Cape Cod Fishing Report- February 9, 2023

Big trout, chain pickerel and yellow perch provide some action in the ponds through frigid conditions and a tough week of fishing.

Welp, the deep freeze last weekend did exactly what we hoped it wouldn’t. Unsafe skim ice formed on most of the recently-productive local ponds, and although I made it out once or twice, this week has felt like fishing purgatory. There really is nothing worse than a pond covered in slushy ice thin enough that you can’t stand on it, and thick enough that you can’t fish around it or through it. The only waters that remained unfrozen were some of the larger lakes like Mashpee-Wakeby Pond, which had white caps amid high winds on Sunday.

Cape Cod locals enjoyed good trout fishing before the freeze, and with nothing but mild conditions in the forecast for the next week, freshwater fishing should improve. With 50-degree temperatures on the horizon, chain pickerel and largemouth bass will be more active. It seems the groundhog may have been wrong about an extended winter, but don’t let me speak too soon.

Last week we covered how to find a consistent, quality pickerel bite on spoons in herring-run ponds. Vegetation is key, and it’s also crucial to find the perfect weighted spoon that allows you to cast far enough and swim the lure deep enough without snagging on weeds. As far as I know, nobody is dying to catch pickerel, but that’s not what winter fishing is about. It’s more about keeping a rod bent, staying outdoors and finding enjoyment in the sport through a different avenue for a couple months. With a trout setup, a few spoons and some 6- to 8-pound-test fluorocarbon, pickerel are a worthy winter “consolation prize” that provide smiles all winter long. They’ll be biting well again this week with the warmer weather, so take a few hours at your local pond to target some of these toothy slime torpedos.

The larger kettle ponds have remained nearly free of ice and were giving up some good trout here and there. Although I skunked on one of my two outings, the fishermen I crossed paths with had found some good action in a wind-blown cove that gifted them open water in an Upper Cape trout pond. They were catching big rainbows on nightcrawlers and Powerbait dough rigged up with dispey sinkers to sit on bottom. That’s a great way to wet a line and catch up with some buddies because it’s a little less active than wading the edges of icy ponds. Personally, I prefer the more active cast-and-retrieve approach, but if it bends the rod and keeps your fingers from going numb, go for it.

By now, the brackish ponds and salt ponds (many of which had also frozen over last weekend) are thawed out and should be giving up holdover stripers on occasion, as well as white perch. I plan on taking some time to work the white perch ponds this weekend. It’s a good way to enjoy a little light tackle action before cheffing up the catch to keep my girlfriend happy going into Valentine’s Day next week. These fresh fish sliders are for you, Micaela, not me (wink).

Lastly, yellow perch and largemouth bass should be back to chewing this weekend. Keep in mind what was said about micro-soft plastics in last week’s report; ned rigs, curly-tail grubs and micro paddletails are your best friend during winter, especially when conditions significantly change. Some of these soft plastics have subtle action even when sitting still on bottom, so practice drastically slowing your already-slow retrieve and you’ll be surprised at what might pick up your lure.

I wish I had more to report besides a skunking, two pickerel and several fruitless searches for open water, but that’s the type of week it was on this end. On that note, here is some good news from our local shops.

Connor at Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay reports:

“Now that some of the skim ice is melted off, we’ve had a lot of guys going for trout on some of the larger kettle ponds around Cape and Plymouth. Our customers have mostly been doing well in the ponds around Falmouth, Mashpee and Marstons Mills, but almost all the good fishing has been on bait. It looks like live shiners and Powerbait nuggets are the go-to options right now; there were a few 3- and 4-pound trout reported by guys at the shop.”

Eastman’s Sport and Tackle in Falmouth reports:

“Trout fishing is the number one thing going right now. They’re still active despite the freezing cold water temperatures, so bait fishing isn’t a bad idea because they may be lower in the water column seeking slightly more temperate waters. With mild weather on the horizon, it might be smart to hit the bass ponds or any prospective holdover striper spots this week.”

Amy at Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis reports:

“This week has seen slower fishing after a frigid weekend, but there are still folks out there catching trout.  The gentleman who writes our fishing reports on occasion was fishing in Marstons Mills and his friend caught a big rainbow on nightcrawlers, and others are catching perch on shiners, so it seems the bait trend has carried on from last week. The yellow perch are taking a liking to the shiners while trout have preferred nightcrawlers recently, but, one of my regulars has actually been doing really well catching perch on worms from shore. While bait seems to be the key right now, another great option for catching perch from shore is to cast small soft plastics and very slowly jig them along the bottom.”

Cape Cod Fishing Forecast

Sounds like it’s time to dig up one of the many bait buckets I have stowed and put it to use this weekend. Fishing with live shiners is a pretty good time when it’s not nearly freezing, and this weekend looks mild. Watching a bobber dart around with a panicked shiner is definitely a bit more enticing than hooking some Powerbait onto a fishfinder rig and playing bait-and-wait, but Powerbait has been catching some larger trout a few towns over from Falmouth. It might be worth trying!

With 55-degree temperatures forecasted for Friday, trout won’t be the only species worth targeting. Any of the freshwater pond regulars will be active, so take advantage of the vernal conditions after a weekend of sub-zero temperatures. Pack up your favorite jerkbaits, spinners, soft plastics and maybe some Powerbait, and get after it! Wherever fishing finds you this week, respect the fish, respect each other, be safe and fish hard.

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