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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Sports Port 149 West Main St., Hyannis
- Powderhorn Outfitters 210 Barnstable Rd., Hyannis
- Riverview Bait and Tackle 1273 Rt. 28, South Yarmouth
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 Ryan@myfishingcapecod.com, and definitely let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.
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!