Fishing Cuttyhunk, Massachusetts

Well-worn plugs hang in the window of a Cuttyhunk fishing shack. Photo Tom Richardson

Cuttyhunk has been synonymous with fishing since the mid-1800s, and over the years the island has achieved legendary status among sportfishermen, especially those in search of trophy striped bass. Many recall that local angler Charlie Church caught the then-record striper of 73 pounds from the waters of Canapitsit Channel back in 1913. A half-century before that, however, a group of wealthy businessmen had already established an elite bass-fishing club on the island that flourished until 1921. Today, you rent a room in the same building once occupied by the movers and shakers of the late 19th Century, and wet a line in some of sport fishing’s most hallowed waters.

For boat fishermen, the rocks and reefs surrounding Cuttyhunk regularly produce big bass from May through October. Casting plugs, flies and live eels into the rocks is a great way to score, but chunking and slow-trolling tube-and-worm combos on wire or leadcore line is also productive, especially during the mid-day hours. If you can get live menhaden, slow-troll or drift them near the rocky areas and you should attract some big fish.

Big stripers are available all season off Cuttyhunk.

The famous Sow & Pigs Reef just southwest of the island is a perennial hot spot among bass and bluefish anglers and professional guides, but caution is required, especially if you are unfamiliar with this treacherous ledge, which is often washed by powerful currents and ocean swells. Trolling and chunking both work well at Sow & Pigs, but the place can be crowded. If so, you are best off searching for a more peaceful spot, and there are lots to be found.

If you like bottom fishing, both Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay offer terrific action with everything from fluke to sea bass through the season. The former can be found over sand shoals in Vineyard Sound, as well as around rocky areas in 20 to 60 feet of water. The edges of Sow & Pigs Reef hold big fluke, as does Ribbon Reef, just west of Cuttyhunk. Another productive spot is the stretch of bottom between RN “34” and R “32”. This area is strewn with boulders that harbor big fluke and sea bass, as well as scup. To catch them, set up a drift and send down a 3- to 4-ounce jig tipped with a squid strip. Bounce it over the bottom and you should score.

Tautog can also be taken in the early season and again in the fall around the rocky areas and wrecks in 10 to 30 feet of water. Send down a green crab section on a bottom rig and you’ll be in business.

If you just want to have fun with some monster bluefish, head for the Buzzards Bay Tower, roughly two miles due west of Sow & Pigs Reef. The tower often holds big, hungry blues in summer, and they will usually climb all over any type of topwater plug. If they are holding deep, try sending down a diamond jig and reeling it toward the surface at top speed.


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