Merrimack River Fishing Reports, Plum Island area,, Newburyport MA. > Will the stripers ever arrive?


19 Apr 2014

 Will the water ever warm up!

This winter will never end!

I want to go fishing!

These are the things going through all of our minds and I have been silent because I have had nothing constructive to say. Well, while I wait for it to warm up enough to go outside & get a little work done, here is what I have been researching.

 You cannot control the weather, but you can track it!

 On 4-17-04 the sea surface temperature chart (SST) looked like this.

SST chart

 The water temps were 5 Celsius (41 Fahrenheit) from Cape Cod to north of Portland Maine.

[10 Celsius (50 degrees) is an optimal temp for happy, active stripers]

The SST Chart from 4-17-14 looked like this.

SST Chart 4-17-14

 While the water is again 5C just off the beach it is warmer farther east and look at the warm pool of water south of Cape Cod! Another fact is that the water temps have actually dropped a degree or two over the past few days due to record cold overnight temperatures.

 I'm not writing this to depress anyone so here is some positive information.

1. There were river herring reported in the Essex/ Ipswich area on 4-6-14.

2. The first river herring was counted at the Central Street fish ladder in Byfield on Sunday April 13, 2014.

3. There are whales currently feeding on Stellwagon Bank and Jeffery's Ledge. Whales feed on the same fish that striped bass do so this is a good indicator for bass migration.

4. Mackerel are offshore now and likely have been most of the winter!

 There are two prevailing theories to Striped Bass migration. One is that they follow the bait along the coastline. This is why anglers find fish off the beaches and breach ways from New Jersey to Rhode Island and finally Massachusetts. The second thought is that the bass follow the bait "offshore" and turn west to the beaches and rivers where they have found good foraging in the past. I think that both theories are correct. (As an aside, I believe stripers have historical routes. I used to do a lot of tagging and many times I would get a tag return from a fish that was recaptured in almost the same spot, close to the same date, a year later!)

 To further support my theory of offshore to river migration, mackerel travel out in deeper water and I first catch them off Speckled Apron, then Hampton Shoal Ledge and finally Breaking Rock. Or 4 miles out, then 2 miles out & then 300 yards off the beach. By the time the mackerel are off Hampton Shoal Ledge, we are catching keeper Stripers! Just a thought.....

 Last year it was warmer than this and 2 years ago it was extremely warm. I caught schoolies in mid May and my first keeper on May 17, 2013. Going back to my original premise that you cannot change the weather but you can track it, here are a few interesting facts.

1. 5-14-04  I caguht first schoolies of the year

5-20-04  First mackerel

5-27-04  First keeper bass which also was the earliest I had caught a keeper.

 I KNOW that there where "keepers" caught earlier, just not by me! Frankly I do not kill myself tring to catch the very first bass of the year. I just need to catch one before my buddy Pete!

 Now the interesting facts.

1. 5-15-13 First schoolies

2. 5-17-13 First keeper

5-21-13 First mackerel.

 There does not seem to be a huge difference in catch results in that 10 year time span. So Cheer Up! The Stripers will come and though they may be a week later than last season, they should be here in some numbers in a month!!

Good fishing

Capt Scott

Fishing Newburyport

Contact Captain Scott Maguire via:

E-mail: captscottmaguire@comcast.net

 Telephone: 978-465-2307

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