If you are a recreational saltwater angler, Maine law may require you to register with the Maine Saltwater Recreational Fishing Registry. To learn more or to register visit maine.gov/saltwater or call 633-9505.

OFFSHORE

Atlantic bluefin tuna, footballs and the big boys, are around but I have not heard of any taken by rod and reel. A few porbeagles have been hooked up over the past week. The minimum size for all keeper sharks (makos, porbeagles, threshers and blues) is 4.5 feet in length. All vessels fishing recreationally for Atlantic tunas, sharks, swordfish, and billfish must have an Atlantic HMS Angling Permit. For more information about permits and the regs contact NOAA Fisheries at 888-872-8862 or visit hmspermits.noaa.gov. Major changes have been made in the groundfish regulations for 2015. Anglers can’t retain any Atlantic cod and the minimum size for haddock has been reduced to 17 inches with a three-fish-per-angler-per-day bag limit. Anglers targeting groundfish can expect a mix of pollock, haddock, hake, redfish and cusk. Both jigs, coupled with a teaser, and bait are working well. An angler specifically after haddock should fish bait (clams, shrimp) right near a gravel or sand bottom. Also, be careful not to overload your hook with bait since haddock have a relatively small mouth and more is not better. It is not uncommon for anglers to easily reach their haddock bag limit. Readings from the Jeffrey’s Ledge weather buoy show sea surface temperatures in the upper 50s.

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).

New statewide striped bass regulations: An angler may fish all year for striped bass, but may only keep one per day that measures over 28 inches in length. If you have any questions or would like copies of the 2015 saltwater regulations please call 633-9505 or check maine.gov/dmr/recreational/rechomepage.html

Also, if you are fishing for striped bass or bluefish using bait, you must use a nonoffset circle hook. There is an exception: rubber or latex tube lures may be used without a circle hook as long as they are a minimum of 8 inches long and have a single hook protruding from the end portion of the tubing where bait may be attached.

ZONE 1: There is lots of bait (sand eels, alewives, etc.) and therefore plenty of happy stripers throughout this zone. Shore anglers have been catching bass off the beaches (Higgins, Pine Point, Biddeford Pool, ocean side of the Camp Ellis jetty) and the rivers. Beach fishermen should check local ordinances as some beaches restrict fishing between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Bait (clams, worms, live or chunk macs) is producing the most fish. River fishing (Saco, Scarborough, etc.) has been very good when fished during the incoming tide and the first hour of the outgoing. Anglers trolling surgical tubes (wine red, bubblegum) coupled with a sandworm are catching fish. The Daiwa fast sinking S P Minnows (look out for sticky bottom) and the 1 ounce Lonely Angler Ghost Zipster are just a couple of artificials that have been getting it done. Fly guys throwing crab and sand eel patterns are catching fish. Over the past week mackerel have become very abundant with some showing up with bite marks (bluefish). If you are targeting blues try the orange 3-ounce Ranger lure and don’t forget the wire leader. Shad (the poor man’s tarpon) are still being caught below the Saco Dam.

ZONE 2: Fishing around the mouths of the rivers (Presumpscot, Harraseeket, Royal, etc.) the islands (Cushing, Cow, Little Chebeague) as well as the Cape shoreline are areas that have been productive for striper fishermen. Bait is everywhere and so are the stripers. Anglers working artificials have been getting into the fish using Rapala X-Raps, mackerel or herring, Gag’s Mambo Minnows poppers as well as any of the rubber baits. Flies that have been effective include any of the 2/0 and 4/0 grocery patterns (river mouths) and Clousers (on the flats). Baits of choice are mackerel and worms. Mackerel catches throughout the Bay are moderate. Use chum to stay on the fish once you start hooking up.

ZONE 3: Statewide striped bass regulations now apply to this entire zone. Stripers and mackerel can be caught from various locations throughout this zone. Anglers report catching stripers (schoolies on up) from a wide range of spots including the lower Kennebec, off Popham Beach and Sagadahoc Bay, Back River (Kennebec River) and the Sasanoa. Though early in the season, many striper fishermen are very optimistic. Bait (live macs around the rock piles, worms on the flats and eels from the beaches) has been king. Try and match your artificials and flies to the natural bait. Mackerel have arrived and you should use chum (cat food) coupled with mix flasher Sabiki rig and a diamond jig at the end to get results. Remember that if you are fishing on the Kennebec, upstream of the power line in Augusta, you must have a current freshwater fishing license.

This saltwater report is compiled by Bruce Joule, Maine Department of Marine Resources. He can be reached at 633-9505, P.O. Box 8, West Boothbay Harbor 04575, or by email at

[email protected]