Monday, July 22, 2019

Maine Striped Bass on the Fly

In early evening, after saying goodbye to Geoff Klane and, shortly thereafter, Massachusetts, Noah and I crossed the bridge over the Piscataqua into the state that would be our home away from home for the next ten days.

(Photo edit by Malachi Lytle)
We headed towards a place we'd visited on our trip last year, where we'd encountered a ton of sand eels and a striper bite that we hadn't quite gotten a good grip on. Although this trip revolved around getting some new species, we also both wanted to fill in some other gaps in our knowledge. Maine provided an opportunity to learn more about striped bass. A lot of the shoreline is structurally different there than southern New England. The primary baitfish is different too. The massive tides, also different. I simply follow learning opportunities wherever they lead me. And they had lead me right back to this beach in southwestern Maine.



We got kind of lucky in regards to meeting the right people there. Surfcasters are a tight-lipped bunch, and rightly so. There is too much to lose by giving away information, especially these days. But the gentleman we met there was kind enough to share a bit. I wish I could remember his name. He suggested what fly I should use and pointed me towards a good spot. In the end I decided to keep away from them just out of respect, especially since there were a number of other surfcasters there. But what he told me will certainly be of use in the future, because I do want to fish this spot again. It has big fish potential. Noah and I want up into a creek to play with some smaller fish that were popping on sand eels. I swung small flatwings. Noah fished an SP Minnow. We got our Maine redemption. 



The next morning we headed further north and east toward Saco Bay and another place we'd encountered stripers but hadn't caught any. We launched the kayaks under hazy skies onto hazy water. Though clearer than many portions of Long Island Sound, and colder, the water here surprised me. It was more turbid and warmer than I'd expected. I wrongly assumed that this would have a negative impact on the fishing. I was wrong.


As far north as were there weren't really likely to be many big fish around this early. As such, though there were tons of massive schools of adult bunker around and the tide, wind, and lighting were more than good enough, there were no cow stripers or big bluefish molesting them. There undoubtedly are some serious bass in Maine in July, but not where we were and not enough that bunker gauruntees a big fish blitz.



What were there, though, were extremely feisty 20 inch class schoolies. The leeward side of every rock outcropping seemed to hold a handful of willing bass. And what they lacked in size they made up for in strength. Cold, clean, oxygenated water makes for very hard fighting stripers. I've caught a lot of small striped bass. I can easily and quickly get most of them to hand without an inch of line getting taken on the 10wt. These fish though, were kicking my butt. I'd really love to lock into a 25 pound bass in Maine.





The method was pretty simple. Floating line, seven foot level 20lb leader, #2 pink and white Half and Half. The erratic, jigging action of the fly when fished with short, quick strips closely imitated the actions of the young of the year Atlantic herring that these fish were feeding on.


After I got about a half dozen goodlooking stripers, we called it quits on familiar species and headed further northeast still, towards the remarkable place that is Mt. Desert Island.


If you enjoy what I'm doing here, please share and comment. It is increasingly difficult to maintain this blog under dwindling readership. What best keeps me going so is knowing that I am engaging people and getting them interested in different aspects of fly fishing, the natural world, and art. Follow, like on Facebook, share wherever, comment wherever. Also, consider supporting me on Patreon (link at the top of the bar to the right of your screen, on web version). Every little bit is appreciated! Thank you to my Patrons; Erin, David, john, and Christopher, for supporting this blog.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

A Stop Along the Way

This was it. On the afternoon of July 9th, Noah and I packed our things into his van, strapped on the kayaks, and headed northeast. This was going to be a hell of a journey.

But before we even got to our state of interest, we payed a visit to our friend Geoff Klane at his town of residence. Lowell, Massachusetts; where Geoff guides for different species on fly tackle in the canal system within the city. Noah and I weren't licensed and so didn't fish, but I had wanted to see this fishery for a while and also hadn't seen Geoff in a long time.

Geoff met us at a place with free parking and walked us around his home waters. It was classic urban fishing. There were places with some garbage in the water, we met some interesting characters on our circuit, and the fish were large and plentiful.


If you live in New England and carp on the fly is your thing, you really ought to visit Lowell at some point. I've fished canal type fisheries before, but they certainly aren't numerous. In some cases I've found the fish to be extremely finicky, bolting at the first sign an angler may be present. In others, the fish are used to people and used to getting fed, so they're actually pretty foolish. The Lowell carp are somewhere in between. They seemed to know that we were there, and although that didn't make them want to leave, they certainly didn't maker themselves easy. But when Geoff did get a carp to take, it was one of the most aggressive carp takes I've ever seen. The fish moved a few feet at a fair rate of speed for the fly.

Geoff also baited with dog food, which got both the carp and some bullheads worked up. It's always fun to watch either species surface feed.








The fishery in Lowell is pretty cool. It reminds my of other urban places I've fished, especially Frederick, Maryland (Connecticut Fly Angler in Maryland). We saw sunfish of a couple different species, largemouth and smallmouth bass, brown bullhead, and common carp. I definitely intend to actually fish the place some time. If you want to, I recommend hiring Geoff. He knows the place well and will put you on the fish. Beyond that, he's just a really good guy.
Check him out on www.brackishflies.com.



After a fun little afternoon, Noah and I said goodbye to our friend, left Lowell, and continued Northeast. Our adventure had just begun.

If you enjoy what I'm doing here, please share and comment. It is increasingly difficult to maintain this blog under dwindling readership. What best keeps me going so is knowing that I am engaging people and getting them interested in different aspects of fly fishing, the natural world, and art. Follow, like on Facebook, share wherever, comment wherever. Also, consider supporting me on Patreon (link at the top of the bar to the right of your screen, on web version). Every little bit is appreciated! Thank you to my Patrons; Erin, David, john, and Christopher, for supporting this blog.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Many Miles Out

I did some things with a fly rod today that it isn't exactly designed for and would make most people cringe, all in the name of catching new species. If you don't think way outside the box sometimes, things stay... bland.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

An Incredible Multispecies Day


After revenge on the bowfin lost two days before, I returned to the scene of the crime. I'd told myself I wasn't going to target pike this time and that I'd focus on bowfin. But I just couldn't help myself. I've not caught a lot of pike. I rigged up the Christmas Ornament and ripped it allong the weed lines. It didn't take long. I was two hand retrieving when the first fish waked up on the fly then blew up. It was a nice clean little fish and fought hard.


The next fish blew up much harder, and turned my attention away from trying to spot a bowfin while working the fly. I jammeed it and immediately felt that it was solid fish. Not a monster but my new personal best, the second in two days (the previous day is written up in a patrons only post on Patreon).






I got right back to it after that watching that fish motor off and sight fished a third pike. 





This was now my best pike day it CT, but I wanted to see what else I could squeeze out of the morning. I wasn't seeing bowfin here, so I changed spots.


Musk turtle
Not long after switching locations, I stuck a fish I really didn't expect; a beautiful little walleye.


I followed up the walleye with two decent bass, one 18 incher and one 16 incher. Both took fairly small flies off the bottom. I find that when sight fiahing for largemouth I can best get an uncertain and picky fish to commit by letting the fly settle on the bottom for as long as 30 seconds, then giving it a series of quick hops. Both of these fish slammed the fly as soon as it came off the bottom. The first and bigger of the two had a unique two-tone face and hyperpigmentation melanosis. I've named hime Harvey Dent.







I've caught a lot of bass though so these fish weren't really getting my that excited. When I saw a channel cat nosing through the rocks looking for food though, that got my heart rate up. I dropped the fly in front of it and it took. A few minutes later I missed a take fron another. Now this was turning into something of an interesting day.



Still seeing no bowfin, I moved again. I worked my way up a bank where Noah and I had found a number of bowfin eating a sucker carcass last year. For most of it there were no signs of bowfin but plenty of bass and yellow perch. I hooked one largemouth on a laydown that was no question north of 20 inches. Would have like to have touched that one.


12 inch perch

Then I found bowfin. They were a real pain in the ass for about an hour though. I lead one in circles for five minutes straight and it just would not commit. Eventually though the tide turned, literally, and fish that would not commit suddenly were everywhere and very willing. I stuck six bowfin total. Now I was on my best bowfin day ever too!









With more black bass, some big bluegills, rockbass, amd redbreast sunfish in the mix, I ended the trip far later than I'd intended and with way more fish to hand, including a lot of trophies. I had seen some pretty wicked things too. I had a huge largemouth come out from a laydown and t-bone a perch I'd hooked. If I carried a net I'd have caught that fish. It would have been a personal best for me I'm certain, though degraded by not bei g a fair catch.




In a nutshell, that morning was lunacy. I haven't come close to covering it all in detail, but this is what you get when I have to write up a post on my phone in a coffee shop in Rangeley. I hope you can fill in some of the gaps. 

If you enjoy what I'm doing here, please share and comment. It is increasingly difficult to maintain this blog under dwindling readership. What best keeps me going so is knowing that I am engaging people and getting them interested in different aspects of fly fishing, the natural world, and art. Follow, like on Facebook, share wherever, comment wherever. Also, consider supporting me on Patreon (link at the top of the bar to the right of your screen, on web version). Every little bit is appreciated! Thank you to my Patrons; Erin, David, john, and Christopher, for supporting this blog.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Where I am Presently


Well, so far this has been much more productive than Noah and my last trip to Maine. A big part of that is how much further we've gone. Clearly the further North we go the more unusual shore opportunities present themselves. In not too long we're going to go much further north, but away fron the Ocean. We will be seaking the rarest salmonid in the Eastern U.S.