Anglers hoping to enter the Penobscot River Striped Bass Tournament (June 21-July 26) are wondering if the fish took a wrong turn somewhere. Normally, runs of stripers – “schoolies” for the most part – begin streaming into the Penobscot by the first week in June. This spring, however, there has been no sign of an actual run. Consequently, only a few strays have been caught. Keep in mind, though, stripers don’t spawn in the Penobscot. The fish enter the river only in pursuit of feed.
Naturally, anglers are casting long lines of conjecture regarding the scarcity of stripers. Typically, water temperatures (ocean and river), severe storms, erratic tides and commercial fishing share the blame. But Paul Hopkins, head guide of the Orland Bait Shop, thinks prolonged northerly winds could be the culprit. As a sea-worm digger and bait fisherman whose living depends on knowledge of winds and tides, you have to lend him your ears: “The strong northwest winds we had earlier held back the tides and runs of river herring that stripers home in on,” he said last week. “There’s a lot of brit” – young herring – “showing up now, though, but no stripers … they should be here.” All things considered, let’s hope that the sporty fish are only running late. Recent reports of stripers showing in coastal waters are encouraging, but word is that no substantial runs of schoolies have arrived in mid-coast rivers. Yet, that is. Keep fishing.