Top Fishing Hotspots in Boston Harbor: Reeling in the Best

Boasting over 34 islands and miles of protected shoreline, Boston Harbor offers outstanding fishing opportunities minutes from the city. This historic harbor provides access to striped bass, bluefish, mackerel, flounder, and more right in the heart of metropolitan Boston.

In this in-depth guide, we’ll explore the top fishing spots across Boston Harbor targeting the most popular gamefish species. From the Charles River to the outer harbor islands, excellent fishing awaits in this iconic New England harbor.

Keep reading to start planning your next Boston Harbor fishing adventure!

Overview of Boston Harbor Fishing

As one of the largest harbors on the East Coast, Boston Harbor provides:

  • Access to ocean species migrating into the harbor
  • Resident populations of striped bass, bluefish, and flounder
  • Structure such as docks, jetties, bridges, and rock piles
  • Mix of saltwater and freshwater fishing opportunities
  • Short runs to fishing grounds from launch points
  • Fishing for anglers with boats, kayaks, or from numerous shore access points

Boston Harbor sees excellent fishing from spring through fall when migratory species move into the harbor to join the local year-round fish. The harbor is also fishable in the cold months for those willing to brave the conditions.

Primary Gamefish Species in Boston Harbor

Boston Harbor holds good populations of popular inshore sportfish:

Striped Bass – The premier gamefish in the harbor, stripers range from small “schoolies” to 50+ pound cows. Present year round.

Bluefish – Hard fighting and found in the same areas as striped bass. Provide exciting action on light tackle.

Flounder – Bottom dwelling flatfish that ambush prey. Fun to target and delicious tablefare.

Tautog – Bottom hugging fish with impressive crushing power that favor structure.

Atlantic Mackerel – Fast swimming fish that travel in large schools through the harbor in summer.

Scup – Abundant smaller panfish that congregate around piers and reefs. Provide easy action.

Now let’s look at effective techniques used to catch these species:

Light Tackle – Ideal for targeting breaking fish like striped bass and bluefish with metal lures and plugs.

Bait Fishing – Using clams, seaworms, eels, and live baitfish to catch bottom fish like flounder, tautog, and scup.

Fly Fishing – Fun tactic to target striped bass and bluefish in the harbor when conditions permit.

Boating & Trolling – Allows anglers to cover open water areas effectively to locate fish.

Next, we’ll break down top seasonal patterns and fishing spots within Boston Harbor.

Best Boston Harbor Fishing Seasons

While fishable year-round, fishing peaks during warmer months:

Spring – Striped bass enter the harbor to feed before heading upriver to spawn. Bluefish also appear.

Summer – Flounder become active on reefs and structure. Spanish mackerel stream through the harbor.

Fall – Boston Harbor sees a return of striped bass, bluefish, false albacore, and Atlantic bonito during the autumn migrations. Typically the best fishing of the year.

Winter – Harbors stays cold but hardy anglers can still catch striped bass and some flounder in open areas during winter.

Fishing peaks from mid-spring through late fall before cooling water temperatures send fish offshore or upriver. However, winter fishing can be rewarding for those willing to brave the elements.

Fishing Spots and Commonly Caught Fish in Boston

In this video, hosted by BostonKreme, you’ll discover three fantastic fishing locations in the Boston area: Gloucester, Beverly, and Marblehead. From the tranquil inner bay of Gloucester to the bustling piers of Beverly and the long, sunny beach in Marblehead, each spot offers a unique fishing experience. Not only will you get to explore these picturesque locations, but you’ll also learn about the commonly caught species in each area, including Arrow Squid, Pacific Herring, Striped Bass, Winter Flounder, Mackerel, and even the elusive Spider Crab. So, whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner looking for a great catch, this video has all the information you need to make your fishing adventure in Boston a success! Don’t forget to hit the like button and subscribe for more insightful content.

Top Boston Harbor Fishing Spots

Boston Harbor provides a variety of fishing spots from the mouth of the harbor by the outer islands to the inland rivers.

Boston Light

The iconic lighthouse on Little Brewster Island marks the outer harbor. The current and structure attract migratory fish like bluefish, striped bass, and false albacore.

Target Fish: Striped Bass, Bluefish, False Albacore

Techniques: Casting around structure, trolling stretch lures

Access: Hull, Hingham, marina boats

Graves Light

Another outer harbor island with a lighthouse marking the main harbor channel. Large boulders hold striped bass, bluefish, and fluke. Accessible by boat.

Target Fish: Striped Bass, Bluefish, Fluke

Techniques: Drifting live eels, casting swimshads, jigging

Access: Hull, marina boats

Deer Island Flats

Shallow sandy flat on the backside of Deer Island that holds fluke and flounder along with bluefish and striped bass.

Target Fish: Flounder, Blues, Bass, Fluke

Techniques: Drifting baitfish imitations just off the bottom

Access: Shoreline reachable by land, boats from marinas

Winthrop Shore and Reef

Rocky shoreline and submerged shoal holding striped bass, bluefish, and flounder. Easily accessed from shore.

Target Fish: Striped Bass, Bluefish, Flounder

Techniques: Swim shads, topwaters, bucktails from shore

Access: Winthrop public shoreline areas

Belle Isle Marsh

Productive backwater reached via the Belle Isle inlet north of Winthrop. Provides protected access to striped bass, bluefish, and flounder.

Target Fish: Striped Bass, Bluefish, Flounder

Techniques: Casting lures, bait fishing along channel edges

Access: Shoreline around marsh, small boats from inlet

Boston Harbor Islands

The many islands in the outer harbor hold striped bass, bluefish, false albacore, bonito, and more on their current-swept rocky shores.

Target Fish: Striped Bass, Bluefish, False Albacore, Bluefin Tuna

Techniques: Casting metals, swimbaits, and plugs around island structure

Access: Hull, Hingham, marina boats

Charlestown Pier

A public pier providing shore access to striped bass, bluefish, and flounder in the inner harbor north of downtown.

Target Fish: Stripers, Blues, Flounder

Techniques: Bottom fishing with bait, casting plugs

Access: Pier open dawn to dusk

Castle Island

A historic fort in South Boston with a pier, rocky shoreline, and rip rap attractive to resident striped bass, bluefish, and flounder.

Target Fish: Striped Bass, Bluefish, Flounder

Techniques: Light tackle, bait fishing from shore

Access: Shoreline open to public

Charles River

The winding Charles River empties into the harbor through downtown Boston. The migratory striped bass run up the Charles in spring and fall.

Target Fish: Striped Bass

Techniques: Throwing stickbaits, swimbaits, and spoons for traveling fish

Access: Shoreline parks in Boston, Cambridge

Boston Harbor Fishing Piers

Many public and private piers provide shore access to Boston Harbor fishing. Targeting bottom fish like tautog, flounder, scup, and striped bass. Some popular options:

  • Charlestown Pier
  • Fan Pier
  • Black Falcon Cruise Terminal
  • Carson Beach Pier
  • Pleasure Bay Pier
  • Pemberton Pier
  • Zakim Bridge Fishing Pier
  • East Boston Greenway Piers

Best Baits and Lures for Boston Harbor

Always pack these proven lures and baits:

  • Swimshads on jig heads – imitate baitfish for all predators
  • Metal lips and bucktail jigs – vertical jigging for structure fish
  • Spoons and plugs – casting for schools of striped bass
  • Diamond jigs – for flounder and bottom fish
  • Wire leaders – prevent bluefish and stripers from biting off lures
  • Circle hooks and fish finder rigs – for bottom fishing
  • Clams, seaworms, eels, and live baitfish – prime bait
  • Poppers and soft plastic lures – fly fishing

Boston Harbor Fishing Regulations

Always follow Massachusetts fishing regulations:

  • MA fishing license required for anglers ages 16+
  • Limits and size regulations on striped bass, fluke, tautog, etc.
  • Seasonal closures for areas like smelt runs
  • Gear restrictions may apply in certain areas – know legal tackle
  • No fishing near swimming areas at beaches or public facilities
  • Practice ethical catch and release when possible

Full regulations available on Guide to Getting a Fishing License in Massachusetts.

When to Fish Boston Harbor

Boston Harbor fishing seasons:

Spring – Early stripers, warming flats activate flounder

Summer – Peak fluke season. Bluefish, Spanish mackerel arrive.

Fall – Excellent striped bass, bluefish, bonito, false albacore action

Winter – Slow season but possible to still catch striped bass and flounder

April through November provides the most consistent fishing before cold weather sets in. However, winter fishing is possible for those set up properly.

Boston Harbor Fishing Charters

If you don’t have a suitable boat, fishing charters provide access to Boston’s waters:

Boston Harbor Fishing Charters

  • Home Ports: Boston, Quincy
  • Target Species: Striped bass, bluefish, tuna, bottom fish
  • What They Offer: Half-day or full-day trips throughout Boston Harbor

Hooked Up Fishing Charters

  • Home Ports: Winthrop, Boston, Quincy, Scituate
  • Target Species: Striped bass, bluefish, sharks, tuna
  • What They Offer: Light tackle and fly fishing charters

Eastman Fishing Charters

  • Home Ports: Winthrop, Boston
  • Target Species: Striped bass, bluefish, bonito, false albacore
  • What They Offer: Half-day “ripping lips” light tackle trips around Boston

Boston Saltwater Fishing

  • Home Ports: Boston, Quincy, Scituate
  • Target Species: Striped bass, bluefish, fluke, tuna
  • What They Offer: Half-day and full-day charter trips

These experienced captains can help you catch more fish around Boston Harbor by providing gear, bait, and local knowledge.

Shore Fishing Access Points in Boston Harbor

No boat? No problem. Many shore areas provide access:

  • Pleasure Bay, Castle Island, Carson Beach, Malibu Beach, Savin Hill Beach
  • Piers – Charlestown Pier, Black Falcon Terminal, Fan Pier, East Boston Piers
  • Winthrop Shoreline and Reef
  • Deer Island Causeway
  • Various public lands surround harbor islands and shores

Pack light tackle including lures, terminal gear, and gear suited for bottom fishing. Move around and be willing to explore when shore fishing.

Boston Harbor Marinas and Launch Ramps

Top starting points to launch boats:


  • Boston Yacht Haven
  • Constitution Marina
  • Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina
  • Rowes Wharf Marina
  • Fan Pier Marina


  • Wompatuck State Park Hingham
  • Hull Public Launch Ramp
  • Lynnway Boat Ramp & Park
  • DCR Black Falcon Dock & Ramp
  • Riverside Boat Ramp

Additionally, many public landings and small ramps dot the Boston Harbor shoreline. Use Navionics or Sea Tow aps to locate additional options.

Tips for Fishing Boston Harbor

Keep these tips in mind when fishing Boston Harbor:

  • Be prepared to run to find fish – don’t just stay in one area
  • Watch birds and your fish finder to locate baitfish and feeding activity
  • Use appropriate tackle and leaders for abrasive mouths of striped bass
  • Inspect regulations closely – rules vary in different sections of the harbor
  • Be aware of tides, wind, boat traffic and weather which affect this busy harbor
  • Pack rain gear, snacks, and sun protection for full days on the water
  • Let someone know where you’ll be fishing and when you plan to return

Plan Your Boston Harbor Fishing Adventure

With excellent access to striped bass, bluefish, and numerous other species, Boston Harbor is a phenomenal destination right in the heart of the city.

Use this guide to top fishing spots, tips, and resources to help plan your next Boston Harbor fishing adventure. Check Mass Wildlife for seasonal closures and limits before heading out.

Whether fishing from a boat, kayak, pier, or shore, Boston Harbor offers amazing opportunities to catch your next trophy fish without leaving the metro area! Get out on the water and let us know how you do!

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