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

Major changes have been made in the groundfish regulations for 2015. Anglers cannot retain any Atlantic cod and the minimum size for haddock has been reduced to 17 inches with a bag limit of three fish per angler per day.

Pollock, haddock, redfish and hake are the mainstays for those targeting groundfish. Bait (shrimp, clams) and jigs coupled with a teaser are getting fish.

A few sharks, mostly blues and porbeagles, have been reported. If you are not sure what species you have hooked, then release – “If you don’t know, let it go.” The minimum size for all keeper sharks (makos, porbeagles, threshers and blues) is 4.5 feet in length. Great whites and basking sharks are federally protected.

Atlantic bluefin tuna are here and a couple have been landed by rod and reel. This early, try trolling squid rigs or daisy chains of mackerel instead of setting up on the ball and chunking. All vessels fishing recreationally for Atlantic tuna, sharks, swordfish, and billfish must have an Atlantic HMS Angling Permit. For information about permits and regs, contact NOAA Fisheries at 888-872-8862 or visit hmspermits.noaa.gov.

Readings from the Jeffrey’s Ledge weather buoy show sea surface temperatures in the low 60s.

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 questions or would like copies of the 2015 saltwater regulations, call 633-9505 or visit maine.gov/dmr/recreational/rechomepage.html.

Also, if you are fishing for striped bass or bluefish using bait, you must use a non-offset 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: If you want stripers, get out early or late since the heat and sun may slow fishing activity during the day. Schoolies can be found in the lower portions of most rivers, while “keepers” are out on the beaches and rocky structures.

Shore anglers have done well at Old Orchard, Higgins and Pine Point (both the beach and the pier). Other active sites are the bathhouse end of Biddeford Pool and the beach next to the Camp Ellis jetty. The key to beach fishing now is to be willing to move to find the fish and not wait for them to come to you. Beach fishermen should also check local ordinances, as some beaches restrict fishing from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Reasonable catches, even during the day, have been reported from boats fishing the lower portions of the rivers with black, bubblegum or wine-red surgical tubes paired with a sandworm. Bait, especially worms, is producing the most fish. The 2½-ounce Savage rubber baits, 6-inch Al Gag Whip-it-Eel, Gag’s Grabbers 5-inch poppers and Wood Striper Maine-iac are catching fish for anglers working artificials.

Fly fishers tossing sand eel and crab patterns continue to be into the fish. Mackerel catching has been spotty, maybe due to bluefish. Use chum to stay on the fish once you start hooking up. Flounder catches have been reported out and around the Piscataquis. There are still a few shad to be had below the Saco Dam and the Scarborough Marsh.

ZONE 2: The transition into the summer striper fishing mode is occurring. Schoolies on up are scattered throughout the islands, coves, rocky ledges and along the Cape Elizabeth shore.

Fish areas where there is moving water or along the backside of surf as that will be where the bait has been kicked up.

Smaller stripers can be found in the lower ends of many rivers. Anglers working the rivers have been more productive during the early morning, at night or in low-light conditions and have done best during a falling tide as the stripers are forced down river. Those fishing other areas have not found these conditions to be quite as critical.

Artificials that are producing include surface poppers and rubber baits. For those using artificials, if you have a hit and lose it, let the lure sit there a second or two before continuing the retrieve. Often the fish will come back and strike again. For anglers throwing flies, try 2/0 Groceries or Clousers (black on cloudy days or night). Clams, worms and mackerel (live or chunked) are working well. Mackerel can be found meandering about this zone.

ZONE 3: For the first time in several years there are reports of stripers in most rivers, beaches and rocky ledges all the way to the Penobscot. Anglers fishing the flats have found them most productive during falling tide. Hint: Make sure you are not fishing in the shadow of your boat – that will spook the fish.

Sandworms and eels continue to be the baits of choice off the beaches and on the flats, while mackerel have been producing stripers around rocky structures. All sized mackerel can be found through most of this zone.

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, P.O. Box 8, West Boothbay Harbor 04575. If you have information to report, please contact him at 633-9505 or email:

[email protected]