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Florida to Maine Trip – Freshwater to Saltwater (Part 2 of 3)

Beautiful schoolie striper caught near submerged grass.

Going after freshwater fish such as feisty northern smallmouth bass and vicious pickerel always make for a fun day. But after getting our fill and camping out under the stars for the night near Silver Lake, we headed down to the saltwater coast near Saco, Maine, visiting the grounds we used to fish over a decade ago. Even before arriving near our spot, the smell of the saltwater air and bog immediately brought back the memories of ol’, and the excitement grew as we got closer, seeing familiar sights along the way.

The bridge that was stuck in our memories. What a great time!

Finally we saw a small bridge approaching that used to be accessible by vehicle, but had been closed down to only allow for pedestrian traffic, such as bikers, joggers, dog walkers and sight see-ers. This was our clue that our turn was coming up and time to hit the saltwater! If you have never fished the saltwater estuaries in Maine, be prepared for some fast moving water, as I could literally watch the water raise and lower in front of my eyes as it would rush with the changing tide. You really need to plan out your trip, as I have seen vehicles get stuck on an island as they did not account for the rising tide, usually a 6-12 foot swing in only a 6 hour period.

Unloading our gear and kayaks from the trailer, the simplicity of being able to launch from an embankment just off the road is one of the perks of using a kayak for fishing – with just a short paddle we were in the area we planned on fishing. If you plan the tide right like we did, you really don’t even need to paddle as the fast moving water allows you to drift right along the estuary embankments, only a short stroke was needed to keep us pointed in the right direction in order to make a cast.

Before/After pic of the tide in Maine, less than 6 hours later.

I usually love to throw a topwater plug first-in order to cover a lot of ground quickly to see where the fish may be at and also to get that blast on the water that any angler loves to see. My luck was going because the schoolie stripers were hungry at the surface, getting the first strike and in the boat. My first striper in over 10 years! Even though they were small I wasn’t complaining, just being there was enough – and having them bite was the cherry on top. It was a low tide and they were hitting next to the water’s edge where it was only a foot deep, but quickly tapering off to a drop-off of about 3-4 feet.

Topwater bite was on!

After a few being caught in that area I decided to keep drifting further down the estuary, taking in the sights, although there was no more action from the schoolies that day. With the tide changing to incoming, we were able to drift back to the vehicle and were ready to head in to our campsite for some much needed campfire food. But first, with it being low tide and before the sun went down, we made our way over to an area of mud bogs that held striper candy, barried roughly a foot or two under. Bringing the pitch fork along with us and a bucket, the goal was to get enough striper food for dad to use the following morning, which is found in long and slender centipede looking sand worms, that have a set of pinchers that can come out as defense and give a nice little bite to its enemy. Yes I’m a wimp, even though I don’t mind pain that much, for as long as I’ve fished with dad and have dug thousands of worms for him, I have never been bit to this day. Sometimes he will let a couple roam in his hand, biting away, and I squirm just thinking about it.

Did down on a low tide for some easy fresh bait.

The centipede looking sandworm. Watch out, they bite!

After a night’s rest in the tent, we headed out to Pine Point in Scarborough, another spot we used to love fishing at. Hitting the high tide just right, we were able to paddle and float over some mud flats near submerged and protruding grass, thinking the stripers would act like redfish as they do in Jacksonville, FL, and push up to feed on crustaceans and the like – we were right.

My father quickly got some hits on the topwater as he saw me the prior day cleaning house with it and tied one on. I think we counted at least eight to ten blow-ups at it on the same cast, definitely in feeding mode, but none would commit enough to getting hooked. Seeing this I tied on a clear plastic shrimp,  as the water was clean and it would slowly sink, allowing for the stripers to slurp it up on the way down or after a quick twitch – basically the same method we use in Florida for a variety of species. Immediately I hook up to a linesider and look over at dad and just smile, meanwhile he is getting hit after hit on the topwater, but with still no hookups. In a matter of minutes I had landed five of the schoolies, and at this point kind of feeling bad for dad. Even though I offered to give him one of my secret baits he still refused, we know we’ve all been there! As rain pushed in and the water sunk, it was time to get some lunch and head in to a take-out restaurant on the water.

Just like Florida, the fish couldn't resist the shrimp. Caught on a 1/4oz H&H Lure.

Dad's preferred bait was a glob of fresh drifting sandworms.

We ended up fishing the same area later in the day, but couldn’t get back in to the flooded area we had such good luck in and drifted around the bay. My father ended up getting a few stripers, drifting the sand worms near the mouths of the draining estuary streams but my luck had come to an end for that day. Sitting over the campfire and reminiscing about the days catches, we were having the time of our lives being back in the area. Getting some shut eye, we couldn’t wait for the next day, to go after some bigger stripers, or pimpfish and rockfish as they call them along the beautiful Maine bay coastlines. Tune back in for the next write-up!

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