• Shawn the Fisherman


I’m unofficially calling this the first fishing report of Autumn for 2 reasons. First, surface water temps in the Berkshires have generally dropped below 70 degrees. Second, I transitioned from shorts to pants while fishing this week. That being said, the fall bite is rapidly approaching. I highly urge everyone to do some research on what exactly happens during the water turnover and tailor a fishing game plan to each of your own advantages.

I was able to venture out 3 times this week. (To be clear, by ‘venture out’ I mean ‘test my wife’s patience’.) The first stop was a new water body to me, a busy recreational lake out in the Sturbridge area. The plan was for report correspondent Nelson to meet me there after dark, so I had dusk all to myself. Recreational traffic was still pretty high when I launched. A couple pontoon boats were doing laps and one wakeboarder passed waaaaaaaay to close for my liking, but things calmed down as the sun dropped. In the remaining light, I hooked into a 17” Largemouth on a Chatterbait which was good for an upgrade on my monthly tourneys. I hit one smaller Bass before Nelson arrived, and we took a three-quarter lap around the lake, but didn’t manage anything of size. Dark-colored Bass jigs, bladed jigs, and spinnerbaits (my usual nightfishing offerings) were what the remaining 5 Largemouth I caught fell for.

I do want to add some more detail to something I mentioned on the podcast. As most of you know, I am extremely disciplined about record-keeping for all my catches. By the end of the night, I had landed Largemouth number 499 of 2020. With a few months left to fish, I figured that surpassing 500 for the second consecutive year wouldn’t be an issue. The next day, I landed number 500, a grand 10” Nibbler, off my dock during a break from yardwork. During the show, I talked about how I’m constantly trying to improve year after year in numerous ways, and this was a big milestone for me. For contrast, at the same time last year, I was around the 400 range, so barring any early ice or other reason to prevent fishing, I should be hitting my numerical personal best by year’s end.

My second kayak outing of the week was to another unfamiliar body of water up ‘da ‘shires with Cousin Jon and once again, Nelson. A lake with 2 basins, 1 shallow and weedier, 1 deeper and rockier. We went with the shallow end, and it paid off. Jon hit an 18+” Largemouth off a shallow point, then I had some fun.

I hit the fish above on a line of pads. Here’s where paying attention to detail came in. That was the third fish I hit for the morning. The first 2 were undersized, but both whacked a weighted creature bait with everything they had. And both hit around clumps of the larger of lake’s 2 species of Lily pad. For the remainder of the morning, I focused on those larger pads, and was rewarded with the pictured pig, and 2 of her smaller relatives. I keep a pool noodle wrapped around the handle of my net for flotation, and the big fish dragged me a bit, then ran alongside my kayak, dodged the net, and basically crossed my arms, which forced me to fire the net into the water. I grabbed it after I landed her, as my net functions as an open-air livewell in my kayak during tourney-submission photoshoots. She went 20.5” and 5 lbs.-4 oz. on Nelson’s scale. That fish ended up being submitted to both monthlies and the yearlong “The Big 5” tourney put on by Maine Yak Anglers. Good stuff!

My final jaunt took me to a familiar and favorite stop up da’ ‘shires, and I want to use this entry to illustrate how important my aforementioned fishing log is to my competitive fishing. Before I decided where to head to, I pulled up my database for some research. In both my monthly tournaments, I needed fish of at least 17” to start culling. For some background info, both events count an angler’s best 5 fish of the allotted time period. Using the filters, I looked at where I’d caught bass over 17” this year and narrowed it down to 2 Berkshire water bodies. A coin flip took me to my eventual destination at dusk on Monday. 3 hours of fishing a slow bite yielded 2 fish: a nibbler Largemouth, and a 17.5” Largemouth. The point of this story is that my detailed, personalized database based on recent history, helped put me in the place that I was likely to catch the fish the size I needed. I can’t stress enough that serious anglers should take the time to document all their catches and be able to review and analyze their data to help them succeed in the future.

Now, onto this week’s report.

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

Andy got out twice this week. His first outing was a return to Big Pond at Otis. Andy reported that water temps have dipped below 70 degrees there, as well. The main lake was windswept, and he caught numerous Largemouth in the 12”-15” range using his trusty Rapala DT series crankbaits. Several of his catches were caught on topwater offerings mixed in over areas of calm water. His second trip was to his home-away-from-home, Otis Reservoir. It was a windy afternoon when he headed out, and he was searching for calmer water to fling some topwater around. He had a few hesitant hits that he couldn’t turn. He switched gears to a Texas-rigged worm that didn’t entice any hookups. He said from that point, he wasn’t leaving the water with a skunk. He downsized to an ultralight presentation and landed his one and only Smallmouth for the day. Persistence paid off. On a sidenote, his wife sometimes accompanies him on his boat, and as he landed his fish, she was just wrapping up the book she brought along, so Andy’s timing was nothing short of impeccable.

Berkshire Brett was also unable to get out due to work and school commitments. He did note that orders for hunting gear have picked up recently, and traffic has slowed a bit at My 4 Sons. Obviously, things will pick up as soon as safe ice forms up da’ ‘shires.

Cousin Jon and Nelson’s fishing this past week were both covered above, but Jon had a chance to do some fishing from the bank of a small waterbody fed from the Connecticut River near the MA/CT state line. He headed out yesterday near dusk and was able to land a couple smaller bass on creature baits. He relayed that there was a lot of activity on the surface as the sun went down, and had a fish blow up his frog, wrangled him to about 2’ from shore, and the fish shook the hook. Meanwhile, Nelson hit a small bass on a spinnerbait on our night mission and had an uncounted number of hits on the same lure. The morning that he, Jon, and I went out, he landed a Bass and Pickerel on a dark Chatterbait. He was also able to return to his small pond where he landed that aggravated watersnake (see last week’s report for the video). Making the most of his time during his daughter’s soccer practice nearby, he landed a small bass on a Chatterbait, and had a massive frog blowup. I’d take that for under an hour’s fishing!

Ryan Bogli was able to get in a little pre-work bank fishing on Monday at an unnamed waterbody. He reported that he was successful working a buzzbait with several smaller fish inhaling it, but as soon as the sun rose, he switched to a frog and it flipped a switch! He landed 19.5”, 20.5”, and 21.5” (!!!) in succession. Now that’s an incredible morning!

Tim Jacques didn’t have much to report this week, as he took a quick break from fishing after his tournament last weekend. He did let me know that he would be back on the water Friday, so I’ll have info from him next week.

Joe at Old Glory Outdoors was also in a tournament this past weekend, with co-angler Ryan of the Lunker Lads. They managed a top-5 finish at Whitehall Reservoir out in Hopkinton, congrats guys! Joe noted that they caught around 30 fish combined throughout the day but managed their bag of keeper fish from a shallow, timber-filled mid-lake hump. After briefly recapping the tourney, he pressed anglers to “do their homework” before venturing out to fish. Particularly, researching types of forage living in whichever waterbody you choose. As we all know, Massachusetts waters are filled with some combination of Shiners, Sunfish, Yellow Perch, Crawdads, Frogs, Salamanders, Insects and even juveniles of predatory species. Some waters may even have landlocked or sea-run Herring/Alewives. Also can’t forget about mammals and reptiles that may be semi-normal food sources as well. Bottom line: do your homework before heading out!

Please feel free to email Bobby Roast Beef at jigsandbigs413@gmail.com for any input or feedback. He makes sure it gets to me!

Thanks for reading, stay safe and rip some lips this week!


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