There is no greater time to be a New England bass fisherman than right now. While the regionâ€™s trout and salmon anglers struggle with reduced stocking, low native trout populations and the vagaries of unreliable water levels, bass anglers in the Northeast can sing a happy tune all the way to the dock.
Bass fishing in New England is great and getting better every year in large part due to the efforts of state fisheries biologists to enhance the size of fish being caught and keep local populations at peak carrying capacity.
To make New Englandâ€™s bass fishery one of the best in the U.S., all anglers need to do is continue on course: Release breeding-age fish to spawn and be willing to keep a few â€śslotâ€ť fish for the table.
Most bass waters already contain natural populations of fish that need only a little cautious tweaking, mostly via slot limits, and biologists are aggressive and attentive when it comes to reining in runaway fisheries that have slipped under the radar due to over-fishing, tournament mortality or natural disasters.
Bottom line is that New Englandâ€™s bass fishermen should continue planning trips to popular bass waters throughout the six-state region. Put it this way â€” be glad you arenâ€™t an Atlantic salmon addict!
Moving forward on a positive note, hereâ€™s a look at how the 2012 fishing season is shaping up for New Englandâ€™s smallmouth and largemouth bass anglers:
According to MassWildlife biologists, black bass (largemouths and smallmouths) are not native to the Bay State. Bass were introduced to Massachusetts waters in the late 1800s, and are now present and common in nearly all of the stateâ€™s waters except the smallest trout streams.
The largemouth is considered to be the stateâ€™s most common game fish, mostly because it prefers mud- or sandy-bottomed habitats with little or no current. It thrives where there is plenty of rooted vegetation and overhead cover but is highly adaptable and is found in nearly every lake, pond and river in the state.
The smallmouth bass in Massachusetts is most common in cool, clear water with little vegetation. It prefers rocks, logs and fallen trees to weeds and algae. Both species may be found in the same lake or river but rarely side by side. Largemouths prefer warm, weedy water while smallmouths are denizens of cool, deep water and a rock or gravel bottom.
Management strategies for both species are typical of most other states. Protection of bass during the spring spawn is high on every biologistâ€™s list. Bass have high reproductive rates and often can withstand heavy fishing pressure, but in most cases, MassWildlife biologists set slot limits that allow anglers to keep only fish between 12 and 16 inches. Bass 15 to 20 inches are the most prolific breeders, so fish in this size range are usually protected with low or no bag limits in May and June.
Massachusettsâ€™ â€śtop 10â€ť bass lakes include Glen Charlie Pond in Wareham, Samson Pond in Carver, Quabbin Reservoir and Wachusett Reservoir for largemouths and Long Pond in Brewster, the Connecticut River, Spectacle Pond in Sandwich and the Quabbin and Wachusett reservoirs.
For more information about Massachusettsâ€™ bass fishing, log onto www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/fisheries/fisheries or call (508) 389-6300.