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Martha's Vineyard, MA Fishing: One of the World's Finest

Martha's Vineyard, MA Fishing: One of the World's Finest
Published: Friday, February 26th, 2021
Updated on: Thursday, June 3rd, 2021
Katama Bay, Martha's Vineyard

Martha’s Vineyard, the third biggest island on the East Coast of the United States, is primarily known as a summer colony. With only 17,000 residents on off seasons, Martha’s Vineyard grows in population around summertime, reaching up to 200,000 in some years. The crowd does not take away from its natural beauty, though, with miles upon miles of fine beaches and stunning terrain, and moderate year-round temperature.

Living on Martha’s Vineyard comes with a price. It is a favorite among celebrities, after all, so it comes as no surprise that the cost of living here is 60 percent higher than the national average. More than half of its houses are only occupied in peak seasons.

Speaking of houses, Martha’s Vineyard, particularly Edgartown, is still dotted with many of the estates built by rich mariners during the whaling era of New England. It is just one of the many fascinating facets that make Martha’s Vineyard a stunning place to be.

Film lovers will get a unique thrill here on the island, not just because you may run into celebrities who live here but also because it has a fantastic film society that hosts several popular and arthouse film festivals during the summer.

And because it is an island, needless to say, it is filled with fantastic fishing opportunities. The island is a particular haven for surf casters. But before coming in, anglers should do their research, as there are fishing spots owned by the rich who make their home here and thus may not be accessible. However, the island is big enough and beautiful enough for anglers from all walks of life.


Martha’s Vineyard Fishing

Aquinnah, Martha's Vineyard

Saltwater fishing is a way of life here on the Vineyard. It is, after all, an island surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. Here you can just pick up a rod, head to public access beach, cast a line, and hope for and expect the best. Many of the fishing spots here that have public access to the visiting angler are owned by The Trustees of Reservation and The Land Bank so before heading out, you would do well to check with either of these non-profit organizations to find out which spots you can fish. Many locals and summer residents divide the towns of Martha’s Vineyard into two: the Up Island and the Down Island. These terms date back to the island’s whaling era: going up takes you west, and going down takes you east, nautically speaking.

The Up Island consists of the towns of Aquinnah, Chilmark, and West Tisbury.  Aquinnah, on the westernmost part of Martha’s Vineyard, is popular for the iconic Gay Head Cliffs and the historic and beautiful Gay Head Lighthouse. It offers access to the famous Lobsterville Beach which is a favorite among fly fishers, and Dogfish Bar, a shore fishing highlight on Aquinnah where you can target striped bass and fluke during the warmer months and false albacore during the fall.

In the town of Chilmark, you will find the quaint village of Menemsha, home to the record-breaking Menemsha Jetty where you can target striped bass, bluefish, bonito, and false albacore during the fall. Offshore from Menemsha, you can target prized bluefin tuna, makos, white marlin, and common dolphinfish or mahi mahi.

Oak Bluff, Martha's Vineyard

Another Chilmark spot that’s popular with anglers and surfers alike is the Squibnocket. With over 2 miles of beach and huge surf coming from the Atlantic Ocean, Squibnocket is a dream for surf casters. Its strong waves and huge boulders have produced plenty of trophy tautog, striped bass, and bluefish.

Once you head out to the east on the Down Island, you will find the Vineyard’s resident downtown area. It’s a little more cosmopolitan in this area, but it offers access to tremendous fishing. Via Edgartown, anglers can get to Chappaquidick Island, home to various fishing spots such as the Wasque Point and the East Beach. Wasque Point is notable for the strong tides and miles of sand which bring in prized bluefish, bonito, striped bass, scups, and false albacore. On East Beach, you can fish along spots such as the Jetties, the Cape Poge Lighthouse, and the Dike Bridge.

Off on Vineyard Sound, you will find a worthy fishing area in Oak Bluffs, which has the largest marina on the island. Needless to say, it has many fantastic offshore fishing charters specializing in white marlin, blue marlin, swordfish, wahoo, albacore tuna, yellow and bluefin tuna, and common dolphinfish. It has an equally fantastic fishing pier. Come here during the end of spring and early summer and follow the schools of squid that come to the waters of Vineyard Sound and you will surely find plenty of striped bass and bluefish on their tail.

Being a fishing island, Martha’s Vineyard has its fair share of big fishing tournaments. The most popular is perhaps the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby. It happens for a few days during the fall, and has been around for decades. It is considered one of the oldest and grandest in the country. Another classic is the Oak Bluffs Bluewater Classic which happens during the summer offshore from the Oak Bluffs Marina. The qualifying fish species for this tournament are blue and white marlin, roundscale spearfish, a variety of tuna species, as well as wahoo, swordfish, and mahi mahi.


Top 10 Fish Species in Martha’s Vineyard, MA

The top fish species to catch in Martha’s Vineyard are striped bass, bonito, bluefish, false albacore, summer flounder, yellowfin tuna, white marlin, tautog, scups, and common dolphinfish.

Martha's Vineyard, MA Fishing: One of the World's Finest Fish species
Common Dolphinfish
Common Dolphinfish fish

Habitat: Offshore

Weight: 15 - 30 Pounds

Length: 40" - 83"

Little Tunny 
Little Tunny  fish

Habitat: Onshore, Nearshore, Offshore

Weight: 5 - 15 Pounds

Length: 24" - 48"

Striped Bass
Striped Bass fish

Habitat: River, Lake, Onshore, Near shore

Weight: 10 - 81 Pounds

Length: 20" - 55"

Summer Flounder 
Summer Flounder  fish

Habitat: Onshore, Nearshore, Offshore

Weight: 1 - 5 Pounds

Length: 15" - 37"


Habitat: Nearshore, Onshore

Weight: 3 - 15 Pounds

Length: 15" - 51"

Atlantic Bonito 
Atlantic Bonito  fish

Habitat: Nearshore, Reef

Weight: 10 - 12 Pounds

Length: 8" - 36"

Tautog  fish

Habitat: rocky outcrops, boulders, jetties

Weight: 1 - 3 Pounds

Length: 1" - 36"

Yellowfin Tuna 
Yellowfin Tuna  fish

Habitat: Offshore

Weight: 40 - 150 Pounds

Length: 27" - 94"

Martha’s Vineyard Seasonal Fishing

The waters of Martha’s Vineyard are gifted all year round, but the open season here starts from April and all the way to October. Striped bass and bluefish begin to appear around April and bite in earnest around May to June. Fluke join the feeding frenzy at the height of June and continue to bite until July. By the end of this month, and well into August, bonito should be your target. Striped bass and fluke still bite around this time but in the deeper waters.  Around September, the waters of Martha’s Vineyard are teeming with false albacore, bonito, striped bass, and bluefish. October may not be as fruitful as the waters cool down, but it is during this month that most of the trophy catch can be found, especially when you come to catch them at night.


Things You'll Love in Martha’s Vineyard


1. Fishing Charters

Martha's Vineyard has a long list of charters. Whether you are an experienced angler or just starting with your fishing adventure, you will find the perfect fishing charter for you. Families and groups of friends will also have a wonderful time exploring the waters of Martha's Vineyard. All you need to do is choose a perfect charter for you. 


2. Immerse in Nature

Because of its fantastic terrain, Martha’s Vineyard is a hiker’s paradise. Hike up the clay cliffs of the Aquinnah Cliffs, explore the 194 acres of the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary with its fantastic walking trails, or marvel at the Menemsha Hills, a 211-acre nature reserve filled with lush wetlands and woodland groves.


3. Lighthouse Spotting

Martha’s Vineyard is home to some of the most picturesque lighthouses on the east coast. So why not spot all of them? The most popular, Gay Head Lighthouse, was the first-ever constructed on the Vineyard, standing on the Aquinnah Cliffs. It is famous for its glorious sunset. Edgartown Lighthouse is part of many community events in the town, so if you happen to be here on the 4th of July, you should not miss a visit to this historic lighthouse. Finally, the East Chop Lighthouse is located on Oak Bluffs, standing proudly on a cliff and open to the public during Sunday nights, from  June to September.


4. Literary and Film-themed Tours

Edgartown is not just a bustling downtown in Martha’s Vineyard; it has also housed many of the country’s literary greats, including Herman Melville, who wrote the most famous whaling novel, Moby Dick. If this is of any interest to you, join one of the literary walking tours in the area, which will guide you through some of the houses and spots that inspired many great works of literature.

If you’re a film buff, then you probably know that Steven Spielberg shot Jaws on Martha’s Vineyard.  The great filmmaker used various spots on the Vineyard to bring to life the fictional Amity Island. Most notable of these locations are the American Legion Memorial Bridge which has earned the nickname Jaws Bridge, and the Joseph Sylvia State Beach.


Top 3 Beaches in Martha’s Vineyard, MA


1. Katama Beach

Katama Beach, or South Beach as it is more popularly known, is an Edgartown classic. It has 3 miles of fine sandy shore that face the Atlantic Ocean. It gets great big surf, though, so it may not be kid-friendly.


2. Menemsha Beach

Menemsha Beach is a family-friendly beach spot. Beautiful, filled with many convenient amenities for visitors of all ages, and a dining hotspot, it is a great area to catch the sunset.


3. Lake Tashmoo Town Beach

If you want to visit a small beach that’s a little secluded, Lake Tashmoo Town Beach in Tisbury should be on your list. The calm shallow waters of the lake make it a favorite among snorkelers, while the mild surf waves over on the Vineyard Sound are popular among surfers.


Fishing Techniques