You don’t have to be an expert fisherman to see why Provincetown is such a great fishing spot. After all, many species of migratory game fish—including striped bass, bluefish, sharks and bluefin tuna—have to swim past the tip of Cape Cod as they make their way to and from their summer feeding grounds in the Gulf of Maine.
Hardy souls can enjoy early-season (April and May) action with cod and haddock. These tasty bottom fish can be caught relatively close to shore (depending on regulations) in many spots off P-town, although stocks are a shadow of what they were 50 years ago. Simply sending down a heavy jig-and-teaser combo baited with clam can produce good results in 90′ – 120′ of water off Race Point, the edge of Peaked Hill Bar and down to Highland Light. If you can get the numbers of some productive wrecks, you’ll improve you chances considerably. A bit farther out, Stellwagen Bank also yields cod and haddock in the spring and early summer, with the fish moving steadily eastward to deeper water as summer approaches. A good depthsounder and GPS will help you find concentrations of fish holding over rocky structure on the bank edges. Use the same jig-and-teaser combos mentioned above to score.
P-town offers world-class action with trophy stripers from June to October.
Striped bass have long been the main draw along this part of the Cape, and P-town offers world-class action with trophy fish from June to October. Best of all, good fishing is just a short run from the harbor. Traditional grounds include the turbulent waters off Race Point and the steep drop-off from Wood End to Race Point, as well as Peaked Hill Bar. Expect the first push of big fish to arrive by June, setting up in the rips or hitting on big schools of bait. Trophy fish can be taken on topwaters, soft-plastic baits and flies at this time, even during the mid-day hours. However, early-risers still stand to enjoy the best fishing.
If the fish are holding deep, trolling parachute jigs, bucktails, swimming plugs and umbrella rigs on wire line often turns the trick. A popular method is to slow-troll (1-2 knots) a 3 1⁄2- to 5-ounce black, green or purple bucktail (adorned with a long strip of porkrind) in 25′ to 35′ of water on 250′ to 300′ of wire. The key is to let out enough line and set the trolling speed so the jig swims just above the sandy bottom, where the fish are holding. Another way to reach these big fish is to drift and vertical jig with braided line and a heavy butterfly, bucktail or diamond jig.
Perennial striper holes in the P-town area include the area off the bathhouse west of Herring Cove Beach, and inside the lobster trap lines. As in most places, a moving tide produces best. Come fall, migrating stripers can be encountered in open water and along the beaches as they chase the bait south. If you encounter large flocks of gulls or gannets, you’ll almost certainly find action.
Bluefish are another favorite sportfish, and big ones can be taken throughout the day on topwaters and swimming plugs in the same spots as the stripers. A 7′ popping rod loaded with 12- to 15-pound test and a heavy pencil popper or metal lure is usually all you need to catch these fish if you find them feeding on top. Trolling a deep-diving plug at 3-4 knots along bottom-contour lines, steep drop-offs or around schools of bait marked on the sounder is another good way to catch fish that are holding deep.
Bluefin tuna are also available off P-town, but the fishery can be hit or miss. Live-baiting with menhaden, bluefish and mackerel on heavy conventional gear works well, as does deep-jigging with butterfly jigs, giant RonZ soft-plastics and Slug-Gos. Tried-and-true methods such as trolling squid bars and Green Machines will also take fish.
If you’re looking for some laid-back fishing closer to shore, fluke can be taken inside the protected confines of Provincetown Harbor and along the channel edges out to Long Point. Doormats are relatively scarce these days, but there are plenty of fish in the 2- to 4-pound class. A good approach is to drift sand eels and 1- to 2-ounce bucktails on high-low rigs along drop-offs in 10′ – 30′ of water. Keep your line as vertical as possible and make sure your rig taps bottom at all times. Also, remember that a strong to moderate current usually offers the best action. Fluke fishing is solid through the summer, with the end of September sometimes producing the best action of the year before the fish head offshore.
Bait & Tackle
- Reel Deal Charters, (508) 487-3767
- Lighthouse Charters (845) 224-4616
- Beth Ann Charters (508) 487-0034
- Ginny G. Charters (508) 246-3656
- Fin-Addiction Charters (508) 349-1404, (508) 360-2037
A Recreational Saltwater Fishing Permit is required to fish the marine waters of Massachusetts out to 3 miles from shore. Cost is $10 for both residents and non-residents.
No permit is required for the following individuals:
- Persons under 16 years of age.
- Persons fishing on a charter or partyboat.
- Persons who possess a saltwater fishing license from Connecticut, Rhode Island or New Hampshire.
- Persons who, regardless of age, otherwise meet the definition of a disabled person.
- The permit fee is waived for anglers 60 and older; however, these individuals must still register with the state. A small fee will be charged by the vendor to process the permit if purchased online.
For more information:
To purchase a license online:
Seasons, Catch & Size Limits
For a current list of fishing regulations, by species
- Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries: Fishing Regulations