Summer in the Merrimack



Number 16 buoy marks the channel in the Merrimack River, Massachusetts.  Remember: red right return.  Keep red channel markers on your right when returning to port, coming in an inlet or going upriver from the ocean, and left going out. 

Opposite for green markers, naturally.

Plum island

Plum Island, where jetty meets dune

Our fishing day (Sunday) began with fog and became sunny and warm around 8 a.m.  (All photos can be clicked to enlarge.)

End of south jetty, Plum Island beach beyond

Where the Merrimack River meets the sea, and striped bass abound.

Danger bar

Danger bar

Drifting past the north jetty.

Merrimack mouth

End of north jetty and a party boat, Salisbury Beach beyond

I caught my big fish drifting past this spot, using fresh clam for bait, off the bottom. 

“Keep your rod tip up,” bossed my husband. 

“I am! I am!”



That middle boat is rigged for tuna, with a tower and a pulpit. 

We heard recently that whales are feeding in pretty close this year, so whale watch boats don’t have to travel as far as Jeffrey’s Ledge.

TowBoat: Like a tow truck, but for boats

Help is on the way, thankfully not for us.

Red right return, but on a larger scale

North side upriver a bit, at Salisbury Beach State Reservation, not far from the boat ramp we use.  People camp and RV in this park, which has a nice beach and view, plus surf and jetty fishing.


A boat named Sea Ya

These guys illustrate the simple pleasures of angling.


These guys are fly

Fishing from a sand bar off Plum Island, with Newburyport in the background.


Sail day

Many sailboats are moored in the river between Newburyport and Salisbury.


Spires and masts

Motoring toward Newburyport.



Cruisin’ in a certain style.

Town docks and a trawler

We docked here, walked through a small park and across two streets, and grabbed a couple of coffees and a chicken-tarragon-cranberry sandwich for late breakfast, from Starbucks.


In charming Newburyport

The port town was just gearing up for a busy summer day of shopping and sightseeing.

Our striper

I would like to thank my husband for boating my 30-inch fish (while I kept the rod tip up) and removing the circle hook.  The law in Mass and NH this summer is 28 inches to keep a striper.  (Bring a tape measure on board.)  Don’t be a pig and gaff your fish, then find out it’s too small and return it bleeding and half-dead to its watery habitat. 

Only two fish per person per day is also the law.  But one keeper for both of us was enough.

For dinner, John smoked one filet with a soy and garlic marinade and I chunked the other to add it to striper chowder, which I make with onions, garlic, scallions, celery, potatoes, fresh summer veggies like zucchini and corn, in chicken broth, with tomatoes.  A little horseradish and lemon brightens it up.

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. 
   – Henry David Thoreau

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.  Teach him how to fish and
he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day. 
   – Author Unknown

We ask a simple question
And that is all we wish:
Are fishermen all liars?
Or do only liars fish?
   – William Sherwood Fox,
Silken Lines and Silver Hooks