• Shawn the Fisherman


A slow bite was the result of last weekend’s massive temperature drop, followed by some high winds to start the week. There’s been a nice warmup since, and the coming weekend may draw some anglers to the water. All species should be looking to grab a bite before the inevitable ice forms, so this report, I’m going to concentrate on sharing some tips on how I find hungry fish during the coldest open-waters of the year.

First off, the week in fishing by StF and Co. I covered my exploits on this week’s podcast. I hit a small Valley pond on Thursday looking for a >17” Largemouth. Risked life and limb on a Cape Cod jaunt during last Friday’s snowstorm for that Bass and any Sunfish over 8”. And on Halloween I fished was up da’ ‘shires with Andy, where I was drop-shotting (!) live crawlers, desperately gunning for that Sunfish that would’ve won me the Chronic Trips Tourney. Neither the Bass nor Sunfish materialized, and I was left with second place to fellow CannAthlete Brock Jenkins in the Chronic Trips CannAthlete/Sponsor division (Congrats to him, he had a killer October on the water!), and finished one place out of the money in the KayakTournamentOnline.com Massachusetts monthly. (My 20” lunker did hold, so I did get my entry back plus. Nice.) Since then, I’ve concentrated on schoolwork, housework, and planning a trip out with Andy for this weekend. Looking forward to what may be the last gasp of Autumn and could herald infrequent trips out to available open waters on the coast.

Here’s what our correspondents had to share regarding their Western Mass fishing adventures…

Andy only got out once after work to prowl some local Otis Reservoir docks. He got nothing but ice on his line guides, as you can see below...

That sucks.

Nelson got out once this past week and was aiming for a Bullhead catfish to seal the deal on his October Chronic Trips Competitor division. He wasn’t able to get one, or anything else on that trip, but did note that the pond’s Trout were extremely active. It didn’t end up changing the results, as no one in the Competitor Division made a run at him. Nice job, Nelson, congrats!

Tim Jacques’ efforts are going to comprise the bulk of this report. He headed up da’ ‘shires on Saturday to one of the larger lakes and found the water there at 53 degrees. He targeted Smallmouth and was able to entice a couple, along with a few willing White Perch, in 20-25’ of water on a blade bait. Midweek, he returned to the Connecticut River (45 degree water) alongside a second boat occupied by a couple friends. He repeated his blade bait success, landing 8 Bronzebacks between 1 and 3 lbs. He noted that there was plenty of action, as he missed another handful. All fish were in the 18-20’ depth range, and he also reported that the second boat had their hands full with Pike attacking jerkbaits.

Cousin Jon managed to get a quick few casts in before one of last week’s rainstorms at a small water body in the Valley. He was on his way to the supermarket and happened to have his gear with him. Who wouldn’t? He ended up getting several hits on a jig, then landing a lone Nibbler Bass shallow on a jerkbait. Thank you to Jon for his quick report, as I didn’t think we’d be hearing from him until his freezer was full of waterfowl!

I got a pic from Berkshire Brett this week. Freezing his rear end off in a tree stand has paid off.

Congrats to him!


Looking ahead to whatever remains of open water, I ask you all to please be safe when fishing. Wear layers when fishing from shore, and please make sure you’re wearing clothing that will keep you alive if you go into the water from a vessel. Life jackets are mandatory to wear between Sep 15 and May 15 per state law, and I recommend wearing them year-round. Better safe than sorry. As far as fishing tactics go, this is the time of year that I concentrate on afternoons to dusk, as the water temps will be warmest then. It also helps to check out a map before heading out and aim for the northwest corner of the water body you’re hitting. Based on where we are (Northern hemisphere), that corner of the lake will receive the most light (heat) throughout the day. I’ve found that even a single degree in surface temperature can matter in these conditions, so pay attention to both your sonar unit and your surroundings. If the NW corner of the lake has a stream pouring cold water into it (I fish a lake that does), you’ll have to look for the warmer parts. As far as my lure selection goes, jerkbaits and jigs will produce for me, but I tend to do my damage with lipless crankbaits. Match the lure colors to available forage and start there.

This is the time of year where I enjoy as much peace and quiet as I want on the water. Only the hardest of hardcore anglers are out between now and the spring thaw. Prepare for a lighter bite than the warmer parts of the year, and take extra safety precautions, and you may grow to enjoy this time of year on the water as I do.

Of course, 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

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.


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