Five-year-old Joseph LeClair of Milford fishes for striped bass near the Milford Dam on the Penobscot River on Monday, July 10, 2018. Credit: John Holyoke | BDN

This story was originally published in July 2019.

On the coast, or far up the rivers that pour into the sea, Mainers have plenty of options when it comes to fishing for migratory striped bass.

And come July, when some of the best spring fishing for trout and landlocked salmon in freshwater begins to wane, the striper bite may be reaching a peak.

Here are a few options when it comes to fishing for stripers:

If you’re interested in fishing the ocean from shore, longtime striper angler John Kirk, who now lives in Portland, has a simple piece of advice.

“Look on Map 5 [of the DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer]. There are plenty of river mouths on Map 5,” Kirk said with a laugh.

Map 5 stretches from Yarmouth south to Portland, and is just one of the popular striper spots along the southern coast.

Kirk is reluctant to “spot burn” a particular location, but was willing to share some generic tips for fishing the southern Maine coast.

“Pick a popular beach in southern Maine. Look for the mouth of a river, and fish it on the outgoing tide,” Kirk said. “The bait is getting swept out of the river.”

Kirk explained that striped bass prefer to be in places where they can lie in wait and swim in to intercept their prey.

“Stripers like the confusion zone where there’s some turbulence in the water,” Kirk said. “They’re ambush predators, so they’ll sit there and wait for food to go by that can’t see them, and then they nail it.”

Some anglers like to scramble around on rocks while trying to fish for stripers, but Kirk has abandoned that method.

“I don’t fish the rocks on the oceanfront very much, because it scares me,” he said. “I got sucked in last summer, briefly. And that was enough to cure me of doing it by myself.”

Nowadays, he tries to keep his feet on the sand, and casts flies toward waiting fish. Those who prefer to fish with bait will want to alter their technique a bit, he said.

“If you’re fishing bait, you’re going to be searching out your holes a little bit more. With bait, you’re going to be fishing deep water, on the bottom,” he said.

Along the Penobscot River, there are all kinds of shore options for anglers who don’t have access to a boat.

One of the most popular is at Fishermen’s Park in Brewer, where anglers typically arrive an hour or two before high tide and fish through until an hour or two after the tide peaks. Chosen tackle there: Bloodworms and a weight on a sliding rig, which is then cast out into the river and allowed to sink to the bottom.

Farther upstream, anglers have begun congregating at the base of the Milford Dam on the Milford side, parking in a local convenience store parking lot and walking in on a footpath that parallels the river.

Tackle preferences here vary, with some opting for bloodworms. Others choose to toss heavier lures that resemble baitfish, such as alewives.

Between Brewer and Milford, there are countless spots on the river where a shoreside angler could toss a lure or bloodworm in hopes of hooking a striper.

Some regulations to be aware of, according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources website:

  • A striped bass must be equal to or greater than 28 inches and less than 35 inches to keep. An angler can only keep and possess one fish a day.
  • It’s not lawful to use more than two barbed or barbless treble hooks on any artificial lure or fly while fishing for striped bass in territorial waters.
  • Those fishing with bait must use a non-offset circle hook.

This article has been updated to reflect the 2021 Maine striped bass regulations.

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John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...