Looking for some exciting June bass action? Check out these tips on where and how to fish in New England.
Both largemouth and smallmouth bass are not difficult to find in our neck of the woods. It is safe to say they abound just about everywhere, and most well-known and lesser-known waters can produce exciting action. This is particularly true in June, generally considered a time of transition as bass move from deep water towards their spawning beds.
Although the timing may vary from Maine to Connecticut or Rhode Island, where water temperatures warm more quickly, until water temperatures reach into the low and mid-60s, bass are hungry and trying to fatten up for the spawning ritual and willing takers of a variety of surface and subsurface offerings. Once water temperatures reach about 60 degrees for smallmouth and 65 degrees for largemouth, the spawning season will be in full swing. Bass will be in skinny water then, often down just a few feet, and although bass feed less when spawning they will be aggressive protecting their beds. No matter where you fish, in both scenarios some of the best action of the entire season is at hand, and it all takes place this month.
WHAT TO USE
Early in June before bass move toward the shallows, large deep-running spinnerbaits should do quite well. Start off with 1/4- to 3/8-ounce size on a stop-and-go or varied speed retrieve. If that fails to produce action, go deeper with larger sizes and experiment with different colors and retrieve speeds.
Plastic worms are also a good bet. They can be fished to accommodate the situation such as depth and water clarity and fished deep when weighted or shallow when the fish are shallow. Again, don’t hesitate to experiment with size, color and rate of retrieve.
Once bass are fully on the beds, fishing shallow is the name of the game. Many of the same offerings continue to produce action, but often in different ways — because spawning bass often strike lures rather than actually taking them. Spinnerbaits do quite well when bass produce more strikes and refusals — if you add a trailing hook.
Jigs are productive because they create a great deal of commotion near the beds which draws attention and usually an aggressive response. The same is true of rattling baits. Various plastics such as worms, grubs, crayfish and frogs are excellent for drawing attention and can’t be refused by bass experiencing hunger pangs.
And keep in mind, the first priority of spawning bass is protection of the beds. Hunger comes second. To prevent short strikes and refusals, extra sharp hooks are a must.
Finally, to protect bass during the important spawning period, reduced bag limits or catch-and-release regulations may be in place statewide or on certain waters during the month of June. A careful check of the regulations is advised. Once you check the regulations, try one — or more — of the following six excellent fisheries.
CHINA LAKE, MAINE
Central Maine has some of the premier smallmouth and largemouth bass fisheries in New England, and China Lake is one of the very best. Located about 20 miles northeast of Augusta, the lake covers 3, 832 acres and offers a strong population of smallmouth bass. But it’s especially known for largemouth bass, many of good size. In recent bass tournaments it has taken better than a 4-pound average to win the day.
China Lake is actually like two lakes in one. The main east basin is long and narrow with an irregular shoreline developed with seasonal and year-round homes. In June, the water is a slightly more stained than other parts of the lake, but the east basin offers plenty of coves, small bays, points, and structure and shoreline cover. Several islands about halfway down the lake also offer some rock piles and shoreline cover.
Access to the east basin is possible from the public launch site on Causeway Road off Route 202 in China.
The west basin, locally referred to as the “Bowl,” is more circular. Much of the shoreline is less developed or not developed at all and offers just about everything bass want or need — rocky shoals, a number of coves, and points with exposed and submerged cover, especially along the far western shore.
Access to this section of China Lake is possible from the Vassalboro town landing located on Route 32 which departs Route 202 in South China.
Covering some 44,586 acres, Winnipesaukee is by far New Hampshire’s largest lake. The irregular shoreline stretches about 280 miles and is indented with numerous small coves and large bays. Several necks and points of various sizes such as Moultonborough Neck, Second Neck, Meredith Neck and Wolfeboro Neck protrude into the main lake. Scattered along that extensive shoreline and throughout the lake are hundreds of rocky shoals, some shallow and some deep. More than 250 islands are also found throughout the lake, many rimmed by rocky flats. Combined, it all creates a bass angler’s dream.
Winnipesaukee’s great size can be a challenge for those unfamiliar with it. Navigational maps, available at local retail outlets, should be used to locate such popular smallmouth hotspots as Gun Island, Twin Island, Hemlock and Ambrose Cove, Spectacle Island, the Graveyard and Forty Island area, Middle Ground Shoal, Winter Harbor and Sandy Point, to name but a few.
For largemouths the best action is typically found in the larger, shallow and weedy bays and coves. Check out the Lee Mills area, The Basin, Green Basin, most of Moultonborough Bay, Paugus Bay, Greens Basin, Alton Bay and the Salmon Meadows area.
LAKE CHAMPLAIN, VERMONT
Vermont is home to a large number of top-notch bass lakes, but Lake Champlain gets the nod as the state’s very best, especially in June. The big lake is a popular tournament site and gets a lot of attention simply because the largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing is so darn good.
There is really no bad spot to fish Lake Champlain for bass this month. Both largemouth and smallmouth are well represented throughout the lake, but for those targeting one or the other certain spots are better than others.
Generally speaking, the best spots for largemouth bass are on the southern half of the lake, which tends to be shallower and weedier and warms more quickly. Starting just south of Burlington, Shelburne Bay is a prime spot. The same is true of Converse Bay, Town Farm Bay and Hawkins Bay and the Little Otter Creek area. Farther south, Kingsland Bay off the state park, Potter Bay and Fields Bay near Grosse Point and nearly every weedy or shallow bay, near-shore shoal or rock pile south to the Champlain Bridge at Crown Point are worth fishing.
North of Burlington, Mallet’s Bay, St. Alban’s Bay and the bays along the Alburg Tongue and North and South Hero Islands are good bets for largemouth.
Many of these areas north of Burlington are also prime locations for smallmouth bass. The shoreline north of Mud Point in Alburg, the Trembley Bay area and Horseshoe Shoal off Isle la Motte are others.
Don’t forget the fact Lake Champlain is huge and wind and weather conditions vary greatly even in June. As is the case on Lake Winnipesaukee, navigational maps are recommended for those unfamiliar with the lake.
LAKE SINGLETARY, MASSACHUSETTS
With the exception of a few reservoirs, most lakes and ponds in Massachusetts are somewhat shallow and on the small side, but they offer good bass fishing opportunities. Lake Singletary in Millbury and Sutton just south of Worcester is a prime example. Both largemouth and smallmouth are available, although Singetary is best known for its largemouths. The only unfortunate aspect is fishing is limited to the use of boats due to the highly developed shore. A public boat launch and parking area is available on the north end.
Lake Singletary covers just 346 acres, has a maximum depth of 35 feet and averages just 18 feet. With visibility extending down to about 10 feet it is possible to see the bass hangouts and areas worth fishing. Compared to typical bass lakes, surface vegetation is somewhat scarce, making Singletary a challenge to fish. There are some weed beds along the northern and south shores but most prominent is the rocky bottom and scattered boulders in the same areas. A good place to start is directly across from the boat launch and off the point just to the south. Be sure to hit the shallows and drop-offs surrounding the island in between. Water depths on the north and south ends vary between 5 to 20 feet so a slow, careful approach is best. There is another island down the lake and several submerged boulder-strewn shoals that always hold some heavy bass fed on Singletary’s alewife population.
Anglers should keep in mind, Lake Singletary is heavily developed, relatively close to Worcester and is a popular recreational spot, particularly as water temperatures warm. To ensure parking, anglers should hit the lake early and late in the day.
A map of Lake Singletary showing the various depths is available on the MassWildlife web site.
To access Lake Singletary take Route 146 south to Exit 8 in Millbury and head west on West Main Street.
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CANDLEWOOD LAKE, CONNECTICUT
Connecticut is home to a number of prime bass lakes but Candlewood Lake in the New Fairfield, Brookfield and Danbury area is one of the best. The lake has a robust largemouth bass fishery but Candlewood Lake is particularly known for its smallmouth bass with trophy specimens possible during the May to early June pre-spawn and spawn periods. Because of that, and due to its size as the largest lake in Connecticut and varied structure and cover, Candlewood gets a lot of pressure from local and visiting anglers. Several bass tournaments and derbies are held on the lake each year.
Candlewood Lake covers some 5,064 acres. Although long and narrow for the most part, its 65-mile-long shoreline is dented with bays and coves of various size and depths. Several points and necks jut into the lake and there are a number of islands of various sizes. All of it is prime bass water offering a mixed bag of cover and structure.
A thing to keep in mind is that water temperatures vary in different areas of the lake, typically depending on spring weather conditions. During cooler springs the smaller, shallower coves are apt to warm quicker than the larger, deeper coves, bays, and off the various points, and the spawning season can be in place or almost over by early June or so. The point is, with the arrival of June, anglers may be fishing for both spawning and post-spawn bass so tactics and offerings should be selected accordingly. The nice thing is whatever the case, bass will be aggressive or active somewhere on the big lake.
Access to Candlewood Lake is available on the south end of Lattins Cove Boat Launch in Danbury, off Forty Acre Mountain Road. Another option is at the Squantz Cove off Route 39 in New Fairfield on the west side.
INDIAN LAKE, RHODE ISLAND
Most of the lakes and ponds in southern Rhode Island are smaller than 100 acres. There are exceptions, such as Worden and Watchaug ponds, both excellent bass water. Indian Pond in South Kingston is another. At 221 acres, Indian Lake is one of the largest lakes in the state.
But size doesn’t always mean great depth. At an average depth of just 9 feet Indian Lake is rather shallow. Milfoil and other weed growth is evident along some of the shorelines, and along with the rocky bottom offers ample cover for bass. Some offshore boulders and rock piles and submerged shoals offer additional cover along with the island drop-offs on the north end.
Due to its southern location and proximity to Block Island Sound and Narragansett Bay, Indian Lake warms quickly in the spring. By June the spawn has reached its heights most years, so much of the action is for post-spawn bass. Due to its shallow depths the best action generally comes on floating and shallow running lures, baits and plastics.
Access Indian Lake from U.S. Route 1 in the Indian Lakes Shore area of South Kingston by taking Arrow Head Trail to its end and turning left (south) onto Indian Trail to the state-owned fishing access.