Wellfleet, MA Fishing: Experience Only the Best

Wellfleet, MA Fishing: Experience Only the Best
Published: Monday, March 1st, 2021
Updated on: Monday, May 24th, 2021
"Marconi Beach, Wellfleet MA, Cape Cod, Credit: William DeSousa-Mauk" by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Wellfleet, a town in Barnstable County, is known for being a popular retirement settlement. On regular days, they have a small population of around 2,750. However, that swells up to around 13,000 during the summer. Similar to the other towns in Cape Cod like Montauk and Sandwich, the waters in Wellfleet have been placed under protection. Wellfleet waters have been considered a breeding and feeding ground for certain kinds of fish and shellfish. As a breeding ground for oysters, Wellfleet hosts the annual October Wellfleet OysterFest, where people can learn all about oysters.

Wellfleet isn’t even its original name. Formerly known as Billingsgate (named after a European market), Wellfleet served as a settlement for the early Europeans in the 1650s. It served as the shipwreck point of the pirate - Black Sam Bellamy and his ship, the Whydah. The ship sunk with all its gold and silver, along with 143 men. Nobody knew why but its remains were discovered in 1948. 

During its early years, Wellfleet piloted the economy with two industries: oyster farming and whaling. It became home to at least 30 whaling ships until the late 1900s. Whaling decreased and eventually ceased operations. The oysters, however, continue to be Wellfleet’s signature industry until this day.

Wellfleet Fishing

"Wellfleet Harbor" by bknittle is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

With over 1,500 miles of coastline and fishing grounds, Wellfleet is home to freshwater fishing and saltwater fishing. For freshwater fishing, anglers can head over to a variety of lakes, reservoirs, and ponds. Some famous areas include Nickerson State Park, Gull Pond, Quabbin Reservoir, and Tispaquin Pond. For Saltwater Fishing, White Crest Beach is the first place that comes to mind. 

For freshwater fishing in Wellfleet, anglers will have to be flexible in their tackle. Some would bring light tackle, and others can go for heavy tackle fishing. In Tispaquin Pond, some fish here include largemouth bass, chain pickerel, white sucker, and the white and yellow perch. Chain pickerels are known to be quite the fighter when caught. Some anglers even note that the best way to catch a chain pickerel is to employ some bass fishing tactics. As they swim through Tispaquin Pond, throw in your bait but don’t let it just float. Let it dance in the water to make it look injured; the chain pickerel is bound to see that as an opportunity. 

Nickerson State Park is another excellent fishing spot with over eight ponds to choose from. Ponds are crystal clear from the glaciers, making it home to many fish species picky about water quality. The waters of Nickerson State Park are home to trout all year round and can sometimes attract a striped bass or two from the outside waters. White perch and yellow perch are swimming around in this area. While some people advise staying away from the coves, others mention that the coves give a taste of adventure. Head over to Little Cliff Pond, and you’ll find yourself in for some striped bass or some rainbow trout, catching more than 20-30 on an average day. For the recommended type of fishing to enjoy in Nickerson State Park, anglers recommend kayak fishing to indulge the explorer in you. The anglers do advise bringing some insect repellant. Nobody likes getting bitten and sucked off from those, especially when they cause muscle paralysis.

"Quabbin Reservoir" by dadofliz is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Aside from Tispaquin Pond and Nickerson State Park, Quabbin Reservoir is where to go for big catches. As one of the biggest water sources in Wellfleet, Quabbin Reservoir is managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation. Due to the conservation efforts, however, some areas are limited. Prescott Peninsula, being one of those areas, is entirely off-limits. There are designated fishing spots in the area, including the west, east, and middle branches of Quabbin Reservoir. Waters until 20 ft are transparent, but the depth is measured to go up to 100 feet. Unfortunately, boats have limited access, so most of the time - anglers have to travel on foot when going around the Quabbin Reservoir. For those bringing their boats, boats are only allowed to have a 20 HP motor. Or better yet, just rent one. It’ll be one less headache, especially in memorizing all the requirements. They do various fish here for the reservoir, especially those that have varying preferences for water temperature. For cold waters, they have some smallmouth and largemouth bass, lake trout, and rainbow smelt. Warm-water fish species in Quabbin include white perch, yellow perch, bluegill, black crappie, and a couple of bullheads. Bluegills, however, are known to change their water temperature preference and can go to extremes. They have some pumpkinseed sunfish and golden shiners. To get to them though, there’s some deep sea fishing that needs to be done.

For saltwater fishing, the most popular spot is White Crest Beach. Known as the Four Mile Beach or the Surfer’s Beach, White Crest offers beautiful white beaches and awe-inspiring dunes. Though, anglers don’t recommend bringing newbie anglers here. The place can be quite steep and is usually hit by large waves. For that adrenaline rush, though, anglers would recommend White Crest Beach for some striped bass. And according to them, if the conditions are met, a bluefish might make its way to your rod too! Surf casting is one of the more popular known forms of fishing on White Crest Beach. Just make sure you watch the weather. 

For catching a rare bluefish, you’ll need to find places with a lot of foraging fish. These fish are strong, aggressive, and commit to a fight when caught. They’re easily lost to a feeding frenzy and sometimes have no control over their eating. When you’re trying to catch them, throw in some chum made up of fish, squid, and maybe an anchovy here and there. You can use the aforementioned as bait too. Because of their highly aggressive nature, they will chase your bait to the surf zone, making it easier for you to grab them out. However, be warned - they are the favorite prey of the striped bass. But you can use the striped bass as a marker. If you see some striped bass, you’ll find a juvenile bluefish loosely swimming around. Judging from the waves and the aggression of the bluefish on White Crest Beach, you’re going to need some heavy tackle fishing to haul them on board. No way is a light tackle going to survive the waves. It will be expensive but better expensive than constantly investing in a new tackle. 


Top 10 Fish Species in Wellfleet, MA

The top 10 fish species in Wellfleet, MA are striped bass, yellow perch, white perch, bluefish, bluefin tuna, lake trout, largemouth bass, rainbow smelt, pumpkinseed, and sunfish.

Wellfleet, MA Fishing: Experience Only the Best Fish species
American Yellow Perch

Habitat: River, Lake, Backcountry

Weight: 1 - 4 Pounds

Length: 1" - 10"

Chain Pickerel

Habitat: Lake, River, Pond, Bogs, Swamps

Weight: 3 - 5 Pounds

Length: 14" - 39"


Habitat: Lake, River

Weight: 1 - 1 Pounds

Length: 4" - 16"


Habitat: Nearshore, Onshore

Weight: 3 - 15 Pounds

Length: 15" - 51"

Rainbow Trout 

Habitat: River, Lake

Weight: 1 - 8 Pounds

Length: 16" - 34"

Striped Bass

Habitat: River, Lake, Onshore, Near shore

Weight: 10 - 81 Pounds

Length: 20" - 55"

White Sucker

Habitat: Freshwater Rivers, Lakes, Streams

Weight: 2 - 8 Pounds

Length: 12" - 26"

Lake Trout 

Habitat: Lake

Weight: 5 - 15 Pounds

Length: 25" - 59"

Seasonal Fishing in Wellfleet

The fishing season in Wellfleet starts around early May. Striped bass (or popularly known as stripers) show up in Wellfleet Harbor and some of the creeks to start the season off with some inshore fishing. However, anglers noticed that these are often the smaller ones until mid-June when the bigger striped bass come in. They will be in other places such as Herring Island, the flats on Lieutenant Island, Billingsgate Island (particularly the shoal area), and the Great Point. Billingsgate, however, is the place to go if you want gigantic striped bass for an impressive table fare.

Those are usually crowded areas. For less noise and hullabaloo, Brewster Flats have bluefish and striped bass swimming around early June. However, bluefish are a summer favorite especially from June to September. The season can last from spring to fall when catching them. But if they’re not showing up, try trolling for them. One’s bound to get reeled in. Bluefin tuna can show up at the start of June and usually ends in October. These are the kind of fish that get into a blitz or a feeding frenzy that tests the strength of your heavy tackle and whether or not it is heavy. 



Things to Try in Wellfleet

1.Fishing Charters

Face it, the waters of Wellfleet are unpredictable. The fish - especially stripers - often work themselves into a blitz. It’ll be more frustrating than it is enjoyable. Having a Wellfleet fishing charter will not only save you time but spare you from losing all your brain cells trying to find the fish. At the same time, they’ll have all the equipment within the regulations set by Wellfleet. That’s one less headache to worry about.


2. Enjoy the OysterFest

Every October, Wellfleet hosts the October OysterFest! The locals celebrate the bountiful harvest of oysters, and people get to enjoy oysters in different ways. Steamed, with cheese, grilled - all sorts of recipes to tickle your tummy! Learn how to shuck and farm oysters only from the best during this festival.


3. Watch a movie at the Wellfleet Drive-in Theatre.

Remember those old 80s movies where people have dates by just driving up to the big screen to watch a movie? The Wellfleet Drive-in Theatre makes that romantic date a reality. For those who are old-time hopeless romantics, you can bring your car and drive into the theatre to watch. Just make sure after you’re done watching that you clean up after yourself. Pick up your trash and leave your spot cleaner than you left it.


Beaches in Wellfleet

1.White Crest Beach

"White Crest Beach, National Seashore, Wellfleet" by ThatMattWade is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The surfer’s beach and an angler’s paradise. But many of the locals would advise against bringing children and the elderly here. The beach is known for its white sands and large waves. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, White Crest is the place to go for hanging ten. Others can go hang-gliding for a good view of the water. Just watch out for the conditions, however. The waves can get intimidating and towering.


2.Cahoon Hollow Beach

Considered the most beautiful among the beaches in Wellfleet, Cahoon Hollow Beach is a family-friendly beach. Because of its beauty, it tends to become quite lively and may not be good for a quiet getaway. One of its famous restaurants is the Beachcomber Restaurant and gives tourists a nice view of the beach.


3. Mayo Beach

Another calm place to be. Mayo Beach has calm waves and shallow waters, which makes it safe for children to go crazy. The best part is, there’s free parking. Wellfleet’s Beaches often get filled with a lot of people during the summer. But Mayo Beach tends to be quiet all year long. Its tranquility may be due to the prices of the private rentals, but at least it keeps a lot of the crazy away.

Fishing Techniques
Deep Sea Fishing
Heavy Tackle Fishing
Surf Casting