Friday, March 7, 2014
FEDERAL: It is unlawful to fish for, take or possess striped bass in federal waters (greater than three miles from shore).
STATEWIDE: An angler may fish all year for striped bass, but may only keep one per day that measures between 20 and 26 inches total length or one per day that measures 40 inches or greater in total length. If you have any questions or would like copies of the saltwater regulations, call 633-9505 or check online at: http://www.maine.gov/dmr/ recreational/rechomepage.html.
The Kettle, Trinidad and the backside of Tantas are some spots where anglers targeting sharks have been catching a few makos and many blue sharks. The minimum size for all keeper sharks (makos, porbeagles, threshers and blues) is 4 1⁄2 feet in length, while basking and great white sharks are federally protected. There are limited numbers of tuna busting about from Scantum Basin to east of Mount Desert rock. Sitting on the ball has produced some fish but anglers should try trolling squid rigs and daisy chains (dark rigs on overcast days, bright colored ones on sunny days), as the fish have not really settled in on the humps yet.
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, call NOAA Fisheries at (888) 872-8862 or visit: http://hmspermits.noaa.gov. Groundfishing is decent to very good depending on your location. Both bait (clams or shrimp) and jigs (Shimano Butterfly Flatside) with a teaser are working equally well. Sea surface temperatures on Jeffrey’s and Cashes are running in the mid-60s while closer to home the temps are in the low 60s.
New for 2013: 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 8 inches long and have a single hook protruding from the end portion of the tubing where bait may be attached.
ZONE 1: Even though beach fishing (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 midsummer. Pink or purple tubes coupled with a sandworm continue to catch fish in the rivers (outgoing tide), while chunking macs (fresh or frozen) from the beaches has 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 and Bucktail jigs have been hooking fish. Fly fishermen casting Gartside Gurglers, peanut bunker or herring-pattern Grocery flies report good catches. Bluefish (very spotty) have been reported out around Saco Bay, Richmond Island and Pine Point. Try working deep-diving orange Rapala lures or bright-colored poppers. Mackerel are around but be prepared to work for them.
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), the flats off Mackworth, Back Cove and along the Cape shore. Mackerel and sandworms are the preferred baits. Anglers who want to fish artificials should use 4-6 inch white Sluggos, 3 1⁄2-inch Gag’s Schoolie poppers, Yo-Zuri Mambo Minnows and Bucktail jigs. If the catching is slow, try using a teaser ahead of your lure. Remember that the speed of your retrieve can make all the difference. Fly guys who have been tossing crab and shrimp have reported fair catches.
ZONE 3: Expect the striper fishing to really turn over the next few weeks, as these fish put the feedbag on prior to their southern migration. Anglers fishing deep on structures, off the beaches or on the flats in the rivers have done well. Find the bait and you will find the fish. See zones 1 and 2 for baits, artificials, flies and fishing tips. Mackerel and blues are here. Casting plugs like the Bombers, Rapalas and the Mambos will work well at catching blues but make sure you have your wire leaders.
• 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 register, visit www.maine.gov/saltwater or call 633-9505.
This saltwater report is compiled by Bruce Joule, Maine Department of Marine Resources, P.O. Box 8, West Boothbay Harbor, ME 04575. If you have information to report, call 633-9505 or email: