Limited number of striped bass starting to appear in Brewer

Posted July 02, 2010, at 7:53 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:26 p.m.

For the past several weeks I’ve talked to avid fishermen, monitored saltwater message boards and made regular drive-by surveys of a couple of spots that have traditionally drawn shore anglers interested in catching a striped bass or two.

The question I wanted answered: Are the stripers coming back to the Penobscot this year?

Time was, two or three years ago, you’d have a hard time finding a place to park at one of those hotspots, which is located on Route 15 in South Brewer.

After a couple of years when stripers have been hard to find, things have changed, and until Thursday, I hadn’t seen a single striper angler on the shores of the Penobscot during my twice-a-week forays afield.

Now, it appears that times are changing. On Thursday, a pair of anglers were in that South Brewer park, tossing lures or dunking blood worms.

Also on Thursday, I received an e-mail report that was moderately encouraging.

Toby Martin, a master Maine guide who has been fishing the Penobscot for stripers, checked in with a report that may send anglers scurrying to the banks of our storied home river.

“They are in, but only in small numbers,” Martin wrote. “Up until June 30 I [hadn’t] been able to hook any, [but] we launched at the North Brewer boat ramp and fished for two hours [and] landed four. Two were under 20 inches, one was 24 and the big boy was 33 inches and 14 pounds. That’s the largest striper I’ve taken on the river ever, and that’s 30-plus years of fishing.”

Martin said that catching a few stripers was encouraging after the fish were virtually nonexistent in the Penobscot recently.

“The last two years we were skunked, none showed up,” Martin wrote. “I’m reluctant to reveal exactly where we landed them, but I think [it] is safe to say anywhere on the river would be good if you can find where the current rips around ledges and rocks.”

Now, before you start thinking that I’m poaching the hard-earned knowledge of a hard-working guide, let me assure you that’s not the case.

The river is big, after all. There’s plenty of room for all of us (especially if we avoid the obviously popular shore locations).

“Feel free to use this info any way you wish,” Martin concluded.

Thanks to Martin for the report. Here’s hoping you and yours can put some of that information to good use on this holiday weekend.

Have fun, and be careful.

Bear study update

A couple weeks ago, I took you along on a trip with Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife biologist Randy Cross as he live-trapped black bears as part of the state’s long-running bear research project.

The DIF&W snares bears during the spring and early summer, hoping to catch new females and fit them with radio collars. Those females then become part of the study group, and Cross and his colleagues visit female bears in their dens for more study during the winter months.

Male bears are tagged for identification purposes and weighed, and hair samples are taken for genetic or physiochemical analyses.

Earlier this week I received an e-mail from Cross, who passed along a summary of the 2010 trapping season.

I’ve had a lot of feedback after the original story and thought readers might appreciate an update on the work Cross and his colleagues recently completed.

Cross explained that the crew began tending snares on May 13 and continued for 43 straight days, until June 24.

“We set up traps at 92 sites, 46 in Township 35 (46 captures), 27 in Township 36 (30 captures), seven in Township 41 (six captures), 10 in Township 42 (13 captures) and two in Township 29 (four captures),” Cross wrote.

The crew accumulated 3,434 snare-nights during the trapping season, meaning it took a total of 34.7 snare-nights for each single capture.

“We confined most of our snares to the northern portion of the [Down East] study area in an effort to recover missing GPS collars,” Cross wrote. “We also placed three GPS collars on females as part of our ongoing effort to calculate the study area density.”

Cross said the snares were tripped 321 times during the 43 days, and 99 bears were actually captured. Five moose (including one moose calf) also ended up in the snares.

Of the bears that Cross and his crew snared, 28 were new to the study.

Among the captures, 12 yearling bears, which are still learning to avoid hazards (like snares) ended up being trapped a total of 23 times, Cross said.

“One male yearling was captured five times and his brother was captured three times,” Cross reported.

Cross said 16 radio collars were fitted on female bears. Some of those collars were put on bears new to the study, and some replaced old or non-functioning collars on bears the crew had already been studying. By the end of the trapping period, biologists had increased their study group to 42 females with active collars in the study area.

Of the 31 bears that previously had been trapped and fitted with collars in the study area, the crew successfully captured 19.

Four male bears weighed more than 300 pounds, according to Cross, and the biggest bear was a 365-pounder that was more than 21 years old.

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