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Cape Cod Brown Trout Fishing with MFCC Member Tim Mugherini

Ryan Collins

Cape Cod brown trout fishing is at its best during the colder weather months. Therefore fishing for brown trout on Cape Cod can be a great way to have fun during the offseason.

Brown trout can be caught using various methods, including bait fishing, fly fishing and casting artificial lures. Brown trout are an aggressive fish which commonly feed best at night.

Over the past couple of years I have watched inside our forum as our members share their own Cape Cod brown trout fishing reports, tips, tricks and words of advice. Today I am excited to share with you a brand new podcast all about Cape Cod brown trout fishing, with none other than MFCC member Tim Mugherini.

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Tim Mugherini (pictured above) joined My Fishing Cape Cod as a member way back in October of 2017. Since that time Tim has become a consistent poster inside our forum, sharing information on a variety of subjects from brown trout fishing, to fishing the canal, and much more.

In today's podcast Tim shares a wealth of information about brown trout fishing, and answers a bunch of brown trout fishing questions. This podcast will be a great listen for anyone interested in learning how to catch brown trout on Cape Cod and throughout southeastern Massachusetts.

Please click play below to start listening. I have also included a transcript of this podcast for people who prefer to read. You can access the transcript by opening the toggle below. 👇

Click to open transcription

Speaker 1 (00:02):
The My Fishing Cape Cod Chronicles are brought to you by the Goose Hummock shops, Cape Cod's largest outdoor outfitter, serving New England since 1946. Shop them online at themightyfish.com.
Welcome to the My Fishing Cape Cod Chronicles. The My Fishing Cape Cod Chronicles podcast profiles impactful members of our fishing community and beyond. Now here's your host, Kevin Collins.

Kevin Collins (00:32):
Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the My Fishing Cape Cod Chronicles here from myfishingcapecod.com. I'm your host, Kevin Collins, back with you for episode number 16 of the MFCC Chronicle season here in 2020. We're coming down the home stretch here as we're in the final month of 2020, thank goodness. We've got a great show in store for you today. We're going to dip into freshwater fishing and we're going to discuss brown trout fishing around Cape Cod with MFCC member Tim Mugherini.
Tim is already standing by on the line, so let's welcome him into today's program. Tim, how are you today?

Tim Mugherini (01:15):
Good, good, Kevin. Thanks for having me.

Kevin Collins (01:16):
It's a pleasure to have you Tim, and you're a first time guest here on the My Fishing Cape Cod Chronicle. So I want to welcome you in, and I want to just give you a moment to kind of introduce yourself to the crowd or the listeners, so to speak, our little community. I'm sure plenty of folks that are going to be listening to this have already met you or interacted with you in the forum. I know you're extremely active in there, but just wanted to give you a moment to explain a little bit about your background and how you discovered My Fishing Cape Cod.

Tim Mugherini (01:45):
Yes. Sure. I grew up on the South Shore here. I grew up inland freshwater fishing, my whole life, with the occasional trip up to Maine with my grandfather and his World War II buddies for lake trout and salmon, but moved down here to Plymouth back in the mid- 90's. And it kind of occurred to me about six, seven years ago, "Hey dummy, you live across the street from the beach. Maybe it has something you should go try beyond large mouth and [inaudible 00:02:12]" So, I found my way to Ryan's site and joined up. That was probably three, four years ago, now. I've been a member ever since, learned a lot, contributed a lot, and had a lot of fun.

Kevin Collins (02:24):
And I know you're a pretty active guy in the forum and along those lines, Ryan started off a podcast thread a couple of weeks ago on brown trout, which is going to be the topic of today's podcast. So I'm taking it you're a little bit of a brown trout expert?

Tim Mugherini (02:42):
I wouldn't call myself an expert at all, but yeah, I do a fair amount of trout fishing, yes, especially in the off season from salt water. I've learned a lot from other members too in the forum. There's quite a few guys that I fished with and we're always trading notes, right?

Kevin Collins (02:58):
You're talking a guy who would be a complete brown trout beginner, never caught one. I haven't, in full disclosure, gone freshwater fishing in I don't know how many years. I, like you, live in Plymouth right on the ocean. So, that kind of is what pulls me in that direction toward the saltwater. So give me a little bit of a beginners tip on where you would start to look for brown trout, fishy spots, all those types of things without giving away all your honey holes.

Tim Mugherini (03:25):
Sure, sure. First thing to know is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has got a great stocking program and brown trout is one of the trout species they stock on an annual basis. If I recall correctly, I believe the Commonwealth puts in somewhere between a half a million to a million trout a year, across the state. That's well mapped out. They publish it every spring when they start stocking early March all the way into April. And they do a light stocking usually around the October timeframe, too. That's the easy part. You go up to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and search out trout stocking, you'll get the full map of where they stocked when and what species. But generally speaking, right here in Plymouth alone, there's seven, eight, nine ponds they stock on an annual basis. More than I can count on Cape Cod. We got a very diverse pond water table structure here in this area. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of locations that you can fish.

Kevin Collins (04:26):
Well, Tim, while we're talking about where you can locate these fish, how about just giving us a quick peek into the creeks and the little streams and rivers around Cape Cod Bay that feed into the Bay. Can you locate brown trout there and successfully target them?

Tim Mugherini (04:41):
Possible, yes. From a historic nature, trout migrate from salt water to fresh water, to spawn. And brown trout historically, in New England, do that in the fall. That said, the Commonwealth does stock brown trout in some of those locations that are pretty well known on Cape. They're brackish water locations and they're highly sought after by a lot of fly guys. Whether or not those fish caught are stock trout or true native sea run browns, it's hard to say. But theoretically, yeah, it is possible to find sea run browns and certainly stock trout in those locations.

Kevin Collins (05:21):
Like you mentioned, there's a ton of kettle ponds on Cape Cod. And that's something that we talk a little bit about with our good friends down at the Goose Hummock, because they offer so much freshwater gear as well. And it's kind of an unexplored resource in a lot of ways where most people come to Cape Cod to go saltwater fishing. But with that being said, let's dive right into the podcast thread here. And the first question comes up from Jean Dorney and Jean says, "I'd be interested in jerk bait tactics at night versus during the day. I spend most of my trout trips during the day."

Tim Mugherini (05:52):
Fair enough. Yeah. Something unique about brown trout compared to some of the other species, is they enjoy hunting at dusk or at night. They will come in shallow. So honest truth is you can fish for them like you would a large mouth. They will hang in the shallows after dark, hunting. Throwing a round structure with small jerk baits, I like the suspending ones, because you can control the depth, the slow twitches and retrieves with occasional pauses will work just the same as they will on other predators. They have that same behavior. Not to say you won't catch other species too, like rainbow trout, but the browns definitely seem to prefer the cover of darkness for the hunting.

Kevin Collins (06:36):
So along those lines, in terms of hunting at night and baits that might work well at night, we have Rick Landry who posted in the forum as well, touching upon the nighttime trout bite. He says, "That sounds interesting. Also, what would you consider too large for targeting these fish in the evening?" He says, "assuming smaller lures, like a four and a half inch Sluggo would be the maximum size."

Tim Mugherini (07:01):
Yeah. I generally would agree with that, but I've had a few surprises too. Generally speaking with the hardwares I'm using, I'm trying to stay in that two to three and a half inch range, really downsizing it compared to say large mouth or small mouth bass. I have had a couple of large browns and rainbows though, hit something that I was using to target large mouth, the bigger species, generally speaking. These fish do hold over and they do get large. It's not unusual to find brown trout in the 20 inch range at night around Cape Cod. And they can get very aggressive. So generally speaking, to answer the question, two to three and a half inches on the lures. And just to expand on that a bit, I prefer lures generally speaking, that match the hatch, if you will, similar to saltwater fly fishing.
These ponds have perch in them and they have sunfish, a lot of small bait, like silver or gold shiners, and those are the colors I tend to kind of steer towards with one exception. In the cold months, I really, really dig on bright colors. I don't know why, but during the colder months patterns like fire tiger or bright chartreuse seem to do extremely well, especially at night with a full moon, where you have just enough light to reflect off of them. So, there we've given away some of the keys to the kingdom, if you will.

Kevin Collins (08:28):
That's great. I'm sure plenty of folks that are listening along will appreciate it. Our next question is from Kevin Grandfield and he says, I always hear about big browns caught from shore in the winter, but all I seem to catch is rainbows. Any tips for bigger browns in the colder months?

Tim Mugherini (08:45):
Yeah. The biggest one is go at night. Like I said, you can catch browns and rainbows any time of the day. But in my experience, the browns really prefer dusk or after dark. They're there, don't get me wrong, but I suspect they're likely deeper, in deeper water during the day. And when I've caught them during the day, I've been down deeper, using something like a spoon, for example, on the bottom, which is another trick in the winter. That said these are cold water species, so if you're looking to fish for them during the summer, it's going to be more challenging, to be quite frank. They're going to be a lot deeper. You're going to find them much more shallow during the winter, spring and fall. Typically, I go by October to April, which lines up nicely with our stripe friends returning and leaving.

Kevin Collins (09:34):
And, our good buddy, Calvin Torin Sandlin who has been on the My Fishing Cape Cod Chronicles podcast also makes an interesting point in this thread in terms of when you're fishing at night also, just kind of be wary of your lights on the water, in the water, all that type of stuff tends to spook the fish.

Tim Mugherini (09:52):
Yeah. And to use a real life example, just last week, I pulled up at a well-known Plymouth pond to fish one night last week with my golden retriever. And I was getting my gear together and I turned on my headlight to go in the water and looked down and there was a 22 to 24 inch brown trout sitting two feet from my feet. And of course, as soon as I turned on that light, the thing took off like a shot. But it was such a novice move on my part. I should have known better. I like to say it's the first time it's happened, but it's not. I've made that mistake before. It's a good point, Calvin.

Kevin Collins (10:30):
We've also got a comment in here, a comment and a question from Marius, who's kind of in my bandwagon in terms of very novice, hasn't done a ton of freshwater fishing or really targeting trout. And I'll read Marius's post right here, give him a shout out. He says, "How a total beginner can start fishing for browns in the Cape Cod area and how I can come back to the Cape, exploring that fish in the winter time. I usually fish for walleyes or bass, small mouth and large mouth. I have a couple of very light rods starting from 32 ounces and even got my first fly fishing rod that needs some lessons before I can use that. So I'd be interested to hear about stuff from a total beginner's point of view. How to handle a trout safely, release it safely, and how to deal with them using non fly fishing equipment.

Tim Mugherini (11:22):
Sure, absolutely. I think number one, in order to be successful truly at this, you're going to want waders. Every single one of these stock ponds has public access. The Commonwealth wouldn't be stocking them if they didn't. But, that said, just because it has public access doesn't mean it has a lot of space from shore to fish. You're going to need waders. And one of the biggest things I did for myself in the last couple of years is I got a decent net, because if you're wading, especially at night and these fish are aggressive, you're going to catch them and they're going to start thrashing around and with spin gear, you're using trebles usually. So it's best to have that net. Net them in the water, keep them close to the water. I prefer the rubber nets. They're better than nylon because the trebles don't get caught as easily.
And it's better for the fish, frankly. There was a separate thread, I recently saw this week about removing trebles on the back of lures. I haven't got a chance to answer it yet, but in my experience, brown trout are very similar to stripers, and they tend to hit the middle treble. They do not hit the back. Other trout species, not so much, but if the lure functions correctly without a rear treble, I would certainly consider it. It's not something I've pursued, but again, as a safety measure, safely landing fish successfully, it would make it slightly easier. In my experience, browns don't hit that rare. They're pretty aggressive.

Kevin Collins (12:51):
We've got another really good question in here, just down the thread from Leo Schmidt, who says, "Maybe some tackle recommendations, can I get away with an ultra light in-shore rod, angler clip or a tie direct? What line modal versus braid looking forward to this podcast," from Leo.

Tim Mugherini (13:10):
It's such a slippery slope, because everybody has a different opinion [inaudible 00:13:13]. I tend to use one to 2000 size reels with either five or eight pound braid with a short leader, under two feet. In the winter, a trick that I learned from [inaudible 00:13:29], another member who is a trout guru, if you will, is use modal, usually typically six to eight pound modal. Reason being is modal doesn't freeze in the winter. Braid does. Braid absorbs water. You're going to get about three casts off of the braid. You're going to end up really frustrated. I've tried. Trust me. So typically, that's what I go for for line. Direct tie, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. I have used the angler clips in the smaller size they came up with about two years ago. They're called the micros and they're 25 pound test, they're tiny, less than I'm going to go with about five eights of an inch.
I've had no issues using those on jerk baits, and that type of nature. I will use swivels occasionally, with spoons and spinners. And that's mostly due to the nature of them twisting the line. You'll end up with the spool twisted braid by the end of the outing, if you're not careful. So, in my opinion, small clips are fine. Other guys like Anthony would argue you direct ties, which I do do, too. Really depends on my mood and how much I'm switching up lures. I've had success both ways. A leader is key though, with the braid. These fish have good eyesight, unlike large mouth or small mouth, which are a little less finicky, these guys can be extremely finicky, so anything you can do to improve your odds there, is a good thing.

Kevin Collins (15:04):
And, I'll give a shout out real quick to Nick Caparell and Anthony Baeza, who I know are good buddies of yours and are also huge contributors in the forum.

Tim Mugherini (15:12):
Yeah, those guys, they get on it, man. They grind both saltwater and freshwater trout. I've also learned a lot from Kevin Conway who's another member that I fish with occasionally too. And really honestly, half of what I know I've learned from them.

Kevin Collins (15:32):
Another question and topic that I've seen pop up in here is also color selection. That would be a good topic just to touch on real quick, in terms of artificial baits, ultra reel versus fire tiger type, night, day, that type of thing. You talked a little bit about the color scheme earlier in the show, but just wanted to give you a chance to elaborate a little bit more on it.

Tim Mugherini (15:53):
Yeah, absolutely. You know, match the hatch is the number one rule in my book, right? Perch patterns, sunfish pattens, shiner pattens, black over silver, for example. That said, don't rule out the bright colors, especially in the winter, the fire tigers, the bright greens and oranges, chartreuse, especially like I said, during a full moon at night, or even during the day when it's overcast. I've often found trout very sedentary during the winter, especially in the cold, cold months around January, February and bouncing a bright colored lure, a spoon, near the bottom extremely slowly is the most success I've ever had in those dead cold months, for whatever reason.
I'm also a huge fan of weight bait at night. Things like the Rapala jointed minnow, or the Spro BBZ Rat, which is also a jointed lure in the smaller size. And in those cases, I tend to go for the darker colors, similar to straight bass fishing at night. You want that profile to show under the moonlight, or lack of light. So, black, brown and occasionally white. And so I tend to stick too, with those lures that stick near the top of the water column, if you will.

Kevin Collins (17:08):
Tim, you just touched on something that really kind of brought a question to the forefront of my mind in terms of the fish getting a little bit sluggish when the temperatures really drop here in the middle of the winter. We're getting our first real slug of cold Cape Cod air this week. I know the temperature, as we record this right now, the high temperature in the middle of the day, it's 29.7 degrees at my house right now. So it's pretty chilly. And this is the first real patch of this that we've had. And it's only going to get chillier over the next couple of months. So that brings kind of a question to my mind, is there a temperature where you're just like, you know what, it's too cold. They're not going to be active enough for me to try to fish for these.

Tim Mugherini (17:50):
You're always going to have opportunities to catch them, regardless. Again, they're cold water. For me personally, I use the freeze mark, just because I hate dealing with frozen guides. It's more of a personal thing. I've tried and I'll catch them. I've literally cracked ice with my wading boots to get to them, but that said, that's a personal preference. It's still very capable of catching those fish. People ice fish for these fish, assuming we get ice thick enough, which isn't common down here on the Cape in the winter. Most guys who ice fish will either use live bait, which is certainly an option. I don't want to ignore that option. Things like small shiners or creek chubs work perfectly well for brown trout. They love them.
Also use jigs, and again, bright color jigs off the bottom, slow movements. And I'm talking 1000 class reel, barely turning it. I mean, you got to be patient in those cold months. The hits will become more subtle. They won't be so aggressive, but you'll think you're stuck on the bottom for a second until all of a sudden something starts pulling in the other direction. If you can stand the cold and the freezing guide, you can catch them.

Kevin Collins (19:02):
And I guess my last question for you, Tim, would just be, is there anything that we didn't cover in the podcast that you'd really like to kind of point out or get out there in terms of trying to get folks maybe who are kind of on the fence, maybe curious about trout fishing that haven't tried it yet, maybe just a word of encouragement or a final word of advice, just to maybe get folks interested a little bit.

Tim Mugherini (19:26):
You know, it's a great way to pass the winter. You only get out there two or three times. Again, they're aggressive fish. They can fight hard, and it's not unusual to find trout in that 18 to 22 plus range around here. They do hold over and they live several years and they grow big. I will say for gear, just make sure, I touched on the reels and the braid a little bit. Broad-wise, you want something to throw that eighth of a quarter ounce range.
I have two rods I use. One's an ultralight, that's five and a half feet. And the other, one's a light, that's a six and a half foot, both 1-2000 class reels. It doesn't have to be expensive. A [inaudible 00:20:04] presidential reel from Dick's Sporting Goods, which is about 50 to $55 is a very fine trout reel, 7 to 8 pounds of drag. You want to go more expensive, the Shimano Stratix in the 1000 and 2000 class sizes work great, too. If you want something a tad bit more smoother. Get out there, it's fun. I'm always happy to meet up with people too.

Kevin Collins (20:27):
Along those lines, I just wanted to give you a quick compliment and shout out, for the amount of engagement that you have in the forum, you're always willing to help folks. And so we really appreciate that as part of our community and along those lines just wanted to thank you again, too, for taking time out of your day and out of your schedule for joining us here on the show.

Tim Mugherini (20:45):
It's my pleasure. It's been fun.

Kevin Collins (20:46):
All right, Tim, thank you so much for your time on today's podcast and we will look forward to having you be a repeat customer here, maybe in 2021.

Tim Mugherini (20:54):
Sounds like a plan. Thanks, Kevin.

Kevin Collins (20:55):
Well, a very big thanks to Tim Mugherini for joining us on this edition of the My Fishing Cape Cod Chronicles and sharing so much of his time and expertise in fishing for Cape Cod brown trout with us here on today's show, really appreciate Tim and also really appreciate all of you, the members, that took the time to contribute to the thread on the My Fishing Cape Cod Forum started by Ryan Collins. Basically, Ryan has been putting up threads in the forum on interesting fishing topics and the amount of responses that we've been getting is just tremendous.
It's allowed us to include a lot of MFCC members here as guests on the My Fishing Cape Cod Chronicles podcast, and also provide a lot of great feedback to you, the listeners and members. We're able to answer so many of your questions during these podcasts. So hopefully everybody that's taken the time to contribute in the forum and also listen and follow up by listening to the podcast is getting a lot of info and intelligence out of this. So thanks very much as always, for listening. And that's going to put the wraps on today's edition of the My Fishing Cape Cod Chronicles. As always, this is your host, Kevin Collins, signing off, and until we speak again, tight lines and take care.

Speaker 1 (22:09):
Thanks for listening to the My Fishing Cape Cod Chronicles podcast. From all of us here at My Fishing Cape Cod, tight lines and take care.

Speaker 4 (22:19):
For the latest information on how to fish the Cape, be sure to check out myfishingcapecod.com. Become a member today and receive your first month for just $1. Join us as a My Fishing Cape Cod member.


What do you think?

Let me know by commenting below.

  1. Good program on browns the toughest trout that swims.

    Reply
    1. Glad you enjoyed it Bill. Thanks for listening. 👍

      Reply
  2. Could mot access the podcast for a number of days,
    due to unknown causes.
    Worth the wait – Thanks for the excellent info

    Reply
    1. Technical computer issues can be frustrating, so I’m really happy you stuck through it and was eventually able to listen! I’m glad you enjoyed the podcast Ron. Happy New Year and tight lines! 🎣

      Reply
  3. Thanks for that interesting article on brown trout fishing. I used to fish Little Pond in Falmouth Heights for salter browns and rainbows in the early 1960’s. I was real young then but remember the fish fed very well in that brackish water and their bodies outgrew their heads proportionally.
    For the past 60 years I’ve been chasing stripers from Woods Hole to Cuttyhunk. Many of those years chartering. I’ve been getting a free fresh water license for a few years now. Maybe I’ll try trout fishing again.
    Thanks again,
    Capt John Christian

    Reply
    1. Hey John,

      Thanks for stopping by My Fishing Cape Cod! I recognized your name immediately, and I know you’ve done very well over the years chartering along the Elizabeth Islands and inside Woods Hole. I read about you when I was a kid growing up.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the brown trout post. I wonder if there are still a few salter browns in Little Pond? Please let me know if you find any.

      Tight lines! 🎣

      Ryan

      Reply
  4. Very good podcast. I was out today trying a few techniques that Tim mentioned. No luck for 2021 yet but plenty of time left. Nice job Tim and Kevin!

    Reply
  5. Great interview with Tim , He kept it very simple but yet Very informative , covered all the bases , excellent show !!!

    Reply

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