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

Substantial changes have been made in the cod and haddock 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 minimum size for halibut in federal waters is 41 inches and the taking of halibut in Maine territorial waters is closed from July 1 to April 30. Anglers targeting groundfish can expect catches of primarily pollock, haddock and also cod (which must be released) along with a few hake, cusk and redfish mixed in. Sixteen-ounce jigs with a teaser fly, just above the jig, work well for pollock. Bait such as shrimp and clams work best for haddock but don’t overload your hook. There are blue sharks, threshers and porbeagles available to the offshore fisherman. The minimum size for all keeper sharks (makos, porbeagles, threshers and blues) is 4.5 feet in length while basking and white sharks are federally protected species. If you are not sure what species you hooked, then “If you don’t know, let it go.” The Atlantic bluefin tuna bite has been good, mostly inside. Thirteen tuna were entered in last week’s 77th annual Bailey Island Tuna and Small Fish Tournament. Congratulations to Joe Geaumont and the crew of the “Off-the Hook” with their first-place fish weighing in at 715 pounds. This is their second straight first-place finish. All vessels fishing recreationally for Atlantic tunas, sharks, swordfish, and billfish must have an Atlantic HMS angling permit. For more information about the permits and the regulations s contact the NOAA Fisheries at (888)872-8862 or visit their website at hmspermits.noaa.gov. Sea surface temperatures, as reported from Jeffrey’s Ledge, are 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 please call 633-9505 or visit: www.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 eight inches long and have a single hook protruding from the end portion of the tubing where bait may be attached.

ZONE 1: Time of day is very important if you want to catch stripers. Anglers, especially those fishing artificials and flies, need to be out during low light hours. Anglers fishing the rivers on an incoming tide with bait (worms, clams, and herring) or surgical tubes coupled with a worm have had success. The beaches and ledges continue to be productive. Beach fishermen should check local ordinances before fishing as some area beaches may restrict fishing between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Those working artificials have had luck with any of the rubber baits (Slug-go, Fin-S, etc.) as well as top water lures. Fly guys tossing flies that mimic the natural bait (sand eel, crab patterns) are catching fish. Mackerel catching has been spotty but the typical haunts around the mouth of Saco Bay (Wood, Stratton, Bluff Islands) have been producing fish. Sabiki rigs and chum (cat food) work for catching fish. There are plenty of harbor pollock about. Though there are lots of rumors, there still have been no confirmed reports of bluefish.

ZONE 2: Striper fishing has been good out around the islands, the Cape shoreline and the ledges, as well as off the mouths of the Presumpscot, Harraseeket and Royal Rivers. For best results, fish areas of moving water. Fly guys throwing big Groceries are not complaining. Baits that are getting it done include sandworms, clams and mackerel. Spin fishermen using 5- to 7-inch lures like the Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow, Hydro-Popper, Gag’s Mambo Minnow and the Rapala X-Raps have been doing well. Some anglers targeting macs have had to work. If you are not having luck with conventional Christmas tree rigs try hand tied mackerel rigs coupled with a 4- to 5-ounce Hopkins or Crocodile Spoon. Harbor pollock are available. Sea-surface temperatures inside Portland Harbor are in the low 60s.

ZONE 3: Stripers (with reports of some fish east of Boothbay all the way to the Penobscot for the first time in several years) and mackerel are what anglers can expect to catch. Bait (bloodworms, macs and eels) reigns king for those targeting bass. Striper guys should fish early and deep. See Zones 1 and 2 for artificials and flies. Mackerel can be caught in all their traditional spots, both from shore and by boat. Remember that if you are fishing on the Kennebec upstream of the power line in Augusta, you must possess 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 me at 633-9505 or email:

[email protected]