July 19, 2016Hot weather has put a damper on both the fish and fishermen that are getting an overdose of sunlight. Fishing pressure has dropped off on both the fresh and saltwater except that the charter and party boats are not only full to capacity but also experiencing some great fishing, including the rare and valuable catches of halibut for the boats that are fishing the further offshore ledges. What hasn’t seemed to have firmed up is the tuna fishing, with a few being seen but a notable “bite” hasn’t been experienced, or if it has, was kept a secret.
Striped bass have been affected by the warm water temperatures as plenty of bait, mostly squid, have shown up but not a lot of visible interest by the stripers. Plenty of school sized pollock just outside the harbors and inshore ledges and schools of mackerel are cruising the inshore ledges along the shorelines of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
MAINE: Captain Tim Tower of the legendary charter and party boat the Bunny Clark, although not going to sea much, furnishes the fishing reports from his boats recent trips: Last time out: “The fishing was not great. The weather made it just choppy enough that a couple got sea sick. The tide was stronger than it has been. And the tangles were many. Maybe it was because of the moon tides coming on. Maybe there was an undercurrent. But it was unlike any day this year so far. It wasn't because of dogfish; they only caught one!”
“The catching was good, at least. Landings were good, despite. Most legal fish landed were haddock, by far. The haddock cull was two to one, legal to sub-legal. In other words, there were two keeper haddock for every three haddock caught. Legal landings also included thirty-five pollock. Released fish included ten cod from 5 to 7 pounds, the dogfish and a wolfish. They tried drifting but the current was too much. Anchoring was the method. No jigs were used today, just bait and cod flies.”
“Ryan Lally (NH) won the boat pool for the largest fish with a 10 pound wolfish. The second largest fish was a 9.5 pound pollock caught by Guillaume Boisvert (QC). Kurt Thorpe (VT) caught the third largest fish, a 9 pound pollock.”
Captain Jared Keniston and Sean Devich ran the afternoon (4pm–8pm) half day trip. “The fishing and catching were very good this evening, one of the best half day trips of the season. However, the fish caught were mostly sub-legal. Cod was the most prevalent species. Of the thirty-five caught and released, only five would have been big enough to keep had we been able to keep cod. Legal landings included a pollock, a cunner, a whiting, a redfish and five mackerel. Fourteen haddock were caught. All were too small. One dogfish was caught and released. Drifting was the method. Everyone used bait or a combination of bait and a cod fly.”
A hefty 35-inch wild togue from Echo Lake in Fayette was netted, measured, weighed and released by Maine fisheries biologist Tom Barrows. The bios in Region B have been busy on central Maine lakes recently, keeping an eye on salmon and lake trout growth in Echo Lake. The central Maine lake occupies parts of Fayette, Mount Vernon and Readfield.”
“IFW fisheries biologists use nets as a tool to gather population samples on a number of lakes throughout the state. The fish gathered are measured, weighed and aged, which gives biologists insight into the health of the population.”
“Right now, things are great in Echo, the smelt abundance is high, and we are seeing excellent growth rates on both salmon and togue,” said Region B fisheries biologist Jason Seiders. Salmon growth is near exceptional, as salmon that were stocked last year at 8 to 10 inches are now 16 to 17 inches in length with very good weights. These fish are growing over six inches a year!”
“Perhaps even more encouraging is what Seiders is seeing with the lake trout population in Echo. “Echo is one of the few wild trout resources that we have here in central Maine,” says Seiders. “We have half a dozen of these waters in our region and we keep a close eye on them.”
“Among the samples were two togue that exceeded 30 inches in length, including one that was 35”. Examination of both fish showed that they were wild fish. Both fish were released and are back in Echo Lake.”
“Setting the nets at the right depth is the key to getting a valid number of fish to sample. Seiders measures both the temperature and the dissolved oxygen levels at various depths to find the zone where cold water fish like salmon and togue are residing.”
“We look for water temps no warmer than the 60s, and oxygen levels that are above five parts per million,” said Seiders.
“In Echo that meant setting the nets in the 30-40 foot deep range. The nets are set overnight, and biologists check them the next morning. The overnight set yielded lake trout, salmon and a handful of cusk. Only one togue was a stocked fish!”
At Sebago Lake, Greg Cutting at Jordan’s Store in East Sebago reports that fishing pressure has dropped off because of the warm temperatures and bright sun which has also increased the surface water temperatures and caused the fish to go deeper.
“This is not unusual. This time of year it always slowed down and lots of people shift over to fishing for panfish—perch, pickerel, crappie or bass, both large and smallmouth. If I were to get out and go fishing right now, I’d probably choose to go after crappie at Middle Pond (which is behind Hancock Pond) in the town of Sebago. Actually it’s the outlet of Hancock.”
“Here on Sebago, the dyed in the wool togue and salmon fishermen will be out on the lake well before sunrise and will quit early enough to avoid the real hot temperatures. These people had some great looking lake trout and salmon last weekend, by doing the early shift. Most of them are live bait trollers but some of them have very good luck on togue using big Flatfish lures.”
“Also, there are the few traditionalists that will hook on a big Murray silver or copper colored single spoon and trail that with a sewed on baitfish. They fish that spoon right along bottom so it’s actually kicking up mud or sand on each rotation! It’s a killer on big togue!”
“Some really nice salmon were also taken last weekend by the early birds but their method is to fish sewed-on or live bait with either leadcore or wire line or used downriggers to bring their baits into the thermocline depths where the water temperature drops.”
“Quite a few of these veteran anglers are just polishing up their techniques for the Sebago Anglers Togue Derby to be held on September 10 &11.”
In the Rangeley Lakes Region, Ken at River’s Edge Sports in Oquossoc was feeling positive about the area’s trout and salmon fishing so far. “Actually we have a lake that has come into it’s own after several years of having Rangeley and Mooselookmeguntic Lakes taking all the glory! Richardson Lake, one of the Rangeley watershed lakes, has been producing more big salmon, brook trout and togue (which other area lakes don’t have many or any) so far this year.
Some of the togue have been in the eight to fifteen pound range! And plenty of brook trout in the three and a half to four pound class!”
“Since they cut the water flow at Middle Dam down to 1,100 feet per second the salmon and brook trout have been feasting on an an insect hatch that calls for very tiny flies—down to number 32 hooks and spider web-thin leaders. So small are these flies that many users with a slight sight problem can’t find the hook eye to tie the fly on. To contend with this, some of the commercial fly tiers are providing these minuscule flies with a short piece of very small diameter leader already attached to the flies.”
“Actually, the water temperatures rose after the rain we had and that slowed the fishing and catching down,” Ken noted.
“Some of the togue (lake trout) dropped into deeper waters below 40 foot depths.”
NEW HAMPSHIRE: From New Hampshire Fish and Game: This week’s Lakes Region report is presented by one of our avid volunteers and anglers, Drew Dunlap, a senior at Interlakes High School in Meredith. Take it away Drew:
“Hello anglers! Despite the warmer water and air temperatures we have been having lately, there is plenty of good fishing if you are willing to work for your fish. On some of the lake trout and salmon lakes (Big Squam, Winnipesaukee, Sunapee, Newfound, Winnisquam lakes), the fishing has recently been picking up as a result of the thermocline setting up nicely and the fish going to more predictable locations. Many lake fishermen are picking up landlocked salmon and rainbow trout with the occasional lake trout primarily near the thermocline, or 30-35 feet underwater. Given the increased water temperatures of the lakes and ponds across central New Hampshire, targeting the greater depths is essential for this time of year. Now that smallmouth bass are done spawning, many have also moved off to structure in slightly deeper water (15-25 feet) offshore.” “Using deep water lures such as jigs and weighted bass worms have worked very well and are sure to bring success. Many of the rivers and streams have warmed up considerably with temperatures surpassing the 70 degree mark in many locations. If you are going to fish for trout during these warm temperatures, remember to practice good catch and release techniques and keep fish handling to a minimum.”
“If you want to have some fun catching trout, then go fish a remote stream. Many mountain streams have good populations of feisty, wild brook trout that prowl the depths. Although most of them are small (less than 6”), one can catch dozens upon dozens in these small essentially “unfished” brooks. And of course, nothing beats fresh brook trout in the frying pan. Good spots to try are the many streams in the heart of New Hampshire in towns such as Lincoln and Franconia.”
“With the breaking of two panfish records in the past few weeks, now couldn’t be a better time to have some fun with the family and catch many of the overpopulated sunfishes such as bluegill and pumpkinseed sunfishes. Fishing the shoreline is definitely a way to find “sunnies” but to look for larger panfish, go off shore in slightly deeper water. A worm and a spinner is arguably the best way to catch sunfish, but small jigs can also be very effective. Don’t let the heat get the best of you; there are plenty of good fishing opportunities around if you are willing to put in the effort and try to catch a “big one”. Good luck!”
Regional Fisheries Biologist Jason Carrier in the MONADNOCK/UPPER VALLEY Region reports: “It’s interesting to get mixed reports from the same waterbody. One bass angler recently reported fishing Warren Lake in Alstead, which often fishes really well for him, but the day he went it only produced a few fish. He is a seasoned bass angler and knows the lake pretty well so it may have been related to a combination of things: location, weather pattern, time of day, and even activity on the lake can make fish tight lipped at times. Another angler reported fishing Warren Lake last weekend and caught many largemouth bass and they were all scattered around in open water. They didn’t catch anything on the shoreline or docks. It just goes to show how things can change from day to day and even the difference of how one angler fishes to another. It’s always good to take notes, mentally or on paper, on the conditions of each day you fish and the techniques you use to help make you a better angler.”
Matt Carpenter, Regional Fisheries Biologist in the Granite State’s Southeast/Merrimack Valley Region says that in the middle of July, southern New Hampshire starts to feel a little like South Carolina.
“Some people look forward to this stretch of hot humid weather all year. If you are more of a winter person like me, this time of year feels like a bit of a struggle. Your best chance at a successful fishing trip this time of year is to avoid the mid-day heat. Sometimes fish will only be actively feeding for a brief period right around dusk or dawn. Dusk is a good time to try fishing for smallmouth bass fishing on the Merrimack River.”
“There are boat ramps in Concord and Hooksett, or you could try shore fishing at Sewalls Falls. Shore fishing is hard to come by in New Hampshire, since most lakefront property is privately owned. The best strategy for finding shorefront fishing access is to spend some time with a good map. Look for publicly owned shorelines, boat ramps, bridges, and roads that parallel the water’s edge.”
“France Road along Swains Lake is an example of a causeway with water on both sides, which provides good access for anglers. Pawtuckaway Lake is bordered by a state park on the western shore and there are many trails that provide access to the water. The boat ramp at Northwood Lake, just off of Route 4, is a good place to try if you don’t mind wading. Massabesic Lake has a number of access points, including the bridge that bisects the lake on Route 28B. If you are a summer person, get out there and enjoy the heat. As a winter person, I take comfort in knowing that fall weather is just around the corner.”
Master angler and guide Tim Moore was just back in from a day’s charter. Here’s his report: “The striped bass fishing is seeing the typical highs and lows, but seems to be increasing steadily in terms of size and consistency. This morning it was a numbers game, but my client had the time of her life catching fish after fish. Our night trips have been producing consistent keeper-sized fish with live eels, but most have been right at, or just over the 28” mark. There have been a few fish as big as 37”. We are targeting submerged structure in current with 6” paddle tail shads and Daddy Mac Lures 3.5 Trophy squid. Anyplace where the current runs over a hump, or drops off a ledge, has been doing well for us. If you find a hump and there are no fish on it during the outgoing, check it again during the incoming because there will likely be fish holding on it. The abundance of squid seems to be keeping fish in Little Bay in greater numbers than I am used to, and they also give us something to catch during slack tide.”
Also in the seacoast region, Rick at Suds-n-Soda Sports in Greenland reports that the bright picture is that there’s a ton of squid in the Piscataqua River and Great and Little Bay. The not so bright picture is that during the daytime’s heat, it’s been harder and harder to get any stripers of any size excited enough to take lure or bait.
“It’s a different story at night, especially when the squid are attracted by shore lights or bridge lights. The stripers will really get excited and have to be really quick to catch one of those squid—often banging into bridge abutments or other structure in their chase. And it’s not unusual for squid to jump right up onto docks or boat decks in their panic to flee from the pursuing stripers.”
“The nighttime is also when those dedicated dark hour fishermen do best when fishing live eels. Although a few hits have been recorded during the daytime hours, the nighttime is eel fishing’s best time. Most do well casting their live eels towards structure or shoreline and just slowly retrieving their baits back towards their boat or shore, if they are fishing from shore.”
“Most striper-takes on a live eel are not the smashing hit you’d get from using a live herring or mackerel. They are more apt to be a dull thud on the end of your line and then watching your line move off. It’s best to delay your response by striking back only after you are sure that the fish has your bait.”
“If you get a short, hard hit, it’s a good idea to strike back. It’s a better than average chance that half of your eel has been cut off by a bluefish and it’s a good bet that your half-eel will not be anywhere as effective as a whole, live one!”
“Mackerel have been pretty steady out around the #2 KR Buoy off the Portsmouth Harbor. But if they are under siege from bluefish or stripers, they often will not be interested in taking your offering. Not a bad idea to move to a different location to try to find some mackerel that are not in a panic.”
“Another very good bet for getting mackerel or bait-sized pollock is to the East along the Maine Coast to the West Sister’s Ledge. The buoy that marks this ledge is well offshore from the shallow part of the ledge and most of the baitfish will be closer to the shallows. Be very careful with your boating in those shallows as they are dangerous with rocks that are apt to be just under the surface.”
“We’ve had a lot of reports from people trying to catch live bait with no luck until they started to chum for the macks and pollock. If you have your own ground chum you’ll probably do well but we’ve heard that those using canned cat food for chum have also been quite successful in drawing schools of feeding mackerel and pollock into their chum stream.”
Captain Rocky Gauron Sr. at Gauron’s Fishing Boats in Hampton Harbor reports: “STILL RUNNING A FULL SCHEDULE. Sunday, the haddock fishing was kinda slow. First time I have written that in quite a while. Let's hope it was a one day thing. Otherwise, the fishing has been great!”
Finally, the tuna are being seen just about everywhere. I've heard about some landings of large tuna.”
Local Hampton River News: “Stripers have been great. Loads of schoolies. Some of the bigger fish are being caught with live macs.”
“Wow--is all I can say!”, was the report from Les Eastman Jr. at Eastman’s Fishing Docks in Seabrook Harbor.
“Fishing was good on the all day trips. Whales, tuna and lots of action.” “The Offshore trips were ridiculous-- limits of haddock, halibut and so many huge pollock they didn't have enough boxes.”
“Captain Phil is whispering another trip in Sept, when cod are legal. Stay tuned. Perfect day on all fronts. All day, half day, night trips all back on schedule tomorrow. (Wednesday July 13)-- Capt Les Jr.
MASSACHUSETTS: Little Sister Charters specializes in inshore saltwater species, such as summer and winter flounder and black sea bass. Here’s his recent report: “So the flounder fishing is surely "winding down" but we had the limit nonetheless—four guys, 37 fish (5 of my limit as well) and quite a few in the 16-plus range. The big difference is that to get to that count we have to keep anything over 12 1/2 inches without the leeway to cull bigger fish. Still, everyone goes home happy.”
“Sunday started kind of strange as the flounder did not start to bite right off but "the multi-species parade" did. We had cunners (perch/bergalls), sea ravens, spiny dog fish, pollock, skates, crabs and a lobster before we finally got the flounder biting. All those "other critters" were released, though I had to pry the lobster away from David who wanted to eat the thing raw!”
Pete Santini at Fishing FINatics in Everett reported that one of his trips out to Phipanies Ledge resulted in catches of halibut, a quite rare and valuable catch!
“In our own time zone we had plenty of action ourselves. Lots of keeper-sized pollock in and just outside the harbor. They were hitting the Pelican Green umbrella rig off the deep water slope of Revere Beach. Also out in deeper water—35 to 60 foot depths, stripers were attacking the Santini Tube-n-Worm Rigs and live mackerel with a vengeance.”
“Fluke were hitting well off the Pines River—there’s a 16 inch size limit on these fish so you need to know how to identify them. One easy way is that they have teeth! Don’t find this out by exploring their mouths with a finger or you’ll be unpleasantly surprised!”
“Unlike the regular winter flounder (black backed), fluke will chase a bait to the surface and also will occasionally take a surface lure. They feed on smaller fish, unlike the winter flounder.”
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