FISHING FOR STRIPER
FISHING FOR STRIPER ON BAILEY ISLAND
MY MAINE by Brian Smith
“I love to fish. Primarily for trout and salmon in northern Maine in the late spring and early autumn. But in the summer months, I turn to striper fishing along the coast. Primarily on Bailey Island, off the rocks in front of Jaquish House and The Gills.
Starting in early June the stripers move north along the Maine coast. Fishing from the rocks can be very good. The fish often move in schools so if you catch one you may very well catch several more in short order.
The best time is early morning or late in the day as the light starts to fade. I choose my days carefully. A strong wind from the water can make it difficult to cast and rolling swells can make it hazardous to fish from the rocks. A calm day with smooth seas is the most relaxing.
The easiest method of fishing is with a spinning rod with at least 12 pound or heavier line. My favorite lure is called a “SLUGO”. Generally about 6 or 7 inches long and silver in color. Johnson Sporting Supply, just east of Cooks Corner in Brunswick sells them and can show you how to rig the hook.
Standing on a non-slippery spot next to the water cast your SLUGO either out into the deep water or just along the rocky shore. Once it hits the water it will sink just a bit. Twitch the lure back to you in a series of short twitches and pauses, You are trying to make the lure look like an injured bait fish that can no longer swim well.
The striper will hit hard and pretty much hook itself. But give a good jerk when they hit to set the hook. You will most likely be able to slide the fish up on the rocks in front of you to unhook and release it. Only the really large stripers can be kept. Check local regulations to see what that size is. Generally, it’s a fish near 30” or so but I almost never keep one so I’m not sure. They are pretty good eating if you do decide to keep one.
"The stripers hit hard and will nearly jerk the rod from your hands..."
After I have prospected with my spinning rod, I often switch to my fly rod and fish with flies. You do not need to be able to cast far out as the fish are often close in along the rocks. If the wind is off the water I generally stay with my spinning gear. If it is calm and you can cast out or along the shore, the fishing can be spectacular.
I generally use a floating or neutral density line. A size 7 or heavier rod and line are required. A larger heavier rig makes it a lot easier to cast large striper flies. My go-to fly is a chartreuse “Clouser Minnow”. Johnsons Sporting Shop, mentioned above will also have clouser flies. L.L.Bean in Freeport also has a good assortment of striper flies and gear.
Cast the fly along the rocks or out toward deep water. Strip it in in a series of short jerks as you retrieve it. The stripers hit hard and will nearly jerk the rod from your hand. You will need a leader of at least 12 pound test or heavier. Another good fly pattern is called a “guitar minnow”. It is basically a white clouser with a red throat.
The fish you will catch are generally between 17 inches and about 26 inches. However, much larger fish are caught, up to 40 inches or so. Do not be discouraged if you give it a try and have no luck. The fish move around and if you try again in a few hours or the next day, there may be all kinds of fish.
Generally, the really large fish are caught after sunset, often with bait. The people at Johnson’s Sporting shop can help you out with bait.
With a little luck, you may have some very memorable fishing in a truly spectacular setting. I have not yet tried fishing from the “Red House” on the west side of the island, but I expect that the fishing may be good there as well.