Nantucket, MA Fishing: A Paradise Island for Fishing

Nantucket, MA Fishing: A Paradise Island for Fishing
Published: Thursday, February 25th, 2021
Updated on: Thursday, May 6th, 2021

An island thirty miles off the southern coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Nantucket is a popular tourist destination and summer colony, thanks mainly to its stunning sceneries, charming communities, fun activities, top-tier accommodations, and first-rate restaurants. The small island’s population is around 10,000 during the off-seasons. Still, it swells significantly to five times that number in the summer when part-time residents, as well as tourists from all over the world, flock to the island to enjoy its beauty.

Nantucket was initially a whaling town between 1750 and 1840. In fact, the island is one of the major whaling ports in North America. The island’s whaling industry was even immortalized in Herman Melville's beloved novel “Moby Dick”. Two of the novel’s main characters, Captain Ahab and First Mate Starbuck, are both Nantucketers. However, in the late 1800s, the whaling industry saw a decline due to the increased use of alternative fuels such as coal and turpentine at the onset of the industrial revolution.

Due to this development, Nantucket shifted from a whaling town to what it is today—a popular vacation spot. The “Far Away Land” has now become a major tourist draw, offering top-tier accommodations—from chic hotels and inns to charming rental homes; as well as fun and relaxing activities and attractions—from its picturesque beaches, historical lighthouses and museums, world-class restaurants and boutiques, to exciting water sports including surfing and fishing.

Nantucket Fishing: Why It’s an Angler’s Paradise

Recreational fishing is definitely one of the most in-demand activities in Nantucket, especially from June to mid-October. That’s because when the waters begin to warm up around the island, popular game fish like bluefishstripersfalse albacore, and bonito start to migrate near the island’s shores to feed on sand eels, herring, and squid. These fish are great for beginners as you can pretty much catch them using light tackle spin or fly rods while fishing inshore—from the beach to the number of docks located around the island.

If you’re looking for some adventure and a bit of a challenge, we highly suggest renting a small boat or a kayak and head out a bit farther from the coast and catch cod, bluefish, and stripers that are a bit bigger and a lot harder to reel in. You can either use a light to medium spinning tackle equipped with 50-100 yards of the line for you to be able to have enough control and power and catch these tenacious fighters. It’s best to hire a seasoned Nantucket fishing guide to know where exactly you can catch the most and the best fish. Hiring a local guide would mean he or she would teach you all the valuable techniques and tricks in landing the different fish species found in the waters around the island.

Now, if you’re willing to push your fishing skills to the limit, we highly recommend targeting huge tunasharksmahi-mahi, and marlin offshore in the open waters of the Northern Atlantic via Nantucket fishing charters. Not only will you be able to catch some of the best fish available out there, but there’s an excellent chance of seeing different types of whales, including humpback minke, finback, and pilot whales.

Several charter fishing boats are operating around the island, and you should do some background check of each one—making sure that the captain and crew have the experience not just in fishing but with providing the best service. Choosing the right fishing charter means choosing the right boat that is well maintained and comes with the right equipment for the specific fish you’re planning to catch. Although you can bring your own tackle, choosing a fishing boat with the right equipment means you’ll be able to continue fishing if any of your gear breaks.


Nantucket Island’s Best Fishing Spots

As any Nantucket fishing guide would tell you, the island is practically littered with some of the best fishing locations that are teeming with marine life. For you to have a general idea of why the island is such an angler’s paradise, we list down some of the best spots you can fish in:  

  • Brant Point may be a bit crowded at times, especially during warm months, but it only shows that a lot of people have been successful in catching some fish here. Brant Point is a great surf casting spot located on the western side of the narrow inlet to Nantucket Harbor. This is where the currents move fast and strong. With the waters constantly churning, predatory fish such as striped bass and bluefish tend to frequent the area to catch their food. The currents pull and push bait in and out, making your bait move in such a way that it’s more attractive to your target.
  • Great Point is another popular surf casting spot among locals and visitors thanks to the number of fish species that can be caught here, not to mention the great scenery around the popular fishing spot. Getting here is actually an adventure in itself as it’s located on the northernmost tip of the island—meaning going to the spot involves a 40-minute drive along the beach and sandy roads via a 4x4. Once you get to the location, you’re going to be treated to a breathtaking sight of the Nantucket Sound on the west side and the North Atlantic to the east, not to mention the seals in the water or lying on the sand. You can target popular game fish such as false albacore, bonito, and striper, among many others. And oh, did we mention that you can visit the renowned Great Point Lighthouse here?
  • Madaket Harbor, not to be mistaken for Madaket Beach, the beach on the southern end of the community, is a great fishing spot located between Eel Point and Smiths Point. Here you can either rent a boat or a kayak and head to the middle of the harbor and catch some big bass, bluefish, and bonito, as well as some bottom-dwellers such as scup and fluke. If you’re up for it, you can wade through the shallow waters along the shores and have an exciting time targeting various game fish such as bonito, striper, and false albacore. After a day of fishing, you can ask your fishing guide to take you to the breathtaking Madaket Beach, where you can end your day with the best views of the sunset.
  • Nantucket Sound is located in the middle of Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Cape Cod. This body of water is a popular fishing location given that it’s abundant with huge bluefish, striped bass, black sea bass, fluke, and scup. During summers when the waters are warm, though, stripers tend to swim closer to the shores. But bluefish, fluke, and scup can be caught for the entire season from May to October. Also, tuna, sharks, and cod can be fished here all year round.
  • North Atlantic is definitely a must for those looking for a great fishing adventure. Through a Nantucket fishing charter, you can head out to the open ocean and target some real monsters of the sea, such a tuna, mahi-mahi, swordfishwahoo, and marlin. You can even fish at Georges Bank, one of the most popular fishing spots in the region just some sixty miles from the shores of Massachusetts, and catch some of the recreational fisher’s favorite targets like cod, haddockpollack, and other groundfish during spring and summers.


Top Ten Fish You Can Catch in Nantucket, MA

The top ten fish species in Nantucket, MA are codstriped bassbluefishtunamahi-mahi, marlinhalibuthaddockpollock, and bonito.

Nantucket, MA Fishing: A Paradise Island for Fishing Fish species

Habitat: Nearshore, Onshore

Weight: 3 - 15 Pounds

Length: 15" - 51"

Atlantic Cod

Habitat: Offshore, Ocean Floor

Weight: 4 - 103 Pounds

Length: 48" - 60"

Bigeye Tuna

Habitat: Offshore

Weight: 150 - 300 Pounds

Length: 41" - 98"

Atlantic Bonito 

Habitat: Nearshore, Reef

Weight: 10 - 12 Pounds

Length: 8" - 36"

Atlantic Sharpnose Shark

Habitat: Shallow, Warm Water

Weight: 7 - 9 Pounds

Length: 39" - 48"

Striped Bass

Habitat: River, Lake, Onshore, Near shore

Weight: 10 - 81 Pounds

Length: 20" - 55"

Little Tunny 

Habitat: Onshore, Nearshore, Offshore

Weight: 5 - 15 Pounds

Length: 24" - 48"

Common Dolphinfish

Habitat: Offshore

Weight: 15 - 30 Pounds

Length: 40" - 83"

The Best Time to Go Fishing in Nantucket

Nantucket offers great all-year-round fishing. However, the best months to cast your line here is when the waters are relatively warmer, from June to the middle of October, especially if you’re planning to just fish on its shores for striper, bluefish, bonito, and false albacore. If you’re aiming to fish offshore for bigger targets such as tuna, mahi-mahi, swordfish, wahoo, and marlin, you can do so all year.


The Many Reasons You Should Explore Nantucket


1.Fishing Charters

Nantucket is home to some of the best fishing charters in Massachusetts and possibly the country because most charters here have been operating for a long time, providing the best fishing experience for their clients. So we’re pretty sure you wouldn’t encounter any problems looking for the right fishing charters here.


2. Surfing

Yes, surfing is actually one of the favorite past times of the locals here—and you can enjoy surfing here too, even if you’re a beginner or a pro. If you’re trying to catch your first wave, some terrific surf schools are located at Cisco Beach and Nobadeer Beach. Other surfing hotspots in the island are located along its long south shores, with Madaquecham and Madaket Beaches being two of the most popular.


3. Exploring the Island on a Bike or on Foot

Most Nantucket roads are equipped with dedicated bike lanes; so yes, you can enjoy exploring the whole island without the bothersome engine noise of an automobile or a motorbike. You can rent a bike from one of the several bike rental companies practically scattered around the island. Some hotels and inns provide bicycles for their guests. You can enjoy looking at another one of the island’s pride—the 800 pre-Civil War houses that have been restored. Of course, the best way to admire these charming houses is by really taking it slow on foot.  


4. Whale Watching—Both in the Wild & Museum

The island of Nantucket has a long and proud whaling history and you can learn more about it by visiting the Nantucket Whaling Museum which exhibits some amazing artifacts, including a complete sperm whale skeleton. If you want to see the real thing, you can either go offshore fishing via a chartered fishing boat, or you can join a whale watching tour and get to meet these huge but gentle cetaceans.


5. History, Arts, & Culture

The island is a history, arts, and culture enthusiast’s dream getaway as there are museums, art galleries, and historical sites literally scattered around the island. Historical attractions like the Jethro Coffin House, Old Mill, Nantucket Atheneum, The Old Gaol, and the several lighthouses can satisfy anyone’s curiosity about the island’s storied past. If you’re an art lover, Nantucket is proud of its several art museums and galleries, including the Gallery at Four India, Samuel Owen Gallery, Nantucket Estate Jewelry and Fine Arts, G.S. Hill Gallery, and Eric Holch Gallery,, among many others.


6. Party, Party, Party!

Yup, Nantucket is more than just great outdoor recreational activities. In fact, it has one of the liveliest nightlife scenes in the region that attracts some of the most affluent young adults in the country. What with the combination of five-star dining, nightly live musical performances, tasty concoctions, and an amazing backdrop of the Nantucket scenery, you’ll definitely have a great time partying in this island paradise.  

Fishing Techniques
Light Tackle
Surf Casting