September 29, 2010
Rod-bending schoolies and big cow stripers are moving into New England coastal waters this month. Here's a look at how you can get in on the action from shore or boat.
By John Gribb
June is prime time for striper fishing along the New England coast. The warming water teems with activity as huge schools of smaller bass and smaller pods of monstrous fish chase baitfish up tidal rivers, gorging themselves along the way. With forage fish so concentrated and focused on their rites of spring, it's easy pickings for bass until the spawning period ends. Every fisherman can expect strong fish that will strain the capacity of light tackle, while those who can locate the big fish have their easiest chance of the year for landing keepers.
NEW HAMPSHIRE New Hampshire's short coastline holds lots of fish. The area where the Spaulding Turnpike crosses the Piscataquis River is the entrance to Great Bay. Boaters can launch at the Hilton Park landing on Dover Point, Exit 5 off Interstate Route 95, and they can motor around the corner into Little Bay, which feeds into Great Bay.
Rather than run the length of the bays in small boats, many anglers opt for one of several landings in the back portion of Great Bay. The all-tides Chapman's Landing access off Route 108 near Newfields is probably the best bet.
In the upper bay, try working around the mouths of the small tributaries and pilings of the railroad bridge. The Squamscott River mouth up-current from the landing is also good, as are the areas around Pierce Point and the Lamprey River.
The best bait in early June is fresh or imitation herring because these are what the big bass will be chasing into the upper reaches of the river and bays. Later, live or chunk mackerel is great bait for big stripers. Fly-casters do extremely well with deceivers and Clousers on schoolies and keeper fish.
New Hampshire does not require a fishing license in salt water. There is a one-fish, 28-inch size limit for stripers. More information is available from New Hampshire's Marine Fisheries Division (603/271-3211).
Photo by Ron Sinfelt
MASSACHUSETTS June in the Bay State begins with almost unlimited numbers of school-sized stripers filling the Merrimack River and ends with hundreds of keeper bass in the channel and flats near the river's mouth.
Merrimack River and Joppa Flats
The water around the river islands is a good place to start in June. Near high tide, drift or anchor below the chain bridge on the north side of Deer Island and, as the tide slowly begins heading out, drift with it along the north shoreline, casting into eddy water or small rips. Drift by the north side of Carr Island, and then through the cut between Carr and Ram islands toward the main channel. The shallow area on Ram's south side often holds fish when it is flooded.
Joppa Flats is alive with stripers in June and can be productively fished by wading or by boat with flies, lures or bait. Wading anglers entering along the seawall on Newburyport's Water Street often work the low portions of the tide with good success until the big bass return from upriver, normally in mid-June. From this time until the end of the season, Joppa is best fished during high tide because depths of 5 to 6 feet seem to hold the biggest fish. The feeding activity can occur during a rising or falling tide, but the fish move out when the water drops below 3 feet.
Some good spots include the large flat behind Woodbridge Island, between Woodbridge and Seal islands during the outgoing tide, near the party-boat docks on Plum Island Point and inside the Badgers' Rocks area at midtide. Also, try inside the green can, No. C-11, on the midtide to outgoing tide, where the falling tide creates a strong current and eddy.
Boaters can launch at the Cashman public landing on Merrimac Street along the river, about 1/4 mile west of the Route 1 bridge.
South Shore, Boston Drew Kolek, fisheries biologist for the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, suggests the old standby Cape Cod Canal for walk-in anglers south of Boston. Shore access is great all along Route 6 on the north side. There are plenty of parking areas. Kolek rates Herring Run as one of the best fishing spots, with parking available in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lot. Big bass will be chasing spawning herring into the river tributaries in June, so that is the bait of choice.
Boat anglers should try launching at the Dartmouth town landing in the village of Padamaran. The landing provides access to Apponagansett Bay, which, like most other coastal bays, holds schoolies in June. Anglers looking for keepers often motor offshore to the Elizabeth Islands and troll lures through the gaps or holes between the islands or work the Vineyard Sound shorelines with chunk or live herring.
Biologist Kolek also recommends Quick's Hole and Robinson's Hole.
A saltwater fishing guide listing public access ramps, tackle shops, charter boats and other saltwater fishing information is available from MassWildlife's Division of Marine Fisheries (508/563-1779). Massachusetts had a one-fish, 28-inch minimum length limit and does not require a license for salt water.
RHODE ISLAND A drive along Route 1 and 1A from Jerusalem to Watch Hill puts walk-in anglers close to some of the best big bass fishing in Rhode Island.
Naji Lazar, supervising biologist for Rhode Island's Marine Fisheries Division, said that the hotspots for big bass in June last year were along this section. The Charlestown Breachway was very productive with cast poppers and lures, while at Watch Hill, bait was the key, and live eels were especially productive for big fish. Both of these shoreline areas offer easy access and parking availablity.
For boating anglers, the bays and rivers hold plenty of smaller stripers all season. The big fish will move in and out of the estuaries and rivers if the pogies show up.
There are several boating access points along the south shore of Narragansett Bay, but a popular access point with plenty of free parking is the public ramp at Galilee. From Route 1, take Old Point Judith Road (Route 108) to Galilee Road.
Boating anglers will find more action along the rocky points and riprap of Point Judith and Point Judith Harbor. Action is also good on the outside of the center wall section that protects the Refuge Harbor and, on outgoing tides, near the outflow from Point Judith Pond.
Biologist Lazar also suggested a visit to Deep Hole off Matunuck Beach, Snug Harbor and, for anglers with larger boats, a trip to Block Island.
Rhode Island's bag limit is two fish over 28 inches, and a license is not required. Additional information is available from Rhode Island's Marine Fisheries Division at (401) 789-3094 or (401) 294-4524.
CONNECTICUT Connecticut has a long coastline filled with deep-water possibilities for stripers, but Connecticut marine fisheries biologist Dave Molnar suggested some shallow-water hotspots that small-boat anglers can easily fish.
In the Thames River, anglers will find solid action in the Norwich-to- Montville stretch. This area is best fished during the three hours on either side of low tide. Light-tackle casters should try various plastic trailers on jigheads. Molnar said the Fin-S fish in rainbow color was particularly hot last year. Fly-casters have best luck with subdued browns and olives in either deceivers or Clousers. Free landings in Norwich, at the Route 82/32 junction and on Dock Road in Uncasville will put boaters into the action.
In the lower Connecticut River, Molnar suggested launching at the Baldwin Bridge state boat facility under I-95 in Old Saybrook. The Great Island area is popular with plug casters who are throwing poppers, Rapalas and Rebels, as well as soft plastics.
Biologist Molnar was very enthusiastic about the Housatonic River from Derby to Stratford for hot spring striper action. There is a good launch area on Naugatuck Avenue under the I-95 bridge in Devon.
Connecticut has adopted a slot limit that allows anglers to harvest one fish from 12 to 24 inches and one trophy striper over 41 inches.
Anglers may request a free coastal access guide and map by calling (860) 424-3034.
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