Massachusetts Fishing Report – April 22, 2021

With so many taking to groundfishing and having a heck of a time with sweetwater pursuits, the imminent arrival of “you know what” is almost an afterthought! Perusing some of the photos and the variety of what I’m seeing leaves one inescapable conclusion: striped bass can wait!

Massachusetts Freshwater Fishing Report

According to Rod from Flagg’s Fly and Tackle in Orange, the Quabbin Reservoir season kicked off in fine fashion with cooperative landlocked salmon up to 6 1/2 pounds! Rod’s hand tied Fire Smelt streamers have been killer; in fact he had to cut short our conversation he was so busy tying to meet demand! The wind kept most in close to the boat launch sites but it didn’t matter. Two/three pound lakers are ubiquitous to where they are almost a nuisance with anglers fishing from shore at Gates 16 and 35 catching all the forkies they could handle. Rainbows have been willing from shore at Gate 31. Of course, then there are the “bass guys” and for them the going has been uncharacteristically good for April!

Trophy smallies and salmon have been par for the course at both the Chu and the Q.

Regarding those “bass guys” plenty of big smallies are being caught at Wachusett Reservoir with many being reported over 4 pounds. One angler tossing big swim baits claimed he tallied 10 bronzebacks and none were under 4 pounds – that is world class stuff! Rainbows up to nearly 4 pounds have been taking blown up crawlers where the Quinapoxett River dumps into the basin. Salmon up to 4-9 have been caught off the causeway. One salmon sharpie claims that light line and small shiners floated way out there makes the difference. Lakers swarm the shallows at daybreak making them prime to be coaxed into hitting a gaudy presentation such as my favorite – a firetiger 5/8 ounce Krocodile! More good news is that harvested fish have big smelt in their bellies!

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Massachusetts South Shore and South Coast Fishing Report

In lockstep with what is happening in the Merrimack, anglers are catching shad in the North River and Indian Head River according to Pete from Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate! Anglers are also catching and releasing cod by Flatt Ledge. The shame from our perspective is as recreational anglers have to fish under the constraints of basically a moratorium for most of the year, commercials still can keep up to 50 pounds per permit per day. Anglers tell me that in addition to the big netters still hauling them in, many a lobster boat has a couple cod rods onboard. I’m sure that the cod make for a nice little bonus at the fish market when they bring in the lobsters! Mackerel are plentiful on Stellwagen Bank but for a surer-shot at haddock and redfish the shipping lanes or farther north are a better bet.

Captain Rich Antonio of Black Rose Charters warmed up his new horses the other day in preparation for his maiden voyage with his new boat. This year, his plans are to “target” halibut! Several charters who enjoyed his Nantucket Shoals fluke trips he ran last year want to take it to the next level and target the flatfish king – the Atlantic Halibut. Rich is convinced they are off the edge of Stellwagen and throughout the shipping lanes but they are not likely to be caught with your typical 6/0 cod flies tipped with clam while fishing for haddock. This year he’s going to dedicate one angler per trip to man a big bucktail with an entire mackerel while they drift for haddock. The odds will be low but the payoff extremely high! Meanwhile the skipper’s hearing of plenty of redfish and haddock on Tillies Ledge, Jeffrey’s Ledge and east of Stellwagen. Within a week or so, he expects those haddock to move into Cape Cod Bay and reside a short ways out from Plymouth, as was the case last year at this time!

Little Sister haddock
This masked angler limited out on haddock aboard the Little Sister.

Greater Boston Fishing Report

On Captain Jason Colby’s first trip to the haddock grounds, he marked a bunch of fish that he surmised were haddock but they weren’t in a mood to bite. A subsequent trip to the same spot produced drastically different results as the crew of the Little Sister limited out in no time. What’s most encouraging is that the haddock this year are big, with plenty of 18-24” fish and very few shorts. And best of all, anecdotal evidence I’m hearing of all the way through New Hampshire reflect this! For those who prefer their fish “flat”, Captain Colby will soon be adding blackbacks to his repertoire once again.

Captain Brian Coombs of Get Tight Sportfishing with one of several monstrous wolffish he’s been finding.

Captain Brian Coombs of Get Tight Sportfishing has been catching so many wolffish that I’m surprised he’s not howling! And these catch-and-release specimens are beasts at that! He and pals have been sticking to the shipping lanes for most of the action but he expects all that life to take a turn in closer towards outer Boston Harbor soon.

A sign that that just might be happening came courtesy of Pete Santini of Fishing FINatics in Everett who told me that he’s been hearing of haddock moving in closer inside of the Dumping Grounds and the B Buoy! For rainbow trout, Pete suggests the lightly-fished Brookline Reservoir, Crystal Lake and Lexington Reservoir. With the recent stocking of brown trout in the Metrowest area, Horn Pond should be next!

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Massachusetts North Shore Fishing Report

Captain Dave Panarello is often an invaluable contributor to this report, but usually “Boston Dave”, as the Surfland ladies call him, fills me in on what’s happening in the harbor, but this time it was the North Shore! The Chippendale Dance Studio section of the Merrimack River is on fire, with some anglers catching as many as 40 shad in an outing! Shad darts will work but some feel that willow leaf spoons are even better. Above all make sure you are keeping your wares only a tick or two above the bottom.

Sam from Tomo’s Tackle in Salem told me of a few kayak and small boat anglers who have been catching and releasing cod off Cape Anne. The same brit herring which are attracting all that right and fin whale attention off of the North Shore are also luring in cod. My buddy Dave Flaherty sent me amazing footage of the whale show just outside of his door in Nahant. As impressed as I was with that spectacle, soon my mind drifted to the possibility of hooking a close-to-shore cod there. Should you give it a go there search for seams in structure such as where rock/ledge gives way to sand/mud. Anglers I know of who used to catch cod there would focus in on just such habitat/forage diversity. There’s been no word on flounder which is not surprising with water temperatures sill well below the magic 50 degree mark!

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Massachusetts Fishing Forecast

As great as the groundfishing has been it’s been a deepwater, way-out there affair but there are some signs that the show is coming in closer. Flatt Ledge, the Hull Ledges, Dumping Grounds and B Buoy may soon reward with a few haddock as well as c&r cod. Few fish have followers as ardent as shad with wishing now turning to fishing (and catching) in the North and Merrimack Rivers. Sweetwater will not be this good a month from now so you might as well take advantage of it. And with both Wachusett and Quabbin producing loads of lakers and trophy salmon and smallies now is prime time!

3 on “Massachusetts Fishing Report – April 22, 2021

  1. Steve

    Great report Ron, There’s a lot of options out there in mid April. I am thinking this year sweet water is the way to go while we wait for the 7 striped fish to get here in numbers.

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