If you like to fish, Menemsha offers a world of options, beginning with striped bass. Large stripers typically invade the local waters from mid-May to early June, many of them swimming into Menemsha Pond to feast on the herring that exit Squibnocket Pond after spawning. You can no longer use herring for bait, but the bass will hit large plugs and herring-pattern flies fished at night or at false dawn. Once the herring leave, so do the big bass, although schoolies can be taken throughout the harbor and pond from June until October. Again, you’ll do best by fishing at night or in the early morning.
The inlet is a great place to wet a line, as evidenced by the crowd of shore fishermen lining the jetties on any given day. Boaters are urged to respect the jetty fishermen and give them as wide a berth as possible. Bass, blues and other predators can be taken on the Menemsha Bight side of the jetties, especially on the outgoing tide. Best strategy is to position your boat or kayak outside the channel and cast into the strong current flowing out of the harbor.
Offshore fishermen love Menemsha because it puts them close to the tuna and shark grounds south of Nomans.
Of course, another great spot to find big stripers are the fabled rocks off Aquinnah (Gay Head). This area gives up trophy bass each season, but be sure you know what you’re doing, as the place can be treacherous, especially if a swell is running. Tossing plugs, live eels and flies close to the rocks can temp some big stripers. Trolling tube lures, parachute jigs and bunker spoons on wire or leadcore line can work equally well in depths of 15’ or more, as long as you’re able to keep your lures from snagging bottom.
Stripers also gang up in the deep rip of Devil’s Bridge, especially in June and early July when squid are abundant. Drifting and deep-jigging with diamond jigs and bucktails, or bouncing live eels over the bottom, can produce well. If you’re not sure where to start fishing, or where to set up your drift, watch how the other boats do it. Devil’s Bridge, incidentally, also gives up large black sea bass and fluke, although the strong current makes it hard to keep baits on the bottom.
Good sightfishing for stripers can be sometimes be enjoyed on the shallow sand flats of Dogfish Bar, just west of the harbor. However, this sport is only available to skiff and kayak anglers. Set up a drift over the flats and watch for grey shadows ghosting across the bottom, and be ready to fire off a cast with a sand eel fly, crab fly or soft-plastic bait.
Bluefish invade the Menemsha area in June, and can often be found just outside the harbor jetties and throughout Vineyard Sound. Look for diving birds to point the way to the action. You can find blues anywhere there’s good current flow in Vineyard Sound, so keep a spinning rod ready and rigged with a metal lure or topwater plug in case a school pops up within range. Big blues are also found over Devil’s Bridge alongside striped bass, and around Nomans Island in midsummer.
Fluke are another popular local food and game fish. Nearby Lucas Shoal (aka “Flukus Shoal”) is a well-known spot for flatties, although you’ll likely have to weed through a bunch of shorts before bagging a keeper. You’ll stand an even better chance of scoring a large fish if you fish the shoals off Nomans Island. Productive baits include squid strips rigged on 2- to 4-ounce bucktail jigs and hopped over a sloping bottom.
Menemsha can also be a hot spot for bonito and false albacore. Look for these fish to gather outside the harbor entrance and throughout Menemsha Bight beginning in late August. Productive lures include small Deadly Dicks, KastMasters, Hopkins No=Eqls and 4” white Slug-Gos rigged on worm hooks. If you like to fly-fish, try a small, white bonito bunny, Skok Mushy or a fly that imitates whatever baitfish the fish are feeding on.
Offshore fishermen love Menemsha because it puts them close to the tuna and shark grounds south of Nomans. Numerous spots along the 20- and 30-fathom lines routinely hold bluefin tuna, blue sharks, makos, threshers and even white marlin and mahi. Hot spots include the Star, the Dump, the Fingers and the Claw. Vineyard tackle shops can give you up-to-date advice on where the fish are and what they’re hitting.
Bait & Tackle
Limited tackle and ice can be purchased at the Menemsha fuel dock shop on Dutcher Dock.
For more extensive fishing needs, visit the following Vineyard shops: