Here's a sampling of proven spring bass lakes recommended by Massachusetts Division of Wildlife biologists. Bass are plentiful, access is easy and the time to go is now! (March 2009)
During March and April, the ice covering the lakes and ponds of the Bay State slowly melts away.
Come ice-out, largemouth and smallmouth bass begin to move about and feed voraciously to prepare for their upcoming spawning season.
Bass anglers in Massachusetts can capitalize on this activity by visiting one of the following fishing spots:
UPPER MYSTIC LAKE
Many anglers overlook the bass-fishing potential of the ponds and lakes situated in large cities.
But Upper Mystic Lake in Winchester, only five miles from downtown Boston, offers anglers some excellent action for largemouth bass.
In spite of its urban setting, this 200-acre lake has been spared some of the development blight that plagues neighboring ponds.
Even so, the northern and western shorelines are highly developed. The eastern and southern shorelines are protected by a park managed by the Metropolitan District Commission.
Shore-bound anglers will find plenty of fishing spots within the park. Boaters may launch cartops at a small ramp on the pond's extreme southern tip.
This pond is surprisingly deep for its size, with a center basin about 80 feet deep and an average depth of 40 feet. Its northern end is shallow and typically weedy. In summer, lily pads also form a patchwork of bass habitat along the lake's western shore across from the park.
The water is highly stained, so dark lures and rattling baits come highly recommended. Alewives and golden shiners are the main forage base for the bass, so choose lures accordingly.
The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife reports that the bass fishery in Upper Mystic Lake has the potential to produce quality fish. This is primarily due to restrictive fishing pressure. Most fishing pressure comes from shoreline anglers, so the bass residing in the center of the pond remain unmolested and can grow quite large.
Upper Mystic Lake lies off Exit 31 from Interstate Route 93.
From the exit, take Route 38 north toward West Medford. Route 38 makes a sharp right turn about three miles from the highway exit.
Don't make the turn! Go straight and watch for the Mystic Valley Parkway signs. This road runs along the eastern shoreline of the lake and through the park.
Anglers looking to stay near Boston but who want to fish away from city noise should visit Tispiquin Pond in Middleborough. The pond is small at 194 acres and shallow, with a maximum depth of eight feet and an average depth of seven feet.
Tispiquin Pond has a relatively flat weedy bottom with some piles of rocky rubble. Weed growth around these rocks is patchy. (Savvy anglers know that such spots often produce the best action.)
Also, the water clarity is very good. Clear water often translates to great topwater action. This spring, add a few floating jerkbaits and topwater twitch baits to your bass fishing arsenal. Golden shiners are abundant, so lures mimicking these fish should produce the desired results.
Anglers will find about three miles of shoreline with moderate development. Along with the usual cottages and houses, several camps occupy the shoreline and during the early spring season should still be idle, affording anglers some peaceful fishing.
Access comes from a small state-owned car-top boat ramp on the pond's southern end.
Take Exit 3 off I-495 onto Route 28 north.
About one mile from the rotary at the junction of routes 28 and 25, turn right onto Rocky Gutter Road, and then take the first left on Eldan Street, which ends at the access area.
BIG SANDY POND
For big bass, take a trip to Big Sandy Pond in Plymouth. This kidney-shaped pond covers 134 acres.
The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife reports that the bass fishery in Upper Mystic Lake has the potential to produce quality fish.
Most of its roughly two miles of shoreline is developed, so anglers can to fish around plenty of boat docks and submerged manmade structures.
In the pond, you'll find smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and about 3,000 stocked trout.
This pond is relatively deep, dropping down close to 40 feet, with an average depth of 19 feet. The water is very clear, with visibility greater than 12 feet. Water that deep and clear requires light lines and smaller lures.
The pond also has a healthy supply of stunted yellow perch, so gold lures with black stripes should fool a bass or two.
Public access is limited primarily to a state-owned boat-launching ramp in the center of the lake on the south side. This ramp is suitable for trailered boats.
To get there, take Exit 2 off Route 3 in Cedarville. Head south on Herring Pond Road. Loop around the southern end of Great Herring Pond onto Sandy Pond Road.
This road ends on Bourne-Plymouth Road. Turn right and drive for about one mile to Gunning Point Road on the right. The ramp lies off this road, and there is parking for about eight to 10 vehicles.
DARK BROOK RESERVOIR
This 386-acre pond is often overlooked by bass anglers, but rarely missed by commuters who drive along the Massachusetts Turnpike near Auburn.
The highway splits the pond into two sections. Most of the pond, about 300 acres, lies north of highway, where the pond has a maximum depth of 15 feet and an average depth of eight feet. The section south of the highway is very shallow, with an average depth of less than four feet.
One of the pond's most conspicuous features is its dark stained water, hence its name. That tannin-stained water warms fast in spring, making Dark Brook Reservoir an excellent place to fish soon after ice-out.
When you're looking f
or early-season bass, concentrate on the area around the dam or around the points along the western shore in the northern portion of the reservoir.
Meanwhile, the pond's entire southern portion is worth of a few casts. Along with largemouth bass, you'll catch crappies, yellow perch and the occasional northern pike.
From I-90, take the exit for I-395 south, and then Exit 7 off I-395 to Route 12 west. Follow Route 12 to West Street and turn right.
On West Street across from the Randall School is a small boat-launching ramp. Shoreline anglers will also find plenty of access in the boat ramp area.
A large culvert running under the turnpike separates the two ponds. Boaters can easily navigate through this pipe.
While known as an excellent bass lake, this 330-acre hotspot in Millbury should produce a smorgasbord of fish. Largemouth bass are the primary quarry here. But you'll also get the chance to fight yellow perch, white perch, chain pickerel, smallmouth bass and a few holdover trout.
Trophy-class bass regularly come to the surface, largely because alewives now abound in the lake and provide a major forage species.
The lake has a maximum depth of 35 feet, although it fishes more like a shallow pond than a deep lake.
Around the shoreline, anglers will find an extensive shoal system that's usually covered with weeds. Boulders and gravel bars are interspersed among the green stuff. Largemouths are usually found along the shoal.
For smallmouth bass, try fishing around the humps along the eastern shoreline, which is also developed, providing bass with plenty of boat docks to hide under.
The main access point is on Lake Singletary's northeastern corner, where anglers will find a paved boat-launching ramp with parking for about 20 vehicles.
To get there from Worcester, take Route 146 south toward Millbury. Turn right on Singletary Avenue.
Bear right at the Y-junction and then watch for the boat access site about one-half mile from the split.
Anglers may also get to the pond off I-395. Take Exit 4 off and then drive eastward on Sutton Avenue for about five miles.
Turn off on West Main Road and watch for access signs.
In the western part of the state, bass enthusiasts should plan a visit to Pontoosuc Lake in Pittsfield.
This 480-acre pond has a maximum depth of 35 feet with an average depth of about 14 feet.
The shoreline is highly developed, and the lake is heavily used during summer. Fishing the early season usually provides some respite from the expected summer commotion.
Like many Berkshire Mountain ponds, Pontoosuc Lake has very clear water. The bottom is comprised of boulders and rubble. Weed growth can be thick, but is limited mainly to the shallower areas and coves of the pond. On the main lake, deep-water points and dropoffs are bass magnets.
Anglers fishing this lake should consider shifting tactics as the day progresses. In the morning, topwater baits are popular when fished along the shore. As the sun rises, light lines and downsized lures are more effective, especially around deep-water points. Toward evening, go back to topwater lures or use oversized tube lures and jigs.
Along with bass, expect northern pike, chain pickerel, yellow perch and white perch. MassWildlife also stocks the pond with trout.
Golden shiners and crayfish are the major forage species in this pond.
Public access comes through a large boat-launching ramp in Pittsfield, at the southern end of the lake. The ramp can handle full-sized bass boats and has parking for about 75 vehicles.
Take Route 7 north from Pittsfield Center for about three miles to Hancock Road, and then turn left to the ramp.
Bass hunters will have fun at this 148-acre pond in the town of Norton. It's relatively shallow, with a basin of 11 feet and an average depth of six feet. The water is stained because of the swampy areas near the inlets of Canoe River and Mulberry Meadow Brook. The shoreline is heavily developed with commercial and residential buildings. Submerged manmade structures are plentiful.
This pond is popular with anglers because of its ability to produce some quality largemouth bass and chain pickerel. Bass over 4 pounds are frequent visitors to landing nets.
Weed growth is abundant, so come prepared with weedless lures.
During summer months, the town operates a weed-harvesting machine. Local fishermen work the cut areas because the machine leaves distinct weed edges.
Anglers have two ways to access the pond. Boaters may use the paved launch ramp on the pond's east side off Bay Road.
MassWildlife also maintain a small dirt ramp for cartop boats near the Snake River outlet in the southeastern corner of the pond.
To get there, take Exit 9 off I-495 onto Bay Road. Turn north onto Bay Road and drive about half a mile to the Snake River dirt ramp. Continue on Bay Road for another one-half mile to find the paved launch ramp.
Bass anglers looking for hot action should visit this 158-acre natural pond. Its maximum depth is about 34 feet and the average depth is 19 feet. Water clarity is marginal, with visibility rarely going beyond six feet.
The pond offers about three miles of shoreline, including a golf course, cottages and year-round homes.
According to MassWildlife surveys, the pond is inhabited by smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and chain pickerel.
Alewife, killifish and golden shiners are the major forage species. Both species of bass seem to fare well in Coonamessett Pond, since the growth rates are above the state average.
But surveys indicate a pressured population, which means that bass exceeding the state's legal length limit of 12 inches are difficult to find.
Anglers using light tackle will thoroughly enjoy catching 10- to 12-inch largemouth bass with relative ease.
Chain pickerel provide another trophy-class action on this pond, since fish longer than 20 inches are fairly common.
Public access to the pond is provided by the town of Falmouth within the Souza Conservation Area on the southwest
ern end of the pond.
Cross the Bourne Bridge onto Cape Cod and then travel south down Route 28. In Falmouth, turn left onto Route 151. After about one mile, turn right onto Sam Turner Road.
Drive another mile and turn left onto Hatchville Road.
Watch for signs to the access road.
The ramp is suitable only for cartop boats and canoes. Also, the town of Falmouth has set a 10-horsepower limit on outboard motors.
If you are visiting the city of Worcester, take a side trip south to Eddy Pond in Auburn. This pond has 134 acres of bass water with a maximum depth of about 15 feet.
Most of the pond is extremely shallow, and over half of it is covered with dense beds of aquatic plants, including water lily, pond weed, milfoil and pickerelweed.
The weedy portion of Eddy Pond is rarely deeper than two feet. Anglers will find numerous visible and submerged tree stumps mixed among the weeds.
Eddy Pond has a history of producing some lunker largemouth bass, according to trophy fish reports submitted to MassWildlife.
Anglers willing to work within the dense weed growth should not be disappointed.
Along with the largemouth bass, big chain pickerel and black crappies dwell in the pond. The deepest water is found in the northern half of the lake, near the boat-launch ramp.
Shoreline development on the pond is limited, though there are several houses and a trailer park along the north end. The western shore is bordered by I-395. Boaters will find a paved launch ramp on the eastern side of the pond.
To get there, take Exit 6 off I-395 onto Route 20 east. Drive about a mile and a half, then turn right onto South Street. Watch for the access road and ramp on the right.
Because the pond is littered with submerged stumps, boating can be a challenge. Use caution on Eddy Pond when operating any motorized craft.
The fee for a Massachusetts resident fishing license is $27.50 for the season. Non-resident licenses cost $37.50 for the season, or $23.50 for a three-day permit. Also, resident and non-resident anglers between the ages of 15 and 17 need a special $11.50 Junior fishing permit.
Massachusetts has no closed season on bass. The legal length limit is 12 inches, and the possession limit is five fish.
For more fishing and licensing information, visit the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife at www.masswildlife.org, or call (617) 626-1590.
For tourist and lodging information, call the state's Tourism Department at 1-800-227-MASS.