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Fishing Barnstable

Fishing in Barnstable, MA can be a diverse and unique experience, if you want it to be. Throughout Barnstable you will find tranquil bays, expansive estuaries, barrier beaches and hidden harbors that beckon to be explored.

One fine example is Barnstable Harbor, the largest estuary on Cape Cod. This delicate ecosystem and good fishing spot is protected by Sandy Neck, a 7 mile long protective barrier beach.

Much of this area of Barnstable is relatively untouched and undeveloped. It’s not unusual to come across deer, coyotes and other wild animals when fishing from shore or hiking the dunes.

barnstable harbor

To get an insider look at the town, join My Fishing Cape Cod as a member by clicking here.

The southern portion of Barnstable is a bit less wild. Yet if you're willing to search around a bit, you can still find some beautiful and secluded places to wet a line.

fishing barnstable ma

Despite the development however, there are still many wonderful shore and boat fishing opportunities.

Here’s just some of the things you can expect when fishing Barnstable.

Fishing Options

If you’re looking to just catch something, your best bet is to fish the bottom for fluke, scup and sea bass. The most reliable fishing spots in Barnstable for bottom fish are off the southside, however you can find fluke and sea bass off the northside of the town as well.

Striped bass are probably the most prevalent predatory fish in the area. Early in the season, usually by the end of April, migratory striped bass arrive at Barnstable’s southside estuaries.

barnstable ma fishing

Bass arrive off the northside beaches a bit later, typically in early May and remain throughout the summer.

Big bluefish also show up off the southside beaches during the month of May, and small blues remain there throughout the summer. Off the northside in Cape Cod Bay, it is not unusual to encounter 10 plus pound bluefish from July through the end of October.

fishing barnstable bluefish

Late in the summer the harbors, bays and inlets of the southside of Barnstable often become inundated with snapper bluefish.

These “baby blues” are a blast on super light tackle. Try casting a small spoon around channels and docks. If you tuna fish, try keeping some of these small bluefish in a live well for giant tuna bait – they work exceptionally well.

Speaking of tuna, both school and giant tuna make frequent appearances off Barnstable’s coastline. Decades ago the giant tuna bite in Cape Cod Bay was quite epic. Recently the bite has not been as good, but tuna as large as 1,000 pounds still show up on occasion within sight of the Barnstable shoreline.

During the winter the endangered North Atlantic Right whale can be found feeding in surprisingly shallow water off Barnstable’s Sandy Neck beach. This area is critical habitat for the whales. During 2011 close to 100 whales, 20% of the world’s Right whale population, fed in this general area during the winter.

Local Tips

My favorite place in town is Barnstable Harbor. This is paradise for the kayak and skiff fishermen. The harbor supports a lot of life, and is one of the most picturesque places on Cape.

kayak fishing barnstable

There’s no shortage of nooks, crannies and sand bars to explore throughout the harbor.

I tend to fish the southside of the town more during the spring and fall, than I do during the summer. Shore fishing is more productive here when the water’s cooler in the spring, and again in the fall.

However during the summer, when water temps are borderline hot, you can find more exotic species like needlefish, Spanish mackerel, false ablies and even bonito. Your odds of hooking an exotic fish from shore are not great, but anglers who put in their time do connect each season.

A few nearby tackle shops include:

In Conclusion

Barnstable, MA has a lot of history, no shortage of fishing opportunities and plenty of places to explore. It’s one of my favorite towns on Cape, and one of the best towns to fish May through October.

If you’d like more in-depth information on fishing Barnstable, then join MFCC as a member.

You’ll get access to The Weekly Spot (only available to members), which highlights a new Cape Cod fishing spot every 7 days. Some of these spots are located in Barnstable, and are great places to fish and explore from shore, kayak or boat.

As a member you’ll also gain access to The Weekly Video, Members’ Forum and 3 years’ worth of Extended Fishing Reports-many of which cover areas right here in Barnstable.

As always feel free to reach out to me at, and definitely let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Tight lines!


provincetown fishing massachusetts

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!

  1. Love your website. My bro and I have been fishing the Cape since childhood snapper fishing with dad in Wellfleet Harbor. We hail from Wellfleet, but launch our Bluefin 23 out of Truro or Chatham. We’ve covered a lot of ground and plan hit 2014 right out of the gate. I hope to launch a few striper runs in May out of Buzzard’s Bay, then hit Barnstable and Eastham as the fish come into the bay and move North to Ptown in June where we sometimes get some good topwater action. When things calm down we will get to Tuna and the rips and then come Fall hit the Albies and maybe a bonito off Chatham. Good times. I suggest a membership in The Cape Cod Salties if anyone wants to find some buddies and a lot of good tips from members and guest speakers! Check the website.

    1. Hey Nick, good to hear from you and I’m glad you love the site.

      I think your fishing plan for this season sounds real good. It’ll be go time before we know it.

      Were you at the Cape Cod Salties meeting in April of 2013 by any chance? I was able to give a talk and meet many of the members.

      It’s a great group!

  2. hay ryan

    enjoyed article barnstable is a very nice spot. has a nice boat launch,but the harbor can be tricky. a few years ago my wife and i got the boat hung up on

    a sandbar near sandy neck as i was not watching tide as close as i should have. all the folks on sandyneck had a good laugh,and in the end no harm came to the day.

    1. Hey Larry,

      Definitely can be a tricky place with all the sand bars and flats.

      I’m glad you guys made it through your “ordeal” safely. I’m sure it was quite the sight!

  3. The winter is also great in this area, my favorite place to walk.

    1. I agree. It’s nice and quiet during the colder months.

  4. Very nice Ryan. We rent for a week on Barnstable Harbor every summer. I’ve gotten into some fish in very skinny water when paddling across to Sandy Neck. Love it there!

    1. Hey Steve – I love it there as well. Just a real nice place to explore…sometimes it even feels tropical on those perfectly clear, hot and sunny summer days.


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