Martha’s Vineyard offers a wide variety of fishing excitement. More importantly everyone can get in on the fun, even people who have never felt something on the other end of a fishing line that pulled back.
For the casual fisherman, a rented rod set in a sand spike on South Beach under a canopy of stars is the perfect way to enjoy the Vineyard, and catch a striped bass. More serious fishermen might want to pursue false albacore of bonito with an experienced charter captain. The kids can have plenty of fun catching scup or fluke. In short, there is something for everyone.
The best fishing generally takes place in June (bluefish, fluke, and stripers), and September (stripers, false albacore). Of course, it is still called fishing, not catching, and any change in weather or bait conditions will affect the fishing so call ahead for detailed information.
Fluke (summer flounder) are great fun and delicious to eat. Generally, you will need a boat to catch fluke, but in June and the first few weeks of July fluke are easily caught from Lobsterville Beach on small white jigs providing a wonderful opportunity for the kids. Just watch the teeth. Squid strips, and fluke bellies are effective baits. The key is to be on the bottom. Middle Ground and Lucas Shoals in Vineyard Sound are prime fishing spots for fluke.
Bluefish are exciting, particularly when they are chasing top water plugs. The best shore bluefish action is between mid-May and mid-June during the spring migration. Schools of bluefish in the eight pound range attract surf fishermen all along East Beach on Chappaquiddick. An eight to nine foot surf rod is a good choice. Fly fishermen can also get in on the action, particularly if they have a pal willing to tease some fish in with a hookless plug. Steel leaders are a must. The shore fishing slows considerably in the summer months and picks up sporadically during the fall. But the charter fishermen generally have little trouble finding fish on the shoals and in the rips.
Striped Bass (or “stripers”) are the premier gamefish of Martha’s Vineyard. The first stripers arrive by May 1, but the fishing action really picks up during the latter part of June when the spring migration is in full swing. The shore action starts to slow in July as the fish head to cooler deeper water. Boat fishermen search the shoals and rips in July and August. By September the action begins to heat up again as the bass move along the coast. The striper fishing is less predictable along the shore but the boats do quite well. Big fish in the 30 and 40 pound range are taken off Vineyard beaches into November by the hardiest fishermen. A nine foot nine weight fly rod rigged with an intermediate line is a good overall choice for fly fishermen planning a visit. For surf fishermen, the choice of rod depends on where and when you will be fishing. A seven foot rod is fine for Lobsterville in the spring, but you will need at least a nine foot surf rod for the rocky north shore and south shore surf.
Bonito are the speedsters of the Vineyard and one of the most elusive and frustrating fish in our waters, here one minute and gone the next even before you complete a cast. Bonito are tough to take from shore so the best opportunities for hooking into a “bone” is fishing from a boat. Bonito are hard to predict. Sometimes they show up in early July only to disappear until September. Other years, they can be seen leaping from the water off big bridge. Interestingly, we often see a surge of bonito in mid to late October. Light spinning tackle or eight weight fly rods with plenty of backing is the way to go.
False albacore are addicting. Hook into one of these turbo tuna and you will want more. But catching an “albie” can be just as tough as hooking up to a bonito. One thing is for sure don’t go fishing for albies unless you have plenty of line on your reel. The arrival of the first false albacore in Vineyard waters usually takes place in late August or early September. They are not here long, and often leave our waters by early October once the first cold winds begin to blow out of the north. Light spinning rods or eight to nine weight fly rods are fine.