Cape Cod Fishing Report- March 2, 2023

Holdover stripers are active in Nantucket while freshwater fishing activity takes a dive around Cape Cod prior to the start of trout stocking.

Rumblings of holdover striped bass on the south side of Cape Cod continued this week. From Falmouth to Chatham, a couple of quality fish were reported in the rivers. I pursued the rumors to no avail, on two separate nights. After this woeful week of weather and some snow melt, water temperatures are still frigid, and on both nights I left my spots feeling defeated and numb below the waist. Still won’t quit. I want to catch a bass on Cape Cod before April, and the fruitless search thus far will make it that much more rewarding when I do find the fish.

But on Nantucket, holdover fishing is a different story. Nick Lombardi has been finding quality holdover stripers by fishing salt ponds from the sod banks and mussel beds at night. Nick has found the most success during mild and wet conditions, and the bass he’s catching are respectable winter residents.

Nick Lombardi caught this 37-inch striper in a Nantucket salt pond last week. (@nhlombardi)

Judging by the gut on this over-slot bass, they’re eating well in the Grey Lady’s salt ponds. Personally, I’d be content with a bass of any size at this point! Nick didn’t stop there, though. He sent me more pictures yesterday of a more recent catch: this 39-inch striper with the tail of a wanna-be 50.

Nick Lombardi has dialed in on the holdover stripers in his home waters, and the biggins have not been shy. (@nhlombardi)

Wind, mild weather and damp, moist air are considered to be very “bassy” conditions; moving water is also crucial, and now that we’ve made it to March, I’m hopeful for a little more activity in the areas I’ve been fishing.

Freshwater fishing, for the most part, was slow this week as well. The ponds were pretty quiet, and besides a few smaller white perch on a quick outing I made, I was skunked each time I went out. Some weeks are like that. Temperatures have been all over the place, and we even regressed into some January-like weather this past weekend, which put some ice on a few of the ponds.

To get ahead of the game, I used the 20-degree temperatures over the weekend to make a trip to Eastman’s Sport and Tackle in Falmouth before shutting myself in to change hooks, split rings, and organize/clean my saltwater gear all weekend long. Typically I wait until the end of March to do maintenance, but it feels good to have it out of the way so I can focus on fishing from here on out without all the rusty hooks and trebles hanging over my head (metaphorically) for the rest of the month.

While I sat inside like a hermit with piles of fishing gear all weekend, a few anglers found open water in the larger Upper Cape kettle ponds and caught some rainbow trout. Besides trout, scattered reports of holdovers, and the few white perch I caught this week, there hasn’t been very reliable fishing. Mild weather is on the horizon, though, and so is the spring trout stocking. That will provide anglers with a little light tackle entertainment until April when saltwater fishing starts to pick up again (beginning with tautog).

Still, on Nantucket, there are good fishing reports from the freshwater ponds. When he wasn’t fishing for holdovers, Nick Lombardi has been fishing the sweetwater and reported that his friend caught a 28-inch pickerel this week.

This 28-inch pickerel was caught on Nantucket earlier this week. (shared by @nhlombardi)

If you know me, you know I actually enjoy catching pickerel (in the winter). I’ve caught a fair share of good ones since December, but a 28-incher is a beast. It’s worth a few skunkings to potentially land a fish of that size. To see what else has been biting around Cape Cod, let’s check in with our local shops this week.

Amy at Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis reports:

“Not much has changed since last week, it’s been sort of slow with crummy weather and colder temperatures. A few of our customers have been catching rainbow trout and yellow perch with nightcrawlers and PowerBait, but the fish haven’t been as active as weeks prior. We’re hoping to see a turnaround in trout fishing with the stocking trucks beginning to make their rounds this week.”

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

“Unfortunately, the fishing has been exceptionally slow this past week. There haven’t been many reports of activity from freshwater anglers after some really cold weather and snow, but some people are coming in to gear up for the saltwater season with a few new lures and terminal tackle. The forecast doesn’t look so great this weekend either, but hopefully with the trout stocking we’ll see an uptick in activity from the ponds.”

Connor at Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay reports:

“Been quiet with a lot of the same reports as last week. Most of the reports we’ve gotten have been guys out catching largemouth more than trout now; I’m not sure what changed but that’s been the better bite this past week. The state will probably be stocking trout beginning this week, if they haven’t already started. PowerBait will be a popular choice in the shop over the coming weeks because these are hatchery fish and they’re all pellet fed, so the PowerBait nuggets perfectly match the food they were raised on.”

Cape Cod Fishing Forecast

Anglers have the trout stocking to look forward to, which should begin over the next week or so. The spring stocking always begins in southeast Massachusetts, so we’ve got that going for us!

What I’m more excited for, though, is the nighttime largemouth bass bite that begins around early to mid-March. After a string of a few mild days, bass will start transitioning into shallower water. Wake baits, swimbaits and small, slow-moving topwaters will catch bass on the flats that are preying on small baitfish. To take advantage of this bite, start by fishing in smaller, shallower ponds where the water will warm up more easily. The larger kettle ponds will start to fish better for bass come April, but that is where the best trout action will be.

In the next few weeks we may also begin to see some early “scout” herring in the rivers and ponds. Keep an eye on your local herring runs!

If you’re looking for a challenge, head to the nearest salt pond and target winter holdovers. I’ll be doing the same for much of the month.

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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