September 6, 2012

Saltwater Fishing Report

By BRUCE JOULE, Maine Department of Marine Resources

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 or call 207-633-9505.


The Gulch, Trinidad, the backside of Tantas and the Shark Grounds are some spots where anglers targeting sharks have been catching threshers and many blues. The minimum size for all keeper sharks (makos, porbeagles, threshers and blues) is 4.5 feet in length, while basking and great white sharks are federally protected. There are limited numbers of tuna (more footballs showing up) busting about from Scantum Basin to east of Mt. Desert rock. Swimming baits continue to get fish although anglers trolling squid rigs and daisy chains (dark rigs on overcast days, bright colored ones on sunny days) have been hooking up. If you are after footballs, Shankas Rigs coupled with their custom offset hook have worked well. Angling permit holders may take one tuna 27 inches or greater up to 73 inches per day. All vessels fishing recreationally for Atlantic tunas, sharks and swordfish must have an Atlantic HMS angling permit. For more information contact the NMFS at 978-281-9260 or visit their website at Groundfishing is decent to very good depending on your location. Both bait (clam 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 upper 60s while closer to home the temps have fallen to the low 60s.


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 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, call 633-9505 or check online at

ZONE 1: Even though beach fishing (the Graveyard, Ferry, Goosefare Brook, Higgins, Old Orchard and Biddeford Pool) 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 continue to catch fish in the rivers 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 wood plugs (lots of natural movement), Calcutta baits, rubber shad, the 6- to 7-inch mackerel, colored or black/silver Bombers and Strike Pro poppers have been hooking fish. Fly fishermen casting peanut bunker, silverside or herring pattern Grocery flies have been getting bass. Bluefish (very spotty) have been reported out around Saco Bay, Richmond Island, Pine Point and off the beaches. Try working deep-diving lures or bright-colored poppers. Mackerel can be had but be prepared to work for them.

ZONE 2: There are striped bass of all sizes to be had. Fish can be found in the lower portions of the rivers (New Meadows, Royal Harraseeket, Presumpscot, etc.), the flats off Mackworth, Back Cove and along the Cape shore. Mackerel, clams and sandworms are the preferred baits. Anglers who want to fish artificials should use 4- to 6-inch Sluggos, 3-inch Gag's Schoolie poppers, Yo-Zuri Mag Minnows, Rapala X-Raps 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 between catching no fish and a lot of fish. Fly guys who have been tossing black Deceivers and black Snake Flies during the early-morning tide report 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 (snappers) are still hanging in there. Casting plugs like the Bombers, Rapalas and the Mambos have been working well at catching blues but make sure you have your wire leaders.

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:


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