Nestled on the southern end of the beautiful Berkshire Mountains, Otis, Massachusetts is a quaint rural town more than a hundred miles west of Boston. Historically, it played a big role in the conclusion of the Siege of Boston in 1776, when General Henry Knox passed through the region to deliver cannons from New York. This passage is marked nowadays as the Knox Trail on Route 23, and you can find it along the eastern part of Otis. While the town no longer sees that much action these days, it is still very much alive as a residential region filled with attractions for local tourists.
What makes Otis special is how it is surrounded by mountains and great bodies of water, making it feel like it’s in a world of its own. It is dotted with hills all over town and has the West Branch of the Farmington River flowing through it before connecting towards the Connecticut River. On its south, you can find the beautiful Otis Reservoir and the Big Pond standing alongside the lush Tolland State Forest. Flanking the town’s northern, eastern, and western sides are majestic hills and mountains. Much of the life of the town is drawn towards the Otis Reservoir, as is most of the fishing that happens in town. And while the great reservoir offers fantastic fishing in itself, cast your line further out and explore the rest of the town as it offers plenty more fly fishing and ice fishing spots that are worth your bucket list.
Otis, like the rest of Massachusetts, is a town that’s passionate about fishing. With its strategic location deep in the Berkshires, Otis enjoys both favorable year-round water conditions for fishing and a natural vista that’s characteristic of any peaceful New England fishing.
One of the best places to start your Otis fishing journey is to go straight to its eponymous reservoir. Otis Reservoir is a great pond situated largely in Otis, with some parts in the nearby towns of Tolland and Blandford. It is one of the town’s most visited recreational areas known for its boating, swimming, skiing, and snowmobiling. Best of all, it’s a great water body to fish. It is annually stocked with brook trout during spring and fall, but it also attracts fish such as largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, yellow perch and white perch, chain pickerel, black crappie, bluegill, pumpkinseed, brown bullhead, redbreast sunfish, white sucker, northern pike, golden shiner, and tiger muskellunge. The trout here are best caught in the deeper parts of the reservoir, mainly through trolling. Ice fishermen report success with yellow perch, black crappie, and bass. Otis Reservoir is a big lake, but it is most accessible via Tolland State Forest, where there’s a boat launch ramp open to the public. Most of the shoreline in the state forest happens to be surrounded by private residences with their own boat docks, so fishing from the shore may not be as accessible. And as there are some strict regulations about boating on Otis Reservoir, you may need to check them before bringing your boat.
For even more trout fishing and the occasional salmon surprise, find the Otis section of Farming River’s West Branch. This part of the river, which is a major Connecticut River tributary, is stocked with trout and also has native trout, smallmouth bass, and carp. Some parts of the river may also yield largemouth bass and chain pickerel. To catch both stocked trout and native trout, walk slowly along the riverbanks and use some light fishing combo in order not to spook the fish. You can park at the open field alongside the Farmington River which is right across from the Mountain View Campground entrance. It’s labeled “Fishing Access” so you won’t have a hard time finding the spot.
Another sizable pond located right within Otis is Big Pond. This great pond goes by many different names, including Lake Winiscutt and Big Benton Pond, and is on the northern part of Route 23. The pond, while offering decent fishing, is not ideal for shoreline fishing as most of its shoreline is highly developed and filled with residences. There is, however, a concrete boat ramp on the southern edge of the pond where you can launch a boat or canoe to fish. The northern section of the pond is undeveloped and has a forested wetland that lends itself to great fishing. Stocked rainbow, brook, and brown trout can be caught here almost all year round, as well as largemouth and smallmouth bass, which you can find in the rocks or on the islands. If you’re planning to fish in the pond during summer, be sure to schedule your fishing to avoid the crowds who love to swim in the pond. If you’re around Otis around winter, though, you’ll enjoy ice-fishing in this particular pond as it yields trophy chain pickerel every once in a while along with great numbers of yellow perch in good sizes.
The top 10 fish species to target in Otis, MA include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, brown trout, yellow perch, white perch, chain pickerel, black crappie, northern pike, redbreast sunfish, and tiger muskellunge.
Fishing in Otis is great all ye