New Federal & State Fishing Regulations

•  Fishermen may keep one striped bass per angler, 28" in length or more.
• The new bag limit for cod is one codfish, 28" in length or more.

• Haddock fishermen may retain 15 fish per angler, 17" in length or more.

 

Saltwater Fishing Preview:
Early Reports Indicate a Strong Fishing Season

by Captain Greg Metcalf

 

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us and along with it comes the start of saltwater fishing season. There are a few major changes to both the federal and state fishing regulations that local fishermen need to know.


 

A youngster enjoys a morning of successful mackerel fishing with Captain Greg Metcalf.

The state of Maine changed the legal size limit for striped bass in 2015. These regulations remain in effect for 2016. Fishermen may possess one striped bass per angler, 28 inches in length or more. The slot limit that applied in previous years has been replaced with this new regulation. 


Additionally there are changes to two federal regulations that will affect Maine saltwater anglers for 2016. Last year anglers were not permitted to retain any codfish at all. This year recreational anglers may retain one codfish with a minimum length of 24 inches. Haddock fishermen may retain 15 fish per angler, minimum length of 17 inches – a huge jump from last season.

 
The early reports for haddock catches south of here have been outstanding, and codfish stocks also seem to be improving. The local rivers are full of small baitfish – herring as well as shad, and school-size striped bass have moved in along the local beaches and in the rivers. This year is shaping up to be another great fishing season along the southern Maine shoreline.


June 4 through the June 12 is “Take a Kid Fishing Week.” This is a great time to offer some angling excitement for kids. In other words, here's an incentive to get them away from electronic devices and out in the fresh air. 


We are very fortunate to have an outstanding inshore mackerel fishery in the local inshore waters of the Gulf of Maine. It is not the most sought-after saltwater food fish, although some will argue otherwise. Mackerel are abundant, relatively easy to locate and a ton of fun to catch. Kids and adults who have never have never caught a fish before quickly become hooked after a fast and furious mackerel fishing expedition.


We also have a very healthy population of harbor pollock, which are about the same size as mackerel, equally abundant and often mixed in with the mackerel catch. Kids are much more interested in fast action and less concerned about what they are catching. They're happy as long as they are reeling something in.


On my boat, the Striper Swiper, we frequently start off our trips catching a few mackerel or pollock and keeping them alive in the boat’s live well to use as live bait for striped bass.
It is not uncommon for my clients to forgo the second part of the trip and just stick with mackerel fishing because the action is intense and can create so much excitement for young anglers.


Mackerel and pollack fishing do not require expensive gear or tackle, you don’t have to travel far by boat, and if you don’t have a boat (or access to one), you can catch mackerel from shore in many locations, such as Cape Porpoise Pier or the Wells Harbor Pier.


Last year’s striper action was very good but down slightly from the 2014 season. There were plenty of fish, but not as many big ones. Anglers are hoping this season will bring more trophy stripers and a longer visit from the pelagic bluefish population.

 

Kennebunkport:  Charter boats in the Kennebunk River are getting ready for the season. Mackerel have arrived on the inshore grounds, and striper fishing should be taking off anytime now. My boat, the Striper Swiper, will be at the Breakwater Inn and Spa on Ocean Avenue once again. We will start running charters on Memorial Day Weekend. 


Additional charter boats can be found at the Nontantum Resort, Arundel Wharf, Boathouse Waterfront Hotel and Performance Marine. Local charter boats will be participating in the second annual Fishing for Freedom event this year on Friday, June 15.  This great event honors the Wounded Heroes of Southern Maine and is hosted by the Nonantum Resort, along with co-sponsor Cabela's.


Many of the local charter boats and captains from Kennebunkport and Wells donate their boats and time to this worthy group of heroes. Local businesses and organizations also donate services and time to make this an outstanding event.

 

Wells, Ogunquit: Brandy from Webhannet Bait and Tackle told me she has heard reports there are huge numbers of school-size stripers in the Merrimack River not too far down the coast in Massachusetts. It won’t be too long before they make the short swim in to the southern Maine coast, and the fishing excitement will begin in earnest. Offshore fishermen are already doing well catching pollock, redfish and haddock using both bait and jigs. In Wells and Ogunquit, charter fishing boats can be found at Wells Harbor and Perkins Cove.

 

York: Captain Jeremy Reynolds from the charter boat Jenna-Raquel has been offshore a few times ground fishing and had very good luck.  Old Scantum has been producing nice catches of haddock, cod, pollock and redfish. There have been several reports of small school-size striped bass in the York River, and the mackerel have been in the harbor for about a week.

 

Saco River and Saco Bay: Captain Cal Robinson of Saco Bay Guide told me the early report from the Saco River is very promising. The river is loaded with shad and alewives, so the bass fishing should be in full swing by Memorial Day weekend.

 

Captain Cal and his boat the Amy Vee runs out of Camp Ellis in the Saco River and is available for charters again this season.

From June to October, fishing and sight-seeing is offered by Captain Greg Metcalf along the Kennebunkport coastline aboard the custom 23-foot Striper Swiper. Captain Greg Metcalf has more than 30 years of experience sport-fishing in the Northeast. Call Captain Greg year-round at 401-617-9265, email greg@captaingregmetcalf or visit www.captaingregmetcalf.com