By Andy Spark
If my first week of Maine striper fishing is any indication of the rest of the summer, then life is going to be good this summer.........if you fish in Maine. After a tarpon trip to Florida the second weekend in May with son Ben, friend Jon Campbell and brother David Sparks (see post here) and a graduation weekend (congrats Sarah!) I finally got to hit the beach on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.
As often is the case, first impressions are not always correct. The wind was blowing hard from the east. Waves had built up on themselves and high tide created a washing machine with seaweed. The wind and the seaweed might have been fortuitous. Forced to put on a lure that could cast into the wind and avoid the seaweed as much as possible -- yes, I am the spin fisherman in the family -- I settled on a 5" sand eel imitation from Tsunami. I was fishing with my lightweight L.L. Bean 8' rod and 12 lb braid on a small Shimano Sedona reel.
A few casts later the first fish of the year was caught. An 18" striper. Not bad for some crummy conditions.
The second fish was a 29" striper. The drag squealed and the rod bent hard. The next two fish of the day were 22" and 24" stripers that fought and looked like linebackers. Broad shoulders and a lot of energy. A great start to the season in conditions that I had little expectation would result in such a good day. The linebackers stayed around for the next two days all on the sand eel, but by midweek, the young schoolies moved onto the beach chasing sand eels.
For the rest of the week (and I am not complaining), the schoolies have ruled. I caught fish every day that I went to the beach to fish. For purposes of public perception, I won't mention the number of days that was. The schoolies were all hitting small sand eel imitations in natural colors or white. All the fishing was done around the high tide and into the drop from an hour to 2 hours at a time. Tallies ranged from 10 to 4 fish each trip. I am hoping the larger fish stay around and push some schoolies to the side so I can catch some more of those. It also might be that I can't stand giving up on a bunch of 18" fish hitting regularly to switch lures or move off of a school to try to find the 25" fish. Such problems!
After such a great start, I am already thinking of the dog days of summer, fishing some warm nights with a 9" black Hogy pretending to be an eel, but I am trying not to get ahead of myself. We had some friends down to the beach, and they got into some fish with their kids.
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