Check out these family-friendly fishing destinations.
Want to do some fishing with the family? Here are some ideas for where to go in New England that are kid-friendly.
Believe it or not, the best family fishing vacations begin at home. Pre-trip planning is a must if everyone in the family is going to enjoy this year’s unique angling vacation. The first order of business is deciding where to go to find lots of fast action near or on shore. Most kids don’t care how big or even what species of fish they catch as long as there are plenty of them with very few lulls in the action. For this reason it’s almost certain that the logical target species will be panfish, which are abundant throughout the Northeast, aggressive and good to eat.
New England’s most common panfish species (bluegills, yellow perch, white perch, bullheads and pickerel) are easily caught on the most basic tackle and are found just a few feet off shore in shallow water. Many resort-style lakes and campgrounds in the region offer tackle rentals for first-time anglers, but it is usually easier and more fun for young anglers to use their own fishing rods, reels, line, bobbers, hooks and bait.
To make the experience more enjoyable be sure to bring comfortable lawn chairs, sun screen, hats, sunglasses and plenty of snacks and drinks. Bring plenty of bait (garden worms are the universal choice for panfish), a net and a bucket so novice anglers can observe and admire their catch for a few minutes before releasing them. In some states it is illegal to keep fish in a live well or bucket, so be sure to study each state’s open water fishing regulations before making the final decision on where to go.
Also, adults or anyone over the age of 16 who intends to fish will be required to purchase a fishing license. Options vary from one-day licenses to three- , seven- or 10-day licenses as well as licenses that are valid for the entire fishing season.
Once you have decided where to go, log onto that state’s fisheries division Web site for details on season dates, size and bag limits, licensing information and other details relating to fishing opportunities during the time period in which you plan to arrive.
Finally, keep in mind that few kids will want to fish from dawn until dark every day of their vacation, so keep a list of nearby diversions in hand when the fish stop biting and the kids become restless. Again, check the tourism Web site for the state you plan to visit for a long list of non-fishing options near the water you plan to fish.
With all this in mind, here are a few suggestions for where to find some great family fishing vacation destinations in New England in 2018.
Massachusetts contains an abundance of family-friendly summer fishing destinations that range from small-pond bluegills to the most popular saltwater species. Younger families would do well to focus on small, inland waters where access to shoreline fishing is easy and convenient. Families with older children may be ready for a trip to the state’s larger impoundments or saltwater beaches where serious anglers can try their luck with night fishing for stripers, bluefish or sharks.
The Bay State contains more than 1,000 lakes and ponds, the two largest being Quabbin Reservoir (24,704 acres) and nearby Wachusett Reservoir (4,160). Both lakes are man-made and provide Boston-area residents with clean drinking water.
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Fishing on both waters is tightly regulated via a gated road system where anglers can set up and fish from shore throughout the summer. Large families will find plenty of room to spread out and work the shoreline for bass, trout and other popular species.
Lodging, dining and other diversions are easy to find nearby. Log onto www.massvacation.com to discover the long list of options available to vacationing fishing families near these largest water bodies and elsewhere in Massachusetts.
Along the Way: Families looking to expand their horizons while fishing in Massachusetts may want to focus on the state’s Berkshire Mountain region, where campgrounds abound on state park and forest lands. Hiking, biking and sight-seeing opportunities may be found throughout the region as well.
Or, head east after a long day of fishing to take in the sights and sounds of the historic Boston area, or continue east to Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod where quaint shops, dune hiking and fine dining establishments are readily available.
Typical of southern New England, Connecticut offers fishing families a wide variety of options to consider for great angling and later on, when the famished family has finally had its fill of fishing for the day. Start the day off with a visit to one of many state forests, most of which are near or contain a lake or pond where great fishing for easily-caught species such as bass, pickerel, perch and bluegills may be found.
American Legion State Forest in Barkhamsted, for example, offers campsites and hiking trails that blend into nearby Peoples State Forest.
Lake McDonough will be the focal point of the anglers in the family. Easy shoreline angling may be enjoyed by fishermen of all ages. Younger kids will enjoy battling with feisty bass and panfish while the more sophisticated anglers in the group will want to challenge the lake’s abundant stocked trout.
Complete information on all of Connecticut’s fishing-based vacation destinations is available by logging onto ctvisit.com.
Along the Way: Hartford is the logical waypoint for families visiting Connecticut. Historic sites abound ranging from the Mark Twain and nearby Harriet Beecher Stowe homes and a variety of museums, art displays, and historic sites to top-end dining, entertainment, sports and music facilities. Many historic homes and businesses dating back to the Revolutionary War are on Connecticut’s list of must-see destinations.
For additional visitor and travel information, log onto www.ct.gov.
Affectionately referred to as “Little Rhody,” the Ocean State is big on fishing opportunities as well as family-friendly sightseeing and tourism activities that rival any other state in the Union. Most of the lakes and ponds in Rhode Island are geared toward family-style shoreline fishing for a variety of warmwater species, including panfish. The majority of the state’s parks and forests contain at least one fishable lake or pond that may be plied from shore using basic tackle with plenty of opportunities for bigger, larger, more challenging species including striped bass, bluefish and other popular saltwater species.
For a total outing visiting families need only look to legendary Block Island, an 11-square-mile vacation paradise with accommodations ranging from motels to kitchenettes and two-bedroom suites. The 45-room National Hotel on Water Street offers a variety of options for short-term or long-term stays. Log onto visitrhodeisland.com for more information on accommodations and amenities on Block Island.
Plenty of freshwater and saltwater fishing opportunities may be found on Block Island as well. Sachem Pond is the go-to destination for white perch, or the family fishermen may want to head for the shoreline to try their luck with striped bass and bluefish.
To make the most of all that Rhode Island has to offer, log onto www.visitrhodeisland.com for a complete list of fishing destinations that include family-oriented accommodations.
Along the Way: When the family has had its fill of sight-seeing and fishing, consider spending the day at one of Rhode Island’s popular beaches. Misquamicut and Watch Hill are just two of the state’s many scenic saltwater beaches where vacationing families can relax and listen to the surf pounding against the sand all day. Both beaches feature plenty of room to roam with restaurants and other amenities close enough to access via flip-flops or sandals.
The Pine Tree State has two distinct and separate vacation worlds. The first consists of quaint fishing villages primarily east of coastal Route One. This is the area where most of the state’s summer tourism occurs, and for good reason. Saltwater fishing for stripers, bluefish and mackerel rules the roost in this region, which extends north along the Maine coast all the way from Kittery to Canada. Accommodations, recreational opportunities, restaurants and sight-seeing venues abound all along Route One.
To the west lies “the rest of Maine,” a heavily-forested, remote, less-traveled portion of the state where lakes, ponds, rivers and streams abound. It is probably safe to say that Maine’s family fishing focal point will be the Moosehead Lake region based in Greenville. From here to Millinocket and points north fishermen will have their choice of options ranging from small stream trout fishing to deep-water lake trout and salmon angling plus a smorgasbord of warmwater opportunities ranging from white perch, bullheads and pickerel to smallmouth bass, northern pike and muskies.
One of the most popular summer family destinations in the region is Peaks-Kenny State Park on the shores of Sebec Lake in Dover-Foxcroft. Plenty of campsites and shore fishing options are available for vacationing families, with some great fishing for smallmouth bass, landlocked salmon and lake trout as well. The kids will have fun catching rock bass, smallmouths and pickerel in and among the rocks.
Most of Maine’s best family fishing vacation sites are found on remote waters where long-term, traditional “camps” have been in business for decades. To find out more about these and other family camping opportunities in Maine, log onto www.visitme.com.
Along the Way: Angling families headed to Maine should have no trouble finding the right gear and tackle for their destination. Three of the top-rated sporting goods stores in New England may be found along Interstate Route 95 beginning in Kittery, where the Kittery Trading Post has been catering to sportsmen for over 75 years. Just up the turnpike in Scarborough the Cabela’s Outlet Store (now Bass Pro Shops) has a lot more to offer camping and fishing vacationers. A few miles to the north is the famed L. L. Bean flagship store, where hunting, fishing and camping gear is still offered where the company’s founder roamed the aisles into the 1960s.
For additional information, log onto www.mainetourism.com. For fishing laws, regulations, licenses and other details log onto www.mefishwildlife.com.
Thanks to its immense size and long-standing tradition of catering to vacationing fishing families, the simplest solution as to where to go in New Hampshire has not changed in 100 years. Head for Lake Winnipesaukee and you will find all the best in accommodations, restaurants, tackle, bait and fishing opportunities the state has to offer.
Fishing families are most likely to want to focus on shoreline action for bluegills, perch, bass and bullheads, and Lake Winnipesaukee is tailor-made for the masses with miles of shoreline open to fishing plus innumerable bays, coves, drop-offs and points where families can set up for a productive day (or week) of fishing.
A visit to www.visit-newhampshire will generate all the information one needs to plan and execute a fun, productive and enjoyable family fishing vacation.
Along the Way: Most folks who visit New Hampshire make it a point to visit the state’s legendary Squam Lake, where the movie, “On Golden Pond” featuring Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda was filmed. Visitors who take a boat tour of the lake will see Purgatory Cove and the small cottage where the movie was filmed.
In Conway, fish-oriented vacationers will find several campgrounds with picnic tables, showers, drinking water and laundry facilities, all within casting distance of the Dry River, where some great trout fishing may be had.
For more ideas and information, log onto www.nhtourguide.com.
New Hampshire isn’t the only state with a sure-thing, go-to family fishing destination. In Vermont the solution is simple: Head for Lake Champlain! This 120-mile border water between New York and Vermont contains a wide variety of fish species including such shoreline denizens as bluegills, yellow perch, northern pike, smallmouth bass, trout and salmon. Suggested hotspots to target include Kelley, Missisquoi, Dillenbeck and Keeler bays, where everything from pike to panfish may be caught from shore, along with white perch and walleyes in some areas.
Access is easy to most of the big lake’s shoreline but families with a hankering for bigger fish may want to consider chartering a boat for a half-day or full day’s excursion.
Vermont also plays host to a wide variety of fisheries ranging from rivers and streams to small ponds and lakes where family fishing opportunities abound. Log onto www.vermontvacation.com for help in deciding where to go in 2018.
Along the Way: It’s no coincidence that the Green Mountain State also contains the Green Mountain National forest, which covers 400,000 acres. The forest supports a variety of wildlife including beavers, moose, coyotes, black bears and white-tailed deer. It also supports an abundant variety of game- and non-game bird species such as wild turkey and ruffed grouse. The forest has been referred to as the “granite backbone” of the state. Hiking, biking, fishing and hunting are just a few of the recreational diversions visitors may enjoy while visiting Vermont in 2018.
For more information, log onto vermontvacation.com.