August 18, 2003

Parker River Refuge Opens Entire Beachfront

Frank G. Dwyer
August 18, 2003

While the fishing activity remains somewhat slow, anglers willing to put in the time are being rewarded with fine catches around the Port.

In the pre-dawn hours this past Sunday, my friend Don and I found large bluefish outside the mouth of the Merrimack, not far from the MR buoy. The largest fish taken was a 37”, 19 lb “chopper” that Don boated on a Stillwater chrome plug. We landed several other feisty blues in the 15 lb range in about an hour’s time.

Once the action outside the mouth died, we motored in and enjoyed several productive drifts just across from the Toothpick. Striped bass were keying in on both flies and lures as we slowly twitched our offerings along the bottom. White and dark gray sluggo’s rigged on lead heads and sand eel imitation flies in olive and white and chartreuse and white worked well. Most fish were in the 24” to 30” range.

I also fished on Wednesday and found stripers in the 20”-26” range while drifting the moorings near the AYC. Olive and White Clouser’s and Ray’s flies both did well in enticing the fish.

Bait fisherman are consistently landing good sized striped bass anchored in the river as well as on Joppa Flats, with the night time crew out fishing the daytime crowd. Whole herring and chunks have been working well in addition to clams and sea worms.


The Parker River NWR opened up the entire beachfront last week, allowing for access for both shore and drive-on fishermen.

Anglers wishing to 4x4 on the beach need a permit that is available at the reservation entrance. All the typical necessities are required for 4x4 access, including shovel, tow rope, board, tire pressure gauge, etc…Check with the folks at the NWR if you need further detail.

The final numbers are not yet in, but it was a tough year for the endangered shore bird, the Piping Plover. While several pairs of the birds took up residence on the Reservation, predators like coyotes, hawks, owls and crows made for a tough nesting year.


Kay at Surfland Bait and Tackle on Plum Island was busy as usual when I stopped in on Thursday. Kay reports good fishing on Joppa Flats at high tide, with anglers having success using top water plugs, swimming lures and soft plastics. The fish have been “good sized”, with some larger fish coming in at night.

Kay also reported good action from the beaches at the Parker River National Wildlife Reservation with both plugs and swimming lures landing decent sized striped bass. Sea worms on the bottom were also producing well of the beaches of Plum Island.


George at Captains Fishing Parties at Plum Island Point reports good bottom fishing over the last few weeks. Excellent numbers of “market size” cod, Pollock and haddock have been landed keeping anglers coming back for more. Pool fish have ranged in the 20 to 30 pound range.

The half-day bluefish excursions have also been producing fish in a fairly consistent manner, with a few dogfish mixed in. The season will be over before you know it, so now’s the time to get out!

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