Hunter Pate (left) and Matt Youngblood show off the striped bass they caught off the Pate family dock in Orrington on Saturday, June 8, 2019, as Zeus the lab inspects the catch. Credit: Courtesy of Sue Pate

Psst. Hey, you. Yeah, you, the guy with the fishing pole stashed behind the seat of your truck. Got a secret to share. But you gotta promise you won’t tell anyone else.

The stripers are in.

More specifically, striped bass have migrated all the way up and into the Penobscot River.

That’s the word from Sue Pate, who lives on the river in Orrington and who has a couple of fish-mad sons who enjoy chasing stripers.

“The fine folks from the UMaine fisheries program alerted us last week that they are seeing considerable striper action,” Pate reported in an email. “Lots of schoolies and plenty of ‘keeper’ size.”

Let’s be honest: This is the kind of news that never stays a secret for long, so you might as well get out there and fish while the fishing is good. And in the coming weeks, more and more stripers (along with American shad) will flock to the Penobscot.

Armed with that scouting report, Joey Pate and Hunter Pate loaded up their bass boats and hit the water on Saturday, landing a pair of stripers near the old Bangor Dam site before returning to their home. That’s when the fishing got really, really good.

“They came to the dock at the ole homestead and fished the incoming tide, catching over 20 stripers, two sturgeon (all released!) and some horn pout (aka brown bullhead),” Sue Pate said. “It made for a beautiful Maine day. Bright sunshine, light breeze, no bugs and plenty of action. Doesn’t get any better than that!”

Jason Valliere, of the Maine Department of Marine Resources Division of Sea Run Fisheries and Habitat, sends out a weekly report itemizing the trap count for various species caught at the Milford Dam, upriver from Orrington.

On Monday, Valliere said the striped bass count remained at zero, but did say that 94 American shad had been caught at the facility.

Judging from the success the Pates had over the weekend, it’s just a matter of time before the crew in Milford will start handling some stripers as well.

If you choose to go fishing for stripers, you’ll want to check out the regulations for yourself. Pay particular attention if you’re heading to the Kennebec, Sheepscot and Androscoggin rivers, where special regs are in effect. Among those: Until July 1, fishing is restricted to single-hooked artificial lures. Use of, or possession of marine bait, whether alive or dead, is not allowed.

Statewide, anglers are allowed to keep and possess one fish per day, and that fish must be 28 inches or longer.

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John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...