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Rockport, MA Fishing: Artistic Seaside Town with Great Offshore Fishing Opportunities

Rockport, MA Fishing: Artistic Seaside Town with Great Offshore Fishing Opportunities
Published: Sunday, August 29th, 2021
Updated on: Sunday, August 29th, 2021

Rockport is a small seaside town right on the tip of Cape Ann. It is surrounded by nearby Gloucester on the east and the Atlantic Ocean on all the other sides. This peninsula is just an hour’s drive away from Boston but worlds away with its quaint small-town atmosphere and strong maritime history.

Originally inhabited by the Agawam tribe, the area where Rockport now stands became part of the Sandy Bay Colony when the first Europeans settled in it during the 1600s. Around that time, Rockport and nearby Gloucester were considered a rich source of timber and granite as well as one of the richest New England fishing grounds. In the mid-1700s, the first dock was established on Rockport. This was used to export timber and granite as well as for fishing. It was so successful that eventually, Rockport was able to establish itself as a separate city. 

However, with the rise of concrete, the demand for granite decreased during the Great Depression. Rockport, though, was able to reinvent itself as an artists colony even during the decline of the export of granite. This was because years prior, more and more artists began to flock to the area, in awe of the amazing natural lighting on the dock. No other emblem embodied this better than Motif No. 1, a seemingly ordinary red fishing shack on Bradley Wharf that artists loved to render in their art. The original was destroyed in 1978 during a blizzard but was instantly rebuilt. As the town’s timeless icon, it continues to be preserved and loved by the community.

Today, Rockport is a serene suburban town with plenty of hidden gems, a thriving artists colony, and an active fishing town. Surrounded as it is on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean, you’re sure to find plenty of fishing opportunities in this historic small town.

Rockport Fishing

Rockport has always enjoyed a reputation as a healthy fishing town because of its enviable position as a peninsula jutting out on the Atlantic Ocean. As part of the North Shore on Cape Ann, it’s a great place to practice your nearshore and offshore fishing skills. Here you can target plenty of New England classics such as striped bass, black seabass, winter, and summer flounder, as well as bluefin and yellowfin tuna, haddock, and shark. In its freshwater bodies, you can cut your teeth targeting species of salmon, trout, and catfish.

Some of the best fishing spots here include the scenic Halibut Point State Park, and harbors such as Rockport Harbor, Pigeon Cove, Granite Pier, and White Wharf. Halibut Point, in particular, attracts plenty of striped bass and even sharks with its unique topography. 

Out on the harbors, you can book a fishing charter to take you to some of the best offshore fishing spots in New England, located east of Cape Ann. One such stop you will fall in love with is Stellwagen Bank, which is rightfully known as a rich cod and haddock ground. Other species that are attracted to the bank include black seabass, blue and mako shark, bluefish, cusk, halibut, pollock, and winter flounder.

Another offshore destination you can access from Rockport is Jeffreys Ledge. It is a Marine Protected Area just like Stellwagen and a major morphologic feature that attracts a diverse species of marine life, including cod, haddock, pollock, and cusk, as well as thresher, mako, and blue shark. And while you’re at it, don’t miss out on the legendary fishing off on Tillies Bank, another productive fishing ground for cod, haddock, and pollock.
 

Top 10 Fish Species in Rockport MA

The top 10 fish species to target in Rockport MA are cod, haddock, pollock, cusk, striped bass, winter flounder, black sea bass, blue shark, mako shark, and bluefin tuna.

Rockport, MA Fishing: Artistic Seaside Town with Great Offshore Fishing Opportunities Fish species
Cusk
Cusk fish

Habitat: Offshore, Deepwater

Weight: 20 - 45 Pounds

Length: 36" - 47"

Black Sea Bass
Black Sea Bass fish

Habitat: Offshore, Onshore, Nearshore, Wreck, Reef

Weight: 2 - 9 Pounds

Length: 10" - 26"

Atlantic Cod
Atlantic Cod fish

Habitat: Offshore, Ocean Floor

Weight: 4 - 103 Pounds

Length: 48" - 60"

Haddock 

Habitat: Onshore, Nearshore, Rocky Bottom

Weight: 2 - 10 Pounds

Length: 14" - 36"

Striped Bass
Striped Bass fish

Habitat: River, Lake, Onshore, Near shore

Weight: 10 - 81 Pounds

Length: 20" - 55"

Winter Flounder
Winter Flounder fish

Habitat: Continental Shelves, Estuaries

Weight: 3 - 8 Pounds

Length: 9" - 25"

Bluefin Tuna 
Bluefin Tuna  fish

Habitat: Offshore

Weight: 200 - 600 Pounds

Length: 78" - 180"

Pollock
Pollock fish

Habitat: Offshore, Nearshore

Weight: 20 - 35 Pounds

Length: 24" - 42"

Seasonal Fishing

Rockport, like many New England fishing spots, can be quite productive from April to November. Species such as cusk, pollock, and halibut are active here all year round. But if you’re targeting cod, better get here from August 1 to September 30 for the species’ open season, and if you’re partial to haddock, you can