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 www.maine.gov/saltwater or call (207) 633-9505.

OFFSHORE

Anglers are seeing and marking lots of bait, which is a very good sign. Pollock and haddock with lesser amounts of cusk, redfish and hake are filling the groundfishermen’s cooler. Bait (shrimp, clams) on a gravel bottom for haddock and jigs with a teaser on the humps have been catching fish. 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 three-fish-per-angler per-day bag limit. The tuna bite continues to heat up for rod and reel fishermen with numerous fish taken from a variety of locations, mostly by chunking while on the ball. This is good news for those participating in the upcoming 77th annual Bailey Island Tournament, the granddaddy of all Maine tourneys. This tournament is based out of Cook’s Lobster House on Bailey’s Island and runs from July 20-25. Some shark action has been reported, mostly porbeagles but also a few threshers and blues. The minimum size for all keeper sharks (makos, porbeagles, threshers and blues) is 4 1/2 feet in length while great whites and basking sharks are federally protected. If you are not sure of what species you have hooked, then “if you don’t know, let it go.”

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 the NOAA Fisheries at (888) 872-8862 or visit their website at hmspermits.noaa.gov.

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

COASTAL

Federal striped bass regulations: It is unlawful to fish for, take or possess striped bass in federal waters (waters greater than three 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, call 633-9505 or check the web at: 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: Anglers targeting stripers should concentrate their effort out on the beaches and rock piles. Although there are still some bass in the lower portions of the rivers, this recent heat has warmed water temps and pushed the fish out. Get out early or late since the heat and sun may turn the catching off during the day. Biddeford Pool (Bathhouse end and rocks), Ocean Park, Old Orchard and Higgins continue to hold fish. Beach fishermen should check local ordinances prior to fishing as area beaches may restrict fishing between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Clams are the bait of choice off the beaches while worms and macs are working in the lower portions of the rivers and estuaries. Trolling surgical tubes (wine red, bubblegum) with a worm continue to produce fish in the lower portions of the rivers. The Oozzie jig, Deadly Dicks, Kastmasters and white Calcutta Flashfoil are a few of the artificial baits that have been catching fish. Sand eel pattern flies continue to work for fly fishermen. Mackerel catching has been what can be expected for this time of year with the best catches being reported outside Saco Bay. Use chum (cat food) to stay on the fish once you start hooking up. There have been a few reports of bluefish around Richmond Island.

ZONE 2: The 77th annual Bailey Island Tuna and Small Fish Tournament begins Monday and runs through Saturday. This is a great fun-filled family event for both anglers and spectators. The ledges, islands and the outer Cape shoreline are the places to go if you want to catch stripers. Baits that are working include worms and chunk or live mackerel. Gag’s Mambo Minnows and Schoolie Poppers, Rapala X-Raps and Yo-Zuri Mag Poppers are several of the artificials that have been fish-getters. Anglers tossing flies have been getting into stripers using white or black Clousers and the Hollow Fleye. If fishing at night, try using black flies as they silhouette well against the night. Macs can be had with chum and a Sabiki rig. Has anyone been catching black sea bass yet?

ZONE 3: The striped bass pick has been good to very good in some of the rivers and slightly better around the rocky ledges and off the beaches. As the rivers continue to warm, try working the deep spots early or late using bait. Fishing the rivers has also become very tide specific. Anglers targeting stripers need to read the water; look for moving water and rips off any points. Natural channels, where the flats drain as the tide falls, and bird action are also good indicators. Worms, eels and macs are the baits that have been catching fish. Some of the artificials that have been doing the trick are the Rebel Windcheater, Creek Chubs and Gag’s Poppers. Fly enthusiasts fishing pollock or mackerel pattern flies and black Clousers (at night) report decent action. Mackerel are scattered about. The Southport Bridge, the Boothbay Fish Pier and the Rockland Breakwater are just a few of the spots where anglers have shore access to catch these fish. 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]