Best boating lakes in Massachusetts: our top 10 picks
June 26, 2023
In the state of Massachusetts, there’s no shortage of lakes for boating, sailing, jet skiing, and other recreational activities. In fact, according to mass.gov, there are over 3000 lakes and ponds that provide opportunities for recreation. We’ve compiled a list of some amazing Massachusetts lakes for boating, sailing, fishing, and more.
1. Lake Chargoggago
ggman chaug gagog gchau bunagu ngam augg – Webster, MA
Yes, you’re reading that right. Known in short as Webster Lake, it has the longest place name in the world. Its Native-American name roughly translates to mean “English knifemen and Nipmuc Indians at the boundary or neutral fishing place.”
If you’re looking for space to drive your boat around, you’ll find that in this 1,442-acre (2.253 square mile) lake. It’s actually the 3rd largest in Massachusetts! If you like fishing, you can find largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, black crappie, rainbow trout, brook trout, bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish, redbreast sunfish, white perch, yellow perch, and chain pickerel in these waters.
2. Otis Reservoir – Otis, Tolland, and Blandford, MA
Nestled in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, Otis Reservoir is a 1,085-acre (1.695 square miles) lake which is popular for boating, fishing, swimming, water skiing, and even snowmobiling in the winter. You can camp along the lake at several campgrounds including Tolland State Forest.
While fishing at Otis Reservoir, you might catch largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, lake trout, bluegill, white perch, yellow perch, chain pickerel, or tiger muskie.
3. Lake Quinsigamond – Worcester, MA
Known in short by the locals as Lake Quinsig, this 772-acre (1.206 square miles) lake is popular for boating, fishing, and competitive rowing. There is a 2,000-meter rowing course set up on the lake, which the Quinsigamond Rowing Association used to host the US Rowing Masters National Championship in 2016.
Boat ramps are located at both ends of this lake. When fishing, prepare for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, black crappie, brook trout, bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish, rock bass, white perch, yellow perch, chain pickerel, northern pike, and tiger muskie.
4. Quabbin Reservoir – Western MA
The Quabbin Reservoir is the largest lake in Massachusetts. Additionally, it’s one of the largest unfiltered water supplies in the United States, with a surface area of 38.6 square miles and 412 billion gallons of water. It flows through the cities of Petersham, New Salem, Belchertown, Hardwick, Ware, Shutesbury, and Pelham. Since the reservoir is a drinking supply for 3 million people, there is no swimming, no camping, no alcohol, and no dogs or horses allowed. All private motorized boats must have a Quabbin Boat Seal which you can obtain at mass.gov. You can also rent boats, canoes, or kayaks for a fee. Read more about restrictions here.
When fishing, prepare to find largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, black crappie, rainbow trout, brown trout, lake trout, bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish, white perch, yellow perch, Atlantic salmon and chain pickerel.
5. Lake Cochituate – Framingham, Natick, and Wayland, MA
This 625-acre (0.977 square miles) lake just outside of Boston is made up of three linked ponds. It is popular for boating, sailing, swimming, fishing, and hiking, as it is located within Cochituate State Park.
Anglers, look out for largemouth bass, black crappie, rainbow trout, brown trout, bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish, white perch, yellow perch, chain pickerel, northern pike and tiger muskie.
6. Quaboag Pond – Brookfield, MA
Quaboag pond is a 558-acre (0.872 square miles) pond known for its trophy sized Northern Pike, which are mostly caught through ice fishing in the winter, and can sometimes weigh over 20 lbs. Some Black Crappie, Chain Pickerel, and Largemouth Bass, have also been reported to exceed 7 pounds. The pond is also popular for swimming and kayaking. There is a large concrete ramp to drop your boat in on Shore Road.
Other fish to look out for are Largemouth Bass, Chain Pickerel, Yellow Perch, White Perch, Black Crappie, Bluegill, Pumpkinseed, Redbreast Sunfish, Brown Bullhead, Yellow Bullhead, landlocked Alewife, Golden Shiner, and White Sucker.
7. Onota Lake – Pittsfield, MA
This lake in the Berkshires is 653 acres (1.02 square miles) and is popular for boating, sailing, swimming, fishing, water skiing, and picnicking. Features include a boat ramp, swimmer’s beach, and a fishing pier that extends 75 feet into the water.
Many prize-winning fish have been caught at this lake, including a 27 pound pike, carp in the 10-20 pound range, and varieties of trout weighing over 10 pounds. According to MassWildlife, the lake contains Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Chain Pickerel, Yellow Perch, White Perch, Bluegill, Pumkinseed, Redbreast Sunfish, Black Crappie, Rock Bass, Brown Bullhead, White Sucker, Common Carp, Golden Shiner, Banded Killifish, Bluntnose Minnow, Spottail Shiner, Common Shiner, and Rainbow Smelt. There are also occasional reports of Channel Catfish and White Catfish. Onota Lake is stocked with trout each fall and spring.
8. Lake Attitash – Merrimac and Amesbury, MA
Lake Attitash is a 320-acre (0.5 square mile) body of water near the New Hampshire border. There are town beaches in both Merrimac and Amesbury. Popular activities are boating, swimming, fishing, and camping at the many campgrounds nearby. Many residents live along the lake, and in the summer the Lake Attitash Association hosts a boat parade.
Ice fishing is most popular during the winter, as the heavy recreation during the summer makes it difficult to catch fish. Accordingly, many ice fishing tournaments are held there on the weekends. The lake is stocked with Northern Pike and Tiger Muskie. Anglers have also seen Largemouth Bass, Chain Pickerel, Brown Bullhead, and Sunfish that meet the minimum size for recognition by the Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program.
9. Lake Boon – Stow and Hudson, MA
Lake Boon is a 180-acre (0.28 square mile) body of water connected to the Assabet River. There are many residential houses on the shores of this lake. They hold events year-round including boat parades, water carnivals, and the Lighting of the Lake, just to name a few. Like the previous lake mentioned, the recreation during the summer months also makes winter the more popular time for fishing.
These fish species can be found there: Largemouth Bass, Chain Pickerel, White Perch, Yellow Perch, Pumpkinseed, Bluegill, Black Crappie, Brown Bullhead, Golden Shiner, and Banded Killifish.
10. Wallum Lake – Douglas, MA and Burrillville, RI
The final lake on our list is Wallum Lake, located in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It is 322 acres (0.5 square mile) in the center of Douglas State Forest, a public park with hiking trails, picnic areas, and a beach with lifeguards on duty. A popular hiking spot in Douglas State Forest is the Tri-State marker, marking where the Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island borders intersect. Park activities include boating, swimming, jet skiing, fishing, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling.
Wallum Lake contains these fish species: Largemouth bass, yellow perch, bluegills, pumpkinseed, chain pickerel, landlocked alewife, trout, broodstock salmon, rainbow smelt.
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Fishing information sourced from aa-fishing.com or MassWildlife. Always check mass.gov for boating restrictions, fees, and other lake info.