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Cape Cod, Massachusetts: World-class Saltwater Fishing

 by Robert Strayton

Cape Cod, Massachusetts is an angler's dream-come-true. From Cape Cod Bay to the rips of Vineyard Sound to the beaches of the Outer Cape to the canyons offshore, Cape Cod is sure to deliver on great fishing adventures.

The Cape, like most saltwater fisheries is somewhat seasonal. Spring and Fall see migrations of huge "cow" striped bass along the coast. The "lazy days" of summer see great top-water action with marauding bluefish. As summer eases into fall the fishing opportunities explode in the fertile waters of the Cape. Powerful "cow" stripers emerge from the depths, tough toothy bluefish slash through the rips and bonito and false albacore boil the surface with their rocket attacks on sand eels, tinker mackerel and killie's.

Cape Cod Bay is alive with whales, stripers, bluefish and near-shore tuna. The last few years have seen huge schools of surface-feeding "football" bluefin tuna (60 - 150 lbs.), tackle-busting adolescents that can be caught with a variety of tackle and techniques. Also in "the Bay" are the "footballs" parents, huge powerful "giant Bluefin" that can exceed 1,000 lbs. The offshore canyons south of Cape Cod are rich with tuna, sharks, broadbill swordfish, white marlin, dolphin (mahi-mahi), blue marlin and wahoo. Perhaps what makes Cape Cod such a fabulous saltwater fishery is the accessibility of so many species, and the variety of tackle and techniques by which these fish can be caught. And for diversity, it is not uncommon to catch any and all of these species in one spot, on the same day!

Cape Cod provides angling opportunities for "trophy" hunters, but is also an ideal place for youngster's to make their first "catch." Fishing Cape Cod can be as simple and inexpensive as fishing for "snapper blues" with a reel-less bamboo "snapper" pole, and as expensive and exotic as an overnight canyon trip. All of the inshore species can be caught from public beaches, or other easily accessed areas, and can be caught on fly-fishing gear. Baits can range from live eels and pogies, to frozen squid, mackerel and herring, metal "spoons," soft-plastics to hard-body plugs and top-water poppers and sliders.

Cape Cod has many excellent guides and charter boats, and hundreds of tackle and bait shops that can help with tackle, bait and locations to fish. These folks know where the action is, what baits and techniques are working and are happy to share their knowledge to "put you on the fish."

A couple of points to note are that it is illegal to target striped bass is federal waters (beyond the 3-mile territorial limit) and a Federal Highly Migratory Species (HMS) permit is required for sharks, tuna and billfish. The offshore charter boats will have an HMS permit that covers all of the anglers on the boat, but if you plan to head offshore in your own boat, be sure you and your boat are up to long trip out, and back. As always, check the weather forecast and make sure you have all of the required safety equipment and permits.

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