Cape Cod Fishing Report- June 29, 2023

Sea bass fishing takes a dive, striped bass and cocktail blues remain in the rips, and bluefin tuna action explodes with the presence of large sand eels.

What a week it was for anglers around Cape Cod. The Cape Cod Canal saw intermittent blips of surface action, which was usually reserved to the mornings sometime around or after first light. Meanwhile, caffeine- and adrenaline-fueled treks offshore led to some intense early morning feeds for those willing to venture into the thick fog that blanketed the Atlantic for much of last week. But, regardless of the weather, bluefin tuna in the 50-inch range and over fed on large sand eels with such aggression that you’d think they had some strange reverse vendetta against their forage. Social media flooded with post-edited footage of drag-wrenching eats and surface feeds synchronized to the sweet beats of dubstep and house music—the ultimate vibe-setting tunes that match the anticipation and ferocity of reaching a bluefin surface feed.

For awe-stricken anglers such as myself, Devin Acton—author of The Weekly Salvage newsletter and the man behind @blowin_we_goin— painted the picture better than any “Reel” on Instagram could:
“As soon as the third bar went back behind the wash, two dozen 50” fish erupted 40yds off the bow, then another pod to our eight-o-clock. Half-way through a stick-bait back-cast, I hear the port side-tracker go off, then the drag on the starboard 50W slips and crackles as a fish peels off into the distance. Rushing back to switch into neutral gear, I watch the bar floating 40ft off the stern, almost motionless in the prop-wash, get grenaded by a third Bluefin. Wtfff?! After pulling the hook of the first taker, we seal the deal on a comedically-tangled double-header, thankful for the sporty but shmedium-sized specimens… “

“A belated Father’s Day gift” via The Weekly Salvage.

It’s safe to say that the offshore bite is officially on. For more on that, check out The Weekly Salvage to stay in the know with all things BFT.

While the presence of large sand eels, some measuring 9 inches and over, set the stage for an epic bluefin bite to the east, smaller sand eels filled the bellies of bass all along the Outer Cape beaches. From the Monomoy Rips to the shores of Wellfleet and Truro, anglers flocked to the sand beaches to enjoy a steady bite from stripers between 20 and 40 inches. The fishing was so great, even Canal regulars said sayonara to their near-permanent outposts at the Big Ditch to get in on the action. A change of scenery is always nice, especially when you’re hooking stripers on consecutive casts using minnow plugs, swim shads, slug-gos, and anything that remotely resembled the wriggle of a sand lance. The bite has since slowed down, but who’s to say that the fish won’t continue to crush plugs and plastics through Fourth of July? Well, the seals, that’s who.


In the past two weeks, more and more seals have flooded the beaches where bass fishing had been nothing short of spectacular. It’s amazing how quickly seals, like headlamp-shining anglers that are part of a 20-member group text, can ruin a bite that had been on fire for days and days. A little food for thought: if you’re scared of the dark, don’t go fishing at night. I don’t know how many times I had headlamps shined directly into my eyes last week on a pitch-black open beach, but it was far too many. Keep your lights turned off and your eyes will adjust. Shining the spotlight into the ocean will do nothing but bring you all the seals. Here is when the headlamp should go on: when the fish is being lipped and the hook is being removed. Otherwise, keep it dark, or find the nearest marina and fish beneath the dock lights. At this point in the season, all the harbors have their own dock pets that feed beneath the lights anyway.

For daytime inshore anglers, fluke fishing has been great, but strong, ever-shifting winds can make things difficult. Southwest winds shifting to East winds, and East winds shifting to Northwest, are problematic for shallow-water flukers in particular. That changing wind direction stirs up the bottom, and when the wind works against the tide, it almost completely shuts down the bite. Time your outings in sandy-bottom locations where tide is moving in the same or similar direction as the wind. Gulp-tipped bucktails and teasers are the keys to success.

Scup are biting well off the tips of jetties and off of rocky beaches around Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound. Grab some squid, sea worms or clam from your local bait shop and tie up a few high-low rigs with bank sinkers and small baitholder hooks to enjoy these light-tackle specimens to the fullest. Double headers are a regular occurrence, which makes for a ton of fun for young anglers. Plus, they’re great eating. I know many people who won’t touch scup, but if you’re trying to get the young ones to eat fish this holiday weekend, batter or bread a few scup strips for the fryer and they’ll be eating fresh-caught fish sticks in no time. Remember to check the regulations too. I see far too many people keeping undersized scup, or more than their legal share (surprisingly).

Just because we can keep thirty scup per angler, per day, doesn’t mean it’s a free for all! If anything, that’s all the more reason to let the jumbos go, so they can make more jumbo scup. Please respect the size limits and daily possession limits. And if you have family or friends coming from out of state for the 4th of July, make them aware of the regulations and be sure they sign up for a non-resident fishing license online. There’s no fun in being fined for fishing on the Fourth.

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

“Abundant schools of mackerel, silversides, squid and other predator preferences are creating a bass buffet in the Big Ditch. Three 30 pounders were caught in the same area during a prolonged surface bite. Tony Cuozzo from Hartford CT, staying at the Bourne Scenic Park, reeled in a 42-inch striper from the east tide at his usual spot. A 20 pounder inhaled my Striper Gear white ghost rocket, and Bourne’s Tim “Hollywood” Petracca fooled a 32 incher with a yellow Guppy pencil. “Mashpee Mike” LaRaia fought a 42 incher to fruition that fell for his rainbow Savage just below the surface, while Pocasset’s Bill “On the Grill” Prodouz was throwing his green mack Savage that was swallowed by a 43-inch bass. High hook goes to “Dancing Ben” Faulmino of Sandwich with his 40-pound, 45-inch striper that he landed with a parrot-colored Super Strike needle. “Dancing Ben” does a fish dance to attract stripers, so if he keeps catching big bass, we all may start dancing! The best catch of the week, however, has to be by 7-year-old Jaylynn Keegan of Norwood, who landed a nice fish estimated to be 37 inches on her second trip to the Canal with her father, Sean. The happy youngster worked a Savage into the west tide topping off a great day for the Keegan family. Blacktop repairs continue with the Army Corps of Engineers closing the Sagamore Recreation Area, which is on the mainland side, June 28-30 weather permitting.”

Sean Keegan & daughter Jaylynn with their 37-inch striper. (Photo by Anthony Duquette)

Connor at Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay reports:

“Over the weekend, fishing heated up. The Canal still stayed consistent with smaller slot-sized fish being pulled in the morning and night time. Topwater plugs and rubber fish jigs are most effective during this time of year as fish are dialed on smaller schools of mackerel and sandeels. The offshore bite has lite up considerably over the past week. With large commercial size tuna filling in around Stellwagon Bank, and smaller recreational sized tuna around Crab ledge and the Sword there are plenty of tuna for everyone to catch. I had the chance to go out with Johnny from Fishy Business Jigs on Friday and although the fog was thick, we were still able to connect with some recreational sized fish breaking on top with the Joe Baggs Sandeel 2oz ghost. Hope everyone has a great week and tight lines!”

Connor from Red Top Sporting Goods with a quality bluefin tuna taken during a trip offshore late last week.

Morgan at Macos Bait and Tackle in Buzzards Bay reports:

“There’s been some decent fishing despite the weather and tides not working in the favor of anglers. There are some stripers around Buzzards Bay but we’re waiting for more fresh fish to push in over the next week, or for conditions to improve. I got out this week and caught some decent fluke, there are some sea bass sticking around in the bay but they’re mostly shorts, and there’s plenty of big scup around. Other than that, there have been scattered reports of bluefish in open water in Buzzards Bay, and it seems like it has been pretty quiet at the Canal the past couple mornings.”

For Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore, Capt. Dave Peros reports:

“The word from Bruce and Jeff Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle is that there has been both a solid topwater bite and very consistent jig action on a variety of mackerel colored paddletails. In fact, I heard from some folks that the jig bite has been ridiculously easy at times, as long as the water is moving. It’s kind of fun to hang around a shop that caters to Canal anglers around the time of slack water and watch folks come in to restock their supply of lures; the lucky ones were doing so because they caught so many big bass that their plastics got torn up, while the not so fortunate folks either fell victim to the bottom gremlins of the Canal or ran into one or more of the bluefish that have apparently made their way into these waters this week. Now, with the breaking tides, the pattern is typically to focus on the west end – in other words, Bell Road, the railroad bridge, or near the Bourne Bridge – around first light and await some surface action, but the Miller’s said that while this has certainly been true, the reality is there are quality bass being caught from one end of the land cut to the other as long as the current is moving. Most of the action is being driven by small mackerel, which makes for cool visuals when the fish manage to blow them out of the water or corral them right up against the rip rap. No excuses, go fishing!”

Captain Kurt Freund of Fishsticks Charters on Martha’s Vineyard reports:

“There are still striped bass in the rips but they seem to be increasingly outnumbered by bluefish. Big bluefish seem to be everywhere. We recently did a big looping tour of the rips between the Vineyard and Nantucket and they all held fish. They’re even prowling the spots we jig for bottom fish. I had a sea Robin come up bitten in half and actually watched a bluefish grab a sea bass I was reeling in and chop the tail cleanly off. Bottom fishing is improving. We got our first several keeper fluke this week including a fish up to 5 pounds. Sea bass fishing hasn’t been great but we did catch a couple of big knotheads today.”

Kevin Higgins with a chunky schoolie caught on a trip aboard Fishsticks Charters.

Captain Ross from Cape Cod Charter Guys in Bourne reports:

“Fishing’s been good, we’re still catching stripers and blues although it has slowed down a bit on the south side, and the fish have gotten smaller. We’re going to switch gears and try out the bite in Cape Cod Bay on some upcoming trips. We actually found tons of fish this morning, working the surface with birds all over them, but they were very finicky and we had to run much further to find them. When we’re not doing bass and blues, we’re now looking at chasing bluefin. We headed offshore this past week and caught nothing but thick fog. It was very quiet but we were marking fish everywhere, so it’s just a matter of time out there. Sometimes the fog helps, sometimes it’s just problematic.”

Ben at Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis reports:

“There’s been lots of tuna action this week more than anything else, a friend of mine caught an 81 pounder east of Chatham. The rips are fishing well for stripers in Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds, although the fish have generally been on the smaller side. I went bottom fishing earlier this week and was catching lots of scup, but the sea bass fishing has died off. The Cape Cod Canal has been on and off too. Last week was really good and this week was slow; the poor weather and tides didn’t help much.”

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

“The epic striped bass surface feed of Junes past erupted this week! We had striped bass literally bouncing off the boat in this video: https://fb.watch/lt9NiMqJCA/ the bite was memorable to say the least. Daddy Mac’s RD Bomb or olive pencil poppers getting the strikes.

More spotty appearance of bluefin out East also keep the adrenaline and excitement high with a few hook-ups this week on RonZ silver baits and the Hogy Epoxy jigs. Cape Cod fishing is certainly lighting up!”
Reel Deal Fishing Charters shared this photo of a bluefin tuna caught during a recent trip East to the tuna grounds. (@fishreeldeal)

Captain Cam of Cambo Charters reports:

“Tuna fishing has been lights out, it was a pretty epic week. We caught our fish while trolling. There are a ton of smaller fish out there in the 40- to 50-inch range but I’m looking for the giants, which we’re hoping will show up in the next week or two.

Bass fishing has been really good too, and there are still some larger fish around if you know where to look. I had a charter over the weekend that wanted to do topwater and we got into some great action in the rips on Docs and pencil poppers. With four anglers on board, we were able to triple up a couple times.”

Cape Cod Fishing Forecast

There are plenty of options going into Fourth of July weekend. The weather looks iffy, with lots of cloud cover, some humid temperatures and chances of rain and thunderstorms. But, as some brilliant mind once said, “the fish are already wet.” This may be so, however, fish being wet doesn’t make it a bright idea to go out with an 11-foot surf stick in the midst of a thunderstorm. Use good judgement this weekend, and be respectful and courteous of other anglers and boaters on the water.

There will still be plenty of good weather windows to hit the water this weekend. Don’t let a little rain deter you. Many tuna captains enjoy fishing in the rain, as do striped bass anglers. A cloudy, overcast sky often improves fishing by subduing the sun’s summer heat and leading fish like stripers, which prefer more temperate conditions, to take advantage of cooler surface temperatures and feed. The rips in Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds may not be holding larger fish as they were in weeks prior, but there will be plenty of schoolie and high-20 inch class fish willing to take poppers, soft plastics and spooks fished on top.

Bottom fishing should be pretty solid this weekend with lower winds, so grab your bait and rigging materials before the shops are flooded with vacationers and tourists. Sea bass may have thinned out, but there is still some good scup fishing to be had with more fluke mixed in.

If you get offshore this weekend, use extreme caution and keep an eye out for each other, especially in the case of thick fog. Holiday weekends always see an influx of less-experienced boaters so keep an eye out for each other out there.

Enjoy the holiday weekend, stay safe, respect each other (and the ocean) and fish hard.

We want to hear from you! If you’d like to contribute to our fishing reports, reach out to me via email (mhaeffner@onthewater.com) 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- June 29, 2023

  1. BB

    The author is one bad a$$$$$$!!!
    The headlamp paragraph (which probably is fabricated) was the most laughable piece of writing I’ve ever seen.
    “If you’re scared of the dark, don’t go fishing at night” lolol easy bro haha

  2. Willie Fistergash

    Kid has all of 6 yrs fishing experience under his belt, obviously he’s OTW qualified……

  3. Drew

    Ove the father/daughter pic but lets work on the Keegan family fish handling skills so an over the limit striper has a chance at living to be caught another day

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