Coastal New Hampshire and Maine Fishing Report- June 23, 2023

The arrival of small schools of pogies in northern New England has brought with them a big bass and bluefish presence. Rivers continue to funnel spent river herring back to the sea making nearby areas perfect spots to find ambushing stripers. 

New Hampshire 

Captain Andy from Adventureandcatch charters has been picking off haddock in the Scantum area as well as Pigeon Hill with the latter giving up terrific tuna action lately. The section of Jeffrey’s Ledge closest to Stellwagen now holds an impressive population of small pollock up to 19” which bodes well for future populations of “Boston bluefish”. The action there is in about 205’ of water.

Inshore stripers are “everywhere” according to the captain. Schoolies through stripers up to 33” are swarming throughout the Piscataqua River watershed with mackerel and herring a best bait bet. The herring are “fallback” river herring while macks can be found between the 2KR Can and the Isles of Shoals. River mouths are fishing best for bigger fish and there are pogies to be found in bays as well. Captain Bob from Seacoast NH Sportfishing told me that mackerel are reliably inshore at ledges such as Hampton Shoals Ledge and other prominent structure between Portsmouth and the Isles of Shoals. He referred to the macks as “bluefin snacks” meaning they are perfect size baits for tuna. There are fish bigger than slots around too. I’d check out the Salisbury area for pogies; if there are pogies, bass and blues just across the river in Newburyport, then Salisbury should have them as well. Tuna are becoming more consistent on southern Jeffrey’s Ledge with the fish larger than school sized fish. 

Southern Maine  

Captain Lou Tirado of Diamond Pass Charters is one busy skipper having guided 10 of the last 12 days! All that time on the water can’t help but be beneficial to this report. Saco Bay has been fishing well on the dropping tide with the fish feeding primarily on fall back herring in the rivers while mackerel are the main bait out front. Sand eels are swarming among the flats making those fish ripe to be picked off by fly fishers.  Pogies are around and bass with them but finding them can be tricky. Blueback herring returning to the sea have been triggering schoolie to slot blitzes in Casco Bay in the morning.  

Grady Taylor with a nice slot striper caught aboard Diamond Pass Charters.

Anglers catching well are tossing topwaters and other artificials at dawn and switching over to mackerel once the sun’s up. Nighttime remains the right time for those looking for big bass with big soft plastic stick baits and eels the go-to offerings. Brandy Webhannet Bait and Tackle told me that while other’s were shuddering in place during the inclement weather others who shouldered the blustery conditions were treated to banner outings! One guy went out on Father’s Day in the rain off Ogunquit and caught 7 fish over 40” on clams!

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Mackerel have been effective in the Saco River as well as Wells Harbor. Macks can be find around the Mile Hump off Wells. Some pogies have been observed between Kennebunk Beach and Cape Porpoise. Captain Paul Hood of Touch of Gray Charters had an enviable Father’s Day – he went fishing. He pointed his 43’ Torres towards Jeffrey’s Ledge and estimates that the crew had a 100+ fish outing.

Catch and Release cod have been cooperating for the Touch of Gray Charters crew.

At about the same time a buddy’s boat fishing Platt’s Bank had similar luck for haddock, whiting, catch-and-release cod, cusk as well as toothy pests such as dogfish and blue sharks.

Captain Paul Hood has found some good haddock off Southern Jeffrey’s Ledge.

As for stripers there are a lot of slot fish coming out of the South Portland/Casco Bay Area. Rivers/embayments bordering herring runs have been hot as stripers ambush spent herring returning to the sea. 

Fishing Forecast 

Should you find a pogy school off Salisbury, Portsmouth or Cape Porpoise try trolling a few around the school. Odds are good that any big bass around will be shadowing that prized bait. Other options are mackerel at the mouth of the Piscatagua River as well as the Mile Hump in Maine. If there are no predators with the macks take a few into Little Bay, the Saco River or Kennebunkport. Groundfishing is steady with haddock, pollock, cusk and cod equally divided among Platt’s Bank and Jeffrey’s Ledge.  

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