spring

Alewives are here and running!

It's that time of year when the anticipation of spring becomes almost unbearable. I've seen them in the talons of ospreys for a week and known that they have been staging in the mouth of some rivers (probably waiting for the water temperature to be right), gotten calls about coves full of fish, but today I finally saw some photographic evidence of the fish starting to run upstream in to fresh water in a Midcoast Maine pond. The stripers will be here any time now!

Dip netting for lobster bait. Gerry Mortin photo from Facebook.

Dip netting for lobster bait. Gerry Mortin photo from Facebook.

Shakedown Cruise 2018

After her long slumber in the driveway and some routine springtime maintenance (light gel coating, some painting, water pump impeller replacement, etc.), last Friday was finally the time to take the F/V Sarah Jeanne out for her shakedown cruise. Launching at the Eastern Prom in Portland just after sunrise, the water was like glass and it finally started to look like summer around here.

Looking east across the smooth waters, only disrupted by three Long-tail ducks that haven't left yet for their nesting grounds in the Canadian tundra. The ducks overwinter in Casco Bay and we ended up seeing hundreds of them on our boat ride.

Looking east across the smooth waters, only disrupted by three Long-tail ducks that haven't left yet for their nesting grounds in the Canadian tundra. The ducks overwinter in Casco Bay and we ended up seeing hundreds of them on our boat ride.

The namesake of the vessel making sure we'd have great picutres to share.

The namesake of the vessel making sure we'd have great picutres to share.

Eye of Sauron peaking over the breakwater but still hiding behind a cloud.

Eye of Sauron peaking over the breakwater but still hiding behind a cloud.

We poked out towards the islands to open up the throttle and clear our any gunk in the carburetors and feel the salt air. It's pretty special to be out on the bay this time of year with no other boats around and no lobster gear/buoys in the water. It truly feels like a different place.

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Ostensibly the point of a shakedown cruise is the make sure all the electrical systems, bilge pumps work, outboard is happy, and so on, but of course there was an ulterior motive... I've been noticing ospreys around for other a week now and seen the cormorants particularly active up the Presumpscot Estuary and figured river herring must be starting to show up. Although still a little early for stripers, I thought it might be fun to break out the fly rods and stretch out the lines a little. As we slowly scooted up the river with the tide, we actually started to mark a few fish here and there on the sounder.  

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The small chevrons probably indicated alewives so we tried with pink Crazy Charlies and limbered up our casting arms. After a few weeks of trout fishing, 9 wt shooting heads take a little effort to get used to again!

Little fella hangin' out with the big boys. Crazy Charlies are both fun to tie and great to fish in Maine for smaller predators like herring, mackerel, and pollock that would never pass up a shrimp or amphipod that happened to swim by.

Little fella hangin' out with the big boys. Crazy Charlies are both fun to tie and great to fish in Maine for smaller predators like herring, mackerel, and pollock that would never pass up a shrimp or amphipod that happened to swim by.

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Although one of the ospreys we watched had a fish (sorry, a bit tough to capture that with a phone camera!), we ourselves didn't catch any. Nonetheless, it was a fun morning and great start to the 2018 season. With water temperatures between 46 and 49 and herring in the river, the stripers will be here in no time and we'll be here waiting for them!

Opening Day 2018

April 1 is the traditional opening day for trout fishing in Maine. It's no coincidence that it's also April Fools Day--no many non-fishermen understand why you'd go stand in a half-frozen body of water searching for fish that often seem like they are hibernating. With ice and snow, not to mention near freezing water temps, the excitement of opening day is enough. Opening day is about getting outside, remembering how to cast a fly rod, and basking the gloriousness of fishing season finally arriving. Much how I approach all of my fishing, catching fish is secondary.

With the late winter weather we've been having (it's snowing while I'm typing this!) we headed to a small pond that we know holds wild fish and hoped that the ice was out. As luck would have it, this pond happened to be the first one I've seen ice free in 2018.

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Spotting the pond through the tangle of alders led us to the next surprise of the day. Evidently, a beaver had moved in since the last time any of us had been there and raised the pond about 2 feet and doubled the size of the pond. Next time we come, we'll definitely be bringing the float tubes.

A few midges skirted across the cold, dark, tannic water but wet flies and tiny streamers were the place to start. After a few casts with a royal coachman I had the first hit of the year--I promptly strip set (too used to striper fishing!) and yanked the fly right out from the little guy's mouth. Nonetheless, over the next hour or so all three of us landed a dozen or so healthy brookies (and didn't lose too many flies to the flooded alders). A morning with good friends, eager (but still not foolish) wild brook trout, a "new" old pond to explore, it was the perfect Opening Day. Let's hope it bodes well for the rest of the season!

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Two April Fools on a blustery, but fishy, day.

Two April Fools on a blustery, but fishy, day.

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