Cape Cod Fishing Report- July 6, 2023

Bluefish are in thick, there's steady action for bluefin on the troll and on sand-eel imitators, and the Canal fishes well on the back end of July's full moon.

Tuesday the 4th may have been somewhat of a wash, but I hope it allowed you to spend some quality time with family and friends if it kept you off the water.

There’s something special about fishing during Fourth of July weekend. June came and went in a heartbeat, and while the first day of summer (June 21) brought hardly-noticeable changes in air temperatures, July 4th weekend came in hot. For many, the sticky, humid and overcast weather marked the first “official” days of summer fishing. And while the weather conditions weren’t particularly refreshing for long days on the water, July 4th remains special not only because it marks our independence, but because it is usually a weekend of “firsts”. Maybe you hooked and landed your first bluefin tuna of the year, your niece or nephew caught the first fish of their young life, or the center console you saved up for and worked hard to get into the water by the 4th was christened with it’s first catch while you were at the helm. I got to watch my friend, who is definitely not an angler, catch his first-ever scup—and a big one at that— while wading in the backwaters this weekend. Whatever the case may be, I hope you and yours enjoyed a safe and happy holiday weekend full of firsts.


Striped bass continued to put on a show for Outer Cape anglers, particularly for boaters who are focusing their efforts on fishing the rips. The beach bite has slowly dwindled over the past week or so, but bass are still being caught even though the action took a dive. Bass are still devouring sand eels and squid, both of which—depending on your location— can be seen leaping from the waves, fleeing their pursuers. Bluefish are in the rips in numbers, too, and they’re showing no signs of dissipating with all the bait that remains around outer Cape Cod. There are seemingly-endless waves of blues that continue to push north from New Jersey and Long Island every couple of weeks. However, the striped bass don’t seem phased by the density of the bluefish schools, feeding side-by-side with cocktail- to gator-class blues from the south coast of Massachusetts to the Outer Cape, Cape Cod Bay and nearly everywhere in between.

11-year-old angler Isaiah Dotson smiles with a chopper bluefish after catching and releasing his personal best 35-inch striper earlier in the day.

For the best chance at some big blues, hit the rips of Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds, or the Outer Cape, with poppers and spooks. Unless the stripers show themselves on top, keep the Albie Snax and other squid-imitating soft plastics in the bag.

There have also been some bruiser bluefish caught at the east end of the Cape Cod Canal and in Cape Cod Bay. They’re eating sand eels, mainly, but there are some bunker schools around in the bay too. If you’re not chasing them in the rips or in Cape Cod Bay, hit the blues when they first arrive from the Long Island Sound and Rhode Island by scanning for finning or frothing fish in Buzzards Bay along southern Massachusetts. In weeks past, scattered and small-ish schools of pogies were entering Buzzards Bay from the south and staging around the harbors on the western shore of Buzzards Bay from Fairhaven to Marion. Some of those schools might have made their way into Cape Cod Bay with the help of July’s full moon tides. If you find the bunker pods in or around the harbors of Buzzards Bay, you might find some double-digit blues with them, or at the very least, some picky, decent-sized “dock bass” that have settled in for the summer.

Speaking of Buzzards Bay, fluke fishing has been better in the lower bay than almost anywhere else this season with the exception of Vineyard Sound. The fluke bite is decent off some of the local beaches in Falmouth and Mashpee too, with plenty of short fish in the mix, but quality keepers are being caught in much deeper water, sometimes as deep as 80 feet. This spring/summer, keeper sea bass have also been deep at times, although there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to where the biggins are stacked; some anglers are finding good fishing in 20- to 40-foot depths, while others insist that the larger keepers are in double that depth range. Either way, if you’re fishing Buzzards and the south coast of Massachusetts opposite of Cape Cod, it is worth experimenting with different types of fluke and sea bass rigs to find a couple summer knotheads or a few “shower mat” fluke for the cooler.

The full moon— or “Full Buck Moon” as it was called by photographers, astronomers and mooniacs— occurred on July 3rd, and in the days that followed, bass were feeding heavily as they pushed through the Canal, fueled by thick schools of mackerel, pogies and sand eels.

Rob Marland caught this hefty bass on a white East End Lure Co. jig on Thursday morning.
Jami Price continues to catch quality bass— like this one, caught Thursday morning— by putting in her time at the Ditch. (@relentless_angler)

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

“Sing Sing CO Vito Marsico and his dad Vinnie made their usual trip from Long Island to surfcast the Canal where they bounced green mack Savages off the bottom and landed some nice fish on the west tide including a 30-pound bass for Vinnie and a 38 pounder for Vito. Bill “On the Grill” Prodouz and “Paulie the Painter” Gravina were plugging the west tide when they got into an early morning topwater bite, each catching about 10 bass from 30 to 36 inches, mostly on Guppy pencils and a Mystic chartreuse glidebait. Bill also caught a 41 incher on a Guppy yellow mack pencil and lost an even bigger fish at his feet when it was grabbed by a seal at the last minute!

The Independence Day afternoon bite as phenomenal, with big fish caught at 4 p.m. and the effects of the full moon were still working the next day when bass blitzes could be heard smashing the surface, but not seen due to the thick fog. I couldn’t see my white Guppy JoBo land, but I could feel the 24-pound, 43-inch striper that hit it hard during some incredible topwater action. Nervous 7-inch macks were swimming by my boots with linesiders in hot pursuit. Justin Dorsey was wetting a line with his 9-year-old son, Brent, when the youngster hooked into a 30-inch striper that he brought home to North Attleboro for a tasty fish dinner. The Army Corps of Engineers previously announced that parts of the north & south service roads will be closed for repairs from July 5-7, weather permitting.”

Connor at Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay reports:

“Canal fishing around the full moon was nothing to write home about. Although there was not an insane pogie blitz like we have seen in previous years, there were definitely fish pushing through to Cape Cod Bay. On the morning of July 4th in the east end, there was a school of fish around 35 inches chasing mackerel on topwater. Then, during the late afternoon during on Tuesday, the west end of the Canal exploded with life during a thunderstorm. Bass to nearly 40 pounds were pinning schools of mackerel to the surface, sometimes so close you could see giant stripers swimming right past your feet. If you had topwater plugs and the ability to cast 50 feet in front of you, you were hooking up. There were really no slot fish in the mix.

The tuna bite out east and in Cape Cod Bay has stayed consistent with recreational size fish chasing sand eels and mackerel on top in the early hours of the morning. Two-ounce Joe Baggs sandeels are the lures I have been most successful with the past 3 weeks.”

Evan at Eastman’s Sport and Tackle in Falmouth reports:

“Bass fishing on the south side rips has slowed down a bit with most of the fish moving east toward Monomoy and to the south side of the Vineyard. Devils bridge has had some nice bass as well as Squibnocket and the Woods Hole area. I’ve been sending most of our boating customers to Monomoy, as the rips there are holding nice bass feeding on squid and sand eels. It’s a bit of a run but will pay off if you’re in search of big bass. Fishing near Woods Hole has remained very good as multiple people have come in with reports of catching big bass. My employee, Dylan, caught some really nice over slot fish on eels the other day and another customer was trolling at slack tide with a bunker spoon and caught multiple nice fish.

Fluke fishing has been decent in the Nantucket/Vineyard Sound rips and sea bass fishing has been hit or miss with most of big fish being caught near Nomans. Bluefin tuna fishing has been good at the dump the past week or so with reports of 50- to 60-inch fish hitting tracker bars. There were reports of footballs as close as 3 miles south of the Vineyard last week. I talked to a couple guys who headed east of Chatham on Friday and did okay trolling in the fog. They reported small ones on top, bigger ones down deep. It seems that most rec. size tuna are around Provincetown and south of the Vineyard.”

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

“With water temperatures in the high 60’s and low 70’s, things have really shifted into summer mode. The main attraction this week has been the outstanding bluefishing with fish from 8 to 14 pounds. Even when there aren’t obvious signs of feeding fish, like birds and surface splashes, the bluefish are there and willing to bite. Swimming plugs like the SP Minnow, Mambo Minnow and X-Rap have all worked so well that I haven’t bothered to try other types of lures this week. In addition to the bluefish, the bottom fishing has been very good. We’ve had fluke up to 5 pounds (and lost one at the net that was bigger) and sea bass to 21 inches. The bucktail and teaser rig, the popcorn rig, as well as the more traditional fluke rig of a single hook on a long leader, have all worked well.”

Nick Wilson shows off a keeper fluke he caught while bottom fishing aboard Fishsticks Charters.

Captain Ross from Cape Cod Charter Guys in Bourne reports:

“We did great today, our charter was beating up bass and bluefish and everyone was catching on nearly every cast. When the area got crowded, we ran elsewhere to find a new body of fish, and eventually, we ended up in a thick pile of boats again. The topwater action has been really good in the mornings around schools of sand eels until the presence of too many boats puts them down. There are lots of sand eels in Cape Cod Bay and a bunch of pogies around as well to further fuel the bass that are still pushing through the Canal. But yesterday was a long day we ran pretty far through thick fog to find some good tuna. We got several fish on Strategic Angler stickbaits and Hogy poppers with the largest of the fish weighing in at 92 pounds.”

Ben at Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis reports:

“This week I caught a couple of bluefin tuna off Chatham while trolling spreader bars, the action has been great out there. Shore anglers are having fun with brown sharks on the beaches at night. There’s also plenty of scup to be caught from shore, and anglers are catching northern kingfish with them, but it’s still slow for anyone targeting black sea bass. We have lots of customers going out Nantucket Shoals recently too, and there’s been a few good fluke around in Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds. There’s also been some good fishing on the Cape Cod Bay side where anglers are reporting mid-30-inch class stripers around Dennis, Yarmouth and Barnstable. The Cape Cod Canal has been decent if you’re there during a bite window, otherwise you’ve got to put in work for those fish.”

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

“We’ve been getting out in between the passing thunderstorms, and the changing weather has had the striped bass and blues stirred up! Some great topwater frenzies this week, including this 17-pound, 38-inch bluefish. The RD Bomb and pencil poppers are getting the strikes. Awesome to see so many fish around the outer Cape.”

Jumbo blues are still in the mix with striped bass, hitting topwater plugs on the outer Cape.

Captain Cam of Cambo Charters reports:

“Striper fishing is still going good, but the action has kind of spread out. We found some good fishing in the rivers around Cape Cod last week, but the bass were pretty picky and would only touch live bunker. I plan on going back into the rivers with eels, because if they’ll hit a bunker, I think they’ll hit a live eel. The fishing has slowed down a bit around Chatham but they’re still there and will hold there in the rips all season, only the class of fish is going to get smaller in the weeks to come. Fluke fishing is going well in Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound, we’ve been finding some nice keepers closer to the Vineyard. In offshore news, I had a tuna charter on Tuesday and we marked some giants off Stellwagen Bank but didn’t connect.”

Cape Cod Fishing Forecast

The weekend looks good for fishing. Overcast, warm, probably very humid, but good. Winds will be out of the South/Southeast for most of the weekend and it doesn’t look like they’ll surpass 10 to 12 knots. Southeast winds generally make for some larger swells, and with the way the fog has been recently, use extra caution if you’re heading offshore. A light southeast wind will also be beneficial for the bottom fishing crowd; a little breeze is (almost) always good when drifting for fluke, and shallow-water environments shouldn’t get too churned up due to the lack of chop, so shore-based fishing for scup and kingfish is a great option this weekend, especially if you have kids. Tie or buy a simple high-low rig—Fin Strike sells pre-tied ones for scup and kingfish— with 20-pound fluorocarbon leader, a lightweight bank sinker and some basic bait holder hooks. For kingfish, the smaller the better. For bait, tip the hooks with tiny strips of squid or gently thread sea worms onto the shank. Clam will work too, but you’ll be re-baiting your rig often because clam is so soft and easily stolen from hooks.

Striped bass fishing is still going strong and the bass are hanging in deeper, rockier areas for the most part. It seems like now is a good time to grab some live eels, whether they’re used for backwater bass or for shark bait on the south-facing beaches. Brown sharks are here in numbers already, and although most are in the 4- to 5-foot range, there are some larger sharks beginning to trickle in. If you aren’t using eels for bait, give bluefish a try.

There are still tons of bluefish mixed in with schools of striped bass in Buzzards Bay, Cape Cod Bay and even on the Outer Cape. Their prolonged presence has led to some exciting topwater action for surfcasters hitting Outer Cape beaches in the early evening around dusk, or boats fishing around schools of sand eels and pogies in Cape Cod Bay.

It should be another great weekend to get offshore. The winds are laying down, there’s been no shortage of bait and there is a pretty reliable trolling bite for bluefin to the east, and good yellowfin action south of the Vineyard.

As of right now, this weekend is looking great all around. Maybe not as sunny as we’d like, but definitely hot. For the first time in a while, I have no plans other than to go fishing, which I haven’t been able to say for too long. On the bucket list for Saturday and Sunday: I’d like to find some quality fluke either by wading or by kayak, I want to fish eels for stripers at night, and I would like to cut out a little time to target a mixed bag of bottom fish with bait. I don’t spend enough time doing that style of fishing, and it brings me back to my roots; slicing up squid strips on a makeshift rock cutting board or picnic bench, and dropping down a baited rig for whatever is biting can be a lot of fun with the right gear, and even more fun if you’re interested in a hodge podge of fillets for the table.

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.

1 thought on “Cape Cod Fishing Report- July 6, 2023

  1. JD

    I so enjoy all the reports and all the information that you Gui. I am a avid fisherman who just loves fishing on the beach or my favorite on my boat. Thank you for all the information you provide!!

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