Unusually Cold Waters Affecting the Catch

by Captain Greg Metcalf

Every year is different. The coastal waters of southern Maine are experiencing water temperatures so far this season that are about 7 to 8 degrees colder than normal. Anyone swimming in the ocean will quickly attest to that. Mackerel are usually very abundant this time of year. They make for great light tackle sport and excellent fresh and live bait for stripers. Mackerel, however, like water temperatures in the high 50- to mid-60 degree-range.

The local striper population seems very healthy and hungry, but fishermen have been forced to

Five-year-old Briggs Buckley from New York

caught this 29-inch striped bass aboard

the Striper Swiper on the Fourth of July.

alter their fishing tactics by using cut bait or artificial lures in order to be successful.


Striped bass fishing has been very good in the waters between Cape Porpoise and Parsons Beach. Mackerel were much harder to find and catch this week, no doubt due to the water temperature. Live pollock, fresh chunks of mackerel or herring seem to work fine in the absence of live mackerel. There have been a few reports of bluefish sightings.

Anglers aboard my boat the Striper Swiper were rewarded with some great catches of striped bass this past week. We have been managing a keeper-sized striper almost every day, but not many fish are over 32 inches.


Wells, Ogunquit:
Brandy from Webhannet River Bait and Tackle reported that fishing remains solid for stripers. There are plenty of mid-sized 20- to 25-inch fish with a few keepers mixed in. Sea worms in the river mouths, clams and mackerel in the surf have been the most productive baits. People are catching fish everywhere along the beaches, rivers, river mouths and shoreline rock piles.

The lures of the week were Super Spool XT in the color hambone and the two-ounce Kastmaster in the color nickel and blue with a single buck tail hook. That rig works great in the surf because it combats the wind, and the lure is able get out there where the larger fish are. There have been a few confirmed catches of bluefish off the Wells Harbor Jetty on Drakes Island.

Three keeper flounder were caught this week in Wells Harbor on sandworms. Mackerel continue to be elusive, but the schools are large when they come in. Tuna were seen close to shore this week.


Captain Phil Breton told me he had great luck all week catching striped bass but had to work really hard for mackerel. York Harbor and the mouth of the York River have been the most productive places for mackerel, as has the Isles of Shoals. Stripers can be caught at Long Sands and anywhere along the rocky shoreline.


Goose Rocks Beach:
Captain Steve Brettell reported the water has been abnormally cold, which has made the presence of the sand eels and mackerel very scarce. The water along the beach is crystal clear with scattered small school-sized stripers in the sand. Fishing along the boulders off Cape Porpoise was pretty good this week.


Saco River and Saco Bay:
Captain Cal Robinson of Saco Bay Guide Service told me that mackerel have been just about nonexistent, making live bait fishing difficult. Small live harbor pollock make a good substitute, but don’t last as well as mackerel once on the hook. Fishing along the beach and rock piles has been very good. There are plenty of 24- to 27-inch fish, with a few keepers mixed in.

Photos courtesy of Captain Greg Metcalf.
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 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