Our bait shop friends across the state are having a hard time keeping shiners in stock. Interest in all things fishing remains exceptionally high and hardwater is hardly immune.
Come spring most anglers thoughts in these parts turn toward the salt and who can blame them? Ice fishing however represents more than just a way to while away the winter, it gives anglers an opportunity to catch some pretty special freshwater species. White and yellow perch, smallmouth and largemouth bass, crappie, pickerel and trout are just not in the offing for many once April kicks in!
But now it’s time to indulge and according to Pete from Belsan’s Bait in Scituate the pictures of 27-inch pickerel, 3- and 4-pound largemouth bass and slab crappie are proof that many of you are doing just that! Billington Sea has been good for bass while some impressive perch have come out of Jacobs Pond. Pete also has a list of a bunch of ponds in Pembroke that are giving up a potpourri of panfish. Something can be said for longevity in the bait and tackle business and this no doubt gives Pete Santini of Fishing FINatics an edge when it comes to procuring premium bait when demand is as high as it is. He told me that from smalls to slabs the shop has it all.
Apparently White Pond in Concord has it all also as patrons have been catching impressive largemouth bass and brown trout! Some have been hauling up to Harold Parker State Forest, which is a sprawling multi-waterbody reservation in the Andover/Middleton area where everything from brook trout to smallmouth bass can occasionally be found. Nuno from Lunkers in Ashland said that there have been whispers of a 4-foot pike caught most likely from somewhere along the Sudbury River watershed. Shop regulars have been fishing in Heard Pond, Farm Pond, Winthrop Lake and Dudley Pond. A few of the tight-lipped are targeting trout in Lake Cochituate.
As always David from Merrimack had no shortage of fishy reports to pass along with white perch and even smelt the headlines. Upstream of the Lawrence Dam anglers have been catching both pike and slab white perch! However the biggest surprise was the smelt bite at the Exeter River, which is a tributary of Great Bay in New Hampshire. Because of that there has been a demand for seaworms which has left the shop scrambling to find them! In the past I’ve spiced up a Sabiki rig with a pinch of dilly or trout worm and done real well. For further attractant, put a drop of BioEdge Bloodworm or Sandworm Potion on the worm, that stuff is deadly for smelt! Because the Exeter River is tidal, and New Hampshire and Massachusetts have a reciprocal agreement regarding licenses, your Massachusetts Saltwater License will cover you!
Eddie of B&A Bait and Tackle in West Boylston said that some have been catching smallies from Lake Singletary in Sutton/Millbury. This is also a good spot for big crappie! Regarding crappie consider Webster Lake which has one of the better crappie populations around; it also smallies and largemouth and is stocked often with a variety of trout! In spite of its popularity, Indian Lake is still producing pike! Rod from Flagg’s Fly and Tackle in Orange told me that his biggest challenge is keeping shiners in stock! Lake Rohunta was rocking the other day with countless trucks parked near access locations. Two of his top picks for trout and warm water species are Clubhouse Pond and Moore’s Pond.
Jim from JCB Bait in Cheshire is often the copilot to others success but apparently the reports are getting to him as finally he and the family are going fishing! The goal is to stick close at Cheshire Reservoir and focus on pike and bass. Another option worth considering is Plainfield Pond where the target is ordinarily trout but this time it is bass which are making news.
Captain Patrick Barone of Charter The Berkshires suggests that anglers make sure that they are wearing waterproof boots whenever they venture out. The intermittent rain/freeze/snow weather is making for layers of slush! That’s not to dissuade anglers from trying since the fishing remains quite good! Two of the top Berkshires picks this week from Patrick are Goose Pond and Stockbridge Bowl. These water bodies are good size, are frequently stocked and feature the full spectrum of warm water species as well. As for the trout, both ponds are known to hold over trout!
Fishing Forecast for Massachusetts
For the possibility of a South Shore “hawg” bass, Billingsgate Sea is one of the better bets. Pike fever throughout the Sudbury River and Merrimack Rivers has shops scrambling to keep bait in stock. Toothies are not the only draw among northern rivers as white perch in the Merrimack and smelt in the Exeter River are active. Out west, Lake Singletary is proving good for smallmouth bass while Stockbridge Bowl and Goose Pond remain multi-species places of great interest!