Anglers who are still catching stripers into the eleventh month can remember every detail of their catch, however, shop reports are getting a little fuzzy! Anecdotes about “when” the last striper was caught are becoming about as slippery as an eel. There is no such memory lapses when it comes to sweetwater however as reports are coming in fast and furiously!
Massachusetts Fishing Report
“Busy” was the word that Eddie of B&A Bait and Tackle used to describe life at his shop lately. There is little wonder with most every species of fish swimming around Wachusett Reservoir cooperating. Ordinarily, come mid-November, smallmouth bass success is relegated to next year status but smallies are hitting almost every shiner thrown their way according to those fishing for the middleweight champ. Water remains high and you may have to cast among the trees to work a spot. But with lakers, rainbows, white perch, and smallies all on the feed, the effort is well worth it. The Route 70 side has been especially productive but with more rain predicted, current coming out from under the causeway should be a magnet for a gamut of gamefish. Salmon in the rivers are mostly post-spawn now and the fish should be migrating back to the main reservoir looking to fatten up on shoals of smelt. B&A in West Boylston has the hard-to-find metallic perch Kastmasters in stock as well as the popular blue/chrome and fire tiger. The latter has always been a go-to color for me at dusk, dawn, and overcast days. While hardly finesse stuff, apparently the venerable marshmallow/mealworm combination is working well for the Chu’s distinctive rainbows.
According to Rod from Flagg’s Fly and Tackle, anglers aren’t appreciating the opportunity of lots-of-fish and little pressure which awaits in the Connecticut Valley Region. Lake Mattawa seems as if it’s hardly been touched save the hatchery folks and a few “retired guys”! In addition to rainbows and browns, there are some impressive white perch, yellow perch, and smallmouth bass there! If you’re craving crappie than the Spectacle Ponds should be high on your list. For a walk on the wild side, there are countless brooks and streams in the area which hold native brook trout. I have a hunch that it wouldn’t take much prodding while in the shop to have Rod nudge you into the right direction. While freshly stocked trout are swimming in more water bodies than can be listed, there are a handful of spots that feature pike, and now is prime time.
Bait shops such as Arlington Bait and Tackle and Lunkers in Ashland point patrons in pursuit of pike to Heard Pond, Spy Pond, and the Sudbury River. As typical of most members of the Esox family, pike are often not fussy and will without hesitation wallop swimmers, spinnerbaits, and stick baits but a lively shiner on the line will short circuit your search.
Regarding rivers, the folks at Merrimack Sports know a thing or two about rivers and pike; that shop is toothy central in the Merrimack Valley Region for all things pike! Higher water this past season has been a conduit for pike in heretofore large numbers to move into tributaries and rivers which intersect with the mighty Merrimack. Find an oxbow or backwater of the Shawsheen or Concord River and there could very well be a 36” pike ruling the roost! Trout from Stiles, Baldpate, Forest, Round and Plugs continue to be the big draw for most anglers with the fall stockings providing fuel for often fantastic fishing!
Captain Jason Colby of Little Sister Charters has been going through the tog paces for the last week before storage time. He’s been toting his ride down to Westport for more than a decade and the past few weeks have historically been a high! For those who know tog, double-digits is the demarcation line between very good and great! Over the last few weeks 10-pound white chins have been a reality during most trips with limits no sweat! That is some impressive fishing! He may be done but you don’t have to if you have your ride at the ready! While the skipper is elite, rank and file anglers are touting the terrific tog fishing as well, and with water temperatures still unseasonably high there is no end in sight! The launch at the Westport River is accommodating and once cleared of the river you’ll find no shortage of crunchy tog-holding lairs! Between the South Coast and the Cape you should have no problem finding shops that carry green crabs and if you’re enterprising, drop a crab pot over the side of a marina or bridge. There are no shortage of green crabs in these parts.
And then there’s that little matter off linesiders which are still hanging in there! Shop friends of mine have to play the game of “recall” when I ask the seven-striped question as to recent linesider luck. However, I hang with some pretty hardcore nuts and we are still catching! My buddy Dave Flaherty of Nahant is having more fun than a salty guy should have in November and along with my kayak buddy Steve Langton, just two nights ago we found cooperative fish up to 32”! What was very interesting was that there were a couple of other kayak fishers creeping along the wharf pilings not far from the inner harbor and when asked what they were fishing for they answered – tautog!
The other salty options according to Tomo from Tomo’s Tackle is mackerel off the Beverly Pier and catch-and-release cod off of Cape Ann! Regarding the cod, they are in really close right now and more than willing to wallop a vertical jig or jig/soft plastic! It doesn’t take much paddling or peddling from a kayak to find the sweet zone of 50-70 feet of water off Magnolia or other Cape Ann launches. Several years ago when researching a lure originating in Denmark, I watched video after video of anglers catching and releasing cod with spinning gear and lures similar to what we use for striped bass. In fact, the whole sport was reminiscent and as reverent as how we treat stripers. Maybe, it’s time to look at our state fish from a different prism!
Pete of Belsan’s Bait in Scituate said that increasingly anglers are buying up shiners and looking for largemouth bass in Billington Sea as well as Mashpee-Wakeby on the Cape! The other option is the no-name cranberry bogs which pepper the South Shore! These teem with all kinds of warm water species and if you poke around and ask politely you may gain access to them with a kayak, canoe or pram. Wachusett Reservoir has less than 3 weeks left to the season and the fishing is peaking!
While there is still game in the Stillwater and Quinapoxet Rivers, salmon are mostly through spawning and are migrating back to the the main reservoir. From Thomas Basin and under the power lines and out through Bull Rock you’re as likely to intercept a post-spawn salmon as you are a laker or lunker smallmouth bass! For salmon stick to the top 10 feet, while lakers and smallies will be closer and in shoal water.
Pike are prowling throughout the Sudbury, Concord, Shawsheen, and Merrimack Rivers for those looking for freshwater with some teeth to it!