Massachusetts Fishing Report – April 1, 2021

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Captain Dave Panarello striped bass
Captain Dave Panarello with a healthy harbor holdover!

Considering the April 1st date it was tempting to “report” of striper blitzes in Scituate Harbor followed by football tuna action off Gloucester but the truth may be no less surprising! While stripers may not be blitzing they are biting! And while the target may not be tuna many of you are looking forward to cod and haddock!

Massachusetts Fishing Report

Pete from Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate said that in spite of the early date a number of anglers have dusted off their boats and plan on dropping a few groundfish in the cooler. When asked if Stone Ledge would be the likely location, Pete said “not even that far”! Almost as soon as you clear Green and Scituate Harbors poke around irregular bottom and see if a few you can’t scrape together a white-bellied keeper cod. With cod on the brain, Lisa from Fore River Fishing Tackle in Quincy and I began reminiscing about Nut Island catches. One that will always stick out to me was a report from the late Rick Newcomb, who used to run the shop. There was a shop customer who used to drop a chum bag over the side on an outgoing tide. That clam purée called in the cod and he would jig them up! Of course cod are not nearly as numerous as they were 15 years ago, but if any can be found inside, Nut Island is one of those places. Another interesting option is largemouth bass from Whitman’s Pond. Lisa said that the anglers who target big fish catch some real hawgs there! It takes fuel to grow big bass and in Whitman’s that is provided by river herring which spawn there and just maybe – trout! Despite Masswildlife’s best efforts to give local anglers a chance to catch a rainbow or three, few are ever landed. The theory is that the big bass eat the trout almost as soon as they are stocked. Apparently to those “Larrys”, the hatchery trucks are like Uber Eats! Fishing FINatics in Everett
You know something interesting is happening when Pete Santini of Fishing FINatics in Everett is planning on carrying seaworms again! And there’s good reason as long-term linesider hunters Captain Dave Panarello and first mate Carl Vinning have been terrorizing harbor holdovers in local estuaries. With water temperatures still below the mid-50 degree baseline comfort zone for stripers, a wriggling seaworm stuck on a tube and dragged in front of their noses is as close to a sure thing as you can get. Of course if you’re picking up your worms at Pete’s odds are pretty good you won’t have to go far for your tubes! The shop is busy tying up Zobo flounder rigs, expecting anglers to catch that first flounder of the year from the Deer Island Pier, Lynn Heritage Park or Fisherman’s Beach in Swampscott! Pelican Green Teasers are also moving for the groundfish gang.

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Tomo from Tomo’s Tackle said that because of the friendly off-season docking rates at Pickering Wharf, a number of anglers are preparing to launch for the opening day cod/haddock season once the weather permits. Of all the areas off the Bay State coast, the North Shore most likely has the highest concentration of inshore cod. A generation ago, Red Rock in Lynn was a popular cod-from-shore location as was Devereux Beach in Marblehead. The late Pete Koutrakis of Pete’s Bait and Tackle in Beverly – from whom I learned an awful lot – used to always pump Saturday Night Ledge, as well as Hills 47 and 101 as good close cod spots. I’ve also heard of a nice pile not far from Kettle Island off Magnolia. Another salty option to consider is the white perch run in Great Bay. A sure sign that that is in the offing is in the demand some shops such as Merrimack Sports are experiencing for seaworms. The shop is also carrying bloodworms. As for off-hour bait access, you have to check out their new bait vending machine which is going to carry everything from shiners to eels to tackle! Matt from Three Lantern Marine is carrying seaworms as well for those looking to catch a cod off the Dogbar Breakwater of maybe a flounder near Ten Pound Island. The Beauport Hotel Beach as well as Niles Beach are also early-season flounder possibilities.

Of course the other opening day phenomenon is Wachusett Reservor. Saturday all the fun begins and as of now according to Eddie of B&A Bait and Tackle Co. in West Boylston access is awesome with plenty of shoreline to roam or soak bait. While fun, forktails (lakers) don’t exactly require a finesse-full presentation. In fact, I know of one angler who will let his spoon settle to the bottom, giving it no action, and he catches all kinds of lake trout that way. The same cannot be said for landlocked salmon however. Hook one of these “silver leapers” and odds are you’ll be convinced that it is among the most regal fish that swims! With a NW wind predicted try setting up with the wind to your back and drift a shiner out as far as you can. The salmon will be on top now and on the move and with such gin-clear water will be able to spot bait from quite a distance. Most salmon sharpies will rig a medium shiner with a sliding bobber or float and just let the wind/current take it all for a ride. It seems inexact and random, but boy does this method work. Captain Patrick Barone of Charter The Berkshires is really appreciating this rain because it improves the prospects for catching walleye in the South Hadley section of the Connecticut River. Roiled water will ring the dinner bell for walleye; when the vision of prey is obscured the walleye capitalize on this thanks to their more evolved senses. You’ll find plenty of pike in the same habitat as well while smallies are about a week away from moving inshore. Contrary to what you may have heard of river smallmouth bass, the Connecticut River grows them – big!

Massachusetts Fishing Forecast

With the groundfish green light on, boaters, shore-casters and even a few kayakers will be snooping around for that keeper cod from Stone Ledge on the South Shore through Saturday Night Ledge on the North Shore. If you find placid seas, you may even consider launching a kayak off Swampscott, or the harbors of Marblehead and Magnolia. With estuarial temperatures nearing the 50-degree mark, harbor holdovers are increasingly getting active make a slowly trolled tube-and-worm deadly. The opening day of Wachusett is one of our sweetwater best bets with lakers, salmon and an early season smallmouth all fair game. Regarding smallies, while the Connecticut River bronzeback invasion needs a little uptick in water temperatures to get going, the terrific toothy bite more than makes up for it!

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