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

Please note that you cannot retain cod and haddock, but all other groundfish (pollock, cusk, redfish, hake, etc.) can be retained within their respective 2015 regulations. The occasional halibut, mostly sub-legal, continues to be caught. The minimum size for halibut in federal waters is 41 inches and the taking of halibut in Maine territorial waters (inside three miles) is closed from July 1 to April 30. There are fair numbers of Atlantic bluefin tuna busting about from Scantum Basin to east of Mt. Desert rock. Sitting on the ball has produced fish but anglers should not shy away from trolling squid rigs and daisy chains (dark rigs on overcast days, bright colored ones on sunny days). There are plenty of blue sharks as well as a few threshers and makos being reported. 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 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 regulations 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 upper 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 questions or would like copies of the 2015 saltwater regulations, please call 633-9505 or check the website at: www.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 eight inches long and have a single hook protruding from the end portion of the tubing where bait may be attached.

ZONE 1: Bluefish, stripers and mackerel are here for the taking. Even though beach fishing for stripers (Ferry, Goosefare Brook, Higgins, Kennebunk) has been good, don’t ignore the lower rivers (Scarborough, Saco, Mousam) and estuaries. As the days shorten and the water temperatures cool, tide and time of day don’t play as much of a factor in catching bass as in mid-summer. Pink or purple tubes, coupled with a sandworm, continue to catch fish in the rivers (outgoing tide) while chunking macs (fresh or frozen), eels and clams from the beaches have done the trick. To find where the blues and stripers are, anglers should look for bait breaking the surface and birds working the water. It is not uncommon for the blues to be working the bait at the surface and stripers underneath feeding on the scraps. Spinners working Cotton Cordell surface pencil poppers, Calcutta baits, rubber shad as well as the old standby Kastmaster jig have been hooking fish. Fly fishermen casting peanut bunker or crab pattern flies tell of good catches. Bluefish are being caught around Wells, Kennebunk and Saco Bay. For those not using bait, work deep-diving orange Rapala lures, Sebile green bombers or other bright colored poppers. Mackerel catches have become less frequent with the arrival of bluefish.

ZONE 2: There are striped bass of all sizes throughout this zone. Fish can be found in the lower portions of the rivers (New Meadows, Royal Harraseeket, Presumpscot, etc.), out around the islands and on structure throughout the Bay. Mackerel and sandworms are the preferred baits. Anglers who want to fish artificials should use 4-6 inch white Slug-Gos, 3½ inch Gag’s Schoolie poppers, Yo-Zuri Mambo Minnows and Bucktail jigs. If catching is slow, try using a teaser ahead of your lure. The speed of your retrieve can make all the difference between catching no fish and a lot of fish. Fly guys who have been tossing crab and shrimp report fair catches. Water temperatures at the Maine State Pier are in the low 60’s.

ZONE 3: Expect the striper fishing to really turn on over the next few weeks as these fish put the feedbag on prior to their southern migration. Anglers fishing deep on structure and the flats in the rivers or off the beaches have done particularly well. Find the bait and then you will find the fish. Reports from the Kennebec are that it is the best striper fishing seen in several years. See zones 1 and 2 for baits, artificials, flies and fishing tips. Make sure that you have your wire leaders with you in case you run into bluefish. 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]