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tuna fishing

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How To Plan A Summer Bucket-List Jaunt To Cape Cod

Cape Cod has long been known for its stunning natural beauty, hundreds of miles of sandy coastline, magnificent whales migrating just offshore, and world-class recreational opportunities. It has become a yearly retreat for me for a variety of reasons ranging from food to fish. This particular venture was dedicated to fishing for tuna. Tuna fishing in Cape Cod is truly an experience to behold in one of America’s most distinctive locales.

The Cape is a unique part of America and has an interesting history. Many don’t know that the northern tip of present-day Cape Cod was the first landing place of the Pilgrims. They arrived in present-day Provincetown about a month before they landed at Plymouth Rock.

cap cod, Massachusetts

As time has gone by, the Cape’s popularity has massively grown. So much so, that getting in by car can be a long process. While the locals joke about the “tunnel” to the Cape, it is still essentially a two-lane road in and out with traffic backed up for miles at times. But it’s always worth the wait.

What To Know Before You Go

Cape Cod is known for its local seafood, and you won’t find a restaurant sans super-fresh seafood on the menu. Fried fish, especially fried clams, are considered the ultimate Cape Cod meal. Another favorite is lobster, broiled with butter sauce. My first stop is always the Raw Bar at Popponesset Marketplace. This laid-back haunt is famous for serving up massive lobster rolls—my go-to. Another item that they are well known for is their rum punch. Now before you yawn, just know that the cherry included in the punch is special. I was not aware of this and when I asked the waitress for a second one, she said I had to eat the cherry first. I half laughed and handed her the cup. She pushed it back and sternly said, “Eat the cherry.” I did and my eyes watered. I did not realize that a cherry could contain three times its mass in alcohol. It was perky, to say the least.

With our stomachs full we headed to the house. As the saying goes, the only thing better than owning a house on Cape Cod is having a friend who owns a house on Cape Cod. My good friend would play the role of gracious host. As we drove through the winding tree-lined roads, the American Colonial architecture was a dominant feature. It’s a feature they cling to as well to maintain the Cape Cod aesthetic. During my time there I have never seen a cold, steel and glass structure. 

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

fishing off cape cod

The sun was still hiding in the east and a cool breeze cut through my jacket. Within minutes the engines roared, and we pushed out to sea. There was a hard-to-describe peace on the ocean. We were pushing southeast in search of deep, rich waters. Cape Cod faded behind us as we headed toward Nantucket. Our early morning, bouncing ride was not for sightseeing. Instead, we were heading out to hook into the great genus Thunnus, better known as tuna. This was the fishing opportunity of a lifetime for me, and I was anxious to get to our spot.

After almost two hours, off in the distance we could see birds on the water and filling the air. It was a good sign. Within minutes we had lines in the water as the boat slowly moved along. There was an eerie calm in the ocean as my three friends and I half held our breath waiting for something to happen. After about 10 minutes we all relaxed a bit but that was short-lived. From somewhere in the bottom of his soul, the first mate yelled, “Fish On!” 

Fighting Tuna Is A Team Effort

I was first on the rod and pulled it from its holder on the side of the boat. I have been fishing most of my life. I have caught pretty much every species of freshwater fish in North America. Some are very large, but nothing compared to this. The sheer energy and fight this tuna gave was indescribable. I would reel in 25 yards of line, and he would then just run another 50 yards. We were not using a clip-in chair and chose to fight standing on the deck. I am not a delicate-sized man, and this tuna was punishing me. 

tuna fishing in cape cod

This brings me to something I believe wholeheartedly. Nobody catches tuna this size by themselves. It is a team effort. I called one of my friends, and he prepared to step in and take his turn. We continued this rotation for about 50 minutes until we could finally see a flash in the water about 10 yards from the boat. The first mate gaffed the fish and got a rope around its tail. While my first thought was “That’s a monster,” I knew I was biased because we had fought it for so long. That bias became fact, however, once we hauled the 350-pound-plus fish on board. 

Whales and Sharks and Oysters, Oh My!

While these waters are full of game fish, they are also home to whales. Fortune smiled at us as we saw a mass of small fish splashing on the surface of the water. This was a sure sign of whales, and we carefully made our way over. I stood on the bow hoping to see possibly even a shadow or outline of a whale. That wish was granted beyond measure as two large humpback whales breached. 

whale watching in cape cod

It was an incredible moment, and they continued their graceful surface dance for 20 more minutes. Along with whales, the Cape has become famous (or infamous) for sharks. The classic movie Jaws was filmed throughout Martha’s Vineyard and the Cape. These aren’t just any sharks either—these are great whites. As the only known white shark aggregation site in the North Atlantic, it is one of the densest great white shark populations in the world.

It’s hard to verbalize the thrill of catching a large tuna. Maybe it’s because you earn every inch of the fish with the fight you put in. It’s also the wonderful feeling of being out on the ocean with no land in sight. I am drawn to the sea and I believe I was probably a pirate in a previous life. Deep sea tuna fishing in Cape Cod gives you a chance to take part in something that people have done for thousands of years. Tuna fishing in Cape Cod challenges you to pit your skills and strength against some of the biggest and strongest fish in the ocean. 

tuna fishing

After our adventure at sea, my last few days on the cape flew by. We ate oysters by the bucket load and learned that there are multiple varieties, each with their distinct flavor. We listened to live music as we sat with our feet in the sand and the waves crashing in the distance. We laughed with locals and learned just why so many people flock to the edge of America.  

Four Must-Visit Cape Cod Restaurants

Sesuit Harbor Cafe:

sesuit harbor cafe

Don’t let this small clam shack located inside Sesuit Harbor fool you. They serve breakfast and lunch daily and are a reliable stop for a quick bite to eat. sesuit-harbor-cafe.com

Wellfleet Beachcomber

cape cod seafood

With an outdoor bar overlooking the Atlantic and an indoor bar in the heart of a former U.S. Lifesaving Station, it does not get any more authentic than the Wellfleet Beachcomber. This eatery is perfect after a long day of tuna fishing in Cape Cod. thebeachcomber.com

The Lobster Trap

the lobster trap restaurant

Founded in 1969 as a neighborhood fish market on the Back River in Bourne, it has become a year-round restaurant dedicated to its community and a landmark destination for all Cape Cod visitors. lobstertrap.net

Epic Oyster

epic oyster restaurant

Epic Oyster is an oyster bar serving fresh local oysters and a varied regular and special menu from swordfish to ribeye. It is a very cozy, rustic restaurant with a great patio to let you enjoy the beautiful summer weather. eatepicoyster.com

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