Massachusetts Fishing Report- February 29, 2024

Steve Langton with largemouth bass
While Mass ice is shot, Steve Langton found wiling Larrys but an hours drive north of the border!

When describing the current state of Bay State ice, shop owner friends of mine are referencing “taps” as well as a certain heavy-set songbird (Kate Smith) from years ago. Other ways to put it are: “stick a fork in it”, ‘it gave up the ghost” and then there’s always – “dead as a doornail”! For a fishy fix my friends you have three options: rivers, open water where you find it or take a trip up north where some semblance of winter is hanging tough.

Massachusetts Fishing Report

Could there actually be a saltwater option? Headboats chasing pollock and other gadoids aside, there just might be one in the Quincy area. The ladies at Fore River Fishing Tackle in Quincy had an interesting report on Wednesday. At Bay Point Marina in Quincy there was a bird show which defied the calendar and looked like footage from May. Gulls were giving something swimming near the surface a bad time with the hunch being that they were smelt making their way upstream to spawn! Other than that the shop is moving shiners for those targeting trout at Houghton’s Pond, Long Pond, Little Pond and Peter’s Pond on the Cape. Bass enthusiasts are also giving it a go at the Charles River, Whitman’s Pond, Ponkapoag Pond, Popes Pond as well as Sunset Lake.

Farther south Pete from Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate is expecting the first stocking trucks to start making the rounds beginning on the Cape/Plymouth area within two weeks. In the meantime it’s all black bass with anglers having luck at Cohasset Reservoir, Jacob’s Pond, Pitts Pond and nondescript cranberry bogs which pepper Pembroke, Halifax, Hanson and Plymouth.

Rick from Jerry’s Bait and Tackle in Milford said that the thaw/rain/wind combination has put ice fishing prospects into the “see ya next year” category. The optimistic angler is simply switching over to open water for holdover trout and warm water species in Ashland Reservoir, Hopkinton Reservoir, Lake Cochituate, Walden Pond and White Pond.

Eddie of B&A Bait and Tackle Co. in West Boylston told me that water levels at Wachusett Reservoir are down about 7’ from what they were at the end of December and with little snow/ice cap upstream if things don’t change access to every square inch of the Chu should be a reality when it opens on April 6th. Fishing reports in the area might as well be from another state since local ice is shot now. Hopefully by next week anglers will be targeting fish among open water since from here on out, that will be the only game in town, As possibilities Eddie did mention Lake Quinsigamond for holdover trout, carp and pike with Indian Lake in Worcester also noted for northerns as well as crappie. Both of those water bodies should have plenty of ice free water.

Gerry from Crack of Dawn Bait in Phillipston told me that while there are still pockets of ice in the Connecticut Valley Region he’s advising anglers not to risk it and instead to seek more solid ice north of the border. One glaring exception may be Clubhouse Pond which historically holds it’s ice as late as most anywhere in Massachusetts. I remember the late Rodney Flagg telling me that in some years Quabbin Reservoir would be open at the same time anglers were still on the ice on Clubhouse. Other than that regulars of Gerry’s shop are fly fishing the Swift and Deerfield Rivers and picking up nice brown trout. As for far west, my calls to B&R Bait in Cheshire are being unheeded. Far from getting my feelings hurt, the point is painfully obvious – their ice is toast!

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Shawn from Merrimack Sports did have an encouraging report when we spoke regarding the Merrimack River. Ordinarily after ice-out that thing is a raging, maelstrom of angry water but with little snow/ice melt it’s relatively tranquil. Anglers are pouncing on a rare opportunity to target toothies which have moved into shallows to spawn. Pike can be caught on bait as well as jerk baits and paddle tails by the Covanta Plant, Stanley Island, upstream of the Lawrence Dam and at tributary effluences.

Massachusetts Fishing Forecast

All is not lost for hardwater junkies thanks to good ice little more than an hour north of the border in New Hampshire and Maine. Along with buddies Steve Langton and Billy Eicher I spent two marathon outings earlier in the week on 11” of ice on a pond in the Winnipesaukee area. In spite of the continued thaw, ice should still be good up there as well as Maine for at least a week. Meanwhile in Massachusetts our options are open water trout from Long Pond in Plymouth to Ponkapoag Pond largemouth and pickerel. Out west fly fisherman are focusing on trout in the Swift and Deerfield Rivers. To the east as we await more open water options, pike in the Merrimack are in close, on the spawn and on the feed!

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