The Scarborough River/Saco area offers solid saltwater fishing from June through October. Schoolie stripers usually kick off the action in early summer right inside the river (although action in the last few years has been lacking). By June you’ll find bass in the 20- to 26-inch range from just inside the jetty to about 3/4 mile upriver. These fish are a blast to target with light-tackle spinning gear spooled with 8- to 12-pound line. Most anglers favor working soft-bodied shad imitations or Slug-Gos rigged on 1⁄2- to 1-ounce jigheads. Start by probing close to shore, then move off the banks and out to the channel edges.
Bluefish can be another option, although their presence is hit or miss. When they do show, July and August can see some fine action…
Mackerel are usually available from late May onward. You can take the macks one at a time on light or even ultralight spinning gear with small KastMasters, Johnson Sprite spoons or virtually any small, minnow-imitating plug. Try a 3 1⁄2-inch freshwater Rapala Original Floater in silver/black and you may catch a mix of mackerel and schoolie stripers. While the macks tend to stay outside the river, they will bunch up tightly just off the jetty.
If bigger bass arrive, they can be taken on poppers through most of June. These fish are best handled on stout spinning rod and 20-pound line. Best lures include big poppers such as Atom Striper Swipers, Creek Chubs and Yo-Zuri Hydro Tigers. You can also live-line snagged mackerel on this gear.
Poppers become a little less effective as the summer wears on, but they’ll still produce strikes, especially in the morning or evening. Fishing sandworms, cut mackerel or herring chunks on the bottom or drifting live eels through the local rips after dark produces more reliable action. The bigger bass stay in the area through early September before heading south and being replaced by schoolies making their way down the coast.
If you’re a light-tackle or fly-fishing fan, be sure to probe the banks of the Great Salt Marsh on the west side of the river. Here you can pop and plug schoolie bass and cocktail blues from spring through fall. You can also tempt them with small, white or chartreuse Deceiver and Clouser Minnow fly patterns.
Bluefish can be another option, although their presence is hit or miss. When they do show, July and August can see some fine action, with small “snapper” blues heading into the river and prowling near the Fisherman’s Co-Op. “Slammers” to 10 pounds or more have been known to work the river mouth and east and west along the beaches. Local anglers like to troll for the bigger blues using a deep-diving Yo-Zuri, Bomber Long-A or Storm plug. Add a short wire leader ahead of the plug if the blues are running big. The jetty area and river mouth are prime spots.
Bait & Tackle:
- Saco Bay Tackle (800-499-4453)
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.
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:
Seasons, Catch & Size Limits
For information on Maine’s saltwater fishing regulations, by species, go to: Maine Department of Marine Resources.