My shop owner friends from Plymouth to Plum Island have all echoed the same opinion this year – Covid 19 has converted more to angling than any time in memory. For those new to the sport or for those simply looking to stay active, it’s increasingly looking as if ice fishing has to be on your agenda.
Your ally in hardwater pursuits are the small business owners who own tackle shops throughout the Bay State. For a peak into their pro perspective I’ve dusted off some of their best bets through the years!
Massachusetts Fishing Report
Pete from Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate has said that among the first to freeze on the South Shore are the no-name Cranberry Bogs which dot the area. In fitting with a first ice, first outing experience the primary quarry in these spots is our native toothy – the unheralded chain pickerel. For fast action and when the goal is to hook neophytes as well as fish, it’s hard to top those willing fish. Tack Factory Pond, Old Oaken Bucket Pond and Jacobs Pond freeze up pretty early and can provide frozen fun for a host of warm water species. For trout, Pete steers patrons to Plymouth where there are a smattering of ponds such as Little, Long and Fearing which are all periodically stocked with trout.
For frozen fun, the ladies from Fore River Fishing Tackle in Quincy have suggested Whitman’s Pond in Braintree for warm water species along with the outside chance of a spring-stocked rainbow trout. Ponkapoag Pond in Canton is a pretty little place that is long on pickerel along with the occasional nice largemouth bass. Houghton’s hardwater is your choice for trout but as typical of trout water holds some impressive black bass even if they are not as numerous as shallower, weedier locations. A little south of there is Accord Pond in Hingham where in addition to pickerel you can find cooperative panfish.
From Eric of Lunkers in Ashland has mentioned Farm Pond in Framingham as a potential winter winner for largemouth bass and yellow perch. Heard Pond in Wayland is occasionally breached by the Sudbury River making this a multi-species fishery that produces everything from white perch to pike! For trout there is quite the variety with Ashland Reservoir, Hopkinton Reservoir, and Lake Cochituate all holding a mixed bag of trout. Winthrop Lake should get a warm water species nod. For a pike best bet, check out Fairhaven Bay and Spy Pond.
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Pete from Fishing FINatics in Everett has a habit of torturing me all season long with a fusillade of photos depicting big brown trout from Walden Pond in Concord. This year an additional layer of cruelty was added thanks to Horn Pond in Woburn. Horn has become a herring nursery and the trout look like a finned butterball thanks to the fry they are gorging on! While most will be targeting trout, dropping an outsize shiner down there may yield a hawg largemouth or big pickerel! For warm water species, Wrights Pond in Medford is always an interesting option. Occasionally even tiny Fellsmere Pond has given up a nice bass!
David from Merrimack Sports has said that the quiet coves of the Merrimack River, Shawsheen River and Concord River will be among the first to give up pike and if you know anything about pike, you know that they are the heavyweight hardwater champ of the Bay State. The dearth of pike from Lake Attitash has been a boon for bronzebacks as smallmouth bass have prospered. Nearby Tuxbury Pond can feature terrific warm water fishing for everything from bass to bluegills. For crappie, the border water of Big Island Pond is your best chance. Top trout spots are Round Pond, Plugs Pond, and Forest Lake.
You would think Eddie of B&A Bait and Tackle Co. in West Boylston would be taking a break after a bustling season thanks to Wachusett Reservoir but instead, he’s gearing up for ice! The Coachlace Lakes including Coachlace Pond, Mossy Pond and South Meadow Pond – all in Clinton – freeze up relatively early and have a variety of warm water species. Comet Pond in Hubbardston is a good choice for trout. Indian Lake in Worcester has pike and at times the action – especially pre-storm to early storm – can be impressive. The picturesque East Waushacum has been known to give up trophy black bass, crappie, white perch and bluegill.
While we are by no means recommending it yet, odds are that anglers are already out and about on the ice in the western part of the state! In addition to the previously mentioned Clubhouse Pond (Sheomet Lake), Laurel Lake in Warwick tends to freeze relatively early as does Moore Lake and both of those spots have trout along with warm water species. For a touch of the exotic, oxbows and setbacks in the Connecticut River from North Hampton to Hinsdale New Hampshire are hard to beat. Owing to the influence of the river, those fish-bowls give up trophy versions of everything from smallmouth bass to pike to bowfin! These are among the more diverse freshwater environments in New England!
With the lackluster winter last year, if you fished for pike consistently in this state you probably were not a stranger to Cheshire Reservoir! In spite of a high-profile and periodic pressure, this pike mecca has a well-deserved reputation for giving up trophy toothies along with some impressive largemouth bass as well. The nearby Pontoosuc, Buel, and Onota flesh out this region and offer a mixed bag of ice fishing possibilities that stand out in Massachusetts. Anglers who venture out there are fortunate to have a superb bait shop out there in JCB in Cheshire. Captain Patrick Barone of Charter The Berkshires often goes about his guide business throughout these spots as well as Hilltown/Berkshires trout ponds.
Massachusetts Fishing Forecast
First up, please accept this column as hopefully a hardwater harbinger of things to come! As of now I wouldn’t recommend that anyone head out on the ice just yet. With most open water options in the rear view window, all we can do is hope for safe ice soon and it sure looks as if it’s coming!