caught fish and often it takes ten fly changes to catch two fish.
Until conditions change this fall isn’t going to be one you’ll brag about the fishing as much as the grand time you had with the company you keep and the great memories you’ll make around the campfire, that’ll keep you smiling during the off season.”
“It's a beautiful time of season, our favorite, and some of the biggest fish of the year are going to be caught. The only problem with September fishing is it should be three months long-- not three weeks. Have a great trip and don’t forget to support your local fly shop.”
More news from Maine’s Fisheries Division: “Anglers seeking brown trout are having success, you just need to fish a little deeper, somewhere between 20-30 feet seems to be ideal depth this time of year. Hancock Pond and Little Sebago are popular spots for brown trout, but don’t be afraid to try some other ponds.
Trolling live shiners is productive, but you need to troll very slow, less than a mile an hour. If you are using a DB smelt or Rapala, you can speed up a little, but keep your speed in the 2-3 mile per hour range.”
“Of course, if you are looking for some fast fishing action, now is one of the best times to be fishing for white perch. It’s also a great way to introduce someone to fishing, and can be fun for the whole family.”
“There is some spectacular white perch fishing in area lakes such as Long Lake in Naples, Highland Lake in Bridgton, and Keoka Lake in Wateford,” says IFW fisheries biologist Frances Brautigam. “What’s fun about white perch fishing is that they move to the surface in the evening, they fight hard and they are not that finicky.”
“Look for dimples or fins on the surface of the water just before and after sunset. Cast out a spinner, a Swedish pimple or even a bit of worm and your likely to have good luck.”
“Out on Sebago, anglers that are out there fishing early and late are doing fairly well for salmon. Anglers are catching quite a few wild 11-15 inch salmon, a result of good salmon spawning production in the Crooked River. Anglers fishing close to the surface are likely to catch the smaller ones, and those trolling deeper in the 20-35 foot range are being rewarded with some three to four pound salmon.”
“Most people you are seeing out this time of year are white perch fishing,” said IFW fisheries biologist Nels Kramer.
“Some anglers are still fishing the salmon lakes, but you have to be more patient this time of year,” said Kramer. Looking for a good salmon lake for this time of year? Try East Grand, Matagammon, West Lake, or Pleasant Lake in Island Falls. If you’re looking for a pond to trout fish, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than some of the walk-in ponds in Baxter State Park, which don’t receive a lot of fishing pressure, but hold some fantastic populations of wild brook trout.
“Anglers may want to try either the upper or lower South Branch Ponds in the northern part of the park. These are fairly large, crystal clear and cold ponds with a campground on the north end,” said Kramer. “We were in there surveying the trout and we got good numbers of trout in the 5-17” range.” If you want to do some bass fishing, fishing on the Penobscot is still quite good, with flow levels excellent for fishing.
In the Aroostook region, IFW fisheries biologist Derrick Cote says they have been getting questions about black spots on some trout. “We have received numerous inquiries in recent weeks about "blackspots" present on the skin of brook trout. These blackspots are the intermediate stage of a parasitic worm known as a trematode. The adult forms of the worms are found in the intestine of fish-eating birds such as the loon, kingfisher, duck, gull, cormorant, with the heron being the most common.”
“After reproduction, eggs are subsequently released into the water with the droppings of the host bird. The eggs soon hatch into a larval form and seek out an intermediate host snail. Further development requires the larvae to burrow into the internal tissues of a specific species of snail within a short period of time or else the larvae soon perish.”
“Within the snail, the larvae undergo two more stages of development within a month or two. Under the influence of warming water and light, the cercariae, as they are now called, break out of the snail and begin to seek a suitable fish, the second intermediate host.”
“As with the snail, if contact with an appropriate fish is not soon made, the cercariae will die. Upon contact with a fish, the parasite bores through the scales and skin and occasionally the muscle whereupon it is surrounded with a thin wall. The fish in turn lays down a black pigment around the encysted parasite thereby producing the "blackspot" visible to the angler.”
“The final stage of the life cycle occurs when a bird, the final host, eats a fish infested with blackspot. Digestive juices within the bird's stomach frees the encysted parasite from the fish's skin whereupon it migrates to the bird's intestine and develops into a sexually mature worm, completing the life cycle.”
“We are not aware of a situation in the wild where blackspot has been lethal or harmful to adult fish. Nor is it necessary to refrain from eating a fish infested with blackspot. Cooking the fish will destroy the parasite and the parasite is not known to survive in humans. So, although the presence of blackspot may detract from a trout's appearance, it is of no consequence to its edibility.
Captain Tim Tower of the charter/party boat Bunny Clark reports on the latest trip on Sunday, September 27.
“The fishing was fair to good. It was very good when they first started with a lot of good sized fish. They caught plenty of sub-legal fish as the day progressed but the keeper count went way down. Ian told me they could have left the grounds at noon and still landed the same amount of fish that they ended up landing at 5:00 PM. Most legal fish landed were pollock, by far. Legal landings also included two cusk and a cunner. Released fish included sixty-six haddock (mostly too small), fourteen market cod, thirty dogfish, a sculpin and five redfish. Only one blue shark bothered them today. Drifting was the method. Jigs and flies caught the most legal fish.”
NEW HAMPSHIRE: At Suds-n-Soda Sports in Greenland, Jason MacKenzie says that he’ll be happy when the ice forms for some ice fishing as the fishing on the freshwater has slowed down and the number of saltwater anglers lately have been impacted by rough seas and tough conditions.
“There are still some die-hard striper fishing that have been mostly successful using live eels, both in the daytime and at night with the night fishing probably better than the day. The upper Piscataqua and Little Bay is producing some good action but there’s also people that are casting live eels towards the ocean rocky shorelines when conditions allow that are also doing very well with some of the season’s biggest stripers being caught.”
“Offshore giant tuna fishing has been on fire lately, with quite a few giants in the 5-700 pound range being taken out on Jeffrey’s Ledge at various spots. The bite seems to be a moving target so keeping in touch with other boats that are willing to share info can be key to having success.”
Captain Lester Eastman Jr. at Eastman’s Fishing Dock at Seabrook Harbor reports: “Wisely stayed in port today(Friday) not nice on Jefferies never mind Fipps. Suppose to have a nice stretch of weather coming up, running 7 days a week all day at 7 am. Half day trips on weekends at 8 & 130. We have more room on Sunday than Saturday and still spots on Monday’s marathon, as well as the rescheduled Fipps trip Thursday, Oct 1. It's that time of year to remind you we have climate controlled cabins, heated handrails and satellite TV to watch the games.”
(Both their trips to Fippennies Ledge, a long several hour trip and their marathon trips make available fish such as halibut that are not normally caught on their regular day trips and provide some huge groundfish usually. You need to be in good physical shape to undertake these types of trips this late in the season but if you need to go “outside the box” you won’t be disappointed by taking one of the scheduled marathons or the Fipp’s trip!)
In New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, Alan Nute at AJ’s Bait and Tackle in Meredith on Lake Winnipesaukee says that with the water temperatures cooling you could have a good chance of hooking a decent landlocked salmon or rainbow trout fishing with sinking fly line instead of going deep with leadcore line or other means. “It’s a lot more fun when you’ve hooked up on a feisty salmon or rainbow trout on light fly gear. It’s also a good time to release any of those larger fish you may hook as the salmon spawning time is near and the rainbow trout will be on their spawning runs early in the spring.”
“White perch fishing should be holding up but it’s key to find a school and stick with them. Perch are not finicky eaters so small lures, crappie jigs or bait will do the trick. Drift jigging with bright crappie lures fished just off bottom in the fairly shallow coves should produce a variety of fish including crappie, yellow and white perch as well as an occasional smallmouth bass or pickerel.”
“Now is also a great time to visit some of our more northern trout ponds. Key here is to wait until the water warms a bit in the morning that will often stir up some insect action that will have the trout feeding. Start your fishing on the west or northwest shorelines as the rising sun in the east often warms the opposite shoreline quicker.”
Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist in the Northcountry reports: “Fishing is no different from any other sport in that weather conditions play a vital role. Golfers have to consider the moisture on the grass and adjust their swing, baseball players have to account for the wind and recalculate chasing fly balls, and football players have to be aware of the rain and decide whether or not to underinflate game balls. The constantly changing climate has a far reaching effect and the successful sportsman must be able to anticipate and adjust. Last week had been so hot that I simply couldn’t imagine any trout rising from cool water to eat a dry fly. I tied on a heavy nymph and hoped it would sink to where the fish were hiding. It didn’t work. Later, I tied a small copper nymph as a dropper from a bead-headed woolly bugger. It didn’t work, either. My final conclusion was that it may simply be too hot to trout fish. I did, however, have the day off from work and was resigned to fish, regardless of whether or not the fish would bite. At day’s end, I caught one brook trout. I’d like to tell you that it was the result of the perfect fly or presentation, but I would be lying. The little trout ate my black ghost streamer while I left it unattended, three feet downstream of me while I rummaged through my fly box.”
“I spent yesterday sampling a small brook in the Dartmouth College Grant. Water levels were as low as I’d seen them this year and one of my study areas, was completely dry. I was trying to evaluate the success of a new bridge which was installed to replace a culvert that was a clear barrier to fish movement. Although there was no flow in the brook, there were pools scattered throughout the system. Hoping to see fish above and below the bridge, I found brook trout of varying ages in each pool. At first glance, it would seem that the project was a success and brook trout are free to move through the road crossing. It was interesting to see that the fish found deeper, cooler water in times of such heat and low flow. With heavy rain in the forecast, these fish should disperse soon and prepare for the spawning season that lies ahead.”
MASSACHUSETTS: Pete Santini at Fishing FINatics in Everett says that the bit is on for giant tuna our around Stellwagen Banks as well as Jeffrey’s Ledge. “When we can get some live pogies for bait it’s almost a sure thing that if there are any tuna around we’ll get a hookup. For some reason we’ve always had way more action then when using other live baits.”
“If you find the tuna busting bait and you have some capable casting equipment try throwing some tuna-sized jigs, heavy rigged Sluggos or similar rubber baits. Also trolling around busting fish with artificials can work for you but don’t run through a school of feeding fish or you’ll put them down.”
“We still have some stripers here in the harbor and bluefish on and off. The stripers, believe it or not, will stay in the river mouths all winter long, feeding on the freshwater yellow perch but they are lethargic and also probably not fit for eating because of the diet they are on.”
Captain Jason Colby of Little Sister Charters moves south from his regular Massachusetts waters as the stripers and bluefish migrate. Here’s his latest report: I had Rob P. out with his friend Fernando casting eels under the cover of darkness: "It was a dark, stormy night. We started off in the area where I've been seeing schools of bunker ("pogies" for some of you) and the ebb was just getting going. I was figuring that "the biggest fish in the harbor" would be hanging around, keeping their eyes on the bait. We fished there for about 15 minutes when Rob hooked up with the first of many fish in the 15 to 20 pound class. We also had a few shorts and a couple of mere 30-32 inch specimens but the bulk of our "bakers dozen" or so bass were nice enough. Fernando did great for his first time with eels and had at least five or six fish and he missed just as many. Rob finished things off after daybreak with a bluefish of 12.9 pounds.
Starting October 1 open boat trips (Thursdays, 7am-noon by reservation only-$115/person) will be "all tog" through Thanksgiving so check your calendars and reserve your trips! Feel free to call or email if you need more info. Captain Jason Colby, Little Sister Charters. email@example.com. 617-755-3740, www.littlesister1.com
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