Falmouth Harbor is a great place to launch for trips to Nantucket Sound, the islands—and beyond. Things kick off in mid-May when big schools of squid move into Nantucket Sound. When water temps hit the low- to mid-60s, this area sees some of the best early-season bluefishing in the Northeast. Big (10- to 15-pound) “racer” blues invade the beachfronts and flats from Waquoit to Wianno, providing unparalleled topwater action. Simply set a drift or troll, and you should have no problem scoring with these big fish.
Once the early squid bite dies down, stripers begin to migrate through the area, although not in the numbers typically seen in Buzzards Bay. June brings more consistent striper action, as the bigger fish begin taking up station in the rips and around rocky shores and holes of the Elizabeth Islands. Woods Hole, Quicks Hole and Robinsons Holes are great places to find big fish in June.
Smaller blues can be taken in the local rips throughout the summer. Keep en eye out for working birds and try trolling swimming plugs
Many boats also make the run to Devil’s Bridge, off Martha’s Vineyard, in late May to target the big bass that gather to feed on mackerel and herring. Deep-jigging the rip with diamond jigs and parachute jigs can produce if the fish are not busting on top.
Black sea bass and scup provide action for bottom fishermen through the season, although you have to know the location of some rocky bottom or wrecks to score. Study a chart for wrecks and rocky bottom, then check them out for yourself. Many Falmouth skippers make the run to Buzzards Bay from mid-May to mid-June to score with the huge sea bass and scup that gather to spawn in late spring.
Fluke fishing picks up in mid-June, with plenty of legal fish available throughout both Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds. This is great fun for summer boaters, and can yield some tasty dinners, as well. Target rips and shoals in 20 to 70 feet of water, and make repeated drifts with bucktail jigs sweetened with squid strips or bait strips, the fresher the better. The fluke move deeper as the waters warm in late July, so do the same. Don’t be afraid to scout out deep holes in 70-plus feet of water to score with trophy fluke, and remember that these fish love structure, too. The edges of wrecks, ledges and rockpiles often produce the biggest fluke, but you’ll have to work harder to catch them.
Come July, the fishing for stripers becomes a night or dawn-patrol game. The sharpies make the run to the Elizabeth Islands to score with plugs and flies in the false-dawn hour. If you get there after 7:00, you may not get a sniff.
Smaller blues can be taken in the local rips throughout the summer. Keep en eye out for working birds and try trolling swimming plugs such as Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows or Bomber Long-A’s along the front edge of the ripline (see the related article How to Fish a Rip: Trolling).
Casting into the ripline can also be a good way to score: How to Fish a Rip: Casting Techniques
Late August often brings false albacore and bonito, as well as Spanish and king mackerel, to the waters of Nantucket Sound. These fish are a blast to catch on light tackle, but can be hard to hook. While a variety of flies (Bonito Bunnies, Skok Mushies, Gurglers) and small metal spoons (Swedish Pimples, KastMasters, Deadly Dicks) work well at times, nothing beats a 4” white Slug-Go fished rigged on a worm hook. This fishery often lasts through mid-October, weather depending. To read more on albie fishing: http://boatinglocal.com/fishing/core-beliefs.html.
Fall fishing for stripers and blues, once the best of the year, has been strangely poor in the last 6 to 7 years. However, live eels or menhaden (if available) fished in the Elizabeth Islands can produce some nice bass at this time for those willing to put in the time.
Bait & Tackle:
- Eastman’s Tackle (508-548-6900): Great tackle shop with a reports section on their site.
- Riptide Charters (774-696-0420)
- Bluefin Charters (508-292-3244)
- Patriot Party Boats (800-734-0088)
- Islander (508-847-6025)
A Recreational Saltwater Fishing Permit is required to fish the marine waters of Massachusetts out to 3 miles from shore. Cost is $10 for both residents and non-residents. The permit expires on December 31.
No permit is required for the following individuals:
- Persons under 16 years of age.
- Persons fishing on a charter or partyboat.
- Persons who possess a saltwater fishing license from Connecticut, Rhode Island or New Hampshire.
- Persons who, regardless of age, otherwise meet the definition of a disabled person.
- The permit fee is waived for anglers 60 and older; however, these individuals must still register with the state. A small fee will be charged by the vendor to process the permit if purchased online.
For more information:
To purchase a license online:
Seasons, Catch & Size Limits
For a current list of fishing regulations, by species
- Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries: Fishing Regulations