September 27, 2016This is the last report for the year 2016. It’s been a truly exciting year for many anglers both on the fresh and saltwater. We would like to thank all of the contributors for their reports, making for a great resource for all those that rely on Kittery Trading Post’s fishing news.
MAINE: Tina Cromwell (ME) took an 18-pound pollock that she caught during the early part of the trip. Late in the day, Tina landed a 21.25 pound pollock, the fourth largest fish of the trip and the seventh largest pollock caught on the Bunny Clark this season, as of this writing”, according to Captain Tim Tower of the Bunny Clark fishing boat that fishes out of southern Maine coastal waters.”
“She also caught quite a few cod in the 5 to 6 pound range and other groundfish. Tina even started the doubles going by being the first angler of the day to catch two good fish on one line at the same time. These first two fish included a 13-pound pollock and an 8-pound pollock.”
“The fishing has been really good as of late. We are seeing a good number of better sized cod. There hasn't been a problem with catching the bag limit. We are seeing less haddock inside than we were seeing. But the larger haddock on the offshore grounds are still there. The most interesting feature is the increase of larger pollock on the fishing grounds, particularly on the offshore grounds. These fish are the prime spawning fish that are just showing up. Some of those fish, like Tina's, could weigh more if it were closer to spawning time. And many of these fish are forty inches or more in fork length. We have seen this influx of bigger fish into our fishery during the fall ever since I can remember. But this year seems to be better than the last few.”
“The problem with it as an angler is you never know when you will catch them. You can be drifting along and start catching them anywhere. The result of which often times leaves you with one fish when using a jig and fly combination. Such was the case on the marathon trip mentioned above. Some of our biggest fish that day were caught alone where a fish of approximate size hooked on the lower jig, swimming against the other fish hooked on the fly, broke the line in the middle. This, while using sixty pound test leader material! Still, sacrificing a jig is a small price to pay to catch a fish weighing over 20 pounds. I'm hoping that as the season progresses we see even bigger pollock and the larger cod as well. But there again is the fun of deep sea fishing; you never know! Special fish like Tina's are the kind of fish we like to see caught on the Bunny Clark.”
According to Ken at River’s Edge Fly and Tackle Shop in the Rangeley Lakes Region, some serious rainfall will be needed to resurrect the very slow fishing for trout and landlocked salmon in the famous rivers there.
“The fall is usually the best time for concentrations of pre-spawning brook trout and landlocked salmon to move up from the lakes and into the rivers. This not only concentrates the fish but that’s where most of the late hatches of flies will come off and often turn into a real fishing fest when the pre-spawn fish lose some of their caution and feed heavily on the hatches.”
“There has been some pretty good lake fishing at times, but it has been spotty. Here on Rangeley Lake the trout and salmon, until recent cooling water temperatures, have been quite deep and not that easy to catch. Best lures are probably DB Smelts and sewed on bait has also has been a trolling success.”
“Small ponds are at their best. Fish coming out of the spring holes are on a pre-spawn feeding binge. Use traditional dries like a Royal Wulff or Royal Coachman wet and cast around. Fish are circling the pond searching for something to eat. Concentrate on areas around an inlet where trout gather to spawn in mid-October.” According to Maine Master Guide Dan Legere at the Maine Guide Fly Shop in Greenville on Moosehead Lake the East Outlet has a great flow. The Moose River flow just got doubled and the Roach is on its third week of fall flows.”
“Fish fresh from the lake are usually very eager to chase streamers. There is no screwing around and the strike is ferocious. If a fish misses your fly, just leave it there and jig it a bit. New fish will almost always return and be more aggressive, not missing on the second strike. It's like they want to rip the rod from your hand and there is nothing like it. Make sure you are using good stout leader material or that biggest fish of the season will own your fly and you're left with just another sad story.”
“After fish have been in the river for a while, have seen plenty of streamers and likely been fooled a time or two, the strikes become just passes at your streamer and they don't return when teased. A quick change of the fly may get the fish to come back but not always.”
“Now it's time to do a little nymph fishing. It's about delivering a Lays potato chip to couch potatoes that have stopped chasing streamers. Drift, say, a pheasant tail by their nose and they are apt to pick up the little morsel. After all they have eaten hundreds of them in the past.”
“We have always said fall fish don't feed. It should read, fall fish don't eat much and they often don't eat the same thing twice, so constantly change the flavor of the fly if it’s not working.”
“Interview any number of fall fly fishermen on what they were using and you'll get ten different flies that actually caught fish and often it takes ten fly changes to catch two fish.”
“It's a beautiful time of season, our favorite, and the biggest fish of the year are going to be caught. The only problem with September fishing is it should be three months long not three weeks.”
“A quick note: We have had a cancellation for one October Overnights on the East Outlet. October 3-4, for two people. It's two days of drift fishing the East Outlet and an overnight at our tent camp on the river. Give us a call to get in on some late season fishing.”
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Kittery Trading Post’s sponsored fishing guide Tim Moore reports: While there are still quite a few stripers around, the bite is becoming increasingly more sporadic. I have officially put the striper season to bed in exchange for the remaining lake trout season, which ends on September 30.”
“The cold front that moved in Friday stuck around and will be triggering the big northern pike to feed in preparation for the coming winter. This bite will keep our guide service hopping through November.”
“A great catch of haddock, big pollok and cod on the all day trip,” was the word from Caption Rocky Gauron at Gauron’s Fishing Boats at Hampton Harbor. We even had a five hour charter out with ROTC recruits. They had a pretty good day on haddock and pollock. Plus, they wrestled a small tuna for a while before it said good bye.”
“Next trip, Friday. All day fishing departing at 8:00am. Saturday and Sunday we are offering all day fishing trips and we also have a few half day trips scheduled. Call (800) 905-7820 to get info and make a reservation.”
Alan Nute at AJ’s Bait and Tackle in Meredith on Lake Winnipesaukee reports: “Salmon fishing has been a bit slow although there is still an occasional nice one being caught between 40–80'. Lake Trout vertical jigging is hot! Lakers are either suspended or on the bottom in 60–100'. Find the deep holes! We recommend marking them with a fish finder and then going right down after them with Bucktail Jigs w/ rubber tails, Swedish Pimples, Crocodiles, Lazer Jigs, Hopkins or Heddon Sonars.”
“Smallmouth bass are at the drop offs at depths of 25–40' and are aggressively feeding around deep structure, although we have heard that some have moved back into the shallows.”
“What’s working for the bass: worms & lizards, stick baits and spinner baits. Nighttime fishing is good with black jitterbugs and hula poppers, live bait such as hellgrammites & crayfish are hot!”
“Troll for salmon over the deeper waters using spoons and flies with downriggers or 9–10 colors of lead core. At this time, the salmon are either really deep or on the surface feeding.”
“Weirs Beach, Locke’s Island, Shep Browns, Sandy Island, North East side of Governors Island and Black Cat Island are the hot spots on Lake Winnipesaukee.”
“Fly Patterns: Blood & Guts, White Perch, Fire Smelt.”
“Lures: Top Gun, BB & Mini Guns: Perch, Ugly Orange and Glow colors down deep.”
“White perch fishing at sunset has been great from the surface to 35' deep.”
“Now Available—Live Bait: Golden Shiners, Crayfish, Hellgrammites & Worms.”
“The striper season is not over, with fall migration just around the corner! The migration will begin as the water cools and baitfish leave our estuaries and harbors; this is the time for coastal fishing,” according to Becky Heuss, NH Marine Fisheries Biologist.
“Preliminary catch estimates through June suggest an increase in striped bass in New Hampshire over the last five years. This may come as no surprise to any avid striper fishermen out there, and the harvest estimates suggest the same thing that anglers have been telling us all year, the fish are small. This year, New Hampshire was abounding with stripers that were just shy of the 28-inch minimum, and there were many reports of much smaller fish as well. But bountiful small fish bode well for the future health of this fishery.”
“A lot has happened around New Hampshire’s coast this year; here is a small sampling: Record river herring runs came through two of our coastal fish ladders. The Lamprey River and the Cocheco River both had over 90,000 river herring pass into the freshwater sections during their spawning run. This came after a couple of significant changes. In the Lamprey River, an additional 7.8 miles of river above the Wiswall Dam, the second dam on this river, were made accessible for spawning fish by the addition of a fish ladder in 2012. In the Cocheco River, modifications that were designed and constructed by our Facilities Construction and Lands Division were completed to allow for operation of the fish ladder as a “swim through” for the 2016 season. This means that the fish are able to swim up the fish ladder and pass through into fresh water on their own; previously the fish were trapped in a large holding area and were netted out and passed into the fresh water portion of the Cocheco River by hand.”
“This summer also marked the start of a transformation in the Exeter River. On July 1, the removal of the Great Dam in Exeter commenced. The most recent dam at this site was built in 1914; however, dams have existed at this location since the 1640s! In 1969, a fish passage structure was built, but passage at this fishway was never very efficient with less than 500 fish making their way upstream in some years. However, many more fish are seen below the dam than make it up the ladder. With a free flowing system, hopes are high for a resurgence of these anadromous fish further up into the watershed.”
“Winter rainbow smelt fishing has been poor for the last few years, but there is hope for future fishing. Although smelt fishermen were not able to fish in 2016 because of a mild winter and lack of ice on Great Bay and its tributaries, record numbers of smelt were captured by biologists during the subsequent spring spawning run. In 2016, catches at the Squamscott and Oyster rivers were the second highest over the last nine years, while counts in the Winnicut River were the greatest for the same period! The smelt catch at the Winnicut River has been relatively low in recent years, less than 40 smelt per year during the spawning run. However, since the removal of the dam in 2009, the number of spawning adults captured in the area surrounding the previous dam has been steadily increasing. In 2016, the number of captured adults was 738 smelt! In the last few years there has been record low smelt catches during both the winter creel survey and fyke net survey, but the high catches this year during the spring spawning fyke net survey gives us hope that the smelt populations may be improving.”
“The lobster population in the Gulf of Maine at present time is healthy. A recent population assessment conducted by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission determined the population was above the target levels and that overfishing wasn’t occurring. Due to the mild winter of 2015/2016, lobsters began to molt early this past spring. In a typical year lobsters begin to “shed” their shells in late June/early July. This past spring, “soft” lobsters began showing up nearly two months early off the coast of New Hampshire. (New Hampshire has a unique five-trap recreational lobster fishing opportunity.”
“Lobsters are highly influenced by water temperatures and we’ve been witnessing an upward trend in water temperatures in the Gulf of Maine for the past 30 years. That increase has been even more pronounced over the past decade. In 2016, water temperatures collected from a buoy off the ME/NH coast showed that all months from January through July were above the 15-year average. To date, our lobster trap survey for this year has shown strong catch rates, and with these recent increases in water temperature, we’ve also noticed a shift in the distribution of lobsters with higher-than-normal catch rates in deeper water.”
MASSACHUSETTS: News from Kay Moulton’s Surfland Bait and Tackle on Plum Island, Massachusetts: “It’s always a fun day at the shop when all the guys that are heading onto the Parker River Wildlife Reserve (PRWR) for the weekend to fish show up to gear up and head out onto the beach. And it wasn’t long before some were catching fish.
Billy Page was one fishermen who came Friday and set up his spot for fishing. Here is his report that he sent in just before 8pm last night, using a light rod and a 3/4-ounce Charlie Graves lure: “Been here for about two hours and caught up to nine fish. One was about 40 inches and easily 20 pounds.”
“Donny was in this am to pick up his bait for the weekend and also had to get Billy more worms because they had run out. Now that’s a good thing!
“All week we have had a lot of small fish, up into the high 20-inch range being caught all over the island—and on all sorts of bait and lures. We have a few groups here from VT and NY who have been kayaking and surf fishing. The kayakers have done well in the Merrimac River from the Salisbury shore line up through the Salisbury side of the river along where the creeks run out. Some of the others are having good luck fly fishing. Fly fishing is popular down the southern end of the island and especially for some that walk around the backside into the river.”
“Down near the Captain’s fishing boats, the guys have been doing well with schoolies. Along the beach, some of the fishermen are doing extremely well casting small soft baits, metal, and swimming lures (small is the key word!) for the schoolies as well.”
“The bait fishermen are staking out spots up and down the beach with some luck. And it really hasn’t mattered about the tide. We have heard of more fish this year being caught right in the middle of the tide. So, don’t worry about the tide, just go fish!”
Little Sister Charters moves south from our area when the weather turns cooler and the saltwater fish, especially stripers move south. Here’s his latest report: “So yesterday I was scheduled to go apple picking while I so much wanted to be on the water! I got my wish today with an eel-casting venture with my wife in the dark. Wendy was cold and she refused to fish. I told her if she fished and got active she would feel warmer but she would have none of it. I caught about a half-dozen bass before 6:30 and then we went out for togue (tautog). In less than an hour we had our limit (she felt much warmer as soon as she started fishing/catching). Wendy had the biggest one (about six pounds) and she insisted I hold it for the picture, as she is "camera shy".
After that we were back at the dock. I cleaned the fish and sent her home so I could get ready for my 10am charter. In the meanwhile, the cold front got serious and the barometric pressure rose rapidly along with the wind speed. We had a crappie-tog bite but everyone caught some with at least one keeper each. Some of the fish were quite large.”
Lastly, news from Pete Santini at Fishing FINatics in Everett reveal that it’s a pretty good last chance this next week or so to get into some fantastic fishing in Boston Harbor.
“There are still schools of pogies (menhaden) that are keeping the big stripers occupied, feeding on them with a vengeance. Many of the successful striper catchers will get their live pogies by casting snag hooks into the dense schools of pogies and then hooking the live bait onto a regular bait hook and cast it towards the feeding stripers. It’s almost always an instant hook-up with a big striper.”
“What is somewhat surprising us is that these same stripers and quite a few big bluefish have been caught lately using the Santini Tube-n-Worm rig. We recommend using two to three colors of leadcore line, a strong mono leader and trolling low and slow around and close in to the many islands in the harbor, with the tide rips off the end of islands usually a good bet for action.”
“Offshore trips to Stellwagen Bank have been producing some big pollock, average-sized haddock and some legal-sized codfish. Also, there’s been more and more action on giant bluefins offshore but it’s a smart move to locate the concentration of tuna boats that are on anchor, as the “tuna fleets” will almost always be where the latest action has occurred.”
Because of 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 resources enforcement officials. We also welcome and use reports forwarded to us by fishermen that use this report. - Kittery Trading Post Fishing Report Editor