Cape Cod Fishing Report- November 17, 2022

Freshwater fishing picks up steam as striped bass fishing dwindles with water temperatures in the mid-50's. Tautog fishing is productive around the Elizabeth Islands and Buzzards Bay.

Turn up the heat and bring out the warm layers, because it seems that late fall temperatures are here to stay. After a strange “heat wave” last week, air temperatures finally seem to be catching up to the time of the season. Water temperatures have taken a sharp drop after a few cold nights, but they’re still several degrees above the 50-degree mark in many salt ponds and rivers. Striped bass fishing has significantly slowed, but there are a handful of anglers out there still chasing bass during the wee hours of the night. The end of the ebb tides seem to be key in producing a bite. The warmest water will be flowing out of the salt ponds and rivers later in the ebb, so keep a close eye on the tides if you plan to fish for bass.

From what I have seen, there’s been a significant decline in the amount bait around. That’s not to say there aren’t schools of peanut bunker and silversides hanging around the upper Cape, it will just take a little extra work to find them. That’s to be expected at this point in the season, though. The abundant bass will be schoolies in the low-20 inch range, and many of them will be even smaller. However, anglers prying the night bite given the right conditions may find a few slot or over-slot bass. If you plan to fish for striped bass during the day, come equipped with teasers to tie above small tins, molded casting jigs and resin jigs. Topwater spooks like the Rebel Jumpin’ Minnow and TA Crossover Stalker will bring schoolie bass to the surface during the low light hours, and amid conditions with some decent cloud cover and chop. Anglers fishing the night bite will be more likely to find fish while jigging large eel-imitation soft plastics and paddletails around the inlets, or throwing minnow plugs with a painfully slow retrieve.

Personally, I haven’t done any striper fishing this past week; I was out of town for a few days and didn’t capitalize on the conditions before heavy winds hit the Cape. Like you, I’d love to catch a few more bass this fall before my attention turns entirely toward freshwater fishing, although it’s already there. Our ponds are a bit colder than the saltwater, but the fish have been active in anticipation of winter with the recent drastic temperature changes.

A few big yellow perch and pickerel met my hook during a quick outing this week. It was a nice change of pace after catching mostly pickerel and bass.
This chunky largemouth bass liked the look of the 1/4-ounce spoon, until it stuck ’em.

You’ll be tired of hearing it in a few weeks, but I stand by the Kastmaster more than almost any other lure this time of year. Fishing small, flashy and fluttering metal lures is a great way to imitate shiners and juvenile river herring in the kettle ponds where trout, bass, perch and more all feed on these small baitfish. Keeping your eyes peeled when wading the ponds and lakes can be the difference between catching and being skunked. During the early morning hours when there is typically low wind and low light, the surface will often tell you where to place a cast as shiners flee predators. Stocked trout will swirl on these little minnows, and pickerel or bass will make their presence known if there’s a school of shiners in the area. If there’s no surface activity, try running the same lure low and slow.

Last year I also found some good late-fall fishing in ponds where there were schools of tiny yellow perch tight to shore. When there were yellow perch around, I switched to a gold Kastmaster to more closely mimic their colors, because large pickerel and bass will feed on the juvenile perch. It worked like a charm. Keeping a few of those little 1/4-ounce spoons in different colors is crucial in the fall and winter.

Other freshwater lures to keep on hand are light marabou hair jigs, tube jigs, ned rigs and jerkbaits or floating minnow lures. Use the lightest line you’re comfortable with, but keep in mind that any line heavier than 10-pound fluorocarbon is pretty visible to trout, and when they’re being finicky, they won’t take a chance on these lures if the line is too heavy. Pickerel and bass are a different story.

Enough about fishing the ponds, though. There are still tautog and striped bass to be caught, and I don’t know about you, but I haven’t quit just yet. A little bird told me that albies were AGAIN frothing around the Elizabeth Islands this week, which is just wild. Good thing they are constantly swimming and built for speed, because if water temperatures drop a few more degrees they’ll need to high tail it out of here for warmer water. There may even be a few bluefish still dwelling in the depths of Cape Cod Canal. If you don’t have the time to get out there to find out, continue reading to get the scoop from our local shops!

Connor at Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay reports:

“Stripers were biting well in the Canal all week. One of our guys caught a 33-pounder on topwater in the morning so that was awesome. Head down in the morning and you can see bass exploding on small schools of mackerel as they fire through the canal intermittently. Tautog fishing has been good in the Canal too, with some quality fish coming from the bridge abutments.”

Macos Bait and Tackle in Buzzards Bay reports:

“Tautog were biting well around Maritime on the Canal, but there are also some good fish coming from Clevelands Ledge and all the scattered rock piles in the bay. Pick away at some of the smaller structure for less-pressured tog fishing. We still have green crabs available.”

Evan Eastman of Eastman’s Sport and Tackle in Falmouth reports:

“The striper bite is slowing drastically on the south side of Cape, but people are still crushing tog around the Elizabeths on both the Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay sides. Woods Hole is also producing some good fish. If you can find some solo structure without many boats around along the rocky portions of the coastline, there’s a good chance you’ll find a couple keepers.”

Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore reports:

“The Canal has really slowed down, there aren’t a ton of guys still out there fishing. The ones who are out there are still catching fish on top in the mornings, when the bass are chasing mackerel. The bite is scattered and somewhat infrequent, but there are still some good fish cruising through there with the schoolies.”

Morgan at Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis reports:

“We’re still hearing from customers that there are lots of bluefish on the south shore beaches and in Cape Cod Bay. We sold the last of our green crabs today, and we’ll only be ordering more if the tautog bite continues so swing by to check in if you’re tog fishing. Other bottom fishermen are still catching scup like crazy, and they’ll bite on crabs or resin jigs right now.

In freshwater, perch and rainbow trout are biting well. This week I even caught a 16-inch brown trout which was a nice change of pace. We’ve been using live shiners for big yellow perch, and salmon-colored garlic-scented Berkley Powerbait dough for trout. The fish are biting well on bottom, so a small dipsey sinker will do the trick to weigh down baits.

Cape Cod Fishing Forecast

Amazing to hear that there are still bluefish around! I’d love to end the season with a couple more blues under the belt. It isn’t surprising to hear they’re hanging around though, considering the first reports of blues our way was around April 1st this year. I guess cold water doesn’t bother them as much since they are a trans-Atlantic species. Keep throwing those Hopkins and Krocodile spoons, there may be a few gators willing to take one.

I’m saddened by the drastic decrease in striper activity, but all good things must come to an end (even if only temporarily). It’s worth a couple trips to the Canal or local inlets to catch a few more schoolies before the season dies off completely, so don’t be hesitant like I have! I’m making it a goal to get out there and fish through the cold nights and mornings this week. Maybe I’ll even give tautog fishing a go in the Canal, considering I don’t have a boat or the dry gear to continue kayaking in choppy, cold water.

Freshwater fishing has been great on all fronts. Shiners and shiner imitations seem to be catching multiple different species with the most consistency, but that could change. Sunny and breezy days will have yellow perch in shallow, along with largemouth bass, which will likely be suspended between deepwater cover and shallow, sunny flats where they can feed and/or warm up during the day. Trout will become a number one target for many of us in the next few weeks, and not soon after, I’ll go back to targeting white perch. I’d like to find a couple more reliable spots to catch those powerful little panfish.

Wherever this week finds you fishing, respect each other, respect the fish, be safe and fish hard. Catch you next week.

2 on “Cape Cod Fishing Report- November 17, 2022

  1. P

    I’d thought things were almost done, but the last week I have seen multiple large surface feeds off south side beaches in the upper cape area. Good sized fish too. And I know for a fact people are still finding slots fairly easily in NH fishing from the surf….very interesting season. Warm ambient temps & strong la nina

    1. Matt Haeffner


      Interesting season indeed! You are not the only one to report sporadic blitzes on the south side this week. Some said there were albies down there within shore casting distance, and there are certainly still scattered schools of slot bass in Buzzards. Hope you are still out there enjoying the run!

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