What to Expect: Striped Bass Fly Fishing on the Rocky Maine Coast
The NH & Maine coastline is as rugged as it is beautiful. Granite boulders litter the shoreline creating deep holes, pockets, points, rock reefs, islands and offshore ledges. The structure is endless and it's easy to understand why stripers call this element home. The Southern Maine coastline comes to life as stripers flood our waters in early May. Throughout the summer stripers will forage in this environment, looking for bait of every sort, green crabs, young lobsters, and juvenile pollock. The coast fishes great into the fall and can provide action right up to the bitter end of the season.
Preparing for your Striped Bass Charter
The best way to step on the boat prepared is to spend time polishing your cast. If you can cast 40 to 60 feet you are in great shape. Your cast doesn't have to be gorgeous here, we just need to reach the rocks and the wash with some accuracy where hungry stripers will be holding. The distance you'll have to cast depends on the condition of the seas and the characteristics of the structure. If it's a calm day we can get the boat right in there, requiring only a short cast. If the waves are rolling, we will have to keep a little more distance, therefore making longer casts to reach the wash. The wash is the zone where the waves crash into the rocks creating currents while moving baitfish. This area is typically characterized by the white, foamy water that is created by breaking waves. A day casting to the rocks can be tailored to your skill level. New anglers can be successful in this element and it's a great place to practice your cast.
Anglers of all skill levels can fish the rocks but a 40 to 60 foot cast is going to increase your chances of hooking your dream fish. Let's get out there to learn and practice in a truly gorgeous setting.
A Typical Day on the Coast
Starting early is key. Most days we'll meet at the boat ramp just before 5a. I'll have a plan based on the tide, wind, and sea state. Ideally, we are looking for an incoming tide or moving tide, calm winds, and clean swell hitting our coast. The waves create currents when they crash into the coast. Stripers find a rhythm in the breaking waves and capitalize on confused baitfish and other foods. The waves are like music at a party. When the music is playing everyone is dancing and having a great time but when the music stops so does the party. Fishing the coast with calm seas can still be productive but the party really gets jamming when the music is bumpin'.
We'll be looking for structure and current when fishing the rocks. Stripers are lazy and expert eaters, just like most fish. Striped Bass want to hold in water where they can consume the most calories with the least amount of energy output. Our quest will be to find this type of water and present a fly as realistically as possible.
In the early part of the season, stripers will be migrating into our system and also passing by our home waters on their quest for summer habitat. Typically the water will be between 50 and 55 degrees and the stripers will be in pursuit of protein to fill their bellies after a long migration. It's possible to run into a big school migrating north early in the season. These fish are fired up and fresh to our waters. Early season stripers are typically aggressive, and will feed on the surface. During this time of year birds are a great indicator that bass are nearby. Top water feeds are common in the morning and can be really visual and exciting.
As the waters warm to around 60 to 65 degrees we will be getting into mid June, July, and early August. Temps are always subject to change based on currents and weather. Populations of resident stripers call our coast home for the majority of our summers in Maine and NH. These fish are great targets with a fly and they will eat aggressively, depending on the day. Stripers will generally set up and ambush their prey so when they take your fly it can be super exhilarating. These fish fight with great strength in the cool water and it's not uncommon to get into your backing. The chances of a BIG striper increase when fishing the coast. We gear up accordingly with big flies and strong tippet.
Every time I hit the coast in the fall my hopes are high. You have the chance at running into big, hungry, resident stripers but you also have the opportunity to bump into schools of big cows migrating south. It's the combination of these two opportunities that really get my heart pumping. Having a 2 acre school of 40"ers feeding on the surface is about as good as it gets. If you put the time in during the fall, you'll see some incredible things... giant tuna, whales, harbor porpoises and much more.
The weather is always an x-factor in the fall. The stormy season is beginning and everything is changing out there. The seasons begin to shift and the bait, birds, fish, and aquatic mammals all follow suit. When everything lines up, it's magic out there.
So you want to hit the coast?
Whether you are a new angler looking to experience the Maine coast or you are a veteran fly slinger searching for your personal best, there aren't many better ways to spend a day. Tossing flies to the gorgeous granite rocks on the Maine coast is as soothing as it is exhilarating. If you're intrigued, let's get out there and experience this element together. I'm always open to chat, even if you're not going to book a trip right out of the gate. To get your trip booked, click the link below and lock in the best tides for 2018. See you out there!