How-To: Fishing East of Chatham for Tuna

Fishing East of Chatham for Tuna

General Fishing East of Chatham

There are a lot of strategies for fishing East of Chatham and guess what, most, if not all, work because tuna move fast and cover a lot of ground. Probability tells you that if you spend enough time out there, you will find and catch fish. Some long time tuna captains will say, “when in doubt, head east.” Running east into deeper water has save plenty of days. However, I think one mistake newer tuna anglers often make is that they run too deep. Sure, deep water can hold plenty of fish but remember, the predominant bait fish found around Cape Cod are typically found on the shallow side of things.

If you struggle to find what you are looking for, use a boundary – Nauset to the north and Regal Sword to the south. Focus on 100 to 150-feet of water and weave your way up or down that contour curve to keep yourself in high probability of water passing near or over well-known, consistent, productive areas where you’ll likely bump into tuna somewhere along the way.

Grey light or sunrise is often prime time there so if you are going to make the effort and expense to make the trip, put in the extra effort to get there early! It is not uncommon for tuna to surface feed around sunrise and feed deeper in the water column for the remainder of the day while in other locations around the Cape and Islands where you can find them throughout the day. I’m not sure why the pattern is sometimes different there but you are more likely to encounter all sorts of methods of fishing such as kites, live bait, trolling, jigging, casting, etc. East of Chatham is a big area but can get small in a hurry when the bite heats up. Like anywhere else, being mindful of other boats is good karma yielding to fellow fisherman, whales and other life.

Crab Ledge

Crab Ledge is the closest of all the Bluefin tuna spots “out East.” At approximately 6-miles East of Chatham Inlet (about 45-minutes from Falmouth), the ledge itself is a plateau and is the first notable piece of tuna structure you reach when heading east. While productive, this area is readily accessible to smaller boats and often home to large crowds trying their luck on tuna. I like this spot because it is relatively easy to get here for sunrise. Crab Ledge holds a ton of bait and I feel like you always have a decent shot at a fish here with just about any method of catching tuna.

Note: Once you have hit the Crab Ledge area, you are in “tuna country,” so when running to the “next spot,” be ready to seize opportunities. Keep your eyes peeled and don’t ignore signs of life. Just because a spot doesn’t have a name, it doesn’t mean there can’t be fish there.

Lat/Long: 

  • North Edge 41° 41.000′ N, 69° 47.000′ W
  • West Edge 41° 41.000′ N, 69° 49.000′ W
  • NE Corner 41° 41.000′ N, 69° 43.050′ W
  • South Edge 41° 36.000′, 69° 47.000′ W

BC + BB Buoys

The BC and BB Buoys were the Boston approach buoys (hence “B”) placed in the traffic separation scheme (shipping lanes or “lanes”). They are no longer there and removed from updated charts but their former positions are used as reference when talking about the location of the tuna bite. Neither buoy actually held any real amount of bait or fish but the areas around them do and with nothing else to reference for a location, the buoys are the “spots” people refer to.

The BC Buoy is about 12 miles East/ENEast of Crab Ledge

  • BC Buoy 41° 41.390′ N, 69° 35.120′ W

The BB Buoy

The BB Buoy is the furthest South East of the 4 classic “East of Chatham Tuna Spots” and tends to get the least amount of fishing pressure. It is due east of Nantucket which gives you an idea of how far south it is (approximately 40 miles from Monomoy). Running as the crow flies crosses some gnarly shallow shoals so be aware of this when dealing with wind against tide or predawn night time runs in the dark and peak currents. I find that the BB buoy is often the first spot where school sized tuna are caught when they depart from the South of MV bite in early July. This bite is short lived. Like Regal Sword, the water is deep at about 200-feet so bring heavy gear!

  • BB Buoy Coordinates 41° 15.500′ N, 69° 17.641′ W

The Regal Sword

The Regal Sword is just east of lanes between the BC and the BB buoys. The Regal Sword is an actual shipwreck that still exists and can be found with sonar. Here’s a history of the actual ship wreck: http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/protect/ppw/pdfs/regal_sword.pdf

The Regal Sword is about 15 nautical miles SE of the BC Buoy and approximately 35 nautical miles ESE of Monomoy Island. The Regal Sword has all kinds of structure which includes varied depths and a number of wrecks in addition to the Regal Sword itself. Needless to say, the Regal Sword is a champion at holding bait and stays fishy all season long as it’s always a really good option for fishing blind early in the season when there are no reports at hand.

The Regal Sword is also well-known for its premium cod fishing in addition to great tuna fishing. The water is deep at the Regal Sword and the currents are strong. If you are jigging, you’ll need at least 6oz of lead core for tuna and 16oz for cod fishing to get down the 210 to 230-feet of water.

  • Regal Sword Coordinates 41° 28.0626′ N, 69° 20.5562 W

Nauset

Nauset refers to the area of Nauset Marsh and Inlet. Like Crab Ledge, it affords smaller boat anglers the convenience of running north up the beach from Chatham and the comfort of other boats in an offshore environment. Looking at a chart, you will notice that deeper water swings close to the marsh and currents here are strong, making up the perfect combination for Tuna.