Atlantic mackerel aren’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. But for someone who only gets to fish for them once a year (sometimes less) it’s something to look forward to. This time the fish were fairly plentiful and they were running bigger than what I’m used to.
Conditions the week of August 6th were good in Downeast Maine. Sunny skies, wind light to none. Overcast would arguably have been better, but sun is okay so long as you’ve got eye protection (I did). The diamond jig continued to produce well, with 1/3 oz being ideal. I used a sabiki rig for the first time and can readily understand why they are so popular. Lots of average size mackerel were caught, along with several sizable fish landed and a few that were pushing up on maximum size.
The kids had fun in spite of fishing from a floating dock in windy conditions with lots of waves. I don’t think they believed at first that we’d catch anything but once we got into fish hookups were nearly every cast. Ella developed a technique of removing a fish from the hook without touching it- simply haul the fish out of the water and hold it over the tote bin we were putting fish in and wait for it to flop off on it’s own. I lost a nice fish that may have been the biggest of the trip. I got a good look at it and it was likely 16 inches or bigger. It is remarkable how hard a large mackerel fights. I honestly think they pull harder than a trout of comparable size and, although they don’t make long runs, they are fast! I was by no means over-equipped with a 6’6″ medium action spinning rod with 6 lb line and would have preferred 8 lb.
We had several days calm enough to fish in the canoe close to shore and met with good results. Floating weeds were a nuisance but with accurate casting could usually be avoided.
I tried fishing from shore and was surprised to find that it worked fairly well. The only difficulty was remembering to move back as the tide came in. Larger fish, when hooked, did what they always do and headed for rocks, weeds and any other cover they could find but I didn’t loose any to such hazards. It was a good time for sure and I’m glad the kids got to have the experience. My only regret is that I didn’t use a fly rod!
Usually the West Branch Ausable fishes well no matter what time of the season. The weekend after the Fourth of July, however, proved to be an exception this time around. To be fair, I only fished the morning of Friday the 6th so it could have simply been that instance that was off. But the water was low, perhaps lower than I have ever seen it. Thursday night’s promise of thunderstorms and significant rain never materialized. It rained but only moderately and not for very long. Even at 7:30am when the sky was still overcast and water dripped from the trees, the water felt like a warm bath rather than a trout stream.
I parked at Monument falls, one of my favorite spots. I fished the deep, slow pools and bends, almost exclusively with streamers and a sinking line. This is usually a sure method of catching many trout, particularly in this stretch of water. I got a total of two strikes, both of which were small fish. I saw three or four rises. The only other noteworthy occurrence was a good sized brown, probably 16 inches, that ambled out from the bank and into the current as I peered down from a large boulder.
As unproductive as it was, I had the stream to myself and had fun. I got to fish some water I hadn’t tried in at least a year and had to really think things over and work for the fish I got. If nothing else, it was Friday, a day I’d normally be at work!
I put in a few hours this morning, 6/2/18 on the New York section of the Battenkill. I parked at the large, well maintained pull off/rest stop along Route 313, a very short distance from the Vermont border. The water here is fairly deep and fast moving, making just about any fishing method viable. I didn’t have much luck with only one hook up. It was a small fish that took a large wool sculpin fly fished on a sinking line. As for hatches, small yellow caddis flies were sporadic but present. If there were fish rising, I never saw them. Skies were overcast but temperatures were pleasant and I encountered only one other person, making for an enjoyable morning.
This spot marks the boundary between the special regulations section in New York and the Vermont regulations section, with the official boundary just upstream from the parking lot. In the “Special Trout Fishing Area” in New York, fishing is permitted all year, artificials only and catch and release only. It’s some great water, but if you are going to fish it pay close attention to which state you are in or buy a license for both New York and Vermont.