September 29, 2010
Here's where to find some of the best spring bass fishing in southern New England this month.
By Frank Mckane
Spring in New England is a great time for some serious bass fishing. The formerly dull, brown landscape is slowly changing to a bright, pastel green. And, of utmost importance to anglers, largemouth and smallmouth bass begin to move into the warming shallows.
Adding to the fisherman’s enjoyment, the water is typically too cold for pleasure boaters, so bass anglers can enjoy the sights and sounds of spring in relative peace. The only disturbance you’ll hear is a hooked bass thrashing about on the water surface.
But enough daydreaming — it’s time to fish! Here’s a look at some springtime bassing hotspots to try in southern New England this month:
America’s smallest state, Rhode Island is not blessed with large bass lakes. But the Ocean State does have a variety of small ponds that offer plenty of spring action.
According to the Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife, largemouth bass fishing should be very good throughout the state this year. Smallmouth bass are not prevalent in the state, but anglers willing to visit Little Rhody’s handful of smallmouth bass lakes, such as Stafford Pond, should leave satisfied.
This is the only pond in Rhode Island that has a significant population of smallmouth bass. Unlike most of the Ocean State’s ponds, Stafford Pond in Tiverton is relatively deep, with a maximum depth of about 22 feet. The average depth of this 476-acre pond is about 10 feet.
Smallmouth bass fishers will have their best spring luck near the pond’s many large points, which often drop from 3 feet into 12 to 20 feet of water. In spring, smallmouth bass will stage off these points as they prepare for the upcoming spawn.
On your first visit to Stafford Pond, concentrate on the north end of the lake where the points are larger and deeper. If the sun warms the water quickly, move into one of the three coves on the north end of the lake.
Stafford Pond is a popular fishing spot because it is stocked with trout every spring. Also, you can expect to catch yellow perch, sunfish and chain pickerel.
Access to the pond is via a state boat-launching ramp off Stafford Road. Take Route 177 out of Tiverton to Route 81. Turn north and watch for signs.
Pascoag Reservoir, also known as Echo Lake, in Burrillville and Glocester, is one of the region’s overlooked bass ponds. According to biologist reports, its bass growth rates are below the state average. This is a misleading statistic as it implies the fish are small. Actually, Pascoag Reservoir has both trophy-class and small “rat” bass within its 351 acres.
Anglers will find a series of main-lake points along the eastern bank. Most of these points run from 3 feet out to about 10 feet. The deepest spot in the lake is about 19 feet deep. Shoreline development is heavy and manmade structures are everywhere.
There is a state-owned boat-launching ramp in Glocester off Jackson Schoolhouse Road. Take Route 44 west from Chepachet for about four miles to Jackson Schoolhouse Road. Besides largemouth bass, the pond has good populations of yellow perch, sunfish, chain pickerel and brown bullheads.
This pond is a very shallow body of water with a maximum depth of only 4 feet. For aesthetics, the shoreline is a natural mixture of hardwood forest and cedar swamp. Of course, expansive weedbeds grow in the pond to provide cover for the largemouth bass.
Don’t look for much structure in this 164-acre pond. It is bowl-shaped and featureless. Sunken trees are present and often yield nice catches. The best way to fish Chapman Pond is to drop your electric motor and fan-cast slowly around the lake.
Bass growth rates in the pond are good. Anglers will find a nice mixture of sub-legal and legal-size bass. Chain pickerel will also keep you entertained, as will northern pike, yellow perch, crappies and sunfish. The state boat-launching ramp is off Route 91 about two miles east of Westerly.
Bass fishing in Connecticut has greatly improved over the past decade. When bass began to displace trout as the major recreational fishery, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection started to enhance the bass population through a statewide bass management plan. Anglers should see the results of the five-year-old plan this spring. Some of the Nutmeg State’s best bassing options include:
This natural lake covers 112 acres to a maximum depth of 45 feet. It has an extensive 6-foot shoal around the perimeter of the lake with several main-lake points. Because of the pond’s depth, weeds and stained water color, weed growth is limited to the shoal areas.
Shoreline development is moderate along the northern and eastern sides of the lake. Anglers can avoid conflict with homeowners because the western side of the lake offers better bass fishing. North of the launch ramp is a large, shallow cove with a southern exposed bank. This cove warms fast in spring to attract largemouth bass. South of the ramp is another smaller cove with equal bassing possibilities.
There are several special regulations on Amos Lake. The speed limit is 8 miles per hour prior to June 15. Amos Lake is part of the DEP’s statewide bass management plan. The regulations feature a 12- to 18-inch slot limit. Anglers may keep six bass per day, but only one may be over 18 inches. The remainder must be less than 12 inches. These regulations have been in effect for several years, and anglers will likely catch a number of bass in the 14- to 16-inch class this spring.
Access to the lake is through a state-owned launching ramp in Preston. Take Route 165 from Norwich to Route 164. Head south and watch for signs to the ramp. Because the pond is stocked with trout, fishing is prohibited between April 1 and the third Saturday in April.
Gardner Lake in eastern Connecticut is unique in that it harbors largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, as well as walleyes and trout. This multi-layered fishery makes the lake appealing to many fishermen.
The 487-acre lake has a maximum depth of 42 feet, but the deepest hole is a single pit north of the island in the southeast corner of the lake. Aside from that hole, the average depth is only about 10 feet. Bass anglers will find an extensive shoal system on Gardner Lake complete with weeds and other shoreline structure.
In the spring, the best place to start fishing is in the large muddy cove at the northern end of the lake. By early March, the water will have significantly warmed to entice yellow perch into spawning. Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and walleyes follow the perch to feast on their eggs and young.
As the season processes, concentrate your fishing efforts along the western shoreline, which offers several coves and points that attract bass. On cold days, work the water near the island as the deep pit provides safe harbor for smallmouth bass during foul weather.
There are several special regulations on Gardner Lake. The speed limit is 6 miles per hour between sunset and 8 a.m. Gardner Lake is also part of the DEP’s statewide bass management plan, with a hefty 16-inch size limit designed to promote the lake as a trophy bass pond. The creel limit is two fish.
Access to the lake is through a state-owned boat-launching ramp in Salem. Take Route 82 from Salem to Route 354. Turn northward and watch for signs. Because the pond is stocked with trout, fishing is prohibited between April 1 and the third Saturday in April.
West Hill Pond
Bass anglers often overlook this 238-acre pond because it is heavily stocked with trout and has a modest kokanee salmon population.
West Hill Pond is deep, with a basin down to 65 feet. Most of the lake is deeper than 20 feet with clear water. Because several small mountain streams feed West Hill, the pond remains cool. Bass anglers with a temperature gauge on their boats will have an advantage. Look for the warmest water.
Anglers without a temperature gauge can try fishing near the launch ramp on the extreme north end of the lake. The ramp cove is shallow and warms quickly. Because the warm afternoon sun heats up the east bank, try fishing that side of the lake, especially in the two small coves. Smallmouth bass seekers should look for the two sunken islands in the south-central part of the lake. The rocky shoals around these islands have been known to produce some large smallmouth bass.
Because the lake is small, there is a 7.5-horsepower motor limit until June 15. Also, the speed limit is 15 miles per hour.
There are no special bass size or creel limits, but the possession of live alewives, herring or shad as bait is prohibited. These baitfish species compete with kokanee salmon and have been shown to be a contributing factor in the salmon’s decline around the state.
Access to the lake is through a state-owned boat-launching ramp in New Hartford. At the end of the high-speed Route 8, turn eastward on Route 44. Watch for signs about two miles from the turn. Because the pond is stocked with trout, fishing is prohibited between April 1 and the third Saturday in April.
The Bay State always offers great bass fishing, and this spring should be no exception, according to MassWildlife fisheries biologists, especially at any of the following lakes and ponds:
This clear lake in the town of Lee will make anglers feel as if they’ve been transported to a remote mountain bass sanctuary. Biologists report that the lake’s clarity can often exceed 15 feet. The only downside to fishing the lake is that most of the shoreline is privately owned with cottage development.
Goose Pond can be divided into two sections. The main lake, which encompasses about 180 of its overall 225 acres, has a deep basin of 45 feet. Most of the main-lake section is less than 15 feet deep. Spring anglers should start fishing the northern shore for smallmouth bass in the morning. When things warm up, switch to the shallow southern end for largemouth bass.
A smaller section is isolated in the extreme northern portion of the lake where anglers will find the shoreline deeper and rockier. You can get to this area through a narrow channel. This “other” pond has a 30-foot basin and a modest shoal. Look for both largemouth and smallmouth bass along the northern bank. In the center of this pond is a sunken hump that has been known to produce smallmouth bass.
Boat access is via a launch ramp on the southwest corner of the lake. Take Exit 2 off the Massachusetts Turnpike and travel east on Route 20 for about one mile to Forest Street. Turn south and follow Forest Street to the launch ramp.
In spring, expect to share the ramp with trout anglers, as the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife stocks the pond with trout.
Anglers driving on the Massachusetts Turnpike through Becket have probably seen this pond from the highway. If you were one of them and were wondering if the pond is a good place to fish, the answer is yes.
Both largemouth and smallmouth bass live in the 100-acre pond, which has a maximum depth of 19 feet and an average depth of 13 feet. Much of the bottom is muck intermixed with gravel areas. Aquatic plants are prevalent during the summer months.
The better spring fishing can be found along the northern shore in the bog area. Largemouth bass seek out the shallow warming waters that can be found here.
For smallmouth bass, try fishing around the gravel points in the center of the lake.
Shaw Pond has a large pickerel population. Rig your reels with slightly heavier line to withstand the pickerel’s sharp teeth. Also, yellow perch are plentiful and could provide some fishing fun when bass fishing slows down.
The state boat ramp is on the west side of the lake on Route 8 about one mile south of the Route 8-Route 20 junction in West Becket.
Big Alum Pond
For many anglers, spring means smallmouth bass fishing. If that is your target, then visit Big Alum Pond in Sturbridge. This 195-acre pond features clear water, with visibility deeper than 15 feet, and loads of main-lake points for your smallmouth pleasure.
The average depth in the lake is 23 feet. Because of this, the lake gets a hefty supply of trout. Bass anglers will have to share a relatively small boat ramp, which holds about 25 cars and trailers.
Reports indicate some of the best places to start fishing for smallmouth bass are along the western bank, around the island and the boulders in the extreme northeast corner of the pond, and in the boulder field along the southeastern bank near a large very prominent point. There are some largemouth bass in the pond, but they generally receive little angler attention.
Big Alum Pond is within a large tourist area and it is surrounded by private homes. Spring is the best time to fish the pond because of its summer popularity. Access is limited to the state boat ramp on the southern end of the lake. From Sturbridge, take Route 20 west. Turn north on Route 148. Take the second right onto Clark Road. Watch for the launch ramp after you go under the Massachusetts Turnpike bridge.
Resident Connecticut license fees are $20 for the season. Non-resident license fees are $40 for the season or $16 for a three-day permit.
For more fishing and licensing information, contact the Department of Environmental Protection, Inland Fisheries Division, 79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106; or call (860) 424-3475. For tourism information, write the Connecticut Tourism Division, 14 Rumford Street, West Hartford, CT 06107; or call (800) 282-6863.
Resident Rhode Island license fees are $9.50 for the season. Non-resident license fees are $31 for the season or $16 for a three-day permit.
For more fishing and licensing information, contact the Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife, 4808 Tower Hill Road, Wakefield, RI 02879; or call (401) 222-3576.
For tourism information, write to the Rhode Island Tourism Division, 1 West Exchange Street, Providence, RI 02903; or call (800) 556-2484.
Resident Massachusetts license fees are $27.50 for the season. Also, residents between the ages of 15 and 17 need an $11.50 junior fishing permit, and residents between the ages of 65 and 69 can get a senior citizen fishing license for $16.25.
Non-resident license fees are $37.50 for the season or $23.50 for a three-day permit.
For more fishing and licensing information, contact the Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife, 100 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02202; or call (617) 626-1590.
For tourism information, write to the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, 10 Park Plaza, Suite 4510, Boston, MA 02116; or call (800) 227-MASS.