Now's the time for some exciting spring bass-fishing action, and these proven Bay State lakes and ponds offer some of the best warmwater angling in New England. (May 2006)
Massachusetts anglers can expect good catches of bass from shore or boat using spinnerbaits, topwater plugs or plastics. Photo by Ron Sinfelt.
Massachusetts offers tremendous freshwater fishing opportunities, with hundreds of public access lakes, ponds, and reservoirs waiting to be tested.
There are hundreds of little-known ponds where Bay State anglers can find some great bass-fishing action this month. The following five ponds offer good spring bass fishing without some of the heavy angling traffic you'll find on the bigger "name" lakes in the state.
Cape Cod is known for its deep kettle trout ponds. However, there are several warmwater ponds that offer good bass action.
Johns Pond is a 243-acre natural kettle pond with an average depth of 23 feet and a maximum depth of 65 feet in the northern end. Visibility is very good to 18 feet, and aquatic vegetation is limited to the cove areas at the pond's southern end. The bottom is mostly sand, although there are some areas of rubble and gravel. The shoreline is 50 percent developed with homes and beaches.
There are two outlets. The first is the Childs River on the south end, unique in that it flows underground for about 100 yards after leaving the pond. The second is the Quashnet River, located to the north, which is a popular fishing river and one of the few naturally sustaining brook trout rivers on the Cape. Sea-run alewives make their way up the Childs and Quashnet rivers from Waquoit Bay and Vineyard Sound, providing a ready source of forage for the pond's big bass.
According to Steve Hurley, Southeast District biologist for MassWildlife, Johns Pond is an excellent, heavily fished water that has good populations of smallmouth and largemouth bass.
A good spot to fish is near the sunken hump, in about 10 feet of water southwest of the boat ramp in the pond's southern section.
Other species here include yellow perch, white perch and brown bullhead.
Shore fishing is available at the town beach. This access is best suited for the visiting spring angler because a town sticker is required for the summer. About 400 yards to the east, there is a good stretch of land that provides good shore access.
A paved boat ramp in the northwest corner of the pond off Hooppole Road is suitable for launching light-trailered boats and canoes. Parking is available for six to 10 vehicles. The access area is cramped and oddly shaped, so large trailers may find it difficult to navigate.
To get there, take Route 28 south from the Bourne Bridge heading east on Route 151. Turn left onto Ashumet Road (past the intersection of Route 151 and Sandwich Road), which leads to Hooppole Road. The ramp is on the right, off Hooppole Road.
For travel information, log onto www.allcapecod.com.
The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed this 200-acre impoundment in the Buffumville Recreation Area. This is a long, thin warmwater lake that is 3 1/2 miles long and less than a half-mile wide, and was built for flood control. The water level fluctuates in spring and fall. Oxford Road bisects the reservoir into north and south basins.
A culvert connecting the two runs under Oxford Road and is large enough to accommodate the passage of most boats. Both basins are considered to be shallow, with an average depth of 11 feet. However, the area near the boat ramp drops steeply to about 50 feet. The high iron count gives the lake a dark color and limits visibility to five feet.
Mark Brideau, a Central District wildlife biologist, said the lake is one of the unknown water bodies in the area. This is mostly due to underwater vegetation.
"Aquatic plants are common, particularly along the western shoreline," Brideau said. "Milfoil, pickerelweed, and sedges are abundant in the southern basin and common in the north. The eastern shore of the southern basin is also dotted with clusters of submerged tree stumps and standing dead trees."
There is also a dam on the south basin's eastern side south of the boat ramp.
Upland hardwoods and white pine forest surround the reservoir. Except for a public swimming beach on the eastern side of the north basin, the shoreline is undeveloped. A 7.2-mile loop trail hugs the shoreline and provides good access for shore fishing. Because of its use as a flood control reservoir, there is not a lot of heavy recreational activity.
The southern basin may be the best bet for bass action, since it has the most cover in the form of weedbeds, submerged stumps, rocks and standing dead trees. Northern pike were stocked in 1984, 1988 and 1994, and tiger muskies were stocked in 1997.
Panfish (chain pickerel, yellow perch, white perch, brown bullhead, bluegill, and pumpkinseed) may be targeted along most of the shoreline in either basin. Bluegills exhibit better-than-average growth rates, and specimens in excess of 8 inches are not uncommon.
A concrete and gravel ramp is found at the north end of the south basin off Oxford Road. It is a sloping ramp suitable for trailers, car-top boats and canoes. The ramp drops off at the end and may be tricky when the water level is low. This situation is slated to be corrected by spring 2005.
The gravel parking lot can accommodate up to 30 vehicles.
To get there from the west, take the Massachusetts Turnpike (Interstate Route 90) to Exit 9/Route 20 east. Take Masonic Home Road south for about 3/4 mile and turn right at the intersection with Main Street. Stay on Main Street for about 1,000 feet and turn left onto Muggett Hill Road, which becomes Oxford Road. Follow this to the causeway that crosses over the reservoir. The boat launch will be on the right side of the road.
From the east, take Route 395 to Exit 4B and head west on Sutton Avenue through Oxford Center. Continue straight onto Charlton Street, which eventually becomes Oxford Road. The boat launch is on the left side of the road.
For more information, contact the Buffumville Recreation Area at (508) 248-5697.
This 155-acre pond in Ashland Park has a maximum depth of 47 feet and an average depth of 23 feet. Visibility is 9 feet, and aquatic vegetation is scarce, limited to a few coves and shoreline areas. The bottom is dominated by rubble, rock, and clay. The shoreline is undeveloped except for two beaches: the local town beach and a private beach owned by Northeastern University.
Although better known for its trout fishing, the reservoir also offers great opportunities for bass. The western shoreline is shallow, especially along the dropoffs near the two islands and in the three small coves. Although there's not a lot of underwater cover in this area, it still offers a good environment for bass. The reservoir is also stocked every spring and fall with rainbow, brown and brook trout. Trout tend to congregate along the eastern side where there is a steep drop into deeper water.
According to John Sheedy, an Eastern District biologist, the reservoir has a good reputation for providing excellent trout fishing from late May into July.
Due to the interest in trout, the lake's bass tend to be overlooked, which means larger-than-average fish may be available. Other warmwater species include black crappies, yellow perch, pumpkinseed, bluegills and brown bullhead.
The gravel access ramp is off Spring Street at the southern end of the reservoir. From Route 495, take Exit 23B to Route 9 east. Continue straight for about a mile and take the Cordaville Road/Route 85 exit. Turn right off the ramp and head south. Go straight through the first set of lights, under a railroad bridge and through Hopkinton State Park. In Hopkinton Center, turn left onto East Main Street/Route 135 and head east for about three miles. Turn right onto Olive Street, heading south for a mile, and then turn left onto Spring Street. Go through a quarry and look for a gravel ramp and parking area on the left. The ramp is suitable for small boats and canoes. Parking is limited to about five vehicles.
Gas-powered engines are prohibited, but electric trolling motors are allowed.
For more information, contact the Ashland State Park office at (508) 435-4303.
This natural, 269-acre warmwater pond is southwest of the center of Plymouth. Characterized as shallow, weedy, and fertile, it is fed by cranberry bog outlets and runoff. Aquatic weeds are abundant, providing good cover for fish. The shoreline is a gradual slope into the water that averages 7 feet in depth, with a maximum depth of 11 feet.
The bottom is predominantly mud, although shoreline areas tend to be sandy. Except for the northern side, which abuts Morton Park and nearby cranberry bogs, most of the shoreline is developed, particularly on the western and southern ends. There is also a good deal of private undeveloped land, limiting shore-fishing opportunities.
An island sits in the center of the middle basin, and a smaller island lies along the southeast shore at the entrance to the channel. There is also a shallow western basin that can be reached through a narrow channel along the middle basin's western end.
"Billington Sea is very fertile and offers excellent fishing for largemouth bass and pickerel," said Steve Hurley, a Southeast District biologist. "Try the western basin where the shallow depth and heavy weeds offer good bass activity."
Other species include pumpkinseed, bluegill, yellow perch, white perch and brown bullheads.
According to Hurley, the lake has an excellent forage base provided by sea-run alewives that come up from Plymouth Bay through Town Brook. Fishing and boating may be difficult during the warmer months, due to excessive weed growth.
Shore fishing is provided by a town right-of-way on the pond's northern shore in Morton Park. A good shore- fishing spot is past the ramp and up the road to Hospital Point, where anglers can pull off the road and park to gain access.
Boat access is available on a public right-of-way on the pond's northern shore in Morton Park. To reach the launch site, take the dirt road bordering the southern shore of Little Pond. The ramp is suitable for launching car-top boats and canoes. You may use trailers, but use caution due to the shallow slope. If using a trailer, use a 4-WD vehicle to get to the necessary depth to effectively launch. The parking lot can accommodate eight vehicles.
To get there, take Route 495 south to Exit 6 (Route 44 East). Follow Route 44 around the rotary and continue east for about four miles. It will connect with Route 58 south for a short distance. Turn left back onto Route 44 east for a little over six miles and continue into Plymouth. Route 44 will bear left at a fork. Bear right onto Carver Road for about half a mile. Turn left onto Summer Street and continue for about a quarter-mile. Take a right onto Morton Park Road to the park and access area. Look for signs leading to the launch area.
There are hundreds of little-known ponds where Bay State anglers can find some great bass-fishing action this month.
This shallow 161-acre flood control reservoir is about six miles northwest of Becket center in the southwest corner of October Mountain State Forest. The average depth is 6 feet, with a maximum depth of 10 feet in the middle of the reservoir.
The water is fertile, with visibility only about three feet. Aquatic vegetation is moderate and scattered, concentrated primarily in the shallow northern and southern coves and along parts of the shoreline.
There is no inlet. The reservoir gets its water from rain runoff, which is the primary cause for the high fertility and sedimentation in the water. The only outlet is the recently rebuilt dam located on the eastern side of the reservoir.
The reservoir's northern end narrows and then opens into a large, shallow cove. There are also coves on the eastern and southern sides. A forest was flooded to create the pond, and there is abundant underwater structure in the form of stumps and deadfalls, creating a very good environment for fish.
The shoreline is undeveloped, and camping and swimming are prohibited.
Andrew Madden, a Western District biologist, recommends the reservoir for some of the best bass, pickerel and yellow perch fishing in the region.
"Buckley-Dunton is a very good recreational destination," Madden said. "It has enough fish to keep anglers busy and is one of the Berkshire's most scenic ponds."
The density of structure in the pond requires the use of snag-proof lures such as spinnerbaits, rubber worms and weedless spoons. Due to the shallowness of the water and low visibility, surface plugs and poppers are also very effective.
Shore-fishing is easiest along the marked trail near the dam and parking area
. Fishing is allowed along the shoreline, but there is heavy forest growth that limits casting.
There is no formal ramp, but access is relatively easy. Car-top boats and canoes can be launched from a gravel area landing near the dam. Parking for about eight vehicles is available along the road.
To get there, take I-90 to Exit 2 (Route 20 east) toward Becket. Turn left onto Route 8 north. Turn left onto McNerny Road, then left onto County Road. Turn left at the fork onto Yokum Pond Road, heading toward Lee (about three miles).
As the road bends to the right, look for a brown wooden sign on the right indicating Buckley-Dunton Reservoir. The sign is difficult to see, so watch closely for it.
For more information, contact the October Mountain State Forest at (413) 243-1778.
For more information on Massachusetts' public access waterways or to purchase a fishing license, you can log on to the MassWildlife Web site, at www.mass.gov.
The Freshwater Guides of New England series covers 250 of Massachusetts' public access lakes, ponds and reservoirs. For more details on Massachusetts' bass-fishing hotspots, visit www.nefreshwater.com.