WMASS FISHING REPORT: 8/13/2020
Word on the streets of Western Mass was to get on the water as much as possible.
Word was that fish of all types were biting due to the recent slight water cooldown.
It was true. All of it.
With the new month starting, so began a new set of monthly tournaments. Mass. Kayak Bassing’s (MAKB) is the state’s Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) affiliate and I enjoy testing myself in that meat-grinder every month. Kayak Tournaments Online’s Massachusetts Bass event is another I participate in. (Love double-dipping in bass tourneys!) And after a month off, the Chronic Trips Elevated Multispecies tournament is back ripping lips across the nation (Full disclosure: I’m on the Chronic Trips tournament team). Bobby and I recap the tourney weekly on the Jigs & Bigs podcast. There were plenty of shenanigans this week, so be sure to check that out!
All this competitive fishing has me chasing Bass for the most part, but I’ve really enjoyed modifying techniques to entice other species to bite. I was able to land my new personal best Brown Trout this week. I’d like to thank Mark Huard Jr. for giving me a peek into his world of Brown Trout fishing. We hit one of his favorite haunts towards the eastern boundaries of WMass, and he got me on some Brownies deep. My keeper was subjected to a new pan-searing recipe I came across and was delicious, fyi. I hope to be getting Mark into his kayak for some Largemouth to return the favor soon!
I was also able to get my first 2020 Massachusetts Northern Pike into my boat. I’ve detailed in previous reports that I was struggling to hook into a Northern on the tail end of the July Chronic Trips tourney at my favorite Pike places. This month was the same, and then Berkshires Brett took me out on the Housatonic River. Got my Pike and I’ll cover the rest in the Berkshires section below.
Along with that, my jig and creature bait techniques have produced a few Largemouth over 18”, which can make a big difference in some tournaments. Most of the water I covered this past week was “up da ‘Shires”, and I noticed a bit of a drop in water temps across the board. And it seems to have triggered a bite. I can’t stress enough for anglers to fish with lures they’re confident in. However, if you’re looking to start building confidence with new techniques, now is the time to do so.
Get out there and fish.
Now, onto this week’s report.
As always, I’d like to thank the following Bait and Tackle shops for their gracious voluntary participation in this report. Please take the time to visit them in your travels and mention that you got their report from our site. I don’t want anyone to burn a spot or technique, but please try to relay any fishing info you can to the shop owners. We’d all like to keep this report coming!
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, Belchertown
Housatonic at daybreak.
Berkshire Brett, my contact from My 4 Sons in Becket, was kind enough to guide me onto a section of the Housatonic River in close proximity to the New York border this week. Our target? Northern Pike. We succeeded, but at different levels. Brett was able to Catch-Photograph-Release (CPR) 2 of the toothy beasts over 20” long (the longest was a hair shy of 27”). I couldn’t keep up with him but did manage to touch 20” with the single Pike I caught. They were, as expected, all about chasing crankbaits and spinnerbaits rolled back quickly to the kayaks. During our search for Northerns, I made sure to toss small creature baits and Ned rigs at any timber and boulders we came across, and was rewarded with numerous Smallmouth and Rock Bass, alongside a couple small Largemouth. Something to keep in mind if you head to that particular river: do NOT keep any fish to eat from there! There are signs posted everywhere, but in case you don’t see one where you fish, the Housatonic is heavily polluted with PCBs. The fishing for sport is fantastic in most stretches, but if you’re looking for table fare, please choose another location! Brett also noted that the temperature drop has increased the Trout aggressiveness and wants to let anglers know that they may be on the move back to shallower waters.
Bill at BG Sporting and I had a very interesting conversation today. First, he let me know that the Westfield River Trout action has been better due to rising river levels. He lamented the lack of precipitation this year and wished for more than the sporadic showers accompanying evening thunderstorms of late. “People are still fishing, though!” he told me. Otis and surrounding towns remain great multispecies destinations. Be sure to do your homework before you head up Rt. 20 to ensure what you’re after lives at where you’re going! Between Google Earth and the MA DCR Pond Maps site, you should be able to prepare accordingly. Bill passed along that BG has restocked Yamamoto and Rapala products, and Ploppers continue to be a hot item.
Our conversation then took a bit of a turn towards the seemingly ever-increasing numbers of folks that are trying out outdoor activities during the pandemic. Bill isn’t the first person I’ve talked to that is more than disappointed about the amount of trash being left at recreational areas. He gave me a brief history of local groups, officials, and concerned outdoorsmen that cooperated to keep areas free of garbage left by inconsiderate anglers. Lately, however, it’s been more work than anyone can keep up with. I agreed and let him know there are folks out there that are putting the work in to continue keeping our natural resources clean for future use and picking up after those who don’t. (Check out 3 great examples being set by the HOOKSET HOODLUMS, OLD GLORY OUTDOORS, and MAKE MA FISHING SPOTS GREAT AGAIN on Facebook and Instagram to see some recent cleanup efforts!) Please clean up after yourself, and when safe, please pick up after others that aren’t as considerate when in the outdoors!
Correspondent Andy has been not only hitting Berkshire waters in his shiny new bass boat (pictured in last week’s report sporting his stylish new J&B logo sticker), but he took to the shore as well! Andy decided to see what the Whopper Plopper buzz was about, picked one up, and started tossing it around boulders in a rocky section of Otis Reservoir. A handful of casts later, he was rewarded with a Largemouth in the 2 lb. range. Is there anything better than a violent Largemouth topwater strike? He also reported from his boat on another Otis jaunt that he was able to locate Largemouth that were extremely interested in his silver minnow impersonator offerings near timber. For Panfish anglers, he noted that he found them around weed-bed edges at 6’-8’. Andy had one last item for me: at an unnamed body of water in the mountains, he had plenty of action from Nibbler-sized Largemouth with a few over 1 lb. by running shallow Crankbaits along weed edges. A classic technique to prey on the ambush tactics employed by not only bass, but numerous freshwater predators. He recommended trying natural lure patterns in clear water along such edges.
Ryan with one of this week's Papa Greenbacks.
I’ve got a few years on Ryan from Ben’s Tackle Shack, but he and I are kindred spirits when it comes to fishing. He said he didn’t have much time in boats this week, but instead simply got into his car on Rt. 20 near Brimfield and just drove west, stopping at every accessible body of water to fish, until he got to Springfield. Google Maps was his copilot for the day, and he had a productive day, catching plenty of bucket-mouths up to around 2 lbs. with a bladed jig. (One of which is pictured above.) He laughed and let me know that he did get yelled at a few times due to fishing on questionably marked properties, and he quickly left without incident each time. I related that waaaaay back in the pre-portable-electronic-device dark ages known as the 90’s, the crew I ran with in high school would also drive aimlessly to any water we could find in the mountains. Sometimes we had an area map. Most of the time we didn’t, and shenanigans ensued. Ryan also had a tale of the one that got away. He did fish from a friend’s boat on Indian Lake in Worcester and hooked into a massive Largemouth. Unfortunately, the boat’s net was apparently nowhere to be found, and the fish was able to free itself as Ryan went to lip it. We’ve all been there, and he has my condolences. He finished up our call with a reminder that Ben’s has a great assortment of locally made swimbaits, crankbaits, and plastics in stock, along with plenty of bait.
Rich at R&R Sport Shop in Belchertown has been getting info regarding 3 sought-after Quabbin species. Smallmouth, Lakers, and Land-locked Salmon continue to haunt the depths, waiting for the right bait or lure to hit. Salmon fishing has been the best, with numerous limits being taken. Lake Trout have been just as aggressive, and both can be located way down in the 50’ depth range. Get your choice of bait down to them and hang on. Rich recommended using trolling with planer boards to do achieve that end. He also said he saw photographic evidence of a huge 5 lb.-7 oz. Smallmouth and noted that 30’-40’ deep was where to look for that sized fish. He finished by saying that fish of all 3 species are on the move, so anglers should be prepared to put some time in finding them but should be rewarded once they do!
Joe at Old Glory Outdoors and his trusty Lunker Lad, Ryan, fished a big boat tourney at Congamond this past weekend. Joe reported that they found fish biting around docks but found them late and also found them to be of the Nibbler variety. It was his first tourney, and while they didn’t finish at the top, he said it was a valuable learning experience. He and I also talked a bit about Ryan having a big Bass come unhooked at the boat due to a netting miscommunication, and how they planned to handle such things in the future. Good stuff. A lot of tourney anglers would think about getting back on the water after something like that happens, but Joe and Ryan are taking it in stride, looking forward to the next competition. Joe then relayed that he was getting a lot of reporting from Teddy Forget. For those of you keeping an eye on the Chronic Trips tourney, Teddy had a fantastic week where he put up some big numbers and clawed into contention. (Again, recapped in this week’s podcast.) Teddy’s been spending plenty of time hitting smaller waters in the area and doing his homework on them beforehand to make the most of his time at each. Joe said that while Teddy’s been tight-lipped about his particular successful methods, Finesse baits such as weedless Ned-rigs and drop-shotted plastics (Senkos, Wild Worms, Creatures) should get fish to bite. Old Glory has a great selection of these lures and more. On a side note, both Bobby and I have recently picked up 13 Fishing reels (same model, different gear ratios) from Old Glory, and we’re looking forward to reviewing them after spending some quality time with them. Remember to use our Jigs and Bigs discount code during purchases at Old Glory!
Rodney at Flagg’s le me know that all has been quiet on the northern front, once again. Quabbin anglers are still pulling in Salmon and Smallmouth. The Salmon from 40’ depths with streamers, chasers, and shiners, and Smallies a bit shallower with jigs and live crawdads. One note on Quabbin: rental boats are not yet available to anglers! Bobby verified this fact recently. Rentals were supposed to start on the 7th and that has been pushed back to an unknown date. Some shorelines are still accessible, so keep that in mind if you make a trip out there. Rodney also said that Swift River fly-fishing for numerous Trout species (Brook/Brown/Rainbow) has gotten hot lately, and quality, 3-4 lb. Rohunta Largemouth continue to attack shiners under bobbers. Finally, he noted that he received a long-awaited shipment of terminal tackle to restock his shelves. Stop in for your bait and tackle needs if in Orange!
This week's report just wouldn't be complete without 2 huge THANK YOUs to both Mrs. Mitchell's Kitchen in Holyoke and Crazy Arepas food truck in the greater Springfield area. Bobby Roast Beef and I are both large mammals that love to eat, and both have top notch eats. (That we have consumed quite a bit of lately.)
Please follow them both on Facebook and stop by to enjoy their food!
Please feel free to email Bobby Roast Beef at firstname.lastname@example.org for any input or feedback. He makes sure it gets to me!
Thanks for reading, stay safe and rip some lips this week!