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August 23, 2016

The recent rains have jump-started some of the trout and salmon fishing. In the saltwater, even though the surface temps may be a bit warmer, this is often a turn on for some of the baitfish that bigger gamefish target.

In two instances, there’s been a nice turn-on for stripers and bluefish. In the Boston Harbor area, Pete Santini at Fishing FINatics in Everett reports that the harbor is “on fire.”

“Huge schools of pogies (menhaden) have moved into the harbor and the big stripers and bluefish are feeding on them heavily. If you’re lucky enough to get into one of these feeding sprees you’ll eventually have an aching arm from fighting these hungry stripers.”

In the Piscataqua River shared by New Hampshire and Maine, it’s been the large amount of squid that are making things exciting for both those that value squid for their table value (calamari) and those night striper anglers that target the docks and bridges that are lit-up at night. The lights draw the squid, and the squid will draw big stripers that feed on them.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Andy Schafemeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist in the Northcountry reports: “In the same way that a blood transfusion brings new life, recent rain has rejuvenated the angling opportunities in northern New Hampshire. What were once dusty roads and low flows are now back where they belong and conditions feel healthy again. The fish seem to have responded, as I have hit some streams when the conditions were close to unfishable with great results. The water can be moving fast and slightly discolored, but fish seem to be taking advantage of the lower temperatures, higher oxygen, and new sources of food. Most of the brook trout that I have handled have distended stomachs that display recent heavy feeding. In these types of water conditions, I frequently land a trout on a fly and observe an earthworm dangling out of the corner of its mouth. Like I said, the whole system seems like it got a healthy infusion of new life.”

    “My work details have had me in a lot of wild trout water lately and as I carefully sample these fish, I can see that some have begun an early transformation into their spawning colors. The males are getting orange in the belly and females seem to be getting larger as they produce and store their eggs. The daylight is getting shorter and the temperatures of both water and air are decreasing. It is a good reminder that summer and the fishing season are approaching their twilight. The time to get out and fish is now.”

    Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist in the Lakes Region reports: “We have nearly completed our annual forage fish surveys on the large lakes that we manage for salmon and lake trout. These surveys are done after the sun goes down using mobile hydroacoustic equipment (a high-end fish finder, if you will). We are able to measure forage (primarily rainbow smelt) abundance this way which helps us fine tune our management of salmon and lake trout. Pending detailed analysis of the data, it appears to be an above average year for smelt populations for the lakes we have already sampled (Merrymeeting, Newfound and Winnipesaukee lakes). We should be able to complete our assessments at Squam, Sunapee, and Winnisquam lakes next week.”

    “Our brook trout population and habitat assessments are beginning to wind down for the summer. These surveys were intended to develop a baseline understanding of brook trout populations, engage and educate landowners or collect pertinent information prior to some planned restoration projects. Efforts were primarily focused in the Warner and Beebe River watersheds this year. In no way could we complete the number and extent of these surveys without having groups of dedicated volunteers. This summer close to 1,000 hours of time was donated by local Trout Unlimited chapters and other area residents. I sincerely appreciate those who helped us this summer and hope to see them again next year.”

    “The Connecticut River setbacks have been producing some quality largemouth bass this summer.  A couple of high school anglers reported catching many large mouths that ranged between 3 and 5 pounds. On one outing, they also caught a nice northern pike that weighed just over 14 pounds. One angler that was fishing for walleye on the river picked up a few monster brown bullheads (horned pout). He thought he was pulling in a channel cat at first. He also caught a few walleye that were over the slot limit. He typically uses crawler harnesses trolled very slowly along the bottom,” according to Jason Carrier, Regional Fisheries Biologist in the Monadnock/Upper Valley area.

    “I haven’t had many reports from anglers fishing lakes and ponds lately. The one report I did receive was from the same high school anglers mentioned above who fished Lake Massasecum for a half day and caught many largemouth bass in the 2-4 pound range. Sounds like a good half-day of fishing to me.”

    Captain Les Eastman Jr. at Eastman’s Fishing Docks in Seabrook apologizes: “Very sorry about no fish reports. We have never been so busy morning , noon and night. With the lack of several other boats in the area, increased fish quotas and incredible weather we have been swamped.”

    “Half day trip tried haddock fishing for a while but went back to mackerel due to not many fish in range. Mackerel are trip to trip, fishing between here and the Shoals. All day was doing great until the last 4 days when a brutal tide along with tons of Sand Sharks (dogfish) made it very difficult to fish, but we're on the downside of the full moon so we should see improvement very shortly.”

    “Bass trips seeing good amount of schoolies, very rare for a keeper as of late.”

    “Programming notes include last fireworks cruise is this Wednesday 8/24, last night trips 9/5 and the All day will start leaving at 7am starting Sept 1. Half days will continue to run until Columbus Day, but lots of dates are booked up with charters, so reservations are a must. We have also added two weekend marathons, Sundays, Sept 18 & 25. Looking forward to a great fall.”                      

    Captain Rocky Gauron at Gauron’s Fishing Dock at Hampton Harbor invites you to come on down. We are still running a full schedule. The fishing has been a little slower the past few days. Yesterday the ocean was wicket rough. We are hoping to get things rolling better with the light winds in the forecast.

    At Suds-n-Soda Sports in Greenland, Master Guide Tim Moore was behind the counter, taking a break from his guiding. We had recently taken a guided trip with Tim on Lake Winnipesaukee where we targeted schools of spawning lake trout that were gathering in the depths well over a hundred feet. His whole approach to this fishing was new to me and very sporting with light tackle.

    Using small, ounce–and-a-quarter Daddy Mac Albie jigs in the herring color pattern, it was some of the easiest fishing we’d ever done for any species. The lakers were mostly right off bottom so we dropped those small jigs down until we were on bottom and then cranked them back up a turn or two. Tim could see both the fish and our jigs on his fish finder.

    When asking Tim on what kind of action does he prefer to use with that jig, he surprisingly told me: “Very little! In fact we’ve caught plenty of these fish using the dead stick method where you just let it hang there!”

    In all of our years of jigging for various fish, only freshwater crappie had been attracted to this dead sticking method!

    But he suggested just giving the jig some small and easy snaps upward and a free fall. We both were almost instantly into fish, mine being a very active three pound healthy landlocked salmon while Tim boated a pretty laker.

    My fish went on the stringer as landlocked salmon are a favorite at my home while Tim urged his fish to return to bottom which it soon did.

    We had almost non-stop action while drifting in about the same depths and were never alone as there was a fleet of a couple dozen boats also targeting that school of lakers, some trolling but mostly doing the jig trick like us.

MASSACHUSETTS:  Little Sister Charters, a six-pack boat that is limited to six anglers, fishes the Massachusetts waters and moves with the fish as they migrate:  Here’s his most recent report fishing south of Boston:

    “So today had "Birthday Boy" Mike, Chris, Steve, Tom and Matt out for the annual "Fish-A-Thon" and after picking away at a bunch of sea bass they finished off with a few fluke drifts and several fluke were had!”

    Pete Santini, at his Fishing FINatics shop in Everett, was very enthusiastic about what was going on at Boston Harbor!

    “Boston Harbor is going crazy! Huge schools of pogies have moved in from the 99 Bridge to Revere Beach. Stripers up to forty pounds are chasing them and they are hitting both the Santini Tube and Worm rig or if you can get ahold of a live pogie you’ll be bound to have some action.”

    “Yesterday we boated two thirty five pounders on the red colored Santini Tube and worm rig—right next to the Deer Island Light. Along with the stripers, we’ve had a visit by some huge bluefish and we had steady action, also on the tube and worm rig right off Winthrop Water Tower. Again red tubes seemed to rule.”

    “If we’re lucky enough to have those pogies still in the harbor until fall, that season fishing should be fantastic.”

    “Out on Stellwagen Bank and Pigeon Hill the haddock fishing has been fantastic with big pollock and codfish and a hundred pound halibut was also caught there last week.”

    “Wish we could have some good news about tuna fishing but it seems the bite is real slow with what we call some “picking”.”

    From the “Stickman” who fishes out of Kay Moulton’s Surfland on Plum Island: “I was fishing the incoming tide along the island beachfront by boat. However, I fished very close to shore, 20 feet from the sand, well within casting distance if you’re on foot. Given Plum Island’s quick drop-off at the surf line, I was in 10 or 11 feet of water. Simple live eel rigs (one size 7/0 hook, 24” 40lb. test monofilament leader, and swivel) did the trick nicely. These fish were caught on medium sized eels, between 9 and 11″ long, hooked through the lower jaw and up through the skull. Martha, Liz, Kay, or any of the other Surfland Staff will tie them up for you to your personal specs.”

    “The wind was pretty hard from the south, about 14mph, so I drifted one rod with the boat moving about 1mph, and casted right onto the beach with another. The fish were not that picky last night. I caught five or six stripers, some on the troller, some on the cast line.”

    “After 2 hours fishing, the wind picked up around midnight and scared me away, worried about how the Merrimack mouth would fare with the outgoing full-moon tide and a crankin’ breeze. I really didn’t need to fret that much as I hit the mouth a half-hour after the tide turned, and it hadn’t kicked up yet. Such a wuss.”

MAINE:  From Saco Bay Bait and Tackle Capt. Mike Faulkingham at Fish Portland Maine reports: “Mid-August is here and apparently no one told the stripers. In the lower Kennebec, huge schools of micro-bass ranging in size from 10"-20" are busting on top throughout the day and tide. Use small buck tail jigs fished shallow, and fly guys should try white or white/black deceivers to spend hours hooking and releasing these hungry little buggers. A great sign for the future of our fishery? You better believe it!”

    “In bays and inlets from Portland down through Cape Elizabeth and on to Scarborough, the big bass are moving in. One of my clients, HB from Delaware, hooked and landed a 38" cow at dead high. Don't discount slack tides; even though they have a reputation for being slow fishing times, if you seek rocky areas with good crashing wave action, the chances are good that lunkers are laying in wait for a stunned baitfish to bounce off the rocks and become easy prey.”

    “Chunks seem to have been the most effective this week, but livies are working as well. Unless the bottom is covered in eel grass, don't bother with a bobber, and fish your bait weightless.”

    “Getting good reports from Captain Pete Morse about plentiful ground fish, with tons of keeper haddock still around, and shark season continues to get hotter and hotter. Six, eight, even ten fish days are getting more and more common and porbeagles seem to be in abundance this season.”

   “We're celebrating one of the best years in recent memory, so get out there and fish!”

    “As summer sunshine warms the waters of Moosehead Lake and its tributaries trout and salmon begin retreating to the lakes seeking cooler waters in the depths of the lake,” reports Master Maine Guide Dan Legere at the Maine Guide Fly Shop in Greenville on Moosehead Lake.

    “Many of the East Outlet resident trout and salmon either drop back into Indian Pond or pass through the fish ladder into Moosehead Lake. Although fish still remain in the river trout and salmon numbers in the rivers fall off. 10-12" salmon that have spent the first year and a half of their life decide a diet of only insects is not enough and head to the lake to seek cooler water and begin feeding on a diet of smelt, the high protein food they need to mature into adult fish. The same goes for the Roach & Moose River.”

    “The West Branch of the Penobscot below Ripogenus Dam is a different story. It's a very unique landlocked salmon fishery where fish are born and spend their entire life in a river environment. There is no fish ladder at Rip Dam so fish are stuck in the river. The reason they thrive is the passage of smelt through the power plant turbines and through flood gates during high water events. There are enough smelt dumped into the river to maintain a large healthy population of salmon and trout. It's a unique situation that exists in very few places. Because it is a tailwater fishery angling remains very good during the heat of summer. Caddis and stone fly hatches hold up and fish continue feeding on top all summer long. Early morning and late evening are the best times for hatches and finding feeding fish but we have been having good surface fishing throughout the day. West Branch water levels have been very good for waders and drift boats. You can find daily flows at our "Water Flow" page.”

    “You probably know that much of the northeast has low water conditions. Our region, on the other hand, still has good amounts of water in our lakes. They are down some but not enough to create issues in the main rivers. We should be in good shape for fall flows.”

    “We’ll know in a week or so when and how much water there will be in September. Usually fall releases begin around Labor Day. We'll keep you posted as soon as we have reliable info.”

    “There has been a rumor going around that Moosehead will soon experience a 4 foot drawdown for dam repair which would mean extreme high water on the East Outlet. We talked to the authorities and that rumor is simply not true.”

    Captain Tim Tower of the Bunny Clark charter and party boat that fishes out on southern Maine waters reports: “On the fishing grounds, the wind blew out of the south southeast at eight to ten knots. Seas were chops a foot to 1.5 feet. The air temperature hovered around 71°F. The visibility ranged over fifteen miles in haze. The tide (current) was moderate, not too strong. The sky was clear and sunny. The surface water temperature reached a high of 68°F.”

    “The fishing was very good, the catching was very good and landings were good to very good. Most legal fish landed were pollock, by far. Legal landings also included twelve cod, three haddock, two cusk and two redfish. Forty dogfish were caught and released. Drifting was the method. Jigs and cod flies caught the most fish.”

    Captain Jared Keniston and Sean Devich ran the afternoon half day (4PM - 8PM) trip. The wind blew exactly like it did during the day except with less velocity, a south southeast wind of five knots. They had a one foot chop. The air temperature reached a high of 75°F. The tide was moderate. The visibility ranged to twelve miles in haze. The sky was clear and sunny. The surface water temperature reached a high of 67°F. The fishing was very good; the catching was very good and landings were fairly good. Landings included seven cusk and thirteen mackerel. Released fish included thirty-nine sub-legal cod and almost double that of sub-legal pollock. No dogfish were found. They anchored first and ended with a good drift. Everyone used bait.

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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