Massachusetts Fishing Report- February 1, 2024

smallmouth bass
A trip out west or north of the border is in order if you crave safe ice!

Massachusetts Fishing Report

It’s been said that to find the crime, you should follow the money. Metaphorically speaking to find good ice in the Bay State it doesn’t hurt to find out where the bait distributors are making deliveries.

Paul from Granby Bait in Granby Mass is often a hard guy to pin down in the winter because usually he’s so busy delivering shiners, suckers and a host of other ice fishing candy that anglers put to good use this time of the year. A recent call to him was typically unsuccessful but sadly it had nothing to do with readying bait for delivery save an order to New York. Every shop is singing the same bluesy song about little or no safe ice. If I hear the word “sketchy” one more time I may need therapy.


The one notable exception remains the western part of the state. For Martin Farrell of B&R Bait in Cheshire and anglers who frequent there, it’s the best of times. In fact, while it’s not recommended, there even was an ATV buzzing around the first basin of Cheshire Reservoir. I would caution anyone giving that a go because anecdotally there is 5”/6” of ice across most of the reservoir. While you have to pick your spots, Pontoosuc is holding anglers as is the “sandbar” in Onota where you’re just as likely to encounter brown trout as you will pike. Hilltown hopefuls are spending a good amount of time pursuing warm water species in Ashmere Lake.

For serious ice check out across the border in New Hampshire and Maine, it’s guns-a-blazing on all fronts as hardwater high times are in order.

Acadian redfish
OTW joined the crew aboard the American Classic yesterday for a frosty outing to target pollock and Acadian redfish.

The most exciting news just might have to do with the salt! Headboats such as the American Classic out of Lynn and Eastman’s Fleet out of Seabrook NH are taking groups out now for redfish, haddock and pollock. Usually the pollock are the principle quarry with doubles of double-digit pollock not out of the ordinary. Some of that fishing is taking place in depths more accurately defined in fathoms than feet so a large capacity conventional reel as well as a few warmup stretches should be in order.

• Want to get in on the bite? Find an OTW-approved Charter Fishing Captain for Massachusetts

While junk ice is thwarting any sensible forays on top of most ponds and lakes, rivers have freed up a lot of pockets of open water. The word from the Connecticut, Charles, Mystic and Merrimack Rivers is that it isn’t hard to find casting possibilities. Potential quarry there is as varied as carp, largemouth bass, crappie, pickerel and pike. Josh from The Fishing Hole in South Hadley said that while the hope is that the next few nights will lock up area water bodies again, anglers are reveling in the chance to catch rainbows and their cousins among the Swift River, Deerfield and Westfield Rivers. Tributaries are especially productive now with “garden hackle”, meal worms working well for bait soakers while fly guys are scoring with caddis pupa flavored nymphs and streamers.

Not all open water begins and ends with rivers, especially if the South Shore/Cape is to your liking. Pete from Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate told me that he’s selling shiners to anglers fishing the panoply of Plymouth Ponds. Patrons have also been hitting Peter’s Pond in Sandwich for brown trout.

Massachusetts Fishing Forecast

Hope does spring eternal, especially if you’re an ice fishing fanatic but with temperatures remaining in the rut of thaws sprinkled with freezes relief for most is just not in the offing. One remedy for what ails you is rivers with the major ones holding an eclectic mix of warm water species bruisers, while those water bodies inclined to hold trout are faring better nearer the tributaries. Of course there remains the north-of-the-border option where anglers aren’t sweating out the lack of ice in the least. Thankfully there is a very interesting saltwater possibility as headboats target a mixture of gadoids with the premium placed on big pollock which aren’t called Boston bluefish for nothing!

1 thought on “Massachusetts Fishing Report- February 1, 2024

  1. Steve

    Ron, I’m glad to hear you and the OTW crew had some success yesterday.
    That is a great option this time of year.I’ve been out many times with that captain and he is top notch.

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