Hardwater addicts have one or two options: take a trip up north or let Mother Nature do her job and lock most everything up next week. It’s not hard to pick out the folks preferring to wait – they are given to flashing a thumbs-up every time they take a peak at next week’s frosty forecast!
Massachusetts Fishing Report
It’s not every year that anglers can get their fill of open water casting into January, and according to most shop owners all but the hardiest have hung up their tackle!
Pete from Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate said that he’s mainly catering to “kids on bikes” who are picking up shiners, lures and other assorted gear and pointing their wheels towards ponds as far away as Plymouth. If they’re regularly making that haul they just might be Tour De France competitors in the making. Far from Power Bait soakers these young sportsmen are working jerk baits, stick baits and other plugs and aiming for bigger-than-garden variety stockies – and they’re getting impressive brown trout and rainbows. Others are preparing their ice fishing gear in anticipation of a season that looks like we’re at the doorstep of and will hopefully have legs. In the modern era that means charging up the lithium batteries for the auger, fish finder and maybe an underwater camera. Throw in state-of-the-art traps, as well as hybrid rod/tip-up tools which enable anglers to reel in their catch and it is pretty obvious that this pastime is no longer your grandfather’s ice fishing.
According to Eric from Lunkers Hopkinton Reservoir had a nice little trout bite going on prior to it skimming over and this place should catch soon. Rivers obviously are among the last to lock up but bays such as Fairhaven Bay off the Sudbury River which holds everything from crappie to pike are outliers because they are often shallow and sheltered and subject to an early freeze.
Regarding pike, Eddie of B&A Bait and Tackle Co. in West Boylston spotted plenty of skim ice on Worcester’s Indian Lake which has a self-sustaining population of pike. For trout in the Central Region, it’s hard to top Asnacomet “Comet” Pond in Hubbardston where anglers were enjoying impressive open water trout fishing recently.
I spoke to Paul from Granby’s Bait and Tackle in Granby hoping for the ultimate scoop about local ice fishing, after all who better to know that the primary bait distributor in these parts? Save a few higher elevation ponds in the Berkshires, the need for bait has not been there – yet!
A hint as to where that may change came courtesy of Jim from JCB in Cheshire as Cheshire Reservoir has “caught” and the feeling is that it will be good to ice fish this weekend.
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No word on the other big water bodies out west such as Pontoosuc, Onota, and Buel but for that, I’m going to rely on Captain Patrick Barone of CharterThe Berkshires from the perspective of an insider. If you had to pick one it would probably be Pontoosuc which has been known to give up trophies of everything from brown trout to pike! If you didn’t know it, the Merrimack River would probably be the last place you’d expect to ice fish but coves in Lawrence, Methuen and Haverhill freeze well.
In preparation for what is expected to happen this week, David and Donny of Merrimac Sports are now stocking maxim-sized shiners! While the wait is on, you don’t necessarily have to wait for a pike or just maybe even a walleye! While not a rival of the Connecticut River, the Merrimack does hold walleye – in fact, I recently spied a picture of a 7 pounder, an impressive fish wherever walleye are found! River confluences with the Spicket, Concord, Shawsheen and Cochichewick rivers are all good places to float a big shiner or even soak a gob of worms on the bottom. While the latter isn’t likely to interest a pike, a walleye or white catfish would be hard-pressed to pass on just such a meal.
Massachusetts Fishing Forecast
If you’d rather not cool your engines and wait for local ice to set up, northern New England awaits you! Last week’s New Hampshire/Maine forecast was an appetizer but if you take a peek this week, you’ll find a full buffet of options. In the meantime, rivers from the Sudbury, to the Connecticut, to the Merrimack, all have plenty of options that are only rivaled by the diversity of species that inhabit them. Closer to the coast there are the Charles and Mystic Rivers which are no slouches in their own right.