Because it sits right on the coast, Massachusetts often gets recognized for its saltwater fishing opportunities.
However, overlooking the state’s excellent largemouth and smallmouth bass would be a mistake for any angler. We’re here to correct any oversights.
The following lakes, ponds and rivers offer great Bay State bass fishing.
It would be hard to start with any place but massive Quabbin Reservoir when talking about Massachusetts bassing.
The smallmouth on this reservoir can be absolutely gigantic for the Northeast, some of the biggest you’ll find in the entire state, along with some noteworthy largemouths.
The eastern portion of the lake, which is split down the middle by a stretch of land, is shallower and more conducive to attracting early-season bass moving onto shallower flats as water temperatures warm.
You’ll want to look for flats or submerged structures where nearby deep water is juxtaposed with a ledge, flat or underwater hill.
Even on the shallower eastern arm, you have spots where a 20-foot deep hole quickly gives rise to a shelf sitting as high as 6 or 8 feet in the water column. This drastic depth change is a natural attraction for feeding bass as it gives the semblance of cover.
Working a deep-diving crankbait in perch or crawfish patterns near these drop-offs can be effective. Try this: Reel the crankbaits right into lake bottom at times, then let them rise while periodically twitching them for the maximum benefit.
Quabbin Reservoir is a multi-species lake that also features some of the state’s largest trout and salmon, including 20-pound-plus lake trout.
Because this 38.6-square-mile gem of New England supplies Boston with drinking water, Quabbin Reservoir does have stricter regulations than many locations. For example, swimming is prohibited, and boaters must follow strict rules to keep the water pure.
Three major boat launching areas provide access to the water, but be sure you read the procedures for use of private boats here. The launching areas also rent boats.
Shore anglers will find bank access from miles of trails around the reservoir.
For links to boating regulations, real-time rental boat availability, annual passes and more, check the Quabbin Reservoir Fishing Guide.
Access: Quabbin Park is just off Route 9 in Belchertown and remains open from dawn until dusk. It’s accessible by vehicle and has a visitor center that is fisherman friendly.
Quabbin Reservoir has three major access areas for boating and fishing:
- Boat Launching Area #1 is in Pelham off Route 202. This is an ideal launch area if you’re targeting trout, as it’s near deeper, colder parts of the lake.
- Boat Launching Area #2 is north of the intersection of Route 122 and 202 in New Salem, and is closer to what is traditionally considered bass territory on the lake.
- Boat Launching Area #3 is on Greenwich Road in Hardwick, west of Route 32A, and puts you on a part of the lake where you’ll have chances at bass, trout and salmon.
Wachusett is another popular Massachusetts reservoir with a twist: Boating is prohibited here, so all fishing comes by the shore.
Wachusett Reservoir produced the state-record smallmouth in 1981 and continues to give up some of the state’s best bronzebacks to this day. We broke down data from the state based on angler reports from trips on the reservoir because nothing can beat science and research when you’re making a plan.
For example, out of 3,302 smallmouth bass reported by participating anglers, half were caught in May and June. So those two months are tops for smallies.
However, August was the best largemouth bass month (275 of the reported 820 largemouths were taken in August), so anglers might consider switching tactics a bit into the summer.
Want more data?
In one survey year, the vast majority of the smallmouth reported were between 12 and 18 inches, to no one’s surprise. But there were 21- and 22-inch smallmouths in the mix, and a handful of giants reported between 23 and 25 inches. Those are smallmouths of a lifetime for most bass anglers.
Generally, the data shows, smallmouth catches here have grown over the years, from 9 percent of fish landed in the late 1970s to four times that more recently.
Concentrating your efforts on near-shore drop-offs will likely pay off. This is especially true in the corner seasons of spring and fall as bass will be hanging around deeper drops for cover but pushing bait onto the shallower flats, which warm soonest in spring.
Andrews Harbor off Scar Hill Road in Boylston has some promising drop-offs to about 50 feet depths within casting distance from shore. The deepest hole is right where the easternmost arm of the lake bends around and back south.
Access: The Sawyer Bluff to Wachusett Reservoir Trail runs right along the water, providing ample bank access. Parking is at the intersection of Cross Street and Main street in Boylston.
Walking southwest along the water’s edge, you’ll find yourself at the New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill. Right in front of the Garden is Andrews Harbor, and right at the harbor entrance is a hole that reaches 60 and depths within casting distance from shore.
Consider that in the last decade, Massachusetts anglers have recorded catching four largemouth bass that measured 25 inches. Two of those fish were caught and released at Mashpee-Wakeby Pond on Cape Cod.
A 25-inch largemouth is a giant in the Northeast by any measure, and to have two come out of the same pond in back-to-back years puts that body of water on our best-bass-lakes list immediately.
Even if that was the same bass being caught twice, the possibility that it is still swimming in Mashpee-Wakeby qualifies this as a trophy lake. And there’s a fair assumption that a lake that can grow one 25-incher should be able to grow more brag-worthy bass.
Mashpee-Wakeby, in Mashpee, has holes as deep as 95 feet on its southern end, and steep drops all along its southeastern shore.
Live shiners are always a good option for big largemouth. Long plastic worms and perch-imitation crankbaits can work well on Mashpee-Wakeby, too.
Access: Fisherman’s Landing Road off Rte. 130 in Mashpee has the boat ramp. A boat also provides access to adjoined ponds.
Singletary Pond in West Millbury produced a largemouth in 2022 that weighed 8 pounds, 10 ounces.
Healthy populations of shiners, suckers and alewives are in the pond, which could explain why its bass are getting larger than average.
Crappie are common in Singletary, with some pushing two pounds, and this potential forage base for largemouth could be another reason for bigger-than-average bass.
There are smallmouths in Singletary, but largemouth bass are the main target here.
Check out the steep drop-offs right around the islands in the center and northeast corner of the pond.
Swimbaits or jerkbaits imitating shiners or juvenile crappie could get some of the biggest bass to feed.
Access: Singletary Road on the pond’s north shore offers a ramp and access.
Anglers have reported catching and releasing largemouths over 5 pounds and smallmouths pushing toward 4 pounds at Onota recently.
So you know this “great pond” near Pittsfield has great bass fishing potential.
The northern part of the lake is shallower and features thicker weed cover.
The lake’s southern end gets deeper, particularly on the southeast shoreline, where holes are more than 70 feet deep.
Soft plastics and topwater frogs will produce better in the thicker vegetation on the northern half, and deep diving crankbaits or jigs will be more productive on the deeper southern portion.
The lake also supports trophy-sized brook trout, rainbow trout and tiger trout and pike to 27 pounds (at least). Lake Onota also earned a spot on our rundown of the best trout fishing spots in Massachusetts.
Access: A public ramp is on Lakeway Drive near the lake’s southeastern corner.
The fascinating thing about Forge Pond is just how shallow it is.
The Granby-area pond, although it covers 68 acres, is never deeper than six feet.
Then consider that Forge has produced bass into the 25-inch range. So there are healthy, well-fed fish without much water to hide in.
Naturally, given the weed cover and shallow depth, either topwater lures or soft plastics fished just beneath the surface are your best bet.
Just remember, because it’s such a shallow pond, approach cautiously and exercise discretion with speech and sudden movements.
Batchelor and Weston brooks flow into the easternmost arm of the pond and are a good place to start your search.
Access: There’s a gravel boat launch for small watercraft along School Street on the northwest side of the lake.
The Connecticut flows all the way out of New Hampshire, through Massachusetts, and eventually into Long Island Sound. At 407 miles long, it’s the longest river in New England.
Many of the miles have plenty of bass.
In Massachusetts, some of the best smallmouth bass fishing is in the north part of the state, closer to where it flows out of New Hampshire, but the entire river in the state harbors plenty of these fighters.
Smallmouth bass tolerate areas with more current than largemouths and also tend to prefer rocky habitat where they can duck out of the stronger flow and ambush prey.
Smallmouths primarily feed on shiners, perch and crayfish, so adjust your presentations accordingly. Undercut banks are a great place to target smallmouth in late spring and early summer months.
American shad have been caught in the Connecticut River, providing some supersized sustenance for the largemouth that are more common in the slower sections of the big river. Smaller fish are favorite forage for largemouths, so lures imitating them are often productive.
Concentrate your efforts in parts of the river with slower pools and backwater areas for the best largemouth bass population. There’s a fair bit of that habitat from Northhampton downriver.
Find areas where submerged stumps, trees or other structure provide a current break and work the downstream side with jigs or soft-plastic baits.
Access: There are numerous access points as the Connecticut River flows down through Massachusetts for you to explore the section of river you want to fish. Here are a few to consider:
Bank anglers should explore the various access point at public parks, including the eight locations within the Connecticut River Greenway State Park. Some sites also have boat launches.
Pauchaug Ramp Road near Northfield has a boat launch just after the Connecticut River flows into Massachusetts, and this is a good bet for boaters looking for smallmouth water.
Oxbow Ramp is just off Rte. 5 in Easthampton and close to the Massachusetts Audubon Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary and the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. There’s some slower water and backwater areas that offer better shots at largemouth plus access to smallmouth water.
South Hadley/Chicopee Launch on the east bank where those cities meet is worth considering if you have a small boat and want to fish the productive water below Holyoke Dam (Hadley Falls), including some backwater near the Chicopee River confluence. It’s an unimproved ramp with limited parking.
Chicopee Ramp at the end of Medina Street in Chicopee (several miles below Holyoke Dam) is a paved ramp suited to larger boats with lots of parking. It’s immediately south of the I-90 crossing but accessible from city streets under the interstate. This ramp is close to some slower water near the Chicopee River confluence.
Quaboag, also known as North Pond, is rumored to have bass as heavy as 7 pounds and northern pike as heavy as 20.
When you’re talking about a 550-acre pond that’s never deeper than 20 feet, we like your odds of an Instagram-worthy catch at this pond near Brookfield.
The southeast corner of the lake has deeper water and steeper drops where you’ll see bass holding during much of the season.
Look for shallower areas in spring when bass are spawning.
Access: For shore fishing, the Quacumquasit Wildlife Management Area is on the pond’s southwest corner. Anglers with a boat can launch on Shore Road, which runs along the pond’s northeast shore.
If you use the lake’s original name, you can be relatively certain no one will find your spot, because who could remember that to type into Google for a location search?
For better or worse, the body of water is also known as Webster Lake, like the city there, and it’s a southern Massachusetts gem.
Chaubunagungamaug, a.k.a. Webster, is the largest natural lake in the state and has the kind of structure along the lake floor that bass love.
There are deep drops, rocky structure and elevated plateaus that all hold fish at different points throughout the year.
Not far from the boat launch on Memorial Beach Road, you’ve got a 40-plus-foot hole in the lake’s northeast corner and holes to 35-foot depths near the center.
What’s of interest to bass anglers especially are the elevated surfaces and steep drops along the lake’s irregular bottom, the kind of points that tend to hold fish and make them easier to target and find for anglers equipped with a fish-finder.
The lake’s southern half has small islands that can also be productive early-season targets.
Access: Lakeside Avenue on the southeast shore and Memorial Beach Drive on the northwest shore have public boat launches.
Long Pond in Brewster is a gorgeous fishing destination that works well for the whole family, as it has a protected beach and swimming area with a floating dock for the summer months.
Long Pond is one of the largest bodies of fresh water on Cape Cod and has a variety of fish species, but smallmouth bass are plentiful. It’s also featured in our complete guide to fishing on Cape Cod.
The southwest corner of the pond has some steep drops to more than 40 feet that will hold smallmouth in the corner seasons, and the center of the pond drops down to about 60 feet.
The pond sees its share of boat traffic in the summer, so early mornings will be your best bet in the high season. However, spring and fall are more peaceful and can be very good.
Access: There is a boat launch right on Crowell’s Bog Drive in Brewster and off Long Pond Drive on the south shore of the pond as well.
Pontoosuc Lake is a popular Western Massachusetts stop for several reasons, and the healthy largemouth bass population is among them.
The fact that the lake has good numbers of sunfish, perch and crappie is probably one reason this Pittsfield-area lake has produced award-winning smallmouth and largemouth bass in recent years.
The steepest drop is right off the northernmost point of the lake in Lanesborough, which drops to 40 feet deep about a quarter mile offshore.
This is a good starting point when targeting fish in the corner seasons, as they can quickly access deeper water after hunting forage species in shallower portions of the lake.
A small island in the center of the lake has a 25-foot hole on its southwest side that’s worth spending some time on as well.
Pontoosuc Lake also is one of the best ice fishing spots in Massachusetts, when winter conditions allow anglers to get safely on the ice.
Access: Pittsfield’s Pontoosuc Park on Hancock Road on the south end features a public boat launch.
Ponds with healthy populations of oversized largemouth and smallmouth bass aren’t terribly common in the state, but Johns Pond in Mashpee has both species to earn it the final spot on our Massachusetts list.
White perch, yellow perch, and bluegill provide a solid forage base for these fish and are a good bet for lure patterns as well.
But what really allows the bass to pack on the pounds are the sea-run alewives that come up the Quashnet River from Waquoit Bay and into the pond.
Google these fish and you’ll see that they’re a thick, silvery minnow with a blue-green back that you could easily imitate with a Rat-L-Trap or a Rapala Rap-V blade bait.
The northeast corner of the pond has by far the deepest hole, reaching more than 70 feet. This is where you’ll want to start your smallmouth search, especially in the summer months.
Docks, points and small coves offer additional holding spots for bass.
In terms of access, this is Johns Pond is a great destination for visitors or families, via Johns Pond Park on the north shore and Alper Conservation Park on the western shore.
Anglers have caught both largemouth and smallmouth bass large enough to earn pins in the state’s awards program.
Access: There’s a boat launch on the west shore or anglers can hand-launch a kayak or other small craft at Johns Pond Park.
Anglers tend to look seaward while overlooking some of the best bass fishing in the Northeast. As a result, some fantastic bass fishing spots in Massachusetts are severely under-fished.
Whether you’re targeting smallmouths on a big Western Massachusetts reservoir or alewife-eating largemouths on a Cape Cod pond, there are tremendous opportunities for impressive bass throughout the state.
We hope this guide helps you create some amazing memories on the water.
Catch More Bass
Read our simple guide to bass fishing tactics and tips, including various lures and riggings that put big bass in front of your camera.