It's that time of the year when the striped bass fishing spreads out a bit. They can be found well upstream in the Piscataqua River, Little Bay and Great Bay, as well as some of the other rivers that are tidal and connected to the Great Bay flow such as the Winnicut, Saco, Lamprey and Cocheco, as well as the smaller streams that feed these rivers.
Fishing by boat, it's my goal to be as stealthy as we can be to not spook any of these fish off their structure. We'll often anchor up-tide of these river mouths and let our baits or lures drop back with the tide and try to entice any fish there to jump on my line. If we don't get a hit right off the bat, we'll try casting up into the river and if there is enough tidal flow, we'll sneak our boat up into the currents and cast to likely hiding spots.
If these attempts don't work, we'll usually then try fishing below the big bridges that cross over the Piscataqua, and the Little and Great Bay by either anchoring in the backwater or drifting by and casting our lures or bait into those backwater hides where stripers or bluefish love to take refuge. Here, stealth is very important, so be very careful if you drop an anchor over to avoid making any unnecessary noise or disturbances.
If there are fish there and you didn't scare them, a quick hit is usually the result of your stealthy approach, which can connect you to the striper of your lifetime or a big bluefish.
Why do we say "striper of your lifetime?" It's because the larger stripers and even bluefish are well aware of conserving their strength and will use any in-water structure to mitigate the currents and save their energy.
We don't spend much time at each likely looking spot we fish as past experience has shown us that if a fish is there and we didn't spook it from our actions, they are more than likely to grab that bait almost the instant it hits the water.
When we're lucky enough to have a few live baits in our tank, we'll usually make a drift with them on our lines, just kind of guiding their drift pattern with judicious use of our motor but we try to be as stealthy as we can. Usually, if this method doesn't provide a hit, we'll move to a new location, leaving our live bait still hooked up but enjoying the ride in the cool and oxygenated bait tank water.
These structure-oriented fish will move around quite a bit, so if you try a spot that doesn't work the first time, go back to it after a quarter hour of letting that spot rest. And keep working those spots behind the scattered dock and bridge structure and you should eventually run into some good fish.
Stripers as well as other large predator fish move from structure to structure so don't be discouraged if you don't find fish behind every bridge, rock or dock pilings. It's where they eventually will spend their time so patience is a virtue.
Don't just take it from the Dickster. 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.