As elsewhere along the coast, striped bass and bluefish are the most popular inshore species off Nantucket, and both can be found in abundance from May through October.
Anglers in shallow-draft skiffs can sight-cast for stripers up to 40 pounds on the sand flats behind Tuckernuck Island, west of Madaket. And the turbulent waters of Great Point Rip, Old Man Rip, Bass Rip and Miacomet Rip can produce awesome casting and trolling action for big stripers and blues throughout the season. You’ll often see these fish holding in the first wave of the rip line, waiting for baitfish and squid to wash past. Toss ‘em a big pencil popper and you should get an exciting show.
The famous “Bonito Bar” off Smiths Point typically attracts a crowd of anglers
who fish for the
hard-fighting—and good-eating—“bones” starting in August and running through September.
When the fish are holding deep, use wire line to reach them. Local charter skippers like Capt. Bob DeCosta slow-troll parachute jigs on 150’ to 200’ of wire to score consistently during the hot midsummer months. Places like Sankaty and other rip areas in 15’ to 30’ of water are prime wire-line zones.
Bluefish can usually be trolled up on light gear throughout the summer and early fall along the 40’ contour line from Nantucket Harbor to Great Point. A Rapala CD-16, Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow, Bomber Long-A or similar swimming plug trolled at around 4 knots should do the trick. Keep an eye out for packs of surface-cruising blues as you troll along, and be ready to throw them a popper.
Another good spot for casting to bluefish is the backside of Tuckernuck Island. Blind-cast with big popping plugs until you locate a concentration of fish. The famous Great Point Rip also holds blues all season. Keep an eye out for diving birds to lead you to the action. False albacore can also be found off Great Point from late August through September.
The famous “Bonito Bar” (not its official name) off Smiths Point typically attracts a crowd of anglers who fish for the hard-fighting—and good-eating—“bones” starting in August and running through September. The drill here is to anchor on the ocean side of the bar and blind-cast or wait for a school to pop up within range. Running-and-gunning is definitely frowned upon. The Bonito Bar also holds big stripers and blues. Indeed, some anglers drop anchor and fish chunk baits on the bottom for stripers while waiting for bonito to pop up within casting range.
Fluke are another popular recreational species, and the sand shoals and channels surrounding the island hold some real whoppers. To catch them, set up a slow drift over uneven bottom and send down a heavy jig sweetened with a squid strip, fluke belly strip, whole live snapper blue or other small live bait.
Bluefin tuna are available near the island from midsummer on. Many local anglers run north to the waters off Chatham to tangle with these awesome game fish. The Regal Sword and the BE Buoy are perennial hot spots, although the fish can sometime run closer to the Cape shore. Nantucket anglers are also well positioned to reach the shark, white marlin and tuna grounds south of the island. The Dump, The Star, The Claw and other well-known spots are a relatively short run.
Bait & Tackle
- Nantucket Tackle Center (508) 228-4081
- Capt. Shawn Bristow (603) 498-9518
- Capt. Bob DeCosta, Albacore Charters, (508) 228-5074
- Capt. Josh Eldridge, Monomoy Charters (508) 228-6867
- Capt. Tom Mlecsko, Capt. Tom’s Charters (508) 228-4225
- Cross Rip Outfitters (508) 228-4900
State License Requirements and Catch & Size Limits: