Who wants to go on a tour with me? Today, we are going to explore the land of Cape Cod and the best fishing spots to catch a striped bass. For newcomers to striped bass fishing in Cape Cod be sure to check out the Army Corps of Engineers Cape Cod Canal Tide Chart, so you can be thoroughly prepared for the weather in the area. There are BIG fish, BIG tides, and BIG crowds in this area and a lot of the locals like to keep the prime fishing spots a secret, and do not like when ‘tourists’ come around and try to figure out where the best places are. Here, we are going to give you the top 4 striped bass fishing spots, along with a lot of information on Cape Cod Canal.
Cape Cod Canal is a man-made short cut for baitfish, that is 7 miles long in between Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod Bay. The baitfish try to use this short-cut in order to avoid the striped bass fish that are usually hot on their tails. You, as an angler, have to be prepared to use heavy jigs and large plugs to get the attention of the stripers. The Cape Cod Canal rivals Montauk Point as one of the best places, on the East coast, for catching striped bass. The top 4 spots to fish for striped bass in the Cape Cod area are:
- Barnstable Harbor
- Billingsgate Shoal
- Race Point
1. Barnstable Harbor: if you are not picky as far as the size of the striper that you catch, then check out the harbor towards the end of May. In the spring, striped bass will feed on mackerel and live eel in this area, but they are only schoolie sized. The preferred bait is small sliders, poppers, or soft baits. Once the mackerel start getting bigger, in mid-June, you will want to opt for a little bit bigger bait as that is when the bigger striper will start showing up as well.
2. Wellfleet: with schools of herring swimming around in later May to mid-June, look to the seagulls for confirmation that the striped bass is close. If the seagulls confirm that the bass is close by, then it is the perfect time to get out your equipment and catch that striped bass. One angler, native to the area, recommends a 6.5″, 3 oz bone-colored Hogy Pro Paddle Tail. These lures closely resemble the herring that are lurking around in the water. The lures can be cast or jigged and offer maximum versatility and casting ability. Topwater fishing in this area is also amazing.
3. Billingsgate Shoal: in this area the spring is amazing, but usually starts off with smaller fish. The best fishing tide in this area is the outgoing tide. Make sure, especially if you are new, to experiment with your lures. Try fishing both slow and fast retrieval with soft baits and metal lures. The Billingsgate area is a popular trolling spot, but some anglers prefer to accept the challenge of hands-on action using casting and jigging to catch the feisty, evasive striped bass.
4. Race Point: usually an overabundance of sand eels are in this area. The fishing is amazing in the springtime and the striped bass tends to hold a little deeper here, which means they are going to be bigger and maybe more of a challenge to get reeled in. Softbaits and jigs work well when fished on the bottom, slowly. Trolling for stripers is popular in this area with the bass staying in the deeper water.
There are other spots in Cape Cod and along the Cape Cod Canal to find the striped bass; Truro & Nauset Beach, Chatam Inlet, and Cape Cod National Seashore. When you arrive at the Cape Cod area, ask around at the local bait and tackle shops, local restaurants and resorts, the employees/owners should be able to give you more places where the striped bass are going to be hanging out. You can also check and/or get a pamphlet when you go and get your Massachusettes fishing license. These pamphlets show you where all the fishing hot spots are, they give you the rules, regulations and catch limits for the different species in the different areas. It is a must-have if you are new to any area.
Scattered along the Canal shoreline are multiple resting and feeding places for the striped bass. Fish the low-tide with darter or bottle plugs, this will allow your lure to swim the surface and into the slower water where the striper love to wait for their prey to swim by. In the Cape Cod area, there are 3 main fishing techniques that the majority of the anglers use; jigging, plugging, and bait fishing. To reach the bottom during heavy currents requires using jigs as heavy as 5 ounces. Some of the anglers in the area prefer to use Cotton Cordell Pencil Poppers that they fill with birdshot.
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When jigging, make sure to target areas with drop-offs. These are the perfect little hiding spots for striped bass to lye and wait for their prey. Plugging is for that striped bass that is chasing their meal across the surface of the water. A popular time to use the plugs is at sunrise when you can visibly see the stripers on the surface. Bait fishing is very popular on the Cape Cod Canal, after dark, during the slow stages of the tide. Live eels are the #1 bait at this time, though mackerel and bunker will also work.
Because of the fast current, large tides and bigger lures, you need to have stout tackle when fishing Cape Cod. One of the secrets of the canal is to use topwater lures and fish 30 minutes before the first light. Numerous 70-pound striped bass has been caught in the Cape Cod area, mainly around the canal. The best fishing times in the Cape Cod area are right after the Labor Day holiday and through the month of October. At night, in this area, it is when you are going to find more and catch the bigger striped bass because they come closer to the beaches/shores to feed.
Cap Code is a beautiful place any time of the year to vacation or visit, but if you are an avid angler and you are looking for your next big catch, then you need to head to Massachusettes. There are many places along the canal to catch that trophy striped bass. You will be the envy of all of your fishing buddies when they find out where you are going and when you show them pictures of the ‘big one’.