Think you caught the big one that did not get away? Could you possibly be the state record holder for that species?

First, what is the Maine State Saltwater Game Fish Records Program all about? Several years ago, by industry request, the Department of Marine Resources established the Maine State Saltwater Records Committee (MSSRC). Initially, the MSSRC put together an application and a process for validation of a state record that closely mirrored that of the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) program, with the exception of making line class categories all-tackle. Four categories were established in which an angler may qualify a fish: 1. Harpoon (only bluefin tuna and swordfish are eligible), 2. Handline, 3. Rod and Reel, and 4. Fly Rod. The MSSRC further expanded the program in recent years to include both male and female categories in both the junior and adult programs.

All right, you have just hooked up a fish that you think may be a record setter. Now what? No. 1, are you fishing in Maine waters or the adjacent offshore waters and will that fish be landed in Maine? I hope so, because only Maine caught and landed fish are eligible. No.  2, for which category will it qualify for? This is simple for the harpoon and fly rod categories, but what about rod-and-reel and handline? In the rod-and-reel category the angler has to hook, fight and bring the fish to gaff, net or hand unaided. Using a harpoon to boat a fish caught by rod and reel would disqualify that catch in the rod-and-reel category, bumping it over into the handline category. The handline category is not bound by the “landed unaided” rule and boating the fish after it is harpooned or gaffed is sufficient to capture a state record in that category.

Now that you have boated your potential state-record fish, what needs to be done to verify this catch? Handling of the fish is important from the time you put your fish on deck until you have the weight recorded. Keep your fish on ice and covered with wet towels. You don’t want the fish to dry out since just a matter of ounces can sometimes make the difference between a state record and just a Tackle-Buster. Gutting the fish, or altering it in any way, is not recommended before weighing. Submitting only photos of your catch will not suffice to qualify your fish as a state record. A witness to your catch is highly desirable, but not entirely necessary. Once you hit the shore you will want to get a weight ASAP. The scale used to weigh your fish must be a sealed scale certified for accuracy by the state of Maine or by an accredited organization within the last year. U.S. Post Offices are excellent places to weigh a fish (if they will allow it). As for pictures, take lots, though only three are required. Once you have waded through all of this bureaucracy there are three more hurdles to clear before it goes to the committee for approval. You need to fill out the application, have it notarized and submit it.

With the opening of the Junior and Adult All-Tackle categories to both males and females, all kinds of categories are just waiting to be filled and you might be surprised by some of the categories that have yet to be filled with a record fish. The striped bass fly rod category, bluefish — handline and cod — handline are just a few. Don’t be shy, go ahead and submit a fish. Give other anglers a target.

In addition to the prestige of being the state record holder some of the pelagic tourneys have recently started offering prize money in excess of $10,000 to anglers that break the current record. Now that is incentive!

The complete rules and regulations along with an application for qualifying a game fish and a list of the existing records and vacancies can be obtained by calling (207) 633-9500, sending an e-mail to [email protected], or you can download the information from: http://www.maine.gov/dmr/recreational/staterecordpictcredits/index.htm. Also, at this site you can view pictures of all state-record fish.

 

AN INTERESTING aside: Over the past few weeks, we have had several calls from anglers as well as photos submitted by Saco Bay Tackle of small (4-6 inch) mackerel-like fish. After consulting with our counterparts from southern states, it was confirmed that these fish were juvenile Atlantic Bonito! I suppose going along with this article, if one were to document a catch and submit the proper paperwork, he or she could proudly hold the Maine State record for Atlantic Bonito. I am looking forward to your submissions.

 

This saltwater report is by Bruce Joule, Maine Department of Marine Resources, P.O. Box 8, West Boothbay Harbor 04575. If you have information to report or have any questions please contact me at 633-9505 or e-mail:

[email protected]