We've put together 36 great fishing trips for New England's anglers to consider as they plan their 2006 angling vacation itineraries. (February 2006)
As anglers consider their 2006 fishing vacations, it's good to know that careful fisheries management and better conservation practices are paying off with everything from plentiful panfish to gear-busting saltwater action. Here are a few of the best spots to wet a line no matter when you go in 2006.
Crystal Lake, Conn.
This 200-acre lake is stocked with rainbows and brood-stock brown trout. Most browns weigh between 2 and 5 pounds, with a few hitting the 8-pound mark. Try jigging about a foot off the bottom using small pieces of cut bait. Crystal Lake is at the Route 30 and Route 140 intersection in Ellington. Access to the west side of the lake is off Route 30.
Prong Pond, Maine
Fall stocking is paying off for winter anglers on Prong Pond, with many nice brookies coming up through the ice. Prong Pond is about seven miles from Greenville off the Lily Bay road.
Stafford Pond, R.I.
Surplus Atlantic salmon brood stock were recently stocked into Stafford Pond, along with a hefty stocking of trout. Stafford is stocked each fall and spring. Salmon average 5 to 8 pounds each, with a few 14-pounders. A current fishing license and a Trout Conservation Stamp are required to keep or possess salmon. The best access is off Route 81 on the left side of the highway.
West Grand Lake, Maine
Anglers can anticipate great action here from both salmon and trout. If smelt or shiners don't attract some action, try jigging a small Swedish Pimple or lime green Weeping Willow several feet under the ice throughout the day. Also, worth a try is working a jig about a foot off bottom in 25 to 40 feet of water using small pieces of cut bait.
Silver Lake, N.H.
Silver Lake in Harrisville gives up plenty of plump rainbows and lakers. Follow the tried-and-true "big bait for big fish" rule, or use cut suckers on bucktails or airplane jigs, which attract big fish and provide a better chance for modest-sized fish. Chumming, which can lure lake trout to your ice-fishing holes, is legal in New Hampshire.
Onota Lake, Mass.
Onota Lake's 617 acres in the cold northwest region of the state offer some of the hottest action of the season for pike. Ice-anglers can also pull trout, perch and largemouth bass up through the ice. The best access is off Lakeway Drive in Pittsfield.
Caspian Lake, Vt.
Caspian Lake in Craftsbury is home to lake trout, rainbows and browns. Last year, the lake gave up the new state-record lake trout, a 32- pound specimen. Minnows and wax worms are popular live baits here. Follow Route 14 south from Albany.
Connecticut River, N.H.
The Connecticut River setbacks from Hinsdale to Hanover produce some nice spring black crappies, yellow perch, pike and walleyes. Find access and parking in Hinsdale off Route 119 to Prospect Street at the Prospect Street Boat Launch.
Seboeis Lake, Maine
Many Seboeis Lake splake tip the scales at over 4 pounds. This brook trout-rainbow hybrid has company, as good-sized salmon, bass, pickerel and white perch also feed beneath the ice here.
Access Seboeis via the North Maine Woods gate at Oxbow.
Olney Pond, R.I.
Olney Pond in Lincoln Woods State Park is stocked in spring and fall. Look for quiet water with plenty of cover. Logs, undercut banks, rocky shelves, overhanging trees and brush are favorite hiding places. Browns feed on worms, minnows, insects and crustaceans.
Dry-fly fishing for pan-sized browns is a favorite technique. Larger browns prefer crustaceans, worms or small baitfish. When fly-fishing for large brown trout, use wet flies that mimic natural baitfish.
To get there, take Route 95 north to Route 146, and then travel 3.5 miles to the state park.
Jamaica Pond, Mass.
Jamaica Pond is a 68-acre natural Great Pond that contains self-sustaining populations of largemouth bass, chain pickerel, yellow perch, pumpkinseeds and bluegills. Rainbows, brookies and Atlantic salmon are stocked each spring.
To get there, follow the Riverway in Boston until it changes into the Jamaicaway, and then go past Leverett Pond on the right.
Lake Winnipesaukee, N.H.
Some of the state's largest landlocked salmon have been pulled from this 44,586-acre lake. Ice-out is in late April. Try trolling with streamer flies, lures and smelt to hook hungry salmon, lake trout and rainbows. There are more than 23 boat launch sites around the lake from Alton to Wolfeboro accommodating all sizes of watercraft.
Lamprey River, N.H.
Stripers follow the herring runs up the Lamprey River each spring. Fish just below the first dam in downtown Newmarket. Try casting alewife patterns from shore. White is always a safe color choice.
Access is available at the Newmarket Town Landing behind the old mills in town. The ramp is suitable for small boats and cartoppers, and is usable at most tides.
Amherst Lake, Vt.
This 76-acre lake in Plymouth is stocked each spring with rainbows and lake trout. No motorized boats are allowed.
Access may be had off Route 100 south. The Hawk Marina is on the northern tip of the lake on Scout Camp Road off Route 100.
Square Pond, Maine
This small pond in Shapleigh produces big fish. Fishing is best around the big island or near smaller islands on the north end, about 100 yards off shore. Follow Route 11 from the south end of Mousam Lake to Town Farm Road to gain access to the north end of Square Pond.
Mashapaug Lake, Conn.
This lake yielded the state's largest catfish in June. The fish, unique for its award-winning 29.39 pounds and its albino coloring, was released after verification, so it should be bigger next time!
Fish under shady tree overhangs. Channel catfish are not just bottom feeders. They will feed on the surface, hitting lures with
great enthusiasm. A more popular approach is to use weighted bait. Target dropoffs, weed edges or the upstream side of a deep hole.
Live minnows or fish chunks are preferred baits. Attach the weight to a dropper about 18 inches up from the hook and use enough weight to hold the bait to the bottom.
Peter's Pond, Mass.
Tiger trout are a cross between female brown trout and male brook trout. Peter's Pond produced the new state-record tiger last June (taken with a fly rod on a brook trout streamer). The former state champ was also pulled from Peter's Pond, in 2002.
Saco River, Maine
From the Camp Ellis jetty to the Cataract Dam, the Saco River is loaded with stripers. For easy access, try the state boat landing off Route 9 in Biddeford.
South Shore, R.I.
From Watch Hill to Point Judith, expect consistent action for bluefish along Quonochontaug Beach, and boating action anywhere outside the Charlestown breachway. There are also plenty of big fish in all the popular areas within Narragansett Bay.
Blues are strong, aggressive fish with sharp teeth, so be ready for a fight. Chum brings them in, and a simple wire leader rig will get them on the hook. Blues also hit jigs, swimming plugs and poppers.
Lake Champlain, Vt.
For tackle-busting bass action, Lake Champlain cannot be beat. Over 100 miles long, with 587 miles of shoreline, New England's "Great Lake" contains shallows and bays that are well known for yielding spectacular northern pike. Largemouth bass and northerns often lurk in the same area.
Vermont and New York have reciprocal Lake Champlain fishing license agreements, but a Vermont license is needed to fish Malletts Bay, the Inland Sea or Missisquoi Bay.
Moose Pond, Maine
Moose Pond is in Bridgeton. Fish the shallow, weedy coves where largemouths find cover in weedbeds or under submerged trees. Access the pond at the public ramp on Route 302.
Sakonnet Harbor, R.I.
Fish from the dock or breakwater, or access the boat ramp and head for the open seas. Sakonnet Harbor juts into Rhode Island Sound south of Little Compton on Route 77.
For shallow to mid-depth trolling, try the tube-and-worm method. Sea worms are best -- the bigger the better. Troll with the flow and go slow. Along reefs during sunrise, many bass can be found in 12 to 20 feet of water.
Clyde River, Vt.
The Clyde River winds through Newport providing habitat for brookies, rainbows, browns and landlocked salmon. It also plays host to some large walleyes, including the 11.46-pound state record, landed in 2002.
Windsor State Park, Mass.
The park's 48-acre pond has a maximum depth of 53 feet. Anglers willing to do a bit of scouting can tap into good trout action here right through the hot summer months. Windsor is stocked annually with trout, and when available, brood-stock salmon. The pond has yielded award-winning brookies and channel catfish, and is home to a variety of warmwater species in addition to rainbow and brook trout.
Merrimack River, N.H.
The Merrimack River basin is stocked with salmon in spring and fall. Good spots include below the Ayers Island dam in Bristol, along the Coolidge Woods Road, at the new access site at Profile Falls Recreation Area near the Smith River confluence and below the Eastman Falls Dam in Franklin. Try traditional salmon flies or trout streamers, such as Grey Ghosts, Mickey Finns or other patterns that imitate small baitfish.
Greenwater Pond, Mass.
This two-story trout pond, sandwiched between Route 20 and the Massachusetts Turnpike, is stocked each spring and fall with rainbows and browns. Brown trout in the 3- to 5-pound range are not uncommon.
Piscataqua River, N.H.
Many points along the Piscataqua River are worth a try this month. Great Bay can be accessed from the Hilton Park boat landing at Dover Point (Exit 5 off the Spaulding Turnpike). Also, try the mouth of the Oyster River or the waters off Chapman's Landing on Route 108 in Newfield.
Block Canyon, Conn.
Offshore fishing enthusiasts will want to bait up with squid and head for Block Canyon. That's where the new state-record swordfish took the bait last October. The fish weighed in at 359 pounds and measured 11.5 feet long.
Black River, Vt.
Big browns on their spawning run from Lake Memphremagog can be challenging, but worth the effort. They can be finicky and cautious or bold and hard hitting, so be prepared to try anything. Access the river in Coventry off Interstate 91 south of Newport.
Ashumet Pond, Mass.
Ashumet is stocked each spring and fall with rainbows and brookies. Springs keep the pond cooler at the northern end. This 203-acre natural kettle pond runs through the Falmouth-Mashpee town lines. From Bourne Bridge, take Route 28 south to Route 151 east and then turn left onto Sandwich Road. There's a paved boat ramp and ample parking at the intersection of Sandwich and Currier roads.
Lake Eden, Vt.
This large lake gives up some record-breaking smallmouth bass. Try casting surface baits or slow-moving crankbaits along rocky shoreline hideouts. Take Route 100 North into the town of Eden.
Block Island, Conn.
Try trolling with clams on the hook in offshore waters south of Block Island to land record-sized cod. The new state record was taken here last November, a fish weighing 45 pounds and measuring 44 inches in length.
Fish the rocky places around the Jamestown bridge or the point at Ft. Wetherill to land tautog in the 10-pound range. Try sandworms or crab pieces on heavy tackle. In deeper waters, try green crabs fished just off the bottom.
Misquamicut Beach, R.I.
This seven-mile stretch of beach in Westerly has a reputation for striper runs right up until the snow flies. The state-owned portion stays open year 'round and has ample parking. Try large or wide-bodied lures and flies. Bait-fishermen will also want to go large, fishing off the bottom using the head half of a herring. From I-95, take Route 78 or drive the scenic U.S. Route 1.
Naugatuck River, Conn.
Naugatuck has been stocked with salmon for sport fishing. Angling for brood-stock Atlantic salmon is restricted to catch-and-release only through November, but from Dec. 1 through the end of March, the daily creel l
imit is one keeper. The legal method for taking Atlantic salmon is a single fly or an artificial lure with a single, free-swinging hook.
Candlewood Lake, Conn.
Candlewood Lake is the state's largest lake and is considered one of the region's best bass waters. In fact, the center of the lake may not be frozen enough for safe access this month. Early ice-anglers should concentrate on coves that contain bass, yellow perch and bluegills.
Access is from the Squantz Cove boat launch on Route 39 at the northwestern end of the lake.