Chatham’s great whites steal much of the thunder when it comes to sharks on Cape Cod. Yet great whites are just the tip of the iceberg with regards to the sharks looming just offshore Cape Cod’s beaches. An angler does not have to head far offshore to find big sharks that weigh hundreds of pounds. In certain areas of the Cape, it’s possible to catch truck-size sharks within just a mile or two of shore.
I realized this as a kid fishing Sagamore Beach one evening after school. About 25 yards from shore was the fin of 25 foot long basking shark that probably weighed about 5 tons. It cruised slowly through the water with its mouth agape, filtering small organisms out of the sea water. These sharks spend their winters about 3,000 feet beneath the surface of the ocean, but during the summer they are found in the Cape’s bays, sounds and sometimes even in the Canal.
Basking sharks are for the most part harmless, yet other species like the sand tigers currently residing in Duxbury Bay pack more of a punch. Makos and blue sharks can pack a punch too. I like to think of makos as a slightly smaller version of the great white. Blue sharks are a bit more common, yet they get big and are still impressive to see.
And if you think you have to head far offshore to catch one of these massive fish, I urge you to reconsider.
An angler does not have to travel far offshore on Cape Cod to catch a shark. In some cases, 2-3 miles is all that is necessary. Right now, during the month of September, many big marine animals get courageous and start showing up in surprisingly shallow water-including sharks.
Pictured in the above photo is a big blue shark I photographed in just 60 feet of water, 2 miles from the beach. The shark was several feet beneath our boat, yet seeing him was arduous due to shark’s deep blue coloration, which acts as amazingly effective camouflage. The experience made me wonder how many times sharks have been around my boat without me ever seeing them.
The truth is that sharks are there, yet odds are you will never see them. I don’t tell you this to scare you, but to inform you that the areas you may be accustomed to fishing for bass and blues, also contain big sharks that can be quite the challenge to catch.
Last season was the first time I caught big sharks in these close-to-shore areas. Previously I had caught them in places like Stellwagen Bank, but never within “row boat distance” of the beach. All of a sudden during last September we began hooking up with sharks in places I’ve never encountered them before.
Finding and catching these sharks became more reliable than finding and catching stripers and blues. They seemed to have inundated the area.
By far the most commonly encountered shark was the blue shark, known locally around here as the blue dog. For serious giant tuna fishermen these sharks are a bit of a nuisance. They tear up gear, bait and chip away at a tuna fishermen’s supply of patience and hooks. Yet they can grow to be 12 feet long and weigh up to 400 pounds. It’s a big fish and an impressive sight up close-especially if it’s your first close encounter with a shark.
With the right gear, bait and spot you can catch these brutes from a small boat amazingly close to shore. This week I’m going to do my best to show you how to do it.
The next two weeks are going to be the perfect time to target these sharks close to shore. Granted of course the sharks return to their near shore haunts as they did during September of 2012. I have a feeling there will be plenty of sharks around when I head out onto the water this coming week.
I’ll have a new Cape Cod shark fishing report published here Wednesday at noon. Be sure to check back then to see how things went. I have a feeling we are going to encounter some pretty impressive animals out there.
Until then tight lines, take care and catch ‘em up,