Massachusetts Fishing Report
Apparently, the weather gods did not get the memo regarding the April 1st opening day for groundfishing. Wicked NW winds kept most at bay while the few who did give it a go found good numbers of haddock, redfish and even a few keeper cod. That wind was not an impediment at Wachusett Reservoir however as anglers in the know put that wind to good use and floated shiners into the salmon strike zone!
According to Eddie from B&A Bait and Tackle Co. in West Boylston, Wachusett Reservoir seemed to have something for everyone during it’s opening week. Lakers were cooperative and proved to be well-proportioned, owing to an apparently ongoing healthy smelt forage base. Smallies were uncharacteristically aggressive for early April, even mugging over-sized swimbaits. Those who took advantage of the windy conditions and put the blow to their backs floated shiners off into the distance and found landlocked salmon! The numbers are also impressive with reports of smallies up to 5 pounds, salmon up to 4 and the rumor mill is pumping out news of a 20-pound plus lake trout which was caught and released! Another impressive number is 37, which is the miles of shoreline which is largely accessible to fishing in part to relatively low water levels. The big question is what will the second week bring? As grand as Wachusett Reservoir is, many consider Quabbin Reservoir as the next step up. What lakers are to the Chu’, salmon are to the Q! According to Rodney Flagg of Flagg’s Fly and Tackle in Orange 4 pound salmon didn’t even get a rise last season with it taking a 6 pounder to impress! Private boaters have been busy getting their hulls cleansed/boats sealed (required) in anticipation of opening day which is scheduled for April 17th.
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While not quite in the game yet, Captain Mark Rowell of Legit Fish Charters will be debuting a new Albarmarle 310 XF when he does splash in a few weeks, which means charters will be coddled in comfort as they pursue pelagics and other gamesters. Mark did say that he’s hearing that the haddock are hottest east of the bank. There are also a lot of redfish as well as a few cod in the mix. The top of Stellwagen Bank has some fish but for consistent catching search off of the eastern edge. Last year at about this time there were good numbers of cod just off Browns Bank in Plymouth, making this inshore spot worthy of a look.
Pete Belsan of Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate said that with plenty of herring in the rivers, reports of that first North River shad should be imminent. For a chance at a quick, inshore cod Pete suggests anglers try the B Buoy, Weather Buoy or Stone Ledge. Brookies have now been stocked in many local water bodies adding spice to the rainbows.
Lisa from Fore River Fishing Tackle in Quincy said that in addition to trout anglers are targeting bass in Jacobs Pond, Sunset Pond and Houghtons Pond. She has been hearing of cooperative cod from Three-and-One-Half Fathom Ledge as well as the other ledges off Hull. Some anglers have even been catching near Graves Light. The PR Can on an outgoing tide is a close-in cod possibility. Last year Captain Brian Coombs of Get Tight Sportfishing often caught interloping cod there as he Butterfly Jigged striped bass. The captain to captain connection between Pete Santini and Carl Vinning has been paying off with hefty harbor holdovers! Pete’s been supplying the worms and tubes and Carl, along with sidekick Dave Panarello, have been catching drag-pullers and even early season cows! Zobo flounder rigs are flying out the door for those looking to score that first flatfish of the year and while I have North Shore news of flounder, there’s nothing as concrete in the harbor as of yet. Pete’s pick for April action for flounder is the inner harbor, much of which can be reached from the Harbor Walk! Pick up a few dozen seaworms at the shop and I bet Pete will steer you in the right direction. It’ll take water temperatures to spike within a degree or two of 50 before there is anything resembling a whole-scale flounder feed!
Sam from Tomo’s Tackle said that a few sub-legal flounder have been caught off the Beverly Pier! The breeders will strap on the feedbag come May in Manchester Harbor, Marblehead Harbor, Swampscott and Lynn. He is also hearing of a good little groundfish bite off Jeffrey’s Ledge and Tillies Ledge as well as irregular bottom well inshore. Anglers looking for trout action are advised to seek out Sluice Pond in Lynn as well as Pleasant Pond in Wenham. For crappie and other warm-water species, Chebacco Lake in Essex/Hamilton, which is the tailwater of the Essex River herring run, is a North Shore best bet.
Martha from Surfland Bait and Tackle said that while the catching in the salt will have to wait, the observations of herring in a number of local rivers is an indicator that we are trending in the right direction. Herring are usually a harbinger of shad which will soon be cruising up the Merrimack River. Anglers have been casting clams off the beachfront and off the jetty in the hopes of catching a cod but there has been no news of success. The best “salty” option remains white perch in the Exeter River tributary of Great Bay, New Hampshire. Confirmation lies in the seaworm/bloodworm demand from Merrimack Sports which according to David is high right now!
Massachusetts Fishing Forecast
Windy conditions have kept most private boaters at port but anglers who have found a window have found willing haddock east of Stellwagen Bank as well as on southern Jeffrey’s Ledge and Tillies. The influx of herring coinciding with the warming of estuarial waters has awakened impressive harbor holdovers. Of course it could be argued that striped bass can wait but for blue-ribbon cold water species gems such as Wachusett and Quabbin reservoirs, the time is at hand!