Cape Cod Fishing Report- March 23, 2023

The state continues to stock brook, brown and rainbow trout, holdover stripers are active on the south side, and largemouth bass are biting well at night.

I quit! I quit fishing for stocked trout. Kidding, of course (kind of).

Another lunchtime skunk on the trout ponds sent me over the edge this week. The state trout stockings continued, with some ponds around Falmouth and Mashpee receiving a second dose of Eastern brook trout and even brown trout. Maybe I haven’t given the trout ponds a good enough effort, I don’t know; but my coworkers seem to be doing alright with the brookies!

Adam Eldridge caught this brook trout during a lunchtime outing this week. (Photo: Tommy Reilly)
Kevin Blinkoff took advantage of the remaining daylight after 5 p.m. and hooked into a gorgeous brook trout on the fly.

Now that it’s officially spring, we’re seeing daily signs that remind us why we love fishing in the northeast. Water temperatures are slowly climbing, herring are heading upstream in the rivers, watchful ospreys are perched around local water bodies, trout are still being dumped into the ponds, and peepers are peeping after dusk.

Jack Renfrew snapped this photo of an osprey surveying a freshwater pond at sundown this week. (@jack.renfrew.37)

There have even been scattered but frequent reports of holdover striped bass activity in the backwaters all along the south side of Cape Cod. But, before shifting my attention toward saltwater for most of the foreseeable future, it’s time to get in some reps on the bass ponds at night. With all these indicators of spring’s arrival, like herring, ospreys and emerging peepers, largemouth bass are feeding in shallow warm-water ponds before anywhere else. My buddy Jack got into a nice bass on his first cast of the day yesterday while fishing a Real Prey swimbait in broad daylight.

Jack Renfrew caught this long and skinny largemouth on a Real Prey yellow perch swimbait.
Jack was throwing the Real Prey perch swimbait after catching a few big yellow perch on jerkbaits intended for bass earlier in the week. (@jack.renfrew.37)
When yellow perch are fattened up and full of eggs before the spawn in March, they become a target for bigger, hungrier bass that have settled for smaller meals all winter. (@jack.renfrew.37)

So, while sitting in my cubicle, I decided it was time to take advantage of the still, windless night ahead and set out to the local bass pond.

I met up with Jack around 9 p.m. and we hiked into a shallow pond where we’d be able to cover a fair amount of water in a short amount of time. The slight breeze was at our backs and carried our wake baits that much further, allowing us to reach typically “untouched” areas of this pond with long-distance casts. It started slow, but Jack tied into a small 1-pound largemouth after about 30 minutes as a light rain began to fall. Another 20-minutes or so went by, and we considered moving elsewhere or calling it a night when a timely eruption on my wake bait disrupted the glassy pond and our conversation.

This chunky largemouth was not shy about taking a swipe at my bluegill-colored wake bait. (@hefftyfishing)

After a few short pulls of drag, I reeled in this chunky largemouth bass.

Usually, the wake bait eats are pretty cautious, even from bigger fish— they typically slurp it off the surface from behind with stealth— but this was a decisive strike. It was a refreshing surprise, but we felt that our cover might have been blown after the disturbance created by this fish. Before calling it a night, we opted to make a couple more casts and shuffled a few feet away from where I pulled that fish. On the first cast after releasing that fish, Jack’s bait got whacked on the surface and he brought in another quality spring largemouth.

Jack Renfrew reeled in another healthy largemouth that crushed his wake bait immediately after we released a fat 3+ pounder. (@jack.renfrew.37)

So, is my “quitting” trout fishing for the remainder of spring justified? In my mind, yes. With fish of this caliber aggressively taking big baits late at night, I can’t help but focus my efforts on bass fishing. Not to mention, this late night largemouth fishing is a great way to get back in the swing of gearing up at night to go fishing when the stripers are in. Resident stripers are already active on the south side of Cape in salt ponds and rivers. Jack managed a lone striper in shallow, muddy water on a slug-go last weekend, and with bass biting in the Wareham River, it’s safe to say there should be some good activity across the Cape.

Admittedly, it can be tough to get off the couch after a long day at work, but the fishing is only heating up on Cape Cod, literally and metaphorically. Here’s what some of our local shops and Captains have to report this week:

Connor at Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay reports:

“One of my buddies was in town over the weekend and we got into a good brook trout bite by pond hopping a couple spots in Plymouth. Golden spoons were the number one producer of fish for us. I also heard that the Wareham River has some good holdover striper fishing; it’s mostly small fish in the mid- to high-teen range, but anything is good this time of year. Additionally, we have our big spring sale this weekend, and on top of that, we’re doing 2 giveaways: one Jigging World boat rod (it’s a surprise) and a new Penn Authority. We’ll also have 20% off the plug wall and soft plastics, so swing by to enter the giveaway and gear up for the saltwater season.”

Eastman’s Sport and Tackle in Falmouth reports:

“Trout fishing is where anglers should focus their efforts this week for the most reliable fishing opportunities. The more lures and bait options you have available, the more likely it is to find the fish. Some anglers are catching with spoons and spinners while others live and die by the bait; PowerBait nuggets and nightcrawlers are the way to go if you opt to fish with bait, as many of these stocked trout are not big enough to inhale large shiners. A wriggling worm or smelly PowerBait is a much more attainable food source that is equally as tempting to the stockies. Bass fishing is improving in the ponds as well, and will only get better as the water temperatures continue to warm. We’ll have live shiners and nightcrawlers in store this weekend so swing by, grab some bait and get out there.”

Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis reports:

“Most of our customers have been trout fishing this week as stocking continues, but it seems like most of the trout being caught are rainbows, as they’re most plentiful. Anglers are still having great success with live shiners and nightcrawlers. One of our regulars, Glenn, was in the store the other day and got some good sized yellow perch with live shiners as well. We’ve also heard of some good largemouth bass fishing to be had in the smaller, warmer ponds, and that should improve as herring move in in greater numbers. The weekend weather looks grim, but we’ve got some clearance sales going on as we prepare for the coming season. In the next month we’ll have green crabs ready to go for tautog season which opens on April 1.”

Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore reports:

“Everybody is after trout on the Upper Cape ponds recently, it’s the best thing going. We have nightcrawlers coming in as the state continues to stock ponds. Herring are here in most of the rivers which is a good sign, and we’ll see schoolies on them before you know it. April is almost here and we’ll be carrying green crabs early in the month for tautog season.”

Captain Ross of Cape Cod Charter Guys in Bourne reports:

“We’re working on getting the boat in the water around early to mid-May when the stripers come into Buzzard’s Bay and begin to transition through the Cape Cod Canal. We’ll be out and about in April surveying the scene and checking out the tog grounds, but our charters will begin in just over a month, so reach out to book your dates now! Additionally, if anyone is looking for a Captain for their boat, please inquire with us or go to our website, as we provide services to help you find fish on your own vessel. Looking forward to a great season ahead!”

Cape Cod Fishing Forecast

Don’t be stubborn like me, go trout fishing.

Especially if you’ve had a long winter indoors and haven’t been fishing as much as you would have liked, trout are the more reliable freshwater option right now. Shiners, nightcrawlers, PowerBait, tube jigs, spoons, spinners and flies all seem to be catching trout for everyone but this guy!

That being said, if you’re feeling adventurous and you’re up for a challenge, try fishing for largemouth with big swimbaits, glide baits and wake baits in your local pond. Target shallow areas with a fair amount of vegetation that are in close proximity to deep water. Late afternoon and nighttime are the best windows to aim for because the water has been warming all day under the sun.

The weekend weather looks poor with rain and wind in the forecast, but temperatures will remain on the mild side. Keep an eye on the hourly forecast, because it might be one of those weekends where you have a short window to fish without getting drenched. But hey, the fish are already wet, so they don’t mind if it’s raining.

With herring in the rivers, resident bunker becoming active, and wind, rain and mild temperatures this weekend, holdover stripers might even be a worthy target!

Whatever you decide to do, just get out there and give it your best shot. Time to shake off the winter.

If you’d like to contribute to our fishing reports, 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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