Watch: Massachusetts Angler Catches Potential Record Lake Trout from Shore

by Vern Evans

Fishing season opened on April 6 on Massachusetts’ sprawling, 4,400-acre Wachusett Reservoir, and the state lake trout record was broken twice within the week. Most recently, new pending record holder John Stamas caught and released a 39-inch laker on April 9. The fish weighed in at roughly 20 pounds on a hand scale.

Stamas and friend Michael Xu started fishing at dawn. By mid-day, all they had to show for their efforts was a small lake trout and a 3-pound smallmouth.

“I’m really a smallmouth bass angler, and we get some good ones from Wachusett weighing nearly 5 pounds,” Stamas told Outdoor Life. “We were fishing heavy football-shaped jigs for bass in an area where some big lakers have been caught. That’s when I got a strong mid-day strike on a three-quarter-ounce, blue-and-black football jig with a craw plastic trailer. At first, I thought it was a big smallmouth, but it was a lunker laker.”

Stamas used bait-casting tackle with 12-pound test fluorocarbon line, as the lake is ultra-clear and deep. Because he uses a strong reel drag, the fight was a fast and furious brawl.

“I want a quick fight with fish I release, so I use a strong drag and horse them in,” says Stamas, 30, from Leominster, Massachusetts. “My priority is to land them quickly, within a minute, measure and release them unharmed.

“The laker didn’t pull line against my drag. But it was rolling at the surface and I thought the line would break or the jig would pull out.”

Fortunately, his tackle held, and he muscled the trout onto shore in just 60 seconds. He measured and released it quickly, but not before taking photos to submit to the state for record purposes. The 39-inch trout had a 19-inch girth, and weighed about 20 pounds on a portable scale.

“We couldn’t get an accurate weight of the fish because it was wiggling a lot,” says Stamas. “The scale would read 19 pounds, then 21 pounds. The numbers were jumping all around. We figured 20 pounds was about right. Then we released it about one minute after landing it.”

Xu videoed the entire fish fight and posted it to his YouTube channel.

Stamas is a regular when it comes to submitting his catches to the Massachusetts Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program, which garners award pins for anglers if they qualify. Stamas has been awarded several pins by the state for his big Wachusett Reservoir smallmouths, including a special gold pin for catching and releasing the longest Massachusetts smallmouth in 2022. He estimated that 22.5-inch smallmouth bass to weigh just under 5 pounds.

If Stamas’ 39-inch lake trout holds up as the largest caught in Massachusetts in 2024, he’ll receive a special gold pin for the fish. Odds are good the fish will take that honor, since the state record lake trout is currently a 33-inch, 25-pound 7-ounce fish that William Roy caught from the Quabbin Reservoir in 2016.

Stamas has fished the Wachusett Reservoir tirelessly over the past four years after moving to the area. Anglers can only fish “Chu” from the shoreline. Boats aren’t permitted since the reservoir serves the Boston area.

“We walk a long way to get to the best fishing spots on Chu,” Stamas explains. “It’s nothing to walk three to five miles around the lake in a day of fishing.”

The Wachusett Reservoir has a 37-mile shoreline. The reservoir was impounded in 1905, and has depths of over 100 feet of air-clear water.

Stamas will get a replica mount of the 39-inch laker, and he already knows where he’ll display it.

“I’ve got a spot on the wall in my office near a 45-inch barracuda I caught off Miami,” he says. “I think they’ll look pretty good together on that wall.”

Read the full article here

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