If you can hit the pause button on all things striper there are some interesting freshwater options available. However, there is still no escaping the cow in the room and with pogies pushing northward it’s only going to get better.
New Hampshire Fishing Report
Joe from Granite State Rod and Reel Repair told me of an attractive alternative to striper fever, namely river smallies! His grandson and a buddy have been wracking up 50 per day outings for smallmouth bass in the Merrimack River with some fish pushing 3 1/2 pounds! According to Joe all manner of “rubber” is working best. With sky high water temperatures oxygenated rivers are fishing better than southern lakes and ponds. The exception is higher elevation water bodies such as Winnisquam and Squam Lakes. Topwater first light and last light action is good also. Stripers are cooperating on the Salisbury side of the Merrimack River out to Salisbury Beach with anglers matching the hatch doing the best. Figuring out whether the fish are feeding on silversides, mackerel or pogies and offering the fish a similar-sized bait pays off big time!
Captain Jon Tregea of Sea Run Charters said that things have improved greatly in the last week thanks to the arrival of still more pogies throughout the Piscataqua River as well as more mackerel out front. Inside the harbors and bays the bait and bass are smaller but the acton for those schoolies more consistent. All that bait has attracted the attention of Charlie, which is not necessarily a good thing when a pogy intended for a striper is inhaled by a giant tuna!
Chad from Dover Marine said that with the cow herd has arrived right on time to take advantage of the big pogy schools. He’s hearing of 38-48” stripers caught from Seabrook, Rye and Hampton on live pogies. The rivers are fishing well also at night as the bass chase squid throughout the Piscataqua River. There have even been a few black sea bass reports – surging water temps will do that! For haddock, cusk and redfish the Prong, Curl and Cove are all producing on Jeffreys Ledge. Freshwater remains a strong option with Ned Rigs and topwater lures doing the trick with Bellamy, Wentworth and Pleasant Ponds all productive.
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Southern Maine Fishng Report
Pogies are plentiful all the way at least as far north as Cape Neddick according to Brandy from Webhannet Bait and Tackle. When found the schools stretch for miles! There are big bass with the pogies, the stickler being finding the right school-in-a-school which has the predators. Rushed pogies are obvious, less noticeable are tightly balled bait which belie the presence of bass. Some refer to the harried bait as looking “purplish” as the bait packs in tightly formed circles to limit predation. Under low light conditions those stripers will be susceptible to a large profile plug or jig/pork rind or jig/soft plastic. Brandy did say that some who are ripping big spooks over the pogy schools are catching some of those cows. Mojo rigs also work well for culling out the bigger bass from under all that bait. Rising water temperatures have resulted in picky inshore river and harbor striped bass with imitating the size and shape of available forage of utmost importance.
Matt from Saco Bay Tackle Company said that while live mackerel are still spotty, one on the line off Hills Beach, Camp Ellis or Higgins Beach will not last long! The islands of Saco Bay are still prime to find these choice baitfish. As he put it, there are a “ton” of pogies far up the coast and picking the right school matters regarding catching that cow. Occasionally tuna have been busting on all that bait making an inadvertent spooling part of the program now and then. Haddock fishing is still hot with the edges of Jeffrey’s holding the most fish.
Captain Lou Tirado of Diamond Pass Outfitters said that anglers have an interesting pick of stripers in both the rivers and off the beaches! Paying attention to available forage and more importantly the size and shape of that forage is of utmost importance. In the rivers the prey is river herring and sand eels and off the beaches you’ll find Brit herring and pogies! For rivers, Lou’s having luck with Albie Snax, Jumpin’ Minnows and SP Minnows. In the open ocean, live-lining mackerel and pogies has been productive and as for artificials metal lips, large soft plastics and big spooks such as the Doc are all working well. For flies 4-7” Dragon Tails have been terrific with choice colors being blue, green and brown over white. The most interesting news has to be the arrival of a bonito off the Maine coastline. That’s all the more surprising since I have not heard of any reports of these speedsters in Massbay north of the Cape! Sadly the netters got to them and 8000 pounds were reportedly scooped up making for great concern whether any survived.
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New Hampshire And Southern Maine Fishing Forecast
It’s a schoolie show throughout the Merrimack, and Piscataqua Rivers while the pogies are luring in much bigger bass in bays and harbors from Seabrook to Cape Neddick. Groundfishing remains good for haddock and cusk off Jeffreys Ledge and there are tuna crashing pogy schools in close. For a reprieve from the salt, smallmouth bass are on the feed in the Merrimack River while their largemouth cousin is cooperating in ponds and lakes.