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Ice Fishing on Cape Cod | January Fishing Report

Ryan Collins

We drilled through 6 inches of ice and set our traps rigged with live shiners. Minutes later we started catching jumbo pickerel, perch and largemouth bass.

That was last Wednesday January 3rd, under bright blue clear skies, before today's slightly milder temperatures settled into the region. 

For this trip I joined my good friend Jeff and three of his good buddies, Billy, Greg and Dan. Billy, Greg and Dan are brothers, and they have been fishing with my friend Jeff for years, so I knew it would be a fun trip. The moon was still hovering above the frozen surface of the pond when we arrived on the ice.

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Ice Fishing On Cape Cod

It was a cold winter landscape, and a complete 180 degree polar opposite from the week before when I was catching roosterfish in Costa Rica. In this day and age it is just incredible how you can be fishing in the tropics one day, and then be fishing in what looked like the frozen tundra, just a few days later. 

The guys had chosen to fish this pond primarily because it had a thick sheet of safe ice. In fact we had to drill through 5-7 inches of ice, whereas some other ponds in the Cape region only had 3 inches of ice. While it's possible to ice fish on just 3 inches, these guys don't recommend it, and they prefer at least 5-7. 

When ice fishing on Cape Cod, a common strategy is to setup "traps". These devices have been around for many years. Essentially the trap does most of the work for you, and when the flag pops up, you hustle over and reel in the fish by hand - similar to the handlines we sometimes use in Costa Rica.

If you would like to learn more about our ice fishing strategy, including information about the pond we were fishing, water depth where we set our traps, bait and other ice fishing equipment and advice, then please watch our new ice fishing tutorial video for a complete overview. 

Before we could even get situated and set all our traps, I heard Jeff yelling my name and saw him pointing to one of the first traps we had set. The flag was standing straight up, fish on!

Jeff and I hustled over to the trap. I knelt down onto the ice and hit record on my camera, as Jeff removed the trap from the hole and started to bring in the fish. Little did we know it would be the first of more than two dozen fish which we would pull through the ice over the next few hours. 

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I’m fortunate to have grown up on the beach, and I’ve been fishing since kindergarten. I have great family, friends and fishing experiences to be thankful for. Just being out there is enough-catching fish is just a bonus!

  1. I used to ice fish in Meredith Bay on Lake Winnipessaukee. Best part was never knowing what would come through the ice. Lake Trout, Rainbows, Bass, Cusk, Perch and Land Locked Salmon. Just remember that New Hampshire doesn’t allow the taking of Salmon when ice fishing. My friend and I once had a group of game wardens covertly watching us all day from a bluff over looking where we were fishing. They stopped us on our way off the ice and checked our sleds. They thought they had found some poachers as unbeknownst to us we were fishing in an area that was known for having Salmon. They were very upset when they realized that we had been releasing all the fish we caught!

    Reply
    1. Of course you released everything! LOL We kept the yellow and white perch, and they were delicious!

      Betsy and Lauren will continue to be baffled by “catch and release” 😉

      We also didn’t know what to expect when the flag went up. It was really fun seeing what species would come through the ice next.

      Great story about the poachers/wardens!

      Reply
  2. I believe the white perch is a member of the bass family, similar to the crappie. I know there are others such as white bass as well. All look similar and I have always had problems telling one from the other (mostly color and pattern).

    And there are some good size pickerel around PLY ponds – I’ve pulled 5-6 lb’rs which are a lot of fun to catch especially on lighter tackle. They hit hard and agressive.

    Reply
    1. I ate the white and yellow perch yesterday and they were delicious!

      I agree with regards to the pickerels. There are some MONSTER pickerel on Cape Cod and throughout SE Massachusetts for that matter.

      Tight lines Tim!

      Reply
  3. Great read 👍🏼

    Reply
    1. Glad you enjoyed it.

      How’s that canal bag treating you so far?

      Reply
      1. Love my new canal bag! Will definitely be showing it off in my videos!

        Reply
        1. Terrific! That is great to hear.

          Reply

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