Guide to Species

The following species are fish that are often found in the sanctuary. The artwork and data are courtesy of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, with information geared to vessel-based deepwater fishing. For more information about these species, see more detailed reports on the DMF Fish Profiles web page.

 
Atlantic Cod:
These fish are the deepwater treasures of the sanctuary and coastal Massachusetts (a carving of a cod hangs in the Massachusetts State House). They are the number one fish sought after by party boats North of Cape Cod. They are found throughout the sanctuary and the Gulf of Maine, in deepwater and inshore while the water is cold.
Season: Year round
Baits and Lures: Sea worms, clams, mackerel, strips of all fish, crabs, jigs.
Methods and Tackle: Bait-fishing from shore and boats, fishing from boats using medium to stiff boat rod, conventional reel and at least 50 lb test line.
Mass. Saltwater Fishing Derby Minimum Weight: 30 lbs
State Record: 92 lbs
 

Atlantic Cod

 
Black Sea Bass:
Although found primarily south of Cape Cod, an occasional black sea bass can be found in the sanctuary and in Cape Cod Bay. These migratory fish arrive in late spring. The majority of these fish begin life as females and thenchange to males at around three years of age. They prefer habitats with bottom structure, such as boulder reefs, rocky outcrops and wrecks.
Season: May - September
Baits and Lures: Cut squid, clams, green crabs.
Methods and Tackle: bottom fish from a boat.
Mass. Saltwater Fishing Derby Minimum Weight: 4 lbs
State Record: 8 lbs
 

Black Sea Bass

 

Blue Shark:
Blue and mako sharks are common to our offshore waters and are sought after by recreational
anglers. Venture with an experienced shark angler to prevent unexpected surprises and make sure you bleed and ice the shark flesh immediately. Anglers are encouraged to release sharks not intended for consumption.
Season: June-October
Baits and Lures: Chumming and baited hooks (preferably oily fish)
Methods and Tackle: Trolling, drifting; medium to heavy tackle,
Mass. Saltwater Fishing Derby Minimum Weights: 150 lbs
State Records: 454 lbs

 

Blue Shark

 
Bluefin Tuna:
All the tunas are very swift swimmers, provide a thrilling and sometimes backbreaking fight and are literally hot blooded. The giant bluefin tuna is the biggest and most lucrative of the tunas in our waters and thus creates much competition amongst fishermen.
Season: Late June-October
Baits and Lures: Bait fish used with chum slick; plastic squids, multi-
chains, jigs, artificial lures
Methods and Tackle: Trolling, chunk baits with chum; medium to heavy
State Record: 1,228 lbs
 

Bluefin Tuna

 
Bluefish:
Bluefish are usually ravenous and will strike at just about anything you give them. Watch out for those teeth! They average around 3-7 lbs along the coast and tend to be larger just
offshore in the rips. The juveniles, referred to as “snappers,” can be found in the estuaries and are fun to catch with light tackle. In all cases, they put up an excellent fight all the way to your boat or shore.
Season: June-mid October
Baits and Lures: All small bait fish, jigs, spoons, plugs, spinners, flies.
Methods and Tackle: Casting from shore or boat (you may want to use a wire leader) with spin and fly fishing gear, trolling.
Mass. Saltwater Fishing Derby Minimum Weight: 12 lbs
State Record: 27 lbs- 4 oz.
 

Bluefish

 
Cusk:
Like the cod, the cusk is a cool water fish and is found on hard, rough bottom habitat. Look
for the continuous dorsal fin to assist with identification.
Season: Year round
Baits and Lures: Same as cod.
Methods and Tackle: Same as cod.
Mass. Saltwater Fishing Derby Minimum Weight: 20lbs
State Record: 34 lbs - 4 oz.
 

Cusk

 
Haddock:
Haddock is a member of the cod family and is a delicious fish for the dinner table. The black
lateral line distinguishes it from the cod and pollock.
Season: May-November
Baits and Lures: Seaworms, clams
Methods and Tackle: Still-fishing from a boat, medium action rod
Mass. Saltwater Fishing Derby Minimum Weights: 8 lbs
State Record: 20 lbs
 

Haddock

 
Halibut:
This is the largest of the Atlantic flatfishes, which if you do happen to hook one, can be very
challenging to reel up from deep water.
Season: Year round
Baits and Lures: Seaworms, clams, strips of fish, sandlance, jigs.
Methods and Tackle: Fishing from a boat with medium to stiff rod.
Mass. Saltwater Fishing Derby Minimum Weight: 50 lbs
State Record: 321 lbs
 

Halibut

 
Mackerel:
Mackerel are fast swimmers and voracious feeders, which offers the angler many options
for catching them. They are also an important food fish for many other species of fish and
marine mammals.
Season: May-September
Baits and Lures: Small bait fish, crab, clams, seaworms, squid strips, jigs, spoons, flies.
Methods and Tackle: Trolling, jigging, casting from shore or boat: light tackle.
Mass. Saltwater Fishing Derby Minimum Weight: 2 lbs
State Record: 3 lbs - 8 oz.
 

Mackerel

 
Mako Shark:
Makos are the more aggressive of the two fish and will put up an exciting
fight. Venture with an experienced shark angler to prevent unexpected surprises and make sure you bleed and ice the shark flesh immediately. Anglers are encouraged to release sharks not intended for consumption.
Season: June-October
Baits and Lures: Chumming and baited hooks (preferably oily fish)
Methods and Tackle: Trolling, drifting; medium to heavy tackle, wire leader.
Mass. Saltwater Fishing Derby Minimum Weights: 150 lbs
State Records: 1,324 lbs
 

Mako Shark

 
Pollock:
The pollock is more available to the angler than its codfish relative. These aggressive fighters offer the thrills of a bluefish and the flesh of a cod.
Season: May-October with the best runs in May, Oct.
Baits and Lures: In deeper water use the same as for cod (jigs, clams...). Inshore waters try
small plugs, Kastmasters, mackerel jigs, metal lures with a strip of squid.
Methods and Tackle: Still-fishing, casting, trolling. For deep water use same set up as for
cod. Lighter spinning gear can be used for inshore fishing.
Mass. Saltwater Fishing Derby Minimum Weights: 20 lbs
State Record: 48 lbs - 2 oz.
 

Pollock

 

Winter Flounder:
The winter flounder (black back) provides good fishing during the cold weather months. They are very accessible and provide the angler with thick fillets to take home.

Season: May - February
Baits and Lures: Sandworms, bloodworms, clams, strips of squid.
Methods and Tackle: Chum pot (crushed clams), still-fishing from boats, piers, jetties, bridges, breakwaters; light tackle
Mass. Saltwater Fishing Derby Minimum Weight: 3 lbs
State Record: 8 lbs -2 oz.

 

Winter Flounder

 

Wolffish:
Wolfish are distinguished by their large size, pronouned molar and canine teeth, and the lack of ventral fins. They do not school and prefer hard bottom, not mud, in deep waters.

Season: Year Round
Baits and Lures: seaworms, shellfish, crustaceans, jigs
Methods and Tackle: Drift- or still-fishing from a boat
Mass. Saltwater Fishing Derby Minimum Weight: 20 lbs
State Record: 55 lbs - 8 oz.

 

Wolffish

     
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