Tuna fishing east of Chatham covers a fairly large area but for the most part the same techniques will work in all of the locations. The areas closest to shore are just in front of the Chatham Cuts (Inlets) and Crab Ledge. The mouth of the inlets hold large amounts of bait and have the added benefit of the current flow dumping even more bait out of Pleasant Bay on the dropping tides. Crab Ledge is a plateau that lies a few miles SE of the inlets and is the first piece of tuna structure you reach when heading east. Both of these areas are readily accessible to the smaller boats and often have large crowds trying their luck on tuna.
There are three offshore areas that are often referenced when discussing tuna east of Chatham.
They are the BC, BB buoys and the Regal Sword. The first two were the Boston approach buoys in the shipping lanes. They are no longer there but their former positions are used as reference when talking about the location of a 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 too. The Regal Sword is a little different. This is an actual shipwreck that still exists and can be found with sonar. It’s just east of the lanes between the BC and the BB buoys. IT also has the added benefit of holding some large cod even during the summer.
Once you decided where you plan to fish for tuna east of Chatham the most common way to go about it is to slow troll squid rigs. In recent years “Splasher Bars” or squid bars with splashing birds on them has become very popular and VERY effective. Trolling these rigs at 3-5 mph around areas of heavy bait concentration is a very good way to hook yourself a tuna. Finding whales out east is a sure fire way to find the bait and thus find the tuna. So out east you will often find large groups of boats in areas of feeding whales. Another popular way to fish out east is to Run and Gun the tuna as they surface feed. This is most popular in the near shore spots but it can be and is done in the deeper water locations. Finding the life is the first step to the Run and Gun method. Then running over to tuna that are visible on the surface and casting topwater plugs and large Softbaits into the melee. A 3rd way that tuna are fished out east is by chunking and bait fishing. This is done later in the summer and fall in the deeper water areas and primarily is the “Commercial” way to fish for giants. In the fall the BB buoy was a very popular place for chunking but the Commercial fleet.
When gearing up for tuna east of Chatham many people opt to troll very heavy conventional tuna gear. The mindset is there are giants in this area and the heavy gear is needed to land these larger fish.I prefer to scale down my trolling gear into the 30#/50# class since the majority of the fish are under 300# and can be easily handled on the lighter gear.
The lighter gear also makes the tuna in the 100# class much more sporting to catch and since they are often the majority of the catch gearing for them makes sense. When it comes to casting gear, heavy spoiling rods and 20000 Class reels with 500 yards of 80-100# braid are the norm. Tuna specific lures and hooks are a must if you plan to chase these fish on casting gear. When the smaller fish are near 100# only the best of the best will do regarding spinning equipment.
- Crab Ledge Coordinates:
- 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 Buoy Coordinates: 41° 41.390′ N, 69° 35.120′ W
- BB Buoy Coordinates: 41° 15.500′ N, 69° 17.641′ W
- Regal Sword Coordinates: 41° 28.0626′ N, 69° 20.5562 W
- Best tide: Slack
- Hazards: Whales. Steer clear!
- Tide Chart: Click Here
- Marine Weather: Click Here
- History of Regal Sword: http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/protect/ppw/pdfs/regal_sword.pdf