Nantucket Fishing FAQ…
A recreational angler can keep up to two fish per day that are a minimum of 28 inches. *However, we recommend only keeping what you and your immediate family can eat for dinner. ** It is also important to remember that these fish have to be caught within 3 miles of shore. (see question below)
In 1980 the Federal Government put a moratorium on keeping Striped Bass in an attempt to rejuvenate the fishery. It worked and in 1984 the Federal Government allowed States to control State waters (which is within 3 miles of shore.) The government maintained the moratorium on federal waters. And yes those waters are patrolled and heavy fines are imposed if you are found to be breaking this law.
From the beach you will need some distance, so the old adage is the longer the better. New technology has changed this though and a 9 foot rod tends to be the perfect size. Much longer and the rod becomes labor-some to throw for a significant period of time. Most 9 foot rods have the backbone to toss a plug the distance necessary to reach bluefish and have the backbone to handle bigger fish from the beach.
If you are targeting Bass at night you will likely (unless chunking) be throwing a lighter lure and might want a rod that has a backbone to fight the fish, but a softer tip that will allow you to throw a typical bass lure.
If you are fishing the harbor, you will likely want a 6-7 foot rod, which has a strong backbone and a soft tip. Shimano and G-Loomis are leaders with this type of product.
Your opportunity to catch fish bigger fish from the boat will need you to have a rod that is stiff through the butt. Ideally you will be looking for a 6-7 foot rod that can easily be used on the boat. Some Rip guys prefer a bit longer (8 foot) for casting distance, but few will go beyond that?
Trolling is an easier way to cover A LOT of water and is easier with kids. That being said, it is noisy, can be boring, and can beat up your equipment. Part of the joy of fishing is the experience, and the art of casting is just a piece of that experience. Also the joy of watching a fish come after a plug that you control is why we tend to always cast.
June 15th. The Bass begin their migration North in the early Spring and the first wave tend to get to the island in early May. The Bass are usually slim pickings through May but pick up steam in early June as the water warms towards their ideal temps and the bait comes in. The warmth at the end of June that brings the Fog also tends to push bait away that also thins the Bass. Some years we are lucky and have cool water through July and some years the fish are gone by June 20th….
As for Fall fishing, Nantucket Striped Bass fishing leaves a lot to be desired. It gets a small surge of fish for a few weeks, but for the most part fish migrating South move quickly and tend to not linger around Nantucket, whereas northbound fish linger and fatten.
Mid-September through Mid-October is the ideal time to catch Falsies from both the beach and the boat. While you can often catch these fish crashing bait, often it is best just to blind cast through lanes they typically hold in.
Locations for Falsies…Madaket Opening, End of the Jetties, Great Point.
Shallow water: surface/sun surface, water movers, iesluggos, spooks, or poppers. In the shallow waters (harbor etc…) these fish are very explosive and look up as well as down.
Deep Water: Bombers/swimmers, lead heads, poppers.
Beach: Bombers tend to be a goto, in recent years, soft plastics and lead heads have made a big push
*** We highly recommend that you are always prepared with multiple types of lures and depth within each lure (ie two-three of each.) Reason why, is if something is working, you want to make sure you have another if you lose it. You also want to have variety in case you know fish are there and they do not like what you are throwing.
Fly: Flights take 15 minutes, tend to leave every hour and are operated by Nantucket Airlines and Island Air. Cost is $60 each way.
Ferry: The main ferry providers are Steamship Authority and Hyline Cruises. Both services offer high speed (1 hour) options as well as less expensive 2 hour options. The Steamship Authority is the only provider that will bring your car over, although you should know that this service costs $500. Worth it if you are planning on spending time fishing Nantucket’s miles of Open beaches.
Many rent homes when they come and contact many of the Real Estate firms including Great Point Properties and Wind-walker Real Estate.
Bed and Breakfast’s are great options for a weekend trip/quaint experience. Most are located in and around town, which is very convenient.
Hotels. There are all sorts of traditional hotels ranging in prices. One of the best well known in a great location is The White Elephant.
A West Tide is an outgoing tide, meaning the tide is ebbing or leaving harbours, bays etc… It is referred to as a West Tide because when the tide is moving it tends to move TO the West. You can notice this if you are drifting on a boat, or if you are watching water go over a sandbar, the tide is moving towards the West.
On the opposite side, An East tide moves to the East and is a flood or rising tide.
It is important to note that a West Tide moves towards the West, while a West wind comes from the West. Don’t ask why…just is.
The general rule is that you want the tide to be moving. Fish rely on tides to create predicable feeding patterns. The strength of the tide tends to be stronger than the baitfish that the bigger fish are targeting and the baitfish (sand eels, squid, etc…) get caught up in the currents in a predictable pattern, which makes feeding for a predator in shore fish (Blue, Bass etc..) easier. Again the goal is to attain as much nutrients with as little work as possible.
When the tide is not moving, bait does not move predictably because they are under their own power. This can be when some of the most fun fishing takes place, however, as predator fish do sometimes work to ball up bait and push the bait up to the surface for intense surface action. The negative is that this is not as predictable as fishing a structure with tide benefits.
The simple rule is get on the water when you have the time and if you have the luxery to choose a particular tide great. Too many people try and time the tide perfectly and end up missing the opportunity to fish.
As far as better tides, this changes weekly by location, but below are a few general rules of thumb. This being said, check the fishing report often as tide will usually be mentioned.
Nantucket Harbor: Beginning of a West Tide as water is starting to run out of the harbor.
Great Point Rip (Boat): West Tide tends to fish better for Blues while the East Tide tends to fish better for Bass
Madaket Opening: West tide in the opening, but East Tide on the outer bar
The Traditional answer is The East (Incoming) tide. Most people looking to target bonito go to The Bonito Bar on an East Tide as the incoming tide there brings a healthy sand eel population from the ocean (30-50 feet deep) tight onto the outer bar of the opening (5-7 feet deep. This natural slope and cross current along the bar creates a trap for the Sand Eels that the Bonito tend to prey on. The bonito are typically caught in the deeper water (12-22 feet.)
While it is tougher to target Bonito at Great Point, when they are in, they are often caught there on both tides, but more success also takes place on the East Tide.
As with everything, identify appropriate expectations and think through how you like to fish. Certain captains are known to troll while others cast. Certain captains have reputations about being customer oriented while others simply take you for a bus ride. Certain captains are great with kids some are not. If you have some fishing background reading through websites can answer your questions, if you do not have a fishing background think through your expectations. For example, if you have no background and simply want to take two of your kids fishing a good option is to go downtown to the Just Do It Too, Herbert T or Absolute. All of these boats do per person rates and troll with great success. If you are looking for a more personalized experience and just want a quick experience, try the Albacore or Monomoy. Some of the West End Boats, Squaretail and Nantucket Outfitters do a good job with those looking to cast and fish some more interesting water. Long and short there are a lot of options, make sure though that you know what you want and do some research. If you need some personal advice, call the guys at Bill Fishers.
Bluefish tend NOT to be choosy so often best to pick a plug that is NOT expensive. That being said they do like a particular action. Bluefish tend to like a splash on the surface and most anglers find the most success when they reel a lure in as quickly as they can. Trick is rod tip facing the sky and reel as quick as you can. Oh yeah, please use single hooks for your sake, the fishes sake, and the Cottage Hospital’s sake.
On another note, from the beach there are often times when fish are moving in singles and are not as intrigued by the skipping plug. (See Blues get turned on by both the competition as well as the possibility of food.) If you find there are singles, (one swipe at a plug and they miss) try throwing a metal and put your tip down and bring it through the water at ¾ speed.
False Albies want small lures moved quickly in front of their face, often with a good bit of shine to them. The most often used lures are Deadly Dicks because of their narrow/long shape and their metallic finish. Other lures used are Yozuri Crystal Minnows, Shimano Waxwings and Sluggos. Marias were old Favorites, but they are not distributed as widely anymore.
Bonito are looking for a fast swimming plug with a good rattle action. The most common lure used on island areYozuri Crystal Minnows of varying colors. Other effective lures are sluggos, fished with weights and straight up, as well as small spoons, deadly dicks, and needlefish.
Plugs are trying to imitate bait, so why not use the real thing? The issue is that it can be a pain to fish and often not as fun to fish because you simply sit there while the bait does the work. That being said, fishing eels, herring, mackerel, squid is VERY effective and has been known on many occasions to outfishartificials. Most guys who want to produce results will “soak a bait” and cast at the same time with a second rod.
Absolutely! It can often be as/if not more effective than plugs. The issue is keeping it fresh and the joy of fishing bait. Bait can be a hastle to deal with, often can be boring to fish, cast and wait, but it can produce some big fish as well.
NO! It is important to have the correct tackle for the correct situations and the appropriate rod and reel. Always best to go to your local tackle shop. It is vital to remember too that the most valuable thing at any tackle shop is information. Bill Fisher Tackle in particular, along with The Nantucket Angler, want to provide you with that information, which doesn’t cost anything, the best thing you can do is provide them with your purchases.