Cape Cod Fishing Report- May 25, 2023

Sea bass season is off to a great start with big scup in the mix, 30-pound stripers pass through the Canal and flood Cape Cod Bay, and bluefish arrive en masse around Upper Cape.

(Above) Jami Price has found a few big bass in the ditch this week by targeting the low light hours around dusk and dawn with topwater plugs and mackerel-colored jigs.

It’s been an interesting week of fishing on Cape Cod. The Canal is still fishing well on breaking tides as stripers from 30 inches to over 30 pounds use the slowed current to assault schools of bait on the surface, or by pinning them along the rip rap only feet from land.

I’ve had some decent luck on smaller fish down there this week, but I’ve yet to break past the low 30-inch range.  Bigger fish are still in the Canal in numbers though, with some 30-pounders reported on topwater in the early morning hours. Jami Price has found a few big bass in the ditch this week by targeting the low light hours around dusk and dawn with topwater plugs and mackerel-colored jigs.


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This week I had the pleasure of joining OTW’s Andy Nabreski, Chris Megan, Matt Ryan and Adam Eldridge on Bad Dog Sportfishing Charters for a winter flounder outing on Cape Cod Bay. Winter flounder were new to me, and I was happy to check off a new species and bring home some delicious fillets for the table.

Andy Nabreski and Chris Megan doubled up on some nice flounder. (@livingoffthelandandsea / @onthewaterchrismegan)
Flounder may not be the hardest-fighting fish out there, and that’s okay. This type of fishing is more about enjoying a relaxing day on the water and bringing home a couple sweet fillets for dinner. (@onthewaterchrismegan / @baddogsportfishingcapecod)

Winter flounder in Cape Cod Bay is a very unique fishery, and Captain Mike from Bad Dog Sportfishing is dialed in on the flatties. We had such a fun time out there, I think I’ll be planning a trip of my own every spring for years to come.

One of the largest flounder I hooked during our trip with Bad Dog Sportfishing.

Sea bass season opened this past weekend, and bottom-fishing fanatics wasted no time seeking out a couple early spring knotheads. Platter-sized porgies have also been plentiful, although they’re frequently shredding Gulp and beating sea bass to the baits. Unlike some anglers, I really enjoy scup. With a light rod and 10-pound braid, they’re hard fighting and abundant around rocky structure, and with a high-low rig, a scup double-header could even peel some line off a 300-size spinning reel. Not to mention, when bled immediately and put on ice, their meat is delicious. I’ve heard people say they enjoy scup sashimi, though I have yet to try it myself. For now, I think I’ll stick to a fried fish sandwich, fish tacos or blackened fillets for a little extra kick.

The weekend weather looks stellar, and sea bass fishing in Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound should improve with warmer temperatures and unobstructed sunshine. What more can you ask for on Memorial Day? Warm, sunny weather, fresh fish in the cooler, and enjoying time on the water with family and friends. Just remember to be respectful of others out there. Watch your speed in crowded areas, especially around kayakers, and be responsible so everyone can have fun out there.

The surf has been rather quiet this week around Vineyard Sound. At least in the backwaters, there just hasn’t been a ton of bait around. I found a couple small fish on the two nights I got out, but nothing over 25 inches. Those fish hit small minnow plugs like the 1-ounce Crystal Minnow, and I duped a couple with a Scabelly Peanut Bunker glider. The shores of Cape Cod Bay, however, have seen better action as slot stripers corral mackerel and create some exciting topwater feeds during the day. Meanwhile at night, larger bass have been pushing in closer to shore. It’s worth making a couple of night missions to your local haunts this weekend to survey the bite. Mackerel colored minnow plugs and soft plastics are a great place to start.

NOTE: If you are targeting striped bass this weekend, keep in mind that the slot size has changed. As of Friday the 26th, the new slot size for striped bass is between 28 and 31 inches. It is no longer legal to keep a bass over 31 inches in the state of Massachusetts.  

Bluefish are also more readily available this week for boat fishermen and surfcasters. There is a new body of fish that pushed into Buzzards Bay, although the blues are smaller and far more slender than the ones I saw out there a couple weeks ago. These are the typical “racer” blues that show up around this time each year, and they’ll likely split up a bit in the next couple weeks. Some will head for the Canal, and others will head to the south side where squid are still scattered around Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds. My friend Ryan caught a good handful of blues on an Island X Hellfire earlier this week.

This slender bluefish clobbered an Island X Hellfire for Ryan Henry this week. (@saving_private_ryan)

The cinder worm hatch is over, and while it ended sadly with a bunch of dead stripers in our Falmouth salt ponds, it ended on a high note for some!

Ty Perini noticed the cinder worm hatch popping off the last week and caught several nice stripers on sea worms from the dock.

From the Cape Cod Canal, East End Eddie Doherty reports:

“Canal action has died down some, to what most guys characterize as very good compared to the first 2 weeks of May, which were phenomenal. The new moon on Friday ushered in the breaking tides just in time for the weekend. Most of the regular Canal Rats were concentrated in the East End where many nice fish were landed. Success was found on both sides. Bill “On the Grill” Prodouz from Pocasset reeled in a 35 inch and Bourne’s Tim “Hollywood” Petracca fought a 43 inch to fruition during a subsurface bite that produced a half dozen fish apiece with glide baits in the West End. Alex Roukas drove from New Hampshire, but the ride was worth it as he fooled some fish, including a heavy 36 inch and a 28 pounder, with his green mack Savage. “Sudden Sam” Lozeau from Hopkinton caught a 40 inch with a bunker colored SP Minnow after a tremendous fight and his buddy Reece “Peanut Butter Cup” Griffiths, from the same town, took high hook honors with a 37 pounder that inhaled his bone colored SP Minnow! The “Combat Zone” by the railroad bridge usually plays well on a west tide that carries jigs to a bottom full of lunkers, but Keith Dacey, OFD Savin Hill, caught a 36-inch striped bass there on a dropping east tide swimming a green mack shad.”

Alex Roukas with a 36-inch striped bass from the Canal this week. (Photo courtesy of Eddie Doherty)

Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay reports:

“With stronger tides from the new moon last weekend, the Canal is still fishing strong. With fish size ranging from smaller schoolie sized fish in the east end, to larger fish up to 30 pounds as you move further west. Although the east end has these smaller fish, there are still much larger fish mixed in if you want to try and avoid the large crowds. These fish are cruising the middle of the Canal in all columns of the water. Early morning tides have made topwater plugs and jigs very effective, however you can still get fish on swimming lures like the Berkley Magic Swimmer. The fish pictured below (Red Top employees Bull and Ian) were caught on white pencil poppers right at day break. Definitely recommend waking up early before work and heading down there if you want to get on some quality fish while these moon tides are still willowing out. With the number of fish around right now, I do not see the Canal slowing up any time soon as water temperatures are remaining steady and the bait seems to be going no where. Have a good week and tight lines everyone!”

(Pictured) The Red Top crew with a pair of healthy stripers at the Canal this week.

Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis reports:

“Black Sea bass season is off to good start in Buzzards Bay with lots of keeper size fish and a couple big scup mixed in. There are even bigger scup in Nantucket Sound right now! Striped bass fishing is still going strong, there are a lot of migrating fish in Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds, but for surfcasters the south side hasn’t been producing as well as the north side in Cape cod Bay. We were up there earlier this week and got a nice 34-inch bass on cut mackerel. If you’re looking for larger fish, the bay side is probably your best bet this weekend.”

Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore reports:

“Both the east and west ends of the Canal were loaded with bass this week. A big school of 30-pound class fish moved into Cape Cod Bay from Buzzards, and now they’re gorging on mackerel and sand eels on the east end. Fishing should remain good through the weekend even though the bite has slowed down since Tuesday and Wednesday.”

Captain Ross of Cape Cod Charter Guys in Bourne reports:

“We’re catching lots of big bass in the 40-inch range this week, and there are gator bluefish right there with them. There are now oversized fish on both sides of the Canal in Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod Bay. In Cape Cod Bay,  there are tons of sand eels, and on the Buzzards Bay side there are loads of pogies. We caught a handful of bass that were also keyed in on butterfish. The bottom fishing bite was slower today due to massive winds, but the weekend weather looks beautiful for sea bass fishing. Message or call us to schedule a trip, or book online!”

Eastman’s Sport and Tackle in Falmouth reports:

“I fished the Vineyard Sound this week and once I found the bass I was getting a fish on almost every cast. I used a popper and they were crushing it, with the biggest fish going 34 inches and most around the new slot size, but very few mid 20-inch fish which was nice. They are primarily feeding on squid so throwing something squid colored will likely be your best bet there. I also bounced around to a couple other nearby rips and found terns over a school of bass that were chasing fish up and down the rip. With the smaller bait indicated by the terns overhead, I caught 8 or 9 fish in about 20 minutes by casting an epoxy jig at the feeds. The fish were mostly mid 20-inch range, but there were tons of them. On another note, sea bass fishing has been pretty good as well; I’m heading out to catch a few in the morning in Buzzards Bay, but people are having success off of the Vineyard as well.”

Morgan at Macos Bait and Tackle in Buzzards Bay reports:

“Striped bass fishing has been pretty good in Buzzards Bay, we’ve been catching bass exceeding 40 inches and weighing around 30+ pounds, and the best bite has been on a west tide. I also got out in Buzzards to do some bottom fishing with a couple buddies this past week and we got our limit on black sea bass using Gulp-tipped jigs. The fishing is good almost anywhere you go right now.”

Captain Elena Rice of Reel Deal Fishing Charters in Truro reports:

“The Reel Deal boats have been doing extremely well striped bass fishing this week for what continues to be an exceptional May close to home. Light-tackle jigging action has been fantastic with the Daddy Mac or Hogy jigs, with green producing good results. We’re also picking up some topwater strikes on the RD Bomb!”

Reel Deal Fishing Charters has found some steady action on the Outer Cape, playing catch and release with plenty of over slot stripers this week.

Captain Cam from Cambo Charters reports:

“The sea bass opener was good in Buzzards Bay, we limited out on all of our trips last weekend and avoided keeping anything unless it was over 17 inches, so there’s some good fishing to be had already. This week we’ve been leaving the dock at 5 a.m. and getting fish to 30 pounds on topwater plugs and soft plastic jigs, then switching gears and catching sea bass and scup afterwards. For sea bass we use a single diamond jig that I make myself, with a hand-tied bucktail teaser above it and that’s been getting the job done for us. There are also a lot of big blues too, and they’re active on top in the mornings, taking topwaters and biting off the tails on our swim shads. We had a couple hit diamond jigs on the sea bass grounds too, up to 12 pounds.”

Cape Cod Fishing Forecast

Again, the new slot size for striped bass is 28 to 31 inches, so any fish over 31 must be returned to the water immediately for release. With a whole new body of bluefish having moved in, I have a hunch that there’s another group of big stripers heading up the coast from the Long Island Sound. Get out there early in the morning or after dark for the best opportunities at some striper action. I’m hoping to find some larger fish in the surf myself; the Canal will be a bit too crowded for my liking this weekend.

Black sea bass might be the best option for the long weekend, but the sea bass grounds will also be very crowded. It’s time to load up on Gulp, jigs and tie up some high-low rigs to enjoy these tasty and aggressive bottom fish to the fullest. Remember to be respectful of your speed around other boats, and watch out for kayakers. Memorial Day Weekend tends to bring out some inexperienced boaters, and a lot of recreational anglers who might not get out as often as they’d like to. Be aware of your surroundings at all times to avoid any accidents; it pays to keep your head on a swivel this time of year too, because bass and blues might pop up on the surface at any given moment. If you choose to bottom fish this weekend, bring some topwaters, swim shads, and swimming plugs as a Plan B to scup and sea bass.

Keep in mind, Cape Cod’s Family Fishing Day is approaching. It’s a great opportunity to take some young ones out on the water, so they can learn about surfcasting and all the tools needed to do it yourself at the event in Provincetown. All the information you need can be found below.

We want to hear from you! If you’d like to contribute to our fishing reports, reach out to me via email ( or via Instagram (@hefftyfishing) with a sentence or two reporting your experience on the water, along with any fish photos related to your report.

3 on “Cape Cod Fishing Report- May 25, 2023

  1. Kyle

    Hello striper cup member for 6 years here. Been noticing that all the winners have someone else take pictures for them to win.Am I wasting my time fishing alone taking self pictures or are winners completely random? Thx guys

  2. Dave

    Does anyone know where I can park to fish at the Mass Maritime Academy?

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