Middle Ground is a long shoal that spans about 2.5NM that runs East to West on the North side
of the Vineyard. Middle Ground’s most shallow end is just off West Chop. Shallowest portions
are as skinny as 3ft. Toward the West end of the shoal, Middle Ground depths can exceed 60’.
The tide rips here and can hit speeds up to 3kts.
This is a very popular spot due to its proximity to Falmouth, Mashpee and Vineyard
ports. It’s not uncommon to find dozens of boats here during peak season. Speaking of peak
season, Middle Ground is hottest in late May through early June when small squid infiltrate the
shoal and stripers blast through the rip chasing them. It’s quite a site to see. One point worth
mentioning is how weedy this spot can get, mainly a result from the squid draggers stirring up
the bottom in the area.
You can expect to find fish here all season long but mainly smaller stripers and blues in the rip as the season
progresses. You will see birds here almost all the time throughout the season but don’t be fooled.
Since the spot is so shallow, terns can pick off sand eels easily on their own in the rip without
needing fish to chase the bait to the surface. Once the squid leave in the spring, key baits to
imitate here are sand eels and silversides. Once in a blue moon you can witness a lady crab hatch
here. If you are so lucky, pink and amber are key colors, basically the same color patterns you
would use for squid.
Just about any spot in the rip is likely to hold fish but if you can locate the crescent-shaped
indents in the rip, working those will give you an extra edge. Small baitfish will ball up there a
little more densely than other areas of the rip, making it a hotspot for stripers & blues. Stripers
will sometimes hang out in the corners of these crescents, so make sure to troll your bait right
over that area.
The West End is much deeper and is a known fluke spot as just as much as it is for bass and
blues. The Western most portion of the shoal, known as “Bow Bell” holds larger stripers in the
boulder fields. There are some deeper spots near buy off. Any spots in the area with rough
bottom are known large scup and sea bass producers. Squid for bait on the bottom for scup and
sea bass obviously works, but any jig heavy enough to hold bottom will produce just as well and
gives you the chance at a random bass or blue, which happens regularly.
Here’s A Few Tips To Get You Started
1. Squid Plugs In The Rip: The Name of the game here is to keep the boat on smooth side
of rip, cast up tide and fish the swing and the lure enters the rip. AREA # 1
2. Topwater Weedless Softbaits: This area can be extremely weedy, so weedless rigged
soft-baits will gif anglers a huge advantage here. Amber and Pink are the two most
popular colors during the squid run in May and June, which is also the most popular time
to fish middle ground. 10″ Hogy Originals rigged weedless with weighted swimbait
hooks are the preferred bait for the technique. The rips of Nantucket Sound can get
extremely weedy from time to time and by dipping the very end of the hook back into the
softbait, you will avoid getting caught up with a weed monster. As far as color selection
goes, try and match your lure with the color of the bait in the area. For example, if there
are squid around, go with an amber or pink coloration. AREA # 1
3. Jig’N troll: Most of these rips will hold fish in very shallow water, so you don’t need to
let out a lot of line. For example, at Middle Ground, Capt. Mike usually only lets out 4 or
5 colors. Make sure to continuously jig the bait with short twitches while in gear. If you
feel a hit on your lure, make sure to set the hook with another short jig on the rod. Stay a
hundred and fifty feet off the rip line on the smooth side, proceed slowly in an S-pattern
that allows any lures listed above to climb up the side of the drop off, then fall back over.
Weedless rigged soft baits on lead core are the most effective to troll. Trolling is most
popular on the Western portion of the shoal, in deeper water with less boat traffic. AREA
4. Big Stripers can hold in the western portion called Bow Bell. AREA #2
5. There can be some excellent fluke fishing on the western portion of the shoal. AREA #2
6. Scan the area with your fish finder, look for structure, live bottom, or even better fish!
Drift with 3oz metal jigs perhaps with teasers. Fluke, sea bass, tog, bass and blues are all
fair game here.
- NOAA chart number: 13229
- Lat & Long: 41°29’ x 70°38’
- Best tide: Either tide (incoming or outgoing) fishes well; action will be slow at slack.
- Hazards: Few. Strong wind against tide can produce large standing waves at the edge of
the rip line. Boat traffic and fishing activity can be heavy, especially on weekends in the
summer. Water can be very weedy at times.
- Link To Tide Chart: Click Here
- Link to marine weather: Click Here