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

As Wednesday the National Marine Fisheries Service still has not set the 2017 groundfish regulations so anglers are still fishing under the 2016 regulations. 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. Pollock and haddock are the mainstay for groundfishermen. Fish the gravel bottom with bait (clams) for haddock, but make sure you don’t overload your hook. For those targeting pollock and other groundfish use jigs with a teaser. The tuna bite has been strong but the fish taken so far have been lean. A few reports of sharks, 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 tuna, sharks, 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 and the Portland LNB show sea surface temps have warmed to the mid 60s.

COASTAL

Federal striped bass regulations: It is unlawful to fish for, take or possess striped bass in federal waters (waters more than 3 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.

ZONE 1: Stripers are everywhere! Anglers have a shot at schoolies, keepers and the occasional trophy fish. The beaches and rock piles have the most action, but don’t rule out lower portions of rivers. Fishing the first few hours of the outgoing tide has been the most productive. Get out early or late since this recent heat and sun may turn the catching off during the day. Pine Point (the beach and the pier) Hills, Biddeford Pool, Ocean Park, Old Orchard and Higgins continue to give up fish. Beach fishermen should check local ordinances prior to fishing as area beaches may restrict fishing between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Bait, artificials and flies are all working well. Worms, clams and chunk macs are the bait of choice. Any of the white rubber baits, bucktails, Kastmasters and Al’s Goldfish are just a few of the artificial baits that have been catching fish. The defensive crab pattern and sand eel pattern flies are working for fly fishermen. Depending on who you talk to, mackerel catching has been very good or very bad. Use chum (cat food) to stay on the fish once you start hooking up. Pogies are still here in big numbers.

ZONE 2: Stripers can be found in good numbers throughout this zone. The ledges, islands and the outer Cape shoreline are the places to go if you want to catch stripers. Artificials that are producing include surface poppers and the rubber baits. For those using artificials, if you have a hit and lose it, just 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). Baits that are working include worms and chunk or live mackerel. Macs can be had with chum and a Sabiki rig. Pogies are still here. Portland Harbor sea surface temps are running in the mid 50s.

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. Fishermen are catching lots of striped bass throughout the Kennebec watershed including the beaches. Anglers fishing the flats have found them to be most productive when working the falling tide. Hint: Make sure you are not fishing in the shadow of your boat as 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 structure. All sized mackerel can be found throughout 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 me at 633-9505 or E-Mail:

[email protected]