Key Species: mackerel, striped bass, smelt, bluefish Best Way to Fish: bridge Best Time to Fish: June through September MAG: 14, A-4
Description: This old highway bridge at the head of Belfast Harbor is now a public right-of-way for pedestrians and anglers, and a popular spot for shorebased anglers. You can fish from the bridge and watch lobster fishermen hauling traps at the same time. One of the East Coast's few remaining fish canneries is located near the bridge. U.S.
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Route 1 is lined with motels between Belfast and Searsport, and there are two campgrounds on the same stretch of highway.
Fishing index: From late June through September and sometimes into October, mackerel run under the footbridge with each tide. Anglers using bait catch mackerel on frozen shrimp, bloodworms, and cut-up mackerel. Swedish Pimple jigs and small Diamond Jigs are the most popular artificial lures for mackerel.
Striped bass, bluefish, and smelt are incidental catches. Local anglers employ the unusual but productive method of casting a diving plug and letting it wobble with the tide, without reeling in. Bluefish strike the plugs, seemingly out of spite. Be sure to fasten your rod securely if you try this. You should also bring an ice-filled cooler to preserve your catch.
In 1995, the mackerel run was small because unusually heavy rains had decreased the salinity of the seawater in Upper Penobscot Bay. This was an atypical occurrence. Striped bass were not daunted by the influx of fresh water, and anglers using herring or mackerel for bait had the best striped bass season in 25 years.
Depending on the stage of the tide, you may have to reel your fish up for a considerable distance after you get it out of the water. Make sure your line is strong enough to lift at least a 2-pound dead weight. If you hook a truly large fish, it is better to work your way to either end of the bridge and land the fish from the shore.
Directions: From Camden, take U.S. Route 1 to the intersection with Maine Route 3 in Belfast. Take the Belfast exit, and follow Main Street to its end at the Belfast waterfront. Turn left on Water Street and park off the road by the footbridge, next to Stinson Canning Company.
For more information: Contact The Outdoor Sportsman. You can also get a firsthand report from any angler you meet on the bridge.
Anglers flock to the Belfast Footbridge for mackerel, stripers, and bluefish. This old highway bridge is now a public right-of-way, offering easy access to great salt-water fishing.