Finally…

After a long, dreary, busy winter season I finally got out fishing today. Sure I did some duck hunting in January, as well as hiking and other outdoors activities in the past 3 months but I haven’t fished since a trip to the Swift on Christmas Day. I took advantage of the nice weather and headed over to Wachusett Reservoir to try for a Lake Trout on the fly. I’ve never caught a laker on the fly.

This time of year is the absolute best chance, really the only chance, to target Lake Trout on fly rod. Lakers are the epitome of cold water fish and this far south in their range they don’t show up close to shore except right at ice-out and late in the season – usually after Wachusett (and Quabbin) is closed to fishing. The water temperatures in the shallows are still within Lake Trout thermal tolerance in early spring and late fall in the two impoundments where Lake Trout are found in Massachusetts. The remainder of the year lakers are essentially out-of-reach of fly anglers as they are hanging out in deep, cold water offshore.

Unfortunately I did not hook any fish. I ended up hiking about 5 miles checking out different spots along the shoreline. I really only spent about an hour actually fishing. Still it was great getting out. I’m going to try to get out again after Lake Trout. There aren’t too many freshwater fish here in Massachusetts that can match the potential size of these guys; 24″ is pretty common for lakers in Wachusett and Quabbin but they can get substantially larger!

Does anyone else flyfish for Lake Trout? I’m new to the species and I’d love to get any insight on fishing for these fish.

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6 thoughts on “Finally…

  1. Hi Adam.

    I’ve done a smidge in Wachusett, more in Quabbin – that’s been more my home water even though I’ve only lived about 6-7 miles from Wachusett for the last 15~ years.

    The challenge is getting on water that 1.) they will cruise and 2.) that allows casting to reach them.

    There are a few spots in Quabbin where this is semi consistently doable – with current water levels there, there are actually more spots than normal. Ask Jo for my email and I’m happy to get into details on those.

    Wachusett… Ive caught 1 or 2 on a fly over the years – but in fairness, I was fishing for early season smallies and it was accidental :). Generally on slim streamers – like a some what sparsely tied Murdoch Minnow, or a clouser if my memory is correct. Accidental though.

    In Quabbin, the ones Ive caught were mostly on flies like those, white or olive or tan over white. I’ve not used a sinking line, though an intermediate would certainly help. I just fished a relatively long leader, and added tin or tungsten shot if the fly itself was not getting down.

    Again, the whole key, on that res – and I’d bet Wach if you are trying for lakers – is the location. Access to deep water, with depth accruing fairly fast, coupled with some what long terrain features. For example, one spot I’ve found works is about a mile of shore, fairly straight, quickly drops to about 6 feet but then stays that depth for may 40yds before dropping fast to 50~.

    Another good spot out there is where a section like the one above (not quite as long) meets a ledge. You can stand on a big rock and instantly be casting into 20 feet with 50+ an easy fly cast out. That’s a good smallmouth spot too 🙂 but seems like a spot where Lakers come up to the shallows to cruise for food.

    You can single hand spey cast a good distance accross it, and if you have back cast space can likewise double haul a good chunk. Certainly handicapped compared to guys using trad gear… but doable.

    It’s not easy, and point blank, I think stubbornness and being happy to fail are vital ingredients 🙂

    Will

    1. Thanks Will! Great and helpful info. I was fishing an area similar to what you described above, sink tip, smelt(ish) looking fly. I realize that lakers are certainly going to be a low numbers game but I really want to hook into one of those big ones! I’ll keep trying and update as I go. I might try Quabbin when it opens in a couple weeks.

  2. Food of choice is generally smelt, so anything that resembles smallish baitfish should work out fine. I’ve usually fished the Chu with spinning gear and had best luch with perch or the silver/blue colored kastmasters.

    This past summer I picked up a spey rod and did quite a bit of “practice” along the shores of Wachusett. Using a 13’6″ 8wt with a 670-ish grain compact skagit line and a 10 foot t-14 leader worked out fairly well, allowing decently distant casts with minimal backcasting area. I’m hoping to put it to test this weekend. I think sucess could also be had with a single handed or switch rod outfitted with a shooting head and a sink tip.

    The biggest obstacle to fly casting at Wachusett, I think is the wind. Which is almost automatic once the sun comes up and the thermal thing starts happening. Couple that with the limited backcasting area, and it’s a definate challenge. One worth pursuing though.

  3. Hey Bob, I don’t have a spey rod so the limited area for backcasts is certainly an issue – especially when I’m trying get way out there. The water is up since last summer at Wachusett consricting fishable areas even more. I fished a couple spots with decent room and steep, rocky dropoffs though.

    I was also equipped with a smelt(ish) looking fly on intermediate sink tip. Might have to try a shooting head but I seemed to get it out ok until the wind picked up. Send me a message if you ever want to compare notes. I’m gonna try it again a couple times over the next few weeks.

  4. Adam –

    Play around with single handed spey casting. You may not be able to shoot the volume of line you can with the more powerful two handed rod, but you can still shoot a LONG ways. Very helpful in tight quarters like shore fishing the two big reservoir’s here… Here’s a video on it from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsPg45iNd_U

    Will

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