Jonathan Craig poses with a keeper bass taken on a live menhaden in Hospital Cove. Photo by Tom Richardson

Lots of fishermen know that Red Brook Harbor makes a great base of operations for trips into nearby Buzzards Bay, the Cape Cod Canal, the islands and the offshore waters south of the Vineyard. The fact that Kingman Yacht Center hosts 3 full-time charter boats bears testimony to the proximity of numerous fishing hot spots.

The local action starts in May with tautog, seabass and striped bass in Buzzards Bay. From mid-May through mid-June, the rocks off Wings Neck Light hold some very large stripers for anglers who like to cast plugs and eels. Best tide here is the outgoing. Get there at false dawn, before the other boats, if you want to score a keeper. The shallow reef extending northwest off Wings Neck into the Canal is a great spot for drifting live menhaden and eels.

Speaking of fluke, plenty of keepers are caught inside Buzzards Bay by anglers who put in their time fishing live bait and big strip baits around rocky structure.

Seal Rocks off Scraggy Neck, as well as the rocks off Bird Island and Dry Ledge, are other productive spots to try. All fish best on the rising tide, as do most shallow rockpiles in Buzzards Bay.

Once late-June rolls around, most serious striper fishermen head for the islands or focus their efforts in the Bay at night or false dawn.

If you want to have fun with bluefish, you can often find fish from 3 to 6 pounds under flocks of terns and gulls in the early season. The blues can show up anywhere in the bay, but some reliable spots for casting plugs include the Mashnee Flats in the Canal, the flats bordering the extreme northern end of Buzzards Bay, and the flats along West Falmouth’s Chappaquoit Beach. All the above will produce exciting surface action on pencil poppers and standard cup-faced poppers, as well as swimmers like the Bomber Long-A, Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow, Rapala X-Rap and Rapala CD-16. Many anglers also score blues (and bass) by trolling parachute jigs on wire line over the rocky areas along the Bay’s eastern side in 20’ to 30’ of water. While June is prime time for the larger blues, smaller fish can usually be encountered throughout the bay in summer and early fall.

Bottom fishing for sea bass and scup is excellent in upper Buzzards Bay from late May through June. Just find some rocky bottom in 10’ to 30’ of water and send down a squid strip on a 1- or 2–ounce jig. Drift along and you will probably catch dinner in short order. The stretch of rocky bottom extending north of Cleveland Ledge Light in 30’ of water is a prime spot for sea bass, as well as big scup and the occasional fluke. (Note: see BoatingLocal’s video library for how-to videos on fishing Buzzards Bay stripers, tautog, sea bass and false albacore)

Speaking of fluke, plenty of keepers are caught inside Buzzards Bay by anglers who put in their time fishing live bait and big strip baits around rocky structure. The sandy flats at the west entrance of the Cape Cod Canal are famous for producing fluke, too, but you’ll have to weed through a lot of shorts before you can take home some fish in this area.

Summer fishing in Buzzards Bay can be pretty slow, although you can still catch small scup and cunner (not to mention toadfish and searobins) with the kids over most any rock pile or reef in 20’ of water or more. Virtually any patch of rocky bottom along the east side of the bay will hold scup. Best depths are 15’ to 30’. Simply drop anchor and send down a small strip of squid on a No. 1 octopus hook and a 2-ounce bank sinker. If the fish are there, you’ll know it soon enough!

As mentioned, the tautog fishing in Buzzards Bay is strong in May and early June, but fall is when you can really score big. Scope out some rock piles in 20’ to 40’ of water and bait up with a green crab section. Remember to keep moving until you find the fish, and try to anchor precisely over the structure (using 2 anchors helps on windy days). Good fishing can last through November if the weather holds.

The topwater action starts to heat up again in late August, when bonito and false albacore (and sometimes Spanish mackerel) often make their appearance. Most years the fish first show from Scraggy Neck to West Falmouth Harbor, with September being prime time. The east side of the bay usually sees the first fish, but that’s not always the case—and some years they never show at all. Best lures for these fast-moving fish include small metal spoons; white Slug-Gos, Fin-S-Fish and Zoom Flukes; and Rapala X-Raps.

Bait & Tackle:

Charter Captains:

State License Requirements and Catch & Size Limits:

State of Massachusetts Requirements

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