One of my best fishing memories was from around 1990 when I went fishing near Belfast, Maine with my two brothers-in-law for mackerel. One mackerel rig, available anywhere around here, consists of several hooks all tied to a stout central leader. I thought it odd that the design of this rig was so optimistic; after all, how likely would you be to have more than one fish on at a time? I was to find out. The fishing was great, and we did indeed get more than one on at a time. Mackerel are splendid fighters and they are beautiful too. Their streamline shape and iridescent coloring are however, better than their performance on the dinner plate. Many recipes attempt to improve upon the sad reward for your fishing effort. Figure on one meal per year, and keep them alive or as cold as possible. Mackerel are a little mushy, fishy and oily. They can be caught at mid summer right from the dock at Lamoine State Park, a mile away from here.
There are other options for the Acadia visitor to experience salt water fishing. Right from Bar Harbor you can take a 4 hour fishing trip aboard the fifty foot Tiger Shark. According to their website you might catch one or more of the following: “cod, cusk, pollock, mackerel, cunner, sculpin, black sea bass, red fish, and the occasional wolf fish.” All tackle is provided. Presented as fun for the whole family, a half day of fishing aboard the Tiger Shark will set you back $45 for adults or $35 for children or non-fishing adults.
One anonymous board poster recommends avoiding Bar Harbor’s Tiger Shark in favor of Southwest Harbor’s Vagabond. (207.244.5385). The prices are a little higher but apparently there is greater likelihood of fishing success, and they haul lobster traps too. Their fish: “cod, cusk, cunner, school pollock, mackerel, sculpin, redfish and occasionally a wolf fish or a mako shark”. One fun part of this trip is a trap lottery, where you are given a number corresponding to a lobster trap, and you get to keep any legal lobsters in that trap when it’s hauled. Find out more here.
Neither of these options are the white-knuckled alpha male versus man-eater fishing experience you might be used to in other places. But don’t despair! If that’s your thing, how does shark or tuna fishing sound? To “tussle with the bad boys” (not my words), you need to shell out bigger bucks for private charters. Try http://www.obsessioncharters.com/ME_fishing/maine.htm, http://www.mainefishingcharters.com, http://www.gofishmaine.com, http://www.biggernbetter.com, or http://www.fishinganddiving.com. All of these charters are outside of the Acadia area but within a few hours’ drive.
Finally, if you just want to get an educational cruise with sight seeing and contact with sea life, consider the following options. Island Cruises leaves from Bass Harbor and for $29/$18 offers sight seeing and trap hauling. Find out about hauling lobster aboard Lulu here and especially for kids, check out Diver Ed’s story here. There are many more opportunities for experiencing nature, but if it’s saltwater fishing you want these are the choices. Two other fish should be mentioned, bluefish and striped bass. Stripers are tightly regulated and deserve a post of their own. It is against the law to catch them beyond 3 miles from shore and so they are thought of more as a river fish, where they spawn.
Bluefish seem to be usually further south. I have fished for them out of Rockland and can attest to the fun of catching them, but like mackerel, they are not a tasty fish. In fact they’re even less tasty! Do not associate Bar Harbor’s Cafe Bluefish with bad tasting fish. It’s just a name!