This article first appeared as a guest post on the Massachusetts Tourism blog, massvacation.com.
There are many things the state of Massachusetts is known for and good fishing is one of them. Still, knowing that there can be some good fishing nearby and actually deciding where you can catch your favorite species are two very different things. Instead of making you burn up your free time looking for a spot, start at the locations below and you’re on the fast track to landing a trophy on the fly.
Western Massachusetts in known for having some of the best trout water in New England. Since most of the fisheries are tailwaters, that is, located beneath a working dam, the water temperatures remain constant all year long, so fly anglers are angle to fish for trout any time they like, depending on the water flows.
Whether you’re planning on fishing the Swift River or the Deerfield River, be sure to look up the local flow charts to make sure you won’t get caught in the current at a high water period. Also, there are many local fly shops that will help you nail down the fly that is going to be the most productive at any given time of year.
The flats, bays and inlets surrounding Newburyport’s Plum Island are a treasure trove for the striped bass angler. Whether you’re chasing fish in skinny water or searching for more of an adrenaline rush and chasing busting schools of bait, Massachusetts’s striped bass fishery is the best in the world.
The striper fishery is so popular in New England that it’s easy to find out the current presentation that works best by going into your local fly shop. When it comes to finding fish, look for pinch points that will funnel bait into the mouths of waiting striped bass. In the spring, striped bass will often swim up into the estuaries and marshes nearby, chasing bait into the skinny water. Use a topwater popper along any side channel and wait for a blowup.
Back in the remaining years of the Ice Age, the glaciers retreated, scouring the land beneath and gifting the anglers of the world with glacial kettle ponds all over the state. These small, fertile bodies of water house multiple species of bass and bream, giving the fly angler a multitude of choices on where to fish on any given day. Since so many are so small and secluded, many times you can even have the pond to yourself for the whole day.
Use Google Maps to find and explore your local area. You’re sure to find a small body of water just beyond the clutch of town, where you’ll find largemouth and/or smallmouth bass, in abundance. These small ponds often don’t receive a lot of pressure, so fly choice can be nearly anything you feel like tying on. Sometimes you’ll find there are only small fish in a certain pond, but other times you’ll be truly surprised and find a monster of a fish.
Down in the southwest corner of the state, the Housatonic River is home to some real life river monsters. Guides like Harry Desmond of Berkshire Rivers Fly Fishing, take clients downriver in a row boat, pointing out the best spots to lay down a cast and helping to land these toothy giants.
Since these fish are predators in the truest sense, big, flashy fly patterns, the more movement the better, work best. Desmond likes to find areas of the river where the water is slower than the main current, often a submerged log or hole, where pike can stack up and hunt for food. If you do hook up to one of these giant fish, just remember to hang on tight. Oh, and watch your fingers.
What is carp doing on this list? What is considered a trash fish by most of the US, our fishing cousins over in Europe consider carp a game fish, because of their giant size, fighting strength, and widespread availability. There’s a good chance that wherever you are in the country, you’re sure to find a good carp fishery that would be willing to eat a fly and make you a believer.
Amidst the factories and urban landscape of Lowell, MA, the Merrimack River is home to giant carp swimming just a few feet from the main drag of town. Look for a spot in the river where the current has backed up into slack water, behind obstructions or small side channels off the main current. Carp will stack up in these stretches and a well-presented fly, either a buggy nymph pattern or a dry fly, will get you hooked up with a giant.
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