May 14, 2013The big swings in the weather, with the hot and calm days being mixed in with cold front days with low temperatures and high winds has made the recent fishing, both on salt and freshwater, a gamble. In the freshwater, the warm days put the smallmouth bass onto their spawning areas and also the crappie had started to stage for spawning but the cold front days delayed this and put a stop to the bite. Great news on the saltwater, with stripers universally being reported all the way up into some of the southern Maine waters.
“Warming water is getting the smallmouth bass thinking about coming inshore and in some locations white perch are on the move,” according to Seth Legere at Kittery Trading Post’s fishing department.
“Maine and New Hampshire’s white perch fishing is an underutilized fishery, with mainly the people that live close to one of the hotspots making up most of the fishing pressure. There are plenty of fish to go around and some really huge ones, especially in the Lake Winnipesaukee watershed and in Maine’s Mousam Lake and Sebago Regions.”
“White perch are a close relative of the striped bass and not really related to yellow perch. They can grow to over three pounds and besides being sought after for their eating qualities; they put up a great fight on light tackle. Right now when they are starting to run into some of the coves and inlets and rivers to spawn, they will often stay offshore until the water warms up in the middle of the afternoon and then approach the shoreline where warmer water suits them better. These fish will hit a worm, small baitfish and small lures such as swimming plugs and spinners. A slow trolled spinner and worm combo is probably the most popular way to catch white perch by boat fishermen, while shore anglers prefer to fish bait under a bobber.”
“In the Sebago area, the Songo Locks provide a great place to load up on perch and also have a chance at a salmon or brook trout. Dave Garcia at Naples Bait and Tackle on Long Lake in the Sebago Region tells us that the best bet for catching the white perch there is using a drop-shot sinker rig with a small frozen smelt for bait. Panther Run and Panther Pond in Raymond and all those connected waters nearby all have good white perch populations.”
“New Hampshire’s Lakes Winnipesaukee and Winnisquam grow some of the largest white perch we’ve ever heard of! Fish of two to over three pounds are quite common. Some of Winnipesaukee’s best areas seem to be in the northern, shallower bays of the lake, especially around Melvin Village, Center Harbor and Meredith Bay. These areas will have crowds of locals out there in the evening happily filling a bucket with big perch.”
“At Lake Winnisquam, the Winnipesaukee River as it comes into the lake is apt to be filled with white perch which often are the hump-backed huge ones. Small shiners or worms and crawlers usually can do the job. One great thing about this fishing is that in this location its shore or bank fishing as it also is over at Winnipesaukee at State’s Landing or around the Weir’s Beach Channel.”
“During the mornings before the perch head into the coves and inlets, boat fishermen do well by slow trolling nearby where the perch show up later in the day. When they find a school of perch they often shut down and cast to them. This fishing can also be fast and furious. In the evenings the fishing is usually best in or near the moving water.”
“There are other lakes that have some great white perch fishing. Massabesic Lake has some nice white perch. Bow Lake in Strafford and many ponds in the Northwood/Deerfield area are good. Crispy fried white perch fillets are as good as it gets!”
“Few people know or realize that white perch can also be a fish of the tidal waters. Many white perch are caught through the ice at Great Bay or its tributaries. People occasionally hook a perch when prospecting for schoolie stripers but we’ve heard from people who have hit schools of big white perch in Newmarket on the tidal Lamprey and boated a cooler full! This year the Squamscott River, often referred to as the Exeter River, has had a great spring run of white perch, with people lining the banks at times from Stratham’s Chappy’s Landing to the Exeter town landing. Worms are universally the bait that is working there right now,” Seth ended.
Seth also wanted to alert readers to KTP's Paddlesports Demo Day being held at Spring Hill in South Berwick, ME on Saturday, May 18 from 10am-3pm. "It's a chance to 'try before you buy' a variety of kayaks, canoes and paddleboards; to paddle around and select the boat that best fits your fishing or other on-the-water recreational pursuits," Seth stated.
MASSACHUSETTS: It’s rare that we get a chance to highlight the fishing report by starting off with our southern waters, but this week’s news from both Pete Santini at Fishing FINatics in Everett and fishing legend Kay Moulton at Surfland Bait and Tackle on Plum Island revealed some great news for the tidal anglers.
“We’ve got fish (meaning stripers) here, both in the river and off the beaches,” Kay revealed with a laugh. “And there’s some good ones too. But the fishing has been spotty, depending on the weather and wind conditions. The stripers have been all along the ocean front and up into the river as well. We’ve seen and measured several nice keepers between 28 inches all the way up to 36.5 inches.”
“Stomach contents revealed lots of herring but the largest fish had 15 crabs of different sizes. Clams, seaworms, cut bait and different striper lures seem to be good on some days so you want to experiment a bit.”
“Also, there seems to be plenty of shad in the river with good catches at Rock’s Village and below the dam in Lawrence. One of our most consistent shad guys, Eric Roach has been having great luck using the tiny shad spoons fishing his kayak in the Rocks Village area while others are reporting doing well with shad darts, both from shore and from boats.”
“No flounder yet, and that’s not a surprise as they almost never show up here until Memorial Day, and no legitimate reports on mackerel yet.”
Another legendary angler, Pete Santini was overjoyed at what was going on at Boston Harbor. “We’re loaded with nice black backed (winter) flounder. Off Deer Island on the flats is best and also at Hospital Shoals. Our water temperatures are running 54 to 55 degrees and that seems to be ideal.”
“We’ve also got loads of stripers—fish up to 38 inches so far. In fact, they were blitzing on the surface taking poppers just off the Long Island Bridge last week as well as taking trolled Santini Tube-n-Worm Rigs around the tide rips near many of the islands, with the Deer Island tide rip and also around Faun Bar being hotspots.”
“Herring runs like we haven’t seen in years at the Mystic and Charles Rivers where it looked like you could walk across the river on their backs!”
“Add to that we’ve got mackerel, and lots of them at Graves Light, cod and redfish (which Pete said they hadn’t seen in years) at the B Buoy.”
“Out on Stellwagen Banks, the haddock bite is on with quite a few codfish, and a lot of porbeagle sharks have been stealing the fish being reeled-in by the groundfishing anglers. Also, unconfirmed reports of at least one bluefin tuna caught.”
Pete runs the now-famous Zobo Flounder Tourney, which is on this weekend. The heaviest bag of five flounder wins the prize money and the net income will be donated to the One Boston Fund. The neat thing about this local event is that you get to eat what you catch, with a huge fish fry taking place at the end of the tourney!”
Entry can be accomplished by calling 617-381-1997 or google Zobo Flounder Tourney or Fishing FINatics and sign-up online.
MAINE: Master Maine Guide Stu Bristol of Lyman reports: “The rain was much needed throughout southern Maine and anglers took the opportunity to troll for trout and salmon during the period. Slight winds created an almost perfect “salmon chop” and anglers came away with fish in the 18-22 inch range from most area cold water ponds and lakes.”
“Bass anglers are still waiting for the repairs to be completed on the dam at Lake Arrowhead. Officials project the water level will be down until at least next weekend. Little Ossipee Lake in Waterboro gave up at least two really nice brook trout in the 3-pound range. Live bait (smelt) was the top bait. Still looking to be too early for streamer flies and hardware.”
“Area brooks were temporarily high and cold but they were below average before the rain hit and fishing conditions were actually quite good. Crappie anglers are finding Sabattus Pond in Green to be the hot spot with a couple anglers boating double digit crappies in the one-pound plus size and white perch over two pounds, as well as the usual hoard of small northern pike. Sebago Lake anglers are right into the double digit lake trout catches and the smelt run has attracted salmon to the mouths of the Songo River and Muddy River. At the Songo Locks, shoreline anglers were taking salmon in the 19-plus range on smelt under a bobber.”
“We’d have to say that generally, the local trout and salmon fishing has been close to unbelievable,” laughed Dave Garcia at Naples Bait on Long Lake in the Sebago Region.
“At the Songo Locks the big white perch run is very strong. Much of the luck is coming using small frozen smelt fished below a bobber. There’s not enough current right now to attract the salmon up into the locks but it must be perfect for the white perch.”
“Although day to day it’s hard to forecast, on a day when Sebago Lake’s salmon are turned on, there have been some fantastic catches. We haven’t heard or seen any real monster-sized fish yet but the average size is probably a strong three pounds, with the range being from two-and-a-half to just under five pounds. Right now it seems that five colors of leadcore line is working best with sewed on shiners or smelt being the most productive, but also some good action on thin profile lures such as the DB Smelt.”
“There are not a lot of people that are targeting lake trout right now so it’s hard to say how that fishery is doing, but we know that this lake has a huge population of very healthy lakers, however because of the slot limit restrictions there are fewer people that are targeting them right now.”
“Thompson Lake in Casco has also been very productive with salmon averaging larger than the Sebago fish, in the four to five pound range.”
“Because of the very low water levels here on our Long Lake there’s been little fishing pressure, but we do know that the smallmouths are on the beds both here and on several other local lakes. Also hurt by low water levels are the trout and salmon rivers, with the Crooked River being very low and with very light fishing pressure.”
Greg Cutting at Jordan’s Store in East Sebago added to Garcia’s report and noted that although there’s been some great salmon taken (they’ve weighed-in fish of 4.8 pounds, 5.96 pounds and a whopper of 6.51 pounds, all caught by local Jim Morrell), the legendary Roger Bacon, who when at his camp on the lake will fish every morning from before daylight to about 9am, has been skunk-bit lately, coming in yesterday with nary a fish scale on his hooks.
“The fishing here on Sebago has been so good that fishing pressure on our other lakes is just about nil. Even some camp owners on other lakes are trailering their boats here to fish,” Greg ended.
In the Rangeley Lakes Region, Jerry at River’s Edge Sports in Oquossoc on Rangeley Lake reported that this morning the temperatures were hovering around freezing with little fishing going on because of the conditions. “But overall it’s been a great spring so far. Rangeley Lake has been putting out a lot of real quality brook trout, with the largest one we’ve seen weighing 3¾ pounds. Sewed-on bait and DB Smelt-type lures have been the most productive so far.”
“On Friday, Mooslookmeguntic Lake took off, with some huge fish caught. We weighed brook trout at 3.6 pounds and also had confirmed reports of others that were in the four to five-pound range.”
“Our rivers are in sad shape. We haven’t had any meaningful rain for too long and the snow run-off is gone so there is very little flow in the rivers, and this has kept the trout and salmon from entering them from the lakes. One exception to that is the Lower Magalloway River below that releases its water from the bottom, so it’s always cool. But even that has slowed down from lack of rain.”
The news from Moosehead Lake Region is spotty but we do know that the lake itself has produced some quality brook and lake trout and the landlocked salmon fishing seems to be improved a bit. Master Maine Guide Dan Legere doesn’t do much fishing on the lake itself but reports that the rivers leading in and out of the lake have been producing some nice brook trout and landlocked salmon.”
This writer sampled the action in Maine’s most northern county of Aroostook for five days last week and found the fishing quite slow in the lakes, but good news coming from the Aroostook River where the fiddlehead ferns were peaking and the brook trout fishing was pretty decent. Local fisher Elery Walton had been doing both, sending photos of catches of native brookies in the 14–16 inch range along with his full bucket of fiddleheads.
At Long Lake in Sinclair, a few small landlocks bothered our streamer flies and lures. When we dropped down the Long Lake/Mud Lake connecting thoroughfare we marked very few fish and caught none, this happening twice during the week.
Launching at Cross Lake in the town of the same name, we found some small brookies in the Mud Lake/Cross Lake thoroughfare that couldn’t resist our streamer flies, but they were averaging only about 8–10 inches. No hits on Cross Lake both times we tried, but going down the Cross Lake/Square Lake thoroughfare we did run into schools of undersized landlocks that took both lures and streamer flies, but nothing over 15 inches. We did run into one angler that claimed he’d caught two six-pound landlocks right off the thoroughfare two days prior.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: At Jason MacKenzie’s Suds-n-Soda Sports in Greenland, Master Guide Tim Moore had some great news for the Granite State coastal anglers: “We’ve got stripers, and quite a few keeper-sized ones at that. The fish are well up into the rivers as well as along the coast and the lower Piscataqua and smaller bays. The areas just below the dams at the Henry Law Park on the Cocheco River in downtown Dover, and also at the Lamprey River right below the Newmarket dam, have been producing some really nice fish, up to the mid-30 inch sizes. Also, we’ve heard of stripers in the Salmon Falls River below the dam at South Berwick, Maine and Rollinsford, New Hampshire where it’s not uncommon to hook onto a nice shad occasionally, as well as sea run brown or rainbow trout.”
“Striper fishing in the Salmon Falls River can be fraught with the problem of staying within the rules of the two states, which are quite different. The states boundary lines run down whatever is supposed to be the middle of the river. Maine has a slot size limit, not allowing any striped bass to be kept between 20 and 26 inches, with only one fish allowed over 40 inches, while New Hampshire’s law allows possession of stripers of 28 inches or more with only one fish allowed over 40 inches. So if you plan on fishing this very productive area, you’d best beware. And because these rules are backed by federal statutes, it is not legal to possess more than one limit, regardless of what state it was caught in, so you can’t keep a limit of Maine stripers and then cross over and keep a limit of New Hampshire stripers.”
“No flounders yet and no reports of mackerel yet. But one fishery that has really taken off in the tidal areas has been the white perch fishing in the saltwater portion of the Squamscott River in Exeter and Stratham. We’ve been hitting this river ourselves and have found that the best action has been on the last part of the outgoing tide, with high slack water the worst time to fish.”
“The freshwater fishing, especially for trout, seems to be very dependent on hitting the streams and ponds that have been recently stocked. One exception is the Exeter Water Works Pond where the fishing seems to have stabilized and has been quite good since opening day.”
“Also, this is undocumented but we’ve heard that a good run of alewives have entered the Winnicut River Dam here in town, using the newly constructed fish ladder, and that’s a great thing for the health of that river.”
Captain Jamie Savage (603-528-8098) at Dover Marine Sports has been hitting the haddock on the offshore ledges as well as some fine redfish and occasional keeper-sized cod, but says you just can’t predict what size haddock you’ll get onto. “One day we’ve caught plenty of haddock in the four to seven-pound range and other days we’ll just slam the smaller ones. But we’ve had some good mixes of species, including days that you can catch lots of big pollock and days when the good-sized redfish are hitting well.”
“The tidal rivers are starting to fill up with stripers, and last week we heard of eight over 28 inches caught in both the Cocheco River and the Salmon Falls River, where coincidentally a few shad were also caught. There’s a huge alewife run in those rivers that is attracting those big stripers.”
“Here on our local fresh water, the small Willand Pond seems to be always attracting our attention and this week it was a six pound, 13 ounce largemouth bass that came out of this small but deep, spring fed pond. Also, the catch-and-release, fly-only section of the Cocheco River has been, and is still producing, some quality fly fishing for brown and rainbow trout.”
George Taylor at Taylor’s Trading Post in Madbury reports that both the bass and crappie in the Bellamy River are moving into their spawning areas and that the fishing has been spotty, depending on weather conditions. “The cold fronts really shut down the fishing here this time of year but on the calm and warm, sunshine days it can be very good. Most of the other ponds in our area are finding good bass fishing, but anglers should know that no bass can be kept until June 15 and then only one per day until July 1, with a limit of five bass per day until October 1.”
“The river trout fishing really is dependent on the trout stocking in our area, but the ponds are not producing as well as expected either. At Barbados Pond nearby, the water level is very low and the fishing mixed. Willand Pond is slow but with some nice fish caught. Stonehouse Pond, a deep, clear fly-only pond, is very moody and you never know if you are hitting it on the right or wrong day but it will become quite clear to you in the first hour or so.”
Alan Nute at AJ’s Bait and Tackle in Meredith on Lake Winnipesaukee reports that the fishing action has been mixed, with weather conditions making huge differences in both angler activity and fish being caught. “Right now with some dark days slowing down the fishing, dark colors such as reds, blues, purple, copper, orange and combinations of those colors producing most of the action. Since the cold weather, the fish have moved up into the sub-surface regions with a couple colors of leadcore line working, as well as the full sinking fly lines using either streamer flies or lures.”
“Most of the salmon have been in the two-and-a-half to four-pound range. More lake trout have been caught lately and they seem to be a bit larger on average. The brook flows are so low that it has just about stopped the sucker runs, so fishing these places for rainbow trout that feed on the sucker spawn has been slow or non-existent.”
“With this cold front, the smallmouths have dropped out of their spawning areas and also this has really slowed down the perch run we get here each year this time.”
This just in from Jane Vachon, NH Fish and Game’s Information Specialist: “Saturday, June 1, is Free Fishing Day in New Hampshire, so get out your fishing gear and head for the water! You don't need a license to fish that day, so make plans to cast a line with family and friends. State residents and nonresidents alike can fish any of New Hampshire's inland waters – and saltwater, too. Though you don't need a license, season dates, bag limits and all other fishing regulations must be followed on Free Fishing Day. Please note, anglers fishing for brood stock Atlantic salmon in the Merrimack and lower Pemigewasset Rivers must have a fishing license along with a special Atlantic salmon broodstock permit.
Also on Saturday, June 1, New Hampshire's six state fish hatcheries will be open to visitors from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Stop in and see where the state raises more than a million trout each year that are stocked into New Hampshire's rivers, lakes and ponds. Hatcheries are located at Berlin, Milford, New Hampton, New Durham (Powder Mill), Twin Mountain, and Warren, N.H. Find directions at http://www.fishnh.com/Inside_FandG/hatcheries_visitor_centers.htm.
"Free Fishing Day is a great chance to get out for a relaxing day in the outdoors, take a buddy fishing, and stop off for a fun visit to a fish hatchery along the way," says Jason Smith, Inland Fisheries Division Director at the N.H. Fish and Game Department.
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. (Thank you, Dick Pinney Kittery Trading Post Fishing Report Editor.)