Cape Cod Fishing Report- March 28, 2024

The kettle ponds are fishing well for brown and rainbow trout, largemouth bass fishing continues to pick up steam, and anglers begin preparations for spring tautog season.

Cape Cod Fishing Report

After yet another full week of incessant wind and rain, bass fishing is the only good, consistent bite going. I don’t know about you, but I’ve just about had it with March. What a wash of a month! The good news is April is around the corner. If conditions cooperate, by the end of next week, we could be out catching shallow-water tautog, and soon after, fresh migratory schoolie stripers will be arriving on the south-facing shores of Martha’s Vineyard. Can you see the light at the end of the tunnel?

There weren’t many opportunities to wet a line this past week between gusty 30-knot winds, rain and cold weather. When the wind did lay down on Wednesday afternoon (before the next spat of rain), OTW’s Andy Nabreski and I jumped at the opportunity to toss around shiners and crack a couple cold ones after work. “Beers and Bobbers” is an On The Water tradition that has lasted much longer than my few years here, but right around April of each year, we’ll make an effort to get out on a nearby pond with a bucket of bait and a few fish beers from the office. Andy secured a couple dozen shiners from Eastman’s Sport and Tackle in Falmouth and we were off to the pond a few minutes after the clock struck 5.

Andy got bit first and came tight on a shiner-fed largemouth.

The action was slow at first—perhaps because we were using some of the largest shiners I’ve ever seen—but the bite picked up as dusk approached and the barometric pressure began to steadily drop. Andy hooked the first fish, a decent largemouth bass. Nothing to write home about, but we were on the board.

It wasn’t the biggest bass, but it was a chunky one. Each bass we caught had a full gut.

The water was glass calm, and we could see there was clearly some heightened activity in the pond. Ospreys were diving in the opposite corner from where we stood, peepers were chirping, small no-see-ums were buzzing around, and as I watched the surface dimple, it became clear that small sunfish were eating the low-flying insects when they landed on the pond. It was obvious that there was a feeding window opening up with the dropping pressure and dusk approaching. The action continued to improve, although bass were not our only customers.

Chain pickerel came out to play about halfway through the outing. Andy landed a good one that did not go down without a fight, tangling itself in his line as he tried to maneuver the hook out. We were very thankful to have a pair of fish lip grippers yesterday. The pickerel were particularly aggressive, and I even had an alarmingly voracious eat from a pot-bellied largemouth. On more than one occasion, the bobber danced, stood straight up, and got sucked under in the blink of an eye, followed by all of my slack line snapping off the surface in a heartbeat. It was like the fish were smacking the bait and just immediately running with it. Other times, the bobber danced and got dragged down slowly, kind of like how Jaws’ dorsal fin steadily disappears beneath the surface in the classic film. It was either a decisive take, or a hesitant grab and hold. There was no in between. We missed several good fish just because our shiners were so big the hook could not take purchase, or because the fish couldn’t fit the entire bait in their mouths.

I managed to get a hook into this mid-size chain pickerel that had my still-alive shiner gasping in its gullet.

A few missed swings and a pickerel or two later, I finally stuck a quality bass that smoked my shiner and immediately ran for the weeds before I could reel in the slack line. By length it wasn’t very large, but again, the gut was full.

The lopsided stomach of this largemouth was probably full of small sunfish, pond shiners or juvenile yellow perch.

Eventually it started to rain and darkness fell over the pond, so Andy and I called it quits, content with having landed a few decent bass but wishing we had gotten our hooks into fish on some of the better bites we received.

There’s plenty more good bass fishing ahead. I think April is one of the best, if not the best month to be a largemouth bass angler. Bass are still going into pre-spawn feed mode, so there’s certainly a few more nighttime wakebait outings in order in the near future. I’ve got one or two shiner outings left in me before some of our favorite saltwater species start to chew.

If bass fishing is not your cup of tea, trout fishing is the next best thing. All the ponds are stocked, and some have even been stocked twice with multiple species. My buddy Brandon Robinson—who I met on the American Classic out of Lynn earlier this year—reached out with his trout report from this morning and said he did well on one of the upper Cape’s kettle ponds.

Brown trout are hitting trolled spoons and Rapalas in kettle ponds from Sandwich to Marston’s Mills and beyond. (Photo by Brandon Robinson @brandonsworkshop_)

Brandon was slow-trolling spoons and Rapalas from the Jon boat and landed about a dozen and a half brown trout before the rain really started to come down hard. I got nothing but skunked and covered in ticks on my last trek through the woods to go trout fishing, but maybe you’ll find better success! Use the link below to peruse what’s been stocked and where in our local ponds.

The fish are already wet, so the rain won’t stop them from chewing! Brandon Robinson displays one of several quality brown trout that fell to trolled spoons on the Jon boat earlier today. (IG @brandonsworkshop_)

» Trout Stocking Report: Click here to check out which ponds have been stocked in your area

Connor Swartz at Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay said that trout fishing has been on fire recently, despite the wind and foul weather. On Tuesday, the shop weighed in a 2-pound 5-ounce brown trout caught by a young local angler in one of the Falmouth kettle ponds. The fish was caught on a rather unconventional bait; earlier in the week, the same angler brought in a perch that he weighed in in hopes of receiving a recreational sport fishing pin, but it wouldn’t qualify, so he chunked it up and used it to catch this brown trout. Interesting way to catch a quality brown! With yellow perch having spawned, or currently spawning, they’re fat and feeding, so smaller lures intended for trout may be intercepted by jumbo perch on the prowl. On the bass fishing front, things have been quiet from Red Top customers, but they’re anticipating better bass fishing on the back side of this rainstorm.


Evan at Eastman’s Sport and Tackle in Falmouth told me he’s been selling a good amount of trout gear including spoons, nightcrawlers and shiners. The fishing has been good in the ponds around Falmouth and Sandwich. He also spoke to one customer earlier today who had been getting into holdover stripers nearby, which is promising to hear with April around the corner. A few other customers, myself and Andy included, have been fishing shiners for largemouth in the shallower ponds and doing well with bass up to 3-pounds plus. Better saltwater fishing is coming very soon, but until then, stop by the shop for your freshwater fishing needs.

Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis said people are out there catching trout from shore when the wind has laid down a bit. The ponds in Sandwich and Marston’s Mills have been fishing well for rainbows and browns, although Amy did mention that nightcrawlers have been outproducing shiners this week for their customers. They’re anticipating more foot traffic this weekend with the better weather and saltwater fishing season around the corner. They don’t have green crabs in just yet, but give the shop a call to inquire about when they’ll be receiving their first shipment of tog snacks, or pick up some bait for trout and bass fishing until the tog start chewing.

Cape Cod Fishing Forecast

Bass, pickerel, perch and trout. It’s the same old story this week, but by next Thursday I am hoping to be able to share some sort of saltwater report.

There are no words to tell you all how excited I am for the saltwater season to kick off, and I’m sure you all feel the same. Thank you for bearing with us through the winter months, because fishing reports are about to get much better in the coming weeks. In fact, by May, the reports will start to write themselves, and you won’t have to read about my dull shiner fishing escapades any longer. Winter flounder season is open, tautog season opens on April 1, and as stated earlier in the report, stripers should begin to file in around April 15. Right on schedule.

Until then, stick to largemouth and smallmouth bass or trout. Smallmouth bass should be more readily available in shallow water these days, although it’s entirely dependent on water temperature, and recent weather conditions have been overcast, rainy and cold. Still, you won’t know unless you go. A couple weeks back, OTW’s Robbie Tartaglia got into a good smallmouth bite using skirted finesse jigs from shore. If you have a kayak or small boat, you’re even better off. Vertical jigging smallies is one of the most underrated ways to enjoy freshwater fishing. Stick a 3- to 4-inch paddletail, a tube jig or craw imitator on a 1/4- or 3/8-ounce jighead and hold on tight.

Start getting that saltwater gear organized and ready if you’re yet to do so! It’s all happening. Good luck on the water this week and thanks for reading.

(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.) 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *