Stony Brook Herring Run on Cape Cod photo by Lissy Perna, herring runs on cape cod
Stony Brook Herring Run on Cape Cod

Herring runs are filling to the gills with fish, which means it’s o-FISH-ally springtime on Cape Cod! Every spring, a miraculous and historical migration takes place. Thousands of herring swim from the ocean waters surrounding Cape Cod through tidal creeks to freshwater ponds to spawn. Like clockwork, the silvery bodies of these herring jump and fight up the fish ladders in early May. This migration takes a few weeks, and it is a magical sight to see. After laying their eggs, the herring return to the ocean, weary from their long journey. These fish make this yearly journey up to eight times in their lifetime. Read on to find my top recommendations for locations to visit to see the herring runs on Cape Cod!

Stony Brook Herring Run & Gristmill, Brewster

This specific herring run is near and dear to my heart, as I spent many childhood days there. My father is also the Miller and Herring Warden at Stony Brook. Make sure to come back on Saturdays throughout the summer to see the gristmill in action grinding corn, and visit the museum, too!
Address: 830 Stony Brook Road, Brewster

Pilgrim Lake, Orleans

The herring run here is lovely to visit with small children, as the sandy bottom of the stream gives you a great view of the fish. Walk along the stream and watch the fish climb the ladder to Pilgrim Lake. Pro tip: wear boots, as it can get muddy along the stream.
Address: end of Herring Brook Road, Orleans

Herring Run Recreation Area, Bourne

This location is a great spot to view the herring migration on Cape Cod. Miles of trails along the canal, including an interpretive loop trail explaining the history of the Cape Cod Canal, are nearby.
Address: 810 Scenic Highway, Bourne

Herring River, Harwich

This location is a great spot to look for herring, and there is a short and sweet loop trail adjacent to the run. Watch for osprey perched in the trees above the run, looking for their next meal.
Address: off Depot Street in West Harwich

More herring runs on Cape Cod to explore

There are many herring runs across Cape Cod. Here is a list of other locations where you might see some herring making their annual migration.

Herring River, Wellfleet
Herring Pond, Eastham
Lover’s Lake, Chatham
Scargo Lake, Dennis
Long Pond, Yarmouth
Tom Mathews Pond, Yarmouth
Mill Creek and Upper Shawme Pond, Sandwich
Cedar Lake and Coonamessett River, Falmouth
Santuit Pond Fish Ladder, Mashpee

When is the best time to see the herring runs on Cape Cod?

The herring appear in the highest volumes in late April and early May. I share updates on my Instagram page, Get Outside Cape Cod, so be sure to check that out, too. I hope you and your family can witness this natural phenomenon this year!

For more information about the herring runs on Cape Cod

To read more about this natural phenomenon on Cape Cod, along with how to become a volunteer fish counter, please visit the Association to Preserve Cape Cod website. For other fun things to do on the Cape during the spring, check out this post!


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