Top Places for Bass Fishing in Massachusetts

Although fishing has been considered a "consumptive" sport since the earliest days of fisheries management, New England's bass anglers can give themselves a hearty pat on the back for their contribution to the management of black bass throughout the region. Once considered a mecca for trout anglers, the Northeast is now a premier destination for largemouth and smallmouth anglers, and no matter how many anglers participate, the fishing simply gets better. Here are your best bets for bass fishing in Massachusetts.

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One reason, of course, is that the majority of fishermen release nearly every bass they catch, tossing the smaller ones back to "grow up" and letting the big ones go after a quick photo session. When you use a resource but don't abuse it, the results are predictable: Plenty of big bass to go around and more on the way.

With all this in mind, here's a look at bass management strategies in New England and where avid bass anglers can find the best fishing in their state:

The earliest reference to largemouth bass management in Massachusetts occurred in 1879 when they were introduced from northern New York State into ponds of Essex County.

During this early period, management consisted of transplanting adult bass from pond to pond. Beginning in the early 1900s, hatchery culture and stocking programs for black bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass) began, which included widespread stocking of fingerlings.

By the late 1960s, tagging studies and surveys showed that largemouth bass populations were self-sustaining. It was then determined that stocking bass into waters with self-sustaining populations did not improve the fishery, so the bass hatcheries and stocking programs were phased out. Currently, the largemouth bass is managed statewide by a year-round fishing season, a five-fish-per-day creel limit with a 12-inch minimum size restriction.

MassWildlife fisheries biologists now ask bass tournament officials to submit a voluntary online creel survey to help monitor the size and number of bass caught each year.

Thanks to the popularity of bass in Massachusetts, MassWildlife offers a list of "best bets for bass" designed to help anglers decide where to go, with the caveat that "pin" (state fishing award program) fish are found in waters large and small across the state.

The following lakes and ponds top the list of "official" options, but great bass fishing may be found in a wide variety of waters from the kettle ponds of Cape Cod to Onota Lake on the state's western border: Wachusett, Quabbin and New Bedford reservoirs; Johns Pond and Mashpee-Wakeby ponds in the Southeast District; Webster Lake in the Central District and the Agawam River in the Southeast District.

For a complete list of Massachusetts' best bass waters, licensing information and more on the Bay State's excellent bass fishing opportunities, log onto www.mass.gov.

Don't forget to share your best bass photos with us on Camera Corner for your chance to win free gear!

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