Cliff Pond Cape Cod

Cliff Pond is a 204 acre natural kettlehole pond with a maximum depth of 88 feet and an average depth of 28 feet. The pond gets its name from the cliffs surrounding the pond. Transparency is exceptional, extending to 23 feet, and aquatic vegetation is scant. The 2.6 miles of shoreline are undeveloped and wooded and protected within Nickerson State Park. The pond is heavily used by boaters during the summer months. The bottom is primarily sand with mud in the deeper areas.


Nickerson State Park is located off of Route 6A, which can be reached from Exit 12 off Route 6 (Mid-Cape Highway). There are two major access points on Cliff Pond: a shallow sand boat ramp for canoes and cartop boats off of Flax Pond Road, and a fishermen’s landing (with a concrete pad boat ramp) accessible via Deer Park Road to Nook Road. The entire shoreline of the pond is wadeable. There is a 10 horsepower maximum horsepower limit for Cliff Pond. Management History: Cliff Pond has an extensive trout and salmon management history dating back to the early twentieth century. A July 1911 survey reported yellow perch, chain pickerel, smallmouth bass and smelt and "Unios [freshwater mussels], abundant, travel a great deal. Sand flea trails mark the sandy shores". In addition to trout, which have regularly been stocked since 1917, Cliff Pond was also stocked with Chinook salmon, landlocked salmon and sockeye salmon. Millions of rainbow smelt fry and eggs have also been stocked. Cliff Pond was partially reclaimed in 1956, and totally reclaimed (along with most of the other ponds in Nickerson State Park) in 1960. An estimated 14,629 pounds of fish, primarily yellow perch, brown bullheads and rainbow smelt were removed from the pond at that time. Due to concern over declining alkalinity levels, the pond was treated with 120 tons of lime in 1977 to reduce the effects of acid rain.

Fish Populations:

Cliff Pond was last surveyed on May 23, 1995 and contained: brook trout, yellow perch, banded killifish, brown trout, rainbow trout, alewife, smallmouth bass and brown bullhead. Rainbow smelt and American eel have also been reported from the pond in small numbers. Brood stock Atlantic salmon were stocked beginning in 1992. The alewife are illegal transfers from nearby herring runs.


Cliff Pond is the most heavily stocked trout water on Cape Cod and is stocked in the spring and fall with brook, brown and rainbow trout. Broodstock Atlantic salmon are stocked in the early winter and in the spring. It regularly produces large holdover trout, especially browns and rainbows. During the summer and early fall, trout will be located at depths of 30 to 40 feet, but for the rest of the year they can be found at almost any depth. Try trolling for them with smelt streamers or small, narrow spoons and spinners. This pond has produced some huge trout. The largest one found in our records was a 32 inch, 19.5 pound brown trout recovered dead in 1954. The pond has also given up a world record American eel (8 pounds, 9 ounces, 46 inches long and 10.5 inches in girth) caught here in 1992. Although the salmonids are the main attraction at this pond some decent sized smallmouth bass are waiting to be caught. Other nearby ponds within Nickerson State Park include Flax Pond, Little Cliff Pond and Higgins Ponds. Bakers Pond in Orleans and Sheep Pond in Brewster are also nearby.

Updated: July , 2005 S.T.H.