Massachusetts Fishing Report – April 19, 2018

A fishing philosopher who had a yearning for haddock might offer up this one up: “If the season opens and no-one is able to fish it, did it really happen?” The wicked wind has kept even the most determined haddock fishermen at port. Conditions must change sooner or later, right? Meanwhile, not all bemoan the bluster as one Bay State blue-ribbon fishery is now into its second week of catching and another is ready to kick-off on Saturday.

Massachusetts South Shore Fishing Report

These have been dark days for Captain Rich Antonio of Black Rose Charters. Recent intel indicates that shoals of haddock are swarming the shallows of Stellwagen Bank, but conditions have kept Rich and fellow charter captains at port. The pick of the next few days is most likely Sunday, and hopefully for the crew of the Black Rose it will be a fun day.

Typically at this time of the year, the bite is right on top. Jigs/lead under 10 ounces should be sufficient. Should you decide to go the jig/teaser route, consider pink Gulp swimming mullets for your teasers, because haddock love pink. If the fish are not fond of chasing a moving offering, try resting your rig on the bottom while shaking the rod. This is not called the “haddock wiggle” for nothing.

The call for seaworms has gotten the attention of shop owners such as Pete of Belsan’s in Scituate and as of this weekend you should be able to purchase some. Toss a top/bottom rig off the Cedar Point jetty or the seawall of Peggotty Beach for a possible April flattie. Cohasset Harbor is another good early-season option. There is a report of some flounder action finally on the North Shore so be optimistic.

Greater Boston Fishing Report

A regular customer of Fore River B&T in Quincy gave the ladies there the first striper report of the season! The 12- to 18-inch fish were not “fresh” fish but holdovers from the Weymouth Back River. In spite of the chill, these fish were active and belted topwater plugs! Lisa has a hunch that the fish were taken somewhere in the Jackson Square area of the river in Weymouth. Expect to find seaworms in the shop as of this weekend, so can the first confirmed Boston blackback flounder of the year be far behind? I more optimistic than usual since Captain Colby and his Little Sister will be on the hunt for flounder beginning next Wednesday and I’ll be aboard.

Regarding flounder, I’m planning on giving a brief presentation on just that subject at next week’s Boston Old School Bass Seminar/Dinner, which Pete Santini is putting on at Avellino’s in Medford on April 26th. I’m just hoping I won’t be heckled too badly by those who obsess about all things striper. Meanwhile, Pete said that the trout bite has been good at Crystal Lake in Newton, the Brookline Reservoir and Jamaica Pond. PowerBait rules! I’d opt for green, as a friend of mine just caught a 19” 3-pound holdover rainbow with that version.

Dave Panarello
Dave Panarello has been finding cooperative crappie among Greater Boston rivers.

While the wind has given harbor holdovers a break from Captain Dave Panarello and first mate Carl Vinning, not all species have avoided their attention as they have been finding cooperative pre-spawn crappie among setbacks in local rivers. Crappie feed most heavily during dark conditions, especially in eddies or other current seams right next to the main flow of a river.

Massachusetts North Shore Fishing Report

Tomo from Tomo’s Tackle in Salem said that local anglers are taking a bit of a trip to catch. Some are catching crappie and holdover schoolies among Greater Boston rivers. Holdovers live in the Weymouth Back River, the Charles River, the Mystic River and the Saugus River. Occasionally, one is even caught in the Neponset. For closer-to-home crappie possibilities consider Chebacco Lake in the Hamilton/Essex area. This lake is the tailwater of the Essex River alewife run and the millions of fry that are born here in the summer keep most every predatory fish which swim here fat and happy. Tomo expects to be carrying seaworms, possibly as early as this weekend. Timing might be good since there is an unconfirmed report of the first flounder catch off the Dogbar Breakwater, which is at the gateway of Gloucester Harbor.

My first call to Surfland for the season is always a greatly appreciated moment, although there was no fishy news yet. Mike did say that there would be shad reports soon, possibly within the week! And not long after that the first striper scuttlebutt! So where would you expect that first North Shore striper to appear? The Merrimack River? The Plum Island Ocean Front? The Parker River Wildlife Reserve perhaps? Nope…look for that first linesider to show up in the Parker River. Smallish, shallow, bait-rich estuaries/rivers always get those fish first. Just to the south of Newburyport, look for Gloucester’s Little River to give up the first Cape Ann bass.

Central through Western Massachusetts Fishing Report

There are areas, thankfully, which are more slam dunk than speculation, and for those you need to set your sights on Wachusett Reservoir and the Quabbin Reservoir.

It’s a toss-up which one Rod from Flagg’s in Orange knows more about – tying flies/streamers or how to fish the Quabbin. His advice for anglers who don’t have a boat and would rather not wait in line for a rental is to stick to the shore, where landlockeds, lakers, and rainbows prowl this time of the year. Good gates to consider are 22, 35 and even all three boat-launching areas. Many will soak a shiner on the bottom while tossing a spoon with another rod. Rod recommends perch and firetiger Krocodiles for casting. Power-Baiters will be pleased to know that stocking will continue with the plan to eventually drop 5000 rainbows into the Q. When asked about the probability of snagging a rental, Rod replied, “Get there real early!”

The snarl in the weather is perfect for lake trout in Wachusett and, according to Eddie of B&A, the catching has reflected that. The average size is pretty good this year with liberal amounts of 5-pounders sprinkled in the mix. Gates 19, 30, 35 and 8 have been decent and there have been smallies up to 4 ½ pounds taken on yellow perch fry from the Cellar Holes. A smattering of salmon have been taken as well. Kastmasters in metallic perch and firetiger (best under low-light) have been king. Don’t forget blue/chrome however, which has traditionally been the favorite for generations.

Patrick Barone
Patrick Barone of Charter the Berkshires Outfitters has been putting patrons into choice Connecticut River walleyes.

Then there’s Patrick Barone of Charter the Berkshires Outfitters who continues to defy popular wisdom by continually catching walleyes in a state that isn’t known to have them. He’s also finding pike throughout the Connecticut River setbacks and coves. Both species are ordinarily done with spawning now, but the cold water temperatures have prolonged the spawn keeping the fish bunched up and close to shore.

Mike Didonna of the Deerfield Fly shop said that the smaller rivers/tributaries have warmed up more than the larger ones. One advantage to the smaller water bodies is the possibility of finding a treasure trove of wild trout. The Green River and North River have been best bets for fly fishermen working Wooly Buggers as well as Stone Fly and Caddis nymphs. With one eye on next week’s more seasonal weather predictions, look from emerging patterns to become productive and expect them larger rivers to kick into gear more.

Massachusetts Fishing Forecast

Should the seas ever lie down, you can expect haddock on Stellwagen Bank to be a saltwater best bet. Now that shops are intent on carrying flounder candy (seaworms) look for occasional flatfish catches to take place among bays and estuaries. Of course, who could fault you if instead your indulging in Wachusett Reservoir or Quabbin Reservoir, since it’s prime time for salmonoids right now. After all, there will be seven-striped pilgrims appearing in Massachusetts come May, and we all know what that means!

5 on “Massachusetts Fishing Report – April 19, 2018

  1. Stephen Pearson

    How about a squid report? The run start yet? Anyone catching?

  2. Fishin Fool

    “unconfirmed report of first flounder off dogbar breakwater” = “made up by bait shop who wants to sell sea worms” Water is only 41 degrees in Gloucester today which is 3 to 4 degrees colder than it was on this day in 2017. No freakin way there’s flounder at dogbar.

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