Cape Cod Fishing Report – July 23, 2020

Pat O’Donnell with a well-fed striper from the Canal earlier this week.

The two best places to be this week were either on shore or far offshore. The canyons are on fire with yellowfin, bigeye, and some billfish, while the Canal finally showed signs of life this week after a slower than usual start to the summer season.

Captain Steve of Chaser Offshore Fishing said the canyon fishing has been tremendous. The yellowfin are plentiful, Steve reported, and they are a good size, with almost all over 30 or 40 pounds, with some up to 75 pounds in the mix. To keep things interesting, bigeye tuna, some pushing 250 pounds are out there as well. There’s been a lot of white marlin, too, Steve said.

Pat at Eastman’s Sport and Tackle had similar good things to say about the canyon fishing. Squid bars and skirted ballyhoo are catching well.

Steve was watching some warm water that might be headed north to the grounds south of the Vineyard, and he’s hopeful it will bring some tuna and white marlin closer to the Cape.

Giant bluefin tuna continue to pop up east of Chatham and in Cape Cod Bay, especially around the bunker schools. Captain Mel True of Fishnet Charters was treated to a tuna show while targeting bass in the bay this week. Mel said if you find the bunker, you have a good shot at catching good-size stripers. For action, he said the Billingsgate has plenty of schoolie fish.

Monomoy also continues to hold big numbers of small bass, according to the report from Eastman’s. There’s enough larger fish around to make things interesting though, and anglers fishing a full tide at the rips can count on a few slot-size fish mixed in with the schoolies.

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The striper fishing in the sounds is cooling off as the water heats up, but anglers fishing live eels after dark stand a decent shot of hooking a slot size fish. They also stand a shot of hooking into a brown shark or ray.

On the Vineyard, the crew at Larry’s Tackle reported lots of brown sharks and lots of rod-breaking, line-snapping rays. Rays don’t put up a very exciting fight form the surf, but they are powerful, and can hunker down, forcing fishermen to push their tackle to (and occasionally beyond) its breaking point. It’s cool to slide a ray the size of the hood of your car onto the beach, but one every five seasons or so is probably more than enough. It’s been going on 15 years since I battled my last ray in the surf, and I’m still in no hurry to do it again.

Small blues are filling the vacancy left by the bass off the South Side. Horseshoe Shoal is producing well.  The Hooter has some bigger bluefish, but still no numbers of bonito out there. There’s lots of nice blues at Wasque according to the report from Larry’s, and there’s still some stripers lurking in the warming waters off the north side of the island.

Nathan at Red Top Sporting Goods reported a much-improved week at the Canal. He witnessed fish into the mid-40-pound class caught this week as stripers of all sizes chased mackerel from the East End to the West. The fishing was still sporadic, Nathan said, with there being short-lived flurries of action and concentrated hot spots.

First light provided a shot at fish on top, reported Jeff from Canal Bait and Tackle but later in the morning, throwing Magic Swimmers or paddle-tail jigs produced some fish as well. The action had tapered off substantially by Thursday, but spirits were still high, especially after the preceding slow weeks.

The waters off the Outer Cape have good numbers of bass and blues feeding on a smorgasbord of baitfish, from sand eels to mackerel to adult menhaden. There’s plenty of schoolies to catch in the surf, and at times, good-size bluefish are charging the beach.

Fishing Forecast for Cape Cod

If you can hitch a ride to the canyons, do it. If you have an extra spot on your boat, call me. The eastern canyons seemed to be more productive, which means a longer run, so be sure of your range before you go long.

If you’re more likely to be shore-bound, however, don’t despair. The Canal is sure to be crowded with fishermen hoping for this week’s bite to reignite, but a ride down Cape could put you on plenty of smaller fish in relative solitude. Depending on your view of fishing in a crowd, this may or may not be a worthwhile tradeoff. If you do end up at the Canal, pack mackerel-colored lures. Casting poppers in the mornings or afternoons anywhere from South Cape Beach all the way out to Herring Cove in Provincetown is likely to produce some bluefish.

For inshore boaters, bluefish are probably the best best, though many fishermen suspect the bonito will be here “any day now.” Searching for bunker schools in Cape Cod Bay is your best bet for slot-size and larger stripers, though light-tackle fishermen will no doubt enjoy the fun fishing happening at Monomoy.

Black sea bass are the fastest way to fill the cooler if you get out to deeper water of 80 to 100 feet. Keeper fluke are more of a challenge, but there are some being caught alongside the sea bass in deep water, and in Buzzards Bay.

Another king mackerel was caught this week, this one a 40-incher caught along the Elizabeth Islands.

3 on “Cape Cod Fishing Report – July 23, 2020

  1. John

    The Hooter is on the southeast side of Martha’s vineyard…

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