Best Striped Bass Fishing in Massachusetts

Man holding 2 striped bass in Massachusetts.
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Massachusetts offers some of the best striped bass fishing in the Northeast. The state’s diverse coastal habitats provide excellent opportunities for anglers targeting the coveted striped bass. From the remote beaches of Great Point on Nantucket Island to the historic shores of Cape Cod, Massachusetts has a variety of spots that cater to different fishing techniques and experiences. During the spring, striped bass make their presence known on the south side of Cape Cod. The fishing community anticipates this arrival, as the waters become teeming with activity. By June, the action peaks, making it the prime month for striped bass fishing. Whether you’re in search of larger stripers along pristine coastal areas or prefer the challenges of shore fishing at locations like the Norton Reservoir, Massachusetts presents an assortment of hot spots for both novice and veteran anglers alike.

Cape Cod Canal

The Cape Cod Canal, a pivotal fishing location in Massachusetts, presents us with a renowned hotspot for striped bass. The canal is a 7-mile artificial waterway that serves not only as a navigational shortcut between Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod Bay but also as a magnet for striped bass, especially during their migratory periods.

Tide and Timing

One cannot overstate the value of understanding the canal’s tides and timing for a prolific fishing experience. We leverage the breaking tides, times when the surface activity peaks due to the change in currents. These are particularly conducive to fishing as the striped bass tend to feed at the surface:

  • West to East current change close to daybreak.
  • Extended slack periods lasting about 30 minutes, ideal for when the two bays’ water levels equalize.

Fishing Techniques

To capitalize on this fishery, we adopt various techniques known for their effectiveness:

  • Live eels or chunk baits: Optimally paired with a fishfinder rig, these baits match the canal’s conditions.
  • Observation: Staying vigilant for signs of feeding fish, such as birds diving or fish breaking the surface.

Key Spots

Additionally, our strategies incorporate targeting key locations within the canal noted for their higher catch rates:

  • Rocky shorelines: Often harboring the sought-after species.
  • Deep channels: Where the currents drive schools of fish.

As dedicated anglers, we respect the canal’s ecosystem while embracing the challenge and adventure it offers. We always ensure to follow local fishing regulations and guidelines to maintain sustainability and enjoyment for future generations.

Martha’s Vineyard

Martha’s Vineyard is a renowned destination for striped bass fishing, setting a high bar for both the quality and the atmosphere of the experience. The island’s tradition is epitomized by the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, an event that has celebrated the pursuit of these fish for over 68 years. Every year, anglers from different backgrounds come together to engage in friendly competition and build lifelong memories.

The island offers a variety of fishing spots, with Wasque Point being a noteworthy location for its abundance of striped bass. Access to Wasque Point can be obtained by foot, or by 4×4 with the necessary permit, and presents a mixture of sandy beaches and rocky shorelines that create an ideal setting for bass fishing. As we look at the broader picture of Martha’s Vineyard, it’s apparent that the area provides a habitat suitable for diverse species, with striped bass being among the most sought-after by inshore anglers.

Below are some key points about Martha’s Vineyard’s striped bass fishing:

  • Prime Location: Wasque Point
  • Access: Permit required for 4×4 vehicles; also accessible by foot
  • Habitat: Sandy beaches and rocky shorelines
  • Fishing Tradition: Celebrated through the annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby

Nantucket Island

In Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, we come across one of the most remarkable destinations for striped bass fishing. Often peaking from June to November, this period presents us with prime opportunities to catch both striped bass and bluefish.

Our choice of charter could be Capt. Bob DeCosta from Albacore Charters, reputed for his local knowledge of the waters. Additionally, accommodations can be arranged conveniently at the Nantucket Boat Basin for those looking to extend their fishing trips.

A notable spot on the island is Great Point, located at the northeastern tip. This area is only accessible with a permit by four-wheel-drive vehicles, which ensures a more secluded fishing experience. Here, the striped bass are frequently caught in the 30 to 50-pound range, validating its reputation as a premier location.

When we approach fishing methodologies, traditional methods like trolling with wire lines work exceptionally well here, especially when targeting these robust fish. Moreover, for those who favor a more hands-on method, live-baiting is highly effective and offers a thrilling experience.

Buzzards Bay

Buzzards Bay, located in the southwest portion of Massachusetts, is an iconic destination for striped bass fishing. Every spring, the bay becomes a bustling locale as anglers eagerly search for the famed striped bass.

Ideal Striped Bass Locations in Buzzards Bay:

  • West End of the Canal: Known as a premier spot, the west end often sees the season’s first big catches, with schoolies arriving earlier.
  • Dumpling Rocks, Great Ledge, and Sandspit (Dartmouth): Accessible by boat, these areas provide diverse underwater structures beneficial for fishing.
  • Westport River (Westport): The marsh-lined shores create excellent hideouts for juvenile striped bass, also known as schoolies.

Effective Lures for Striped Bass:

  • Cotton Cordell 6-inch Pencil Popper lure.
  • Sebile 9-inch Slow Sink Magic Swimmer
  • Unweighted Black Slug-go’s, 6 – 9 inches

For those hoping to fish from shore, Buzzards Bay offers numerous access points where you can cast for stripers hitting topwater lures. As we transition from the chill of winter, the sight of a striped bass striking a lure in topwater is both thrilling and rewarding.

As the season progresses, larger stripers tend to follow the schoolies, usually appearing about a week later. Timing is critical, and being aware of the migration patterns helps us make the most of our fishing excursions. Whether by boat or from the shore, Buzzards Bay remains a significant stripe bass fishery with ample opportunities for both novice and experienced anglers.


In Plymouth, we find an anglers’ paradise offering exceptional striped bass fishing experiences. Known for its historical significance as the landing site of the Mayflower, Plymouth is also renowned for its rich fishing grounds, particularly the Plymouth, Duxbury, and Kingston Bays.

Our Top Spots:

  • Plymouth Harbor: We frequent the coastal waters here for their abundance of forage, which attracts stripers.
  • Manomet Beaches: We target the troughs and boulder fields which big bass use as feeding grounds at night.

Strategies for Success:

  • Tidal Movements: We pay close attention to the tides. Fishing during high tide can yield better results as waters near the shorelines deepen, allowing fish to come closer to the shore.
  • Night Fishing: We’ve found that stripers are active nocturnal feeders, hence night fishing around the beaches can be quite productive.

Techniques We Employ:

  • Light tackle and surf casting are our techniques of choice for a stealthier approach, especially around the eelgrass beds in the bays.
  • We also practice patience; consistently casting into promising areas and waiting for the stealthy predators to strike.

Boston Harbor

When targeting Striped Bass in Massachusetts, we consider Boston Harbor to be a premier destination. May marks the beginning of the Striped Bass season as they migrate north and enter the harbor, with action peaking in June. The Harbor Islands provide excellent spots for both boat-based and shore anglers.

Key Locations

  • Nut Island and Deer Island are accessible and popular for shoreline fishing.
  • The waters around The Boston Harbor Islands offer exceptional opportunities to hook into Striped Bass.

Fishing Techniques

  • In Boston Harbor, we make use of a variety of techniques, from trolling to baitcasting.
  • We suggest mid sized bait casters, as it suits the harbor conditions well.

Targeting Schoolies to Keepers

  • Smaller “schoolie” bass can be handled with lighter gear, but the harbor also holds its share of keeper-size fish. We prepare for both scenarios to maximize our chances.

Cape Cod Bay

In our exploration of premier striped bass fisheries, we turn our attention to Cape Cod Bay, a gem in Massachusetts’ angling crown. The bay’s dynamic marine environment fosters outstanding striped bass fishing, particularly from late spring through June when stripers are abundant.

Key Locations:

  • Billingsgate Shoal: Known for its early-season action, this shoal often yields fast-paced fishing with the size of catches increasing promptly.
  • Cape Cod Canal: This area, with its strong currents and deep channels, hosts migrating schools of bass, presenting us with opportunities to land specimens in the 20 to 50-pound range.

Effective Techniques:

  • Utilizing live eels or chunk baits on a fishfinder rig proves to yield significant success, especially in the canal.
  • Anglers should focus on fishing during the outgoing tide at spots like Billingsgate for optimal results.

As we approach the season, it’s not uncommon for the stripers to move beyond nearshore waters, which means adjusting tactics to target them further out. Our collective experiences underscore that each season brings a distinct pattern of striped bass movement, influencing how and where we target these robust fish.

Sandy Neck Beach

At Sandy Neck Beach, we find a bountiful location for striped bass fishing. Situated off Route 6A, on the border of East Sandwich and Barnstable, this site boasts easy access and ample parking. Parking fees apply during summer daylight hours, yet we enjoy free and open access at all other times.

Parking Details:

  • Location: End of Sandy Neck Road, off Route 6A
  • Fee: Charged during summer days
  • Hours: 24/7 availability with night access

We value Sandy Neck Beach for its straightforward access, with both upper and lower lots positioned adjacent to the beach. Our approach is simple, knowing that all vehicles must stop at the gatehouse en route to the fishing grounds.

Key Fishing Information:

  • Accessibility: High with clear signage and pathways
  • Tide Considerations: Must be monitored for optimal fishing times

As we cast our lines at Sandy Neck Beach, we not only aim for a substantial catch but also appreciate the ease and comfort that come with a well-structured fishing spot. Our adherence to local guidelines ensures a responsible and rewarding fishing experience for all.

Merrimack River

We’ve identified the Merrimack River as an exceptional location for striped bass fishing in Massachusetts. This river, which extends over 117 miles from New Hampshire into Massachusetts, culminates at the productive estuary near Newburyport.

Seasonal Tips:

  • Spring: As the season changes, we observe shad and river herring migrating upstream. Striped bass are close behind, making this a high-yield period for fishing.
  • Summer: Particularly from mid-May through June, fishing is excellent. Target a few hours on either side of high tide for the best action.
  • Fall: The fall migrations are an opportune time to land stripers, especially with surfcasting from areas like Plum Island.

Locations & Techniques:

  • Newburyport: Boating or wading in the estuary for abundant stripers.

When we assess boating versus wading, we find that the river supports both. Small boat fishing is prevalent, especially around Plum Island and the estuary. For those of us who prefer wading, low tide offers accessible flats conducive to this method. The river’s wide range offers opportunities for both novice and seasoned anglers to engage with the local striped bass population.

Advanced Strategies

When targeting the elusive stripers, it’s crucial we hone our tactics for the most effective results. By understanding the behavior of trophy stripers and utilizing the unique geography of coastal rips, we can significantly elevate our chances of landing these formidable game fish.

Targeting Trophy Stripers

To consistently catch trophy stripers, which can often weigh 30 to 50 pounds, we need to focus on their feeding patterns. Big stripers prefer substantial meals, so baitfish like menhaden (often called bunker), mackerel, bluefish, live eels, and sand eels become our go-to options. We should concentrate our efforts on areas with a rocky bottom where these baitfish congregate. Here’s a quick list of bait preferences:

  • Mackerel & Bluefish: Ideal for large stripers on the feed
  • Live Eels: Perfect for rocky and weedy bottoms
  • Bunker & Sand Eels: Effective in open water where stripers chase schooling baitfish

Trophy hunting isn’t just about the bait; our timing is just as critical. Dusk and dawn are peak feeding hours, so we plan our expeditions around these times.

Fishing the Massachusetts Coastal Rips

Coastal rips, created by the interaction between tides and aquatic structure, provide excellent hunting grounds for stripers. Here, baitfish struggle against the currents, making them easy targets for hungry stripers. For us anglers, these rips signal a prime opportunity to catch both quantity and quality.

Our strategy involves positioning ourselves either just upcurrent of the rip or right alongside it, using heavy tackle to maintain control of our line in the turbulent water. When baitfish like false albacore are present, stripers won’t be far behind. We use this knowledge to our advantage, casting into the rip and retrieving our lures or bait in a way that mimics a wounded fish.

Remember, success in these areas is often a matter of precision and understanding the water’s movement. Here, our focus is on reading the conditions and presenting our bait naturally, as stripers are wise to the unnatural movement in such challenging environments.

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