Monday, December 9, 2013
Sea surface temperatures in the western Gulf of Maine range from the low 60s at the Portland LNB to almost 70 degrees on Jeffreys. Groundfishing continues to be good on most all mid- and offshore humps. Catches are dominated by pollock, haddock and cod, with lesser amounts of white hake, cusk and redfish rounding out the catch. Make sure to fish a fly (hot pink, yellow) a couple inches above your Norwegian jig. If targeting haddock, use a sinker and bait your hook with shrimp or clams and don't overload the hook. The Atlantic bluefin bite continues to be spotty. All vessels fishing recreationally for Atlantic tunas, sharks, swordfish, and billfish must have an Atlantic HMS permit. For more information about permits and the regs contact the NOAA Fisheries at 888-872-8862 or visit their website at http://hmspermits.noaa.gov. There are blue sharks (many), threshers and porbeagles (some over 400 pounds) out there for the taking or tagging. The minimum size for keeper sharks (makos, porbeagles, threshers and blues) is 4.5 feet. Basking and great white sharks are federally protected.
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: Striped bass of all sizes can be found in most of their typical August haunts. The best catches of trophy fish have been reported during the early morning (predawn) or late day/evening. Regardless if you are fishing the beaches, ledges or lower rivers there are enough fish around to have a good day. Kennebunk, Fortune Rocks, Higgins, Pine Point, Old Orchard Beach and the lower portions of the rivers (Saco, Mousam, Spurwink) are some spots where anglers have been hooking up. Jeniki Tubes (fluorescent orange or red) or surgical tubes (orange, red or black) with sandworms are the fish getters in the lower portions of the rivers. Bait (clams, chunk macs) is the choice for anglers fishing the beaches and ledges. Calcutta rubber shad and Al Gag's lures are a few of the artificials crank fishermen have been catching stripers with. If you get into a school of stripers, toss an Acme Kastmaster into the middle and let it sink for a shot at the big ones. Fly fishermen throwing 2/0 sand eel and crab patterns have been getting fish, particularly when fishing the presunrise tide. There are bluefish (2-10 pounds) wandering off Kennebunk and Cape Porpoise, but they are here one minute and gone the next. When targeting blues, try working a Rapala X-Rap Magnum Diver or the 7-inch mackerel Yo-Zuri Hydro Magnum Deep Diver. Mackerel can be had but they may not come easy. The spottiness of these fish may indicate there are more bluefish around than we are catching. When you do find the macs, use cat food for chum to stay on them.
ZONE 2: Striper fishing has been good out around the islands (Peaks, Long), the Cape shoreline and the ledges, as well as off the mouths of the Presumpscot, Harraseeket and Royal. For best results, fish areas of moving water and avoid the sun, i.e. get out early or late. Fly guys throwing 2/0 Groceries are not complaining. Baits getting it done include sandworms, clams and mackerel. Spinners fishing 5-- to 7-inch lures like the Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow, Hydro-Popper (on the flats) Gag's Mambo Minnow, and the Rapala X-Raps have been doing well. Some anglers targeting macs have had to work. If you aren't having luck with conventional Christmas tree rigs, try hand-tied mackerel rigs or Sabiki rigs with a 4-5 ounce Hopkins or Crocodile Spoon.
ZONE 3: Stripers and mackerel are what anglers can expect to catch. Bait (bloodworms and eels) reins king for those targeting bass. Striper guys should fish early and deep. See Zones 1 and 2 for artificials and flies. Mackerel, though in some areas a little more difficult to find, can still be caught. Make sure you have wire leaders in your tackle box as you might encounter the stray blue.
• 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.
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: