Weekly Fishing Report
August 22, 2017
MAINE: With the warming water temperatures and added boat activity, the saltwater anglers should be aware that many of the gamefish that they are seeking will be taking refuge from the heat and sun under docks and bridges, as well as weak beds and other structure that throws a shadow. These fish are also very alert for predators, both human and animal that knows that these fish congregate wherever the conditions are to their liking.
Maine Master Guide Stu Bristol occasionally fishes the saltwater, mostly from the beach shores but from his freshwater experience he will use a stealthy approach to any saltwater structure that may be holding a bunch of fish that are schooled up in those places.
“People often disregard the fact that saltwater fish can be as spooky as their freshwater cousins! Even though saltwater gamefish such as striped bass will school under bridges or docks where every-day activity will create noise or shadows, when a new or strange noise or shadow appears these fish will flush out of their hiding places like a family of grouse out of a fir tree!”
“Even saltwater fish, especially game fish, are very aware of their surroundings and any strange shadows (especially moving ones) or noises will have them scatter and hide in protected water.”
“Right now we’re plagued with too much seaweed in some of our best striper waters. There’s lots of pogies for the stripers and bluefish to concentrate on and if you like to fish with live bait, you’ll catch some huge fish using a freshly caught live pogie!”
Stu also likes to follow freshwater spring creeks that will hold native brook trout but knows that the stretches of these small brooks that are easily reached from a road or trail can be fished pretty hard so he’ll consult with his on-line programs to investigate new places that look like they have potential—and he’s right on the money more often than not.
“When we’re out to locate some wild brook trout, we’ll be especially stealthy as these fish have developed instincts that have kept them safe and alive so we’ll use every bit of stealth to avoid throwing a shadow on the water or moving gravel or stones when wading a stream!”
Stu likes the Delorme Atlas and Gazetteer when he becomes bored with fishing the same old places and says there’s really no end to the possibility of finding some new and so called “sacred” brook trout holding-waters.
In Maine’s far northern freshwater lakes in Aroostook County, the Fish River Chain of Lakes have been providing some excellent trout and landlocked salmon fishing for seasonal resident Tom Waltors (he lives in Michigan but has a residence in northern Maine where he spends a lot of time both fishing and hunting.)
He recently reported that he’d trolled both lures and bait on both Square and Long Lake in that area and has had some very good days on both native brookies and wild landlocked salmon. (It’s not really proper to use the term “native” when referring to the salmon in that area as they now are reproducing there, but to our knowledge were never native to that area.)
“We’re seeing more and more brook trout that seem to be larger each year as well as some really fat salmon. More and more anglers here are also finding some excellent fishing for smallmouth bass in the lower Aroostook River as well as the chance to hook into a musky in the Saint John River that in some places is the boundary between the good old USA and Canada.” (Luckily you can fish these waters with a Maine fishing license.)
A very composed and serious angler, Waltors has tangled with a few huge muskies on the St. John River and said that the rumor that they are the “fish of a thousand casts” is true as he’s worn himself out several times in pursuit of them but his persistence has paid off enough so he’s still pretty serious about fishing for them.
This just in from Maine Master Guide Stu Bristol: "Anglers that get up really early are having the best luck lately. Big largemouths are cruising the edges of the lilies just before and at daybreak. Some hefty catches have been reported out of Little Ossipee in Waterboro as well as the nearby Lake arrowhead with a 10-lb caught and released over the weekend. Still loads of milfoil in the lake and anglers need to drop shot below the mess.”
"Crappies in the 2-pound range continue to be targeted in Sabattus Pond in Greene with the usual double digit catches. Fish are schooling just under the surface in large schools. Look for the osprey and eagles fishing and cast the edges of the schools so as not to sound the rest of the school.”
"In saltwater, anglers are forced to hit the beaches after dark. There is an unusually large number of menhaden around and clams, worms and even mackerel used as bait come in behind fresh, live-lined pogies.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: On Lake Winnipesaukee, the lake trout jig bite is on fire, according to Captain Tim Moore of Tim Moore Outdoors, LLC. “We have marked huge schools of lakers in over 100' of water. They are gorging on smelt first thing in the morning. My clients are having a ball. One client from NY even jigged up a landlocked salmon, a rarity while vertical jigging.”
“My new signature series Nervous Minnow from Daddy Mac Lures has been the hottest lure of the season and smelt (blue) has been the hot color. When the lakers get picky, downsizing to a Daddy Mac 1/2 ounce Elite Ice or Albie Jig has been the ticket. (Just a reminder that although these jigs are lead, the independent hook classifies it as a spoon and makes it legal in NH).”
“The trolling bite for landlocked salmon and rainbows is also heating up. We have been finding lots of fish 35' down trolling mostly metals, but the arrival of perch fry has been making flies more effective.”
Jason Mackenzie at Suds-n-Soda Sports seems pretty comfortable with what is happening for saltwater fishing both in the Piscataqua River and Little Bay and offshore on the ocean.
“The stripers have moved into the Piscataqua and Little Bay in good shape and there’s been some really nice quality fish caught, especially at the mouth of the river where live-lined pogies have enticed some huge stripers to take a chance,” he reported.
“We’re having more and more reports of stripers being caught on both chunk baits as well as live baits, while trolling fresh dead mackerel has also produced some fast action. We’re told that the use of a few colors of leadcore line is the key to trolling the fresh dead or live baits as doing that covers a lot more water than drifting and by trolling you have much more control of where your baits are being presented to known striper holding cover.”
“With it being so hot lately, it’s smart to keep your whole mackerel or other baits well iced down, pouring out ice-melt whenever it builds up. For some reason, ice-melt will deteriorate fresh dead baits faster than baits kept in tanks or buckets that are capable of letting the ice melt drain.”
Jason is also happy about the good reports he’s getting from flounder anglers and those mackerel fishermen that value that often malaligned fish as a real treat on the dinner table. “At one time mackerel were one of the most sought after fish to eat that were available from shore, bridges, docks and small boats. But for some reason with the advent of live bait wells and tanks in boats, mackerel have been denigrated to the status of “baitfish”.
“That’s a shame as fresh mackerel are a true gourmet meal and their bones should not be that much of a problem if you are careful to remove them while they are still attached to the backbone. It’s not that hard to even fillet them as the rib cage is then exposed and by removing that takes a lot of bones off the fillet. Then it’s not hard to remove the backbone with the rib bones still connected so you then have a boneless fillet.”
“Our customers that are purchasing seaworms or clams are often dedicated flounder catchers. And there’s been a few places where it’s no big trick to put together a nice bucket of flounders. You’ll want to try the mouth of the Hampton/Seabrook Harbor on an outgoing tide as the flounder will set up in feeding lanes in the harbor mouths feeding on small fish, worms or clams that are being carried out with the tide.”
“The mouth of the Piscataqua River, Little Harbor, Spruce Creek and all the other marsh outlets in the Hampton Harbor system will produce some steady flounder fishing, also mostly on the outgoing tide. Rye Harbor and the mouth of it can also be a hotspot for flounder to set up ambush for the baitfish, seaworms and other goodies to be swept out through the outlets into the ocean.”
“We have a few serious flounder fishermen that will travel all the way out to the Isles of Shoals and out there it seems that the fish are larger than those inshore. Gossport Harbor is one of their favorite flounder spots.”
“Recently there’s been some huge schools of pogies (menhaden) that have showed up along the coastline. Some really nice stripers are being taken around these schools of pogies and it’s no secret to doing it. First you’ve got to snag or net a pogy. Unless you have dedicated bait net and even if you do, netting baitfish is harder than it seems. And if you do catch a bunch of live baitfish, having a water circulating bait tank is the only practical way to keep them alive. Trying to keep up with the bait’s need for oxygenated water is not that easy and skimming the scum that accumulates in the bait tank is an ongoing task but necessary.
We have recently found that trolling with fresh dead bait-sized mackerel on a few colors of leadcore line will produce some pretty steady striper action. We’ve had our best luck doing this in the half-tide periods and sticking to the channels in the bays and rivers. We use a traditional single hook and hook the baitfish up or down through both jaws (in the center if possible).
This is best done with rod in hand and your reel set in free spool with your thumb preventing line release. When you get a hit, lift your thumb off the spool but still remaining light contact and when you feel that your bait has been adequately swallowed, clamp down your thumb and set the hook. If you don’t get a hook into the striper, don’t despair. You’ll probably get another hit from that same fish. This time give it a chance to get the hook into it’s mouth!
Stay tuned for upcoming weekly reports and get out there and get you some!
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