Fourth of July weekend is the unofficial start of the summer tourist season on the Cape and a fair percentage of the visitors will be anglers. This means well known spots both on shore and farther out will be crowded. There are plenty of fish to go around though and the action for all species can be almost as good in July as it was in June. Stripers, bluefish and tuna are the main targets.
Savvy fishermen know that they have a choice: they can go out on a beautiful Cape summer day and catch a sun tan, or they can fish under the cover of darkness and catch fish, at least as far as good size stripers are concerned. It’s certainly possible to catch bass during the day – especially on rainy or foggy ones – but the biggest fish become bold when it’s dark. This is particularly important to understand by the shore-bound angler. It pays to scope out a location you hope to fish while it’s light outside and then return much later.
An exception to this is the fishing on the flats on the Nantucket Sound side of Monomoy and in Cape Cod Bay, the flats off Brewster and Barnstable. It’s not uncommon to see literally hundreds stripers of all sizes over the flats in a day of fishing. Light tackle rules in these places and some finesse is required for consistent success but the sight of dozens of bass swimming at you as you stand on the casting platform of your boat is something you will never forget.
Bluefish are less concerned about the time of day and can show up almost anywhere in the waters around the Cape. Although somewhat disdained by hardcore striper guys, there is no denying their awesome fight and aggressive attitude. For many anglers on the Cape, bluefish provide an introduction to real sportfishing.
Blues can often be found anywhere there is an outflow from an estuary or salt pond. They are tons of fun to catch and if handled correctly, are delicious when grilled.
Boaters will begin fishing in earnest for fluke, or summer flounder in places such as Middle Ground, Mashnee flats and the deeper holes off Norton Point on the Vineyard. It’s often necessary to cull through many short fish before you take a couple legal size ones but the potential is always there. Black sea bass often inhabit the same areas and they are absolutely delicious.
This is prime time to take youngsters out fishing for scup, those ubiquitous little fighters that can be found around jetties and docks in Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound and Nantucket Sound. They can be easily taken by boaters too – anchor up or drift in water that has depths of 15 – 30 feet with a fairly level and sandy bottom and you’re almost sure to find them. All you need is a light rod, some small hooks, weights and a box of squid for bait.
On the other end of the fishing spectrum are bluefin tuna, which will be caught off Provincetown and in the waters east of Chatham. In recent years many serious anglers have stopped fishing for all other species and concentrate all their efforts on these heavy weights of the Cape Cod fishing scene. Specialized equipment is needed and it pays to do a lot of research about techniques if you want to get in on the tuna game.
General fishing knowledge says that in August we enter the “summer doldrums” and while that may be true for striper fishing during the day, at night – late at night – the bass will still cooperate. And there are other species showing up. Bonito and false albacore have a following almost as passionate as the tuna fanatics. These speedy and sometimes frustrating fish must be fished with light tackle, almost always from a boat. The waters of Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds, and to a lesser degree Buzzards Bay are where they will be charging around.