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Surfcasting Cuttyhunk with My Fishing Cape Cod

Brian McCarty

On July 26th, MFCC members Dex Chadsey, Ned Bean, Alberto Pina, Alex Ben David, and I, Brian McCarty made a pilgrimage to "fishing Mecca" - Cuttyhunk Island.

Located between Buzzards Bay and the Vineyard Sound, Cuttyhunk is the southernmost of the Elizabeth Islands.

Cuttyhunk is about a mile and a half long by three-quarters of a mile wide, with a large natural harbor located along the eastern side.

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Legendary Cuttyhunk

New England has many fantastic places to fish. Cuttyhunk has remained a hot spot due to its location smack-dab in the middle of the striper migration route.

It can be said that Cuttyhunk is the "fork in the road" for stripers heading north through the canal, or east toward Martha’s Vineyard, and around the Outer Cape.

For this reason, the Cuttyhunk Fishing Club was established in 1864, and has been visited by legendary fishermen, U.S. Presidents, and many others craving the "tug life."

Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it?


Wednesday July 26th, 2017

My Fishing Cape Cod members Ned Bean, Alex Ben David and I departed Martha’s Vineyard to meet Alberto (better known on MFCC as "Big Papi") and longtime MFCC member Dex Chadsey in New Bedford.

Alex and I arrived first. We loaded our gear onto the Cuttyhunk Ferry, slightly worried that Alberto and Dex might not make it in time.

My absolute favorite thing about fishing with members of My Fishing Cape Cod is the initial greeting; the smiles, hugs, and deep heartfelt excitement about getting together on adventures. Positivity is a good word to describe the MFCC vibe.

Finally we saw Dex and Alberto off in the distance, and Alex and I (being the youngest of the group) got their attention by affectionately yelling “Dad!” and waving our arms to get their attention. 

This ended up being a fun practice throughout the extent of the trip!

2 of the "Dads" of the group - member Ned Bean (left) and member Dex Chadsey (right). Over the past 2 seasons these guys have been organizing their own My Fishing Cape Cod group trips, to destinations including Cuttyhunk, Martha's Vineyard and Block Island.

On the one hour ferry to Cuttyhunk, we had time to update each other on our lives, the seasons’ fishing accomplishments, and the strategy we hoped to employ while surfcasting for stripers at Cuttyhunk.


The Cuttyhunk Community

60 minutes later we arrived at Cuttyhunk Harbor and were greeted by many of the residents. Some were on-hand to receive guests and provide services, while others were just interested in seeing what was going on.

Cuttyhunk's year-round population has been estimated at between fifteen and thirty residents. This type of isolation stressed the importance of helping others in good faith.

The community is so small that each resident must be nearly self-reliant, and capable of performing many tasks. For example, we had only been at our fish camp for a few minutes before we were asked to carry a new stove over a stone wall and into the neighbor's house.

After this backbreaking task, we quickly unloaded, and were given a quick knot-tying class about "how to add a teaser” by Ned Bean.

This instruction turned out to be incredibly valuable as you will later see.


Night #1

After the teaser tying lesson, we suited up, and prepared ourselves for an expedition to the field of boulders along the eastern shore.

The group from left to right - Dex Chadsey, "Big Papi", Alex Ben David, the author Brian McCarty and Ned Bean.

Ned, Dex, and Big Papi were accustomed to the slick stones and shoreline bubble weed typical of Cuttyhunk.

Alex and I, curious to explore the terrain, hiked to the westernmost end of the island, where we found calmer waters and milder winds.

The tide was flowing out of West End Pond and conditions were perfect. Both Alex and I are known for being conversational fisherman, but this time employed our tactics without discussion.

Alex began casting with his spinning rod while I prepped my fly rod. As I entered the water I heard Alex shout those two magical words - I’m on!

Alex had hooked up on his first cast of the trip, with not one but two striped bass!

Please login or start a My Fishing Cape Cod membership to access the rest of this Cuttyhunk Island report.

Please login or start a My Fishing Cape Cod membership to access the rest of this Cuttyhunk Island report.

“Fishing, it makes us participants rather than spectators in nature. A significant distinction; participants become passionate and protective, while spectators remain indifferent.” – Jerry Dennis

  1. Hi Brian, I am joining you and the guys on the trip coming up this Sunday and am really looking forward to it. Would love to hear and specific suggestions from you. See you Sunday.
    Gary
    groutenberg@yahoo.com

    Reply
  2. Great story! I am now wondering if I could fish this same area buy boat? Would be fun to head over in the afternoon and explore the island, then set up to fish as the sun goes down.

    Reply
    1. Yes you can definitely fish Cuttyhunk by boat, but just be sure to keep a close eye on your chart. There are lots of big rocks in the area and it’s very possible to hit them with your boat if you aren’t paying really close attention.

      One good technique is to keep your boat a safe distance from shore, and then fire pencil poppers and long casting topwater lures as far as you can in towards shore. Most of the bass will be in tight to the rocks, which is where you want your lure….but not where you want your boat!

      Reply
  3. Great reporting, you really covered a lot of”have to know” basics for anyone going to the island for the first time.
    The next time I go I’ll probably take half of what I took the last time 🐟🎣😃

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  4. I think a proper cuttyhunk book is long overdue, just my two cents. You can almost feel the fishing history there. Thanks for your comments guys. Hoping to make atleast 1 trip back this season over a weekend if anyone is interested.

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    1. Write it Brian!

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      1. I’d love to research the history, but I wouldn’t feel worthy of writing the history of such a legacy.

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  5. As a young teenager, I remember fondly my Father and some of his friends from the old Worcester Striper Club would charter a boat out of Falmouth and take me with them to fish the waters of Cuttyhunk. I think the boat was one of those Brownell Bass Boats with the tiller in the stern. The time was back in the mid 60’s. In the dark, they would troll big plugs close to the rocks and just outside of breaking waves. Scared the hell out of me sometimes. That place was about big water and big fish. My Father and those guys that introduced me to Cuttyhunk have all fished around to the next bend, but the memories are still vivid in my mind. An awe inspiring place Cuttyhunk certainly is.

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  6. Used to camp on the spit in the 60’s , big bass and lobsters everywhere. Some great times.

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  7. Great report! One of the coolest places I have had the privilege to fish.

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  8. Great story from your trip to Cuttyhunk! The island is a throwback when it comes to chasing The Linesider. Glad to hear you were able to pull more than a few. Your advice for surfcasting out there was spot on. Hope to meet your team out there some day.

    Reply
  9. Great report Brian. We live so close to everything. You guys need to take the Cuttyhunk dive on your next trip. All my best.

    Reply

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