Fishing Kennebunkport

Schoolie stripers roam the Kennebunk River starting in June. Photo/New England Boating, Tom Richardson.
Schoolie stripers roam the Kennebunk River starting in June. Photo/New England Boating, Tom Richardson.

While former President George H. W. Bush did little to promote the fishing off Kennebunkport thanks to his well-documented lack of success in the 1980s, the action with striped bass can be quite dependable. According to Captain Ben Welch of Striker Charters, based at the Boathouse Waterfront Hotel, schoolie bass arrive in June and can be caught inside the river through September. “For fishing the river, trying slow-trolling a half-ounce tube lure with a seaworm on the hook,” he advises, adding that he fishes his tubes on straight braided line with a three-foot, 20-pound-test mono leader. “Channel edges and deep holes often hold the most fish. Also, I like to troll with the current, to get the lure near the bottom.”

Light-tackle and fly fishermen can also score with schoolies in the Kennebunk. “First light is your best bet for taking stripers on soft-plastics and flies,” says Welch. “Fish your lures near the jetty rocks and any kind of structure in the river, including drop-offs. I’ve even seen guys catch fish around the lobster pots and mooring balls. Try to mimic the little sand eels that are prevalent during the summer.”

For larger fish, live and chunked mackerel are ticket to success. Welch usually finds good numbers of macks schooled up between the green daymarker and the bell buoy, about a mile outside the inlet. Once he marks a school of bait on his depthsounder, he sends over a chum bag and start jigging with a Sabiki rig. If he doesn’t find any macks within 10 minutes, he tries a new spot.

After making bait, he’ll head for any number of structure spots along the coast. “Any rock structures in the bay can produce,” he says. “The trick is to cast your bait as close to the rocks as possible. If you’re not seeing bottom, you’re probably in the wrong spot.”

Welch also fishes chunks of mackerel on circle hooks around the same rocky areas. Indeed, he says that he caught more big fish on chunks than live mackerel last season. In this situation he will anchor and fish the chunks a few feet above bottom on a bobber rig.

Charters:

Capt. Ben Welch, (207) 590-9093

License Requirements

Anglers over the age of 16 who wish to fish in Maine’s marine waters out to 3 miles from shore, including the waters surrounding its offshore islands, must register annually with the state. There is a $1 to $2 service fee to register. The permit expires on December 31.

Exemptions:

The following individuals do not need to register:

  • Persons under the age of 16.
  • Persons fishing aboard a charter or partyboat.
  • Persons renting a smelt shack from an individual who holds a commercial operator’s permit.
  • Persons with a disability.
  • Disabled veterans.
  • Persons holding a saltwater recreational fishing license from another state.
  • Maine residents who purchased a freshwater fishing license and who checked a box indicating that they intend to fish in saltwater.
  • Maine residents fishing on July 4, Memorial Day weekend, or Labor Day weekend.

To register online, go to:

(MOSES) Maine Online Sportsman Electronic System

Seasons, Catch & Size Limits

For information on Maine’s saltwater fishing regulations, by species, go to: Maine Department of Marine Resources.