Sitting on the South Shore in between Boston and Plymouth, Scituate has long been an open secret among Bostonians as the perfect summer residence. Its history as a summer colony can still be seen on its picturesque streets and harbor. While it is primarily a residential area, it is a worthwhile town to visit for its beautiful beaches, historic sights, classic New England vibe, and rich fishing opportunities.
Scituate gets its name from the Wampanoag term for cold brook, “satuit”, which runs to the town’s inner harbor. It shares the same name to another town in Rhode Island, which was inhabited by residents from the Massachusetts town.
What makes Scituate unique is its diverse shores. The mouth of the North River, which is on the south of the town, is enclosed by salt marshes. Meanwhile, in the north, the coast of Scituate Neck has exposed granite bedrock. Running in the middle around Scituate Harbor is a sandy shore. Inland, the town has woods and many brooks and rivers snaking through it.
Aside from being a quaint summer residential area, visitors will find Scituate’s public beaches worthwhile spots to explore. And while it’s no longer the town’s main source of livelihood as it was in the past, fishing is still one of its biggest draws. Scituate is proud of its fishing heritage, and visitors will see this in the fishing opportunities that dot the area’s waterways.
Scituate has over 20 square miles of waterways, including five public beaches, four rivers, brooks, and a sheltered harbor. Its commercial fishing industry is still thriving to this day and actively hosts recreational boats on its ports.
A primary fishing destination in Scituate is the Scituate Harbor, which is also considered the town center. Here you can find several fishing charters specializing in both inshore and offshore fishing. It’s a great jump-off point for anglers wishing to fish the Sandy Shoals of Cape Cod and the submerged cliffs of Stellwagen Bay and Massachusetts Bay. Trophy striped bass, haddock, cod, and pollack are the most popular catches here. The same fishing charters may also offer shark fishing during summer, with blue shark being the most commonly caught species. Anglers seeking a quintessential Cape Cod fishing experience will also want to book a tuna fishing charter to tackle species such as bluefin tuna, which are often seen near Stellwagen Bank.
Still in the Scituate Harbor, anglers wishing to troll fish will find the many structure and depth contour lines in the area productive spots to fish. Trophy bluefish have been known to feed near structures and can be caught with the same lures as striped bass. Trophy winter flounder, a South Shore staple, are best caught in the harbor at sunrise. Anglers can also head a little further south of the harbor to follow the flounder. A particular hotspot is the rock wall from Peggotty Beach and the Spit, which has a gravelly and sandy bottom that flounder love.
Scituate has great inshore fishing in the North and South Rivers and their tributaries. Kayak and small boat anglers can enjoy targeting striped bass starting at the end of May, following the fish species as they feed on herring swimming upriver.
Meanwhile, long-time anglers in the area swear by fishing in the area where the North and South Rivers meet before their waters run into the Massachusetts Bay. The best place to catch this confluence is at Fourth Cliff in Humarock, a village that was once connected to the rest of Scituate but was cut off during the Portland Gale when the South River shifted. Its dangerous waters are a favored spot for striped bass who go out on a feed frenzy during strong currents. Because of the hazardous conditions in the area, though, it is advisable to fish the area with an expert fishing guide or charter specializing in striped bass.
Fishing in Scituate livens up at the end of April, with haddock and pollock leading the pack. The arrival of herring migrating upstream at around the same time signals the beginning of the striped bass season. It starts in earnest in May and ends around October. Many of these stripers can be found just right behind schools of herring around areas that receive a lot of currents as well as structure and holes. On warm sunny days, anglers will enjoy fly fishing for striped bass on brackish water when there’s a strong tide. Around June, bigger striped bass can be seen on the surf between sand strips and rocks.
Fluke can be found in Scituate year-round, but their active seasons are at the height of summer, from May to September. Other summer catches that come biting around May include bluefish, blue shark, and bluefin tuna.
As the waters start to cool around September, fish species such as bluefish, haddock, striped bass, and bonito will continue to bite but should make way for cod which will be more active around cold water season until November.
Scituate is a quiet coastal town with enough to offer visitors who are looking for a more laid-back and less explored alternative to nearby Cape Cod. It is quite accessible from both Boston and Plymouth as well, so you’re never too far from the action.
Fishing charters off Scituate Harbor and various marinas around town specialize in both inshore and deep-sea fishing and begin their seasons in April until November. Many of them will ply the waters of Boston Harbor, Stellwagen Bank, Massachusetts Bay, and Cape Cod Bay. Ask your captain about children’s fishing trips if you want to introduce your children to the joy of fishing.
Scituate prides itself on its history. Just walking through its streets, you will find several historical sites such as the medieval Lawson Tower with its interesting history as the most grandiose water tower built at the turn of the century. The Scituate Lighthouse is another must-see structure, especially around sunset. If you want to get to the heart of the town’s history, head on to Little Red School House, the home of the Scituate Historical Society. Other structures and sites worth noting are the Cudworth House, Barn and Cattle Pound, which is a preserved house from the 18th century, the Old Oaken Bucket Homestead and Well, and the Maritime and Irish Mossing Museum which details the town’s maritime history and sea mossing trade.
Built adjacent to the North River with a view of the Atlantic Ocean, Widow’s Walk Golf Course is a source of pride for Scituate. This 18-hole golf course is the first environmental demonstration course in the country and has consistently received accolades from golfers and experts.
Scituate has several easy walking trails. The A. J. McEachern Trail at Driftway Conservation Park features both sand and marshlands in its walking paths and boasts views of the Herring River and the Scituate Windmill. The Higgins-MacAllister Preserve, located at the end of Holly Crest Road, will take you through a wooded forest and a picturesque brook. Another interesting trail is the Ellis Estate Trails, which is also where you can find the Bailey-Ellis house which is the home of the Scituate Arts Association but most known among horror fans as the setting of two 80s Italian horror films, House by the Cemetery and Ghosthouse.
All three public beaches are considered Scituate’s major beaches. Minot has fine sandy shores, with a view of the famous Minot Light and Massachusetts Bay, and is largely considered a family-friendly beach. Peggotty Beach has hard-packed sand and warm water and is easily accessible from Scituate Harbor. Egypt Beach, right between North Scituate and Sand Hills, has colder waters and a stony shoreline. Parking on public beaches requires a beach sticker and every summer, the area reserves a limited number of stickers for visitors and non-residents.
Though technically a part of Scituate, Humarock Beach can only be accessed in North Marshfield, from Ferry Street. It has fine hard-packed sand and boasts a great sunrise view. It also offers wheelchairs for visitors with mobility issues that can be used on the beach.