Guide Talk: Ipswich Bay Angling

Captain Mike Hart is the owner, operator, and chief Striped Bass expert at Ipswich Bay Angling in Rowley, MA. Not only does Captain Mike know our local waters on the North Shore like the back of his hand, but he is one of the more interesting characters you will ever meet through this sport. No small feat. This dude has lived several lifetimes worth of worldly experience; a semi-professional snowboarder, a professional rocker playing the likes of Austin’s South By Southwest Festival, a New York City art handler transporting costly works of art, and most importantly a fly fishing guide, a husband, and a dad.

Capt. Mike scoping things out on a flood tide in the marsh.
Capt. Mike scoping things out on a flood tide in the marsh.

Not only is Mike a great guide with interesting stories to tell, but he’s a great dude to sit down and share a beverage with after a long day on the water. So, I did just that and I was able to slip in a few questions for you folks following along at home. Find the full interview below:

A nice early season line-sider. Lots & lots of these dudes on the day...
A nice early season line-sider. Lots & lots of these dudes on the day…
JH: How did you get into fly fishing, and how long have you been doing it for?
MH: I started fly fishing my junior year in high school (1996). So that would make it 21 years I guess. Yikes… I feel old… I had a US History teacher from Colorado who was a fly fishing addict, he gave a presentation on it and I was “hooked”. I started trout fishing my local streams and ponds in southern NH. I was focused more on snowboarding and skateboarding in those days, and fishing was something I would do while visiting my folks in NH while I lived and went to school in Boston. Then I moved to NYC, was playing in a moderately successful band and working full time. With that daily grind, I found myself in the Catskills on my days off, taking fishing a little more seriously, figuring out bugs and fish behavior etc… A buddy of mine was a big time surf caster and told me about seeing guys on the jetties with flyrods, hooking big striped bass. I scraped together some gear and followed him around. It was awesome, I never caught anything while I was down there, but just being out there and learning was enough for me. After the city crushed my soul, I moved to the North Shore, was hitting the beaches every night, catching some really nice fish. I started toying with the idea of guiding once I got the area dialed in (dream job right?) looking for a serviceable boat that I could afford, figuring out how to make it work financially….
JH: When did you start tying flies? 
MH: I started tying flies for the salt out of sheer necessity, not long after I relocated to the North Shore. I was going through more flies than I could replace, breaking them off, having them mauled by hungry stripers and bluefish. All it takes is one sloppy back cast to blow up the head off a factory tied Clouser…
JH: Favorite fly?
MH: That’s a tough one… Right now it’s probably a BTD, or bucktail deceiver/hollow fleye. It’s such a versatile pattern, you can tie it to imitate just about any baitfish. Infinite color possibilities, but my favorite is probably the deadly “blurple.”
A Parker River marsh camp at dawn.
A Parker River marsh camp at dawn.
JH: Favorite thing about the fishery on the North Shore of MA?
MH: Aside from the astounding beauty of it, I would say the diversity. It has everything to offer; the estuaries, rocks, beaches, rivers, sand flats that can be sight fished, rips, deep open water… Everything.
Watch your forecast now...
Watch your forecast now…Sometimes you gotta chuck & DUCK.

So there you have it. If you’re looking to fish for Stripers in Ipswich Bay and the Marshes of the North Shore, Captain Mike is your dude. Postfly HQ is 5 minutes down the road, so maybe find some time to stop in and say hola to your friendly neighborhood fly-suppliers too. We’ll have some suds on ice for you.

Contact Capt. Mike.

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