This will be my final column of the 2010 season. I would like to thank all the captains and tackle shops, especially Saco Bay Tackle, the Tackle Shop, Captain Peter Fallon and Captain Dave Pecci, along with the everyday anglers who on a weekly basis have provided me with valuable fishing information. I hope that while anglers enjoyed reading about what was going on along the coast they were able to take away some information that enabled them to enjoy better fishing. I wish everybody a great winter and look forward to next season.

OFFSHORE: Sea-surface temperatures are running a few degrees above and below that 60-degree mark. Groundfishing (pollock, cod haddock, etc.) has been good and will only get better as we head into October. Blue sharks, porbeagles and threshers are available in fishable numbers out on the Shark Grounds, Trinidad, the deep water off Tanta’s and the Gulch. The minimum size for all keeper sharks (makos, porbeagles, threshers and blues) is 41/2 feet long; basking and great white sharks are federally protected species. There are still tuna stopping bait inside Tanta’s, Trinidad and by the Portland LNB. Both trolling and setting up on the ball are producing fish. Lately, however, the problem is getting the right weather to go after these fish. 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. A sampling of this week’s offshore Tackle-Buster catches includes Michael Prestipino, with a 501/2-pound cod.

COASTAL: Federal striped bass regulations: It is unlawful to fish for, take or possess striped bass in federal waters (waters greater than 3 miles from shore). Statewide striped bass regulations: An angler may fish all year for striped bass but may keep one only per day that measures between 20 and 26 inches total length 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: There are plenty of stripers out there for the taking. Time of day is not an issue, so fish when you can. Try Ferry, Higgins, Old Orchard, Pine Point and the bathhouse end of Biddeford Pool, but don’t ignore the lower rivers and estuaries. Keep in mind the stripers are on the move and they can show up anywhere and begin feeding. Clams, eels and mackerel along the beaches and chunk macs fished around the rock piles are getting results. Nothing beats the wine red, pink or purple surgical tube when fished in the lower rivers and estuaries, but don’t forget to put that sandworm on the end of the rig. Spinners should try 2-4-ounce Crippled Herring, Point Jude metal lures, Deadly Dicks and any of the rubber baits. Fly fishermen casting black Clousers day or night have been hooking up bass. Bluefish have been reported out around Richmond, Bluff, Eagle and Stratton, as well as off Crescent Beach. The mackerel, mostly spikes, have been roaming around the islands in Saco Bay. Use chum and small Sabiki rigs.

ZONE 2:  Stripers can be found in the lower portions of the rivers (New Meadows, Royal, Harraseeket, Presumpscot, etc.), the flats off Mackworth, Back Cove, East End Beach and the ledges around the Two Lights and Portland Head Light area. Mackerel and sandworms are the preferred baits, but the stripers will take just about anything you give them. Anglers who want to fish artificials should throw 4-6-inch Sluggos, Gagg’s Schoolies and Yo-Zuri Hydro-Poppers. Fly guys who have been tossing Clousers and Deceivers in silverside and sand eel patterns report fair catches. There are still a few bluefish around, but don’t expect these guys to hang around much longer. Mackerel catches have picked up. Chris Uraneck joined the Tackle-Buster club earlier this week with a 42-inch bass.

ZONE 3: As you head from east to west in this zone the stripers will be starting to drop out of the rivers for their journey south. Fishing in the lower parts of the Kennebec, Sheepscot, Damariscotta and St. George rivers has been decent, but remember as these fish stage up, where they are today they may not be tomorrow. Anglers fishing deep have been getting the bigger fish. Look for bird activity and breaking bait and you will find the stripers. See zones 1 and 2 for baits, artificials, flies and fishing tips. Mackerel are still in many of their typical locations.

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]

If you are planning to saltwater fish this season make sure you sign up with the National Saltwater Angler Registry. It’s free in 2010 and only takes a couple of minutes. You can go online at www.countmyfish.noaa.gov or call 1-888-674-7411.