Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Fishing Stripers on the Penobscot by Steve Vose

To do something a little different, I posted this draft of a story I am currently working on and plan to edit it live. If anyone has any particular direction they would like to see me follow drop me an e-mail. Final edits completed 5/12/08

Adrenaline courses through my veins as once again the time of year approaches when stripped bass begin their annual pilgrimage up Maine’s various tributaries. Typically school size fish are running from mid May till the end of July and offer fantastic fishing. Anglers enjoy good fishing right from shore during the height of the season. A few of my favorite places to go chasing these wily fish are the Kennebec and Penobscot rivers though many other opportunities abound. The town docks in Hallowell and Gardiner (Kennebec) or a short walk south of the public launch on Verona Island (Penobscot) will take you into some great fishing locations. Be cautioned, however, as stripers can be hot and cold and just because fish are biting today does not mean that fish will be there tomorrow. Tides, currents, wind and rain will all contribute to either increase or decrease your chances of catching fish.

Those individuals who are wiling to wet a line in pursuit will be treated to fantastic fishing with a minimal expenditure of money. While you certainly can use light gear and tackle a small investment in a heavy weight pole and reel loaded with 15-20 pound monofilament will greatly increase your chances of landing a sizeable fish should you hook one. Some of the more popular lure choices involve the use of surface poppers, soft plastic sluggos and shads or bottom rigs using bloodworms, clams or bits of mackerel. During the course of the season, it is typical to employ each of these options when appropriate depending on the situation and the buzz at the local bait shop.

Tempted by the chance to land one of these delectable trophies, my brother and I are always willing to employ any legal means necessary to increase our chances of success. During the course of a fishing season, we will employ many and varied techniques to coerce fish into biting. To enforce this point, early last July my brother and I abandoned the luxury of our 16 foot Lund V-Hull and instead embraced the use of small stealthy light weight kayaks to pursue these fish.

Sanity was in question, as we loaded our kayaks and gear into the bed of my brother’s Toyota pick-up and drove to the public landing on Verona Island. Our aggressive plan was to battle the tides and currents of the Penobscot River in the addictive pursuit of slot sized fish. The daytime high was predicted to be in the mid 60s but the suns rays had yet to crest the horizon and a stiff north wind sent a chill running down my spine. Donning our life jackets and packing all of our various fishing equipment, we entered the water and began slowly paddling down the western edge of Verona Island. Once we were able to gain acceptable depth we cast out our 5” pearl colored swim shads and began trolling along the shoreline. It took us a couple of minor bottom snags before we were finally able to develop an acceptable rhythm that allowed the lure to run at an acceptable trolling depth.

With the tidal conditions in our favor we were able to easily traverse the river under the new bridge and paddle up the front face of fort Knox. About this time the sun broke over the horizon and pulling out cameras we started snapping pictures in an attempt to capture the magnificent oranges, vibrant yellows and mellow blues that appeared in that first low morning light. It was breathtaking and so we stopped for a quick break and to check lines. Paddling again up the shore opposite the Bucksport mill I suddenly heard a my brother yell “Fish On!”. Instantly we stated catching school size fish almost as fast as we could reel them in and release them. Between my brother and I we caught 12 fish with my brother landing one 21 inch “legal” slot fish that he also released.

In our utter excitement at catching fish we ignored our plan to paddle back to the landing before the tide turned and the return trip took a supreme effort. Our escape was made even more interesting when I snagged my lure on bottom during our escape and had to frantically cut the 20 pound test line as it spun off my reel at an alarming rate. If I had not thought to keep a knife immediately handy it is likely that all of the line would have been stripped off the reel. As we struggled to return to the landing I began to think that we may have to walk back the shore or ride the Penobscot to Winterport! In the end we did make it back to the landing and though my shoulders were certainly sore from the effort the next day I can guarantee that come next July we will be back in the kayaks touring that fishing the mighty Penobscot.

1 comment:

  1. 1st sentence: I think you mean striped bass rather than "stripped".


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