Kayak fishing Eastern Point at outer Gloucester Harbor in Gloucester, Ma. is a simple operation. Choose a tube-and-worm on lead core line and troll from Lighthouse Cove and Black Bess Rocks towards Ten Pound Island near Patch’s Hill and Wonson Cove. Or rig a fresh herring chunk on an unweighted hook, fasten your fishing kayak to a lobster buoy at the breakwater or Bemo Ledge, toss some chum into the water, and for wait a larger keeper to rise from the bottom and hit.
First place to try: the eastern edge of the outer Gloucester Harbor channel, the shipping and pleasure boat transit that extends from Eastern Point breakwater towards the shores of Freshwater Cove, Mussel Point, Magnolia and the rocky waters off Hammond Castle. Let your kayak drift in a westerly or southwest wind and you’ll move with the fish down channel through outer Gloucester harbor towards the city’s guest mooring area and Pancake Ground, where visiting cruise ships and naval ships drop anchor when they visit. The big fish – keeper striped bass 32″ long and longer, and 28″ to 36″-long bluefish – feed in these waters through May and June, and again in the fall, between mid-September and late October. Drop a whole herring or a mackerel on a hook into the water, stow your fishing kayak’s paddle in the cockpit, and let the wind pull you through outer Gloucester Harbor towards the narrows at Pavilion Beach, the Gloucester Maritime Heritage Museum and the Gloucester Marine Railways at Rocky Neck.
Babson Ledge and the channel that leads towards the Blynman Canal and the Annisquam River near Stage Fort Park and Gloucester High School lie off your port bow. Dead ahead, Gloucester Harbor’s North and South Channels, the main transit routes for Gloucester’s ever-diminishing fleet of commercial fishing boats. Watch the occasional Gloucester fisherman make his way into the inner harbor to offload his catch at Pigeon Cove, Atlantic Banks Fisheries, or the Gloucester Seafood Display Auction. This small handful of fish buyers still service this vastly- (and sadly-) diminished fishing port’s commercial fishermen. The channels, busy during summer, are quiet before Memorial Day and after Labor Day. Now those are good times to fish. The striped bass have either just arrived from their spring migration or are about to depart for fall.
Kayak fishing for striped bass and bluefish in this area is quite productive. You are in highly reliable but underutilized keeper striped bass fishing water. Give yourself three or four hours to drift fish the area, and don’t worry. You’ll get it done soon enough. You’ll catch what you’re after.
The key is good bait: during spring and fall striped bass season, kayak fishing enthusiasts have plenty of places to buy bait and tackle from in Gloucester. Scour Rogers Street and the Harbor Loop area first for a nondescript gray van with a table full of fishing rods and reels set up at the front bumper. That’s the local bait wagon, a one-man operation run by a vendor who keeps coolers of fresh herring, sea clams and sea worms in the back of the van.
If you can’t find him, try the bait-and-tackle shop on Parker Street, at the State Fish Pier, just across from the Beauty Bar and CrossFit Cape Ann. Formerly known as New England Marine and Industrial, then run by the Parisi family, the bait and tackle shop has re-opened once again under new ownership. The bait and tackle shop sells flats boxes of frozen herring, boxed dozens of sea worms, and sea clams in quart buckets.
You have two other options: the commercial fisherman’s outfitter on Washington Street, across from the Hovey School condominiums near St. Peter’s Square. In addition to locally-harvested sea clams taken from the nearby Annisquam, Ipswich and Essex Rivers, you’ll find live eels swimming in large tanks.
If you’re going to fish for striped bass from your kayak in East Gloucester anywhere from Raymonds Beach, Rocky Neck or Wonson Cove, buy your seaworms by the dozen from the Yankee Fleet party boat ticket office on East Main Street, in the block that houses Smokin’ Jim’s BBQ and Ribs, Naguro Bluefin Tuna and Lobster Wholesale, and Captain Joe and Sons, one of Gloucester’s largest local lobster brokers and home to the popular local blog goodmorninggloucester.org
Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce
NOAA Chart 13267
Cape Ann Fresh Catch CSF