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July 15, 2014

    The cool nights seemed to allow the region’s big lakes to heat up, with lots of medium-sized landlocks being caught in water from the surface to down quite deep. In fact, several lake trout anglers were surprised to be catching salmon, as they were fishing quite deep for the lakers. In Maine, it was Sebago Lake that was really producing lots of salmon. New Hampshire’s mid-state lakes of Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam and Squam were the hot spots.

    Coastal anglers faced a mixed bag. Stripers were hard to find in some areas but were in concentrations when found. The party boat striper trips were doing very well out of the Hampton/Seabrook area and mackerel were being caught by the bushels in some spots, both by private and party boats dedicated to them. Flounders remain quite elusive but some fluke have showed up in the Boston Harbor areas along with the blackbacked flounders that have sought out deeper and broken bottom areas to avoid being a victim of a bluefish looking for an easy meal.

    “As the season for catching striped bass moves into the heat of the summer, often the striper fishing techniques that were working earlier in the spring and summer are not producing the number of fish per day that were coming earlier,” according to Seth Legere at Kittery Trading Post’s fishing department.

    “One of the reasons for this migration of stripers is that the big schools of spawning alewives and herring that attracted the stripers have moved out into their normal ocean depths and the stripers have to move themselves to find baitfish. Not necessarily herring but whatever is available, including the abundant whiting.”

    “The one exception to this is when the big schools of squid invade the inshore waters and bays, and these fish encourage both stripers and bluefish to leave the deep ocean and go back inshore to gorge on the squid.”

    “Squid are often thought of as being nocturnal but that isn’t exactly correct. Because the squid love to feed on small minnows attracted to the lights around docks and bridges at night, that’s where this misconception arises. Squid are just as active in the daytime as at night, but are not as concentrated in such numbers as they are under the lights.”

    “That’s one of the reasons to consider night-time fishing. Another favorite striper meal are eels. Eels are nocturnal and move around after dark to find their own food. They’ll eat anything from seaworms to shiners and will also dine on the remains of dead fish. But in the daytime they are quite dormant.”

    “Eels are not much fun to deal with when trying to get a hook into them or handling for any reason. One of the best solutions to this problem is to handle them with a dry rag or towel. But to also help with their handling, keeping them on a bed of ice will numb them up enough so their squirming and slipping away is very much minimized.”

    “But you can’t just drop a dozen eels into a bucket of ice, as the ice melt will eventually kill them in their own slime. The key to this is to use a smaller bucket inside a larger bucket. The small bucket should have several drain holes in the bottom and needs to be suspended by whatever means above the level of what the ice melt will be. Draining off this ice melt occasionally will help in their survival.”

    “Some anglers find that trolling live eels at night (and sometimes in the daytime) is very effective, but night trolling is full of problems caused by the short range of people’s vision. Using bright lights at night is not consistent with good results so most of the people fishing with live eels will do what they call “eel-slinging.”

    “Eel slinging is done by drifting and casting your eel out away from your boat and letting the tide, wind or currents move you along slowly to cover more bottom. A pick-up of a live eel is often quite subtle and it’s not a bad idea to let the fish take some slack line before tightening-up and setting the hook.”

    “Did we mention that getting a hook out of an eel’s mouth or gut isn’t the most pleasant or easy task? You want to use fairly small circle hooks so you can almost guarantee a hook imbedded in the fish’s jaw. It’s also not a bad idea to flatten the barb of your hook for a real easy hook removal. And again, the use of a dry rag or towel to handle the hooked eel makes things a lot easier,” Seth explains.
    NEW HAMPSHIRE: The striped bass situation remains quite fluid, according to Master New Hampshire Guide Tim Moore at Suds-n-Soda Sports in Greenland. “Earlier there were lots of stripers in the lower Piscataqua River, the Back Channel and Little Harbor as well as along the jetties near the river mouth. But it seems like they have dispersed and are here one minute and gone the next. Some fish are reported in Great and Little Bay and the Piscataqua River’s main stem, but like we’ve said, they seem to be on the move.”

    “It could be that the huge schools of mackerel, a favorite striped bass quarry, are on the move and more reports of bluefish moving up from the south could have them spooked and have broken up the concentrations of mackerel that could have been holding the striper’s attention. Also, it looks like the big squid invasion could be over, or at least stalled a bit. So, you’ve got to kind of go with the flow and do quite a bit of searching and if you find some stripers, it’s key to stick with them.”

    “Another reason for the striper’s being harder to catch is that it looks like they might have switched over to a night bite, as those anglers that are fishing at night with live eels seem to have had some very good luck. And we’ve had quite a few reports of people fishing during the daylight hours using live eels also having some good luck with stripers.”

    “Flounder fishing this year seems to have dropped off considerably from the last couple of years where Rye Harbor and that vicinity was “flounder central.”  Also, the amount of black sea bass being caught has dropped off, with lots of sightings of undersize fish being illegally kept by several boats that have been targeting them. We personally know of only two legal-sized black sea bass caught so far in the Great Bay/Piscataqua River system and we caught one of them!” Tim notes.

    The news from the crew at Dover Marine Sports was that a surprising amount of really good sized rainbow trout are being caught from the small Willand Pond that is almost in sight of their location. “These fish are regularly in the 15–18 inch size and there doesn’t seem to be any lack of them. Willand Pond is strictly a spring-fed pond and it’s obvious that these fish are holdovers from previous stocking and have grown to these great sized trophy trout.”

    They noted that this pond is a two-layer resource with cold deep water for the trout and plenty of warmer water around the shorelines to provide good conditions to a large crappie population, as well as some very nice smallmouth bass.

    “The fly, catch and release special section of the freshwater Cocheco River over at Watson Road (near the County Offices) has been disappointing so far this year, so the fishing pressure has dropped off there and we are not seeing the amount of avid trout anglers using this special section as in most years.”

    Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist in the Seacoast area reports: “I heard a mix of striper reports this past weekend. Everything from "where are the fish?" to "I can't keep bait in the water."

    “Word has it, there were some in the 30-inch range being caught off of Seabrook Beach in the early morning. Hampton Harbor is loaded with juvenile herring right now—look for diving terns and you are sure to find feeding schoolies. Live mackerel and chunked herring were the key to landing a keeper ocean-side.”

    “Reports continue to trickle in of black sea bass and squid in the Piscataqua River. If you are going for black sea bass, keep in mind there is now a size (13 inches) and bag (10 fish) limit on them in New Hampshire waters,” she ends.

    Captain Les Eastman Jr. at Eastman’s fishing docks in Seabrook Harbor reports: “Bass (stripers) made an explosive appearance last night, two or three on most of the time. Not sure how many keepers, but several on both boats.

    “Tons of action on the all-day boat (groundfishing), not as many to take home as we like, but non-stop action all day long and whales around to make the day even better. Obviously the whale watch had a great trip and close to home.”

    “Mackerel are still strong on the half-day boats, back and forth to the Isles of Shoals, no sign of bluefish, think those days might be over for a while. Last couple years, very few showings. When I was young, we didn't catch bluefish in the Gulf of Maine. Weather looks great!”

    “All-day fishing for cod, haddock and pollock was okay right through this past weekend, noted Captain Rocky Gauron Sr. at Gauron’s Fishing Boats at Hampton Harbor.

    “Some of the fishermen ended up with six or seven fish they could keep for the day. Still a lot of throwbacks because the fish are too small. Half-day mackerel fishing has been super. Millions of macs on most trips.”

    Alan Nute at his AJ’s Bait and Tackle in Meredith on Lake Winnipesaukee reports that the landlocked salmon fishing has been great lately—“Not lots of big fish but a real nice representation of what’s in the lake now—mostly salmon in the 17–19 inch range with a few that will go around four pounds.”

    “What is kind of unique is that even though there’s the usual (for this time of year) early-in-the-morning bite, these fish can’t tell time and the bite can extend for most of the day.”

    “Trolling lures seems to be the best bet with the traditional good lures doing well—Top Guns, BB Guns in yellow, gold, orange/pink combinations as well as florescent red. Also some flies in the same color—white perch flies as the salmon have started to key in to the young of the year yellow perch hatchlings.”

    “Meredith Bay, the Broads and probably most of the lake seems to be producing this unusually good salmon bite. Also, our other lakes in the region are seeing the same phenomenon. Lake Winnisquam, Squam, Newfound and probably most of the other salmon lakes are having some great salmon fishing.”

    Regional fisheries biologist Don Miller (lakes region) reports: The Lakes Region and White Mountains have recently experienced some great weather days interspersed with heavy thunderstorm activity and high rainfall amounts. As I write this report, this area has received approximately 1.5 inches of rain every five days or so. Lake levels, as one would expect, are high, and streams are running full. The influx of water is good for fishing, as it brings a myriad of food items rushing into lake and stream systems. The thermocline is setting up quite well now on the big lakes, approximately 35–40 feet down.”

    “We have had reports of some nice rainbows caught in Winnisquam and Big Squam. Salmon fishing is picking up well in Winnipesaukee, but get on the water early, before sunrise. A variety of hardware (spoons) are producing the catches.”

    “Smallmouth bass have descended deep; try drop-offs 25–35 feet deep, especially sandy/gravel substrate with grass beds. Jigging is the preferred method here. I have had reports of schools of alewives appearing on Winnisquam. Fishing these schools is exciting; it's much like chasing schools of baitfish down off the coast, albeit on a much smaller level. I've seen smallmouth bass and white perch following these schools and grabbing the alewives. Jointed, sinking Rapalas and silver spoons should do the trick.”

    News from Cindy Caron at Tall Timber Lodge located on Back Lake in Pittsburg, NH: “Connecticut River flows in all sections of the river have remained stable all this past week, ensuring good angling for most of our guests. The cold water in the Trophy Stretch and especially below Murphy Dam have helped our local trout and salmon stay in a “feeding” frame of mind.”

    “South of Pittsburg, the Connecticut River has also been fishing well, as a few of us found out on a drift from Colebrook, NH to below the covered bridge in Columbia, NH with our guide Dave Poole. Most of our rainbows and brookies were caught on streamers, and the color of the day was WHITE!”

    “While I slung around a soft hackle streamer (without hurting myself or others), Jon had success with a big, white articulated Urchin, and even had a couple of big browns come out and take a look at it. While we managed to boat between 20–25 trout, those big bruisers eluded us.”

    “With the bright and sunny day that we had, most of the action was predictably under the surface, but we did spot a few pods of rising rainbows, and Jon managed to take a few with some very delicate top water presentations.”

    “The drifts on the Connecticut River should only get better too, as our ant and hopper seasons are nearly here, so give us a call if you’re interested in a full day of moseying down New England’s longest river.”

    MAINE: Master Maine Guide Stu Bristol of Lyman reported: “Perfect summer weather has brought out anglers by the dozens this week. While many are headed for the saltwater, the bulk of people reporting to me are freshwater anglers, heading out early morning and early evening. Surprisingly, the lake trout anglers are having luck just off the bottom dead-jigging big golden shiners. Little Ossipee anglers are taking both lake trout and big brook trout in this fashion. Only one angler reported to me that he took salmon while trolling just under the thermocline using live smelt.”

    “Bass anglers are enjoying the larger fish being taken under the blooming lilies and submerged structure. Smallmouth anglers in the lower freshwater section of the Saco River between Biddeford and Buxton are reporting fish in the two-pound and over group. One angler reported taking a 20-inch brown trout just downstream from the Skelton Dam, close to the red line closure mark.”

    “Crappie anglers are having success in Wadley pond in Lyman but the fish are barely over a pound. However, Mousam Lake in Acton is rewarding crappie anglers with a number of fish over two pounds. Small crappie tubes and jigs in red and white or all white seem to be the most productive.”

    “Sabattus Pond in Greene is the place for large numbers of white perch in the nearly two-pound range. Look for the dimples on the surface. Schools are roaming the lake just under the surface. Large Mayfly hatches have been spotted in afternoons and the perch are feeding heavily.”

    Here’s the report from a couple of the last trips out on Captain Tim Tower’s Bunny Clark charter and party boat: “The fishing was very good with no current, very few dogfish and nice weather. The catching of legal fish was good overall. They caught very few fish in the early part of the trip but did very well at the end. Most legal fish landed were cod. Legal landings also included twenty-two pollock, seventeen cusk, two whiting and one haddock. They drift fished for the trip. The conditions were such that there was no other method that could be used (no current). Jigs and cod flies caught the most fish. Bill Murphy (NH) was high hook with ten legal. His largest fish was a pollock that weighed 10 pounds. David Archambault (NH) won the boat pool for the largest fish with a 16-pound pollock. He also caught a pollock of 10.5 pounds. The second largest fish was a 14-pound pollock caught by Mike Atkins (VT). Mike also caught an 11-pound pollock. John Broome (NH) landed a 12-pound cod, the third largest fish of the trip. Other angler highlights: Steve Clark (NH) caught a 10-pound pollock and an 11.5-pound pollock, his two largest fish. Kevin Miranda (MA) caught a 10.5 pound pollock. Amanda Davidson (MA) landed the hard luck award for not catching a single legal fish!”

    The next day’s trip the fishing was excellent. “There was no physical reason (including dogfish) to keep anglers away from getting their best chance to hook a fish. Unfortunately, the catching of legal fish was poor. In fact, the only legal fish caught this evening were squirrel hake, two of them. Sub-legal fish included a redfish, a cod and a sculpin (sculpins are legal to keep, most anglers don't). They drift fished all evening. Everyone used bait. Garrett Van Schaick (NY) won the boat pool for the largest fish with a sub-legal cod weighing 1.25 pounds. He also caught a one-pound squirrel hake, the second largest fish of the trip. David Darnell (CA) caught the third and fourth largest fish. These fish included squirrel hake weighing .5 pounds and a .25 pound redfish. Aaron Rice (MA) landed the hard luck award t-shirt for the most tangled lines.”

    At Dave Garcia’s Naples Bait and Tackle on Long Lake, he’s pretty excited about a six-pound landlocked salmon caught there. “Our salmon here are more apt to be measured in inches, not pounds, with the average fish probably being around 15–16 inches. A six-pounder is unheard of here so if there’s one that big, why not more?”

    Fishing without his dad, Dave’s son Tyson took second place in last weekend’s bass fishing tourney. You don’t think that Ty may be doing a little strut around the bait shop this week?

    In the same Sebago Lake area, Greg Cutting at Jordan’s Store in East Sebago can’t get over the fantastic salmon fishing that the big lake is experiencing.

    “They’re catching salmon to beat the band—everywhere in the lake and at just about any depth. Our regular salmon catcher Roger Bacon caught six early in the morning and had caught six fish the last time out before today. Another party caught eight or ten fish during that same time. These fish are running anywhere from 8 to 20 inches long with a few in the 21–22 inch range.”

    “The salmon seem to be spread out in the water column from the surface to quite deep, in fact they are being caught by lake trout trollers in the deep parts of the lake.  One party had caught salmon while fishing with ten colors of leadcore line out—they were fishing for lake trout!”

    “Roger is using three to five colors of leadcore line or using downriggers with 30 feet depth.”

    “Lots of the others catching salmon are using both lures and live bait, with the traditional lures such as Mooselook Wobblers and D.B. Smelts fished near the top over deep water.”

    Ken at River’s Edge Sports in Oquossoc in the Rangeley Lakes Region reports that fishing on the lakes is still holding up well, with Rangeley Lake producing the larger salmon and some nice brook trout while Mooselookmeguntic Lake no doubt is producing more fish and some larger brookies. Cupsuptic Lake, which is actually a big bay off of Mooselook, has produced some huge brook trout in the five pound and over class.

    River fishing for trout and salmon continues to be good, with the stretch of the lower Magalloway River below the Aziscohos Dam being the steadiest producer, as large water releases from the dam on the weekends build up the fish populations below the dam. “It’s usually best on Mondays,” Ken suggests.

    Master Maine Guide Dan Legere at the Maine Guide Fly Shop in Greenville reports: “The drake hatches may be winding down on the trout ponds but the river angling is still RED HOT. River water temperature continues to be in the low to mid-60's and caddis hatches continuing day after day. Big Alder flies (Zebra caddis) just keep on coming. A couple I passed on the river today said fish were after caddis that were "poppin' like popcorn."

    “A good drag-free drift will get you fish but hop a pair of caddis around any eddy line and fish often come out of the water after them. A dark brown, mottled caddis is doing the job but there are at least four or five different caddis around and we have been getting fish on tan, orange, and olive body elk wing caddis as well. We have been nymphing them with caddis pupa, golden stones, and a hare's ear. Talk to ten different anglers and you'll hear ten different success stories.”

    Constancio Leal from Mexico is all smiles with his first ever salmon on his first ever fly fishing trip. Water levels couldn't be any better and fishing should hold up for some time. After all, tiny black caddis and the big rusty orange belly caddis will be joining the hatches before long.”

    “Our fisheries biologists have been busy monitoring the passage of trout and salmon through the fish ladder at the East Outlet dam. If you are interested, stop by the dam any morning and you'll likely find the guys checking on the daily catch.

    We spent a day with them a couple years ago and made a video about their operation. Here's the link, you should find it very interesting.”

    “These are dedicated guys keeping a watchful eye on the health of our fishery. See you on the water.”

    MASSACHUSETTS: Pete Santini at Fishing FINatics in Everett is pretty excited about the return to Stellwagen Banks of the giant bluefin tuna! “Last week, a thousand pounder was taken of the South West Corner of Stellwagen and there’s more out there, according to reports.”

    “Another exciting fish was a 55-pound halibut caught off the East End of Tilley’s Bank by Phil Brigsbee, and we’ve heard of other smaller ones being caught a lot more often than usual. At Minot’s Light, there’s been a lot of mackerel with both stripers and blues chasing them, making the mackerel pretty hard to catch.”

    “Also pretty exciting is that codfish off Marlin Ledge and Three and a half Fathom Ledge, also off Nahant and around the B Buoy in 85 to 90 feet of water.”

    “Stripers in Mystic River at the Amelia Earhart Dam at low tide taking pogies. The Santini Tube and Worm rigs catching lots of big stripers off Winthrop Beach.”

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.

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