This huge harbor holds stripers from April into November and sometimes there are even holdover fish all winter long in the myriad creeks that divide the Great Marsh. Unfortunately, shore access is limited to a few spots due to geographic features, tidal range and private property. However, there are a few spots where a wading angler can find fish consistently, depending on the stage of the tide. This is key: the tide here is strong and the water depth rises and falls up to 8 feet so it is vitally important to pay attention to water depths when wading and never stay on the outer bars too long. Anglers in kayaks have a huge advantage but being a strong paddler is mandatory. The shore spots for fishing include:
This road leads to a small creek that holds fish at the top of the tide. Best fishing will be found under low light conditions. Not the best spot in the harbor but at certain times the fishing can be excellent as schoolie stripers come in with the tide searching for small bait along the edges of the creek. Flies such as the Clouser, Half-and-Half, Brooks Blonde and Lefty’s Deceiver work well here, as do small soft plastics like the Hogy Skinny series. Parking is easily found but beware of soft mud and note where the high tide mark is located. Navigation Road is off Route 6A but is not well marked and easy to miss. It begins a hundred yards or so west of the intersection of Route 149 and Route 6A.
Well marked, off Route 6A (Main Street) in Barnstable Village. There is a town landing at the end of the road that has parking for a few vehicles but no parking is allowed at any time for non-residents during the summer and this regulation is vigorously enforced. In the spring and fall parking is less problematic but enforcement of resident-only regulations is variable. Walk along the rocky shore to the west and you may find stripers anywhere – this is one of the few areas in the harbor that has both a slightly deeper channel close to shore and rocky cover for the fish. There is no need to wade out far. About 300 yards from the small parking area you will come to a small point where the water divides at the mouth of a smaller creek. This is a prime location, especially during the hour or so on either side of high tide. Fishes best under low light conditions but in the fall there may be bass working along this side of the upper harbor all day long. Scudder is a prime area but it’s best to fish here early or late in the season to avoid ticketing (usually!).
Another small, town-owned parking area can be found at the end of this road, with restrictions similar to Scudder Lane. Although very close to the very active inner harbor where many boats come and go all day long, this spot holds fish at the top of the tide due to a small creek adjacent to the parking area that holds plenty of bait. There is also some rocky cover for the bass. Wading out as the tide drops and targeting the many troughs between the sand bars is a good strategy. Use small lures like the Hogy Skinnies. Fly fishermen do well here too. Rendezvous Lane is well marked and easy to find off Route 6A in Barnstable Village.
Although parking near at the end of Bone Hill Road is restricted to only two or three vehicles and should not be attempted during the day in the summer, a larger lot is located about a quarter mile from the water in the Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary (upper lot – do not park at the Visitor’s Center). Then walk down the road to access the water. The rise and fall of the tide are quite dramatic here. Wade out as the tide falls and fish the shallow channels that intersect the bars in many places. Be absolutely sure to begin walking back in when the tide turns and begins to rise – if you fish all the way out to the main channel you will be a few hundred yards from the shoreline and the water rises so fast that a knee-deep trough at low water will be waist deep or higher only an hour or so after the tide begins to flood. A better plan is to arrive at dusk or just before dawn when the tide is close to high and fish your way east along the marsh until you reach a point that is the westerly entrance to Mill Creek, a large creek that marks the end of the harbor. The edge of the marsh around the end of Mill Creek is a prime spot for stripers seeking sand eels and baitfish that populate the creek and surrounding bars and channels. Hogy Skinnies and small Original Series Hogys are excellent choices here, as are the Hogy Sand Eel series soft plastics. Fly anglers work these edges at the top of the tide, too.