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  #1  
Old 06-14-2009, 10:55 AM
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Default Bugs and Bass Great Bay 2008

06/22/08
The prep work is done. The USS Coalman is on the slip. 30 lobster traps are lurking the waters of Great Bay.

Saw some younger folks setting a 5 trap string Saturday. On my way in I thought my trap was a little close to theirs. So in order for my piece of mind and to take any temptation away I decided to move the trap. I had only set it 48 hours earlier with cow bait. Usually takes 4-5 days for the bait to work. Well there was a keeper lobster in the trap. I set it back and checked 5 more traps and got another keeper. Mmmm Mmmmm Good. Those Bay lobsters are the sweetest.

I did see birds busting on fish between red and green can. But my mind has been on bugging. No pole in the boat.

Got extra bait? Donations gladly accepted.

06-25-08
Tonight was the first full check of the line. I am pulling up to my first string of the year. You are looking at Great Bay National Wildlife Reserve.

I wish I was an Indian for a day.


There are some great untapped treasures in Great Bay. How many Tautog fisherman do you know. This is a very ugly fish. It is not common this far north. The meat is a delicacy.
This is my PB to date. It was all of 5 lbs.



Thirty traps in 2.5 hours is work. But it is a labor of love. I caught 1 tautog,
Red crabs, green crab, a tomcod, a cunner, a horseshoe crab, 6 short lobsters and..............

11 keepers


I saw three deer on the marsh on the ride back in. I am living a dream. I feel truly blessed.


06/30/08
The bugs are moving and I need some bait.

Checked 29 out of 30 traps tonight. Only 5 keepers. No shorts.
My buddy fished his 30 traps today and got 18 keepers. I plan on getting some herring Saturday and re-bait the line. I don't think the Sealure puts down as good a scent trail as fresh fish bait.

The water is warming up and the bugs are moving back out to the Piscatiqua River and the ocean. I am not going to chase them.
I'm only going as far as Fox Point. I may put the traps up for August and striper fish, I'll reset when the bugs come back in the Bay this fall. It is half the distance to travel. It is my most favorite time to lobster trap.

I saw fish all over tonight. I have a few eels but no time to fish. I am glad for the upcoming holiday weekend. I can properly set the line and drown those eels chasing a linesider.

07/04/08
Took a half dozen eels out to Little Bay today. Drown them all. No bites. Didn't see any fish either. Spent the afternoon learning the flats for my upcoming all nighter in the Bay. If I can do it in the Mack, I can do it in the Bay.

07/05/08
The fog was THICK on the Bay this morning. The GPS and the breadcrumb is the balls.

Didn't have much faith in the sets after last Wednesday's poor showing. When I got out there the place was a mess. A huge tide 8' 2" on 06/30/08 had dispersed my traps. It was a long morning in the search and rescue mode.

Because of the tide flooding the marsh and bringing all the debris back into the water there were huge islands of floating weeds and debris. It was a good day to be on the lookout for logs and stumps in the water.
About 1/2 of my traps were full of debris. One was so full and heavy I had a hard time lifting it over the side of the boat.

For a guy who used to pull by hand I love my electric puller. Vole Island on the left, Adam's Point on the right.


And a clique of overnight rafters on the Point. Little bit of cashola tied up here.


Did I mention I got 14 keeper lobster? We ate well on Plum Island Saturday evening before our all nighter.

07/10/08
My favorite show is the Deadliest Catch. They talk about "rhythm". They talk about "dialing in". I know what it is like to"work the rail".

The Bay was my Bering Sea tonight. She was blowing a steady 20 mph.
The tide and the wind made the traps come up under the boat. Not the best fishing conditions. But I had a good "rhythm" going.

The first 10 traps in deep water that have been producing were empty. I set a long string on the west side of the Bay last Saturday. As I checked those traps I started picking up lobsters the closer to the ocean I went.
Half soft shell and half hard shell. Something is happening in a mile stretch. The lobsters have been deep. 50' was producing. Tonight 40' was good on hard bottom. The hard shells mean they are coming in to shed.
Great Bay hard shell lobsters are a delicacy.

I had the traps grouped together. I spread them out more and I am hoping to "dial in". I caught red, green and horseshoe crabs. I kept them all for my eel traps. One nice black sea bass. A 10" tom cod and I didn't have a fishing pole in the boat.

I pulled 3 short lobsters out of the traps and 12 keepers. I caught my PB lobster tonight. It has to be 2.5 pounds. The claws are as big as my hand.

I pulled a trap tonight and looked like there were two lobsters in it. One was hollow, one was jelly. The lobster shed in my trap. Big keeper. Too soft to band. I put it all by itself on one side of the car. The other lobsters would eat it. It is so soft it might not be in the car when I go back. We'll see.

Going to meet a couple friends for high tide tomorrow night at Adam's Point. High tide is right at dusk. It is not where you fish, it is when you fish.

The smile on my face was ear to ear tonight. The Great Bay is back.

07/11/08
Met up with XP600 and bdragon in The Bay Friday night. After exchanging gifts, XP brought me a dozen eels, I sent them home with lobsters, we fished some skinny water. The bass didn't cooperate. We caught 1 schoolie.

07/12/08
I have a good idea where the lobsters are hanging out. It is not where I had my first 8 sets. All empty.

Time to "stack the deck".


You can see where I am heading with these on the left. Fox Point. I set six traps at the mouth of Oyster River. Two sets went into a couple holes in the shallows. Both locations are proven. It is a pain in the butt moving gear. But it is important. Lobsters move. By moving the traps comes the anticipation of your efforts. This is lobster trapping but the call of the mountain man is loud as every trap comes in over the rail.

The west side of the Bay was good to me last week. I was anxious to check those pots. They didn't let me down.

I am fishing thirty traps. I can only find 29. The last 21 traps produced 13 keepers and 8 shorts. Lots of females. This was only a 2.5 day soak. It tells me the bugs are there. I moved three more traps ahead of the producing string in 50' of water.

A trapper needs a day like today to get the gear in order. A hobby fur trapper may only check sets before work. I have been checking them after work. I race sunset to get it all done. It is tough to read the line in haste.

Today I refreshed the Sealure in each trap and topped it off with a bag of herring per trap. The traps are full of bait set in a mile stretch. I am going to let them soak till the end of the week.

For three straight years 2005,2006 and 2007 the spring rains put my lobstering to a halt. Five fresh water rivers run into my lobstering grounds. The lobsters left for better salinity. I often wonder if the spring floods didn't kill the lobsters so far back in the Bay. My feeling has always been no because of the survival instinct. The size of the lobster I am catching busts the myth. Most need no measuring. They had a safe haven somewhere.

I checked the one eel trap in the Bay after the lobster line was complete.There had to have been 30 crabs in it. Slithering amongst them were over a dozen eels. Every crab in that trap became more bait.

My eel cooler.


The USS Coalman

is a working boat again. The lobsters pay for boat expenses. The eel supply maintains my striped bass fishing addiction.

The name Bay Man is an honor Dad bestowed unto me. The pot hauler is like music. The heavy scent of salt water is good for the nose.
It is good to have my summer playground back to normal.

07/13/08
On the water at 0430 this morning. Sunrise over Goat Island.


The bass did not show themselves on top today. The wind was against the tide and it made drifting an art. Picked up another schoolie. The tides are right next weekend for an all nighta striper fishing trip. I'm in.

I just run a hobby lobster trapping line. Too many and not enough traps. It is fun to describe to you my adventures with the Deadliest Catch diaologue. It is the harvest that makes me feel kin, not the methods. Please don't take me too serious as I ramble.

07/19/08
Sometimes you just know the line is going to produce. The gear is in proper order, the traps are full of bait and you are on to lobsters. Today I "dialed in".

I shared the morning with Riverjim aboard the USS Coalman. The eight test traps I set in new water last week produced eight keeper lobster.

We caught lobster in eight to fifty feet deep. Final count in twenty eight traps, twenty keeper bugs. This is the best I have done in a few years.
I valuable lesson was learned this week. I have a partner boat in Great Bay. Captain Ray and I share the same dock and our own "Bay reports". We take care of each other and watch out for each others gear.

Ray hasn't had the chance to move his gear. He checked thirty traps twice this week in traditional grounds for a total of nine keepers. We were both anxious to see how my new sets would do. After the "Bay Report" this morning we will both be moving gear this week.

When you look into the eyes of the captain's as their pots come over the rail they see the future potential of the given spot.

There are those that fish and there are those that catch fish. I learn something new everyday.
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  #2  
Old 06-14-2009, 11:00 AM
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Default Re: Bugs and Bass Great Bay 2008

07/19-20/08
It took a week of prep work. The USS Coalman is now outfitted for nocturnal use. Two spotlights, a marine radio and a trolling motor give her another dimension.

Friday night was an electrical storm washout. I was ready. At the dock with the boat loaded when I could hear the thunder boomers coming from the west. I heeded Mother natures warning, unloaded the boat and watched the light show. I could feel the energy of the bolts.

Saturday night looked like a repeat. I checked the radar at home and followed behind the last storm leaving the Great Bay for the evening.
Arrived in the fishing hole just at dark. Due to the fog that rolled in thick and the limited the shoreline lighting I fished in the more industrial part of the river. The fish were cooperative all night long.

I fished flats, humps and steep drop offs. All produced bass. Eight fish came to the net. Nothing of any size.

I have been dreaming of this trip since last October while slinging eels from shore on a moonlit night I could hear the bass crashing the flats.
A personal commitment was made to explore these unfished nighttime waters. The trip was a success.

All my Merrimack River nocturnal fishing skills were on keen alert. Now that the methods are proven in my home waters I look forward to hunting for bigger fish. My home fishing grounds are not 20 miles from the Merrimack River. I can never remember fishing the Mack at night and not seeing at least one other fisherman. Saturday night I was totally alone.
I look forward to doing it again.

On the way back through the Bay I took this photo of the sunrise over the Great Bay National Wildlife Reserve. Thank you Lord for your blessings.


07/25/08
Was on the water tonight for a couple hours. An original Bayman had bestowed on me a couple of his favorite fishing holes and I wanted to explore them.

I found the spot but missed the tide he recommended. The first two drifts produced bites on each.
Note to self........get out early enough Saturday to catch the right tide.

07/26/08 AM
XP600 came with me this morning to work the line. It was good to have the company. XP doubled as my photographer. I told him how it has been difficult to take pictures as you work the line. The photos started fast and furious. But then XP knew what I meant when we fell into our rhythm.
XP asked me if I had ever had any surprises in my traps. I told him a striped bass. It wasn't three traps later we helped rescue about a 20" striper from the parlor of my 4' trap.

10 keepers made it to the cooler this morning. Thanks for the help XP.

Heading out into the Bay.


"Working the rail"


Coming on board.


Full bait bags and future eel bait.


On the way back in we were treated to 5 fishing ospreys and this great blue herring.


With today's lobsters I had a promise to fulfill. I get to hunt, fish and trap a very special piece of property. Every year I try and give something back.
When they saw the cooler coming out of the truck they was all eyes and ears.


This family member doesn't care for seafood.


I fell in love with this one. Too bad they grow up.


07/26/08 PM
Made it out in time tonight to catch the right tide at my mentors location. Was not disappointed except for the size of the fish. My buddy and I boated 5 fish in two hours. Three came from the recommended spot, "The Inside". Best fish 27". Keepa hunting continues.....................


07/31/09
After the thunderstorms proved to be much more than a cruise. It was like going to the gym. And I really worked the Ugly Stik. We caught fish from 20 inches to 40 pounds.

I lost my biggest fish at the boat. The hook came out. It had to be in the 40 pound range. I had no control of the fish. Never even saw it. It stayed down the whole time. That is when you know they are big.

A big thank you to my host Roccus.


I got a couple teenagers on board.




Highlight of the evening was double 20's.


08/02/08
It was a lazy day today. The fog and humidity were heavy. Saw these 5 gobblers on the way to the boat.


The river was calm.


The days of summer are upon the Great Bay but there is a noticeable drop in boat traffic. The fisherman are out but there are very few recreational boaters. Even the yak traffic is down. I noticed Adam's Point Marina is 90% sailboats. Lots of empty mooring balls. I suspect fuel is playing a big roll.

The highlight of the morning was 4 legal bugs in one trap. A dozen keepa's came home today. :)
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Old 06-14-2009, 11:07 AM
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Default Re: Bugs and Bass Great Bay 2008

08/06/08
Tonight was my first trip to the Rock Weed Beach. Just missed high tide.


I cast up and down the beach on a falling tide.


Wish I had caught a fish. [img]
http://i134.photobucket.com/albums/q...miles/fish.gif[/img]

08/07/08 The Maa_ssshh
Took a coastline cruise this evening. The high tide made the rocks treacherous. The debris was in the first wave.

So I headed to the Maa_ssshh.
The tide was moving out. The baitfish were tight to the creek mouths.
Saw a few fisherman throwing chunk bait. Headed back to the truck for the secret weapon.

I found a shortcut creek on a tight bend. The bait was in heavy They were tight to the bank.

The first cast produced a bump. The second cast and a striper laid on shore.

08/09/08
Got a chance to share the lobster line with my good friend mmskunk today.

Skunk has a buddy who butchered a stud boar pig. The results were not palatable. Hence lobster bait.


We caught a very small lobster today.


It could have easily been mistaken for a crayfish.


The water was stained brown from the excess of fresh water entering the Bay. We boated five keeper bugs today with only Sealure for bait.
Looking forward to next week check. Maybe the lobster will have a hint of pork flavor.

My wife told me they would squeal when I banded them.

A couple good friends sharing a pub brew on Great Bay. Thanks Bruce.


Just give me a hook and an eel.

08/09/08
Took a ride down to the marsh tonight. The bait showed up at sunset.
I am a boat striper fisherman at heart. But since a few forays with MM, SCS and 24/7 members I am taking a liking to surf-casting.

I know my chances of landing keeper fish are slim in the local creeks I have been fishing. But the challenge is the finding, not the catching.
In my youth I was a hook and worm trout fisherman. I am finding those skills acquired years ago are paying benefits as I explore the Maa__sshh and shoreline.

I was at the marsh at 7:15 last evening. I saw no bait. I almost didn't fish. Then just as the sun set to the west I saw the bait being pushed up against a steep banking. There were no top water signs of bass crashing bait. But something was making the silversides nervous.

The photo is proof they were there. I look forward to future exploration.
I will be joining my wife at their family reunion at a popular Kittery, ME state park today. You can bet my personalized Great Bay rod and I will be there flinging eels into the surf.

My new Great Bay rod has been a giant asset in the marsh. Thanks David at Great Bay Rod Co. and MM for the gift.

The stripers had the bait fish up against the bank. I changed the menu. Just give me a "hook and an eel".


08/13/08
Mow the lawn or go fishing? Hard choice.

Took a couple guys from work with me tonight. Watched a boat catch a keeper with tube and worm. The eels didn't perform tonight.

I never wet a line tonight. I had more fun trying to get them to catch a fish. They were good students.
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  #4  
Old 06-14-2009, 11:20 AM
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Default Re: Bugs and Bass Great Bay 2008

The Bay was beautiful this morning. Adam's point left. Thomas Point right.


Newmarket's water tower center.


I am thinking of visiting the butcher rather than the fish bait dealers. The pork worked very well.

Second trap, four keepers. The first three traps had eight keepers.


The lobster are not the only thing coming out of shed. I caught at least 20 horseshoe crabs today. The majority of the green and red crabs were soft.

Even though the water is stained brown the crustaceans look good.
All but one lobster today was soft shell. These are the lobster that came to shed in early July. They are coming out of molt and they are hungry.
Seventeen keepers today . 6 culls came home. Those lobsters along with some soft shell clams and sea scallops are going to make a good seafood salad.

I have two sets that have produced 9 keepers in the last three checks. I took 5 traps today and set them further up the channel. The new holes I set are proven producers. They have plenty of bait and they are the only lobster traps around.

The Great Bay has been very, very good to me.

08/23/08
28 traps, 22 keeper lobster in the Bay this morning. But it gets better. Setting the last traps of the day we saw pogies on the surface. Broke out the gill net and had 7 in the boat in no time. Jumbo variety.

First drift live lining the pogies and I had a striper slurping. Just wouldn't take the pogie. Second drift at noon and my first mate Richard lands a 35" 20 pounder.

One live pogie left and at 1 PM yours truly lands a 37" 21 pound striper. Got it on my tube and worm rod and reel. What a fight.

As we were leaving the Bay, Richard spied more pogies. We motor over there and giant bass are crashing them on the surface. What a sight.

Don't overlook those pogies.


Father and son 08-24-08
My son Shawn came fishing with me today.


We got into the pogies right away. But hooking a striper on the jumbo pogies proved challenging. The slurpees were incredible. The bass would throw the pogies right out of the water.

Shawn caught the big fish of the day. 39" 25 pounds.


This is his PB to date. He chose to release the fish.


My best fish was 35".


Today is my father's 79Th birthday. Physical restrictions didn't allow him to join us. We fished for him through our pictures.

Happy birthday Dad.

08/28/08
Took a couple guys from work out tonight. Plenty of pogies. Snagged a half dozen. We didn't have any worries or bites.

08/29/08
Brian was back with me tonight. We ran the gill net in the favored drift and got four pogies the first try. Took the pogies to the Dad and Coalman honey hole. Brian caught his first striper 38" 24 pounds. We got some pictures on his phone. I landed a 33".


I gave my striper to my buddy Mark. In return I got 2 baitings worth of freezer burnt meat.

There is even some pork in there.
Squeal, Squeal.

08/30/08
Caught 4 pogies today and netted 3 bass. Biggest 40" 28 pounds.
I had a promise to keep to a good friend on the Bay. She was sushi in an hour.


The crustaceans were squealing in the cooler today. 16 keepa lobster. Moved some gear into the hot zone. The bugs are on hard bottom.
Shawn and I will be there at daybreak. There's a 50 with our name on it.

The stories are still being told. Great Bay water flows through my veins.

See ya on the water.

09/06/07
Got to the dock this morning in a sprinkle. Left 20 minutes later to torrential rains. About 0800 the rain stopped and we tried it again. I had the pleasure to share the boat and Bay with a mentor of mine who showed me how to trap and dig the bounties of Great Bay.

It had to be the most humid day I have ever dug a peck of clams. There was a lady out digging clams today. Where has she been all my life?


After clamming Joe decided to go for a swim. He came over and sat on the bottom to show us the school of fish that were pecking at the hairs on his legs.


We scooped up some in a bucket to try and identify them. That is Larry up to his waist picking oyster up off the bottom.

They were smelts.


When we returned to the dock at 3 PM the rain started. Thank you Lord for the break in the weather. 14 keepa bugs today, a peck of clams and a bucket of oysters. A feast fit for a King and a New England Patriots game.

09/13/08
My goal today was to move my gear back into Great Bay for the last month of my lobster trapping season. I plan on pulling out the week of 10/13.

Tradition has the bugs coming back into the shallows of Great Bay to shed one more time before returning to the ocean for the winter. I put 6 test traps in Great Bay a week ago.

Today these were the first traps I checked and I got 3 keepers. Not bad I thought. I started to get mentally prepared to move traps. Lobster trapping is my hobby but it is sure work.

Then I got to check my gear in Little Bay. Trap after traps were coming up with lobsters. I soon made the decision to leave my traps where they were. I have not seen the quality of lobster I was catching in years. And the pheromones were fragrant. I had 2 traps with nice keeper females in them. In both traps were two courting males each. 2 traps, six keepers.
I love those ladies.

I brought my medium cooler today not expecting many bugs and knowing moving traps was going to make space in the boat a premium. I knew things were going well when I filled the cooler. Out of 28 traps I took home 21 of the nicest lobsters I have caught this year. Not a cull in the bunch. Two phone calls and they were all gone. F&G cancelled clamming today due to the recent rains.

I caught a tom cod in my lobster trap today. After lobstering I put a hook though it nostrils and let him free swim. Just at top of tide at Adam's Point I landed a 23" striper.

Tom cod is the other white meat.

It was such a beautiful day to be on the water I went back out and spent the rest of the day fishing. There was guy anchored in the Dad and Coalman Honey Hole. My first reaction is not printable. I drifted by him and could see he was using live bait. We spoke on how the fishing was and he told me he had taken a couple bluefish. BLUEFISH? They don't go well with live eels so I moved on. I worked the next drift lower and landed a 21" striper.

I could see his motor running and watched as Steve pulled anchor at the honey hole. As I motored by he waved me over. How did I know his name was Steve and his port of call was Sagamore Creek? Because he gave me what was left in his live well. 4 Pollock and two tinker macks. THANKS Steve.

It didn't take me long to get back to Adam's Point with my bootie. The first drift and the mackerel was swimming for its life. The line off the open bail was screaming, set the hook, nothing. Reel up the mack and it is cut in half. Boo Fish. And that is what happened to my bait. Yellow eyes are the scorn of striper fisherman.

09/20/08
Last week was the bounty, this week the bust. 6 keepers. I got more shorts today than keepers. You know what they say" Next shed, your dead".
I had fresh bait so I left the traps where they were. Caught 2 two tom cod. Not a striper bite, notta.
I fulfilled a promise with my bugs today. Traded for some venison a buddy assured me he was going to shoot with his bow.
I bought into the promise.

09/27/08
There was a small window in the storm today so I took advantage. 28 traps , 8 keepers. My first 4 traps in Great Bay had 4 keepers. Thought I was on a roll, not!
I moved all my gear back into Great Bay. It is do or die. If the lobsters are there, it is do, if they are not , it is die. The season is sadly coming to a close for this trapper. I can feel the salt water draining from my veins as I see the autumn colors coming into the leaves.

10/04/08
Mother nature has not been to friendly to Great Bay since I have known her. In the 12 years of lobster trapping 5 of those years have had floods. Lobsters are so sensitive to salinity. The floods of of October I think 1989 saw 3 days of pouring rain totaling 16" on the seacoast.

The tide went out for a week. The water would get higher but only flowed one way with the influx of all the freshwater. Lobsters and crabs were dead in my traps.

The Mother's Day flood of 2006 was the worst. The lobsters never came to Great Bay. Gone.
The month of June 2006 the Great Bay was all fresh water. I caught TWO lobsters all summer.
The spring rains of April 2007 didn't help. The early June run didn't happen. Again, too much freshwater.
\
Forward fast to 2008. The previous 3 poor years have weeded out the weak. The price of fuel makes it cheaper to get your lobster from the pound. The was very limited competition this year.

And low and behold this summer the lobsters came home. If you remember last Saturday I moved all my gear back to family grounds. I put my 28 traps back in Great Bay, Do or die. Today told me a story. From Adam's Point to the Stratham trestle to Nannie's Island I have the only traps in the water.

It was outgoing tide today so I started at the furthest end of the line and worked home. The first 15 or so traps and I had 1 keeper in the cooler. Things weren't looking good. But as I got back into shallow water the bugs started to appear. Traditional grounds were back.

I caught 15 keepers today. There seemed to be a section about a square mile where the bugs were concentrated. I moved my gear on them.
I write this with a tinge of pain and sadness. Today was my last bait and check of the year.

The traps will be going into dry dock next week. Two emotions fill my senses this time of year.
Sadness that the summer is over. The bugs and bass will have to wait another 7 months.
But the emotion of what's to come, deer hunting, trapping, and chasing the white bunny fill me with anticipation.
See you next week.

I got back to the dock at 1000. Just as it started to rain. The Lord was on my side today.

Bugs and Bass Great Bay 2008 is over. I brought all my gear in today The traps are now happily home in the barn for the winter.

This is always the saddest part of the season.


And with the last trap going ashore for the season on a full moon night I thank the Lord for all his blessings.


Thank you for coming. The Lord willing I will see you in 2009.
Coalman
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