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In the July 2012 issue, I filed a brief report on carp fishing with Maine guide Eric Wallace (www.coastalflyangler.com), who specializes in fly fishing for stripers in the greater Casco Bay area. I enjoyed the carp fishing, but I regretted not being able to fish for stripers, as that is Wallace’s main focus. My only recourse was to put out a call for subscriber feedback on Wallace doing what he does best. And here it is: a useful and detailed report from subscriber Jefferson Miller. Thanks, Jefferson, for heeding the call.
“My kids and I fished for stripers with Eric Wallace for four days this past July. This is normally prime time for striped bass in Maine, as is August. This year, however, it was prime time for lying on the beach or next to a pool, but not for stripers. Bright, clear days, warmer-than-usual water temperatures, and tons of natural bait are a recipe for slow fishing and that’s what we got. Nonetheless, Eric got us on fish and we caught enough to make the sometimes very early meetings at the boat ramp more than worthwhile.
“Having been fortunate to fish with a lot of really remarkable guides over many years, I believe Eric is one of the best I have fished with. He really understands the local fishery. He told me that the year he moved to Maine with the flats skiff he’d been using in the Florida Keys, he spent an entire summer getting up to speed on the local fishery. He literally fished every day, he says. Flats boats are still a rare sight in Maine, but back then they were a serious curiosity. I’m sure he turned a lot of heads.
“Eric is a pioneer, one of the very few guides who sight fish for stripers. The traditional game calls for the use of full-sinking lines or sink tips and endless blind casting. That can be effective, but it is far less fun than sighting fish and casting to them. In certain conditions, floating lines and poppers add considerably to the fun. Another benefit of sight fishing is that under the old approach, the fishing day started at about 4:30 a.m. and wound down at midday. Sight fishing for stripers is more like fishing for bonefish. You need light to see them, so you don’t have to drag yourself out of bed at 3:30.
“Eric is an excellent communicator and a lot of fun to be with. He takes an almost scientific approach to planning a day of fishing. The days we fished together, he’d give us a call around dinnertime after researching tides, water temperatures, fishing reports, and more. That was when we’d receive our instructions. Some days we met him at the Falmouth city boat ramp at oh-dark-thirty. One day we linked up an hour down the turnpike in Saco at 10:30 a.m. to sight fish. With Eric, you go where the fish are and when they’re there. He works really hard for his sport.
“Here’s the final point I’ll make about Eric. He’s a straight shooter. He didn’t give us a bunch of ‘guide speak’ about how awesome it was to catch three stripers during a six-hour trip or how beautiful they were. He told us that the conditions were tough and that catching a few fish would be a good day. He also told us why the conditions were tough. Beyond that, if the fishing was really slow, we didn’t continue to flog the water. Eric would tell us that he was happy to keep poling, but that our odds were long. If we went in after three or four hours, he would only charge us his half-day rate. He insisted on it. At least once, during a dinnertime call, he said that the fishing was going to be tough in the morning and that if we wanted to bail, he understood and that there would be no charge. Eric is a very stand-up guy.
“One of the old guys behind the fishing counter at L. L. Bean told me that he thinks Eric is the best guide for stripers on fly in the state of Maine. From what I experienced, I think he’s right. If you’re going to be in Maine next summer, contact Eric and book some days on the water with him. Better yet, book a trip focused on chasing stripers with a knowledgeable guide who really knows the game. Eric also guides for tarpon in the Florida Keys, by the way. I plan on paying him a visit this winter.