New England's Finest Summer Bass Waters

Southern New England is the place to be for hot bass-fishing action this summer. Our expert has the story on where to find some great fishing near you right now!

Photo by Ron Sinfelt

During the early part of summer, New England's bass fishing is consistently rated good to excellent. Biologists in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts are working to make the fisheries even better for the summer season. Below are 10 great places to wet a line this summer:


RHODE ISLAND

Pascoag Reservoir

Over the past several years, the Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife has been stocking largemouth bass into Pascoag Reservoir in the towns of Burrillville and Glocester. While it is still too early to tell if these stockings are having an ecological impact on the fishery, biologists expect this summer will be the breakout season for the stocked bass, and anglers should soon start catching some quality fish.


The reservoir is long and narrow, spanning 351 acres. It is manmade with a maximum depth of about 19 feet. While the average depth is about 10 feet, most of the bass action is in shallower water. Look for June bass in the coves on the extreme northern end of the lake, around the two main-lake islands and in the cove leading toward the dam.


According to historical information, Pascoag Reservoir once had a thriving smallmouth bass population. Today, it is rare to catch one there. Instead, largemouth bass predominate and, as stocking figures indicate, the state's bass management program is focused on these fish. Anglers will also catch yellow perch, sunfish and chain pickerel. Golden shiners and crayfish make up the reservoir's forage base.

Pascoag Reservoir, also known as Echo Lake, is heavily developed. Summer anglers will fare better in the early morning, when pleasure boat traffic is light.

Access is via a state-owned boat-launching ramp in Glocester. Take Route 44 into Glocester and then drive north on Jackson Schoolhouse Road for about one mile to the ramp.

Tiogue Lake

This manmade lake is also stocked with largemouth bass. It covers 215 acres with a deep basin of about 11 feet. The average depth is 6 feet, though the eastern shoreline is much shallower.

The pond is overgrown with aquatic weeds. This underwater forest helps young panfish, bass and minnows escape predation. Anglers can therefore expect to catch a bunch of small sub-legal bass between keepers, plus some larger-sized yellow perch, pickerel and the occasional smallmouth bass.

Tiogue Lake is a great place for anglers wishing to master subsurface contour fishing. The pond has numerous V-shaped breaklines. Bass follow these breaklines as they move in and out of the shallow feeding flats. Two of the best breaklines are in the northern end of the lake. The first V runs from the basin halfway toward the eastern shore. It makes a rapid assent from 10 feet up to 3 feet. The second V extends from the tip of the first V straight into the eastern shoreline. Other noteworthy bassing spots are the two large coves on the southern end of the lake.

Anglers will find a state-owned boat-launching ramp on the northwestern end of the lake. Take Exit 6 off Interstate Route 95 north on Route 3. Follow Route 3 to the Route 33 junction. East of this junction, turn south on Arnold Road to the launch ramp.

Tucker Pond

One of the state's most diverse fisheries is Tucker Pond in South Kingston. Anglers may catch everything from yellow and white perch to trout and pickerel in this pond. But largemouth bass are the main drawing card to this 101-acre pond.

Tucker Pond is a natural lake. It is rather deep, running from 32 feet up to an average depth of about 11 feet. Anglers will find a sharp breakline along the southern shoreline of the lake. The northern end of the lake is shallow and weedy. Adjust your fishing accordingly. On cold June days, visit the breakline. During warmer days, concentrate on the shallower portions of the lake.

Tucker Pond has a distinct thermocline at 12 to 15 feet. Dissolved oxygen is almost nonexistent below 14 feet. In the summer, avoid fishing deep water. Instead, concentrate on the breakline edges and submerged structure in the 8- to 10-foot range.

Access to Tucker Pond comes through a state-owned boat-launching ramp on the northern end of the pond. Take Route 1 into Perryville. Turn northward on Route 110. At Tuckertown Road, turn eastward to the boat ramp.

Rhode Island resident license fees are $9.50 for the season. Non-resident license fees are $31 for the season or $16 for a three-day permit. For fishing and licensing information, contact the Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife, 4808 Tower Hill Road, Wakefield, RI 02879, or call (401) 222-3576.

For tourism information, write to the Rhode Island Tourism Division, 1 West Exchange St., Providence, RI 02903, or call (800) 556-2484.

CONNECTICUT

Burr Pond

Just a few miles away from downtown Torrington sits one of Connecticut's top bass-fishing lakes. Burr Pond is an 85-acre pond originally built to provide power for the local community. Today, the pond is part of Burr Pond State Park, thus the shoreline is undeveloped except for the park's beach area.

The pond is shaped like a three-clawed foot. The largest claw is in the southwestern corner of the pond. It holds some of the pond's deepest water. A small, rocky island guards the center claw. This cove offers some of Burr Pond's best bass action. The final claw leads to the dam along a steep shoreline. Out on the main lake -- the center of the foot -- anglers will find four other islands, a 9-foot basin and a 3-foot-deep shoal.

Except for stunted yellow perch, the largemouth bass here have little forage baitfish. Instead, they rely on crayfish and other aquatic organisms. Anglers fishing with soft plastic worms and crayfish-style lures report the greatest success.

Access to the pond is through a state-owned boat-launching ramp. Take Exit 46 off Route 8. Head west on Pinewoods Road. At the stop sign, turn left on Winsted Road. About one mile farther on, turn right onto Burr Mountain Road. The launch ramp is on the left just past the state park entrance.

Boaters are restricted to an 8-mph speed limit on Burr Pond.

Wangumbaug Lake

Anglers will find this lake very interesting. During the early part of summer, it is easy to catch 50 to 100 smallmouth bass. Most of these fish will run about 10 inches long.

While many bass men frown at such a prospect, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection encourages anglers to keep some of these small fish to make way for larger, trophy-sized fish.

Anglers who are patient and willing to ignore the ever-ready smallmouth bass can catch some nice largemouth bass in this lake. The bottom is made up of rocks, gravel and sand. Therefore, weed growth is limited to selected areas, found mainly along the southern shoreline. Largemouth bass anglers should concentrate on the weeds. Anglers looking for smallmouth bass should cast around the points along the northern shoreline.

Much of the shoreline is developed, making the lake a popular spot for recreational boating. Anglers will have their best fishing experience in the mornings or evenings. The speed limit on the lake is 6 miles per hour from sunset to one hour after sunrise. Also, the slow speed limit is in force from noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays and from noon to 2 p.m. on all other days.

The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection put special fishing regulations on this lake. The daily creel limit is six bass. Only two fish may exceed 16 inches. All bass between 12 and 16 inches must be released immediately. The possession of live alewives, blueback herring or any species of shad is prohibited.

Access is available through a state-owned boat-launching ramp in the town of Coventry. From Route 44, turn south on Route 31. After four miles, turn right on Lake Street to the launch ramp.

Halls Pond

Anglers looking for a unique bass-fishing spot should head for Halls Pond in Eastford. This 82-acre lake has a very convoluted shoreline and is dotted with over 15 small islands. The remains of numerous tree stumps are also scattered throughout the pond, a reminder of its past pre-water history.

The pond has a maximum depth of 14 feet with an average depth of 8 feet. Dense beds of Robbins pondweed blanket the pond bottom. Water lilies provide added attraction in the shallower areas. Rig your tackle to accommodate the weed growth.

Largemouth bass are abundant in the lake with a good number of them in the 16- to 20-inch class. The DEP is trying to manage Halls Pond as a trophy-class fishery. Anglers must release all bass between 12 and 16 inches. You can keep six bass, but only two fish may be larger than 16 inches.

Some of the better bass action can be found along the eastern shoreline. Anglers will also find pockets of deeper water around the islands. Biologists do not report significant minnow populations in the lake. Crayfish and stunted sunfish apparently make up a large part of the bass diet.

Along with largemouth bass, be prepared to hook chain pickerel, crappies and yellow perch.


Pascoag Reservoir, also known as Echo Lake, is heavily developed. Summer anglers will fare better in the early morning, when pleasure boat traffic is light.
 

Access to the pond comes from a state-owned cartop launch ramp in Natchaug State Forest. From Route 44, take Route 198 south for four miles. Head west on Halls Pond Road for one mile. Shoreline fishing is also available along the southern shoreline on Halls Pond Road. The boating speed limit is 8 miles per hour.

Connecticut resident license fees are $20 for the season. Non-resident license fees are $40 for the season or $16 for a three-day permit. For fishing and licensing information, contact the Department of Environmental Protection, Inland Fisheries Division, 79 Elm St., Hartford, CT 06106, or call (860) 424-3475.

For tourism information, write to the Connecticut Tourism Division, 14 Rumford St., West Hartford, CT 06107, or call (800) 282-6863.

MASSACHUSETTS

Cook Pond

This 154-acre pond provides anglers with some very good early-summer action. According to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, several species of fish are found here. Chain pickerel, yellow perch, white perch, and sunfish are readily available. A few tiger muskies dwell in the lake, left over from past stockings. But, largemouth bass are the mainstay of the Cook Pond fisheries.

The pond is pear-shaped with a deep center basin of 18 feet and an average depth of 10 feet. Anglers will find the water moderately transparent down to about 7 feet. Shoreline development is light, and there are some submerged aquatic weeds. However, you will find plenty of lily pads and other surface weeds along the entire three miles of shoreline. The northern end of the lake is also strewn with submerged boulders.

Golden shiners provide the main bass forage. Lures mimicking these baitfish should produce the desired results. Weeds are not much of a problem, so crankbaits and spinnerbaits can be used effectively.

Anglers will find a state-owned, handicapped-accessible fishing pier and paved boat-launching ramp on the lake in Fall River. Take Exit 1A off I-24 onto Route 81 north. Follow Route 81 past the cemetery and turn left onto Newton Street. After a mile, turn right on Laurel Street, and then turn left on Henry Street, which dead ends at the ramp.

Lake Gardner

Anglers looking for a secret bass fishery should try fishing this 80-acre manmade lake on the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border in Amesbury. It is a long, narrow lake with a maximum depth of 17 feet. The average depth is 10 feet, but anglers will likely fish in 3 to 6 feet of water.

Lake Gardner is tannin stained, and visibility into the brown water is only about 5 feet. Aquatic weeds are abundant, as are chain pickerel. Heavier lines and weedless lures are mandatory. Only the western shoreline is developed. The eastern shoreline is pristine and offers pleasant scenery.

Bass feed on shiners and stunted yellow perch in this pond. Also in the dark water you will often have better luck on brightly colored or very dark-colored lures. Natural lure tones get lost in the tannic stain.

Access to the lake is limited to cartop boats and canoes, which add to the serenity of the lake. Take Exit 54 of I-495 onto Route 150 north. Route 150 will make a turn to the right, but drive straight onto Whitehall Road. The access point is on the south end of the lake off Whitehall Road.

Highland Lakes

The Highland lakes consist of two different impoundments about one-quarter mile apart. Lower Highland Lake covers 88 acres with a maximum depth of 16 feet and an average depth of 9 feet. Upper Highland Lake covers 53 acres with a maximum depth of 14 feet and an average depth of 8 feet. Both ponds have largemouth and smallmouth bass. Most of the popular panfish species dwell in the sister lakes, too.

Anglers will find the two ponds similar. Their bottoms consist of rubble and rock. Aquatic vegetation is scarce. Water transparency is poo

r, running less than 5 feet. Shoreline development is moderate on Lower Highland Lake, while Upper Highland Lake is virtually undeveloped.

The upper pond will provide the better smallmouth bass fishing. But MassWildlife biologists report that the lower pond has more and bigger largemouth bass and yellow perch. White suckers and golden shiners are popular bass forage in the two lakes.

To get to the Highland lakes, take Route 112 about a mile north of Goshen Center. Turn right on Moore Hill Road to the ponds. Both ponds lie within D.A.R. State Forest, although portions of the lower pond are private. The access on Lower Highland allows for trailer boats. You will find the boat-launching ramp on the northern tip of the pond. Access to Upper Highland Lake comes from an informal ramp on the southern end of the pond. It is suitable for canoes and cartop boats. Only electric motors are permitted in Upper Highland Lake.

Massachusetts resident license fees are $27.50 for the season. Also, residents between the ages of 15 and 17 need an $11.50 junior fishing permit, and residents between the ages of 65 and 69 can get a senior citizen fishing license for $16.25. Non-resident license fees are $37.50 for the season or $23.50 for a three-day permit.

For fishing and licensing information, contact the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, 100 Cambridge St., Boston, MA 02202, or call (617) 626-1590.

For tourism information, write to the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, 10 Park Plaza, Suite 4510, Boston, MA 02116, or call (800) 227-MASS.

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.