A Fresh Angle
“The seals are pushing fish farther out in the saltwater, so it’s getting harder to fish from the saltwater beaches,” says Steve Kean of Cape Cod Fishing Expeditions. “The ponds are a blast to fish, and there’s hardly ever anyone on them. With the warm weather we’ve been having the past couple of seasons, the ponds are fishable year-round.”
The ponds of Nickerson State Park in Brewster—offering easy access, good parking, camping sites, and bike trails—are probably the best place to begin freshwater fly fishing on the Cape. Eight ponds lie within the park’s 1,900 acres, including the Cape’s second largest pond, 204-acre Big Cliff Pond. Big Cliff Pond is the most heavily stocked pond on the Cape, with brook, brown, rainbow, and tiger trout introduced in the spring and fall.
Broodstock Atlantic salmon have been stocked in the past. The pond has 2.6 miles of shoreline, but most of it is hard to reach because of trees and cliffs. There is a nice sandy beach and swimming area at Big Cliff, perfect for the non-anglers in the family. The bank slopes gradually toward the center, and you can wade 10 or so feet out from shore, where the water averages five feet deep.
Because of Big Cliff’s depth—88 feet at its maximum—trout are able to survive the warmer temperatures of summer, producing some lunker trout (the record is a 32-inch brown pulled from here in 1954). In addition to trout, smallmouth bass patrol the top water, enjoying the cover of trees and lily pads. Yellow poppers, wooley buggers, and deceivers work well played through the cover.
“My favorite time to fish the ponds is at dusk, when the big browns hunt minnows in close to shore,” says Chris Kokorda of Fishing the Cape in West Harwich. “If you play streamers or any flashy minnow pattern through the cover, you can catch some big fish that put up a pretty good fight.”
One reason Cape ponds have big large mouth bass and holdover trout is that herring and other bait fish are able to swim into many of the Cape ponds.
“That’s unique to the Cape, the fact that we have these great freshwater ponds with saltwater access through marshes,” says Kokorda. “There’s a great food supply for freshwater game fish here, and the depths of the ponds mean the trout can survive the warm weather.”
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