Massachusetts' Hidden Fishing Paradise: Quabbin Reservoir

Salmon Anyone!

A Slice of Angling Heaven

A literal fishing paradise is located amongst the hills of central Massachusetts; its name is Quabbin Reservoir. Like many names found in the state, the word Quabbin is derived from a local Indian tribe's word meaning "meeting of many waters" since it was formed by damming the three branches of the Swift River above the Ware River confluence. Quabbin Reservoir is also known as the Big Lady, the Accidental Wilderness, Big Q. or sometimes just Q. No matter what you call it, Quabbin is defintely an angler's dreamland.

Quabbin Reservoir is by far the largest body of fresh water found within the Commonwealth. It's almost 25,000 surface acres hold 412 billion gallons of water making it one of the largest, unfiltered water supplies in the United States today. Quabbin's high quality waters are transported some 90 miles east serving ~2.5 million people living in the Boston Metro area. The Big Lady was created during the 1930s and early 1940s. At that time the state acquired many thousands of acres of land; moved four former Swift River Valley towns plus other infrastructure before erecting the Windsor Dam plus Goodnough Dike and inundating the valleys lying above them.

Considering the fact that Quabbin exists at the edge of the Northeast Urban Corridor, it's nearly pristine lands and crystal clear water is definitely a sight to behold. One indication of the quality of Quabbin's waters is indicated by the transparency of that water which in many areas exceeds 20 feet. Water depth varies widely across the lake exceeding more than 100 feet in some locations. Though these characteristics are often associated with cooler or cold water fisheries, Quabbin reservoir is actually an excellent two-story aquatic ecosystem. Over 27 different species of fish cruise the Big Lady's crystal clear waters with over 20 of those being actively sought by fishermen today.

Gotta Love Smallmouths!

Fantastic Two-Story Fishery

Anglers visiting Quabbin Reservoir can either fish from shore or boat. Since this is the state's largest water supply, however, numerous restrictions and regulations are in effect. Each year the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) produces a fishing guide for the Big Lady that is readily accessible from DCR's Quabbin Reservoir website. Not only are the restrictions and regulations listed but there is also important information concerning area access points, boat launching facilities, boat rental area and hours of operation.

The Coldwater Fishery

The cool, clear waters of Quabbin play host to five different coldwater species including lake trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout and landlocked salmon. As a matter of fact it is not uncommon for some of Quabbin's trout and salmon family to qualify for the Annual Massachusetts Sportfishing Award Program. Though all three of lady Q's boat launches provide access to the deep water areas where trout and salmon flourish, the best coldwater area is accessed from Gate #8 located on Quabbin's West arm near Pelham.

The Warm Water Fishery

Where Gate #8 on Quabbin's west side provides the best access to the cold water fishery, the other two boat launches at Gates #31 and #43 provide access to the better shallower and warmer sections of lake. Warm water species most sought from Quabbin include both largemouth and smallmouth bass (though smallmouths reign supreme), chain pickerel, perch, catfish and the occasional walleye. Though fairly rare, the current State record walleye weighing 11 pounds even came from Quabbin reservoir in 1975.

One other species present in Quabbin's waters is often overlooked is the common carp but that is not atypical on most US waters since most American's consider it a "rough fish".

Beyond the angling opportunities of this fishing paradise, Quabbin also provides a number of recreational activities including hiking, day trips, wildlife viewing, etc.

Be sure to stop by a whenever you're in the Big Lady's neighborhood ... you'll be glad you did!

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Comments 1 comment

ElleBee 3 years ago

Very interesting! I'm not a fisher, but I love to visis the Quabbin for hiking, sightseeing etc. It is a beautiful place. Although, I must point out it is technically in Central MA AND Western MA. Us WMass folk are a bit defensive ;) and Belchertown and Ware both have Quabbin access from Western Mass :) Really cool to hear some of the nicknames for Quabbin - I had never heard of Big Q or the Q, but they both make sense! It is definitely a beautiful place.

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