Fishing On Cape Cod: Spring
Striped bass fanatics will begin prospecting the estuaries and beaches of the Upper Cape (Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound and Nantucket Sound sides) sometime in mid April, although a few will start even earlier. They are hoping to find the first arrivals from points south, small school-size fish that must be released but after a long winter of impatiently waiting it’s time to get out there. They also hope to find some of the “hold-over” stripers that spend the winter in the warmer estuaries and salt ponds in highly variable numbers from year to year. A few anglers will fish those same locations for the phantom winter flounder, perhaps out of nostalgia more than an expectation of catching anything, but every year a few “flats” are taken. Tautog may put in an appearance too, but the season for them closes for a couple months at about this time to protect breeders.
The chances of finding schoolies increase every day from mid April on, and by the first week of May it is almost certain that catches will be made. Then things really begin to accelerate. Bluefish will invade the Sounds too about this time, drawn here by herring and squid that are beginning to pass through the Sounds. The squid will be in places like Middle Ground off Martha’s Vineyard and in the “holes” between the Elizabeth Islands. Herring are moving toward the streams that lead to the ponds where they were born. Those prized bait fish have been strictly protected for the last few years – no catching or retention of them, alive or dead is allowed – and there have been some hopeful signs that their numbers are beginning to rebound a bit. Anglers who fish artificial lures that look like herring near any of the herring runs stand a good chance of success not only with schoolies but legal-size stripers that begin to show around the first week or so of May.
By the end of May the striped bass season is in full swing. The Cape Cod Canal is a premier location to intercept migrating fish and when the word gets out that the big stripers are moving through it’s common to see hundreds of vehicles along both sides of The Big Ditch as their owners cast oversize plugs into the strong current.
Many Cape anglers consider the month of June to be the best few weeks of the entire season because wave after wave of fish are moving through – a spot that was barren a few hours before may be filled with fish on the next good tide.
About this time the first reports of bluefin tuna come in from the waters off Provincetown and farther out at Stellwagen Bank. Tuna fever hits fast and hard.
Those who prefer bottom fishing now can expect scup, fluke and sea bass to be available (depending upon when the legal season for each species opens) and tautog will invade most of the rock piles along Vineyard Sound, the Elizabeths and the Holes between them.
The game is definitely on!