The 12 Best Ice Fishing Lakes in Massachusetts: Expert Guide

Ice fishing is a beloved winter pastime in Massachusetts, attracting anglers from across the country. With its diverse landscapes and abundance of frozen water bodies with varying ice thickness, the …

Ice fishing is a beloved winter pastime in Massachusetts, attracting anglers from across the country. With its diverse landscapes and abundance of frozen water bodies with varying ice thickness, the state offers an array of exceptional ice fishing opportunities in the winter.

In this expert guide, we’ll explore the twelve best ice fishing lakes across the state, with each one known for its thriving winter fish populations. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a novice looking to try your hand at this exhilarating ice fishing sport, Massachusetts has plenty to offer.

MA Ice Fishing: 12 Best Spots

1. Quabbin Reservoir

massachusetts ice fishing quabbin reservoir

Situated in central Massachusetts, this vast water body spans parts of Belchertown, Ware, New Salem, and Pelham. Its expansive size and serene surroundings create the perfect backdrop for an ice fishing adventure, plus you can get a glimpse of bald eagles in this area too.

The reservoir offers various access points for ice fishing equipment setup, including the Winsor Dam area and several boat launches which allow you to reach the best ice fishing hole with ease.

Quabbin Reservoir offers an assortment of fish species, from rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout, to landlocked Atlantic salmon, smallmouth bass, and white perch beneath the icy fishing surface.

For those prize-winning salmon and trout, try using tip-ups with live bait like shiners or smelt. Set up one or more deadstick rods near your tip-ups with live bait, allowing the bait to sit motionless and attract curious fish. If smallmouth and perch are your targets, jigging with spoons or small jigs tipped with bait can yield fantastic results.

2. Wachusett Reservoir

massachusetts ice fishing Wachusett Reservoir

Situated west of Boston, the Wachusett Reservoir spans several towns, such as Clinton, Boylston, West Boylston, and Sterling, and offers some great ice fishing opportunities.

Access points are available around the reservoir, and anglers can use public boat launches when the ice is safe, giving you plenty of options to find the best spot for your next fishing adventure.

Ice fishing anglers will love the variety of species inhabiting the Reservoir, including landlocked Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, brown trout, and largemouth bass.

For salmon and trout ice fishing methods, set up tip-ups with fresh baits or try jigging with larger spoons that mimic baitfish in the area for an exciting challenge. When the elusive bass makes an appearance, jigging with soft plastics or live bait will do the trick, as will attaching swimbaits to your jigging rigs to imitate injured fish.

3. Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg

massachusetts ice fishing Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg

Situated in Webster, Massachusetts, this ice fishing lake is widely known as Webster Lake for obvious reasons! Most anglers, myself included, will always call it that for simplicity, but many locals take pride in pronouncing the entire 45-letter Nipmuc Indian name, so be prepared to hear both.

Numerous public access points around the lake make reaching the ice quite simple and safe. Once set up, you’ll be able to catch yellow and white perch, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, pickerel, and panfish.

To reel in those prized perch and panfish, try using small jigs or fresh baits like worms or minnows or use slip bobbers with live bait to fish at varying depths and target specific species more effectively. If you’re after bass and pickerel, vertical jigging with larger presentations like spoons or soft plastics towards the bottom will surely catch their attention.

4. Whitehall Reservoir

massachusetts ice fishing Whitehall Reservoir

Whitehall Reservoir, located near the town of Hopkinton, is easily accessible from nearby roads, making it convenient for ice fishing anglers to get to the best hole.

Common catches here include trout, pickerel, and black crappie. For those elusive trout, try your hand at jigging with small lures. If pickerel and crappie are on your list, jigging with small presentations or whole baits will reel them in nicely. 

You can also use the dead stick method and allow a minnow to dangle motionless under a bobber or tip-up to attract finicky trout, crappie, and pickerel, or experiment with tandem rigging by attaching multiple jigs or lures to your line, increasing the chances you find fish including crappie, sunfish, carp and other species from the deepest point.

5. North and South Congamond Lakes

massachusetts ice fishing North and South Congamond Lakes

These interconnected ice fishing lakes are located in Southwick, Massachusetts, near the Connecticut state line and offer various public access points onto the thick ice or shoreline and boat launches for anglers to access both lakes easily when the ice thaws.

Northern pike is the most sought-after fish species in these two stocked ponds, but you can also find bass, walleye, and panfish if ice fishing for pike is not your thing.

Tip-ups with live bait, such as large shiners or suckers, are commonly used to target pike. For bass, walleye, and panfish, jigging with smaller hooks tipped with live bait is your best bet. You can also enhance your bait’s attractiveness by applying scent attractants like fish oils to your presentations.

6. Lake Quinsigamond

massachusetts ice fishing Lake Quinsigamond

Lake Quinsigamond is nestled between Worcester and Shrewsbury and offers public parks and boat launches to provide access to the lake for ice fishing.

The lake is teeming with diverse fish species, making it a haven for any angler. You can try your luck with yellow perch, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and even the elusive walleye.

Ice fishing equipment for yellow perch and panfish often involves using small jigs or live or dead baits. When targeting largemouth, smallmouth, and walleye, suspended jigging with larger presentations or using tip-ups with live bait are popular techniques. Deadsticking with minnows is also a very good option on its own or along with other different presentations.

7. Hamilton Reservoir

massachusetts ice fishing Hamilton Reservoir

The serene Hamilton Reservoir is nestled in the charming town of Holland and offers various access points, and public boat launches allow easy entry for any ice fisherman.

The reservoir is home to an array of fish species, including smallmouths, northern pike, pickerel, and various panfish, which are eager to strike in the winter.

For largemouth, pike, and pickerel ice fishing, try setting up tip-ups with live bait like shiners or large minnows to entice the big ones. As for panfish, jigging with smaller presentations will get strikes.

Use realistic presentations for largemouth and pickerel, imitating the fish’s natural prey to entice more strikes. Test different lure colors and sizes to find what works best for enticing fish in the clear waters of the reservoir since they can be very picky and sporadic in what they want, even in warmer weather.

8. Ashmere Lake

massachusetts ice fishing Ashmere Lake

Ashmere Lake is nestled in the Berkshires, near the town of Hinsdale, Massachusetts, and has a range of public access points for an ice fishing hole and boat launches when the weather allows.

The lake is home to trout, largemouth bass, and perch fish species. For trout under the ice, try using small jigs or live or dead smelt under tip-ups to tempt them. As for largemouth and perch, jigging with small hooks tipped with fresh-cut smelt is the way to go.

Consider chumming the water with small pieces of bait to attract trout, largemouth, and perch to your ice fishing spot. Using orange or green colored glow-in-the-dark jigs or lures to increase visibility in low-light conditions and attract fish from a distance is also a great option below your thick ice hole.

9. Onota Lake

massachusetts ice fishing Onota Lake

Nestled in the heart of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, this stunning lake is the perfect spot for ice fishing enthusiasts to come and enjoy its abundant fish.

Various public access points and boat launches provide easy entry for ice fishermen looking to target the lake’s largemouth bass, northern pike, and panfish populations.

For largemouth and pike, set up tip-ups with live baits like large shiners or suckers to lure them in, or give rattlers a try since these can create noise and vibrations underwater to attract the attention of fish in murky waters. 

For panfish, ice jigging with smaller presentations or fresh smelt will undoubtedly catch their attention, and you can set up tip-up spreader bars to cover a larger area and increase your chances of catching more panfish.

10. Lake Monomonac

massachusetts ice fishing Lake Monomonac

Lake Monomonac straddles the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border and has portions in both states. Various public access points and a few boat launches make it easy to get out onto the ice on either side of the state line.

The lake is home to walleye, bass, bluegill, yellow perch, and other species, all eager to make your ice fishing experience unforgettable.

For the fish here, most ice anglers will set up tip-ups with fresh baits to catch fish. Shiners, smelt, or small minnows are my go-to baits to entice them throughout the winter. Attach smelt bodies to your jigging rigs to mimic the lake’s primary prey, increasing your odds of catching bass and walleye.

11. Lake Mattawa

massachusetts ice fishing Lake Mattawa

Lake Mattawa is situated in Orange, Massachusetts, and has several access points for shore anglers as well as ice fishermen that follow basic safety tips when on the winter ice. The lake is home to large populations of bass, walleye, and lake trout, perfect for ice fishing.

For bass and walleye, try setting up tip-ups with live or dead prey like shiners or large minnows, or use a finesse setup if they are being finicky. As for trout, try ice jigging with small and lightweight lures or fresh baits under tip-ups for a chance at landing that trophy catch.

12. Lake Garfield

massachusetts ice fishing Lake Garfield

Lake Garfield, located in Monterey, Massachusetts, is a hidden gem perfect for your next ice fishing adventure. It has several winter access points and summer months boat launches.

Ice fishing at Lake Garfield produces plenty of trout, bass, and perch. For trout, try using small jigs or live or dead smelt under tip-ups to lure them in. As for bass and perch, jigging with small lures tipped with fresh shad will surely pique their interest.

You can also try micro-jigging with small ice jigs and soft plastics to catch trout and panfish in the shallower areas of the lake or at different depths.

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AUTHOR
Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village. Jeff is based in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the waterways of that state in pursuit of smallmouth bass, largemouth, panfish and trout.
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