Salty options persist, with haddock up north, smelt among the inner harbor and even a few errant striped bass hanging in there. However for variety and a consistent bite there’s no denying that it is now the season of sweetwater.
Massachusetts Freshwater Fishing Report
Thirty seconds into a conversation with my friend Captain Patrick Barone of Charter The Berkshires and I was swiveling my head around looking for one of my fly rods! The Bay State may be relatively small but when you hear what’s hot out west it reinforces how much variety we have here! Native brookies are bringing it right now throughout the Swift River and a well placed egg-fly pattern – Patrick prefers 6 mm beads – will not be ignored by one of these ornate natives. Rainbows abound, you could luck into a big brown trout and if you’re targeting salmon than the west branch of the Swift is for you. Walleye in the South Hadley section of the Connecticut River are shadowing shad fry, as are holdover stripers, and where you find current impeding structure you’ll find the prey and the predators. Once flow lessens look for pike to begin prowling by blowdowns close to the shore.
Regarding pike, David from Merrimack Sports had a long list when we spoke. The shop is carrying pike shiners and patrons are putting those magnum baits to good use in stretches of the Merrimack in Haverhill, Lawrence and Lowell. He even said that a few kayak anglers are getting them in Methuen. When they subject came up about bait, he mentioned that he still has a few dozen eels left. Recently there were a few diehards that were still picking off the occasional striper in the Essex River/Cranes Beach area. As for the stripers second cousin, white perch reports are trickling in from the Squamscott/Exeter rivers in New Hampshire, the Merrimack River and even the Parker River. There’s especially good news about the Parker River. A generation ago, that was the North Shore’s most prolific salter perch run and anglers would scramble for their gear in the spring at the first signs of apple blossoms. Last year saw an impressive bump in what had been a dormant run and some real slabs were taken! Seaworms work well for those perch as do grass shrimp and mummichogs.
Eddie of B&A Bait and Tackle Co. in West Boylston continues to enjoy the spotlight that is Wachusett Reservoir with the variety of species and opportunities it represents. Not surprisingly the area around the causeway has featured the most laker luck with the rain-triggered current flowing from the tributaries/basins drawing the fish in. Kastmasters of all sorts have been the go-to lures. Smallies are still cooperating along the Gate 35 side of the reservoir and the Route 70 side remains the best for rainbows. Anecdotal evidence points to a healthy smelt population as salmonoids of all sorts are hefty! Spent salmon have been spotted swimming downstream of the Stillwater towards the main reservoir. While whipping those lakers, don’t neglect to toss out a Krocodile or lighter Kastmaster and work it towards the top of the water column to see if you can’t intercept a returning salmon.
Captain Carl Vinning of Somerville every morning shakes off the chill and finds a dizzying array of gamesters fully cooperating in Greater Boston Rivers. Slab white perch, crappie, yellow perch and largemouth bass can’t resists slowly worked jigs and even topwaters! The variety is like a box of mixed chocolates out there!
Massachusetts Saltwater Fishing Report
According to Pete Belsan of Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate, bike-riding kids of all sorts are buying up shiners, worms and other baits and having their way with largemouth bass in Jacobs Pond and other nearby water. Oldham Pond, Lilly Pond and the “bogs” continue to have a mixed specie warm water bite as well. There are still a few hearty souls picking off tautog off Bryant Rock. For hot haddock action head north of Stellwagen more in the direction of Jeffrey’s Ledge. Should you desire mackerel you’ll find plenty inshore as well as harbor pollock.
Pete Santini of Fishing FINatics in Everett had the dish on a much-sought-after smelt report! Members who have slips at the Constitution Marina in Charlestown have been catching them! There are panoply of piers and other access spots from the North End to the Charles River locks and out to Charlestown which also might be holding smelt. Find a light source and drop a sabiki tipped with bits of worm and see if there aren’t a few smelt swimming around.
Estuarial and embayment water temperatures have dropped below the comfort zone of striped bass, but some continue to shake off the chill and are being caught in Boston Harbor! Just because it’s late November doesn’t mean that a striper is going to shed it’s stripes and as always nighttime remains the right time. If you’re looking to shake out your ice fishing garb, you now have an excuse!
Lisa from Fore River Fishing Tackle in Quincy said the Nut Island Pier is fishing like a buffet of species! Sea herring, whiting and mackerel are all cooperating. While I haven’t heard of any pollock there as of yet, my buddy Dave Flaherty of Nahant is finding all the harbor pollock he can handle. Because of the daybreak chill, the “handling” is getting more challenging but that’s not stopping him. In the midst of a recent pollock bite, a sudden predatory disturbance scattered the pollock; thankfully no seal head popped up making the culprit most likely a wayward bass or a big old cod!
Regarding cousins of the cod, my friend Captain Tom Ciulla found a seam in the Gloucester Harbor weather and set sail for Southern Jeffrey’s to load the T Sea up on hadddock! The action was in 200’ + of water and the bag consisted of pure haddock!
Massachusetts Fishing Forecast
Shiners soaked at the edge of receding weed lines among South Shore ponds and bogs are a best bet for a big largemouth bass. Pete Belsan recently termed it, “hawgs from bogs”! The gamut of gamesters in Greater Boston await anglers who slowly work a jig, soft plastic or even a topwater lure among the rivers of the hub. From Wachusett Reservoir to the Swift River, trout of all varieties are the top ticket out west. Salty options may be drying up but for those who don’t mind a little frost with their fun, smelt, pollock, mackerel and even the occasional striped bass await!