Cape Cod Fishing Report- February 23, 2023

Largemouth bass activity increases in the ponds, white perch provide light tackle action, holdover stripers are biting on the south side of Cape.

Spring was in the air this week, with some warm-weather days creating favorable fishing conditions for pond-hopping freshwater anglers.

After hearing of the success among fishermen using bait over artificial lures last week, I decided to try my hand at tossing some shiners beneath a bobber at night. The first half of the winter was fruitless in the search for a big, holdover brown trout or a substantial bass; low water levels and pesky yellow perch made presented challenging conditions. But with water levels having returned to near normalcy after a wet winter, some mild weather increased the potential for better fishing in the ponds.

My buddy Jack picked up a bucket of super-sized shiners from Sports Port in Hyannis late last week, and with light rain in the forecast for the evening, we headed out with battery-powered glow bobbers and crossed fingers.

The night started out quiet for us, and with no action after the first hour or so, we debated moving to a new pond. Instead of leaving, we opted to push down the shoreline and out of the wind-protected cove we had chosen to fish in. The wind died down as the night carried on. We moved to an area where a grassy flat dropped off quickly into deep water, and almost immediately after setting out a few shiners near the drop-off, our bobbers began dancing across the glassy pond. The baits were panicking, and the surface slowly came to life. Large boils and swirls on the surface indicated that our baits were being toyed with, and soon, the action began. We hooked and lost several quality fish that fought like trout, but we never got them to shore. I’m not sure why, but it seemed like they were struggling to find the hook. However, we were certain these were not yellow perch pestering us this time around. To pass the time, we began to crawl jointed Rapalas across the surface to mimic a dying shiner, but the interest in our live baits surpassed the tempting click-clack of a jointed lure being crept over the weed line.

A few minutes went by before I put down the Rapala rod to set out a fresh and sprightly shiner on my other setup. Almost immediately after casting it out, this shiner began swimming frantically back toward shore, dragging my bobber behind it for several yards before the bobber stood upright and quickly dipped beneath the surface. I picked up the rod, reeled down on the slack line and reared back gently to ensure a hookset this time. It worked, and the fish ripped out a short spurt of drag before I was able to reel it in with ease. I asked Jack to get the net and he scooped up this chunky 4-pound largemouth bass that was hooked perfectly in the roof of the mouth.

Despite a couple of weird bruises and a torn tail fin, this largemouth bass was lively and healthy.

For the live shiners, we opted for Size 2 Gamakatsu Octopus Circle hooks due to their thin-wire gauge and durable construction. We had a few more bites throughout the remainder of the night, but this small victory was all we needed to boost our spirits after several outing in which we got “perched”. Those little guys can be a real nuisance.

I had to hop on the bait-fishing trend to net a nice bass this week, and it’s something I might have to dabble in more often. Clearly there are times where live bait excels over artificial lures, as we spent much of the night tossing different lures along with the jointed Rapalas, and we didn’t receive a single swipe.

Bass were biting all week, and some of my cohorts at the OTW office have also been out there on the ponds getting in on the action. There’s a good chance the bass fishing will slow down again over the next week with near-freezing temperatures back in the forecast, but as long as skim ice doesn’t form, it may improve the trout fishing in lakes and ponds where they have been competing for food with bass in recent weeks.

When temperatures get cold again this week, white perch activity should also increase a bit. White perch are another pretty reliable cold-weather fishing option when trout fishing is slow, and if there’s been recent rain, they tend to really chew (much like stripers).

One of our readers, Kyle Achee, reached out regarding his white perch endeavors this past week. Kyle reported:

“I was out in the mid-Cape area and found some sizable white perch to 14 inches by fishing small shiners from a kayak. I also fished my second rod with curly tail grubs, trout spoons, hair jigs and only got pickerel or yellow perch to bite on those. It seems like the ticket for big white perch is live bait.”

Kyle Achee caught this whopper of a white perch while fishing live shiners from his kayak earlier this week.

While fishing with green Bass Pro marabou crappie jigs, I also managed to land a handful of white perch during lunch this week. They were barely tapping the jig, which was strange because they were rolling and causing boils on the surface left and right of where I stood.

The largest of four white perch (about 12 inches long), kicking off into clouded water after a quick fight.

If you ask me what the best fishing is for the weekend, I’d recommend trout or white perch. Here’s what our local tackle shops report of fishing this week:

Connor at Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay reports:

“Trout fishing is still good with shiners and nightcrawlers producing most of the substantial catches. Some of the guys here at the shop have been doing really well largemouth bass fishing too. They’re using these 3-inch swimbaits called the Savage Gear 3D Baitfish in the baby bass color and the largemouth are crushing them. They also caught some bass with Texas-rigged senkos, which is definitely more of a warm-water rig, but it’s promising to see that prior to springtime bass fishing.”

Eastman’s Sport and Tackle in Falmouth reports:

“There has been a steady uptick in largemouth bass action this week after some warmer temperatures. Freshwater bass are definitely becoming more active as we inch closer to spring, and soon there will be more reliable bass fishing in our local ponds. Right now, trout fishing is pretty good with a lot of guys catching on nightcrawlers and PowerBait nuggets, with some yellow perch in between to change up the pace. Pickerel will soon begin their aggressive pre-spawn feeding patterns if they haven’t already, and yellow perch will start to fatten up for their spawn as well, so carry some perch Rapalas with you when fishing for bass or pickerel.”

Amy at Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis reports:

“One of our customers came in earlier this week and said he was catching holdovers on the south side of Cape Cod in the estuaries. He was seeing some decent action, but was pretty quiet about where he was, understandably. We are still selling a ton of live bait, and we have more medium and medium-heavy shiners coming in for the trout and bass fishing crowds. Otherwise, suspending and slow-rising Rapalas have been doing most of the damage on trout this week.”

Cape Cod Fishing Forecast

Trout and white perch are the most likely sources of entertainment over the next week. However, chain pickerel may remain on the prowl in the bass ponds where the largemouth have grown lethargic due to water temperature fluctuation.

Live bait may be the new way to target trophy white perch, and even though I personally enjoy catching them on jigs, sometimes it’s clear that live bait is just out-producing anything else. Whether it’s a batch of nightcrawlers or a bucket of shiners, check in with your local tackle shops for bait options if you plan on fishing this week.

I don’t know about you, but I’m itching for spring striped bass fishing. Beyond itching, actually. We’re still 7 to 8 weeks away from the first migratory stripers arriving on Cape Cod, so we’ll have to remain patient. Until then, it sounds like there is some holdover striper fishing to be had in the rivers on the south side of Cape. I’m sure most of our rivers have small populations of resident bass, but I certainly haven’t had much luck finding them…yet!

In a couple of weeks, when March (hopefully) brings the Cape some warmer weather, largemouth bass fishing at night with wake baits and swimbaits will be a great way to pass the time until more of “the other bass” arrive. Until then, we’ll pass the time chasing holdovers and pond hopping for bass, trout and anything else that helps to keep the mind on spring.

If you’d like to contribute to our fishing reports for the remainder of the winter, reach out to me via email ( or via Instagram (@hefftyfishing) with a sentence or two reporting your experience on the water, along with any fish photos related to your report.

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