OFFSHORE: Check the marine forecast if heading offshore this weekend as Hurricane Earl will be passing by. Offshore sea surface temps are running in the high 60s. Groundfishing continues to be good with pollock, cod and haddock the mainstays. Sharking has been hot, especially for blues. Recent catches include threshers, makos and lots of blue sharks. The minimum size for all keeper sharks (makos, porbeagles, threshers and blues) is 41⁄2 feet in length, while basking and great white sharks are federally protected. There are still plenty of under-73-inch tuna out there but who knows what will be happening after the weekend? Anglers have been hooking up with live bait and with the 7-ounce Point Jude Deep Force lures. The NMFS has closed the northern area angling category fishery for large-medium and giant (“trophy”) bluefin tuna for the remainder of 2010. Fishing for, retaining, possessing or landing large-medium and giant bluefin (measuring 73 inches curved-fork length or greater) north of Great Egg Inlet, N.J., is prohibited. To get the 2010 bluefin size and bag limits and seasons go to: https://hmspermits.noaa.gov/News.asp#news247. All vessels fishing recreationally for Atlantic tuna, shark and swordfish must have an Atlantic HMS angling permit. For more information contact the NMFS at (978) 281-9260 or visit their website at http://nmfspermits.com. Congratulations to the SEAduced, which won the Downeast Maine Shark Tournament with a 397-pound blue shark.

COASTAL: Federal striped bass regulations: It is unlawful to fish for, take or possess striped bass in federal waters (greater than 3 miles from shore). Statewide striped bass regulations: An angler may fish all year for striped bass but may only keep one per day that measures between 20 and 26 inches long or one per day that measures 40 inches or greater. If you have questions or would like copies of the 2010 saltwater regulations, call 633-9505 or check the web at: http://www.maine.gov/dmr/recreational/rechomepage.html

ZONE 1:  Striper fishing has been steady and will continue to improve into the fall. Shore anglers fishing the beaches (sandbar at Old Orchard, Bathhouse end of Biddeford Pool, Higgins) and the Mousam (in the evening) tell of good catches. Use caution this weekend as the storm surge may pose problems if working the surf. If you are fishing the lower rivers, troll either purple, pink or motor oil-colored tubes coupled with a sandworm on the outgoing tide. The baits of choice are large eels, clams and mackerel. For those fishing artificials, try Striper Maine-iac plugs, silver/black 51⁄2-inch Crystal Minnows, chartreuse/white or blue/white Bucktail jigs or any of the rubber shad.  Chartreuse Surf Candy flies and blue/white, black/white and chartreuse/white pattern Clousers are some of the better flies, especially when tossed early or during low light levels. Bluefish up to 16 pounds are out there from Richmond to the other side of the Saco. Ranger lures and Kastmasters are the way to go if using artificials.

ZONE 2: The Cape shoreline, Mackworth, the Royal and the Presumpscot are some of the locales where striper fishing has been good. Broad Cove could be hot in the morning and Pond Cove in the evening. Spinners have been doing well working X-Raps, Yo-Zuri Mag Minnows, Mag Poppers and the Atom Striper Swiper. Fly fishermen are catching fish tossing Snake flies, Gumdrop buttons and mackerel pattern Clousers. Sandworms, mackerel and clams are the baits that have been getting it done. Bluefish schools (small in numbers) are roaming about. Mackerel catches have picked up at the State Pier and out on the ledges. There are plenty of harbor pollock.

ZONE 3: There are stripers around. Find the bait and you will find the stripers, as these fish will be feeding before their trip south in a few weeks.  Action on the rivers, including the Damariscotta, St. George and the Kennebec watershed, has picked up. See Zones 1 and 2 for baits, artificials, flies and fishing tips. Mackerel catches have been hit or miss along the east side of Southport, the Cuckolds and Lower Mark Island.

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