Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: This month is when the big fish are outBy DICK PINNEY June 23. 2018 11:48PM
This is the month that the real big stripers usually appear, as there's normally a flush of baitfish - herring, small mackerel, eel and other goodies that the stripers love - come into the Piscataqua River and Little Bay and Great Bay.
First we have to clear up the naming and use of the words - Great Bay as pertaining to striped bass and other tidal fish. People have used the Great Bay name with a broad swipe of the brush but, truth be told, only a few spots in "Great Bay" serve as a major hot spot for catching stripers or other game fish.
Stripers love structure that they can hide in or behind, facing the incoming or outgoing tides. Stripers love to ambush the baitfish as they are swept in or out of the Piscataqua and its smaller tributaries and are seldom feeding on schools of baitfish that are suspended over level bottom. Only when a school of baitfish is located over rocks or some kind of cover will the stripers really school up and pound on those very unfortunate baitfish.
So the most proficient striper fishermen who fish our local waters are well aware of all the potential hiding spots for the stripers to gather and feed, so it's more of a hunt and hitting these spots than just trolling baits or lures or drifting around willy-nilly.
The legendary "old-timer" striper anglers have all of these spots memorized and seldom do they get a chance to add or subtract "good striper-bottom" from their plan of attack.
But it's more than that. Each one of those striper hot spots has been named by the productive and best fishermen and usually by a name that has been allocated to those little hot spots that has been passed on by generations.
Sometimes they are named with a family name whose property is on the shoreline off these hot spots - like "Emory", "Garlands", or "Pierce's" or "Adam's" Points. Those so-called "old-timers" knew that stripers and often bluefish love to hang behind some kind of bottom structure and ambush the baitfish as the currents sweep these unknowing little fish into disaster.
These hiding places are the little but very important pieces of information that separate the "men from the boys!" As stripers are very, very dependent on these feeding places to be able to hide behind bottom structure, that makes it easier to keep in the feeding lanes but out of the strong pull of the main currents.
We used to be so frustrated watching these old-time striper guys pounding on big stripers, not realizing that they were using a time proven method of ambushing the bigger bass.
It wasn't until one day when a small group of regulars were pounding on some big stripers that we were so frustrated in not being able to catch! Finally, because our inept approach to this was "putting the big stripers down," we were shown what we were doing wrong and got a scolding for doing it.
Ralph Garland, an old-time customer of my dad's corner grocery store, couldn't stand me ruining everyone's striper fishing by trolling right over them and ordered me ashore and explained how to do it, and told me to follow him and do what he was doing when he was doing it! That approach was an instant success and in that short half-hour of going to "striper-catching-school" a new deadly threat to Great Bay's striper population was born!
Actually, we are painting the striper grounds too broadly. The best fishing was not and still is not in Great Bay itself. It's in the Piscataqua River and Little Bay. And briefly we'll pass the word on how to catch them and not scare them away. Do not troll or drift directly through or over a school of feeding stripers!
You need to stealthily get up-tide of the fish and drift or troll so that your boat doesn't pass over the fish but your bait or lure does. Once you get this down you'll see your striper catch improve considerably.
Give a little thanks to the spirit of Ralph Garland and all those old-timer striper fishermen that developed those very productive methods. And drop us an email at DoDuckInn@aol.com and stay in touch.
Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.