Fishing Woods Hole, MA

Hard-charging bluefish are perennial crowd-pleasers.


Woods Hole makes an ideal jumping-off spot to some of the most productive and diverse fishing grounds in the Northeast, including Buzzards Bay, the Elizabeth Islands, the South Cape area and Martha’s Vineyard. The action begins in late April, when tautog gather on the shallow wrecks, rock piles and other structure in and around the Hole. For about a month, these tough and tasty fish can be taken on green crabs and clam baits fished on the bottom in 10’ to 30’ of water.

Woods Hole fishing picStriped bass arrive between mid- and late May, taking up station in the nearby rips of Middle Ground or off Nobska Light, where they can be caught on all manner of lures, including topwaters and flies when the fish are chasing squid on the surface. Casting poppers, soft-plastics, live eels and large flies along the rocky shores of nearby Naushon Island is another great way to score, with early morning being most productive. Be careful as you get in close to shore, however, as some monster boulders lurk just below the surface.

Black sea bass are prolific in this area, and can be taken all season long. Hard-bottom areas in Buzzards Bay will hold fish up to 6 pounds through June, but you’ll also find them in Vineyard Sound, including over the same shoals that hold fluke. To hook up, hop a two- to four-ounce bucktail jig tipped with a small piece of squid over the bottom.

Bluefish arrive in late May, and hang around all summer in the rips of Nantucket and Vineyard sounds. The choppers will take the same lures used for striped bass, and the topwater action can be explosive. Trolling slightly ahead of and parallel to a rip line with swimming plugs or parachute jigs can produce when the fish are holding deep.

Another local favorite is scup—an ideal target for youngsters. By mid-July, the bottom from Timmy Point to Great Ledge is literally paved with these saltwater panfish. Anchor just about anywhere, lower a hook baited with a seaworm or squid strip to the bottom, and watch your rod double over. Try Nonamesset Island or just outside Hadley Harbor if you want big ones.

Come late August, keep an eye out for fast-moving pods of false albacore and bonito. You can often encounter schools of the speedy tunoids among the moorings in Great Harbor, as well as outside Hadley Harbor, off Nobska Point and around the northeast tip of Nonamesset Island. Albies and bones can also be found throughout the Elizabeth Islands. Many anglers score on small, metal lures such as Kastmasters and Deadly Dicks, but a small, weightless white Slug-Go or Zoom Fluke can’t be beat.



Bait & Tackle

Falmouth Bait & Tackle (508) 457-0700



Capt. Nat Chalkley, Get the Net Charters (804) 347-2353


Seasons, Catch & Size Limits

For a current list of fishing regulations, by species contact the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries


License Requirements

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. The permit expires on December 31.


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.

To purchase a license online: CLICK HERE