Dave Monti: Freshwater fishing is free this weekend in Massachusetts (2024)

The state of Massachusetts is holding its Free Freshwater Fishing Weekend this weekend.

State residents and visitors can fish in any public lake, pond, reservoir, stream, or river in Massachusetts without a fishing license.

This annual event is designed to encourage people of all ages to experience the joys of fishing. Participants must adhere to catch limits and all other fishing regulations. For more information, visit ‘Fishing & Hunting’ at Mass.gov.

There are countless rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds to explore across the state offering ample opportunities to fish. Use the ‘Go Fish MA!’ fishing map to find places to fish close to home.

Doherty to hold Wareham book signing

Come meet Cape Cod Canal fishing expert and author East End Eddie Doherty at Barnes & Noble in Wareham.

Doherty will hold a book signing for his “Seven Miles After Sundown” on Saturday, June 8, from noon to 2 p.m.

It’s a great book about fishing at the rocky banks of the world-famous Cape Cod Canal with humorous anecdotes and stunning photographs by highly acclaimed photographer John Doble.

Catching bigger fluke

This year, like the past three years, the summer flounder (fluke) season has gotten off to a slow start.

“The fluke bite is slow, but anglers are working to catch large fish,” Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown said Tuesday. “We weighed in an 11-pounder caught off the beaches.”

So, there are big fish to be caught.

“In the spring, they are in 25 feet of water but as the water warms they go down deeper to 45 to 100 feet of water,” said Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren. “I am a firm believer to figure out what the fluke are eating and then strip up that as bait. It could be bluefish, black sea bass, fluke bellies, menhaden, or sea robins. I believe in using light tackle, 20-pound braid, so you can get down will less scope. I like to use squid rigs often with jigs and usually a second stinger hook.”

Mike Wade, owner of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly said, “I like to dead stick with live bait with a rod off the stern. I usually use mummies with a sinker rig. It is amazing how many big fish this rig catches.”

Last year, angler Peter Johnson of Connecticut had noted, “I limited out on fluke in eighty feet of water in the Block Island Wind Farm.”

Peter is a firm believer in going light. He uses 15 pound braid, jigs and stingers tipped with gulp and sometimes squid strips. Peter caught one of his personal best at the time, a 28-inch fluke right in front of Warwick Light in Narraganset Bay fishing the banks and deep water in the channel.

In Massachusetts, the minimum size is 17.5 inches from a boat and 16.5 inches from shore with a four fish/person/day limit. In Rhode Island, the fluke regulation this year is a 19-inch minimum size, six fish/person/day with special shore areas where anglers are allowed two 17-inch fish.

Here are some fluke tips from the experts:

Fluke face into the current to feed, so you want to drag your bait over the front of them, drifting with the tide and wind in the same direction when in a boat or slowing pulling your bait over the bottom when on land.

Fish edges of structure or transition areas near jetties and bridges, channels, banks, underwater valleys, humps and bumps as big fish ambush bait there.

When it comes to fluking, squid is the bait of choice. Some anglers cut it in very fine strips yet others like to use the whole squid with others using what they catch that day… strips of bluefish, scup,sea robin, etc.

Find the fish and repeat the pattern, drifting over the same location or depth that is yielding fish.

When targeting fluke do your homework, plan where you will fish first, second, third, etc. the night before based on recent wind forecast and tide. You will be rewarded with some lager keeper fluke, as well as black sea bass and scup.

Where’s the bite?

“Freshwater fishing for trout has been good in recently stocked ponds,” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence.

Striped bass and bluefish: “Breakin Bob” Weir fooled a 28-pound bass with a white FishLab on a rising east tide and a few days later, landed a 26-pound striper bouncing a Hurley green mack Canal Killer off the bottom,” Doherty said. “The powerful stripers finally surrendered after tough battles with both measuring out to 42 inches.” Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown, said, “The southeast and southwest sides of Block Island were on fire over the holiday with anglers catching striped bass using topwater lures. The fish were slot size (28 to less than 31 inches) and above. Our salt ponds are good too with worm hatches still occurring.” Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, said, “Anglers are hooking up with large bass in the mid and upper Bay using pogies and flutter spoons with kayak anglers being successful trolling tube & worm.” Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown, said, “The bait is getting pushed into the ponds on an incoming tide with small spooks, and in out front bass and blues are being found on rockpiles and at breachway outflows eating anything from top water to live eels. Won’t be long before some of the 30-40lb bass start staging on our local reefs.”

Tautog: The spring tautog season ended on May 31 in Rhode Island for the spawning season and will reopen Aug. 1. In Massachusetts, the catch limit drops to one fish/person/day from June 1 to July 31. In both states, the open season limit changes on Aug. 1 with a three fish/person/day limit, 16- to 21-inch slot with one fish allowed to be over 21 inches.

Summer flounder (fluke), black sea bass and squid: “Fluke reports are starting to pick up with mostly smaller fish being caught locally and a few bigger fish being caught at the island. Black Sea Bass are still out in deeper water but are slowly making their way in,” O’Donnell said. “There is an abundance of squid out front,” “We weighed in an 11-pound fluke over the holiday caught along the southern coastal beaches,” Cahill said. “Anglers are having some difficulty finding flukes but when they do they tend to be large. Anglers are also targeting fluke at the East Grounds and in the Block Island Wind Farm area with good results.”

Squid: Fishing remains strong along the coastal beaches,” said Cahill.

Dave Monti holds a master captain’s license and charter fishing license. He serves on a variety of boards and commissions and has a consulting business focusing on clean oceans, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy, and fisheries related issues and clients. Forward fishing news and photos to dmontifish@verison.net or visit www.noflukefishing.com.

Dave Monti: Freshwater fishing is free this weekend in Massachusetts (2024)
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