New England's 2008 Bass Forecast

What's in store for New England's bass anglers in 2008? This overview offers you all the details! (April 2008)

Photo by Ron Sinfelt.

Black bass are fast becoming the most popular quarry of New England's sportfishermen.

According to Andrew Schafermeyer and Bryan Comeau, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department fisheries biologists, smallmouth bass require three things -- food, cover and access to deep water. Look for smallmouths around river influxes and areas with wind-driven current.

Largemouth bass may be found in waters that are warmer, shallower or more fertile than a smallmouth could tolerate. Largemouths favor areas with gently sloping shorelines and less current.

Though both species like plenty of cover, smallies will gravitate toward rocky cover, while largemouths prefer woody cover and weedbeds.

Here's a look at what's in store for New England's bass anglers in 2008.

CONNECTICUT
While bass fishing in the Nutmeg State continues to be excellent, fisheries biologists are keeping a close eye on the extent and effects of largemouth bass virus, or LMBV.

"We are testing bass when we can, and the virus has been found in two waters so far," said Robert Jacobs, a Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Fisheries Division biologist. "We suspect that the virus may be widespread.

"It was responsible for one large bass kill that we know of, but the population in the affected lake seems to be recovering. Although it has not yet been documented, there is also concern among Northeastern fisheries scientists that it may sometimes negatively affect smallmouth bass as well as largemouths."

Meanwhile, studies are underway to see how the state's management of special regulation waters is impacting the fishery.

"We are sampling by electro-shocking and with creel surveys in our 20 Bass Management Program lakes to assess the effects of special length and creel limits," Jacobs said. "These lakes and a few others continue to provide some of the best bass fishing in the state."

Among the state's Bass Management Program lakes, a few good places to try are Bashan Lake, Moodus Reservoir, Pickerel Lake, Mudge Pond, Wononscopomuc Lake and Mamanasco Lake. Other tried and true waters are Candlewood Lake, Lake Lillinonah, Pachaug Pond and the Connecticut River, Jacobs noted.

BASHAN LAKE
Bashan Lake is a 273-acre natural lake in East Haddam near the Upper Moodus Reservoir. There are more 12-inch-plus largemouth bass here than in most other state waters. The population of larger smallmouths is about average, but there are higher numbers of smaller bronzebacks.

You'll find a state-owned access area and gravel boat ramp at the southern end of the lake.

After the Haddam-Colchester Turnpike, take Bashan Road for about one mile, and then turn onto Lakeshore Drive. Access is about a mile in on the right.

WONONSCOPOMUC LAKE
Wononscopomuc Lake is a 348-acre water in Salisbury. It is also known as Lakeville Lake. Fishing here is excellent for largemouth bass, which are plentiful in the 11- to 15-inch range. Night-fishing and ice-fishing are not allowed.

There's a town-owned boat launch on the northeastern shore. Amenities include parking for 20 vehicles and a concrete ramp that will accommodate most boats. Non-residents must pay a fee to fish.

From Route 44, take Route 41 south. Turn right onto Ethan Allen Street to reach the launch.

Special slot and creel limits are in effect on many of these waters. Before heading out, be sure to check the 2008 Connecticut Angler's Guide, available where licenses are sold, or online at www.dep.state.ct.us.

For more fishing information, call 1-860-424-3474. For travel information, call 1-888-288-4748 or visit www.ctvisit.com.

MAINE
According to Rick Jordan, a Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife regional fisheries biologist, the past 15 years have marked the most important period of managing bass in the Pine Tree State's history. Maine's biologists became proactive about protecting the state's bass fishery before problems could crop up.

Bass in Maine grow slowly. An average 12-inch bass will be about five years old in southern Maine, or six years old in northern Maine.

Because these bass grow slowly, live long and are highly prized by anglers, the department took steps to exert relatively restrictive general regulations.

Beginning in 2008, Maine anglers will be subject to several new general regulations on black bass, all geared toward creating a quality fishery. Anglers are advised to be sure to check the updated 2008 fishing regulations before heading out.

Waters worth targeting this spring include Eskutassis and Dolby ponds and Lake Auburn, where quality smallmouths are taken in the early part of the season.

As waters warm over the summer, try Long Pond in Taunton and Raynham Township for hot smallmouth bass action. (Carry-in access is off Somerset Junction Road.)

Clearwater Pond in Industry can be tough to fish because the water is so clear. But clever anglers stand a chance of landing large bronzebacks there.

As waters cool in fall, Big Lake in Princeton becomes premier smallmouth water. Indian Pond also gives up some big bass. Access is at the boat launch off Burnham Road and at the dam. Prong Pond in Beaver Cove is also known for great bass fishing.

West Grand Lake is also good for bass, and has an extended season that is open into mid-October. Boyden Lake in Robbinston and Toddy Pond in Orland are also open for bass fishing until Oct. 31.

Bass fishing is allowed until the end of November at Grand Falls Flowage in Princeton, Meddybemps Lake, Crawford Lake or Hadley Lake in East Machias.

For hardwater bass action, try Toddy and Lower Patten ponds.

For more Maine bass-fishing information, call the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at (207) 287-8000. Or you can also visit www.maine.gov/ifw.

For travel information, telephone the Maine Office of Tourism at 1-888-624-6345.

Or visit www.visitmaine.com.

MASSACHUSETTS
According to Aquatic Biologist Richard Hartley, the Bay State's Warm and Cool Water Project Leader, healthy bass are found in pretty much every water surveyed.

The daily creel limit is five bass, with a minimum length of 12 inches. The only hardship anglers face here is which place to wet a line -- they're all good!

According to MassWildlife, trophy bass in the Western District may be found in Onota and Pontoosuc lakes in Pittsfield, Lake Buel in Monterey and Goose Pond in Lee. The 617-acre Onota Lake is home to smallmouth and largemouth bass. Access is off Lakeway Drive to Burbank Park, where there is a double concrete ramp. There's also a concrete fishing pier for shoreline access.

In the Connecticut Valley District, check out Congamond Lakes in Southwick, Hamilton Reservoir in Holland, the Quabbin Reservoir and, of course, the Connecticut River.

The southern tip of the 412-acre Hamilton Reservoir lies on Connecticut shores. While smallmouth bass aren't numerous, largemouth bass here experience better than average growth. Mashapaug Road bisects the reservoir into north and south basins. Access to the north basin is near the dam. Access to the south basin is just below the intersection of Mashapaug and Vintan roads.

In the Central District, wet a line at Quaboag Pond in Brookfield, Webster Lake, Lake Singletary in Sutton and the A-1 Site in Westboro. Both smallies and largemouth bass can be had at Lake Singletary, located half in Millbury and half in Sutton.

Shoreline access is limited, due to heavy development. There is a paved boat ramp off West Main Road on the northern shore of the lake.

Northeast District bass anglers will want to head to Lake Cochituate in Natick, Saltonstall Lake in Haverhill and the Concord River. In the Southeast District, trophy bass waters include Sampson Pond in Carver, Long Pond in Lakeville and Mashpee-Wakeby Pond in Mashpee.

According to MassWildlife,trophy bass in the Western District may be found in Onota and Pontoosuc lakes in Pittsfield, Lake Buel in Monterey and Goose Pond in Lee.

For fishing information, visit www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/dfwfsh.htm. For Bay State travel information, call (617) 973-8500. You can also visit www.massvacation.com.

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Bass are plentiful in more than half of the Granite State's lakes and ponds. Last year, Gabe Gries, a New Hampshire Fish and Game Department fisheries biologist, reported that surveys are turning up excellent numbers of young-of-the-year bass in Winnipesaukee, Squam Lakes and the Connecticut River. Those fish will yield catch-worthy mature bass within the next three to five years.

But don't wait to fish the Connecticut River -- there are three-pound-plus smallmouth bass there right now! This is a great early-season water. By June, topwater baits will elicit big bass strikes at Lake Massabesic in Manchester.

"Experienced anglers can land large smallmouth from Spoonwood Pond in Nelson, Swanzey Lake in Swanzey, Stone Pond in Marlborough and Gilmore Pond in Jaffrey this spring," Gries said.

"Try drifting crawfish along bottom to tempt trophy fish."

But after the spring rush, don't put your bass gear away.

"Otter Lake in Greenfield has plenty of aquatic vegetation and numerous logs to provide homes for both largemouth and smallmouth bass," Gries said.

"Sampling here revealed many bass in the 12- to 15-inch range. Better yet, high catch rates of smaller bass mean that the fish will continue to be good in years to come!"

Other great summer bass waters include Winona Lake, Forest Lake, and Mirror Lake in Whitefield. Both bronzebacks and largemouth bass can be had in Laurel Lake, with most fish being less than 15 inches long.

Bass populations here would benefit from more harvesting of 10- to 12-inch bass. Also worth a try during the hot summer months is Potanipo Lake in Brookline. Access is a paved boat ramp off Route 13.

As waters cool, smallmouth bass congregate near the mouths of rivers flowing into ponds and lakes. Try the Warner River in the southwest corner of Webster, the North Branch Piscataquog in the Hopkinton-Everett Army Corps land in Weare and the Contoocook River in Henniker.

Hardwater destinations for bass include Island Pond in Washington, Lake Potanipo in Brookline, Crescent Lake in Acworth and Drew Lake in Hopkinton.

For more fishing information, you can call New Hampshire Fish and Game at (603) 271-2501, or go to www.wildlife.state.nh.us. For travel information, call the Office of Travel and Tourism at (603) 271-2665 or visit www.visitnh.gov.

RHODE ISLAND
Since 1999, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management's Division of Fish and Wildlife has managed black bass populations in state waters through the federal aid Largemouth Bass Management program.

According to Phillip Edwards, a DEM fisheries biologist, the federal funds let the Division of Fish and Wildlife monitor bass populations throughout the state through fall electro-shocking and by sampling at tournament weigh-ins held by local bass clubs each summer and fall.

"Sampling during summer and fall 2007 resulted in abundant healthy fish with many in the 5- to 6-pound range," Edwards said. "In addition, preliminary results from fall electro-shocking have shown abundant young-of-the-year largemouth bass.

"Due to the low water conditions during the fall of 2007, it has been difficult for anglers with large bass boats to gain access to some lakes and ponds, though a new ramp was constructed at Worden Pond," Edwards continued.

"Bass fishing for the 2008 season is predicted to be good and access to many of the systems will be enhanced as water levels increase with late fall and winter precipitation."

Edwards was happy to point anglers in the right direction for battling bass. He mentioned the Wilson and Upper Slatersville reservoirs as great summer bass destinations. Wilson may be accessed via a state boat ramp off East Wallum Pond Road in Burrillville. The Upper Slatersville Reservoir offers 138 acres of bass water with a largely undeveloped shoreline. Growth rates for largemouth b

ass here are higher than average.

There's a state boat ramp off Route 102 in North Smithfield.

Beginning in 2008, Maine anglers will be subject to several new general regulations on black bass, all geared toward creating a quality fishery.

Other good places to target bass include Belleville Pond in North Kingstown and Tiogue Lake in Coventry. Access to Bellville can be had within Ryan's Park off of Oak Hill Road. There is a state boat ramp at Tiogue off Arnold Road, and a town launch site off Route 3.

Another great Coventry bass water is Johnson's Pond (Flat River Reservoir). Access is at Zekes Bridge off the Harkney Hill Road.

For fishing regulations, destinations and more, visit www.dem.ri.gov .

For travel information, you can visit www.visitrhodeisland.com.

VERMONT
The Green Mountain State has plenty of water swimming with hungry black bass. Rivers are open for bass fishing from the second Saturday in April to Oct. 31, with a daily creel of five fish and no length limits.

Lakes and ponds open for an early catch-and-release season (artificial lures and flies only) from the second Saturday in April through the Friday before the second Saturday in June, when the open season begins.

Bass may be taken from lakes and ponds until Nov. 30, with a 10-inch length limit and a daily creel limit of five fish.

Regulations vary by water body, and some lakes are open for hardwater bass fishing. Before heading out, be sure to check the 2008 Vermont Digest of Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Laws. Anglers may pick one up wherever licenses are sold, or online at www.vtfishandwildlife.com.

According to John Hall, a Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department information officer, lakes Bomoseen, St. Catherine and Hortonia are best-bet waters for largemouth bass.

Lake Hortonia spans 449 acres in Sudbury. Access is off Lake Hortonia Road.

For bronzebacks, head to Lake Carmi or Lake Seymour. Carmi spans 1,375 acres in Franklin. Access is off state Route 120, and also along the southern shore in Lake Carmi State Park.

Access to Lake Seymour's 1,777 acres of smallmouth waters may be had along the northern shore via state Route 111 in Morgan Center.

Other great largemouth bass waters include Lake Sadawga in Whitingham (access is on the left at the bottom of Town Hill) and Lake Morey, which may be accessed by taking I-91 to Exit 15 in Fairlee. Take Lake Morey Road west about 1.5 miles. Access is on the right.

For more smallmouth action, head to Harriman Reservoir. Access is plentiful at Wards Cove, Castle Hill picnic area or at Mountain Mills. To reach Wards Cove from Wilmington, take Route 100 south. About one mile past the junctions of routes 100 and 9, turn right onto a dirt road to the lake.

For Castle Hill and Mountain Mills, head to downtown Wilmington. At the light, go 0.3 miles south. Continue up Castle Hill and turn right onto Fairview Avenue. Follow signs to the boat-launch areas.

For more fishing information, call Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department at (802) 241-3700, or visit www.vtfishandwildlife.com.

For travel information, call the Vermont Department of Tourism at (802) 828-3237, or check out www.travel-vermont.com.

Find more about New England fishing and hunting at NewEnglandGameandFish.com

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