Fishing strategy: Written By Capt. Terry Nugent of Riptide Charters
Devils Bridge is a long shoal that runs northwest from Gay Head on Martha’s Vineyard towards the island of Cuttyhunk. It can be accessed most readily from Menemsha Pond on Martha’s Vineyard and the ramps inside the pond. From the mainland Falmouth Harbor or any of the ports around New Bedford offer the shortest run to this corner of the island. Close to the shoreline of Martha’s Vineyard the water is relatively shallow averaging around 10-25 feet deep. Farther from shore the depths increase drastically to nearly 100 feet deep out near the “31 Can” (A green nav buoy designated as #31). Due to the variety of depths on this piece of structure styles of fishing it can vary greatly. But one thing is always a constant and that is the need for moving water. This spot is EXTREMELY tide dependent. I’ve found that the faster the water moves through this area the better it fishes. I have not found the direction of the water flow to matter all that much. I do prefer a west running tide to the east running tide but I have had excellent results on both flows.
I prefer to fish “The Bridge” starting around the middle of May. Typically this area is loaded with bait and in particular herring and squid. I try to plan my trips around the current flow of the rip and most tide/current charts use the 31 Can as a reference to water moment in the area. I like to arrive about 45 minutes after the turn of the tide so the water is moving nicely and it starts to show a visible standing rip along the shoal. As I said this shoal can be fished in a variety of ways based on your preference. Many people choose to troll wire inside along the shallower portions of the rip. Drifting live or chunk baits across any portion of the rip is always a great way to put up big numbers of quality fish. Of course casting at surface feeding fish, especially in the dawn and dusk periods is always an option. The method I prefer the most in this area is vertical jigging the deeper section of the shoal. This gets me out of the crowds trolling the shallow water and offers me a great chance for landing big bass on fairly light tackle. The 8.5oz Hogy Sand Eel Jig with an Assist Hook is my preferred lure on “The Bridge.” When the squid are thick it’s hard to be a White Spro Bucktail with a white pork rind trailer. When the herring are thick nothing will out fish a SI Hammered Diamond jig. Adjust the jigs weight based on the speed of the drift and the current. The technique we employ here is to get the jig to the bottom as quickly as possible and just bump the jig along the sandy bottom. ALWAYS maintain contact with the bottom or you’ll likely be cut off by the mid water bluefish. This may sound easy to do but it’s a fairly advanced technique. Due to the rapid change in depth as you cross over the shoal in conjunction with the often very speeding drift, tending bottom takes allot of skill and finesse. Those that can get a feel for this bottom bouncing will be rewarded with great numbers of big bass. Fail to master the technique and baring a few bluefish you will swear this place is barren of fish. (HINT) a really good sonar with the bottom lock turned on will give you a real advantage here!
NOAA chart number: 13233
Lat & Long: 41°21.8’ x 70°51.8’
Best tide: West (outgoing)
Hazards: Shallow reef running northwest off the northwest corner of Martha’s Vineyard, about ¼ mile long with depth gradually dropping off. Large boulders 100 – 200 yards off the shore. Strong rip develops at peak of the tide with large standing waves when prevailing summer southwest breeze is against the dropping (west ) tide. Large swells from offshore break around the point and over the boulders at times.
Link To Tide Chart: Click Here
Link to marine weather: Click Here