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Late August through October is prime time for striped bass and bluefish along the coast of New England. Southern New England offers the added bonus of weakfish, bonito, false albacore and, on occasion, schoolie bluefin tuna. I know this remarkable fishery well because it is in my backyard. Frankly, I’m surprised every year that we don’t have an annual invasion of anglers from the around the US and the world plying these waters. And there are several reasons for my surprise.

First, this fishery is within easy business-getaway distance of New York City and Boston. Second, the spouse-pleasing vacation options in this area are bountiful. And, third, numerous qualified guides offer both boat and shoreline fishing options. Finally, by world fly fishing standards, the service these guides provide is reasonably priced.

The fishing starts in late spring and early summer, and is generally consistent throughout a long season. But late August, September and on into October is usually prime time for big fish and fast action. I’m always on the lookout for good opportunities, and here are a few I turned up near press time.

Up in Maine, Capt. Mac McKeever who is the Senior Public Relations Representative for L.L. Bean, has been enticing me with stories of fishing Casco Bay north of Portland. Here’s his take: “In the Casco Bay region of Maine, the season starts in late-May or early June with some early-season sight-fishing on white sand flats. These fish school up tight and rove the flats, moving quickly, but will readily eat a well-placed, sparsely-tied sand eel pattern. In June, we typically run into some incredible blitzes in the rivers and in the bay, with acres of fish blowing up on alewives, herring and tinker mackerel for sustained periods. Most fish range 20 to 30 inches, with the occasional trophy mixed it. Bluefish begin to show in earnest around early July with schools blitzing and spooky individual fish finning in shallow coves.

“August and September are best for classic sight fishing – poling under a high sun, using long leaders and crab flies in shallow, gin-clear water over white sand with big black-backed stripers slowly patrolling for an easy crab meal. We occasionally see true monsters in water no deeper than two feet. There’s nothing more exciting than a gaggle of broad-shouldered stripers bearing down on your crab pattern over white sand in air-clear water. Fishing usually remains strong well into October, with some of the biggest fish of the season taken then….”

Mac tells me he recommends three guides in his area: Capt. Eric Wallace; Capt. John Ford; and Capt. Peter Fallon.

I’ve been doing some research on my own this summer and have found two recommendable guides working the waters of New England. Both of these guys can offer stripers and bluefish and, this time of year, can get you into bonito, false albacore and, occasionally (if you are lucky and don’t mind breaking tackle), school bluefin tuna.

I fished with Capt. Jim Barr of Skinny Water Charters in late May of this year on the waters of Ninigret Pond in Rhode Island. Continuing subscribers will remember our July 2009 FREE Fishing report on fishing the cinder worm hatch in Ninigret (see Article No. 2332). Barr is an Orvis Endorsed Guide (, and his 22-foot Mako center-console and tackle are impeccable. He was right on time for my trip, and he knew exactly where the worms were hatching and the fish were feeding. The only thing he couldn’t do was make the stripers find our imitations amid the swarms of naturals. Surrounded by actively feeding fish and unable to hook any, this was one of the most fun and frustrating evenings I’ve enjoyed on the water.

Barr’s fishing really comes into its own in September and early October both in and around Narragansett Bay and out to Watch Hill on the Connecticut border. He charges anywhere from $275 for a half day of inshore kayak or wade fishing to $500 for a full day on the Mako for two anglers.

On Nantucket Island off the coast of Massachusetts in late June, I fished with Capt. Jason Mleczko, son of Capt. Tom Mleczko of Capt. Tom’s Charters. They both fish out of Madaket on the western tip of the island. Jason, who picked me up at my guest house in town and delivered me back to town by boat, is a personable 30-year old, just back from two years of teaching in Switzerland. He has 15 years of experience on the water. He is one of six guides who keep Capt. Tom’s four boats running from before dawn until midnight.

On a steamy afternoon with fog banks and thunderstorms lurking offshore, Jason immediately got me into some big stripers and blues. I took fish by casting almost up onto the beach of Tuckernuck Island. Later, we hit a pod of blitzing blues in the calm waters of Nantucket Harbor. It was a great day on the water.

Again, the very best fishing in this area comes in September and early October. Rates for a four-hour charter for two to six anglers depending on the boat vary from $450 to $650.

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