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Circumnavigating Cape Cod & Fishing Along The Way

Ron Rudowsky

Why would I embark on a trip around the Cape?

Because I always thought about exploring the Outer Cape, using my boating and navigation skills, and fishing along the way.

For me that made it an easy decision.

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Day #1

Safety was a concern, since I would be traveling alone, so I checked the weather, tides and a developed a float plan.

I departed on Thursday August 20th from Brewer Plymouth Marine at 6:45am aboard the LucyBlue.​

LucyBlue

The plan for Day #1 was to reach Stage Harbor Marina in Chatham.

circumnnavigate to stage harbor

When I left the dock it was about half tide, with a 5 knot wind and fog. 

plymouth bay fog

When I reached Bug Light in Plymouth Bay, the fog became dense and visibility was about 50 yards, so I activated the radar. 

It was a little unnerving at first, but I gained confidence over time and was able to navigate at a safe speed.​

Cape Cod's

Great Backside Beach

About halfway across to Provincetown the fog cleared and it was smooth sailing. I felt relaxed and full of anticipation for the day ahead.​

I put out a line as I reached the "Race" at Ptown.

I kept getting hits but no hookups, and then suddenly my line went tight. But it was not the usual pulsing of a big fish, instead my line was up in the air!

A shore bird had picked up my lure so I reeled her in as she struggled to get free.

hooked bird daiwa sp minnow

When she came to the boat she relaxed a bit and stopped flapping her wings. I gently removed the hook and she was free. Perhaps she knew I was trying to help?​

As I rounded the Cape I began to pass the dunes and cliffs of Provincetown and Truro. 

provincetown fog

Then fog became heavy once again. I followed my GPS with radar overlay and put out a line. After about a half an hour I had a fish on!

This time it was a nice bluefish of about 10 pounds and my first fish of the journey-yea!​

I continued on as I navigated through the fog and somewhere off Nauset Beach the fog finally cleared and I was able to cruise along at a decent clip.

Yamaha 150 outboard engine

Looking off into the distance I spotted a fleet of boats about a mile offshore in 65 feet of water.

It was ​10:30am when I dropped a line, and within an hour I had landed and released a nice 20 pound striper.

nauset beach striped bass

That fish felt good! I also learned that it's hard to take photos when the fisherman is also the captain and the cameraman.​

Fishing

Monomoy Island

I must say that the sun was very much welcome after spending hours in the fog. After releasing that 20 pounder I decided to set my GPS to Monomoy!​

After cruising for about an hour, I spotted land and worked by way toward the tip of Monomoy. By this time it was midday and wouldn't you know, more fog began to roll in.

Luckily the fog wasn't too bad and I could see about 100 yards when I came upon a few boats fishing the rips. One guy yelled out "Lots of bass here but they aren't taking anything."

I decided to rig an eel (I had brought eels, worms and clams) and cast the eel into the rip. Within 5 minutes I was on!

monomoy striper

The guy next to me yelled again, asking what the heck I was using. When I said eels he lowered his head, as he didn't have any onboard.

I continued to fish until slack tide with success.​

Stage Harbor

Chatham, MA

stage harbor lighthouse

At slack tide I decided to work my way around the tip of Monomoy and head for Stage Harbor - about a 10 mile run. 

Along the way I saw lots of birds and plenty of bluefish which I had fun catching on light tackle.

By 4:30pm I had arrived at Stage Harbor Marina in Chatham and secured my boat for the night.

Leaving my boat at the dock I walked for about a mile, enjoying the sights as I found my way into downtown Chatham.

I found a pub which was a welcome stop after a long but enjoyable day on the water. I ordered a cold beer and some fresh swordfish, and enjoyed the local chatter.

A friend of mine who I went to school with knows a local charter captain named "Story Fish." Yep, that is his real name. 

I called Story and we exchanged fish stories (no pun intended) and he told me that the fishing had been real slow. I relayed my experience in the rips and he suggested I try again, but early, not midday.

I got a good night's sleep at a local hotel and was up at 5:00am, ready and eager to begin Day #2 of my around the Cape journey.

Day #2

Getting a cab in Chatham is not an easy thing to do, but the locals at the marina gave me the name of Cape Cab and I was able to make arrangements for an early pickup.

I took the cab for 5 miles to the marina and after a few wrong turns we made it.​

I left the dock at 6:00am on Friday August 21st, excited to fish at the right time, and you guessed it, more fog!

After following my GPS and radar I came alongside a boat smaller than mine. He cautioned me about the rips and then went about his business. I rounded Monomoy and was greeted by 3-4 foot rollers.

As I tried to find my honey hole from the day before the seas only got worse and the fog was so dense I couldn't see more than 50 feet!

I felt a funny, conflicting feeling of fear and doubt, an almost surreal experience leading to the question of whether to stay and try to catch a 50 pounder, or get the heck out and find safer conditions.​

Although somewhat reluctantly I decided to point my boat in the direction of Falmouth. I had decided that catching a nice bass was not worth the risk of challenging a rough sea and dense fog.

Vineyard Sound & Buzzard's Bay

As I motored south the fog lifted and I literally found the Pine Island Rocks! There were plenty of fish alright, but more rocks both above and below the surface than I was comfortable with.

I decided to keep moving along, taking my time as there were 2-3 foot waves giving me a rather bumpy ride. I enjoyed the sights, watching guys catch bait and boats heading to the Vineyard.

sailboat

I saw some birds working over bait and decided to try my luck. I caught some nice blues but soon tired of getting knocked around by the waves, so I decided to reel in the lines and head for Woods Hole.

As I entered the channel my sonar screen lit up with so many bass that I couldn't believe my eyes! However with large boats and ferries coming in my direction, I opted to keep going and was soon in the quiet waters of Buzzard's Bay.​

It was about 1:00pm when I decided to explore the Elizabeth Islands.​

I started fishing at Naushon and continued around to Pasque.

It was not the best time of day to be fishing, and although I stopped at every place that looked "fishy" I did not mark or catch a single fish.

Nevertheless the sun was strong and the seas were calm, so I just relaxed and enjoyed my time on the water.

Around 3:00pm I decided to try and find Brewer Marine in Fiddler's Cove, which is tucked away in Megansett Harbor, Falmouth.​

My plan was to overnight at the marina, but since there were no rooms available, I considered sleeping on my boat the LucyBlue, which I was prepared to do.

However strong storms were predicted for that evening and most of the following day.

Decision Time

​I had a decision to make, and at 4:30pm I opted to head back to my homeport of Plymouth.

Before I knew it I was entering the west end of the Cape Cod Canal against the tide. ​

west end of the cape cod canal railroad bridge

It was a smooth ride and I continued along at 10-12 knots. ​It was a relaxing ride until I reached the Herring Run where there were birds and bass everywhere.

I continued on and found a larger pod busting off the Power Plant, similar to what MFCC member and contributor Andrew Massard captured on video on what may of been the exact same day.

People were screaming as they desperately tried to reach the fish. I tried to shoo the bass their way but unsure if I was any help. ​

Heading Home

I excited the Canal and all was calm on Cape Cod Bay.

I ran over to Scorton Ledge but all was quiet, so I decided to head for Plymouth Harbor. It was a smooth run but rain clouds were looming.

As I approached the Plymouth Power Plant I couldn't help myself and decided to fish a while for bluefish.

Unfortunately the blues were "tearing it up" inside the restricted security area buoys​ (which are off limits to fishing) so I continued on towards my homeport. 

​I safely arrived back at the Brewer Marine dock in Plymouth at 6:30pm.

I took some time to clean and wash down my boat and store all the tackle and supplies. Next I capped off what was an amazing trip with dinner at the marina.

Their ribs and beer are the best!

All in all my two days on the water were exactly what I had hoped they would be. ​

It was a chance for me to do a little exploring, self reflection and just "get away" and enjoy my passion for salt water fishing.

What do you think?

Let me know by commenting below.

  1. Great experience. I will not try it in my 17 ‘ skiff but wish I could.

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  2. Great report. This is going on my 2016 bucket list.

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  3. Thanks for the report. I encountered the same big waves when I went the first time to Monomoy rips. I had been be at the helm of the boat all the time and let my son fish only. The other time I went there was OK but no fish. The past summer was very quiet that way.

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    1. Also a picture is worth a thousand word. I enjoyed all the pictures.

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  4. Thanks for sharing – you’re inspiring me to give it a shot next Summer!

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  5. Simply a wonderfully inspiring story to read on a cold December day.

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  6. Great report, thanks for sharing!

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  7. Nice to read on a cold, snowy December day. That is a memory you created for yourself and shared. Thanks for that. Looking forward to Spring and making some memories of my own. Jean

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  8. Ron
    What great enjoyment I had reading your report. Solo is the way to go for this kind of trip, dealing with fog and especially the bird !! Looking forward to reading more adventures in 2016
    Jack Bosch

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  9. What a great weekend (or anytime) getaway, thank you for sharing! Thats definitely going on the to-do list.

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  10. What a great half of journey. What size is your boat? I would love to chat with you via email. Rturcotte5@cox.net

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    1. Based on the photo of his boat I would guess around 22ft … but that’s just a guess.

      Reply
  11. great report, thank you for sharing

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  12. Hey Ron, Great report. How did you do for fuel on your trip?

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  13. I enjoyed reading your report Ron. I found it interesting that the two spots you saw fish in the Canal are places that are often mentioned from successful fishing trips.

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  14. Great report! It certainly would be interesting to make that type of journey around the Cape…glad your trip went so well. I enjoyed reading the report.

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  15. I also love being alone and exploring. Great report and glad you returned safely. We have crazy weather around this area. Thanks, Ron See you on the water next season.

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  16. This is such a great adventure Ron. Thanks for sharing your journey with us here on MFCC.

    I would expect your expedition to inspire others to do similar type voyages. That is what it’s all about!

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  17. Ron
    Thanks for sharing this great trip. The comments and insights are terrific and were a pleasure to read. Looking forward to reading another report in the not to distant future.
    All my best,
    Richard
    A

    Reply

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