On a warm, breezy Tuesday, Lenny and Kathy Shultz set up camp at Fishermen’s Park in South Brewer, baited their hooks with bloodworms and cast their lines into the Penobscot River.
The day’s mission: to catch a striped bass or two.
And before long — about an hour after arriving — that’s exactly what they did.
Kathy Shultz was up first, retrieving her rod from the snug nook between the rip-rap boulders, setting the hook and landing a 20-inch striper.
Five minutes later, it was Lenny’s turn, and he landed a slightly bigger fish after a short fight. Both fish were released into the river after a photo or two.
“Lenny loves to fish,” Kathy Shultz said. “He and a friend of his came [here] on Sunday, and they had pretty good luck. They caught like three or four stripers.”
So, when the weather turned nice Tuesday and the high tide took place at a convenient time — many anglers fish for stripers a couple hours either side of high tide — the Shultzes decided to make the drive inland from Bar Harbor to target the migrating sea-run fish.
“Lenny loves to catch stripers. I just offered to come up with him this morning to keep him company so he could go fishing,” Kathy Shultz said. “He’d rather do it with somebody. He’d come by himself, but it’s more fun with somebody.”
Lenny agreed, and busied himself checking baits, replacing stolen bloodworms and sandworms, and keeping an eye on the rod tips for suspicious activity that deserved attention.
The couple kept busy on that front, and in more than a 10-minute span, they caught the two fish, had three more strikes and had to replace two baits.
Not too many years ago, the Bar Harbor couple could stop in Ellsworth and fish for stripers on the Union River. Now, that’s not really an option and the run isn’t very strong, Kathy Shultz said.
The Brewer location provides an uncomplicated way to get at the stripers, she said.
“To the best of our knowledge, there’s no fish running in the Union River, so this seems to be the closest place,” she said. “And it’s easy. We didn’t have to attach the boat or anything. Just do it from shore.”
On Tuesday, somewhat surprisingly, the Shultzes were the only people fishing the 11 a.m. high tide. Usually, when word of stripers in the river starts to get around, the park gets more crowded with anglers looking to take advantage of the convenient location. Some arrive on foot, others ride bikes and others drive to the location just south of the I-395 bridge.
And word is certainly out about the stripers. The Shultzes said they heard about the arrival of the fish in a BDN story.
Kathy Shultz says her husband is “like the mad fisherman.” Lenny doesn’t disagree.
“I think [stripers] are fun. We don’t eat ’em anyway. We let them go,” he said. “They’re a nice fighting fish. And once you get to this part of the summer, you know, fishing is a little slower [in] freshwater.”