Experiencing low tide at Chapin beach is like being in the Florida Keys. Expanses of sandbars stretch in every direction for miles. You could hold a PGA Tour golf event on this beach at low tide-that's how much space there is.
These tidal flats are, I believe, part of the Brewster Flats which run for close to 25 miles to east. That folks, is a TON of sand. Chapin beach is also home to one of the most picturesque sunsets on Cape Cod. The pink, red and orange light reflects perfectly off Cape Cod and the tidal pools that litter that flats. This creates a sunset scene unlike any other on the Cape.
If you could not have already guessed, I like this place a lot.
Believe it or not I went 25 years of my life without stepping foot on Chapin beach. Somehow, yesterday was my first time exploring this place. I'm not sure how I overlooked it all these years.
One of the coolest parts of the Chapin beach experience is the drive in. A winding road takes you through the sand dunes and eel grass to a perfect Cape Cod parking lot encompassed by dunes. Just beyond the parking lot there is 4x4 access to the beach. Folks with off-road vehicles have about a mile or so of beach to the west on which to drive.
As I alluded to, the tidal range in this area of Cape Cod is utterly dramatic. Places that are high and dry at low tide will have over 10 feet of water during the high. This translates into a very long, very enjoyable walk to the water at low tide. Tidal pools and tributaries are scattered amongst the sandbars. Sea clams can be picked directly from the sand. The striper fishing is a lot like bonefishing in the Caribbean.
The first thing I noticed as I stepped onto the sandbar was just how quiet this place was. Aside from the occasional squawk from a sea gull, it was dead silent. Quite refreshing compared to the noises of the city.
From a distance I could see terns working the water at the far reaches of the sandbar. After a ten minute power walk I arrived on scene with hopes of seeing bass swirling over the flats. Unfortunately all I found were sand eels, and the birds who were feasting upon them. Nevertheless I began wading around, casting a needlefish plug here and there.
One thing to be utmost aware of when fishing this sort of environment is the stage of the tide. It is very possible to get caught up on good fishing, and forget that the tide has turned. Sandbar undulations make it possible to be in a foot of water one minute, and then over your head the next. This is particularly troublesome if the tide is coming in. In this area of Cape Cod, a sandbar that is high and dry can be covered by a foot or more of water in just 30 minutes. Having a keen understanding and awareness of the tide is more important than ever when wading in areas like Chapin beach.
Once the tide turned I decided to play it safe and make the long trek to Bass Hole, which is an estuary at the westernmost point of Chapin beach. Bass Hole dumps water into Barnstable Harbor, and is very much like Old Harbor in Sandwich, with the exception that miles of sandbar cuts the inlet off from Cape Cod Bay during low tide.
I was licking my chops upon first glance at these tidal pools. To my dismay, the area proved to be rather lifeless. I fished the Hole until night set in, without a single bump.
The walk back to the parking lot from Bass Hole took about 25 minutes. It was a bit of trek in the dark but well worth the effort. It's such a serene area, that the walk back to the car was one of the highlights of the trip.
If I was going to fish Bass Hole again I would bring a kayak, small boat, or even just a life jacket and some flippers, and head to the Bass Hole parking lot in Yarmouth. The area has a nice little boat ramp, as well as a boardwalk perfect for folks hoping to get some nice pictures of the setting sun.
The area by the boat ramp is a bit too muddy for wading and casting. A quick paddle or swim to the sandbars on the opposite side of the estuary would be ideal, as compared to the 25 minute walk from the Chapin beach parking lot. Of course, be aware of the current when swimming in the area.
Final tally was zero bass, zero hits, and zero signs of life other than a few sand eels and terns. My past experience fishing this area by boat has shown that early in the season (early June to be more specific) produces more fish over the flats. Of course, I could return to Chapin beach today and find bass breaking everywhere. That's striper fishing for you.
I still highly recommend this area. It's a fantastic beach, with beautiful scenery, located in the heart of Cape Cod.
Tight lines and catch 'em up!
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!