It’s honestly tough, because I love to catch Tautog, Black Sea Bass, Striped Bass, and Bluefin Tuna. All of them provide their unique characteristics and different tactics to catch. However, one that stands out and typically, would be one that most fishermen agree with, is that fishing for Bluefin Tuna is the biggest thrill and adrenaline rush anyone can experience.
Around 10 years ago, we were gifted by Mother Nature a ton, and I mean literally thousands upon thousands of small ‘football’ sized Bluefin Tuna in Cape Cod Bay. They were tough to catch, being tuna, but everyday we went out, we always had a shot. It was up to us anglers to be able to catch them.
Those ‘football’ tuna have since moved to other locations, but we have been left with consistent Giant Bluefin Tuna throughout the season. The season for Giant’s open up June 1, but we don’t start to fish for them until middle-end of July. It’s funny, for catching such a magnificent, powerful, and truly majestic fish, the technique of fishing is fairly rudimentary.
Pending on where the fish are: Stellwagen Bank, off the backside of Provincetown, or Cape Cod Bay (areas where we fish), we will pick up some live bait. Either we will jig up Mackerel or Whiting out on the fishing grounds or get Pogies or Menhaden, and head out to the fishing grounds. Next, we use the same tactic we use for live lining Striped Bass, but with much larger gear.
We use big 130 class size reels with 150lb line, 80/130 size rods, and beefed up 6/0-8/0 live bait hooks. Next, we will bridle the bait we are using, put a 16-ounce weight about 10-15 feet above the swivel, and count off the line to our respective depth we want to have our bait at. Finally, we will attach a balloon to the line and let it drift away from the boat.
After this, it’s a waiting game. A bunch of grown people, staring at balloons bobbing in the ocean, hoping that in a second of not paying attention, the drag starts screaming and we’re on. Tuna fishing is like scratching a scratch ticket. Sometimes you get lucky, other times you wait for days on end without a bite. It’s the name of the game, but when you hook up, it’s an experience you remember forever.
The entire fishing season on Cape Cod is my favorite—it’s tough to pick just one time that stands out. Each different aspect, early season, middle of the season, and end of the season all offer different tactics to fish for Striped Bass on Cape Cod and are all unique. However, the time of season that really stands out to me in the Spring time, when the Striped Bass make their migration North to our waters. The fish are hungry, here in abundance, and aren’t hesitant to hit anything thrown at them.
There’s two tactics I like to choose when fishing for Striped Bass early in season. Those are casting top water lures for them while they are feeding and live lining Mackerel to them around the Barnstable Harbor area.
Typically, the Mackerel show up around the Barnstable Harbor Bell Buoy in middle/end of April. Next, the Striped Bass find them in the first to second week of May.
From when the Striped Bass show, until end of June, the fishing is typically lights out. We go jig up our Mackerel, and then go back into the Barnstable Harbor Channel and live line them. It’s not uncommon to run out of Mackerel that the action is so fast and furious. The fish are aggressive and have no problem feeding up after their long migration North.
Additionally, since the Striped Bass are in feeding mode, we can expect top water feeds throughout the day, not specific to the early AM or evening times. This is particularly fun because not only are small, school sized Striped Bass feeding, but typically older, larger fish will join in them. It offers you a great shot and 30″-40″ Striped Bass on light tackle and it’s a ton of fun.
It looks like we’re finally into spring….(fingers crossed!!). Over here at CCBO, we’re just counting down the days. We have squid arriving end of April/ beginning of May in Nantucket Sound. We will be running trips on the South Side for them (out of Hyannis Harbor). Once Black Sea Bass season opens up, we will continue to be running trips out of Hyannis. Once Memorial Day weekend gets up and running, we will be back on the North Side (Barnstable Harbor) for Striped Bass trips.
It’s going to be a good season, I feel it already. Book your trips soon, as to not miss out!
Fishing Cape Cod Bay isn’t necessarily a secret. There are tons of publicly available spots, and those are the majority everyone fishes. Captain Segull charts show most of these spots. With that said, I’ll break down my favorite spots to fish.
The first is Barnstable Harbor channel. This is an awesome place to fish, both incoming and outgoing tides. Primarily, we will fish with live Mackerel that we jig up in 40-60 feet near the Barnstable Harbor Bell Buoy.
Once we have our bait, we will go check out the channel and all of the holes in it and see where the fish are. In an incoming tide, we will start at the #2 can and drift all the way to the point of Sandy Neck. On an outgoing tide, we do the reverse and start at the point of Sandy Neck and drift out to the #2 can. There’s no one spot in the channel that holds Striped Bass all the time. They move with the tide and you’ll be able to figure out their movement after a couple drifts.
Second spot is in front of Corporation Beach in Dennis. You can either drift Mackerel here, or troll them on lead core line very slowly. I like to fish this area in a dropping tide. One thing to consider is to not get too close to the shore. There are a ton of very large rocks and boulders throughout the area. Stay in the 20-foot range and you will be fine.
Third spot is in front of the Cape Cod Canal with live Mackerel. Essentially, you do the same thing as in Barnstable Harbor, and drift through the channel markers. The Striped Bass will funnel in and out of the canal, depending on the tide. One thing to consider is that you cannot fish in the canal. If you enter the breakwaters, Canal Patrol will hail you on the VHF and tell you to leave the premise immediately. So, fish it with caution and don’t get into the canal.
Fourth spot is Billingsgate shoals off of Wellfleet. This is a huge area, shown on the Captain Segull chart. There’s a number of different ways to fish this area from trolling umbrella rigs, jigging bucktail jigs on wire line on the edges, to top water feeds. The technique of fishing can change daily, but the area holds so much bait and fish that it’s always worth it to check out.
As said earlier, there’s a ton of fishing spots. The ones above mentioned, are where I fish primarily, with occasionally Provincetown, where you could write an entire book on how to fish around there. Check back to our fishing reports on the blog to follow the fish and see where we’re fishing. Please use the screen shot below for some refence points!