...sung to the tune of "Sunshine" (on my shoulders, makes me happy) by the late John Denver. It's the end of the summer. Kids are returning to school...and stripers are running upstream from the ocean to spawn.
In Maine, there are two excellent rivers for striper fishing. The Kennebec River and the St. Georges River. I've only had the fortune of fishing up the St. Georges once and due to mechanical issues, the trip was cut short. This summer, I'm on vacation in Friendship (as we speak) and I'm hoping to get a last minute charter. My aunt and uncle have a 22 ft Grady White with a 175 Yamaha OB. Fishing equipped with a live well. The boat is being pulled mid-week, so I'm not certain I'll get to fish in it.
Stripers are plentiful in August and September in Maine. Most have run the coast and are returning to the river beds. The fall is truly the best time to striper fish in Maine. Perhaps I'll return later in the fall to charter a boat up the Kennebec or St. Georges...in search of the holy tail.
'Tis the season to be fally. OK, enough with corny early morning puns.
In my opinion, Fall is the best time of the year to fish. Stripers are running up river to spawn but more importantly, it is the crisp crackle in the air that makes the experience envigorating.
When I lived in South Salem, NY, I spent a lot of time fishing Oscaleta Lake. The fall was by far the best time to fish. The light was different. You could see the reflection of the trees on the water and as the water got colder, the fish swam deeper. It is truly my favorite time to fish.
Since I'm partial to beautiful foliage and fishing, there is nothing more refreshing for the soul than a day on the water with leaves abounding in different beautiful colors. Fish are frisky and you just might need a fleece or a sweatshirt.
I grew quite partial to the solo kayak with the fishing rod holder on it (and no, that is not me in the picture holding the huge striped bass). I was able to get out and kayak and when I reached a good spot, I could grab my pole and cast away. I don't know who comes up with these ideas - it's like the cup holder in your car or the Griffin iTrip (which enables you to harness radio waves to trasmit songs off of your iPod). I should have eaten more shrooms in high school.
This week's entry comes a day early as I have plans to venture to the opening of the new LLBean store in South Windsor, CT tomorrow with my sister and her wonderful children. This week's entry is also geared towards the culinary presentation of fish (rather than how to catch it)...can you tell I'm trying to illustrate my malleability?
One of my favorite fish dishes is something I actually came up with on my own. Entitled "Chilean Sea Bass with Garlic Caper Aioli over Spaghetti Squash," it combines ingredients that I enjoy with a fish that is scrumptious. It is also healthy (lo-carb) and in my opinion, is perfect for date night, friends over night or even cooking for family.
The general rule: 10 minutes for each inch of measured thickness. Since sea bass is a relatively thick fish (most cuts are), 20 minutes/450 should do for a piece that is 2" thick. IMHO, there is nothing worse than overcooked fish.
Warm up the aioli a bit in the micro - 45 seconds or so. Be sure to cover it with a paper towel.
Open the spaghetti squash and scrape some off into in a nice wide bowl with a nice piece of fish on top. Stir the aioli and drizzle it on top of the fish and squash.
Serve with a crisp, cold pinot grigio (i.e., ecco domani).
This dish is easy to make and if you fly to Chile, catch it yourself, fly back and serve it to your friends, well, you da bomb. (Swanson's Fish Market in Monroe, CT sells a nice sea bass for those who are realistic and grounded).
Stripers love the summer! Eels in the grass, river deltas teeming with baitfish...stripers love to chase bait, particularly live.
Here are some of the more popular, tasty live baits (for Stripers in Maine, at least):
Mackerel: Early to rise and you're guaranteed to have a full live well. You just have to get out and get them before the seals do!
Eels: Live sand eels make the best bait - but don't set the hook too early. Try the one one-thousand to three and then jerk after feeling the strike. Stripers like to swallow their prey head first - so you must wait to set the hook while they flip it around!
Shad: These guys provide some of the best live baits for catching trophy stripers. Be sure to separate them with a collander container in the live well or other bait fish (like mackerel) will tear them up...or even eat them!
Both mackerel and shad are oily fish - stripers love tasty bait!
Before your expedition, look at the fishing reports. See what's biting. Stripers are tricky...so here are some tips, courtesy of New England Sportsman:
* Fish the out going tide, at night if possible. * Don't fish on weekends, too much boat traffic. * If the wind is blowing, might as well stay at home. * Head up river on the incoming tide. * Head down river on the outgoing tide. * Get the bait down to where the fish are holding. * Sharpen your hooks and bend the barbs down. * No poppers till after July fourth. * Match the lure to the size of the bait fish, small lures can catch big fish. * Fish fast water like tidal rips near structure. * Fish slow water adjacent to fast like eddies, pools and behind breaks. * Fish structure, big fish are lazy and will shield themselves from the current. * Troll with the current, use torpedo sinkers with spoons and surge tubes. * Go often and experiment. * When these suggestions fail, try the complete opposite!
Stripers are a blast to catch! Every state has their own regulations and restrictions. For example, in Maine, stripers must be between 20" and 26" in length or greater than 40". These regulations exist with regard to spawning and population concerns.
If your catch is within angling regulations (e.g., it is a "keeper"), try gutting the fish, butterflying it, stuffing it with crabmeat stuffing, baking, and serving it to your friends with a big salad and a chilled bottle of pinot gris (or even a nice ale). Yum.
Your friends will be impressed to dine on wild caught striped bass - the sale of which is illegal (except in MA in NY).