Witnessing the sheer power and beauty of sharks first hand is a truly breathtaking experience which is hard to match. The adrenaline and excitement that comes with landing a big shark attracts thousands of anglers to Maine each year, all in search of that trophy catch. Whether you are looking to land your first blue, or have your eye on something bigger, the waters off the coast of Maine have a lot to offer.
There are a number of shark species present in Maine, with the most popular undoubtedly the blue shark. With their distinctive dark blue top, light blue sides and white underbelly, the blue shark is found in relative abundance off the coast of Maine. The majority of this species are around 6 to 8 feet in length, weighing in at anywhere between 50 and 200 pounds. Larger blue sharks are found occasionally, with some growing up to 12 feet in length and hitting the 400 pound mark.
Porbeagle sharks are less common, and can be recognized by their dark blue-grey top and white underbelly. They also have two caudal keels on their crescent-shaped tail fin, distinguishing them from mako and white sharks. Porbeagle sharks are known as strong swimmers, making them more of a challenge than the smaller blue shark. Many of these species reach 10 feet in length and weigh in at an impressive 450 pounds.
Another of Maine’s highly prized shark species is the mako. With a distinctive cobalt-blue top, white underbelly and streamlined body, the mako shark is known as a strong swimmer with a ferocious fighting ability. They are also one of the largest species found off the coast of Maine, with many shortfin makos reaching 12 feet in length and tipping the scales at over a thousand pounds. Threshers are also found off the coast of Maine, and are again considered an excellent catch with many weighing in at over 350 pounds.
The most popular time for shark fishing in Maine is between July and October, though many guides and seasoned veterans consider August to October as being the best period for big sharks. In terms of equipment, harnessed rods with 30 reels are favored by many experienced shark anglers. Occasionally a 50 reel may be necessary should a large porbeagle or mako bite.
Chumming is the preferred method for attracting sharks, with popular mixtures including ground up mackerel, herring, menhaden and other small baitfish. Creating a chum slick behind your boat using a perforated bucket or similar contraption is the most common method and is known to work well. Some boats also have a bait box with a tap open to the water behind the boat from which chum can be dispensed. Though it may take up to an hour or two for sharks to locate your trail, once they find the scent they more often than not follow it all the way to the source.
Shark fishing is possible in many regions off the coast of Maine, though many organized trips focus on areas around 10-15 miles offshore in the Gulf of Maine. Here there is a relative abundance of blue shark, with the occasional mako, porbeagle or thresher to make things more challenging for the adventurous or experienced shark angler.