SEACOAST FISHING FORECAST - 2008
These Are the Good Ole’ Days!
Growing up in northern New Hampshire, my favorite fishing adventures consisted of taking a trip out to the garden, digging up a tin full of worms and venturing out to a secret stream in search of some tasty brook trout. My friends and I would wander for miles, hopping from rock to rock searching for those great fishing “holes.” If we were lucky, we would spend the night camping out in the woods listening to the sizzle of fish frying over the fire. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I got my first taste of the pure excitement of saltwater fishing in New Hampshire. A friend of mine presented me with the offer of accompanying him aboard his vessel the “Sea Squirrel,” where he guaranteed me that we would catch some stripers. Sure enough, after one of the most thrilling days of fishing I’ve ever experienced, we were enjoying some grilled fillets of freshly caught striped bass.
Signs of Spring
Once the river herring have fulfilled this awe-inspiring annual ritual, the stripers and predatory birds descend into the coastal waters to feed on a variety of other forage fish. This is around the time I prefer to make a few trips every year for the most exciting style of fishing in New Hampshire….live bait. There’s nothing like getting up early and racing offshore at about 20 knots through the lifting fog, in hopes to catch some mackerel and pollock for striper bait. I recommend fishing areas like 2KR or the West Sisters off of Kittery. Use sabiki rigs, with tiny pieces of bait on the hook, fished at a variety of depths until you find the sweet spot. Once you’ve filled the live well with enough fish, head back inshore. Try “live-lining” the fish around structures, or near dropoffs on either side of the tide. This is a really exciting way to fish, and it can produce some monster stripers. It’s all about feeling what the fish is doing; don’t pull your bait away too quickly once it starts to “move” around a little. Give it a try, you’ll know what I am talking about.
Cod and Haddock Await
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Try for Winter Flounder
While working on a lobster boat a couple of summers ago, I was able to take a break during lunch to throw a line in the water. It was one of those beautiful August days with just a slight sea breeze. I laced a dead sea herring on a hook and threw it out into the crystal clear waters near the Isles of Shoals. Within minutes, I had a good-sized bluefish on the hook. This thing fought like no other fish I had ever caught. I could see the fish 20 feet deep, vivid as day. It was vigorously swimming back and forth trying to “throw” the hook. I felt like I was on one of those fishing shows catching marlin in the Gulf of Mexico!
Bluefish typically show up on the coast in July and August, feeding on a variety of forage fish such as menhaden. Fishermen have reported catching bluefish by trolling lures at different depths through flocks of terns and diving cormorants. It’s a relatively simple tactic in theory, just drive around looking for birds working the surface, and troll a lure in the general area. Another approach that shows good results is to use a balloon as a bobber and attach a live fish (mackerel or pollock) approximately 10 feet from the balloon. The baitfish will swim around near the surface attracting bluefish and stripers. Just make sure to watch the balloon, because once it takes off, you’re in for quite a fight.
Since moving to the seacoast my eyes have been opened up to a whole new world. The New Hampshire seacoast is chock full of wonderful fish, great weather and so much potential for fun. My true nature still lies in the silence of traversing a mountain stream in search of wilderness, and the occasional brook trout sizzling over the fire. However, if I am looking for a great fight and unmatched excitement, I need look no further than the New Hampshire seacoast.
P.S. Striped Bass Anglers Wanted! The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is looking for striped bass anglers of all skill levels and experience to participate in our annual Striped Bass Volunteer Angler Survey. Logbooks as well as measuring tapes are sent to interested anglers, who in return supply individual trip and length information through the mail or electronically. If you would like to help us monitor New Hampshire’s top saltwater sportfish -- and keep its story a success -- then please contact Kevin Sullivan at the N.H. Fish and Game Marine Division office, (603) 868-1095 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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