Cape Cod Fishing Report – August 16, 2018

Peter Balboni had a great day of fishing in Woods Hole on Thursday while wearing his lucky OTW hat.

After a very brief respite from the heat and humidity, it’s back to sweltering on Cape Cod. The waters have remained very warm in both Buzzards Bay and off the South Side, and those warm waters have brought better numbers of bonito to join the king mackerel already here. Striper fishing is running hot and cold around the Cape, except in the Canal where over the weekend, the fishing—and in some cases, the tempers—ran hot.
There were a few reports of ugly altercations along the Canal this weekend when extremely large crowds of fishermen descended on the Ditch hoping for a repeat of last August’s action.

While the fishing didn’t measure up to last August—which some believe was the best fishing ever in the Canal—it was still pretty good. The action was best just before first light on soft-plastic paddletails and swimming plugs. There was short-lived action after daybreak on pencils, but for the most part, the fish shut down when the sun came up. Most of the fish were 28 to 36 inches, but there were a few larger fish in the mix to keep things interesting.

Cape Cod Fishing Report

The action slowed down on Monday and Tuesday, reported Hayden at Red Top, and I was wondering if the slowing Canal action and the rumors of good boat fishing in Cape Cod Bay were connected. The crew at Canal Bait and Tackle reported an uptick in boat action in Cape Cod Bay, with eels and even chunked bunker.

Hayden at Red Top and the crew at Canal Bait and Tackle reported fishing picked up on Tuesday late in the day and Wednesday morning, with fishermen finding bass feeding on mackerel throughout the Canal. Swimming plugs seemed to produce the best results.

John at Eastman’s Sport and Tackle didn’t have much to report on striper fishing in Nantucket Sound or along the Elizabeth Islands. He said there have been some fish taken at the Elizabeths on eels, but most have been short. Captain John from Fish Chatham Charters has been catching good stripers off Nauset, and said there are smaller stripers around the tip of Monomoy. The striper fishing in Monomoy has slowed reported Amy at Sports Port, but fisherman are catching sea bass and fluke in the area in good numbers.

Captain Bobby Rice of Reel Deal Fishing Charters has been having a great August catching stripers in the cooler waters around the tip of Cape Cod. Jigs and live macks are working best.

Fluke fishing seems to be good all around the Cape right now. Nantucket Shoals are producing big fish, as they have since June, but the deeper waters around Martha’s Vineyard, Buzzards Bay, and even the Cape Cod Canal are holding keeper flatfish.

Hayden at Red Top heard three reports from Canal anglers who spotted fluke swimming through the clouds of peanut bunker lining the banks.
So far, there seem to be good numbers of these juvenile bunker around Cape Cod. Right now, they are only a little bigger than a thumbnail, but they will grow quickly throughout this month until at the beginning of September, they become the main course for the influx of albies.

There’s been no reports of albies yet, but their doppelganger, the bonito, is around in increasing numbers. Most of the bonito are coming from offshore areas, like the Hooter, but some are being found mixed in with bluefish and king mackerel inshore. If you’re heading to the Hooter, be sure to check your knots. John at Eastman’s Sport and Tackle heard multiple reports of small bluefin tuna being hooked out there.

Trolling is the top tactic for bonito, and deep-diving swimmers are producing the best results.

Some big blues have been holding over the rips and shoals around Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, and the first reports of snapper blues came from Amy at Sports Port. She said the snappers are in the harbors and bays on the South Side. Not only are snapper blues a fun target with ultra-light gear, they are great eating. You can find an excellent recipe for the small blues HERE.

John at Eastmans also said that blitzing bluefish are all over Vineyard Sound. He saw a big blitz off Great Pond on Wednesday. It was tantalizingly out of shore-casting range, but John thought he spotted the missile-like shape of a jumping bonito as well.

Fishing for bluefin continues to be a grind, reported Captain John from Fish Chatham Charters. It’s been strictly a live bait game, and most of the fish have been giants. Constant fog on the tuna grounds east of Chatham isn’t helping things either. Finding a sharp temperature break helps fishermen improve their odds a little bit.

Excellent groundfishing has made a fair consolation prize, John said. He’s been spicing up slow tuna trips with a few drops for cod.

Fishing Forecast for Cape Cod

The bonito arriving in numbers is the most exciting news for this weekend. Trolling at the Hooter is the best bet for action, but there are shots at them on inshore structures as well. Even if the bonito are no-shows, bluefish will keep rods bent.

Bring some jigs and squid or Berkley Gulp along for the ride, and make a drop for fluke. The deeper water is holding most of the keepers. On the shallow parts of shoals you’ll find plenty of willing fluke, but almost all of them will be shorts.

6 on “Cape Cod Fishing Report – August 16, 2018

  1. drlarryw

    Love your reports. More details about fishing the Bay, please?

  2. Jack Barton

    I look forward to these reports on Thursday evening. I hit the canal every Saturday and Sunday 2 a.m. I try to get down mid week in the evening at least once. Any chance of a daily report or bi-weekly ? And while I’m asking for the moon, has OTW ever thought of putting or sponsoring a canal webcam?
    Jack Barton

  3. bob

    Except for the canal there doesn’t seem to be much mention of shore/beach fishing. Is that because it is non-existent now or you just cater more to the boating crowd?

    1. Fred Lilienkamp

      Hi Bob,

      I am not from OntheWater, but i just returned from a 2 week vacation on the Outer Cape.(Ptown,Truro, Eastham) A short answer to your question, at least in regards to the Outer Cape, is: There is no surf fishing there. The only way people are getting stripers is by boat, offshore 1-3 miles. Why no surf fishing? One word :SEALS. The whole area is infested with grey seals – the big ones. They eat 25-35lbs of fish a day. I have personally seen 500 of these creatures hauled out at head of the Meadow beach in Truro. also I saw at least 30 of them at Nauset inlet in Orleans. Do the math. 500 seals X 25lbs of fish/day = 12,500 lbs a day. That’s over 6 TONS of fish; per day. That’s for one colony. Also I saw a pile of them at the end of Great Island (Jeremy’s Point) in the Bay in Wellfleet. And another pile at Nauset Inlet. These seals have pretty much destroyed the surf fishing for stripers (or anything else). Even if you are lucky enough to catch a striper, there will be a good chance a seal will steal it off your line. The bluefish are non-existant. Even if the stripers lay low in August, the bluefish are usually present. Personally, I like to catch and eat bluefish. Nothing. I fished Herring Cove in Provincetown. Nothing and the mung weed was horrible. I moved to the bay in Truro at high tide. Nothing. At least the water was clean. After the SEAL word, there is another word: SHARKS. Due to the glut of seals on the outer cape, Great White and who knows what other kind of sharks are cashing in on the seal feast. Look on the internet. It won’t take long to find “Shark Attack Truro”. Swimmers are being pulled out of the water every day at the outer cape beaches. My friends saw 2 great whites circling a seal at Head of the Meadow beach. I visited Longnook beach in Truro where a 61 yr old man was bitten twice by a shark while in waist-deep water. I met one of the men that saved his life by pulling him out of the water while he was screaming: “Shark! Shark!” The victim was life-flighted to Boston and he survived. I felt like an extra in JAWS. What has this to do with fishing? Well, I was informed by Paul, the owner of Blackbeard’s Tackle Shop in Eastham, that the charter boats out on Billingsgate Shoals are reporting that if they catch a striper, and it avoids a seal attack, all that remains of the fish when it gets to the boat is the head. Great Whites are chopping off the rest of the fish; just behind the gills. So that’s MY fishing report from the Outer Cape. It is BAD. That’s why you are not getting news about shore fishing there. There is no good news. The seals and sharks have destroyed what used to be the finest surf-fishing area in New England. I cannot comment about the Lower Cape as I have not fished in that area. It has to be better if they have fewer seals and sharks. That’s where I will fish the next time. I am not a canal person and it sounds like total chaos and mayhem there. Maybe at night it would be less – volatile? I heard that small blues were available off the southern facing beaches. that would be at least SOMETHING! In late summer, stripers don’t go there until the fall migration starts. Good luck and I hope you can find some fish! –


  4. allen leca

    I will be going to the lower cape on labor day for a week. Has anyone got any reports on West Dennis Beach , Bass River, Parker River and surrounding areas. Thank you

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