Fishing Hotspots: 2022 Guide to Wachusett Reservoir - Part 1
Updated: Mar 16
On April 2nd, Wachusett Reservoir (aka the Chu’) opens for the 2022 season and I’m pumped! It’s one of my favorite places to fish for many reasons. The scenery along much of the reservoir is stunningly beautiful, and the variety and size of fish that live in this pristine waterbody is just as mind-blowing as the views from the top of Bull Rock. Well, at least it feels that way most of the time...….the truth is, I have a love/hate relationship with the Chu’.
I’ve only had the privilege of fishing it for the past two years since I’ve moved to this area, and I started with zero experience of my own, minimal reliable information based on research, and no one to ask about where to go, when to fish, using what, for what species, etc. let’s just say I got lost a LOT, and practiced a ton of casting.
If you are new to the Chu’, it can be overwhelming with 37 miles of shoreline to explore, nearly 30 fishing “gates” and no clear info on where the heck to park!
My first season, I fished there on about 200 out of the approx. 240 days of the season and it took me about 30 trips before I caught anything notable. But when I did, WOW, it was a huge smallmouth bass that fought like a pitbull and BAM, I was hooked. Since then, I’ve slowly, painfully and expensively, learned a few things about this amazing fishery, and I’m excited to share this knowledge you!
So fellow anglers, without further ado, here’s Part 1 of Fishing & Tech’s AI on the Chu’. I’ll be following-up next week with Part 2, so if you find this helpful, please make sure to come back.
If there’s enough interest, I may also release a customized, detailed Google map with all the hotspots prior to the season opener. Send me a message, or leave a comment and let us know!
Opening/Closing: The first week and last week tend to be closely monitored by the DCR police, so keep in mind that the reservoir opens for fishing 1 hour before sunrise and closes 1 hour after sunset. Check weather.gov or your preferred weather source for the latest sunrise/sunset times and plan accordingly or risk a ticket for trespassing.
Parking: You can park near any of the yellow gates as long as you do NOT block the gate, so a DCR vehicle can get through if necessary. This means you can usually find parking adjacent to the gate in the dirt – just make sure your car isn’t jutting out into the roadway or taking up the entire shoulder. Of course, a few of the gates have parking lots, so you are better off using those unless they are full.
Pack light: Be prepared to walk. Many of the good spots are a bit of a hike (10-30 minutes each way), so try and travel light. Don’t bring more than two rods and don’t carry your entire tackle box(es). Bring your favorite 5 lures and the basics in a small tackle bag that you can strap on. I prefer to use a backpack with a side pocket for a water bottle – another key item to bring. If I’m fishing with shiners, I’ll make sure that I keep the water level low in my bait bucket for the hike and fill it up as soon as I get to my spot. Need to temper the water anyway, so why carry the extra weight?
Bait: Shiners are great for most fish here, and I usually get them fresh from Eddie at B&A Bait & Tackle. If he’s closed for some reason, there’s a 24 hour self-serve bait shop that I also like about 15 minutes away – it’s called The Bait Shack in Leominster (832 Wachusett St). If you want to target the landlocked salmon, nightcrawlers are the way to go.
Lures: I’ve found that bigger lures have worked better for me in general here. Also, more vibration and water displacement tends to work better on days when the water is choppy and it’s windy, which is more often than not. I like jerkbaits, jointed plugs, large spoons (everyone loves Kastmasters, but I prefer Cleo's personally), large silver/gold dressed spinners, and swimbaits). I think crankbaits are an awesome choice as a search bait.
My Favorite Gates and Hotspots:
#6: This gate has easy access with a parking pull off that’s right off the main road – route 70. Walk past the gate and follow the trail all the way down to the first clear path down to the water. You should be on a little beach area facing a small lagoon with a steep drop-off. I’ve had great luck here for bass with shiners and big soft plastics or plugs. From here, face the water and walk left all the way up to the next long beach area. The bottom is sandy here and the drop-off becomes far more gradual. I’ve found some fatty rainbow trout here with spinners and smaller shiners on the bottom. I see Powerbait everywhere, so I assume people have luck with that here as well.
#7: This is the next gate as you continue down route 70 towards Boylston. There’s less parking here, but usually it’s still manageable. Walk down the trail to the water and you should hit an area with a few rocky shorelines and two islands in the reservoir that create narrower bands of water near the shoreline. In between the islands is a deep hole. Soak some shiners here and catch lake trout. Especially earlier in the season. Once it gets hot, this may not be deep enough for their liking. I’ve also caught some football smallmouth here as a bonus!
#16: In my experience, this is one of the less known and popular gates, which makes it especially enticing to me. The walk to the water is not that long or arduous either and once you get there, it’s a beautiful view of the South Bay. The main trail hooks to the right just before the rocky ledge over the water and there are a number of arteries that provide access to different outcroppings to fish from. I’ve caught a variety of fish from these rocks, depending on the season, from large perch, crappie to smallmouth and largemouth bass. Explore a bit on your own and see which spot you like the best. Fun fact – if you keep going further along the main trail, eventually you’ll get to the top of a hill with an amazing vista to watch the sunset from. When I was there last fall, someone had left a pretty sweet gravity chair to sit-in (check out the photo in the gallery). Thanks man!
Check This Wachusett Reservoir Map w/ Gates Above Noted For Reference
A Selection of Sweet Views and Sweeter Fish from the Recommended Gates & Spots
About the Author:
I’m Avi, an avid angler and total technophile based in MA. I obsessively research every new fishing spot I visit and gear I use, e.g. lines, lures, reels, rods, kayaks, fish finders, and so on, with a particular focus on the tech.
I love to fish! I first picked-up the hobby in NJ where I grew up thanks to neighbors and friends who were willing to take me, but after I got to HS, my interest tapered off. Fast forward 20 years, a career, kids, family, and all the BS that comes with being an middle-aged man (I think I qualify for this now anyway), and I picked it up again the summer of 2020. Since that first outing back, I've been at it every single morning before work and many evenings as well - which my GF and daughters love.
I'm not the most accomplished fisherman, nor the most talented, but I sure do love to explore new places, learn new techniques, try the best tackle, fish for new species, and whether I'm catching or not, I pursue it with all the enthusiasm of a kid begging to open their gifts on Christmas. It makes me feel ALIVE!