August 19, 2014No doubt this has been one of the coolest Augusts we’ve seen in years with the result that some of the fishing has suffered while some of it has improved. On the saltwater scene it probably can be blamed on the lack of bluefish we’ve seen in our northern portion of our reporting areas and also what seems like an earlier migration of young of the year herring dropping down from the freshwater into the salt. Which actually seems to have kept more stripers up into the tributaries of Great Bay as well as the upper reaches of the Piscataqua River and Little Bay.
The cool weather and water temperatures seem also to have had a dampening effect on the warmwater freshwater species, such as bass and panfish, but have energized the cold water species with stories of some great fishing for lake and pond trout and landlocked salmon, while the insect hatches on some of the rivers probably have been off their regular timing. Best to go with the flow and take advantage of what’s good, as it will be ice fishing before you know it!
This time of year is a good time to expand your saltwater fishing for some alternative species to the stripers, bluefish or mackerel you’ve been chasing, according to Seth Legere at Kittery Trading Post’s fishing department.
“Most people think that flounder are one species of fish in our region but that’s not true. It is true that the most popular flounder are the black backed or winter flounder and they do get considerable fishing pressure, although they are nowhere near as plentiful here in our area as they used to be. But there are enough of them to target, and catching a limit is not out of the question.”
“One of the positive features of flounder fishing is that you can fish for them from shore, docks, bridges, jetties or just about any shoreline structure that allows you to cast your bait into some saltwater that is at least five or six feet deep. Another positive thing about flounder fishing is that some of our local party and charter boats dedicate a specific boat to provide half-day fishing opportunities that target blackback (winter) flounders.”
“Bait and tackle can be as simple as a handline that is only equipped with a hook and sinker or any fairly light duty fishing rod and reel combo. There’s one suggestion that we do need to add. If you’re bound and determined to use your prized freshwater gear while fishing the salt water for any species, give it a complete wash-down with soap and water before putting it away. Otherwise you’re apt to end up with some unusable and rusty junk!”
“Even bait is simple and can be either harvested by you or purchased at almost any sporting counter that caters to the saltwater angler. Best baits are chunks of clams or mussels or seaworms. These blackback or winter flounder are bottom feeders so you want to provide bait that is their natural meal.”
“Little known and hardly pursued are the larger and way more aggressive summer flounder, almost universally known as fluke. It’s imperative that you know the difference in these two species for several reasons, with number one being that unlike winter flounder, fluke have a mouthful of sharp teeth that can produce a very significant injury on a hand or foot. Secondly, the rules and regulations pertaining to these two species are quite different and you need to be aware of this. Lastly, fluke are not just bottom feeders but will take a bait or lure off the surface at times and unlike their winter cousins, they will hit a swimming lure that mimics baitfish just as eagerly as a striped bass. Also, fluke will be found in places that are quite different than blackbacked flounder as they feed on shiners and minnows and even chase schools of the small “tinker” bluefish, whereas the winter flounders are almost exclusively found over bottom that small shellfish or seaworms are found.”
“Actually, in some places such as the Hampton Harbor and River, Merrimack River and Boston Harbor, you can have a mixed day of fishing for these two flounder species by fishing the two different kinds of structure with the proper baits or lures.”
“Both kinds of our local flounder are a delicacy that should be well taken care of after caught. A cooler full of ice is a must, especially on a hot summer day. A live bag that stays in the water while you are fishing will keep them fresh and alive until you do put them on the ice. And lastly, be patient if you’ve never been taught how to fillet these fish. Most anglers will create four fillets by following the back bone on both sides of the fish. Also, it’s not imperative to take the skin off the white side of both species but the dark side is rough and not that edible.”
“Don’t expect big catches. But value whatever you do catch and count the enjoyment of a bit of a success on a new species as enough reward,” Seth suggests.
MAINE: Captain Tim Tower of the Bunny Clark Charter/Party boat out of Ogunquit reports on his last day’s fishing: “The fishing/catching (landings) was good overall, maybe better than that. Most legal fish landed were pollock. Legal landings also included two haddock, thirteen cod and two mackerel. They didn't have nearly the number of sub-legal haddock that they had yesterday. Drifting and anchoring was the method. Anchoring worked the best. Cod flies caught the most fish.”
“Thirteen year old John Keniston (ME) was the fisherman of the day. He probably tied for high hook with Jim Higgins (ME); they both caught a lot of legal fish. And John caught the largest fish of the trip, a 16 pound pollock. This is the largest pollock that John has ever caught, maybe even the largest fish that John has ever caught. He was not in the boat pool. John also caught a pollock of 12 pounds. Jim caught two pollock of 12 pounds each, his two largest fish. Christine Munsey (ME) won the boat pool for the largest fish with the second largest fish, a 15 pound pollock. She caught this fish as part of a double keeper catch with another pollock of 5 pounds, both fish caught on the same line at the same time! The third largest fish was a 14 pound pollock caught by Jared Keniston.”
“Other Angler Highlights: Terence Keating (VT) caught an 11 pound pollock, his largest fish. Tracey Higgins (ME) landed the hard luck award for being the highest of a few hurlers.”
Master Maine Guide Stu Bristol of Lyman was busy with his guiding but did manage to give up a few minutes for this report: “Many southern Maine lake managers draw down the water levels in September to allow camp owners to fix problems but this is the earliest I’ve seen levels drop. Rock Haven in Newfield was dropped over three feet last week causing bass and trout to relocate. Lost to anglers is the rocky shoreline alongside steep drops. Fish are now hovering in deeper water and vertical jigging is needed. A few small brook trout were taken just under the surface last week as late afternoon hatches came off but the hatches were short-lived.”
“Largemouths in Great East Lake on the New Hampshire border as well as in Northeast Pond, one of the Milton three Ponds chain, were hanging under lilies and easy to find. Northeast also gave up some big crappies in the two-pound range, dead center in the Salmon Falls River channel, using shad darts and chenille jigs.”
“The Saco River between Buxton and Biddeford was tough to fish this week due to dramatic raising and lowering of water levels. When the water was high the smallmouths hugged the rocky shoreline and when the river dropped the fish retreated to the center depths. A few brown trout were reportedly taken in the riffles just below Skelton Dam by fly guys using large mayfly floaters.”
“A surprise this week was the large splake taken from Stanley pond in Hiram. One fish stretched the tape to nearly 22 inches for an estimated three pounds. Trolling dead shiners did the deed.”
Saco Bay Bait and Tackle on US Route One in Saco had some great news: “Congratulations to Keith Jordan and the crew of the "Bailey and Bella" with their first-place 795-pound bluefin tuna, as well as to Todd Jackson and the crew of "Fired-Up" with their first-place 450-pound thresher shark (potential state record) at last week's Casco Bay Classic tourney. Both tuna and shark fishing remains steady. The minimum size for all keeper sharks (makos, porbeagles, threshers and blues) is 4.5 feet in length. Groundfishermen (cod, haddock, pollock, hake, cusk, etc.) are catching fish, though trophy size are hard to come by.”
Coastal: “Stripers, schoolies to trophies, are there for the taking! The key is to be flexible and to remember that what is a hot spot today may not produce any fish tomorrow. Pine Point, the bathhouse end of Biddeford Pool, Goosefare Brook (coming tide), and Old Orchard have been giving up fish. Beach fishermen should check local ordinances before fishing as some area beaches restrict fishing between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Chunked macs, worms and clams are the baits to use. Anglers can also find action in the lower portion of the rivers and the estuaries. If you are casting (from shore or boat) use Al Gag's Whip-it Eels. Fly fishermen report better catches of late (fish the coming tide) using mackerel pattern, red/white and red/yellow Clousers and the pure black Deceiver (night). Mackerel are readily available in their usual spots along with harbor pollock.”
Zone 2: “Anglers can still find stripers around the ledges, flats, islands and the lower portions of the rivers. Fishing has been decent for those willing to put in the time and effort. The mouths of the rivers (Presumpscot, Royal, Harraseeket, New Meadows, etc.) are best fished on a dropping tide while fishing along the ledges is often more productive during a coming tide. Clams and sea worms are the baits that have been producing fish. For the crank fisherman, artificials that are working include the Daiwa SP and DS Minnows, Yo-Zuri Pin's Magnet, Hydro Pencil, Hydro Popper and the Rebel Jumpin' Minnow. Blue or olive 1/0 and 2/0 Deceivers (day) and red or black Deceivers (night) have been doing the trick for those tossing a fly.”
Dave Garcia at Naples Bait and Tackle on Long Lake in the Sebago Region reports that the salmon and togue (lake trout) fishing on Sebago Lake has been excellent with the cooler water enabling anglers to catch both species in the same depth zones, a lot closer to the surface than normal this time of year.
“We don’t remember a late summer with water temperatures this cool and this has provided for some very good landlocked salmon anglers to fish a lot closer to the surface, and surprisingly there’s been quite a few lake trout also caught up in that surface to 30 foot down-zone.”
“Much of the action has come on traditional landlocks lures, such as the Weeping Willow, DB Smelt and Mooselook Wobbler type lures.”
“Also the white perch fishing here on Long Lake has been excellent with these fish available near shore from docks and small boats. We had one family come in and didn’t know how to fillet their catch of white perch so we did it for them as kind of a teaching lesson but also just as an extra service.”
In the Rangeley Lakes Region, Ken at River’s Edge Sports was optimistic about the coming fall season. “We’ve got a lot of salmon and lake trout up close to the surface levels and if we get some rain soon there should be one heck of a good river run of fish and some great fly fishing.”
“Right now our lake here (Rangeley) has slowed a bit but there’s been a lot of action on Richardson Lake—probably right now the best of the Rangeley Lakes to fish. They’ve been getting plenty of salmon, some nice brookies and an occasional togue.”
“Over on Aziscohos Lake in and around the Islands there’s been a steady pick on smaller salmon and some brookies. Below the dam there in the lower Magalloway River after every weekend there’s been some good fishing and quite a bit of fishing pressure to take advantage of the brook trout and salmon attracted up there by the weekend releases of cold water from the dam.”
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Master New Hampshire Guide Tim Moore at Suds-n-Soda Sports in Greenland says that the ground fishing out on the offshore ledges has been pretty active. “At Jeffrey’s Ledge, two known and popular spots, the Cove and the Curl have been producing lots of small haddock (with a few keepers) and some decent codfish, quite a few cusk and an occasional good size pollock.”
“Inshore a bit, on the ledge known as Old Scantum, you’ll get worn out with small haddock, but there’s some huge mackerel and an occasional codfish.”
Nighttime fishing for squid has been picking up, especially in the Kittery, Maine part of the Piscataqua River and Pepperell Cove. The docks in Kittery have been closed to squid fishing at night but there’s little enforcement, and lots of people with small boats are also there fishing under the lights and just filling buckets with big squid using squid jigs, with the SeaWolfe squid jig being a favorite.”
Atlantic State’s Marine Fisheries member Richie White reports:” Mark your calendars for: Tuesday, September 9, 2014: Flatbread Company Non-profit Organization Night Featuring CCA NH (Coastal Conservation Association of New Hampshire). When: 5PM–9PM, Where: Flatbread Company, 138 Congress St. Portsmouth, NH, What: CCA NH will be the featured non-profit organization at the Flatbread Company’s popular organization night. Flatbread will donate a percentage of their profits to CCA NH for food purchased that evening. CCA NH members will be there to greet you. Come by, have a great meal and learn about what CCA NH is doing for you!”
“Thursday, September 11, 2014- Oysterpalooza! When: 5:30-9:30PM (Rain or Shine) Where: Red Hook Brewery, Pease International Tradeport, Portsmouth, NH, What: This is our annual festival featuring oysters on the half shell at a great price, beer by Red Hook, live music, live auction and the NH Oyster Shucking Championship competition. Come celebrate on a summer evening with friends and family and see who gets to go to the National Oyster Shucking Championship representing NH. The event will help raise critical funding for the oyster shell recycling program. Admission is only $5.”
“Also, don’t miss this important striped bass public hearing! When: 7PM, Wednesday, August 27, 2014.Where: Urban Forestry Center, 45 Elwyn Road, Portsmouth, NH. What: This is a public hearing on the ASMFC’s Draft Addendum IV on striped bass management with proposals to reduce overfishing. The Draft Addendum includes a suite of management options to reduce recreational and commercial harvest along the coast under three reduction time frames.”
Pete Tilton at Defiance Lobster at Hampton Harbor had a great photo of him and his mom with this caption: “My first trip of the season fishing with Mom was our best ever—42 stripers brought to hand, but no keepers today. Our previous best was 25 fish, so this was a very good three hours of action today!” (Pete is the only one that we know of who caters to the recreational clam harvesters by providing rental equipment as well as show-and-tell instructions!)
Captain Lester Eastman Jr. at Eastman’s Fishing Docks in Seabrook reports: “Redfish, also known as ocean perch (best eating fish in the ocean) made a showing day before yesterday, big time. Still waiting and hoping for new ‘regs’ in Sept., but if nothing changes we'll be targeting pollock, reds and whiting.” (As the regulations stand right now, the cod and haddock season will close September 1!)
“We'll be changing our departure time to 7 AM on September 1 for a couple of reasons. First, it worked out real good in the spring, second, if we don't get haddock back, we'll need a little extra time to get out to the pollock this time of year.”
“Last year the pollock didn't take hold savagely until late October. Excellent overnight hake trip last night for Fishark Adventures. Some guys had over 60 (Marc) and all the giant squid you wanted. They want more of those trips, but brother Phil gave me the eye when I suggested it. His question was, "can't we do this during the day?" LOL! Strangely we have lots of room on the added Wednesdays marathon August 27, zero spots available on the Fipps trip, Monday and Labor Day marathon,” Les ended.
At AJ’s Bait and Tackle in Meredith, Alan Nute reports that even though the most action is coming from about 45 feet down, there’s been some very steady fishing for both landlocked salmon averaging around three pounds as well as rainbow trout in that same size range. There’s also some lake trout in that mix that are a bit smaller on average. Orange is the best color right now and Top Guns, Mini Guns and BB Guns are producing, as well as the various flies that mimic the white perch that hatched this summer.”
Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist in New Hampshire’s North Country Region reports: “As a child, I fished with my uncle a lot and, without realizing it, I picked up a lot of uncle-like wisdom on the topic. He had wild ideas about the most successful locations and times to fish–with one resurfacing in my mind recently. It made sense to fish after a heavy rain, he would say. The downpour would replenish stale water and wash food into it. The result would be frisky fish with lots to eat. Sounds reasonable.”
“Last week, I put his theory to the test as I fished a small stream for brook trout. It had rained very hard the night before and the water was flowing at full bank. As I walked through the stream, the leaves of the trees were still wet, so I was quickly soaked.”
“Every trout I caught seemed to have a swollen belly, and I knew that they were eating well. One fish swallowed my size 20 nymph and was hooked badly. I did my best to revive it, but the fish died, allowing for a stream-side autopsy. The stomach contents of the fish were unique, but not surprising. I found a gumball-sized ball of green caterpillars that had been consumed very recently. My thoughts turned to my uncle’s wisdom, as I thought about the heavy rain washing these insects off of the leaves and into the water.”
“There is much to learn about angling and it can be obtained in many different ways, from uncles to good books. There is no substitute for experience, however. The most successful anglers are those who do it a lot and stick with it.”
Tom Caron at Tall Timber Lodges on Back Lake in New Hampshire’s most northern town of Pittsburg shows off 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.”
MASSACHUSETTS: Pete Santini at Fishing FINatics in Everett reports that he fished out on Tillies Bank for groundfish and had a good catch of nice cusk, cod up to eight pounds and a few keeper haddock. Also, all this week he said that there had been schools of big bluefish to 15 pounds hitting big stick baits around the BG Buoy. In the North Channel, big stripers were being caught on Rapalas and other big stick baits. The Elks Striped Bass Tourney (to support Parkenson’s Disease research and treatment) was won by Kenny Haviland with his 42-pounder!
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