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July 28, 2015

    Some years we’d call this period the “summer doldrums” as fishing can tail off with the warm water and warm weather, but that’s not the case this year. Although the saltwater has been mixed with good and slow days for stripers, the mackerel fishing has been outstanding, party boats are reporting some really nice days at sea, considering the restraints they are facing. On the freshwater scene, bass fishing is peaking for both large and smallmouths. Northern pike are being very aggressive and the trout and salmon anglers are not experiencing a slowdown, in fact it’s just the opposite.
MAINE: Captain Tim Tower, owner of the Bunny Clarke charter/party boat reports on his recent trips: “The fishing was very good overall. Most legal fish landed were pollock, by far. Legal landings also included twenty-seven haddock and five mackerel. Released fish included a large number of sub-legal pollock, six dogfish and eleven cod of small market size. Drifting was the method. Jigs and cod flies caught the most fish”.
    “If I were a betting man, my money would have gone on David Archambault (NH) as the high hook of the trip. I never did find out who it was so I could be way off base. David landed the third largest fish of the trip, a 13.5 pound pollock. Some of his other good fish included a 10.5 pound pollock, an 11.5 pound pollock and two pollock of 13 pounds each. Sarah Valacio (NY) won the boat pool for the largest fish with a 15 pound pollock.”

    “Anglers should prepare for the hottest week of the summer—and I don’t mean super fishing luck! Temperatures are expected in the 90’s and anglers need to get out very early for the most success,” according to Master Maine Guide Stu Bristol of Lyman. “Gray light is around 04:40 in southern Maine and that’s none too early for bass and crappie anglers.”

    “With striped bass now moving to the beaches and a run of bluefish, anglers are turning to inland waters. Deep cover is the best option for largemouth seekers. Begin with Senkos and anything creepy crawly, at the edges of the lilies then do some pothole dropping. Lake Arrowhead is, as most anglers know, choked with milfoil but most weekend anglers don’t have the patience to drop an offering down beneath the surface weed mat. You’ll need a strong rod and fairly heavy line but the big ones are there for the taking.”
    “Smallmouth anglers are finding the larger fish in deeper water. Rock piles and boulder fields at depths of 20 feet or more are where anglers should be looking for smallies. Long Lake in Parsonfield and right across the road between the lakes on West Pond, bass that tip the scales at over 6 pounds have been taken in recent days. Access is at a premium so stop by and make friends with those who have water access.”
    “Of course, my favorite summer water to guide, Sabattus Pond in Greene (near Lewiston/Auburn) is red hot right now. Early anglers are taking five-pound-plus largemouth and a number of northern pike over ten pounds are being taken. Crappie lovers need to take it easy as the pike have driven them from shoreline structure. Crappies and white perch in the 2-pound range and roaming freely up and down the lake just beneath the surface. Watch for diving eagles and osprey.”

    News from Saco Bay Bait and Tackle: “Bluefish seem to be elusive but fishermen are getting bit off clean off the jetty at Camp Ellis and in Portland. Striped Bass of all sizes are on the beaches from Wells to Bath. Dead low tide on the incoming with chunk bait landed a few keepers for some fisherman coming in for vacation that are staying at the Friendship Hotel.”
    “It’s not normal that shad are still at the dam in Saco this time of year.””

    “The Lonely Angler Zipster and the Diawa SP Minnow in cream color are still working where the birds are diving. Ron Z and Bill Hurley rigs are still a go-to rubber bait which mimics the sand eel pattern. Most popular fly is also the Beach Side and Estuary sand eel pattern. Also try the Crab Fly and HOLO Deceiver at Pine point.”

    “Shark fishing has been active in the deep water on the East side of the Common Ledges. Reports of makos coming up from deep water are starting to be present especially with the water temp hitting 70 at the Portland weather Buoy.”

    “Tuna bite is still on in many different areas. We are lucky this time of year as far as you are not on top of everyone at one spot. The bluefin seem to be spread out this year. The market is a bit inflated with supply and the quality of fish, but It is just getting started. Good luck!”

    In the Sebago Lake Region, Tyson Garcia at his dad’s Naples Bait and Tackle at Long Lake reports that the bass and panfishing has been great and that he’d won the weekend bass tourney held at Moose Pond in Bridgeton.

    “It was one of those days when I could do no wrong! My dad wasn’t able to fish with me so it’s going to be fun when I can rub his nose in this—five bass totaling over 20 pounds taking first place. Also taking first place in lunker contest with a five-pounder! The trick was putting a jig in front of a bass in tight cover.”

    “Here on Long Lake the smallies are hitting pretty good and early in the evening the white perch are schooling on the top and a bobber/worm combo will get you plenty of action. These perch are not jumbos but are hand-size and will provide a good fillet.”

    Also in the Sebago region Greg Cutting at Jordan’s Store in East Sebago says that an unusual catch of a whitefish, once a very common fish in the big lake was caught and a photo was shown to him.

    “Lake whitefish used to support a huge ice fishing effort here on Sebago Lake with anglers coming from all over New England. But when the togue were introduced it spelled the end of the big schools of whitefish, as they were like candy to that larger and more predatory togue. Seeing one caught now is a very rare thing.”

    “A nice surprise is that the landlocked salmon fishing here right now is usually slow as the summer temperature kicks in. But this summer and especially recently the salmon fishing is probably at it’s peak. Our local salmon specialist Roger Bacon reported that he’d caught eight salmon off Ward’s Cove yesterday morning with one of them being a 25-inch trophy.”

    “Most of the salmon being caught are in the 17–19 inch range. Actually the salmon are hitting better than they did in the spring. And they are right  on top early in the morning but when the sun hits the water they’ll likely drop down to the 20–40 foot range. Most luck comes with live bait and most of the people having that good luck will tell you that they’re using five colors of leadcore line.”

    In the Rangeley Region, Ken at River’s Edge Sports in Oquossoc on Rangeley Lake says that the water has actually cooled off a bit and that the fish are hitting in the 25–40 foot depths.

    “Although the fishing here on Rangeley has been steady, it seems that nearby Mooselookmeguntic Lake is seeing more fish being caught although they average smaller than our fish here. But we’re talking averages as Mooselook produces more huge lake trout than any of the Rangeley Lakes with most of them coming from the Cupsuptic end, often referred to as “Cupsuptic Lake”.

    “River fly fishing is always a good bet below the Aziscohos Dam. This is a bottom release dam so the cool bottom water attracts a lot of trout and salmon. And the first of the week seems always to be the best producing because there is a good pulse of water released for the weekend whitewater rafting businesses.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE: At Suds-n-Soda Sports in Greenland, Rick reports that the striper fishing in Great Bay and Piscataqua River is changing as warm water upriver and in the bays has pushed a lot of the fish downriver and into the rivermouth.

    “One of the good reports is about the squid now being seen and caught downriver. Some good reports coming from the bridges at Little Harbor and the back channel of the Piscataqua as well as off the shore and bridges along the Maine shoreline.”

    “Also a lot of mackerel have moved into the lower-river and bays and are probably feeding on the smaller squid. In fact the macks seem to be very aggressive as I hooked one on a striper-sized surface stick bait! But the usual mackerel spots offshore a bit are the place to try as well as down the Maine shoreline around the Sister’s Ledges.”

    At Eastman’s Fishing Dock in Seabrook, the reports were that the all-day fishing was still very good!  We had only one slow day this month which was Friday—just an off-day on bite, but Saturday the bite was back on, limiting on haddock with good amount of pollock and redfish!”

    “On our Super Marathon trip the fishing was exceptional. Great weather, excellent fishing and two halibut landed! All the pollock you wanted.  Double limits of big haddock and flat seas! Gonna schedule another real soon!”

    “Our all-day boat continues strong limiting on haddock or very close daily with lots more pollock as of late! The half- day mackerel boat still doing great with a slow trip not too often! Stripers had a good few nights this past week but last night’s was a little slow.” Captain Phil Eastman.

    Here’s some of Captain Rocky Gauron reports on recent trips on his party boats out of Hampton Harbor: “Fishing Great on Sunday 7/26. The all day trips had pollock biting a little bit the last few days so between anglers maxing out on haddock, they had some nice pollock to bring home too. On our half day trips the fishing has been terrific for mackerel.

 Yesterday morning the haddock trip was sour because the ocean was too rough to get out to where they had been catching the haddock. But the day before the half day trip had quite a few.”

    This report from John Viar, NH Lakes Region Fisheries Biologist. We realize that John’s report is lengthy but the details of this report were so interesting that we decided to use his total work. (Ed.)

    “It’s that time of summer, when the thermocline starts to become well established at the classic +/- 35 foot depth range in many New Hampshire large lakes. The end of July, August, and early September correspondingly signals the time for pelagic (open water) forage-fish surveys in Region 2 large lakes such as Winnipesaukee, Big Squam, and Newfound. The tool for the job is the Forager, a converted, specifically-outfitted 22-foot Eastern lobster boat. This management tool allows for pelagic forage (prey) fish population trends to be monitored, a key to helping maintain healthy large-lake salmonid (landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, and lake trout) populations. Additional species such as smallmouth bass and the famous large-lakes “jumbo” white perch also depend upon these prey resources on a seasonal basis.”

    “In summary, the survey vessel cruises along transect lines while a sophisticated hydro-acoustic unit (sonar/"fish-finder") counts the number and size of prey fish targets. To verify species and sizes, a large trawl net designed to catch small prey fish is also deployed. Young-of-the-year (YOY, first year of life) very small rainbow smelt (~1.5-2.5 inches, depending on exact time of summer) typically predominate the catch, along with some larger adult smelt, as well as YOY white and yellow perch - the latter particularly in warmer surface waters. Thus, although experienced New Hampshire large-lake anglers know many different offerings can work in certain situations, they generally opt for smaller presentations from mid-late summer, to mimic these YOY forage fish.”

    “The hydro-acoustic and trawl sampling is conducted at night, when smelt ascend into the thermocline to feed on zooplankton (tiny animals). Most smelt hold near bottom during the brightest daylight hours, to help avoid predators - smelt obviously being “sitting ducks” higher in the water column. Hence, along with the crepuscular (twilight active) nature of the salmonids, low-light periods are usually (but not always…) the best fishing times, particularly in the mid-late summer period. At dawn, they're particularly voracious and ready to feed. The first traces of light allow for optimum feeding conditions, slashing upward into schools of smelt, which are just beginning to descend to the bottom, after their night of feeding. It’s a relatively brief predator/prey “collision course” with which experienced large-lake anglers are well versed; this is why serious summer anglers will be set up and “ready to go” even before the break of dawn (but within legal hours). Incidentally, YOY perch are also highly sought prey items, and salmonids will even forage outside of their preferred metabolic range for short periods, to consume these additional "groceries."

       “As the above work for nearly 25 years has demonstrated, and experienced anglers can attest, the thermocline depth in most New Hampshire large lakes during the mid-late summer period is remarkably similar year to year….30-40 feet has been etched into many downriggers, and lead core lines so often played out to 6-7-8 colors. Slight variations will always come into play, but it’s tough to replace these starters when the boys of summer are playing at dawn. Also consider deeper presentations later into morning can sometimes produce continued action, particularly for lake trout.”

    “An important consideration, particularly given warm surface waters in the summer period, is careful handling/best release practices to help sustain quality large-lake fisheries.”

    From Tall Timber Lodges on Back Lake in Pittsburg—“Old Man River guided Ginette White and myself yesterday on the Connecticut River. We did the upper drift from Canaan, VT to the Rest Area just north of Colebrook. We had a fabulous day. Lots of fish, especially at the top end of the drift.”

    “Jon had us running two nymphs, a TH Pheasant Tail up front, with a BH Dirty Bird as the dropper. The Dirty Bird (OMR’s go to nymph) slayed em and the PT picked up a few nice trout as well. There were a few caddis around.”

    “We picked up lots of really nice rainbows in the 13 to 14 inch range, a few brook trout and one brown. We also ran into a few rising fish. We noticed Blue Wing Olives coming off also. My BWO dry fly of choice is the Challenged Pheasant Tail and it worked great on those feeding fish.”

    “We got several more trout in the afternoon still nymphing but then I did decide to change it up and bang the banks with a Zoo Cougar. The Zoo Cougar moved a few fish and I landed several nice rainbows. I did hook a monster brown trout that was laying by a log jam. That got my heart pumping. Next time, Mr. Brown, I know where you live!”

MASSACHUSETTS: Kay Moulton at Surfland on Plum Island reports on one of her best anglers, Steve Gallant, Plum Island Surfcasting Guide Service: “When the fishing gets slow this time of year, it’s important to find any changes that can put them back on the feed. I find that weather systems and pressure changes can help get the fish moving and feeding when the hot weather gives them lockjaw. This past weekend I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time, and had one phenomenal night of fishing after a week of straight skunkings. It was a very dark night just after the new moon and the low pressure front that came through while we were fishing put the bass into a frenzy. The next night it was back to slow fishing….you just gotta get out there, put in your time, and hope that you’re in the right place at the right time.”

    Pete Santini at Fishing Finatics Bait and Tackle in Everett reports that the striper fishing in Boston Harbor is on fire! “They’re blitzing over around Egg Rock in Nahant—big fish in the 30 pound class. Also there’s some bluefish in the 15-20 pounds in the mix. They are plundering a school of mackerel there! Grave’s Light to Marblehead.”

    “Also stripers in the early morning on the Deer Island Flats. They’re hitting surface lures and live baits. Spectacle Island has a surface bite as well early in the morning—big bass and some bluefish.”

    “Giant bluefins just east of the Southeast Corner of Stellwagen Bank. Many of these guys fishing there are using gear that is too small for the size of these fish that weigh hundreds of pounds. This is not a good thing as they have to fight the fish for hours to get them to the boat and when released these fish will typically die from the stress and all the lactic acid buildup. If you are going to fish this area you need to gear up to 150 class gear!”

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. ~ Kittery Trading Post Fishing Report Editor

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