A year ago, the BDN highlighted Hunter Pate of Orrington as one of the few anglers who was still targeting striped bass on the Penobscot River.
For the better part of a decade, the striper run on the river has virtually disappeared. Once-popular fishing haunts, including a public riverside park in Brewer, get little attention from anglers who don’t expect to catch any fish.
According to the federal Marine Recreational Information Program, anglers caught 4.1 million striped bass in Maine back in 2006. By 2011, that number had dropped precipitously, to 160,610 fish.
And here in the Penobscot, on the northern edge of the striper’s range, the situation was even worse.
Still, Pate kept fishing.
Earlier this week, Sue Pate, Hunter’s mother, reported that her now 17-year-old son has continued to buck the odds and had a memorable day recently.
“June 29 was the best day and only day for stripers [thus far],” Sue Pate wrote. “The stripers averaged about 2½ pounds each.”
Hunter was fishing with his brother, Joey, from the family dock on the Penobscot River. Together they caught a total of seven stripers in a single day. They also caught a large perch, Sue Pate said.
“They fished a few other times, but only caught more perch,” she wrote. “All their fishing was done from the dock on the incoming late-morning tides, using blood worms [as bait]. Weather permitting, they may take the boat and try fishing down by the spindle in south Orrington/Winterport this weekend.”
The Pate boys aren’t particular about what they fish for — Hunter is an avid tournament bass fisherman, and some recent news from fisheries biologists on the river have intrigued the family.
There are other species of fish returning to the Penobscot.
“The [University of Maine] folks are monitoring shad counts here, too,” Sue Pate wrote. “They are reporting increasing numbers swimming by … but not stopping for lunch!”