Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Conditions are ideal for spring fishing
By DICK PINNEY | May 20. 2017 10:46PM
The Dickster, after many excursions out on the water that were cold and uninviting, finally gained his senses and will wait until no ice forms on my fishing rod's line guides. In fact, we have graduated to the level of, if you can't take your coat off without getting the shivers, we just don't go. And our total catch rate doesn't seem to be that much impacted.
Right now we're waiting for the ideal weather and coastal conditions report to get down to Seabrook and jump on one of Eastman's party boats that have an all-day schedule. We really enjoy party boat fishing as it takes a lot of the care and concerns that trailering and launching our own boat, which really isn't intended for use any distance offshore.
We avoid the half-day trips when going on any of the party boats as they mostly target mackerel and the inshore species, which we can approach with our 16-foot aluminum outboard if we so choose. The all-day trips almost exclusively target the deep-water species such as pollock, cod and haddock, all of which we love to both catch and eat!
To my best knowledge, codfish are not legal to possess at this time in an attempt to rebuild their numbers to the point where limited possessions are allowed.
We always bring two rod and reel setups of our own along, as the rental equipment on the party boats, although workable, is not as sensitive to light-biting fish. And, especially when you are going to be fishing in deep water, with our light line and rod we can pick up the slightest bites, and that adds a lot of success to our bag of great fillets we go home with!
It's not our intent to pick out just the Eastman's boats to write about, as we've had good luck on just about all the commercial party boats that fish out of the Hampton and Seabrook harbors. Eastman's schedules match our preferred timelines, and that seems to be the governing factor in our choice.
Al Gauron's fleet of party boats have provided many great days out to sea for this old salt, as well as have the Yellow Bird party boat. We can sincerely support their longtime success and a quality experience.
Many years of experience fishing offshore have taught the "Old Dickstah" that bringing our own tackle is far more productive than using the boat's rental rigs. The usual party boat rental rod and reels are designed more for durability and being rugged than they are for sensitivity. Most of those bottom feeding fish are "light biters" and the depth of water that you are fishing also acts as a damper.
I love to watch the sensitive end of my rod and set the hook, always trying to decide what species will be coming up from the depths and being successful most of the time.
If I've been attentive to packing the right stuff to take onboard, we'll have an old cloth grain bag or something similar to drop our catch into. The key from then on is to keep them damp and out of the sun. We've learned the hard way that just tossing them into a bucket does nothing to improve their flavor and consistency. A large bucket with chipped ice will work but on a hot day you need to tend to it and get rid of the ice-melt and add more ice, which often is not available when you need it.
We leave the skin on our fillets so we can quickly identify the fish.
We do launch and use our own 16 foot aluminum skiff with a 10-horsepower outboard motor for much of our fishing in saltwater. Our favorite targets are flounder, mackerel and stripers, which for most of the summer season can be found inshore in fairly shallow water.
We often fish for mackerel to use for live or dead bait when fishing for big stripers. Our small boat doesn't have a live well so we have to keep tending to them by bailing fresh saltwater in and out of our bait tank. If we end up with mostly freshly dead mackerel or herring, we've found that by slow trolling them on a couple or three colors of leadcore line with just a hook in their jaw and a 10-foot mono or flouro leader will attract plenty of takes from good sized stripers.
The key is to troll slow and keep your bait in the water as much as possible as these dead fish will get stiff and not life-like if you leave them out of water or in the sun. When we tried this method of striper trolling with fresh-dead bait, we were quite surprised at the amount of action we were experiencing! It seems that trolling puts you over a lot more fish than drifting does with either live or dead bait. Also, trolling gives the stripers a small window of opportunity to grab the bait and is an incentive for them to either take it or leave it.
When we do get a strike when trolling a dead bait, we instantly put our reel in free spool and avoid putting any pressure on the fish. When the momentum of the boat slows down, we put just enough pressure on the line to feel to see if the striper still has taken the bait (they'll often spit it out). If they are there, we set the hook and, if lucky, we'll have a wild and fun time landing the striper.
"Bring a nice fish home for Janie," results in an all-out effort to do just that. You just can't resist her old fashioned home-style cooking!
Drop us an email at DoDuckInn@aol.com and as soon as the shadbush bloom, you can count on stripers being in the rivers and shoreline. Get out there and get you some.
Dick Pinney 's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com