New England’s spring fishermen have a real problem. With so many lakes, ponds, rivers and streams to choose from, not to mention a wide variety of saltwater options, deciding where to go can be a real challenge.
These proven Northeast region hotspots are where you want to be when the fishing season opens in your state in 2011:
In spring, most Bay State anglers focus on bass and trout, and for good reason. Massachusetts’ lakes, rivers and streams offer some of the finest spring fishing in the region.
The perennial top pick for outsized smallmouths, Quabbin Reservoir is one of the largest man-made public water supplies in the United States. Contained by two huge earthen dams, the reservoir is fed by the three branches of the Swift River.
The best bass fishing begins in spring as adult smallies establish their spawning sites. The action declines quickly by the end of June. Quabbin anglers catch between 35,000 and 50,000 smallmouths per year and the catch is evenly spread throughout the reservoir.
Quabbin is 18 miles long with 120 miles of shoreline and 60 islands. The lake is managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Division of Water Supply Protection (formerly Metropolitan District Commission).
All private boats launched on the reservoir must now have an intact Quabbin Boat Seal that certifies the craft has gone through a DCR approved decontamination process. For updates, call (413) 323-7221. Seals must be intact when the boats are inspected by Boat Launch Area attendants prior to launching. For a schedule of boat inspections/cleanings, call the Quabbin Visitor Center at (413) 323-7221.
The 2011 Quabbin fishing season runs from April 16 to October 15. Boat launch areas are open seven days a week from 6 a.m. until closing time, which varies throughout the season. Shore fishing is allowed all season. “Boats Off the Water” times are seasonally adjusted with times posted at each boat launch area.
All persons over 15 years must have a valid Massachusetts fishing/sporting license or a Quabbin Fishing License.
One-day Quabbin fishing licenses are available for purchase at the boat launch areas for $5. Quabbin fishing licenses limit anglers to the designated shore and boat fishing areas on Quabbin Reservoir during the Quabbin fishing season.
Quabbin’s bronzebacks are abundant on the lake’s west arm, accessible from Gate No. 8 (Boat Launch Area No. 1).
For stream trout in the Bay State, it’s hard to beat the Deerfield River in northwestern Massachusetts. This outstanding trout fishery is bolstered by heavy stockings of rainbows, browns and brook trout.
Flowing out of Vermont’s Harriman Reservoir, the Deerfield meanders through Massachusetts before emptying into the Connecticut River. The Deerfield is managed via a series of five dams in Massachusetts, starting at Fife Brook.
Good fishing may be enjoyed from April into early December. All sections of the river contain holdover lunkers plus some wild browns and brookies. Rainbows average 14 inches with enough 20-inch fish to make things interesting. Trophy brown trout are possible, with many 2- to 3-pound fish.
The Deerfield is made up mostly of deep runs, riffles, and large, still-water pools. The river bed is mostly rock and boulders, so cleated waders are recommended. Water conditions on this river can change rapidly (often within minutes) due to water releases used for generating power. Watch and listen for changing conditions.
Below Bardwells Ferry and above Old Deerfield, deep and large mud-bottomed pools will be found, such as Stillwater Pool above the Interstate Route 91 bridge.
Below the dam at Fife Brook, try Diamond Pool, Long Pool, Carbis Bend and Shady Pool. The lower catch-and-release section begins at the railroad underpass just above where Pelham Brook runs into the Deerfield, and runs for about two miles before it ends at the Mohawk Campground.
There are numerous designated access points and pull-outs. Route 2 (The Mohawk Trail) as well as Zoar and River roads, which borders the Deerfield all the way to Fife Brook, provide parking and pathways to the river.
For more information about spring trout fishing in Massachusetts, log onto the MassWildlife Web site, found at www.mass.gov.
For odds-on trout fishing in the Nutmeg State, anglers need only head into the northeast region to the Natchaug River in Natchaug State Forest in Eastford, generally paralleling Route 198 from Chaplin.
A designated “trout park,” the Natchaug is stocked daily from opening day to Memorial Day to provide more opportunities for novice anglers, but the river is full of big, holdover fish, some over 20 inches long. Experienced anglers who know how to identify the places where big trout hide should have excellent luck in this year-round fishery. Be sure to fish under the rocks at the famous Diana’s Pool, where local college students spend spring days studying and sunning on the large boulders where big rainbows lurk.
Constitution State bass anglers would do well to focus on Candlewood Lake off Route 39 north of New Fairfield in western Connecticut, where numerous largemouths and smallmouths up to 5 pounds are caught each spring by anglers focusing on shoreline cover and structure.
For fishing maps and more information, log onto the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection’s Web site at www.ct.gov/dep.
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