The neat thing about spring is that it is a season of firsts! For some, it’s that first groundfish of the year or maybe that first flounder. Regarding Massachusetts cold water species gems – Wachusett Reservoir and Quabbin Reservoir – for many it’s an opportunity to catch that first lake trout, landlocked salmon or smallmouth bass of the year.
Massachusetts Fishing Report
The most intriguing prospect this weekend is the opening of Quabbin Reservoir on Saturday. If you have a boat properly cleansed, sealed and ready to be dumped in than you need no tutelage regarding this pristine, special place. Should you decide to rent a boat at the designated gates – 8, 31 and 43 – than I suggest you get in line the night before and be prepared to sleep in your chariot to secure a boat. There is a boat-less option however which can be very effective this time of the year. Smelt should still be running the shoreline, or close to it, which will bring lakers, salmon and rainbows within casting distance of terra firma. Through the years the reports I’ve received from Bill Martell of Gate 8 Bait and Rodney from Flagg’s Fly and Tackle in Orange would be so impressive I almost wondered if anyone really needed a boat! In addition to the boat launch areas which have plenty of shoreline access, Gate 35 leads to a 2 1/2 mile stretch of Quabbin shoreline where you can cast to your hearts delight! The Hop Brook inlet is a scenic spot which is one of the reservoirs best bets for salmon and can be reached from Gate 16. Quabbin Reservoir is an amazing resource and there are a number of ways to enjoy it.
Wachusett Reservoir’s winning ways continue. Anglers are reporting a nice slug of 5 and 6 pound lakers! Eddie of B&A Bait and Tackle Co. in West Boylston mentioned the Cellar Holes as hot. Salmon are cooperating as close as the causeway with some specimens crowding the 5 pound mark! Pete Santini of Fishing FINatics in Everett told me that a customer caught an 18/19” fish which the angler couldn’t identify; he thought it looked like a laker only – different! One look at the square tail in the photo and Pete knew it was a big brook trout. The guy caught it with a blown-up crawler off the causeway. The Gate 35 stretch has also given up smallies close to 5 pounds. Rainbow trout and brown trout have been stocked in the tributaries as well. When asked about white perch Eddie said that the only “white” he is seeing is the white buckets all lined up around dark by the Stone Church, which tells us something!
While it’s many miles away and as opposite an environment as you’ll find, the white perch run in Great Bay is on fire! Outside of the Cape, white perch runs have gone dormant with once thriving fisheries in the Assonett and Parker Rivers, among others, no longer there. But there is a place which is fishing like the good old days! David from Merrimack Sports has had to double down on keeping seaworms and bloodworms in stock to meet the demand. The Squamscott/Exeter Rivers are the epicenter of the white perch runs and it is an equal opportunity fishery with shore jockeys, small boaters and kayakers all taking it in. Gear is simple with a top/bottom rig, size 2 hook and a 2 once bank sinker. Boaters/kayakers are having more luck drifting than staying put. Typical of salter white perch, these fish are on average bigger than what you’ll usually find in freshwater.
Pete Belsan of Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate said that the wind has stopped most from sampling the groundfishing in Cape Cod Bay and Stellwagen. However, he did hear that Captain Rob Green aboard the Elizabeth Marie found action farther north from Tillies Ledge to Southern Jeffrey’s Ledge. Most impressive was the volume and size of the redfish according to Pete. There is no word on shad in the North River/Indian Head River as of yet but some big explosions have been observed on river herring which is probably an indicator that holdover stripers in the North River have come to life. The stocking of impressive trout in the Southeast District is ongoing with some real trophies in the mix.
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There haven’t been any flounder reports as of yet. Flounder reports should get a serious boost thanks to the Wednesday launching of the Little Sister at Marina Bay in Quincy! Captain Jason Colby and first mate Armindo Ramos had plans to sample the flounder flats on Thursday. Purported water temperatures are still a bit below ideal – at 47 degrees – but if anyone can find the flatties it is these guys. The captain has a crew booked for Sunday with the target being haddock.
Species of all sorts strap on the feedbag once herring enter the rivers but who would expect a 6’ sturgeon cruising around by the casino at the mouth of the Mystic River? Pete Santini of Fishing FINatics in Everett shot me out a photo and it was amazing. While rare in these parts a sturgeon spotting is not unheard of, in fact the Charles River locks a few years ago had a resident sturgeon for a while. In this era of low inventory due to sky rocketing demand of all things fishy, many shops have barren walls – but you won’t find that in Everett! Something can be said for decades-long connections and when I picked up shiners there the other day I was amazed how stacked the shop was. In the modern era, April simply doesn’t deliver the goods for flounder but folks are buying seaworms and looking for that first tell tale “tap-tap” which signals a hungry flounder. However, I did hear of some flounder action from Sam of Tomo’s Tackle. The taciturn angler who caught would only say he did so in the Lynn/Swampscott area
Groundfishing is good among the offshore ledges but there are no reports of much swimming inshore as of yet. It is expected that we need another bump in water temperatures to bring groundfish in a little closer although I did get word from Captain Brian Coombs of Get Tight Sportfishing that recent inshore recons uncovered some particularly interesting and over-sized cunner and scuplin! As for “desirable” groundfish, once inshore water temperatures reach 50 degrees, flounder should become cooperative in Beverly Harbor, Manchester Harbor and Gloucester Harbor. Regarding the latter, Skip from Three Lantern Marine expects Niles Beach and Ten Pound Island to be among the first to register a flounder as well. Other than that, patrons of both shops are doing the Chu thing or taking in stocked trout action in Sluice Pond and Pleasant Pond.
Shad have just now made an appearance in the Merrimack River as well as the western part of the Connecticut River. The latter was told to me by Captain Patrick Barone of Charter The Berkshires. Water levels are dramatically low in the Connecticut with little current. The key to catching is to find the sections which have the most current since the fish will seek sanctuary there. The predicted rain/snow should increase the flow and kick the walleye fishing into gear in the South Hadley stretch.
Massachusetts Fishing Forecast
While the salt is slow to pick up steam, trout and salmon fishing continue to be the Bay State’s best bet. Masswildlife’s Southeast District continues to pump out trophy trout from Hingham through the Cape. For a wilder option its hard to top Wachusett Reservoir that is unless you find yourself hooked to a Quabbin salmon! Farther out west, shad are in the Connecticut River as they are in the Merrimack River. For another river option, consider the white perch run in the Exeter/Squamscott Rivers. Odds are that you’ll have a royal time fishing for what many consider to be the king of panfishes in these parts.