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Fishing in Provincetown, Massachusetts

This post was originally published in November of 2013. Today I wanted to re-publish this post with updated information about fishing the waters and shorelines of Provincetown, MA.

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Fishing in Provincetown, Massachusetts goes back centuries, well before the Pilgrims arrived on the Cape's sandy shores.

In fact, ancient fishermen once landed mammoth 100 plus pound codfish, door-size halibut, haddock, and a variety of other valuable fish species right off the P-town coast.

The fishing today may not be as incredible, but it's still pretty darn good. Just a few years ago there were several 1,000 pound giant bluefin tuna caught within sight of Provincetown's Race Point Beach. Large schools of striped bass and bluefish also show up at Provincetown throughout the course of spring, summer and fall.

As with most Cape Cod fishing spots, Provincetown fishing changes from season to season.

I recall one year where the bass schools were so dense that my sonar began to malfunction. The next summer I couldn't find a fish anywhere. I guess that is what keeps fishing in this area so interesting and exciting.

In this article, I would like to share with you my experiences and knowledge of fishing the Provincetown area for striped bass, bluefin tuna and other species. Please scroll below to continue reading. 👇

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Provincetown Fishing Opportunities

If you look on a map, then you will clearly see how well positioned the town of Provincetown MA is for fishing.

PTOWN (as Provincetown is often referred to by locals) is at the very tip of Cape Cod, with Cape Cod Bay to the west and the mighty Atlantic Ocean to the east.

Provincetown Harbor is a naturally-made, near perfect deep-water anchorage for ships. The harbor and geographical characteristics of Provincetown has attracted fishermen and their ships for thousands of years.

Extensive written records of indigenous peoples utilizing the Provincetown region for fishing are hard to come by, but there is little doubt in my mind that the indigenous Nauset and Wampanoag Native Americans must have fished here extensively.

Scroll below to learn more details about all the different types of fishing available in this special region of Cape Cod.

Fishing Provincetown From Shore

Provincetown is famous for its surfcasting. Decades ago, before the seals began to inundate the beaches of the Outer Cape, surfcasters would catch 50 pound bass, 10 pound bluefish, pollock and even tuna from shore. Can you imagine what that must of been like?

The shore fishing is a bit more challenging these days, but if you login your time you can still find a good bite from the beaches of Provincetown. If you get lucky you may even encounter a striped bass blitz like the one I experienced during June of 2013.

Click play below to watch! 👇

For bass and blues from shore, night time is definitely the right time at Provincetown. Swimming plugs and live eels are good choices. During the day chunking or fishing fresh dead sand eels is a good idea.

I've had my best luck surfcasting the beaches of Provincetown during the first part of the incoming tide. Virtually the entire coastline of Provincetown provides good fishing, but some hot spots include Race Point, Herring Cove, Wood End, and Long Point.

If you are interested in learning more about surfcasting Provincetown, then we have an entire collection of resources here on My Fishing Cape Cod to help you, including:

  • Provincetown Fishing Reports (coming soon) - this brand new members-only collection will contains dozens of my Provincetown fishing reports, videos and articles.
  • Outer Cape Cod Forum - one of the benefits of becoming a My Fishing Cape Cod member is access to our private forums. Specifically, our Outer Cape Cod forum contains hundreds of posts and conversations about fishing Provincetown and the surrounding areas.
  • Provincetown TV Episode - in this episode of My Fishing Cape Cod TV my friend Jason and I fish for striped bass using live mackerel, right off the shore of Provincetown, MA.
  • 27 Miles of Hiking and Fishing Cape Cod - back during September of 2015 I hiked and fished the 27 mile stretch from Nauset Inlet in Eastham, to Race Point Lighthouse in Provincetown. Inspired by Henry David Thoreau's book Cape Cod, this adventure took me two nights and three days to complete. 

Fishing Provincetown From Boats

Bluefish are pretty common at Provincetown too. We often catch them while trolling tubes along the drop off, which is located just offshore Herring Cove Beach.

The bottom of the sea floor off this area of Provincetown plummets from 20 to more than 150 feet deep. The structure here is like a sheer cliff edge, just located underwater.

Atlantic mackerel, herring and sand eels are common here. There's a strong current that runs right along the drop off, which definitely helps the fishing.

Back in 2017 large schools of very big striped bass could be found most mornings during late spring and early summer off the coast of Provincetown and nearby Truro.

During that time period we ran quite a few My Fishing Cape Cod group fishing trips to this area. You can see a preview of the action by clicking play below.

Members of My Fishing Cape Cod can watch the full video by clicking here.

The striper bite the last few years in the Provincetown area has not been as crazy and wild as it was 4-8 years ago.

However, the fishing often comes and goes in cycles, so I would think crazy topwater action like what's shown in the above video will eventually happen again.


Provincetown Fishing Tips
And Strategies For Tuna

Keep an eye peeled for tuna because they swim incredibly close to shore here. Some summers the tunas are plentiful with many footballs and giants in the area. Other years are less productive.

Trolling spreader bars or soft plastics like Slug-Gos and Hogy's along the surface is a good way to target smaller bluefins off Provincetown at places like Stellwagen Bank. 

This is how I caught my first tuna ever, while fishing with my dad, friend Jay, and his dad Pat. It was caught on a Hogy trolled right along the surface at about 5mph at the southeast corner of Stellwagen Bank.

fishing for cape cod tuna

The most common way to target giants off Provincetown is to drift with live bait. It's usually not too difficult to jig up live bait like mackerel or whiting. During the fall some guys will anchor up in deep water and start chumming

Fish a live bait down deep under a balloon or along the surface using a kite. You may have to spend an entire season floating out there before you get bit, but when you do get a bite there's a good chance the tuna will be huge.


In Conclusion

I did not talk much about it in this article, but there is also some good freshwater fishing located nearby Provincetown. Feel free to make a post inside our members forum if you need help with freshwater.

When you cast a line from a Provincetown beach, you are in essence casting a line at the edge of America. Fishing Provincetown is a unique and sometimes wild experience.

Visiting Provincetown, its shops, restaurants and bars is also a pretty wild and unique endeavor. The town has a lot of character and you never know what you may see next.

If you need any assistance planning a trip to Provincetown then drop me a line at ryan@myfishingcapecod.com.

I'm happy to help - tight lines and take care,

What do you think?

Let me know by commenting below.

  1. Hello Ryan
    Will be camping in P.town Aug 6-11 being from northern N.H. surf casting is all new to me wondering if you could offer a tackle list I would need to aquire to take a crack at catching some fish from shore
    Thanks
    Jon

    Reply
    1. Hey Jon,

      I would pick up a topwater lure, a swimmer, and a jig. For example:

      Topwater: http://www.canalbaitandtackle.com/guppy-lures-2-oz/
      Swimmer: http://www.canalbaitandtackle.com/canal-magic-swimmer-transparent-white-6-5-1-5oz-165mm/
      Jig: http://www.canalbaitandtackle.com/savage-sandeel-6-1-5oz-se-j160-se/

      I use a 9ft rod for surfcasting the beaches: http://www.canalbaitandtackle.com/lamiglas-surf-pro-xra-9-spinning-1-3-5oz/

      And I use the Van Staal VR175 reel: https://www.themightyfish.com/products/van-staal-vr-bailed-spinning-reel

      Any similar rod/reel combo will work. You just want to make sure you can pack around 300 yards of 30 pound Power Pro Braid (http://www.canalbaitandtackle.com/power-pro-braid-30-lb-300yd-spool-green/) onto your chosen reel.

      For leader I recommend 30lb fluorocarbon http://www.canalbaitandtackle.com/seaguar-blue-label-original-fluorocarbon-leader-30lb-25yds/

      I would also recommend enrolling in our free surfcasting video course https://myfishingcapecod.com/free-surfcasting-video-course/

      Our forum is also a great resource. Post your question in our forum and I’m sure you’ll get many more helpful replies. https://myfishingcapecod.com/forum

      Tight lines!

      Reply
  2. Hey Ryan,
    I will be spending about a week in Provincetown around the July 4th timeframe. Am interested in saltwater fishing from a small boat for a few days. Is it a good time to fish and what can I expect to catch? Do you have recommendations on bait for that time of year and for boat fishing (locations, etc.) Planning on renting from the local marina in Provincetown.

    Thanks!

    Grant

    Reply
    1. Hey Grant,

      July can be a great time to fish. No guarantees, but July of 2014 was excellent in the Ptown area.

      You can target striped bass and bluefish along the drop off Wood End, Herring Cove Beach and up towards Race Point. You could also try for flounder, fluke and other bottom dwelling fish inside Ptown harbor.

      Fresh sand eels, red tube and worm, and A27 vertical jigs with the green tube tail would be great lures/baits to have onboard.

      You could also try jigging up mackerel using Sabiki rigs in the area around Ptown. Mackerel are fun to catch and make great live bait for striped bass.

      I would definitely check in with Nelsons Bait and Tackle during your stay. The guys in our forum are also very helpful.

      Best,

      Ryan

      Reply
  3. I will be staying in Provincetown from Sept 27 thru Oct 3. I want to do some surf casting. Will this be a good time of year?

    Reply
    1. Possibly the best.

      You’ll have great opportunities from shore or from boat Clay.

      Let me know how it goes!

      Reply
  4. Will be in MA for 2 weeks in mid March and interested in knowing from an avid angler such as yourself as to what there may be to fish for. Will be in North Andover and aren’t familiar with the area. Wasn’t sure if any surf or river fishing is good at this time. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Hey Nick – March is a bit early for most saltwater fishing. If you are real ambitious, you could fish the back waters of estuaries for holdover stripers, however it will take some work to find and catch them.

      Freshwater is probably a better bet. I am more familiar with fishing in the Cape Cod area, however I think any local ponds in the North Andover area would be worth checking out. Largemouth bass might be stirring by then, and depending on the weather you might be able to fish a freshly stocked pond for trout.

      Just check out the Mass Division Marine Fisheries for their trout stocking plans http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dfw/hunting-fishing-wildlife-watching/fishing/northeast-district-stocking-.html

      Reply

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