Fishing for flounder with Captain Chip

Captain Chip Carroll with a day's catch aboard the Albatross out of Sesuit Harbor in East Dennis. Courtesy of the Albatross.

Cape Cod is like every other vacation destination. A successful and fun vacation itinerary should include the best of the area you are visiting. When on the Cape, make sure you include a day (or more) at the beach and a lobster dinner with all the trimmings. 

For a truly authentic Cape Cod vacation, schedule a day of fishing. Surrounded by water on all sides, Cape Codders have always had a strong bond with the sea.

Captain Chip Carroll has owned the Albatross for 10 years. In fact, he found out the vessel was for sale during a family fishing trip in 2005. But that wasn't the first he'd heard of the Albatross.

Raised in Connecticut, Captain Chip remembers vacationing with this family in Dennis. As a boy in 1965, he used the comings and goings of the Albatross as a clock during his visits to the beach.

Second trip back to the harbor meant it was time to head home for supper.

Captain Chip has been busy this spring sprucing up the Albatross. She was repowered over the winter and has two new Cummins diesels engines--perfect for trips to the best fishing spots in Cape Cod Bay. He took time out of his already busy season to give us the inside catch on fishing Cape Cod.

What are you fishing for?

"We are bottom fishing in Cape Cod Bay, primarily targeting winter flounder. Winter flounder is most commonly known on restaurant menus as 'filet of sole'. In addition to winter flounder we catch tautog, red hake and black sea bass," said Capt. Chip.  

It is the true definition of fishing--"you never can predict what someone might pull up from the deep."

What is the biggest fish ever caught aboard the Albatross?

"The biggest fish (species-wise), that I have seen come aboard is a 19" winter flounder," said Capt. Chip. "That family was overjoyed at the size of the fillets that came off that big boy."

The winter flounder is a funny looking, flat fish common to Cape and Atlantic waters. It is brownish and its color can vary based on the color of the sea floor where it is caught. It is a "right-handed" species, meaning the eyes are on the right side. According to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, the largest winter flounder caught inshore was 22.75", with most averaging between 12"-15". 

The name winter flounder is based on migration--they feed offshore and migrate inshore in the winter to spawn.

What is the biggest or most unique fish you've seen on a fishing trip?

"Probably the biggest fish I have seen on the Albatross was a 600 lb. ocean sunfish." The largest ocean sunfish, or mola mola, can weight 5,000 lb. (14' x 10')  and are often mistaken for sharks when their dorsal fin is above water. 

"They are a very gentile giant and a great pleasure to watch in their natural habitat," Capt. Chip said.

What to expect aboard a charter fishing boat

Fishing charters leave most every Cape Cod harbor in season. The Albatross is docked at Sesuit Harbor in East Dennis (also a fantastic spot to catch a sunset). A short trip to the fishing grounds allows for about three hours of fishing. Depending on the originating harbor and what you are fishing for will determine the length of your fishing trip. 

Most fishing charters including the Albatross provide rods, reels, and bait. The Albatross provides clams for bait at no charge. If available, seaworms may be purchased onboard. Mates aboard the Albatross will clean your catch for you for a nominal fee.

The Albatross is equipped with restroom facilities and United States Coast Guard-inspected life jackets, life rafts and safety equipment.

Even on a hot day, you may want to bring along a light jacket or sweatshirt for the ocean breeze. Consider a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen too. While you are at it, don't forget to pack your camera. When booking your charter, ask if snacks and beverages are available onboard or if you should bring your own.

Most fishing charters offer a morning and afternoon trip during the summer. The Albatross heads out twice daily during the week and once a day in the morning on the weekends.

Why should a day fishing be a Cape Cod vacation must?

"I believe a fishing trip is an essential part of any family vacation and it reminds us of our nautical history. The early colonists were very dependent on the bay for sustenance."

"More than that, it allows families to experience some quality time where the cell phones are shut off, video games are non-existent and there is time to enjoy nature and each other," Captain Chip said.

Many families return year after year to catch their fill of winter flounder, according to Capt. Chip. Children are always welcome, but should be four or older out of consideration for others. 

The Albatross is docked at Sesuit Harbor in East Dennis. Visit the Albatross website to book a charter. Find other fishing charters across the Cape here.

About the Author

The CapeCodTravel staff aims to bring you the best of Cape Cod including tips from hospitality experts about the best places to eat, the best places to stay and how to make the most of your Cape Cod vacation.