• Shawn the Fisherman


Skim ice is here, and with it, the most unproductive time of the year for WMass anglers. The overnight temps have plummeted this week, and with them, my hopes for landing open-water fish west of Worcester in 2020. The wait for hardwater has begun.

In that vein, last weekend I headed east for a MAKB tournament at a “mystery lake” that was determined (via Ken Wood’s daughter) on the night prior. She drew Oldham Lake in Pembroke. As this wasn’t at a WMass waterbody, I made sure to cover the gory details on this week’s podcast. It was a pretty windy and raw day, and a runaway winner emerged quickly with a five fish total of 96+” (!!!). An amazing bag anytime, but even more so considering the time of year. I managed to grind out a 5th place finish, and I mean GRIND. I had minimal hits and jumped from 7th to 5th with a 15.75” Largemouth with only 20 minutes left on the clock. Three Bass and countless Pickerel filled the day along with a major backlash and 8 hours of battling the wind. May have been the last kayak outing of the year.

I’ve also been taking a few casts from my dock as time has allowed through the week, with limited success. Our water levels have been dropped for resident yard maintenance, and the fish have become extremely concentrated in the remaining half of the pond. After Saturday, I left myself at the tantalizing Largemouth number 599 of 2020. I figured I could hook a quick Nibbler from my backyard, but the only critter willing to bite was a 19” Pickerel. I took a pic of his bloody grin to reinforce a point I made on the podcast. This Pickerel was hooked on a Ned-rigged plastic, cleanly, in the lower jaw. Upon removal, he bled like Ric Flair in a 1987 cage match. The point I made was this: despite the amount of bloodletting, my toothy friend had no problems on his release and I’m sure is sitting on the bottom plotting his revenge right now. In contrast, I’ve seen other fish that seemed perfectly fine upon release struggling to survive for the next few minutes. It’s not incredibly common, but it happens.

Somewhere, Dusty smiled.

I may be out this weekend, and if so, will have a full report on that fun next week. For now, here’s what our correspondents had to share regarding their Western Mass fishing (or hunting) adventures…

Cousin Jon and Joe from Old Glory both celebrated birthdays this week. Happy birthday to both from myself and Bobby Roast Beef! Joe has been alternating between his Old Glory, civilian job, and deer-hunting responsibilities. Jon was able to get out, however, and had a great couple hours. He headed over to Hampden Ponds in Westfield, where he threw jerkbaits, bladed jigs, and Ned rigged plastics that were hammered by Rainbow Trout. He landed his personal best Rainbow in the bunch, along with a 12” Brown Trout and a Nibbler Largemouth. It's always good to find a good bite in the cold!

Andy, Nelson, Ryan, and Tim were unable to get out this week. Andy resides up ‘da ‘shires, and the skim ice has all but eliminated his dock and shore casting abilities. Nelson has been concentrating on hunting Saturdays and may have a Sunday report for next week, as the milder temperatures are forecast for this weekend. Ryan is also planning a weekend of fishing. Meanwhile, Tim dealt with the fallout from his trailer issues of last week and also assured me that he’d be out this weekend.

Finally, Berkshire Brett has been assigned to safe-ice watch for the foreseeable future. I’m looking very forward to the hardwater confirmation text in the near future and will be sure to relay it here.

As always, please take the time to visit the following local Bait and Tackle shops in your travels.

BG Sporting Inc., Westfield

Ben’s Tackle Shack, Brookfield

Flagg’s Fly & Tackle, Orange

Granby Bait & Tackle, Granby

My 4 Sons Bait & Tackle, Lee

Old Glory Outdoors, East Brookfield

R&R Sport Shop LLC, Belchertow

Red Bridge Bait & Tackle, Ludlow

Please feel free to email me at jigsandbigs413@gmail.com for any input or feedback.

Thanks for reading and stay safe this week!


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