New Englandâ€™s angling community has it made when it comes to the availability of year-round fishing opportunities. Hereâ€™s where to go for some top-end New England fishing in 2012:
Moosehead Lake, Maine
Maineâ€™s pride and joy when it comes to winter trout fishing, Moosehead is the place to be for lunker brookies. The daily bag limit is one fish over 14 inches, but smart anglers will release smaller fish in hopes of landing one of the lakeâ€™s legendary 5-pounders. Also, there is no size or bag limit on black bass at Moosehead.
Quinsigamond Lake, Mass.
In the heart of Worcester, this long, thin lake offers some great winter panfishing for a variety of species. Yellow perch abound in the lake and are caught by ice-anglers fishing close to points and weed beds using worms, shiners and tiny jigs.
Bantam Lake, Conn.
Well known for its great pike and bass fishing, Bantam Lake is also a top New England destination for big bluegills through the ice. Live or cut baits, jigs and ice flies will take these abundant, voracious winter targets.
Lake Winnipesaukee, N.H.
Look for clusters of ice-fishing shacks on this busy and popular New Hampshire hotspot. Most of the action takes place within walking distance of access trails and marinas so thereâ€™s no need to head for the middle of the lake. Schools of tasty perch roam the lake throughout the day at varying depths, so set fishing lines from top to bottom or use sonar gear to find schools of feeding perch.
Cobbosseecontee Lake, Maine
Lunker bass are easy targets for winter anglers using large shiners or night crawlers fished near dropoffs and weedy cover. Set up in water under 15 feet deep and check baits often to keep panfish away.
Lake Champlain, Vt.
One of the few great walleye hotspots in New England, Lake Champlain draws anglers from all over to its world-class opportunities for big fish of all species, including king-sized walleyes that eagerly take live baits or lively jigs.
Seymour Lake, Vt.
One of the most productive ice-fishing lakes in the Green Mountain state, Seymour Lake is home to a variety of coldwater species including trout, landlocked salmon and lake trout. Late-season ice-anglers focus on Seymourâ€™s out-sized lake trout, which reach 20 pounds or more and are â€śsuckersâ€ť for cut bait, live bait or large, lively jigs. Lake trout will show up at any time of the day so you should plan to start early and stay late. Check baits often to stymie big lakers that often engulf a bait without tripping the flag.
Schoodic Lake, Maine
This long, deep lake near Lakeview often produces great catches for patient salmon anglers who continue ice-fishing through the end of the season. Jig or fish lively shiners just under the ice. Be persistent and patient while waiting for schools of hungry landlocks.
Mashapaug Lake, Mass.
Home to some of the biggest bass, trout and catfish in the Bay State, Mashapaug offers excellent year-round angling. When safe ice allows, fish just off the bottom using live shiners, jigs or beefy ice flies on thrumming rods.
Candlewood Lake, Conn.
Candlewood is a top Nutmeg State trout spot, and its best fishing starts early this month. Fish from shore or troll slowly using deep-diving minnow imitations. Smart anglers will rig for big fish: This lake is known for its king-sized browns and rainbows.
Deerfield River, Mass.
One of the top spring trout rivers in the East, the Deerfield is well known for its high numbers of stocked fish and its good population of holdover rainbows, browns and brookies. Get away from the crowds by heading upstream or down from the most popular bridge pools and crossings.
Stafford Pond, R.I.
Stafford Pond should be ice-free by mid-March. Fish the warmer water along the shoreline for pre-spawn smallmouths as well as near points, dropoffs and other structure where early-spring bass are likely to hold.
Best bets for May, June, July and August are available on page 2!