The turn of the New Year may not bring the most sunshine, but it could certainly bring good fishing. In my book, sunshine and good fishing are one in the same. Temperatures will be warmer this weekend with some rain in the forecast, which should be just enough of a change to turn on a solid bass bite.
Smaller ponds will see more drastic changes in temperature during this shift, and these are likely the spots where the fish will be feeding more actively. Largemouth bass willing to expend a bit more energy for a meal, along with a high probability of pickerel in the bycatch. If you’re really hoping to get the largemouth going, use live bait.
Evan at Eastman’s Sport and Tackle in Falmouth, reports healthy bass coming out of Shiverick’s and Dean’s Ponds on shiners. Tricking them into feeding on artificials will be tough, so you’ll need to use as realistic a presentation as possible. Shallow bodies like these local ponds have potential to really heat up during this incoming warm front- no pun intended.
Still, larger lakes will continue to provide colder, deep water fishing for smallmouth bass. Kayak anglers in particular are seeing slower, but productive bass fishing with plenty of smallmouth around the 1 to 2-pound mark, and some peppered in largemouth. If you can find a smallie this time of year, get ready to reel, because they’re probably stacked up. Tom of Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay, reports a handful of anglers catching smallmouth staged along ledges between 10 to 15 feet, hitting Ned Rigs and small, curly-tail grub plastics. Jerkbaits haven’t been doing it for smallmouth, as they’re hard-pressed along the bottom. Subtle taps of the jighead against a rocky bottom should draw attention, but the bites will be delicate. Best to use a rod with a sensitive tip and nice loading power when hauling smallies up from deep water.
White perch have stayed biting in muddied tidal creeks and ponds, and provide a good opportunity to wet a line with family members even on gray, cloudy days. Many white perch fishing zones will be easily accessible and they can be found in dense schools, similar to their striper cousin. The Coonamesset and Wareham Rivers are two well-known white perch fisheries. There have even been reports of holdover schoolie striped bass around Buzzard’s Bay from Tom at Red Top Sporting Goods.
Yellow perch have joined the party as well. While most of them are small, there are always a few chunky ones in the mix. Although not related to white perch, their habits are similar in that if you can find one or two, you’ve likely found a school. Small soft plastic jigs and ultralight setups will be the most enjoyable, and most successful in targeting them. OTW’s Editor Jimmy Fee reported trout rising at Peter’s Pond this morning, but only yellow perch would bite.
Per usual for this time of year, the trout continue to reign supreme in the reports across the Cape. Rainbows are still consistently active, even during icy mornings with frozen guides, and will bite on anything with a flash. They tend to be more active and riled up on sunny days. Around Falmouth, Grews, Peters and Mares Ponds have seen a steady rainbow bite especially in the early morning on night-crawlers under a bobber. This is a tactic worth trying at any trout pond, as it will typically produce a few good fish. Small tube jigs and soft plastics will also do the trick. Try using 1/16 or 1/8-ounce jigheads and 2-inch soft plastic grubs or paddle tails, jigging them along the bottom.
As with any fishing, persistence is imperative when it comes to the winter in freshwater. I’ve been struggling with catching arguably the most aggressive of our freshwater fish, the chain pickerel, despite my various efforts and their ravenous nature.
Still, when the fishing gets difficult as it can this time of year, I find enjoyment in chasing the bite by trying new techniques; which, may mean catching less frequently. In 2022, you may find it enjoyable to target something new, or to try out a different lake or pond than your usual honey hole. Regardless the weather, I’ll be tying on some new pickerel setups over the weekend, and hopefully will not be coming up empty handed.
In any event, if we can’t always have sunshine in early January at least we have fifty-degree weather and fishing to look forward to.