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

The National Marine Fisheries Service hasn’t set the 2017 groundfish regulations so anglers are still fishing under the 2016 rules. This means anglers can keep 15 haddock a day that are over 17 inches but may not retain any cod. Regulations are going to change, just not sure when. 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 coolers. Bait (clams) on a gravel bottom for haddock and jigs with a teaser on the humps for pollock have been catching fish. The tuna bite continues to heat up for rod and reel fishermen with numerous fish taken from a variety of locations, primarily by chunking while on the ball. 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 4.5 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, shark, swordfish and billfish must have an Atlantic HMS angling permit. For more information contact the NMFS at 978-281-9260 or visit their website. Readings from the Jeffrey’s Ledge weather buoy show sea surface temperatures in the low 60s. Closer inshore at the Portland LNB, temps are in the mid-50s.

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).

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 total length. If you have any questions or would like copies of the 2017 saltwater regulations, please call 633-9505 or check the web at: maine.gov/dmr/recreational-fishing/index.html

ZONE 1: There’s a really good mix of schoolies, keepers and the occasional trophy striped bass around. Anglers targeting stripers should concentrate their effort out on the beaches and rock piles. Fishing has been the most productive the first few hours of the outgoing tide. Although there are still some bass in the lower portions of the rivers, this recent warmer weather has pushed the water temps up and pushed the fish out. 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 because area beaches may restrict fishing between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Clams and chunk macs are the bait of choice off the beaches while worms are working in the lower portions of the rivers and estuaries. The Sand Eel Epoxy Jig, Deadly Dicks, Kastmasters and Al’s Goldfish 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 hot one day and cold the next with the best catches being reported outside Saco Bay. Use chum (cat food) to stay on the fish once you start hooking up. The number of pogies around is crazy.

ZONE 2: The ledges, islands and 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. If fishing at night, try using black flies that silhouette well against the night. Macs can be had with chum and a Sabiki rig. Pogies are around, especially in the New Meadows. Portland Harbor sea surface temps are running in the mid-50s.

ZONE 3: The striped bass pick has been good to very good in some 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, looking 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 baits that have caught fish. Some of the artificials that have done 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. The Boothbay Fish Pier and Rockland Breakwater are just a couple of 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 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]