Every state in the Northeast offers plenty of lakes and ponds where children of all ages can enjoy a great day on the water. With all this in mind, here's a look at some of the best spring family fishing hotspots near you in 2016.
Quabbin Reservoir bordering Route 202 north of Belchertown is one of the largest man-made public water supplies in the United States. The lake is 18 miles long and has 181 miles of shoreline.
Access is permitted during daylight hours along designated shorelines from Gates 8 to 16A, and from Gates 22 to 44.
Bicycle access is permitted only on designated roads between Gates 29 and 35, and at Gates 40, 43A, 43B and 44. Parking fees apply to shore fishing at Boat Launch Areas.
Night access is allowed with a valid permit at Gates 16, 31, 33, 35, 41 and 43 during the Quabbin fishing season.
Permit applications are available at the Quabbin Visitor Center and the MassWildlife Web site. No fires are permitted at any time.
Gate #31 (Area #2) and Gate #43 (Area #3) provide access to shallower waters which are better for warmwater species fishing. The Quabbin Visitor Center is open and staffed seven days a week through most of the year from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends.
For maps, fishing regulations, boat rentals and other informtion call the Quabbin Visitors Center at (413) 323-7221.
Along The Way
One of the most interesting attractions in Massachusetts is the Sturbridge Village living history museum in Sturbridge off Interstate Route 90. Volunteers in period dress re-create life in rural New England during the 1790s through the 1830s. The village includes 59 antique buildings, three water-powered mills and a working farm. The museum is a popular tourist and educational field trip destination.
For more information, call Old Sturbridge Village at 1-(800) 733-1830
Not just one but 11 kid-friendly trout-fishing destinations have been created that provide easy access, plenty of fish and a great opportunity to learn the basics of fishing without having to deal with brushy shorelines, deep water and other difficult conditions.
Trout Parks are located in easily accessible areas for young anglers and novice anglers as well as for those with mobility challenges. Frequent stockings, generally between Opening Day and Memorial Day, will greatly increase an angler's chances of catching a fish, making these parks attractive for children and families.
Connecticut's Trout Parks have more fish in them, their daily creel limit (the number of trout an angler can keep) is just two fish in order to spread the catch among the most possible anglers.
Most of Connecticut's Trout Parks offer great fishing plus other activities such as hiking, boating, camping and playgrounds. Some are located in state parks where additional activities, demonstrations and seminars are offered.
Trout Parks are scattered across the state from Kent Falls in Kent to Spaulding Pond in Eastford. For a complete list of Trout Parks and adjacent attractions, visit www.ct.gov/deep.
Along The Way —
Mark Twain House
Centrally located in Hartford is the famous Mark Twain House museum, with Twain's riverboat-design home and many of his possessions, furnishings, clothing and books. Twain enjoyed what he would later call the happiest and most productive years of his life in their Hartford home.
Located just next door is the famous Harriet Beecher Stowe house, a historic house museum and National Historic Landmark at 73 Forest Street in Hartford. The site was once the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Stowe lived in this house for the last 23 years of her life. The cottage-style house is adjacent to the Mark Twain House.
The following trout-stocked waters are restricted to fishing by anglers 14 years of age and younger: Lloyd Kenney Pond in Hopkinton; Frosty Hollow Pond in Exeter; Geneva Brook and Pond in North Providence; Lapham Pond in Burrillville; Seidel's Pond in Cranston; and Silvy's Pond in Cumberland.
Three other ponds are restricted to anglers 14 years of age and younger only for the first two days of the season: Cass Pond in Woonsocket, Slater Park Pond in Pawtucket and Ponderosa Pond in Little Compton.
All of Rhode Island's Kids-Only ponds are designed to provide easy access to the water and the opportunity to catch fish quickly and easily from shore. Basic spin-casting tackle or even cane poles may be used to take trout, perch, bluegills, bullheads and other species directly off shore. Fishing licenses are not required of any person under 15 years of age in Rhode Island.
Along The Way
When the kids get tired of reeling in scads of trout, perch and other species, it's time to head to Rhode Island's famous beaches, including Misquamicut, Easton and Narragansett. All of these beaches are open to the public with parking, restaurants, shopping and other amenities nearby.
All of the state's public beaches are in towns where casual dress is the order of the day, so pack your shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops and be ready to enjoy a traditional New England beach exploration vacation.
STATE PARK FISHING
The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department strives to make it easy for families to enjoy a day on the water. For example, kids under the age of 15 can fish without a license, and special fishing licenses are available for youths 15 to 17 years old. There are also two Free Fishing Days (one Saturday in June and one Saturday in January) when anyone can fish in Vermont without a license, and adults may purchase one, three or seven-day fishing licenses.
There are plenty of state parks across the state where kids can take their parents fishing and have an excellent chance of catching fish. All the state parks provide opportunities to fish from shore, and at some locations it is possible to rent a boat or launch your own. Some locations also offer other fun activities like camping, swimming and playgrounds to complement your fishing trip.
Ten Vermont state parks are now providing fishing equipment to visitors on a loaner basis. Included in the equipment are rods, reels, fishing line and an assortment of lures or baits, all of which can be signed out by park visitors. These starter kits help provide instant access to the sport of fishing.
"Reel Fun" destinations also provide a fishing guide publication for that specific park. The guide includes information about the water body, a lake or river map, a list of fish species present, fishing tips and techniques applicable to each waterway and information about obtaining a Vermont fishing license.
State parks participating in VFWD's "Reel Fun" program include Grand Isle State Park on Lake Champlain, Lake Carmi State Park in Enosburg Falls, Stillwater State Park on Groton Lake in Groton, Branbury State Park on Lake Dunmore in Salisbury, Silver Lake State Park in Barnard, Wilgus State Park on the Connecticut River in Ascutney, Half Moon State Park on Half Moon Pond in Hubbardton, Lake St. Catherine State Park in Poultney, Woodford State Park on Adams Reservoir in Bennington, Brighton State Park on Spectacle Pond in Island Pond.
For a complete listing of "Reel Fun" family fishing opportunities in Vermont, log onto www.vtfishandwildlife.com.
Along The Way
There's no denying it, ice cream is an international tourist attraction, which means Vermont's Ben & Jerry's factory is a must-see. Take the 30-minute guided tour of the factory and watch workers as they make and package ice cream while a guide explains the process.
Of course, a sample of the day's flavor is included, and visitors can sample more flavors before choosing their favorite at their Scoop Shop. The gift shop sells B&J goods, and you can take ice cream home in insulated carriers. Be sure to visit the Flavor Graveyard to mourn the loss of some "dearly de-pinted" flavors and to smile at the past tongue-in-cheek names.
The Ben & Jerry's factory is on Route 100 in Waterbury. For tour information visit www.benjerry.com
When it comes to fishing in New Hampshire all eyes are on Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro and points north. Renowned as a summer vacation destination for generations, "Winnie" continues to provide excellent fishing opportunities year-round for experts and first-timers alike.
The best places to go for kid-style fishing are the many beaches, parks, docks and marinas that dot both sides of the big lake. Brush-free shorelines and shallow water attract bluegills, perch and the occasional bass or pickerel along with bullheads after dark, giving kids and their families plenty of hook-and-bobber options.
Older kids may prefer to be farther out on the water where boat, canoe and kayak rentals provide access to offshore hotspots. The best, most productive fishing occurs near weed beds, rocky structure, points and drop-offs. All of these habitats contain plenty of panfish plus bass, pike, trout and the occasional salmon.
For additional information on New Hampshire's kid-friendly angling options, log onto www.nh.gov/wildlife.
Along The Way
New Hampshire's "biggest" tourist attraction is Mount Washington, where visitors to the famed weather station can visit one of the coldest sites in the country — in T-shirts and shorts! The easiest way to reach the top of Mount Washington, the highest elevation in the northern Appalachians at more than 6,000 feet, is on the steep Cog Railway that has been carrying tourists since it opened, the first of its kind in the world, in 1869. On a clear day, the view from the summit of Mount Washington spans four states. On cloudy days visitors may be able to look down on the clouds.
Visitors who long for the nostalgia of an authentic coal-fired steam engine train can reserve the steamer special morning departures from late May through late October.
At the top, the Sherman Adams Visitors Center houses a small museum, a cafeteria and the Mount Washington Observatory, a research station that studies extreme weather conditions, for which the mountain is notorious. In 1934, the world record wind speed was recorded here.
From the opposite (Pinkham Notch) side of the mountain, visitors can drive up the 6.2-mile Mount Washington Auto Road or ride a van operated from Great Glen Trails. Hikers have the choice of several trails but should be aware of the mountain's unpredictable and sudden weather changes. Visit thecog.com for more information.
Most of Maine's traditional trout and salmon waters are remote, unimproved and difficult to fish from shore. However, and as is the case with the other northern New England states, the best kid-friendly fishing opportunities in Maine will be at state parks where shore fishing and family-style amenities (picnic areas, rest rooms, showers and similar improvements) are most likely to be found.
Typical examples are Peaks-Kenny State Park in Dover-Foxcroft, Acadia National Park, Lily Bay State Park at Moosehead Lake and Range Ponds State Park in Poland. There are over 40 state parks in Maine where family-friendly facilities are available as well as fishing access from shore, docks, piers or jetties.
Some of these parks offer saltwater fishing opportunities for mackerel, striped bass, bluefish and other popular ocean species. Some kid-friendly fishing opportunities are available at these sites but boat rentals or charters provide additional access to offshore hotspots where kids can wear themselves out on some surprisingly big fish.
To find out more about Maine's kid-friendly fishing destinations, log onto www.mefishwildlife.com.
Along The Way
No trip to Maine is complete without a journey up (or down) historic coastal Route 1, which provides access to some of the state's oldest and most scenic towns and villages. Passing close by Maine's legendary "rock-bound coast," Route 1 winds through villages both quaint and classic with opportunities galore for sight-seeing, shopping, dining, snacking and people-watching.
Many of Maine's coastal villages have been in existence since the early 1700s and most retain their colonial charm and easy-going lifestyle. Visit historicrouteone.com for more information.