Massachusetts Fishing Report- November 16, 2023

While tog fishing remains terrific, trout are the top target for most. From lakers to brookies, it’s the sweetwater favorites which are helping anglers cope with saltwater withdrawal. However, not all is lost regarding salty pursuits – just ask anglers filling up sabiki rigs with mackerel on the North Shore! 

South Coast 

I’m not sure if I had ever seen a 2 pound ziplock bag before but because the tog fishing on the South Coast is so stellar, Captain Jason Colby of Little Sister has resorted to breaking them out for fillets for patrons. Gone now are the cast of distractors with false albacore blitzes a thing of the past, wayward bass engulfing a crab yesterday’s news and even antagonistic black sea bass no longer a concern. When anglers feel a solid CHOMP on the line, the protagonists now are pure tautog! The possible exception being cod which are cruising in close to the shoreline and won’t hesitate to engulf most anything.

The author with a fat South Coast tautog taken aboard the Little Sister.

Right on cue with dropping water temperatures is tog fishing about as good as it gets. Tog just outside of the Sakonnet River should be breathing a sigh of relief as Captain Brian Coombs of Get Tight Sportfishing has ended his first year of seriously targeting them with a bang! Limits of fish up to 11 pounds were standard issue this past week with both bait rigs and jigs doing their job. If ever there was a fishing discipline dependent on experience, finding and catching tautog is it. Captain Coombs’ success in his very first year is a really remarkable achievement.  

Captain Brain Coombs of Get Tight Sportfishing ended his first full tog season with a blackfish bang!

South Shore and Boston

The hardest part of fishing for tautog on the South Shore may be finding green crabs. As evident how the tautog bite is on the South Shore, shop owners such as Pete from Belsan’s Bait and Tackle in Scituate, along with Lisa from Fore River Bait and Tackle in Quincy are getting continued requests for crabs! According to Pete, the Plymouth area outside of the Gurnet to High Pines Ledge is holding tautog while the Fore River ladies push their patrons towards Black Rock Beach in Cohasset. As for crabs, most any crab trap baited with fish racks or scraps dropped off a bridge or wharf in Greater Boston should be full of crabs in no time. Nut Island, Castle Island, the Summer Street Bridge and Hingham Harbor are holding a mixture of whiting and smelt. I bet the Charlestown Marina as well as the Winthrop Public Pier have fish also.  Tack Factory Pond, Houghton’s Pond, Jamaica Pond and the plethora of Plymouth ponds are featuring an impressive trout bite. Steve Langton has been finding 14-inch crappie stacked like cordwood among Greater Boston Rivers.

Steve Langton has been finding slab crappie among Greater Boston rivers.

He’s finding those slabs while tooling around in his kayak with the fish associating with blowdowns. Light line along with a tiny jig/soft plastic is just the thing to dupe these fish which are keying in on panfish and herring fry. 

North Shore 

Apparently living in Nahant isn’t north shore enough for my buddy Dave Flaherty so lately he’s been expanding his range towards Marblehead Harbor. He’s been watching anglers tossing sabiki rigs towards the horizon and coming tight to mackerel big enough for tuna bait! In between hauling in a full rack of macks, those guys are chunking and still occasionally hooking stripers up to 31 inches!

A sabiki rig full of mackerel is but a cast away on the North Shore!

Tomo of Tomo’s Tackle in Salem said that fishers working sabiki rigs by his shop are limiting out (20 fish) on huge mackerel in 30/40 minutes! There’s been no word on anyone trying to chunk for stripers in those parts but I have been hearing optimistic news from Salisbury. Rene from Bridge Road Bait in Salisbury said that he has customers catching macks near the mouth of the Merrimack River as well as off Salisbury Beach with some chunking them and finding lingering linesiders up to 40 inches.


Billy Eicher and his sidekick Batista have been having their way with a beautiful mixture of trout throughout the Metrowest area with colorful brookies, rainbows and brown trout all willing. Metallic perch Kastmasters have been just the thing for the brookies while the rainbows have been more inclined to hit Swedish Pimples. Consider Cochituate, Hopkinton Reservoir, Ashland Reservoir as well as Walden Pond and White Pond.

Billy Eicher with a net full of a beautiful Metrowest brookie!

Shoals of smelt cruising the shoreline have been just the thing for Wachusett lake trout to fatten up after spawning. In fact my buddy Rick Holbrook caught one gluttonous laker which had 20 smelt in it’s paunch! Blue/chrome Kastmasters were doing the trick for Rick; as for another tip from a guy who has had 20 laker outings – Rick suggests fishing when the barometric pressure is dropping!

Find the smelt you’ll find Chu salmon and lakers such as this one taken by Rick Holbrook.

Eddie of B&A Bait and Tackle in West Boylston said that the Stillwater salmon have mostly finished spawning and should be back in the main reservoir looking to feed. Should you encounter lakers swollen from smelt than rest assured you are in the right place to find salmon. Unlike the bottom-hugging lakers, landlockeds often work the upper half of the water column so try a few casts up top. Eddie said that the “south” side of the Chu has really been cooking for smallmouth and rainbows also. Josh from the Fishing Hole in South Hadley said that with water temperatures slipping to near 40 degrees smallies are a tougher find now throughout the Connecticut and Housatonic Rivers but if you know where the drop-offs are you’re halfway there. Pike however have picked up the pace in the bigger water bodies such as Cheshire Reservoir, Lake Onota, Lake Buel and Lake Pontoosuc. At this time of the year, you can’t beat big shiners for pike. Stocked trout are cooperating but wild trout in the Swift and Deerfield are a tough match as they invariably are on redds and exhibiting lockjaw. 

Massachusetts Fishing Forecast  

In the salt the patient is on life support but still kicking thanks to South Coast and South Shore tautog. For a shot at something farther north there is smelt and whiting off lit piers/wharves throughout Greater Boston. Mackerel are making their mark along the North Shore through Salisbury and while hardly a slam dunk a chunk on the bottom may interest a dawdling linesider. While the salt has less meat on the bones than next weeks picked over turkey, freshwater options abound! Trout are the top pick with choices ranging from Long Pond brown trout to Walden Pond brookies as well as Sluice Pond rainbows. Farther out west the Chu is calling and spawned out lakers and salmon are hungry with the the Scar Hill area as well as the shoreline by the Masswildlife Headquarters in Westborough among the hottest. For trout almost as wild check out the Swift and Deerfield Rivers where fish are hunkered down on redds making for bragging rights for those skilled enough to catch them! 

2 on “Massachusetts Fishing Report- November 16, 2023

  1. Steven Jackson

    Got a 22″ 4lb rainbow at the Chu last Friday using B&As shiner’s

  2. Ron

    Good for you Steven, those Chu rainbows are certainly something else!

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