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 Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) General category is currently closed and will reopen on Sept. 1. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is updating the adjustment of the BFT general category daily retention limit beginning Sept. 1, to one large, medium or giant BFT (measuring 73 inches or greater) per vessel per day/trip. The daily retention limit adjustment applies to vessels permitted in the General and the Charter/Headboat category while fishing commercially. There are plenty of blue sharks as well as a few 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 contact the NMFS at 978-281-9260 or visit their website. Changes have been made in the cod and haddock regulations for 2017. Anglers cannot retain any Atlantic cod and the minimum size for haddock is 17 inches with a 12-fish-per-angler, per-day bag limit. All other groundfish (pollock, cusk, redfish, hake, etc.) can be retained within their respective 2017 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 is closed from July 1 to April 30. Reports from the Jeffrey’s Ledge buoy show temps in the low to mid 60s while at the Portland LNB weather buoy temperatures are running just north of 60.

COASTAL

Federal striped bass regulations: It is unlawful to fish for, take or possess striped bass in Federal waters (waters greater 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 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 temps 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 are catching 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 stripers are, anglers should look for bait breaking the surface and birds working the water. 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. Mackerel catches continue to be hit or miss. Shad are mixed in with the schools of pogies.

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 high 50s.

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 well. Find the bait and you will find the fish. Reports from the Kennebec are that it is the best striper fishing in several years. See zones 1 and 2 for baits, artificials, flies and fishing tips. There are still plenty of pogies around. Make sure you have your wire leaders with you in case you run into a bluefish. If you are fishing on the Kennebec, upstream of the power line in Augusta, you must have a current freshwater fishing license. Sea surface temperatures, as reported from the DMR dock in West Boothbay Harbor, are about 60.

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]