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 207-633-9505.

OFFSHORE

The Atlantic bluefin tuna bite is getting better and better. Some spots where fish have been caught include the Kettle, Sagadahoc and outside of Platt’s. Chunking on the ball or drifting have been the most productive methods of hooking up. Porbeagles, blue sharks and a few threshers have also been taken by those fishing offshore. 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 aren’t sure what species you’ve 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 contact the NMFS at 978-281-9260 or visit their website. Currently the National Marine Fisheries Service has not yet set the 2017 groundfish regulations so anglers are still fishing under the 2016 regulations. That means anglers can keep 15 haddock a day that are over 17 inches, but may not retain any cod. Regulations are going to change; stay tuned. 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. Groundfishing remains consistent for this time of year. Anglers can expect catches of pollock, haddock and cod (again, the cod must be released) with a few redfish, hake and cusk mixed in. Sea surface temperature reports from the Jeffrey’s Ledge and from the Portland LNB weather buoys show temperatures in the low 60’s.

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.

ZONE 1: Striper fishermen should work the beaches, rock piles and lower sections of the rivers. Get out early, late or on overcast days since the heat and sun may turn the catching off during the day. Fish the dropping tide in the rivers and just behind any surf action along the beaches, as the surf stirs up the bait. If crabs are eating your bait use a bobber to keep your bait just off the bottom. Beach fishermen should check local ordinances prior to fishing, because some area beaches restrict fishing between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The baits remain the same; clams off the beaches, and worms and macs in the rivers and estuaries. If you are having a hard time keeping your bait on your circle hook; try small rubber bands. Trolling surgical tubes with a worm, just about any time, will hook fish in the lower portions of the rivers. Crank fishermen working Al’s Goldfish 1 ounce poppers, Deadly Dicks, Slug-Gos as well as traditional Bucktails with teasers report positive results. For those throwing a fly, match the natural bait (sand eel, crab patterns). Depending on whom you speak, mackerel catching has been either good or bad. Sabiki rigs and chum (cat food) have worked well for those catching. A few bluefish have been reported. Pogies are still here.

ZONE 2: The 79th annual Bailey Island tuna and small fish tournament, based out of Cook’s Lobster House on Bailey Island, is under way and will run through Saturday. Striper fishing continues to be decent along the Cape shore, the ledges and the islands. You can still pick up some fish in the rivers but for the best results fish these areas predawn or evening. For those using artificials try black Slug-Gos (night), Gag’s Mambo Minnows, Schoolie Poppers or the Yo-Zuri Pin’s Magnets. Worms and macs are the baits of choice. Mackerel are around. Pogies are still around. Portland Harbor sea surface temperatures are in the high 50s.

ZONE 3: Good numbers of striped bass and mackerel along with the occasional bluefish are available to both shore and boat anglers. Striper fishermen live lining mackerel, bloodworms or eels in the cuts and drops are getting fish while clams along the beaches have been the way to go. Fin-S, Sassy Shad and Pencil Poppers are some of the artificials that have been catching stripers. Fly guys tossing larger groceries in the fast water and crab or sand eel patterns on the flats have been seeing activity. Fishermen need to be out very early. Once the sun is over the trees, fishing activity slows. For anglers fishing the flats, work areas on the coming tide after the clammers and wormers have left since they will have stirred the bait up. Remember that if you are fishing on the Kennebec, upstream of the power line in Augusta, you must have a current freshwater fishing license. Though just about anything will catch mackerel, anglers report that hand-tied mackerel rigs or Sabiki rigs coupled with a 4-5 ounce Hopkins or Crocodile Spoon are producing fish.

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]