March 22 2017

Fly Fishing Cape Cod for Trout with “Pirate”


Billy Mitchell

With whispers coming through the proverbial fishing grapevines that the stocking trucks had begun their semiannual pilgrimage to the various kettle ponds on and off the Cape, I immediately began concocting plans to make my way down to one of these ponds with the fly rod, even if it meant breaking through a thin layer of ice to do so.

The plan (formulated the previous night via text with a buddy named Pirate-and cemented after a few or five IPA’s) was to ignore the weather report calling for subfreezing temps, less than ideal winds, and a consistent snowfall, put on the waders, and “maybe just make a few casts at the pond down the road.”


“It might be freezing, I hope my fingers don’t get frostbit!" is what I recall thinking to myself the night before this fly fishing trip.

Honestly though, who cares about a little cold! I am happy to report that it is now officially Spring, and freshly stocked rainbow trout, brown trout and brook trout are swimming in ponds throughout Massachusetts and Cape Cod. 

See which ponds in your area have been stocked.

Each spring the Mass Wildlife stocks many of the ponds and kettle holes throughout Cape Cod and Massachusetts. 

Click here to see which ponds in your area have been stocked.

Cape Cod Fly Fishing
in the Snow

Local legend "Pirate" who appeared on the hit TV show Wicked Tuna, enjoys "just being out there." Catching a trout is a bonus.

The next afternoon I drove downtown through the snow to pick up Pirate. It was quiet on the roads, and I felt sort of crazy to be mentally developing my fishing gameplan, while the scenery outside of my windshield resembled a mid-January day.

I remember thinking to myself,

"I’m not expecting to catch anything. I’ll be totally happy
to just get out there."

And as pirate hopped into the passenger seat, he echoed my thoughts, saying rather matter-of-factly,

“Ya know Billy, I don’t think we’re going to catch anything today. Too cold. Trout are still getting used to their new home. Pressure isn’t right, but I’m just happy to get out here and make some casts.”

I nodded in agreement.

Down at the kettle pond, the snow continued falling with a steady breath of wind in our face. I strung up my 5-weight, and took my first steps into the black, snow-dimpled spring water.

Pirate Hooks a Rainbow
On The Fly

The author's good friend Pirate, hooked into a healthy trout on the fly
during a snowy and cold day.

We waded over to a small rocky peninsula surrounded by deeper water, and I began casting my wooly bugger, making short jerky strips and pauses, letting the fly fall and flutter in the water column. I shook off the cobwebs and was relieved that my muscles remembered how to cast a fly rod, after my winter hibernation.

I cast for a long time, making sure to hit all numbers on the clock in front of me, counting out and chanting the zen-like rhythms of the fly cast. The pond was quiet, the snowcapped trees just barely swaying in the short gusts of wind. There was a silence to the snowy landscape, an absolute vacuum of sound, save for the whooshing of fly line through partially frozen guides and the short splash of my fly landing in the water.

My meditation was disrupted when Pirate let out a yell.

“Here we go Bill! I’m on!”

Pirate's fly rod arched and his floating line zigged to the left, then moved off to deeper water. The fish put Pirate on the reel and then took some drag.

“I knew it Bill,” Pirate said, smiling profusely. “I knew we were going to catch. I had one of my feelings. Just didn’t want to say nothing!”

After a few short runs, Pirate had subdued the fish, a rainbow with a brilliant all-pink gill plate. He reached in the water, said thanks to the fish (as is customary for Pirate), and watched as the trout kicked off into deeper water. We both laughed, and stood for a moment in the "warmth" of a successful fishing trip.

A Very Successful Start
To The Spring

The author's beautiful Rainbow trout, which he caught while using a 5 weight rod, paired with floating line, 6x tippet, and the old reliable "wooly bugger" fly.

After some more empty casts, I moved down toward a small cove and laid out a long cast parallel to the shoreline. I stripped the line once and felt the smallest bit of pressure on the end of the line. I lifted the rod tip up and the line started peeling from my hand.

Within seconds, the fish was on the reel, pulling short bursts of drag. The fish moved off to my right and held its ground. I pulled back on the fly rod, careful not to put too much pressure on my 6x tippet. The fish began swimming toward me and made a hard right turn parallel to the shore line. I regained my lost line, and soon, had the chunky rainbow in my hand, wooly bugger nestled securely in the corner of its mouth.

I laid the fish on the snow to snap a quick picture; the silver flanks and olive and pink streaks of the trout were almost glowing against the freshly fallen snow. After the photoshoot I quickly released the trout back into the water.

Pirate and I each made a few more casts (including a number of ‘last casts’) before eventually determining it was time to leave. The snow had stopped, and the last sunlight of the day even was trying to break throughout the overcast sky. But it was getting colder and the wind was beginning to howl. I couldn’t feel my fingertips. Spring has not exactly blossomed, and instead we seem locked in a tug-of-war with old man winter.

Yet on the ride home, with my numb fingers directly in front of the blasting heat vent, I realized that the tug on the end of my fly line meant that Spring was here in all of its newborn uncertainty.

I don't know about you but I am excited for spring fishing, even if I have to gas up the snowblower one more time 😉

What do you think?

Let us know by commenting below.

About the author 

Billy Mitchell

A member of MFCC since 2014, Billy has been an active participant in our forum, posting reports and answering questions. Recently Billy launched his own website which features reports, podcasts & information about charters.

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