Friday, March 7, 2014
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 www.maine.gov/saltwater or call 207-633-9505.
Groundfishing (cod, haddock, pollock) remains consistent. Anglers fishing the midrange humps have had the best success in the deep water during the early morning. Diamond or Norwegian jigs (16 and 20 oz.) coupled with a teaser (mojo or fly) have been working well for cod while bait (shrimp or clams) has been more effective for haddock. Reports of halibut hookups are more numerous this year. The minimum size for halibut is 41 inches and all retained fish must immediately be tagged with a landings tag. Recreational tags can be obtained by calling Ann Tarr at 624-6550. There have been bluefin tuna sightings, hookups and landings. Anglers trolling have had luck using large squid rigs and Green Machine daisy chains while those fishing on the ball have been successful using fluorocarbon leaders with live mackerel or herring. More and more anglers are reporting blue sharks while groundfishing or tuna fishing. The minimum size for all keeper sharks (makos, porbeagles, threshers and blues) is 4.5 feet in length and that basking and great white sharks are federally protected species. Note that all vessels fishing recreationally for Atlantic tunas, sharks, swordfish and billfish must have an Atlantic HMS angling permit from the NMFS. For more information contact the NMFS at 978-281-9260 or visit their website at http://nmfspermits.com. Sea surface temperatures reported from the Portland and Jeffrey's weather buoys are in the mid 60s.
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 between 20 and 26 inches total length or one striped bass per day that measures 40 inches or greater in total length. If you have any questions or would like copies of the saltwater regulations, please call 633-9505 or check the web at www.maine.gov/dmr/recreational/rechomepage.html.
ZONE 1: If you want stripers, get out and fish the early or evening tides since the heat and sun slows fishing activity during the day. Fish can be found in the lower portions of most rivers, out on the beaches and rocky structures. Beach fishermen should check local ordinances before fishing as some area beaches restrict fishing between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Reasonable catches have been reported from boat guys fishing the lower portions of the rivers with either the pink or wine red surgical tubes coupled with a sandworm. Clams, herring, macs and sandworms are the baits of choice. Artificials that are working include Yo-Zuri Crystal and Pins Minnows (black/silver) and rubber fish (Fin-S, Slug-Go's, etc.). Fly guys are hooking up by matching their patterns to the bait (bunker pattern Deceivers, chartreuse Clousers). Again, a few bluefish have been reported but no blitzes. Mackerel catches have been slim but have been better for those that have been using chum.
ZONE 2: Stripers, a mix of sizes, are scattered throughout the islands, coves, rocky ledges and lower portions of the rivers. Anglers working the rivers have been more productive during the early morning, at night or during low light conditions, and have done best during a falling tide as the stripers are forced down river. Those fishing outside have not found these conditions to be quite as critical. Fish areas where there is moving water or along the backside of any surf as that will be where the bait has been kicked up by the surf. Clams and mackerel (live or chunked) are the baits that are working well. Artificials that are producing include 3 inch mackerel or blue/white Gag's Schoolie Poppers and Mambo Minnows, white Slug-Gos, and Crippled Herring. 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 blue/pink Clousers (black on cloudy days or night). Mackerel catches have been decent. Harbor pollock can be found tight to shore.
ZONE 3: Stripers can be found in many of the rivers, beaches and rocky ledges. If you are fishing the rivers try working the deep ledges with live bait. When bait fishing, try using in-line circle hooks as they greatly reduce the chances of gut hooking the fish. Flats fishing has been especially productive when working the falling tide, but make sure you are not fishing in the shadow of your boat. Mackerel, preferably live lined, have been producing stripers around rocky structure while bloodworms and eels continue to be the baits of choice off the beaches and on the flats. All sized mackerel can be found throughout most of this zone (Rockland Breakwater, Southport Bridge, etc.). Cunner catches have been good along the Rockland Breakwater.
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 email: firstname.lastname@example.org.