• Shawn the Fisherman

WMASS FISHING REPORT: 10/29/2020

Updated: Oct 30, 2020




Yet another round of storms ran through the Northeast this week, with the nastiest hitting us as I’m typing this Thursday morning. For the first time this season, we’re hearing the worst of the worst of all 4-letter words:

Snow.

With that ominous intro and impending bad WMass weather, you’d probably think I’d be completely exasperated and ready to throw in the towel on 2020. Absolutely not. This week was insane from a fishing viewpoint. First off, Bobby and I recapped the final Massachusetts Kayak Bassin trail stop of the year at Snipatuit Pond during this week’s podcast. I started strong with bass and finished strong with what I’ve dubbed “Pickerel-Palooza” that afternoon, which helped propel me to within 3 points of first place in the Chronic Trips October Multispecies tourney.

And then Monday happened.

In my efforts to catch up with Brock Jenkins in the Chronic Trips gig, I mentioned on the podcast that I may be giving an unnamed backwater of the Connecticut River a shot to try and land a Bowfin. The CT River has a population of them, but they seem to prefer the swampier backwater sections. I headed there for the morning to start the week with basically no expectations. The only other time I’d fished this particular water was in the spring, with Nelson, where we hooked into a few Largemouth, but did see some massive fish moving around in the shallows. I kept that in mind, and hoped those fish were the Bowfin I was looking for. I still had an in-line spinner from Pickerel-Palooza tied onto my searchbait combo, and I have hooked into Minnesota Bowfin with said lure, so I decided not to swap it out. What happened over the next 3 and a half hours was amazing. I landed 15 Largemouth and a Crappie that was big enough to upgrade in the tourney. (Got a couple upgrades on the Largemouth for the KayakTournamentsOnline.com monthly, too.) But the biggest surprise was a 39.5” Northern that smashed the spinner and dragged me all over this small water for nearly 4 minutes.


Ate the Kitner boy.



Not only is that my personal best Pike, but my personal best freshwater fish. And it was from a tiny swamp. I’m still in disbelief. I was lucky on several things during that catch. First, it fit in my large net. It was curled up, but still fit. Another reason that it’s a lucky occurrence is because the beast spit the hook once in the net. Next, I’m lucky that this water was so small. I related a story to Bobby about a giant Minnesota Pike that was able to free itself from both hook and net during a long paddle back to shore a couple years ago to get a picture. This time, the outcome was different. I got it as quickly as possible to nearby solid ground, after realizing that the marshy shore wouldn’t be very conducive to either of our health. Finally, I was lucky the Pike didn’t take any pieces of me with her on her way back into the water. This was simply the fish of a lifetime for me, and the reason why I fish.

The rest of the week had some small fireworks, but nothing near the Grand Finale that started things off. Tuesday, I returned to the backwater with a different goal: a Bluegill over 8” long. I brought an extra spinning combo with a small circle hook and bobber, and a couple dozen nightcrawlers. I thought this may be a tough deal but didn’t realize how tough. Going out that day, I had a couple goals and decided to devote 2 hours to each. The first was the Bluegill. The second was a Largemouth over 17”. The insane session on Monday had turned up a couple decent bass and put me in third place for the KTO.com tourney. The separation between first and second, then second and third was only a quarter inch each. I currently have the lunker bass for the month, so upgrading only a half inch would put me in a tie for first, with lunker being the tiebreaker. So the second half of the day was devoted to targeting bass. I managed to get 5 Nibblers from a beaver lodge extending out into deep water on a jig, then a 22” Pike decided he wanted a taste of the jig and grabbed it. I was in complete disbelief that there were multiple good Pike in this puddle of a pond. Unreal. It ended up being an upgrade in the “Any 5 Fish” category, which padded that lead over the ever-dangerous Mr. Jenkins. I’ll take it.

My takeaway from this swamp adventure that I can pass along is to never overlook smaller waters. You never know what’s lurking in them.


Tim vs. the Oxbow


My final fishing outing before this report was a complete change of pace. I got an invite from Tim Jacques to head over to the Connecticut River Oxbow to target Pike (Him), Bass (Him), Bowfin (Me), and Bluegill (Sigh. Me.) That’s where this Chronic Trips tourney shines. It makes a competitive kayak bass angler jump onto a bass boat and pray for a Bluegill bite. Willingly.

As I boarded Tim’s boat, I mentioned casually that I’d be catching a good Largemouth today. He asked how I was so sure. I pessimistically told him that because I was in third place in an online kayak tourney and none of the Bass I could catch today would count because I wasn’t in my ‘yak, I was assuredly going to land a good one. That’s just the way things work. We headed out in the downpour and encountered an extremely slow bite for the first hour plus. Then, I managed a couple small fish around some rocks and timber on a Ned rig. Soon after, we got back into some nasty weeds, and began fishing the line it made. I was throwing a Chatterbait, and ripped it through the weeds, resulting in an 18.5” Largemouth hitting it so hard that I initially told Tim it had to be a Northern. Well, it wasn’t. And there was the fish I needed to submit for first place. Feel free to visualize any four-letter word of your choice exiting my mouth, as I’m pretty sure they all came out. I’ve never been so disappointed in a fish over 18” in my life. As we continued down the weedline, Tim experienced a few nasty gear issues that resulted in 3 large swimbaits being donated to the Oxbow, then he managed to hit a small Bass, around 14”, followed by his own 18”, both on a custom spinnerbait of his own making. We wrapped up, soaked and freezing, soon after. We fished the Oxbow as hard as we could under what we believed were ripe conditions for any number of predatory species, and aside from Tim’s “Any 5” upgrade (where his larger Bass went), we were humbled by Mother Nature and the Oxbow.

Fishing. Gotta love it.

That’s all from my end on what has been a memorable week to this point. Here’s what our correspondents had to share regarding their Western Mass fishing adventures...


Andy had a couple outings this week. We talked about his trip with Bobby on Otis Reservoir on the show this week, and his second was also to Otis from the shore. The fading daylight is starting to take a toll on Andy’s fishing time after work, so he was content to run a lipless crankbait around several docks during his spare time. This tactic was good and resulted in several hits, but only landed one in the Nibbler range. There still biting there, which is good, and I’m sure I’ll get info from Andy soon on Otis’ water drawdown soon.

Nelson had a moderately successful week on the water. He was looking to target some species that he hadn’t caught yet for the Chronic Trips tourney, and it took him to some different spots. He started at a small pond in the Valley looking for a Bullhead Catfish (“Horned Pout” to us New Englanders). Fortunately for everyone else in the Competitor Division, he was only able to land a couple hungry Trout. His next trip took him over to the Oxbow. (StF note: If you’re reading this and don’t know much about the place, please do yourself a favor and do a bit of research on it. Place is a must to fish for numerous gamefish species. The Chronic Trips tourneys could see some serious damage done if anglers focused on the Oxbow alone!) Nelson fished the weedier sections first with weedless topwater lures and had numerous blowups with only 1 hookup in the form of a Yellow Perch that released itself at his kayak. After a time, he went to a deeper, clearer section on or near where the Oxbow meets the CT River, and landed an 8”+ Bluegill, getting on the board in that category and making me extremely jealous.

Aside from our Oxbow jaunt, Tim Jacques had a couple other outings this week. He ventured (surprise, surprise) to the Congamond Lakes. Tim reported the water still in the low 60s, and Bass still willing to bite both deep and shallow. His deep catches fell to both dropshots and Ned rigs, and while most fish were in the 1.5 to 2 lb. range, he said there were both Nibblers and 2 to 3 lb. fish mixed in. Tim also noted action shallow, where he plucked bass from around shallower weedlines with lipless cranks and jerkbaits. His only other stop this week was up da’ ‘shires, where he was focused on doing battle some big Smallmouth, and he got his wish. Water temps were in the high 50s, and Tim sent a dropshotted plastic deep, where both a 2.5 lb. and 3 lb. Smallmouth were waiting. After that, dragging plastics slowly along the bottom in deep water resulted in another 3 Bronzebacks over 3 lbs., with a kicker at nearly 5! That’s a great week Tim put together, and he’s back into contention to place in the Chronic Trips tourney.

Finally, on a sad note, the Jigs and Bigs family would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to correspondent Ryan Bogli, whose mother passed this week. Ryan, we’re keeping you and your family in our thoughts during this difficult time.

As always, please feel free to email me at jigsandbigs413@gmail.com for any input or feedback.

Thanks for reading and stay safe this week.

-StF

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