Drive-by skim ice observations, especially out west, are making for distracted hardwater junkies! While safe relief is not yet in sight, trout fishing remains the perfect panacea for those who just can’t wait!
Massachusetts Fishing Report
The west is the best bet for first ice and Rod from Flagg’s Fly and Tackle in Orange told me that his bait distributor – Granby Bait – already knows of guys who are ice fishing the Berkshires! I also know of a few frozen water fanatics who have already been out on the Androscoggin River in Maine for pike. With the bump in temperatures predicted over the next week, it probably makes better sense to wait just a bit longer! According to Rod that doesn’t mean you have to cool your casting jets just yet. The West Branch of the Swift from Route 202 out through Wendell is still holding landlocked salmon and wild brook trout and that’s about a 6 mile stretch of river! Rod recommends sticking a streamer tied with orange in front of the salmon to trigger an impulse strike. The brookies however are far less fussy and once found are easy to catch. The town of Orange has limitless brooks and streams that team with brookies and Rod is the guy to point you in the right direction. Another angling alternative is walleye in the Connecticut River. Patrons of the shop have been catching them from the shore by Turner Falls. Low light conditions have been most favorable with anglers doing well with crankbaits. Another river walleye/pike spot is the setback lakes of the Hinsdale section of the Connecticut River in New Hampshire.
Eddie of B&A Bait and Tackle Co. in West Boylston is still doling out shiners in spite of the closing of the Wachusett Reservoir for the season. Some of his customers are heading out to Comet Pond in Hubbardston for trout while others are floating bait for warm water species at the Coachlace Lakes. It’s a shot in the dark but for those who can’t kick the Chu habit, salmonoids have been known to swim upstream of Waushacum Brook in the Stillwater River. A shiner blown up on the bottom could fall victim to a lake trout!
Closer to the coast, Pete from Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate told me that anglers who want to keep connected to their casting muscles are catching the occasional mackerel and even schoolie striper off Cedar Point in Scituate as well as the other Cliffs. Despite a few attempts, there is not much going on in the smelt department off the docks in Scituate Harbor. Trout remain the top ticket with most anglers putting in their time between Plymouth and the Cape. Locally pickerel, crappie, perch and largemouth bass have been caught among the smattering of cranberry bogs along the South Shore.
Pete Santini of Fishing FINatics in Everett has been texting me impressive pics from Concords dynamic duo – Walden and Whites! Rainbows up to 4 pounds as well as slab bluegills have been following for blown-up crawlers on the bottom. Pete has also been selling shiners for those fishing the Charles and Mystic Rivers. The key to catching the mixed quarry which swims in these urban fishbowls is to find herring fry. The predicted rainfall expected over the weekend will flush more of the fry downstream from nurseries. Just like in the salt, birds will point the way as they pick off the fry. If you decide to eschew bait than you could do worse than emulate Captain Carl Vinning of Somerville who has been ‘twitching” tiny jigs and catching slab crappie close to the bottom. Regarding the salt, haddock can still be found off Stellwagen with pollock frequenting deeper water off the eastern edge. This time of the year cod cruise in close to the harbor and make for an interesting catch-and-release target off Deer Island and Castle Island.
I wouldn’t ordinarily expect to get a tip on Jamaica Pond in Boston from Merrimack Sports so I was taken aback when David mentioned that pond as well as Forest Lake when we spoke. Apparently, Masswildlife folks while visiting the shop recently emphasized Jamaica Pond and Forest Lake as the two top picks for a broodstock brown trout in the Northeast District. Considering that those guys do the stocking, they should know! Other than trout, pike are on the prowl throughout the Merrimack and Concord Rivers. As to the “where”, David said that most anywhere access is available to the shoreline from Nashua through Haverhill could have pike lying in ambush. The shop is carrying “heavy” shiners in anticipation!
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Massachusetts Fishing Forecast
Trout are tops on the South Shore with Plymouths’ Long and Little ponds among the best while the Cape has too many to list! The nondescript bogs which dot the South Shore are peppered with perch, pickerel and there is always the possibility of a big bass! Jamaica Pond, Walden and White Pond are among the best bets for an urban trout. For a chance at a wild trout or landlocked salmon the West Branch of the Swift River gets the nod. When size matters it’s hard to ignore the freshwater heavyweight of these parts – pike – and for those toothies, the Merrimack River rules!