Throughout the next couple months, we’ll get a few days that are wet, windy, and warm. Well, what passes for “warm” in the winter. Waking up to these conditions Thursday morning, I tossed on the waders and threw a rod in the truck, and took a little detour on my way to the OTW office.
These are just the conditions needed to break our freshwater fish out of their cold-water torpor. When I reached the pond, I found a school of baby river herring pinned to the bank, with largemouth swirling further out. It wasn’t an all out blitz by any means, but in 30 minutes, I caught three fish, including my biggest pickerel of the year. If I’d had more than the handful of lures I hastily stuffed in my wader pocket before running out the door, something that was a closer match to the juvenile herring, I have no doubt that I would have caught a few more.
Trout fishing also fires up in these conditions, but according to OTW Assistant Editor Matt Haeffner, it’s been pretty steady in the kettle ponds this week. Matt’s been having the best luck fishing gold Kastmasters, which he attributes to the amount of yellow perch fry he’s been seeing. Matt even had a smallie take a swing at his spoon on Tuesday.
I would have guessed that the smallies had retreated to deeper water by now, but apparently some are still cruising the shallows. One of my favorite coldwater bites is the vertical jigging smallies over deep structure that happens between now and March. Locate a hump surrounded by deep water, and there’s likely to be some smallmouth sitting on it. Bladebaits are a very fun and effective bait, though you may get more bites with a dropshot rig or Ned Rig.
Fishing Forecast for Cape Cod
There’s more warmth coming on Friday, which may make it the pick of the week for some fast freshwater fishing, though fishermen willing to deal with some cold rain over the weekend, will likely find the fish feeding as well.
Trout are still the most consistent target, and they will continue to be through the winter, but if you look for favorable conditions, you can have some pretty spectacular bass and pickerel fishing as well.
I think I’m calling it for my 2021 saltwater season. I wrapped it up with a tog trip in New Jersey on Tuesday, and will be focusing on local freshwater for the next few months. There are undoubtedly holdover stripers around (and they also ramp up their feeding on days like Thursday), and white perch are biting well in the upper parts of the bays and salt ponds, close to freshwater sources. My daughter and I did some white perch fishing last weekend, and found them schooled up and biting well on small jigs. Spinners and spoons would also have caught, as would grass shrimp or mummichogs if you’re interested in catching your own bait.