Sunday, October 28, 2012

Littleneck, Cherrystone and Quahog Clams - Gatherer's Free Treat

We hunter gathers who seek deer, ducks, grouse, geese, woodcock and fish of all kind to fill our freezers give little thought to other forms of food available in nature.
One coastal treat are the various sizes of quahogs found in the saltwater mud and sand flats. Quahogs are clams, not the soft shell clams associated with fried clams and steamed clams served during typical Maine lobster bakes. These are very hard shelled clams that come in several sizes. Quahogs are hard-shelled, found in estuaries along the coast. Beads made of quahog shells were used as currency in early New England. Quahogs are known by name in three categories: littlenecks, cherrystones and quahogs. Quahog classes are usually over four inches wide and also referred to as chowder clams. Mahogany quahogs are in a class by themselves and legally different. You aren’t likely to find any mahogany quahogs. So, I guess you could say there are really four sizes of quahogs. In Maine, there is a personal use harvest limit on one peck, which in general is about two gallons of water. No license is needed for personal use. Personal use means just that, you can’t sell them. A minimum size limit is one inch at the hinge. You can buy a legal measure at most marine stores along Maine’s coast. Ones you locate a place to rake for quahogs, a method of harvest is required. As seen in the photo, there are small clam rakes available that can be pulled through the sand or mud with tines that guide the quahogs into the net tray attached. When you come in contact with a quahog, it feels like a small rock hitting the steel tines and hopefully falling to the trap area. You work the rake in and lift it straight up so nothing falls out. You do this recreationaly while wading in relatively shallow water. There are several ways to eat quahogs. Steamed and dipped in butter are good. Shucked and lightly sautéed in virgin olive oil, butter and chopped garlic is good. But my favorite is raw with a horseradish, tomato sauce, served over an ice tray. I like to chill the clams for two days in the refrigerator prior to shucking. You should always check laws and coastal closure areas prior to harvesting. -30-

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

2012 Striped Bass Fishing Results

Photo ID – Squid Flies may be the trick for late September and early October.
Strange things happened along Maine’s coast during the 2012 fishing season. First, an invasion of squid occupied the inshore waters of Maine from Kittery to Penobscot Bay. They were so thick; I caught them while jigging for mackerel with a standard sabiki rig and with a fly while chasing striped bass. In the middle of the day! People who actually wanted bucket loads of squid did so easily at night from a well lit dock area or on a boat with a strong light like a Coleman camping light. I for one have never seen such a strong run of squid from July through August. The numerous squid I caught were in four to 14 inches in size. There wasn’t any consistency to the size during a given bite. I haven’t spoken with anyone who has a good reason why so many squid invaded Maine’s inshore waters this year. Does anyone have a good response to why it happened? Personally, I know nothing about squid except striped bass love them. It’s their favorite food. Then there was the verified, mid August shark sighting at the Great Island Boat Yard in Harpswell, Maine. That’s way inside, not just outside the beach. There was another report of a shark just 50 yards of the beaches in the Wells area. That action closed the beaches at least for one day. On August 15, 2012 I recorded an all time, personal high water temperature of 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the Cundys Harbor waters at high tide when the coldest water of the day had flushed in. That temperature range is not conducive to hot striped bass fishing. Hopefully cooler nights and shorter days of fall will change water temperatures inside to at least below 70 degrees. Otherwise it will be a difficult fishing season during late early October. On the optimistic side, bait and striped bass may linger longer into late October unless a big tropical storm or hurricane runs the east coast and sends migrating fish out of Maine waters. Hope for an easy, fall storm season. I know a lot of sportsmen don’t fish the salt during October with all the hunting sports beginning. But, watch the weather closely. If there are no big storms in early October and the sun shines bright, try a day of salt fishing and you might catch the striped bass of a life time. Big fish are in Maine waters and they will feed heavily and stay awhile longer if conditions are right. My personal choice of flies during the fall are yellow gurglers and a small brown and yellow Clousers. Baby bunker flies and silverside imitations will also produce. And don’t forget, if the squid are still around, try using a squid fly. Fall striped bass fishing is usually a surface feeding activity as they are fattening up for their long southerly migration. You can encounter them almost any time of the day or tide in feeding frenzies of the surface. Don’t go rushing into the feeding school of fish. Approach them with stealth and you will be rewarded with many hook ups in an hours time. If the school of fish does spook, hang around the area waiting for the stripers to coral the bait into another circle for easy picking. That’s when another feed will happen. Just be patient. Have a fun and productive late season of striped bass fishing during the late fall. And as always, be careful out there. There aren’t many boats around to help you if you get in trouble.