Petersham, MA Fishing: Excellent Reservoir Fishery in a Picturesque New England Community

Discover exciting reservoir fishing in picturesque Petersham, MA.

Petersham, MA Fishing: Excellent Reservoir Fishery in a Picturesque New England Community
Petersham, MA Fishing: Excellent Reservoir Fishery in a Picturesque New England Community
Team Guidesly

March 31, 2022, 6 min read

Updated on March 25, 2022

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Petersham is a picturesque locale in Central and Western Massachusetts. It was once home to the Nichewaug tribe before Europeans settled in 1733. It later became an incorporated place in 1754. 

Today, not much has changed in Petersham. It has managed to retain its classic New England vibe. Visitors will feel this especially while strolling on its common land, a huge segment of which is part of the Petersham Common Historic District. The historic district was laid out in 1733, and many of the buildings on this linear stretch of land date back to the 19th century, including the landmark Nichewaug Inn.

The construction of the Quabbin Reservoir in 1938 boosted Petersham’s land area, adding the disincorporated locales within the Swift River Valley region. Nowadays, much of Petersham is conservation land lying within the Quabbin Reservation area, a protected nature zone surrounding the man-made reservoir. Other sections of the town are likewise safeguarded, including the Federated Women’s Club State Forest and Petersham State Forest. Parts of Harvard State Forest, Phillipston Wildlife Management Area, and Popple Camp Wildlife Management Area are within Petersham’s territory but extend into nearby communities.

Travelers looking for a quaint little getaway will love Petersham. It is a sparsely populated locale that’s in touch with its history and natural surroundings. And as a quintessential New England destination, it offers abundant fishing opportunities one would expect from this region.

Petersham Fishing

man holding a fish in the middle of the lake

With most of Petersham concentrated within the Quabbin Reservation area, you can expect most fishing in this destination to happen within the reservoir. Quabbin Reservoir, the principal source of drinking water for at least 3 million state residents, has been open for shore fishing since 1946. It also allows limited boat fishing these days. It is the largest inland water body in Massachusetts at 38.6 square miles.

The fishing season in the reservoir usually starts in mid-April but is often subject to change. Its clean waters are home to both cold water and warm water fish. The most common are lake trout, brown trout, brook trout, rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, chain pickerel, bullhead, white perch, smallmouth bass, and largemouth bass. If you want to target cold water species, the best area to find them is deep in the waters of the reservoir’s west branch from Gate #8. The shallower parts of the reservoir, which hold more warm-water species, are accessible from Gate #31 and Gate #43. 

Fishing in the reservation’s Area 1 can only be maximized on a boat. However, because this is a drinking water reservoir, its main priority is to keep its waters as clean as possible. To use a boat on the reservoir, you need to have a Quabbin Boat Seal. You can obtain it for your private boat as long as your vehicle satisfies their requirements. But to make your fishing experience more smooth-sailing and convenient, you can rent a boat with the seal for the day. If you’re fishing in Area 3, the one most accessible from Petersham, you cannot use your boat. You can only rent a canoe or kayak with a ready boat seal at the boat launches. There are two in Area 3 — the one north into Pottapaug Pond and another south into Quabbin main. 

Other excellent fishing access points within Quabbin Reservoir are accessible from Petersham; one is the Federated Women’s Club State Forest. Its entry point is at Gate 36. Aside from productive shore fishing, it is also a nice spot to bird-watch. 

The East Branch of the Swift River, on the other hand, is the biggest Quabbin Reservoir tributary. It is most known as a scenic trout stream and is beloved by fly fishing anglers. Its year-round cold water holds stocked rainbow trout, but you can find some brown trout and brook trout in there as well. Part of this east branch is the lovely Connors Pond. Likewise, it is a great trout fishing stream and is best fished on a kayak or canoe. Trolling and drifting work well in this pond. 

A few minutes outside Petersham, anglers can access another important Massachusetts reservoir that offers fantastic fishing. Wachusett Reservoir is open only for shore fishing an hour before sunrise and sunset. Despite these limitations, the waterbody offers productive fishing with its wide array of species available, including yellow perch, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish, brown trout, rainbow trout, lake trout, and Atlantic salmon. Yellow perch is a year-round favorite in the lake and is best-caught baitcasting with worms, crayfish, and minnows. 

Anglers can fish in the reservoir's two main tributaries, the Quinapoxet and Stillwater Rivers; fishing is permitted in three watershed ponds: West Waushacum Pond, Middle Waushacum Pond, and Muddy Pond. The Route 12 Causeway in West Boylston is the most popular access point in the watershed. It is the most accessible spot to fish for lake trout and Atlantic salmon, and it may be a little more crowded than some areas.


Top 10 Fish Species in Petersham, MA

The top 10 fish species in Petersham are lake trout, largemouth bass, yellow perch, Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, brown trout, smallmouth bass, bluegill, chain pickerel, and brook trout.

Seasonal Fishing

Fishing in the reservoirs in Petersham usually starts in mid-April. Therefore, it is ideal to start fishing in the area, especially for lake trout. However, more trout species bite more actively in the shallower streams from May to June. Yellow perch, Atlantic salmon, and sunfish are active all year round in this part of Massachusetts but are best targeted during their spawning season between February and July. 

Discover New Fascinations at Petersham

If you’re looking for a classic New England getaway that has managed to fly below most travelers’ radar, then Petersham should be your top choice. It is a fascinating destination with a well-preserved historic district, lots of pristine nature, and a friendly village vibe that will make you feel at home.

1. Book a Fishing Guide

Make sure your Quabbin Reservoir fishing experience is as smooth-sailing as possible with the help of a local guide who knows where the bites are. Not only will you have a productive fishing experience with a guide, but you can also easily follow all the regulations, which is essential when fishing in an area with tight restrictions.

2. Try the Sport of Curling

Petersham Curling Club is a historic volunteer-run curling club with members from all over the state. If you can’t join the club, then attend one of their special open house events, which will allow you to learn more about the sport and even try your hand at it.

3. Visit the Fantastic Fisher Museum

Learn more about the history and conservation efforts of the forests in Central New England at Harvard Forest’s Fisher Museum. Since 1941, this museum has been known to the public for its main diorama exhibit that details more than 200 years of landscape development in the region. The museum has been adding more dioramas to its collection, including a digital one made via high-tech LIDAR scans. 

Fish in Petersham and beyond.