Cape Cod Fishing Report- February 29, 2024

Shallow bog ponds see an uptick in activity from largemouth bass, and trout fishing is good in the kettle lakes prior to the the spring trout stocking.

Cape Cod Fishing Report

Cape Cod got a taste of spring for a day or two before the brisk winter wind and weather came back with a vengeance. It has been blowing like crazy out there since Tuesday night. But the weekend, despite some cold temperatures, held some good bass and trout fishing in the ponds which, surprisingly, remained free of skim ice through 20-degree temps on Sunday.

On Saturday, I explored a few bog ponds and managed to stick a few small largemouth bass on a white, 2.5-inch LiveTarget paddletail rigged on a 1/4-ounce ned head. They weren’t actively feeding, but after locating the school, you can usually pull a couple bass from it before they catch on or spook. The only retrieve cadence they responded to was a slow hop along portions of sandy bottom.

Small finesse swimbaits were the key to getting bit in the bog ponds on Saturday.

After pulling a couple small bass from the first pond, the bite shut down, which was somewhat expected. Another nearby bog pond had much more clear, less tannic water, and the same retrieve with that finesse swimbait worked well there, although the bass were even smaller than the first pond. However, it was interesting to see the impact of water clarity on the color of these bass. They were much lighter, and their black lines far more pronounced, almost like spotted bass.

This chunky little bass was one of 4 that I managed to pull from the second bog pond on Saturday. Note how bright this fish is in comparison to the fish from the first pond, where the water is stained brown.

It was refreshing to find largemouth bass slightly more active than they have been in weeks past. Saturday’s fishing was a small taste of early spring action on the ponds, but the mild weather wouldn’t last. Sunday rolled around and temperatures dropped from the 40s to low 20s overnight.

On Sunday morning, I took a trip up to Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay to re-up on single hooks and split rings. While there, I spoke to Ian Lumsden, who mentioned that trout fishing in Peters Pond has been solid but the crowds have picked up significantly. Peters is a great trout pond, but it receives a ton of fishing pressure, especially this time of year as anglers begin to feel the itch to wet a line after a couple of months off. Mashpee-Wakeby Pond is fishing well too, and while shoreline fishing is not quite as accessible as Peters Pond, hiking in through the woods may provide a bite more space and solitude in areas that don’t receive as much fishing pressure. Big browns and rainbows patrol the rocky drop-offs in Mashpee Pond, and there are even some smaller brook trout in there that may be willing to eat a dry fly as we begin to see insect hatches during periods of mild weather. The other day, one of my casts snagged a tree branch, which stirred up a ton of no-see-ums—another early sign of spring around the corner.


Other trout ponds, such as the kettle lakes of Nickerson State Park or the many ponds in the Marstons Mills area, are seeing good trout fishing as well. In the weeks to come, the fishing will improve as the state begins their rounds of spring trout stocking. You can follow along to check on your local waters with the Massachusetts trout stocking report.

Once the chilly weather starts to wane though, I find it hard to overlook fishing small bass ponds. Larger bodies of water, such as the aforementioned kettle lakes, will take a bit longer to warm up, so if you plan on bass fishing, start by looking in bog ponds or shallow herring-run ponds that are connected to rivers; despite the sub-freezing temperatures on Sunday, I opted to do just that in hopes of finding some bigger bass in unexpected places.

With the drop in air temps, I switched up from throwing small paddletails to suspending jerkbaits. When that didn’t work, I tied on a Kastmaster to present a small, shiny offering under the sunny, cloudless skies. Not even a pickerel took a swipe at the spoon. Getting experimental, I then tied on an early spring killer that has worked well for me in the past— a Vudu Mullet by Egret Baits. The lure is a 1/4-ounce, soft-plastic, mesh-jointed swimbait designed for use in the salt marshes of the south, where anglers catch speckled trout, snook and more. The swimming action is better than most other soft baits I have used or seen, and at 3.5 inches long and only 1/4 ounce, it’s an appetizing size and sinks rather slowly, which allowed me to swim it just over the tops of deeper weeds and grasses without the single belly treble hook getting hung up. I half expected it to work, and after about 30 minutes of casting with no fish, and chipping ice off my guides through it all, I was ready to call it quits and move to another pond. “Last cast” I said aloud to myself as the swimbait plopped down 25 yards out. This time, I switched up the retrieve cadence. Rather than a smooth, steady retrieve, I opted for a twitch-and-pause, fishing the lure like a soft-plastic jerkbait as it is advertised by Egret Baits. As the lure crept over a deep trough between two separate patches of vegetation, it got whacked, and I set the hook on what I expected to be a big pickerel. But, when the unmistakable red lips of a coldwater bucket-mouth bass broke the surface, I was ecstatic.

This bass hit the 3.5-inch Vudu Mullet on a twitch-and-pause retrieve in a deep hole of a herring-run pond on Sunday.

This was the only fish I managed to pull from the pond that morning, but it was a nice one—around 2.5 to 3 pounds and skinny.

After a brief hiatus, I headed back out for the sunset bite at a different pond that also receives a herring run. The herring won’t show up for a couple months, but again, the shallower ponds warm up more quickly, and sometimes, they fish best in the weeks leading up to the herring migration. I’d still be chipping ice off the guides on Sunday evening, but after a day of prolonged sunlight with no cloud cover, maybe there would be some bass moving around in search of a meal. After all, this pond tends to fish best at dusk, at night, or first thing in the morning.

With the same saltwater swimbait/jerkbait hybrid tied on, I got to casting and had no luck until the setting sun dipped behind the trees. The bite window opened, albeit briefly, and a couple more largemouth bass in the 2-pound-plus range hit my lure aggressively. Both fish were sitting in the weeds on the edge of a small channel that connects two portions of the pond.

This bass came out from the weeds and smoked the Vudu Mullet on a twitch-and-pause retrieve. Sometimes the lure itself isn’t the reason you’re not getting bit, but the way the lure is fished makes all the difference.
It pays to get experimental and think outside the box when fishing gets tough. This bait typically works best in mid-March after some extended warmer weather, but with the ponds thawed and mild conditions on the horizon, largemouth bass are already giving us a small taste of what spring has in store.

At the time of this writing, it’s 28 degrees and gusty outside—not ideal fishing conditions. But the week ahead looks good for bass fishing. Between rain showers, the bass ponds should be fishing better by the day. Next week I’m hoping to make some early spring wakebait missions at night; it could be too early, but the nighttime wake bite brings potential for some very big bass, and you won’t know unless you go.

Connor Swartz at Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay said they’ve had a big spike in activity as anglers anticipate the state trout stocking, which should begin around the first or second week of March on and around Cape Cod. Connor said there has been a big uptick in people picking up freshwater gear, from rods and reels to lures and live bait. Check out their selection before heading out to your favorite trout or bass pond this weekend.

Lee at Riverview Bait and Tackle in South Yarmouth said there’s not a ton going on, but there is some decent trout fishing in the kettle ponds around Orleans and Brewster. The few guys getting out have been catching some nice brown trout, with live bait being the key. The shop has live shiners and nightcrawlers, and with trout being stocked over the next week or two, the bite is only going to improve. Swing by before your next trout-outing!

Amy at Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis told me that trout fishing has been good now that the ponds are open after spotty skim ice the past few weeks. They’ve got customers buying gear for the trout stocking which will happen in the next week or two, and the warmer weather next week should bring some good bass fishing too. One customer bought a new combo to go trout fishing yesterday, and he did well. Not to jinx anything, but it would appear we’ve turned a corner on winter weather, because anglers are coming out of the woodwork now, looking to wet a line and get outdoors.

Cape Cod Fishing Forecast

Look to the shallow ponds between rainstorms next week for some decent action from largemouth bass. Cover all your bases by carrying a good mix of lures including finesse swimbaits and ned rigs, jerkbaits, spoons, micro crankbaits, big wake baits, and weedless-rigged paddletails. And if your confidence lure doesn’t do the trick, whichever lure that may be, try to play around with the retrieve cadence, or cover different areas of the pond. Bass fishing is only going to improve from here on out.

Keep an eye on the state trout stocking report to see when they’ve stocked your local kettle ponds, and which species of trout were stocked. The action can be fast and furious in the days following the trout stocking. At first, the fish usually remain schooled up as they adjust to their new environment, so casting artificials like Baker Lures jerkbaits, Kastmasters, Little Cleos, and any type of inline spinner can bring some consistent action, which makes for a ton of fun on light or ultralight tackle.

Spring freshwater fishing is here, and it will carry us through the next month and a half before the first migratory stripers of the year reach Cape Cod and the Islands. Thank you for reading. Now get out there and enjoy a little freshwater action.

(If you’d like to contribute to our weekly fishing reports, email me at mhaeffner@onthewater.com with a brief report of your day on the water and what you caught, or message me on Instagram @matthaeffner.) 

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