While it’s much to soon to be humming Christmas carols again, for ice fishermen all this cold and snow is making for a real “winter wonderland.” And unlike past years, the ice belt continues to expand, enabling anglers to chip a few holes most anywhere in Massachusetts. While ice is nothing new in New Hampshire and Maine, it has now spread to brackish water where the quarry is smelt and the shelter is a shanty.
Massachusetts Fishing Report
If being the “outdoorsman” in your family you’ve received Bass Pro Shop gift certificates and are wondering when to spend them, now may be a good time. You can gear up with ice fishing stuff and then drive the 1.2 miles on Rte. 1A to Robins B&T in Norfolk and top off your bucket with shiners. Robin swears she has the friskiest bait in the business and she recommends you test it out at Lake Pearl in Wrentham or Uncas Pond in Franklin. Both these water bodies have good ice and a mixture of warm water species as well as trout!
Eric of Lunkers in Ashland has been reveling about being able to walk out on Ashland Reservoir for a change with no qualms and is pretty excited about actually selling out of bait for change! Considering the 17-inch tiger trout, brown trout and rainbows that they are icing from Ashland Reservoir there is no doubt why! He has heard good things about Heard Pond in Wayland where some small pike have been caught. This pond is also a good bet for white perch. Another option is Dudley Pond, which has a mixture of everything from crappie to largemouth bass.
Donny from Merrimack Sports said that the bass bite has been pretty good at Tewksbury Reservoir as well as Lake Attitash, the latter of which every once in a while gives up a pike. Millvale Reservoir in Haverhill is a warm water species winner as well.
Eddie of B&A in West Boylston said that folks have been getting some bragging-sized bass and pickerel from South Meadow Pond in Clinton. For a mixture of salmonids, check out Comet in Hubbardston, some of the tiger trout they have caught there recently are real beauties. Another good alternative is picturesque East Waushaccum Pond which has the enviable combination of small yellow perch and smallmouth bass that grow big on that forage.
Jim from Barry’s in Worcester is keeping the bait suppliers busy by moving pounds of shiners and suckers. It’s little wonder with the crappie being caught from Indian Lake and Webster Lake as well as the bass fishing from Flint Pond. The latter has also been known to give up the occasional pike. Jim also suggests Singletary Lake which, thanks to an alewife base, has been known to grow big black bass.
Rod from Flagg’s Fly and Tackle in Orange told me a tale of a young lady who jigged up a fat 5-pound largemouth on a rod from Lake Rohunta, which is right beside the shop. Trout anglers are catching a variety of trout from Lake Mattawa and their getting rainbows from Clubhouse Pond. The Spectacle Ponds are not easy to access, but some feel the crappie catch makes the effort worth it. Anglers are catching walleye as well as pike to 37 inches at the effluence where the Ashuelot River meets up with the Connecticut River in Hinsdale, New Hampshire!
Jim from JCB Bait in Chestershire told me of a family that he set up on Monday and Tuesday among a prime spot on Chestershire Reservoir who had two awesome days. One of the crew called and was excited to have scored an 8-pound pike – his best at the time. This feat would soon be topped by this guy’s 10-pound toothy. The word ecstasy was used to describe the couple of days spent there! If you’d like to target trout, including brown trout try North Pond in the Savoy Mountain State Forest in Florida.
New Hampshire Fishing Report
Seven inches of ice in Great Bay means one thing – its shantytown time! Unfortunately according to Tim Moore from Suds ‘N Soda the smelt haven’t got the memo as of yet! I’m just hoping that our Granite State neighbors have a better season than Bay State smelt fishermen did this year. Meanwhile, Tim has good news about the catching at Pleasant Lake in Deerfield with is a cold water species lake specializing in rainbow trout. Pawtuckaway Lake in Nottingham features good access and parking since it is home to a state park and Turkey Pond in Concord should be tops on your list if you’d love to catch a bragging-sized largemouth bass.
Ice fishing news in Maine is progressing from merely catching something to achieving trophy fish status. According to Dylan from Dag’s in Auburn brutal temperatures kept all but the hardcore away from hardwater as of January 1st, even though it’s the official kick-off of the ice fishing season since live fish can now be used as bait throughout most of Maine. Check the IFW rules before you venture out just in case. Sabattus was less than stellar the first few days but that will be temporary since there’s little doubt that 1000s of pike swim here and the landlocked alewives provide impressive growth rate. On the heels of the 28-pound pike which was taken recently from the “Andro” comes a 9 pound, 10 ounce brown trout from Hobbs Pond. The latter does not give up a lot of brown trout but annual produces a monster. For those particular about panfish, Dylan recommends large, shallow, weedy Herman Pond near Bangor. The panoply of panfish makes this a jigging stick dynamo and the pickerel, being top predator in the pond, grow huge on all that bite-size forage! The smelt camps of the Kennebec River/Merrymeeting Bay area are for the most part back in business, so book reservations now!
Best Bets for the Weekend
First ice is often best ice and increasingly water bodies south of Boston are locking up. Consider Lake Pearl which many consider tops for trout among the Rte. 495 corridor. Ashland Reservoir has been responsible for feisty, brightly colored tiger trout as has Comet in Hubbardston. Farther west, Lake Rohunta is a winner for bass as is Indian Lake for crappie. Cheshire Reservoir is just warming up for pike enthusiasts. Across the border, smelt shacks have popped up from the Squamscott River to the smelt camps of Merrymeeting Bay in Maine. Pleasant Lake in Deerfield is living up to its namesake and it has rainbow trout. Sabattus is just getting started and is probably days away from giving up a ‘gator pike. And for a Maine panfish festival drop a jig/grub through the ice of Herman Pond.