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Fishing in Massachusetts: Anglers' Favorite Freshwater Catches

By    |   Tuesday, 10 Nov 2015 07:26 PM

The waterways of Massachusetts are a fishing treasure trove for the freshwater angler. Whether casting from the shore of the Merrimack River or an icy perch on Quaboag Pond, anglers in Massachusetts can expect to reel in the fish of their choice year-round.

More than 80 species of fish live and spawn in the Commonwealth’s 500-plus lakes, streams, rivers, and ponds. Quantities are kept high through an annual restocking program run by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Each spring and fall, the program replenishes the waters with fish that are most popular with anglers.

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Here are a few of the freshwater fishing favorites:

1. Largemouth Bass

Also called the striped bass, the largemouth is the most sought-after sport fish in Massachusetts, according to the state’s fisheries division. The Bay State’s bass are known for giving an angler a rowdy fight once hooked. That feisty reputation has put the bass at the top spot year after year.

The warm water-loving fish feeds on everything it can get its large mouth on, experts say, including insects, frogs, mice, snakes, birds, and smaller fish. Considered large at 5 pounds, anglers can catch a rare 15-pounder in the right conditions.

The largemouth bass is a bass by many other names, including Big Mouth, Bucket Mouth, Larry Lunker, and Black Bass.

2. Crappie

A member of the sunfish family, the Massachusetts crappie comes in black and white varieties. Both shades of fish are abundant in waterways throughout Massachusetts and can be caught year-round. The easy-to-catch fish is popular for its delicious flavor.

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3. Trout

Massachusetts streams offer some of the best trout fishing in New England, with the brown trout being a particular favorite.

In April 2015, nearly 500,000 trout were stocked in Massachusetts hatcheries, including many fish that measured more than 12 inches, according to the state’s Fish and Game Department. Officials expected trout fishing for rainbow, brown, tiger, and brook trout to be "excellent" over the summer.

4. Bullhead Catfish

A 2009 survey of anglers nationwide found catfish in fifth place for favorite sport fish. In Massachusetts, the whiskered warmwater fish is sought by anglers for the fast-action but easy catch. With names like mud cat, pollywog, and horned pout, the bullhead catfish is known for its tolerance for pollution and willingness to eat almost anything.

That indiscriminate trait makes bait an easy matter for anglers, something noted by philosopher Henry David Thoreau in his book "Walden": "They will take any kind of bait, from angleworms to a piece of tomato can ... ."

5. Pike

The Northern Pike of Massachusetts is the prized catch of ice anglers scouting the state’s frozen lakes and ponds. The pike is a fast-growing fish, averaging 2 feet in length. Known to sometimes sup on muskrats and ducklings, the pike often reaches 20 pounds. In central Massachusetts, Quaboag Pond and South Pond are particular favorites for ice fishers.

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The waterways of Massachusetts are a fishing treasure trove for the freshwater angler. Whether casting from the shore of the Merrimack River or an icy perch on Quaboag Pond, anglers in Massachusetts can expect to reel in the fish of their choice year-round.
fishing, massachusetts, freshwater, favorites
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2015-26-10
Tuesday, 10 Nov 2015 07:26 PM
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