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Big Bass and Giant Tuna | Fall Fishing on Cape Cod

fall striped bass fishing cape cod

I'm sure we'll see plenty of big bass like this one this Fall on Cape Cod.

Fall is a phenomenal time of the year.  The air has a nip to it and the fish get moving.  There's also more room on the beaches and out on the water with Labor Day behind us.  The next few weeks are definitely a special time of the season for fishing on Cape Cod.

Usually the fish get moving as the days get shorter, and you begin to notice some unusual behavior.  Sometimes you even find unusual species during the fall off the Cape.  So far this fall I've seen a sea turtle swimming distance from the beach, which I've never seen before.  I've also been noticing a few seals bobbing around in spots I can't recall every seeing them before during this time of the year.

Fishing Cape Cod During the Fall | Odd Catches and Strange Occurrences

In past years I've seen bluefin tuna torpedoing half beaks no more than 300 yards from Sagamore Beach.  Other close to shore tuna encounters occurred when I was younger with my father.  We found tuna in our skiff swimming a half mile or so from a particular Plymouth beach.  Another encounter happened in our 12 foot aluminum skiff in Cape Cod Bay as I reeled in a small bluefish.  Out of the nowhere a huge animal (at the time I had no clue what it could of been) that was most likely a giant bluefin.

Ocean sunfish (aka mola mola) also get pretty active this time of the year off the Cape.  These huge behemoth swimming "fish heads" of a fish begin appearing in very shallow water and in odd places like the Cape Cod Canal.  Typically the swim slowly just beneath the surface, however for some unknown reason during the fall they launch themselves straight clear of the water and come crashing down-creating quite the top water explosion.  They'll often do this three or four times in a row before calling it quits.

A 500 plus pound ocean sunfish launching itself out the water like a giant tuna is quite the sight!

More exotic fish also begin showing up in odd places.  The summer of 2012 in particular has produced many strange fish being weighed in at our local bait and tackle shops.  From wahoo in weird places to red drum schooling with stripers, 2012 has certainly coughed up some surprises.  You can check out On the Water's excellent post about many of these odd catches by clicking here.

A recent odd catch was emailed to me this week by Steve, a reader here on the blog.

Steve writes:

I caught this and a couple of others like it the last couple of weeks of August off the fish dock at the Bass River/Smugglers Beach in Yarmouth. The bait was squid and was caught using a double porgy rig with size 4 hooks. The fish in the pic was approx. 14 - 16 inches long. The interesting thing was the fish was a fighter, much better than the porgies we have been catching.

I have looked at fish listings on the internet without finding a match. One thought I had was that this may be a juvenile version of some fish.



weird fish cape cod

Does anyone know what species of fish this is?

Both Steve and I are interested in figuring out what kind of fish this is, so if you have any insight feel free to leave it in a comment below.  Thanks!

Odd fish and strange occurrences are just one thing to keep on the lookout this fall when fishing Cape Cod.  However the main thing on most fishermen's minds during this time of the year is the fast fishing, big blitzes and huge fish.

Cape Cod Fishing for Big Bass and Enormous Tuna | It's Go Time!

fall tuna fishing cape cod

Mike with a nice one - fall is a great time to target giants off Cape Cod.

Sorry if I sound almost too enthusiastic here, however it is hard to not be all pumped up when you know there are 1,000 plus pound fish swimming just miles off some of Cape Cod's beaches.  On top of that there will be 50 pound striped bass in knee deep water at some point and at some beach over the course of the next few weeks.  Who knows when and where this type of behavior will occur. but you can bet your boat that it's going to happen.

If my memory serves me right there were numerous 1,000 pound giant bluefin tuna caught off the Cape last fall.  I was on the water a few days when the real sharpies were really doing damage and the radio chatter proved to be very interesting and fun to listen to.  God only knows what these talented guys are doing differently from the rest of us tuna amateurs but whatever it is it makes a world of a difference because it's always the same guys catching the real impressive fish.

I'm looking forward to hearing some of the stories from these tuna veterans this fall.  Hopefully we'll get some nice weather because these guys certainly deserve it-they work hard and catch a ton of big tuna.

Big bass also make their appearance known during the fall off Cape Cod and are usually on the aggressive end of the spectrum.  In many areas off the Cape bass fishing becomes less challenging as more big, hungry bass move through the area.  Epic blitzes can happen at anytime and just about at any beach.

I'll never forget sprinting up and down the beach chasing schools of striped bass as they demolished baby pogies in just inches of water.  From a distance it appeared as if the entire beach was "moving."  The sunlight refracting off the sides of the shiny fish that had beached themselves to escape the gullet of a big striper produced a pretty cool illusion.  We'd fill our pockets with pogies and live line the hapless fish to stripers and the occasional blue.  It was an absolute blast and I've only experienced that kind of fishing during September and October.

It's Now or Never for Striped Bass and Tuna Fishing on Cape Cod

striped bass fishing fall cape cod

Big bass like this one will invade the estuaries and beach fronts of Cape Cod over the next few weeks.

If you are looking for a 40 plus pound striper from the surf now is the time to get yourself one.  You just never know what night will the night you encounter a massive school of migrating behemoths.  This means of course that you'll have to miss some sleep and log some hours on the sand.  Might as well put in the time now because in just another month or so most of the big bass in the Cape Cod area will have moved south.

The fall on Cape Cod is a wonderful time if you enjoy fishing.  From exotic fish to pogies on the beach, Cape Cod has it all.  I hope you are able to sneak away this fall and spend a few nights on the beach or a few mornings on the water.  You just never know when that 1,000 pound giant or 50 pound bass is going to bite.

Click here for more information on fishing during the fall on Cape Cod.

Tight lines and take care!



by Ryan Collins

Ryan Collins grew up on the beach, and has been fishing since he was 5. Ryan has great family, friends and fishing experiences to be grateful for. Just being there is enough...catching a few fish is always a bonus!

  1. I caught a fish today off Nyes Neck like the one you’re asking about. I’ve fished in Bzzards Bay for 50 years and never seen that fish. Has anyone told you what it is?

    1. Seems like it is a northern kingfish from what everyone has been telling me. Once again there are some crazy fish around this season. A guy just caught a sail fish in the Canal, wild!

      How’d you catch it Russ?



  2. Hey Ryan how about a recent fishing update….? It’s been a while don’t you think?

  3. That fish is 100% a northern kingfish. I have caught them using sandworms and clams on the bottom off of Wildwood surf.

  4. Thanks for all the replies, much appreciated.

    Seems like northern kingfish are a lot more common around here than I ever knew. Even better to know they taste good on the grill.


  5. Northern kingfish is right, I actually caught two of those earlier this summer from my dock on Nantucket Sound. Tasty on the grill

  6. Try looking at Northern Kingfish, (Menticirrhus saxatilis). Did this fish have a raised sail-like front to its dorsal fin?

    1. Northern Kingfish is exactly what it is. I confirmed with photo ID on Google.

      Thank you very much

  7. The mystery fish looks like a kingfish to me. I am from South Jersey, and we catch these in the surf on bloodworms with bottom rigs. Not to be confused with the kingfish caught offshore (king mackerel). Maybe some other surf guys can verify.

    1. I agree…a Northern Kingfish. I’m also originally from South Jersey and as a kid in the 60’s fishing with my grandfather in Great Bay (outside of Atlantic City), we caught them all the time. Back then these fish were plentiful in Great Bay along with tons of weakfish, flounder and black sea bass. Very good eating fish.


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