Our Finest June Bass Lakes

Now's the time to go for some great June bassin' in southern New England, where lakes and ponds teem with lunker largemouths and smallmouths that can be taken from shore or boat. (June 2007)

Photo by Keith Benoist.

June in southern New England usually means stable and comfortable weather with trees and wildflowers in full bloom. Birds sing boisterously as they flit about in the brush.

Adding to the joyous sights and sounds of the season is some of the year's best freshwater bass fishing.

Find the time to be on the water this month, because it just doesn't get any better than this!

Plan to start your summer fishing adventures at one the following southern New England bass ponds:

CONNECTICUT

Mashapaug Pond

Mashapaug Pond is a 287-acre natural lake that was raised by constructing two dams across the lake's outflows. The water has a maximum depth of about 39 feet, with an average depth of about 15 feet.

Shoreline development is light and confined to the northern and western shores. The east shore is protected by Nipmuck State Forest. Bigelow Hollow State Park shields the southern shore.

The lake bottom is made up of gravel and sand, with scattered boulders in the shallow areas. Don't worry about weeds -- the pond lacks the green stuff.

Water clarity is good, with visibility down to depths greater than 20 feet. Clear water often translates to great topwater bass fishing.

Mashapaug Pond will not disappoint the popper enthusiast. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass dwell in the lake. Its largemouths have above-average growth rates, and bass over the special 16-inch slot limit are common. Smallmouth bass are abundant, but the growth rates are slow. Big fish are hard to find.

To help enhance Mashapaug's bass population, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection set a 12- to 16-inch slot limit. All bass between those two lengths must be released.

The daily creel limit is six bass, only two of which may exceed 16 inches.

During spring, the DEP stocks the pond with both brown and rainbow trout. Walleye fingerlings get released every fall. And yellow perch are plentiful in Mashapaug Lake.

All four species fish could provide good fishing when the bass aren't cooperating.

Public access is via a boat-launching ramp at the southern end of the pond in Bigelow Hollow State Park.

The park can be reached by taking Exit 73 off Interstate Route 84 to Route 190 north. Turn east onto Route 171 for about 1.3 miles to the park entrance. The parking area has room for about 30 cars.

Mashapaug Pond has a boat speed limit of 10 miles per hour.

Quinebaug Lake

Quinebaug Lake is a natural lake, but the water level was raised by a small stone and earthen dam on the southern end of the pond. The dam increased the surface area of the pond to 87 acres with a maximum depth of 29 feet.

Bass anglers will find a distinct six-feet-deep shoal around the shoreline's perimeter where the average depth is about 15 feet.

Quinebaug's bottom consists of sand and gravel with a few large boulders strewn about the bottom. Aquatic vegetation is sparse, thus crankbaits and topwater plugs are perfect lures for summer bass in this pond.

Quinebaug Lake bass feed heavily on panfish fry and crayfish. Lures mimicking these forage species are usually effective.

The DEP has set a slot and creel limit wherein fish between 12 and 16 inches must be released. Only two bass longer than 16 inches may be kept.

According to DEP information, anglers have good opportunities to catch largemouth bass over that magical 16-inch limit. Smallmouth bass are present, but scarce.

Brown and rainbow trout are stocked into the pond each spring and hold over through June. Crappies, yellow perch and chain pickerel are also available in good numbers. The pond is within Quinebaug Pond State Park with a boat-launching ramp on the northern end of the pond.

Anglers may access the park by taking Exit 92 off I-395. From the highway, take Route 6 west to Route 12. Continue south on Route 12 for about one mile. Turn east onto Shepard Hill Road to the state park entrance.

Gas-powered motors are prohibited on Quinebaug Lake.

Billings Lake

This 97-acre pond is one of the prettiest ponds in southern New England. The shore is lined with wild mountain laurel, which blooms in June. White and pink blossoms brighten the shoreline as the ultra-clear water glistens in the summer sun.

As an added attraction, the pond has an abundant supply of largemouth bass.

The pond has a maximum depth of 33 feet, with an average depth of 14 feet. Several small islands are scattered around the pond. Anglers fishing this pond will find a wide array of bass habitat, from thick milfoil weedbeds to rocky points. Lily pads also dot the shoreline, especially in the southern end of the lake.

According to fisheries reports, largemouth bass over 15 inches are common. But anglers should expect to catch several small bass before finding a chunky one, since the pond also has an overabundance of largemouths shorter than 12 inches.

This stockpile of small fish prompted the DEP to apply the same slot and creel limits.

Meanwhile, anglers can limit the number of small bass they catch by increasing the size of their lures.

The DEP also stocks the pond with trout every spring. Many of these fish hold over long into the summer. Chain pickerel are common, but like the bass, are numerous and stunted. Crappies and sunfish provide panfishing opportunities. Golden shiners appear to be the main forage.

Access to the pond is from a boat- launching ramp on the north end of the lake in Pachaug State Forest.

To get there, take Exit 85 off I-395. Follow Route 138 east to Route 201. Turn right onto Route 201. Continue on Route 201 for about three miles past the intersection with Route 165. Turn left on Billings

Lake Road. The ramp is at the end of the dirt road.

Connecticut's 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 Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Inland Fisheries Division, 79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106; or call 1-860-424-3475.

For tourism information, write to the Connecticut Tourism Division, 14 Rumford Street, West Hartford, CT 06107; or call 1-800-282-6863.

MASSACHUSETTS

Demond Pond

Demond Pond, in central Massachusetts, is a good place for bass anglers to explore. It is relatively small at about 119 acres. The basin drops down to 27 feet, with an average depth of about 7 feet.

By Bay State standards, Demond Pond is relatively clear, with visibility greater than eight feet thus making it a great two-story fishery.

Each spring, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife stocks the lake with rainbow trout. Tiger muskies were stocked in the mid-1990s, but the fish did not appear to do well. Largemouth bass, on the other hand, thrive in the pond, with many fish in the 2- to 5- pound range.

The bottom is mostly muddy, though anglers will find some rocky areas along the western shoreline. About half of the shoreline is developed, which requires anglers to fish from a boat.

Demond Pond largemouths frequently use boat docks, isolated boulders and fallen trees as ambush cover. Weed growth is rather sparse, so you'll find little need for weedless lures. Crankbaits, surface plugs and spinnerbaits mimicking yellow perch and golden shiners are popular lures for this pond.

Access to the pond comes from a boat-launching ramp in the town of Rutland. From Exit 13 off I-290, take Route 122 northwest of Worcester. About 12 miles from the highway, turn right onto Pleasant Dale Road.

This boat-launching ramp is on the west side of the dam. It is a small ramp and suitable only for light trailer boats, cartop boats and canoes.

Private property limits the shore-fishing, except at the dam area adjacent to the boat ramp.

Furnace Pond

Bay State anglers can expect some hot bass fishing at Furnace Pond in Pembroke. The pond got its name in the early 1700s when one of Plymouth Colony's first blast furnaces was constructed near the pond.

Iron raked from the pond bottom and nearby bogs was smelted in this furnace to make tools and other needed utensils. Today, this 107-acre natural pond has a maximum depth of 9 feet with an average depth of 5 feet. Because the pond is shallow and fertile, aquatic vegetation is extremely dense. Weedless lures are mandatory.

Furnace Pond has the reputation of producing trophy-class largemouth bass. MassWildlife reports that the pond frequently gives up lunkers in the 5- to 7-pound range. One reason why bass grow large is the pond's abundance of golden shiners and alewives. Yellow and white perch fry are also prime bass forage during the early summer.

Anglers visiting Furnace Pond will find an abundance of filet-sized white perch and crappies. Chain pickerel, brown bullheads, yellow perch and sunfish take up slack fishing time as well.

To get there, take Exit 11 off Highway Route 3 onto Route 14 west. You'll find a small boat-launching ramp and public right-of-way along Route 14 about 1.3 miles west of Pembroke Center.

Anglers will need to use a small boat because the shoreline is highly developed and privately owned. Car-top boats or canoes make the best craft for fishing this pond. Boat motors will be inefficient due to the dense weeds. Be prepared to paddle or row!

Thousand Acre Swamp Pond

If you like weedy lakes that contain big largemouth bass, try fishing the 155-acre Thousand Acre Swamp Pond in New Marlborough. This pond has a maximum depth of about 8 feet near the outflow dam. Its average depth is only about 4 feet. The shoreline is almost completely wooded and protected by Campbell's Falls State Park.

Water transparency is considered to be poor. Pick either very bright or very dark lure colors, to help the bass see your offerings.

Aquatic vegetation is abundant, covering about half of the pond. Also, submerged tree stumps offer the bass more protection from the sun and predators.

According to MassWildlife, there is so much cover (including weedbeds and tree stumps) on Thousand Acre Swamp Pond that anglers may have trouble deciding where to fish!

Growth rates for largemouth bass are fast, and large fish are relatively common. Because of the weeds, surface or weedless lures are mandatory.

Golden shiners and crayfish make up the main bass forage in Thousand Acre Swamp Pond. Anglers can expect to catch plenty of foot-long yellow perch and chain pickerel along with bass.

Access is provided through a state-owned boat-launching ramp suitable for shallow-draft boats, cartoppers and canoes.

Parking space is limited to about eight vehicles, so during busy summer weekends, anglers should plan to arrive early in the morning.

From Route 7 in Great Barrington, take Route 183 south for about nine miles. Turn south onto Route 272 toward Southfield. After four miles, turn left onto Hotchkiss Road to the access area.

Massachusetts's resident fishing license fees are $27.50 for the season. Non-resident license fees are $37.50 for the season, or $23.50 for a three- day permit. Anglers between the ages of 15 and 17 must purchase an $11.50 junior fishing permit.

For fishing and licensing information, contact the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, 251 Causeway Street, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02114; or call (617) 626-1590.

According to MassWildlife, there is so much cover (including weedbeds and tree stumps) on Thousand Acre Swamp Pond that anglers may have trouble deciding where to fish!

For tourism information, write to the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, 10 Park Plaza, Suite 4510, Boston, MA 02116; or call 1-800-227-MASS.

RHODE ISLAND

Stafford Lake

Most Rhode Island ponds are small and restrictive, but 476-acre Stafford Lake in Tiverton is the exception.

One of the largest lakes in the state, Stafford Lake is oval-shaped with a deep basin of 22 feet. It has an average depth of 15 feet. Anglers will find a convoluted shoreline with numerous points and shoal reefs.

These points are important to anglers becau

se smallmouth bass are the primary target in this lake.

The Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife doesn't have a scientific basis to judge the growth rates of smallmouth bass in the Ocean State because these fish are scarce around the state. But anglers frequently report catching trophy-class smallies from the lake every year.

Because the lake structure is made up of points with rather steep shorelines, crankbaits and spinnerbaits are very popular lures on the pond. In-line spinners also seem to have a strong following.

Of course, all the usual soft-plastic baits will work in Stafford Lake. Anglers may also catch a brown trout because the pond is well stocked each spring.

From Fall River, take Exit 1 off Highway Route 24 onto Route 81 south. The state owns a boat-launching ramp along Route 81 in Tiverton. Anglers will find a good cement launch pad there. But leave the big bass rigs home, since only electric motors are allowed.

Brickyard Pond

Most New England lakes are natural kettle ponds or made by damming rivers. But Brickyard Pond came about in an unusual manner. This 102-acre impoundment was created by excavating a large clay pit.

It has a maximum depth of 18 feet and an average depth of 11 feet.

Anglers will find a mixture of contours that include several deep holes and plenty of sunken humps.

The water in Brickyard Pond is generally murky due to the heavy clay soil, so anglers should be prepared to fish in stained water. Golden shiners and alewives are the dominant forage fish in the pond. Crayfish also play a role in the bass' diet.

The largemouth bass here tend to travel in schools because of this pond's unique bottom features. If you catch one fish, you are likely to find more nearby.

Along with the bass, chain pickerel, yellow perch and white perch offer good angling opportunities.

Fishing access is provided through Veteran's Memorial Park off Route 114 in Barrington. Cartop boats and canoes are allowed, but the use of outboard motors is prohibited.

Rhode Island resident license fees are $18 for the season. Non-resident license fees are $35 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) 222-3094.

For tourism information, write to the Rhode Island Tourism Division, 1 West Exchange Street, Providence, RI 02903; or call them toll-free at 1-800-556-2484.

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