UPDATED ON February 28 2024

What It’s Like Fishing for Tuna 100+ Miles off Cape Cod

by Ryan Collins

It still boggles my mind that it's now possible to do a day trip to the Northeast Canyons, which are located about 100 miles south/southeast of Cape Cod & the Islands.

As long as the wind is calm a trip to the canyons from Cape Cod takes about 3.5 hours. For a day trip, this means leaving the dock very early, while it's still dark.

Hopefully I will get an opportunity to fish the canyons during 2023. My 21' boat is certainly not big enough to make the voyage, so to get to the canyons I am at the mercy of being invited by someone else.

In this post, I would like to re-live a trip I made to Hydrographer Canyon on July 17th 2019. For this trip, we departed the dock last week on July 17th 2019 at the odd hour of 2:45am.

Onboard for this trip were My Fishing Cape Cod members Ted and Kurt Saraceno, along with their friend Rob, who's also a member of MFCC. So without further ado, let's dive right in to this memorable offshore adventure!

The Run from Osterville to Hydrographer Canyon

There was a chop on the water as we made our way across Nantucket Sound, south through Muskeget Channel, and into the waters located west of the famed and dangerous Nantucket Shoals.

I have always been fascinated by this area, because of its constantly shifting sands, changing depths and dangerous shoals. What a nightmare this area must of been for sailors back in the day.

Detail from NOAA nautical chart 12300 showing the Nantucket Shoals in relation to Nantucket Island.

We cruised through the deep water located west of the shoals, and I noticed the water temperature was a chilly 56 degrees. For comparison, elsewhere on Cape the water temperature was in the 70s. 

The cold water is most likely due strong currents and upwelling, which brings cold water from the deep, up towards the surface. This cold water can help create dense fog, and in fact on the way home through this area, we battled our way through a 50 mile fog bank.

The voyage to the canyons took just over 3 hours, but time flies when you are traveling on the water. You just never know what you may see! 

On the way out we saw fishing trawlers, dolphins and a large tanker.

Setting The Spread

We arrived at Hydrographer at around 6am.

There was a fresh breeze blowing out of the southwest at about 20 knots. Seas were choppy but still very fish-able. 

We all worked together to set what I believe was a 9 rod trolling spread. We ran 3 lines off the port outrigger and another 3 lines off the starboard.

Then we set an additional 3 "flat" lines which were fish closer to the stern. 

We staggered the lures and bars at different distances away from the boat. We used a variety of different baits which I have included photos and links to below.

Please click here to view more of the top offshore lures and spreader bars from TheMightyFish.com

Life was abound. Right off the bat we began to see flying fish, and there were plenty of shearwaters cruising about.

The most impressive sight were dolphins crashing and playing about on the surface.

Topwater Yellowfin Tuna

We trolled at around 6mph for over an hour without any bites, yet we knew a "wolf pack" of tuna could explode on the spread at any moment. After all, the bite usually happens when you least expect it.

However on this trip, the first bite was very expected, basically anticipated, by everyone onboard. The reason being was that a pod of small whales (or very large dolphins) appeared just off the stern.

Tuna will often travel and feed alongside whales and dolphins, so we all held our breath, hoping that would be the case. Sure enough, about 30 seconds later a big tuna came hurdling to the surface and exploded on the green Chatter Bait spreader bar!

My heart was racing as I hustled to clear lines as quickly as possible.

Kurt jumped on the first rod which was getting dumped by a nice tuna, and Rob jumped on the second rod, which had also gotten smashed by a big fish.

We dealt with several tangles but eventually we were able to clear the lines and settle in. Unfortunately Rob's fish got away due to a faulty factory crimp job. Now the pressure had mounted even more to successfully boat Kurt's fish.

After a great fight (which you can watch in its entirety below) it was time to leader and gaff the tuna. Kurt's dad Ted leadered the fish up to the surface, and I was able to plant the gaff just behind the tuna's head.


Hydrographer Canyon Video

24 hours before our trip, in the same exact area that we were fishing, captain Phil and crew from the Goose Hummock Shops caught dozens of yellowfin tuna, four bigeye tuna, and even a billfish.

However, a lot can change within one day, and despite our best efforts we were not able to locate any more gamefish. We trolled for another three hours, seeing plenty more dolphins and fly fish, but no more tuna.

Regardless, just the experience of fishing 100 miles offshore is memorable. Catching fish is the icing on the cake, and I am very grateful we got that one yellowfin to the boat. 

If you would like to see more of what it's like to participate in the canyon fishery, then please click play below to watch a 19 minute video recap of this offshore adventure.

In Conclusion

Thanks again to My Fishing Cape Cod members Ted and Kurt Saraceno for inviting me onboard their 36' Yellowfin The Rumble

And best of luck to you if you are able to get out to the canyons in 2023. It truly is a different world out there and if you ever get an invitation to go, then I recommend you do it!

Tight lines 🎣

About the author 

Ryan Collins

I'm fortunate to have grown up on the beach, and I've been fishing since kindergarten. I have great family, friends and fishing experiences to be thankful for. Just being out there is enough-catching fish is just a bonus!

  • Could be best fishing area on earth,the canyons,dare to compare,been going out there for 25 yrs previous on the Helen H ,2 and 3 day overnighters,when they were affordable and made sense,nothn better for me than jiggn up 60# yellowfin off the side of a boat,trips were best memorable trips of my life, all species out there were caught and boated and eaten,mahi,jacks,bigeye,swords,ect ect..please continue to do that trip every chance you get….glad to hear your out there,

  • Looks like an awesome trip – really nice for the captain to have the triples for that type of excursion. I’m always curious how far guys head out with just single screws. I’m having a new yamaha 250 put on my striper over the next week and would love to make some runs off shore at some point. I’m thinking this season i’ll keep it within range of the islands (from Block to Nantucket) and then next year plan something further out. TH

    • Hey TH ?

      Yes it is nice having multiple engines when heading that far offshore, as it definitely provides a little more peace of mind.

      Keep us posted with how you do in the area between the Block and Nantucket. ?

      Are you guys still getting some big stripers at Block Island?

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    You may also like

    Is it too early to start thinking about tuna? I don't think so! Before you know it the offshore tuna bite will

    Read More
    My First Experience Bigeye Tuna Fishing at The Northeast Canyons

    It was a bright and sunny morning as I pulled into New Seabury Marina, located behind Popponesset Island in Mashpee. For this trip

    Read More
    Wahoo (and More!) at the Offshore Canyons