Fishing Falmouth in the Fall
Falmouth is a quintessential Cape Cod town, right down to the lighthouse and quaint Main Street lined with shops and restaurants. Summer residents and vacationers descend by the thousands on the town for their annual dose of the Cape Cod lifestyle, and for three months they clog the sidewalks, fill the beach parking lots, and cover the shore with a mosaic of umbrellas and towels. Then Labor Day Weekend comes and goes, and overnight, the summer crowds disappear. The beach lots are left wide open and unguarded. The water cools. And the fish reappear.
Ask any Cape Codder what their favorite season is on the Cape, and chances are good they’ll answer “the fall.” If they’re a fisherman, it’s almost certain.
The geography of town gives land-based fishermen a wide array of locations to fish Falmouth, from the sandy beaches and salt ponds on the south side, to the treacherous rocks of Nobska Point, and the sheltered harbors and beaches on the Buzzards Bay side. These shorelines offer a natural migration path for stripers swimming south in the fall, and the numerous harbors, estuaries and salt ponds provide a supply of food that gives them reason to pause and strap on the feed bag. There are a number of locations that offer easy access for fishermen in the fall, and any one of them can provide a fall fishing experience you won’t soon forget.
County Road, North Falmouth
From Route 28, take the Route 151 exit. Go west 1/2 mile to Route 28A. Go straight through the lights onto County Road. Follow County Road through the center of North Falmouth, past the ball field, uphill and straight through the intersection. Continue to the harbor, parking on the left in the town parking lot.
Megansett Harbor is a well protected spot perfect for fly-casters and light-tackle fishermen. From the parking lot, you’ll see a small town beach that faces west toward Buzzards Bay and a long rocky jetty. Both the beach and the jetty offer access to a shallow, sandy area that striped bass and bluefish will patrol to feed on silversides and other small baitfish.
To the right of the town dock, the harbor narrows into a channel that drains the upper reaches, known as Squeteague Harbor. Stay below the high tide line and target the deeper water in the narrow channel, particularly on a falling tide. Occasionally, schools of menhaden will move through the channel, offering the chance at a big bluefish.
OLD SILVER BEACH
Quaker Road, North Falmouth
From Route 28 take the Route 151 exit. Go west for 1/4 mile on Route 151 to Route 28A. Proceed south on Route 28A for 1 mile, then exit the rotary onto Curley Boulevard, which merges into Quaker Road, and follow for 1 1/2 miles. There is public parking on the right at the beach.
Old Silver is one of the better spots for fishing Falmouth on the Buzzards Bay shore of the Cape, but it’s also one of the most popular swimming beaches. Fishing here during the day is almost impossible in the summer, but in the fall, there is plenty of room to roam. An interesting feature of Old Silver is the stream and marsh that bisect the beach. This stream is a good river herring run, and in the fall striped bass will gather to feed on juvenile herring and other baitfish exiting the marsh. There is a shallow, rocky area on the south end of the beach that can give up larger striped bass in the late evening and after dark. The rest of the sandy beach will hold roaming schools of striped bass feeding on sand eels and silversides, often late into the fall.
Chapoquoit Road, West Falmouth
Take Route 28 South toward Falmouth and exit at Brick Kiln Road. Take a right and head toward West Falmouth. At Route 28a, take a right. After 1/4 mile, turn left on Chapoquoit Road and follow it to the beach parking lot.
Chapoquoit Beach is a sandy beach that is popular with windsurfers and kite boarders on particularly windy days. These days also make for good fishing along Chapoquoit. Striped bass run the beach to feed on sand eels, which are often abundant along the beach. The area above the high tide mark north of the public beach is private, but fisherman can wade and fish this area all the way to the mouth of West Falmouth Harbor on a low tide. The beach turns rocky near the mouth of the harbor and can be an excellent place to fish long-casting topwater and swimming plugs.
THE KNOB/QUISSETT HARBOR
Quissett Harbor Road, Falmouth
Follow Route 28 into Falmouth and bear right onto Woods Hole Road. Continue 1 1/2 miles and turn right at the light onto Quissett Harbor Road. Follow Quissett Harbor Road to the small parking area at the end of the road.
The area known to Falmouth residents as the Knob refers to a large wooded tract on the northwest side of Quissett Harbor. This piece of property is a conservation trust, meaning that it is privately owned but public access is allowed. Trails lead through a wooded area out to the point at the end of the Harbor (the Knob itself) and a beachfront.
This beautiful little harbor is a popular boating destination, and small stripers can be heard splashing among the yachts all night long in the late summer and fall. The edge of Quissett Harbor is easily waded and fished all the way out to the Knob. This is one of the best striped bass spots in Falmouth, with the sandy inner harbor giving way to eelgrass and large boulders out at the mouth. Try walking and casting a live eel or swimming a surface plug around the rocks. Bluefish and striped bass will occasionally corral baitfish in the sandy cove that forms the outer beach, to the north of the Knob.
THE STONE PIER, WOODS HOLE
Water Street, Woods Hole
Take Route 28 south toward Falmouth and follow the signs to Woods Hole. Proceed through the village, over the drawbridge, and park in any available space along Water Street.
Although it’s part of the town of Falmouth, the village of Woods Hole is a distinct community. It is famous for its marine and oceanographic institutions and is the mainland port for the ferries to Martha’s Vineyard.
Woods Hole is also well known for fabulous fishing around the ledges and rips that strike fear in the hearts of inexperienced boaters. The problem that the shore-bound angler encounters here is lack of access. About the only place to fish in the village is a spot known locally as the Stone Pier.
Located behind the NOAA marine fisheries building on Water Street, the jetty extends into Great Harbor and is surrounded by deep water. A powerful storm destroyed parts of the jetty, cutting its fishable length to about a third of what it once was. However, it still provides access to some excellent fishing, both from the jetty itself and from the tiny beach located adjacent to the NOAA employee parking lot. Bluefish and striped bass, and occasionally false albacore, can be caught here in the fall. At night, striped bass are drawn to feed around the shadow lines of the parking lot lights, and bigger bass can be tempted out of deepwater lairs with a live eel.
Nobska Road, Woods Hole
Take Route 28 south toward Falmouth and follow the signs toward Woods Hole. Stay on Woods Hole Road for about three miles, then take a left onto Church Street. Take Church Street past Nobska Beach to the top of the hill at the lighthouse. There is parking for only about six cars
The rocky point in front of Nobska Lighthouse offers the most productive and difficult fishing on the Upper Cape for the angler looking for a big bluefish or striped bass. What makes this spot so productive is the huge tidal rips that form when the tide is moving, and what makes it so difficult is the huge boulder field where most big fish are likely to run after being hooked.
To the left (east) side of the hill is the remains of a small jetty and a stretch of boulders mixed with sand. Big stripers are taken here on live eels drifted out on the tide and off the more fisherman-friendly beaches on either side of the bluff, usually in the late season or after dark. Nobska is a beautiful location. However, it can be a dangerous spot to fish due to big surf, heavy currents and slippery boulders.
Oyster Pond Road, Falmouth
Take Route 28 south toward Falmouth and follow the signs toward Woods Hole. Stay on Locust Street (Woods Hole Road) for 1/2 mile and take a left at the stoplights onto Oyster Pond Road. Follow Oyster Pond Road for 2 miles until it forks right at a small salt pond. Look for an unmarked entrance to the town parking areas 1/4-mile down the road on the left.
The beach across the bike path from the parking area at Trunk River is an excellent spot to cast plugs or soak bait chunks late in the fall. Trunk River itself is too small to hold striped bass, but it is a river herring run, and in the fall, bass will gather at the mouth of the river to feed on juvenile herring dropping out into the sea. The beach to the south and west is fishable all the way to Nobska Lighthouse. The first two jetties that you’ll encounter are favorite spots for the locals when they bottom fish or cast for stripers and bluefish. This area is known locally as Fay Road Beach and is private above the high-water mark, but the wading fisherman has plenty of good water to explore for almost two miles along the beachfront.
FALMOUTH HEIGHTS BEACH
Grand Ave., Falmouth
From Route 28 in Falmouth, head south on Falmouth Heights Road until it becomes Grand Ave. Follow Grand Ave. left and park in the first lot on your right to fish the Heights Beach or continue another 1⁄4 mile to the Little Pond parking lot.
Falmouth Heights Beach is a sandy beach with a series of evenly spaced rocky jetties. It’s a good place to look for blitzing schools of striped bass and bluefish chasing bait parallel to the beach or corralling it around the jetties. Little Pond Beach is usually more productive, particularly on a dropping tide when water and bait is flushing out of Little Pond. The jetties on either side of the pond opening are coveted surfcasting spots. Small rubber shads are popular here, especially when the fish are feeding on peanut bunker.
MENAUHANT BEACH/ BOURNES POND
Menauhant Rd., East Falmouth
From Falmouth center, take Route 28 toward East Falmouth. Take a right onto Davisville Road in East Falmouth, follow for 1 1⁄2 miles to the stop sign. Take a left onto Menauhant Road and follow it for 1⁄2-mile to the town parking lots on your right.
The outer beach area has a nice drop-off, and in the fall, schools of striped bass, bluefish, and false albacore will blitz schools of baitfish along the shore. Fishing from the jetties at the inlet to Bournes Pond is popular, especially on a dropping tide, when you can drift a plug or eel out in the current.
Stripers will also charge between the jetties and chase bait in and out of the pond. You can wade and fish along this beach to the east, all the way to the entrance of Eel Pond, an inlet connected to Waquoit Bay. Bait dunkers will find this is an easy place to fish chunks of menhaden or mackerel for bluefish and stripers, as the bottom is sand and gravel with very little on which to hang up your gear.
The inside of the pond has become a
popular location for fly-fishermen and sometimes can get a little crowded. Cross the road and fish the channel from either side of the bridge. You can wade into the pond, but be careful of the soft mud bottom and sharp drop-offs. There is often a good topwater bite inside the pond in the evenings; try small poppers and soft-plastic stickbaits for the often-selective stripers.
SOUTH CAPE BEACH
Great Oak Rd., Mashpee
Take Route 28 from Falmouth and follow it east to the Mashpee Rotary. From the Mashpee Rotary follow Great Neck Road (south) toward New Seabury. Turn left at the main entrance, marked with a State Park sign.
From the parking area, South Cape Beach extends west for about 1 1/2 miles to a long jetty that marks the easterly entrance of Waquoit Bay. Bait fishing is good anywhere along this stretch. An ambitious angler can make the long walk to the Waquoit Bay entrance and find some great fishing. A dropping tide in the early morning or late evening is usually best as bait will flush out of the massive Waquoit Bay Estuary. A live eel drifted in the channel can produce big striped bass in the fall, and fish can be caught here well into November.