Fishing Portland, Maine
January 23, 2017
From mackerel to tuna, there’s plenty of action to be had in and around Portland Harbor and Casco Bay. The season kicks off with a run of striped bass that typically begins in mid- to late May and extends into June. The stripers show first in the local rivers, including the Fore, Presumpscot, and Royal, chasing alewives and river herring. Martins Point is a traditional hot spot.
These early-season bass can be aggressive, and will readily take lures and flies. Work Storm or Tsunami plastic shads, 3″ to 5″ Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows or black Bomber swimming plugs to connect with fish that average 16″ to 24″, but may push upwards of 30 pounds. White-and-chartreuse Clouser Minnows and Deceivers are effective fly patterns.
Once the bass exit the rivers in late June, they take up station in channels and rocky areas along the islands and tight to the coast between Portland Harbor and Spring Point. Use Bug Light as a reference for the center of the action. You can sight-fish or probe the shallows in the lee of the islands on windy days, or jig the deeper channels with bucktails when seas are calm. The waters around Great Diamond Island give up a lot of keeper bass, as does the west end of Cow Island. Bait chunks, live mackerel and swimming plugs all account for their share of fish.
If you enjoy tangling with bottom dwellers, a run to Tanners or Trinidad Ledges can produce action with cod, haddock and other groundfish. These species can also be caught as close as West Cod Ledge outside Portland Harbor.
In some years, bluefin tuna can be found close to Casco Bay. The smaller fish (50- to 100-pound class) can be taken on spinning gear and a variety of topwater plugs and jigs. If bigger fish decide to show, you’d better have a 50-wide setup aboard, at the minimum.
While battling monsters has its fans, youngsters are often happy simply catching mackerel inside Portland Harbor. Cast around the commercial docks with tiny silver spoons and you can hook macks all day long from summer through the fall. The mackerel only vanish when the bluefish are around, but that’s not such a bad thing. Break out some poppers or metal spoons or troll some Bomber plugs, and let the choppers spice up your day.
Bait & Tackle
- The Tackle Shop (207-773-FISH)
- Capt. Keith Hall, Maine Coast Guide Service (207-632-1061)
- Morning Light Charters (207-671-6951)
- Capt. Ben Garfield, Go Fish Charters (207-232-1678)
Maine Saltwater Fishing Permit