Cape Cod Fishing Report- July 13, 2023

Fluke fishing drastically improves with the presence of sand eels and silversides, bluefish are all over Cape Cod Bay and the Canal saw epic topwater bass fishing.

  • Fluke bite well in Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay.
  • Outer Cape beaches see on again/off again striper bite.
  • Bluefish inundate Provincetown, Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Sound beaches.
  • Cape Cod Canal continues to fish well around sunrise.
  • Anglers anticipate even better bluefin tuna action as the new moon approaches.

What a week it’s been. Whether you’re situated closest to Cape Cod Bay, Buzzards Bay, the Sound side, or the Atlantic side, there is good fishing close to home. That being said, there’s also been some stellar fishing far from home for anglers running offshore to chase bluefin tuna.

Beginning in Buzzards Bay, there was a brief sea bass resurgence with private charters and local anglers reporting quality and quantity in the way of knotheads. Gulp has been a number one producer, but at times, slow-pitch jigs and resin jigs have been outproducing the smelly artificials. In what’s been a slow sea bass season overall, fish finders are a godsend when the bite is slow. Check out depths from 30 to 40 feet, and if they’re not there, double it.


Fluke fishing has been good in Vineyard Sound with plenty of short life to keep things interesting, but there have been some larger fish in the 5-pound-plus class that are sending bottom fishing anglers home with fat fillets and smiles. Gulp is typically the way to go for big fluke, but it’s worth keeping some squid strips on board with fresh spearing; a classic combo that is annually responsible for many of the trophy fluke caught in southern locales like Long Island and New Jersey. Until recently, fluke fishing was very hit or miss. However, it seems like a new body of fish may have moved in, as fishing picked up this week for captains like Kurt Freund of Fishsticks Charters, who was able to put his clients on a nice mess of keeper fluke in the 4- to 5-pound range.

This keeper fluke—and each one that I caught afterwards—hit the jig instead of the teaser. Some days you just have to get the jig right in front of them to entice them to bite.

Bluefish are making their presence known on the Cape-side shores of Nantucket Sound. They’re hitting pencil poppers, bottleneck poppers, tins and walk-the-dog style topwater plugs with ferocity. I love catching bluefish on metals because they are the only lures that take minimal damage, and when you fish them with a single hook, there’s much less struggling than when they’re stuck with two trebles. Kastmasters, Crippled Herrings, Krocodiles, diamond jigs and Deadly Dicks will be loaded into my bag tonight with the steady south/southwest winds forecasted for tomorrow before the rain. It’s worth noting that there are also tons of blues holding close to the beaches of Provincetown and Cape Cod Bay beaches. They were spitting up small squid when I was out there on Sunday, and they were all incredibly fat. Some of the most rotund bluefish I have ever seen, to be honest.

The Outer Cape has seen good fishing for stripers recently, though it’s been very difficult to put a pattern together. The fish are there one night and gone the next, forcing anglers to bounce around in their vehicles from beach to beach to assess the bite. Most of the bass have been slot size or well over the slot (28 to 31 inches), and they’re hitting everything from needlefish to minnow plugs to soft-plastic stickbaits like Slug-gos. A few anglers were also catching them on bucktails, and it seems the main forage out there has been a split between sand eels and mackerel. Lock your drags down tight. The seals are in as thick as the stripers. Get the fish in fast to avoid losing your catch, and further minimize time out of the water so they have the energy to evade the seals waiting just off the beach. The less commotion and less light you produce, fewer seals will bother you.

Back west toward the Upper Cape, anglers have enjoyed quality fishing at the Big Ditch. I joined Connor Swartz and Ian Lumsden of Red Top Sporting Goods for a couple tides over the past week, and we even banged out a podcast. The audio is a bit shoddy considering we recorded it while fishing the Canal, but it was a fun conversation that gives listeners an idea of what it’s like to fish the Ditch when the bite is really on. We had fish to nearly 30 pounds on topwater, and that’s been the norm for early-rising anglers this past week. You can listen to that episode of the Red Top Pod by clicking here, or listen directly on the Apple Podcasts app.

To give you the full scope of the bite at the Cape Cod Canal, East End Eddie Doherty reports:

“Fishing remains productive for surfcasters all along the Big Ditch. Scott Ewell from Montague caught so many fish during the day his arms were exhausted, including a 46-inch bass that fell for his wacky mack jig, then the bite continued with a 35 pounder falling for Scott’s PK Special during some topwater action at the beginning of the east tide after dinner. Joe “The Reel” McCoy from North Providence had his custom white pencil working while catching several bass including a 41 inch. Large schools of macks that were swimming by my boots trying to escape the big maw of linesiders must have been about as nervous as Jethro Bodine before a math test! Experienced Canal Rat Zak Baker from Sagamore Beach enticed a 28 pounder to bite his white FishLab, Kenny Nevens landed a 44 incher on a spook, and Mark Beckford of Melrose reeled in several stripers that weighed over 30 pounds including a 40 pounder that measured out to 47 inches! Plymouth’s Paul Sroczinski recorded a PB with his 47 incher, as did Dave Tworek of Ware, who has been battling serious health issues, with a 48 inch monster that swallowed a loaded Cotton Cordell! My white Guppy JoBo Jr. fooled some fish on top including a 24-pound fierce fighter that measured out to 43 inches. Tim “Hollywood” Petracca, Bill “On the Grill” Prodouz, “Mashpee Mike” LaRaia & “Paulie the Painter” Gravina reeled in a couple of dozen stripers together with Hollywood taking high hook at 45 inches.”

Yossef Naim with a 37-inch striper he caught while jigging in the Canal earlier this week.

Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay reports:

“What. A. Week.

If you haven’t heard already, the Canal is on fire. With large class fish, many up to 55 pounds, pushing in and out of the Canal in the early morning, anglers have enjoyed a consistent topwater bite in the morning, and afternoon. Lures like a Wally’s 3-ounce Pencil Popper, Outcast Hybrids, and Super Strike poppers have been extremely effective in imitating the mackerel these large stripers are chasing after throughout the entire Canal. Techniques like swimming rubber fish and Berkley Magic Swimmers have also been killer when targeting these large fish. And yes, the fish are blitzing in a way we have not seen in years, but the people have also followed as large crowds of anglers are swarming the shoreline to get their shot at trophy sized striped bass. Make sure you guys check out our podcast on Apple Music and the “Podcast” tab on our website this week for some live tips and trick when fishing Canal blitzes like this! Tight lines everyone!”

Ian Lumsden of Red Top Sporting Goods with a quality Canal striper late last week. (@stripersoldiers)

Morgan at Macos Bait and Tackle in Buzzards Bay reports:

“Fishing has been pretty great on all fronts this week. The Canal popped off with mackerel and tons of big bass beneath them for several days in a row before it slowly tapered off. The fish stuck around because of all that cold water coming in from Cape Cod Bay, and there was some great topwater action. Fluke fishing has been particularly good with lots of fish in the 18- to 20-inch range which are the perfect eater size. They’re biting well on account of the abundant spearing in Buzzards Bay. We’ve gotten some local sand eels in too, and even though they don’t stay on the hook long, they fall off and create a nice makeshift chum that gets the bite going. Natural bait has been outperforming Gulp in most cases. I typically run spearing or sand eels on a teaser hook with a jig below that is tipped with a Gulp swimming mullet to keep me on bottom, but most of the fish are taking the sand eel/spearing combo.”

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

“This week, the focus has been on fluke. Our team, Fishsticks with Charter Sauce—which consists of Hans and Jacob Riis and myself—fished both days of the Fluke for Luke tournament, which took place on Saturday and Sunday and took third place in the team competition. We’ve had successful fluke trips in Vineyard Sound, Nantucket Sound and the Nantucket Shoals. Taking a break from fluking, Ed Noble and I took Monday morning to explore the usual Vineyard Sound hotspots looking for bluefish and bass, and eventually found some schoolie bass on the Elizabeths. Sam Hedlund and party made an outstanding catch on Tuesday with fluke up to just over 6 pounds and some knothead sea bass as well.”

Sam Hedlund with a 6-pound-plus fluke caught aboard Fishsticks Charters.

Captain Ross from Cape Cod Charter Guys in Bourne reports:

“We’re out getting stripers and blues every day, bouncing around when we need to. We got into some particularly big bluefish this week. Our charter hooked a 39-inch bluefish today and as they battled it, a school of blues exploded from the surface and a bluefin came launching out of the water in pursuit. Epic stuff. There are plenty of those jumbo blues in the 40-inch range, and a lot of smaller stripers around too. We’re fishing in Cape Cod Bay and catching both on topwater plugs like the Doc and on jigs when the bass and blues are not showing on top. The fishing has been fantastic, so reach out if you want to book a trip!”

Ben at Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis reports:

“Tuna fishing is really good right now. We went south of Vineyard recently and caught a nice bluefin on the popper which was awesome. We also had a mahi follow an epoxy jig off a lobster pot while we were out there, which is a good sign. It’s been sort of slow inshore, with water temperatures in the low 70s. A lot of people are heading to Nantucket Shoals for fluke, but around here, scup are still biting well and there are some fluke to be caught in the Sound. Brown sharks are becoming a more common catch in the surf on the south side. Meanwhile, Cape Cod Bay anglers are catching bass on live mackerel around Barnstable Harbor.”

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

“While the bluefin tuna fishing is still settling in, there are some great days out there to be had. Tripled up on a recent Reel Deal trip with Captain Bobby, all three landed and released, check it out: https://fb.watch/lLHbW4MsRy/. Two were hooked on Hogy Sand Eel jigs and one on RonZ. Cannot beat those Centaur Angler’s Choice jigging rods, particularly the Chiron 50 SXH! We also picked up fish casting Hogy Epoxy jigs and RonZ.

The striped bass and blues are diving deep during these hot, humid days. Topwater is reserved for mostly sunrise only, then switching to jigs during the mid-day heat.”

Captain Bobby Rice of Reel Deal Fishing Charters moves to dehook a boatside bluefin that ate a soft-plastic jig. (@fishreeldeal)

Captain Cam of Cambo Charters reports:

“Did some striper fishing in Buzzards Bay and got on a good topwater bite, and when they weren’t eating topwater they hammered the Magic Swimmers. I also found some pogies just north of Cape with some decent sized bass below them, but it was a very small school of bunker, so hopefully we start to see more of them up here in the weeks to come. Over the weekend we went offshore and my charter caught some bluefin while we were trolling. We even saw some yellowfin nearby but they stayed a little further off from where the main activity was.”

Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore reports:

“Seems like you can’t go wrong this past week down the Canal. Use green mackerel and wacky mackerel soft plastics like the Canal Shad, Fishlab, and Savage or mackerel Swimmers/topwater plugs. Try to fish 2 Hours before the current change from west to east, although even the east to west change has been solid as well. Good luck and have fun. Please keep the fish in the water for a clean release, and remember, the size limit is 28 to 31 inches; don’t be that guy keeping over-slot fish.”

Cape Cod Fishing Forecast

If you’re bottom fishing, scup can be caught close to shore from the jetties all along Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds up through Buzzards Bay. Sea bass are biting well off of Westport, MA in around 80 feet of water and ion Vineyard Sound mixed in with fluke, otherwise they’ve become relatively scarce. Speaking of fluke though, there’s quality fluke biting in Vineyard Sound, and smaller but more abundant fluke in areas of northern Buzzards Bay due to an influx of sand eels and silversides. Natural bait is outperforming Gulp in Buzzards Bay.

Striped bass are being caught on live mackerel in Cape Cod Bay, they’re biting swimming plugs and soft plastics on the Outer Cape when the conditions cooperate, and the Canal will likely pop off again on the back end of the new moon; that seems to be the trend this year for a good canal bite. Whether following a full moon or new moon, those strong tides have been pushing bait in and out of the West end, meanwhile, hardcore ditch fishermen are keeping the jig bite hush-hush to the East.

Bluefish are just about everywhere. They were concentrated in the rips of Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds until the last week or two, and have since dispersed to places like Yarmouth and P-Town where they’re gorging on squid and juvenile scup.

Bluefin tuna are the main attraction for the offshore crowd, and if you’re looking for a more detailed report on bluewater happenings this week, check out our new Offshore fishing report.

The weather looks unfavorable for most of the weekend, at least for offshore and bottom fishing anglers. Small craft advisories will likely be in effect due to gusty conditions from the Southwest, so if you plan to get out on the boat, keep your eyes on the forecast and aim for the early early morning hours before the winds kick up. Pre-frontal conditions can be great for topwater bass and bluefish, but they can quickly turn into a dangerous situation. Err on the side of caution if you’re at all hesitant to hit open water.

And of course, if you just need some reliable fishing close to home, there’s always big largemouth bass lingering under shady, shallow structure in the local ponds. Buzzbaits, chatterbaits, wacky-rigged senkos, topwater frogs, wakebaits and creature baits on skirted jigs will all catch.

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- July 13, 2023

  1. jacob

    Some of these reports have been kicking around sense last week.. this is not entirely up to date.

    1. Andy P

      These reports are nothing more than a marketing tool for tackle shops and charter operations. Take them with a grain of salt and your results may vary……ALOT!

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