Saltwater Fishing Begins Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us, which means it's 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 be aware of. The state of Maine changed the legal size limit for striped bass in 2016, and these regulations remain in effect for 2017. 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.

 

Nathan and Mitchell Romig from Cassanovia, New York, hold a couple

of nice stripers that they caught aboard the Striper Swiper in 2016.


Additionally there are changes to two federal regulations that will affect Maine saltwater anglers for 2017. Anglers will be not permitted to retain any cod fish at all this year which is a change from last year. Haddock fishermen will be allowed to retain 12 fish per angler with minimum length of 17 inches.


The early reports for haddock catches south of us have been outstanding. 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 into the rivers. This is shaping up to be another great fishing season along the southern Maine shoreline.

 

Saturday, June 3, through Sunday, June 11, is “Take a Kid Fishing Week.” This is a great time to offer some angling excitement for kids in southern Maine. Get them away from Facebook and their computer games and out into 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 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 and are also abundant and many times mixed in with the mackerel catch.


Kids are much more interested in fast action and less concerned about what they are catching as long as they the rod is bending and 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 my boat’s live well to use as live bait to catch 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 can be so intense and bring so much joy to young anglers. It is a fishery that should not be overlooked. Mackerel fishing does not require expensive gear or tackle, you don’t have to travel far by boat, and if you don’t have a boat you can catch mackerel from shore in many places such as the Cape Porpoise Pier or the Wells Harbor Pier.


Last year’s striper action was very good but down slightly from the 2015 season. There were plenty of fish but not as many big ones. Fishermen are hoping that 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 2017 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 start running charters on Memorial Day Weekend. Additional charter boats in the Kennebunk River can be found at the Nontantum Resort, Arundel Wharf, Boathouse Waterfront Hotel and Performance Marine.


Local charter boats will be participating in the third annual Fishing for Freedom event this year on June 14. This great event that honors the Wounded Heroes of southern Maine is hosted by the Nonantum Resort, along with co-sponsor Cabelas. Many of the local charter boats and captains from Kennebunkport and Wells donate their boats and time to this worthy group of local heroes. Local businesses and organizations also donate services and time to make this an outstanding event in their honor.


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 our local shores and the fishing off the southern Maine coast will turn on. Offshore fishermen are already doing well catching pollock, redfish and haddock using both bait and jigs. 


York: Captain Phil Breton told me 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 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