While meaning no disrespect to hardcore hardwater types, it’s time to mothball the traps and reacquaint yourself with the cast! Dovetailing with that nicely is the continued trout stocking by Masswildlife, although some anglers aren’t waiting and doing just fine with last fall’s fish.
Friend’s fishy photos serve a number of purposes: the altruistic of which could be considered an invite to – “get the heck down here!”. But then there’s the torturous side of those pictures which seem intended to torment as if to say, “I’m catching these and you’re not”! I felt both emotions recently thanks to my buddy Rick from Sandwich as he sent me pics of beautiful brookies that were freshly stocked on the Cape. For those dying to cast, it looks as if the wait is over!
Massachusetts Fishing Report
One of the hottest trout lures in recent years is the Thomas Whirlfish. The problem has been finding it! But you’ll find no such issue at Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate according to Pete Belsan. Anglers have been putting those lures to good use for those brilliantly-colored brookies from Hamblin, Hathaway and Gull ponds as well as the plethora of Plymouth water bodies which have been stocked. The other South Shore option worth considering is bobbers and bass. Bog ponds as well as more established water bodies are warming up quickly and it’s never too early to dangle a shiner in front of a pre-spawn Larry. While we await Greater Boston ponds and lakes to shake free of he last of the ice.
Pete Santini of Fishing FINatics in Everett had some ideas when we spoke. Rivers from the Charles to the Mystic and to the Sudbury are mostly free of ice and offer the prospects of action. With water temperatures still cold, shiners are a best bait bet. There’s no need for an early rise either; let the afternoon sun warm things up. Focus on pinch points where tributaries dump into the main river. Those tributaries are usually shallow and muddy, the flow of which will bring warm water into the main river thereby calling in a host of species from white perch to crappie to bass to carp. Horn Pond is open and holdovers have been cooperative for Captain Dave Panarello who has been catching with pink Power Bait. A few are beginning to cast off the new Deer Island Pier in the hopes of catching and releasing a cod or maybe hooking a flounder. Boats have been observed moving back and forth just beyond the Five Sisters off Winthrop. The best guess as to what could be swimming out there right now is mackerel or cod.
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While some are still getting out on the ice in the Connecticut Valley Region, increasingly anglers are turning to fly fishing the Swift River according to Rodney Flagg from Flagg’s Fly and Tackle in Orange. While Rod’s a proficient fly-tier, even he can’t keep up with demand! His pick for most every salmonoid which swims in the Swift right now is a black weighted Wooly Bugger. The flip side for pressured fish would be a size 20-28 midge pattern. In anticipation of Quabbin Reservoir opening in April, I asked Rod what he expected for the upcoming year and his answer was jaw-dropping! Thanks to a robust smelt population, last years landlocked salmon fishing was absolutely awesome. The fish were fat and numerous and ran between 3 1/2 and 6 pounds – woah! Additionally it was not uncommon to catch rainbow trout nearly that big! In fact one of Quabbin’s best anglers tallied 248 salmon between 3 1/2 and 6 1/4 pounds along with bows to 5 pounds. Spring is great since the fish are on top but so is the heat of the summer when the salmon/trout aggregate at the edges of drop-offs where they ball up smelt and white perch fry. Swing in and have Rod pick out choice streamers while he still has some in stock, because come April you won’t be able to touch them!
Captain Patrick Barone of Charter The Berkshires is feeling the pull of the rivers right now as well. A word of caution however regarding that “pull”, spend a couple of minutes researching Bay State river flow rates with this link before you take that first step: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ma/nwis/current/?type=flow. With the thaw in full swing and water temperatures still bone-chilling, rivers are seldom as dangerous as they are right now and conditions should not be taken for granted. There is good reason to fish rivers however according to Patrick as he suggests pink squirmy worm patterns for stocked trout while for wild or holdover fish black stone fly patterns get the nod. In addition to the Swift River, consider the Fife Dam section of the Deerfield River in Florida where wild brown trout are known to swim!
David from Merrimack Sports had some interesting open water river possibilities when we spoke. The same drill as other rivers applies here, you’ll compound your catch chances if you spend time at the effluences of tributaries and rivers. Already anglers are catching open water pike where the Merrimack joins up with the Shawsheen and Spicket Rivers. The 2 mile stretch between the Greater Lawrence Community Boat Center and the Elks Club is noted for northerns as well. An April river option which will be rewarding is the run of salter white perch which picks up steam around the same time trees are blooming.
Massachusetts Fishing Forecast
The thaw is the trigger to turn away from the traps and target – trout! Keep one eye on Masswildlife’s website https://www.mass.gov/service-details/trout-stocking-report, while dusting off your spinners, spoons, flies, shiner-rigs and of course – Power Bait! Rivers are a respectable alternative with crappie and pike a possibility in the Sudbury, bass and holdover stripers in the Charles and Mystic while pike are once again the draw in the Merrimack. Out west, salmon and trout make the Swift River a viable option while wily wild brown trout are the lure of the Deerfield.