Hot Spot: Nauset Inlet - The Fisherman

Hot Spot: Nauset Inlet

A surf spot with a storied history

Coordinates: 41.4950, -69.5640

My baptism into surfcasting happened on a backwater charter inside Nauset Inlet, my inauguration into the painful side of obsession also happened there just a few weeks later. As budding surfcaster in the late 1990’s, I didn’t have YouTube or even message boards to fuel my advancement into the Northeast surf. So, like so many of the other anglers of my time, I relied heavily on the writings of Frank Daignault and clawed through the pages of this magazine in search of any tidbits of information that might give me something new to process and devour. I remember a short article here in The Fisherman written by legend Tony Stetzko that really lit a fire inside me. The glaring message that sprung off the pages from my research was that Nauset Beach was famous for producing giant stripers and that inlets were a great place for novice surfcasters to start their journey. Both are true statements.

I was 17 when I took that backwater charter and I still didn’t have my driver’s license, but the memories from that day were haunting me, my obsessive mind was fueling an evil plan, I had to get to back to Nauset Inlet! I’ll leave the details of the story for another day, but the two important facts are that I caught a striper north of 20 pounds and that I learned a lesson about chaffing on my walk back. Probably payback for the ruse I sold my parents about a ‘family day at the beach’.

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Nauset Inlet can be accessed from both Nauset and Coast Guard beaches, oversand access is permitted from the Nauset side, but is often closed for shorebird nesting.

Nauset Inlet is a large inlet that opens up to a massive system of backwater channels and marshes. The horseflies gather here in numbers that might have you running for your life. My experiences here have produced results on both tides, but I have always done better when the water was lower—say three hours on either side of low tide. In daylight I have seen endless schools of stripers in the 24- to 40-inch range exiting the inlet and found them to be impossible to catch when casting into the shallow school, but the same fish were more than happy to crush Slug-Go’s when I cast into the deeper water they were headed for. In the dark, I have thrown mostly swimming plugs—Bombers, Red Fins and other lipped swimmers of that type. And, while I have never hooked any of the storied monsters of Nauset Inlet lore, I have landed fish up to 25 pounds here—I’m certain if I had settled closer to the Cape, I would have a few Nauset giants to my credit.

I have found that the Nauset side fishes better on the incoming, standing on the inside of the inlet mouth and casting northwest, toward Eastham. On the dropping tide I have done my best work standing on the Coast Guard side and walking all the way back and around to the inside where the northern end of the marsh drains and casting toward the Nauset side.

An inlet of this size affects the beach around it too and many great fish have come from the adjacent stretches of beach as the bounty of bait and bass spewing from estuary made a second landfall on the bars and bowls of the nearby beaches. I’ve heard some amazing stories from likes of Teddy Menard and the late Tony Stetzko about how Nauset Inlet would draw monster stripers into the beach from June through October (and sometimes into November). It’s a different fishery today, but it’s shown signs of coming back. If you’re heading the Cape and feeling intimidated by the endless pattern of bowls and bars, hike to the inlet and fish among the memories of surfcasting’s past.

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