McDonough Lake Fishing Guide

McDonough Lake Fishing Guide

Hey there, fishing friends! Today, we’re diving into the serene waters of McDonough Lake in Connecticut. This hidden gem is perfect for a relaxing day of fishing, whether you’re a pro or just starting out. Let’s explore everything you need to know to make your trip to McDonough Lake a memorable one.

McDonough Lake Fishing Details

McDonough Lake is a picturesque spot with plenty to offer. Here’s a quick rundown of the lake’s details:

  • Water Surface: 800 acres
  • Shoreline: 20 miles
  • Average Depth: 25 feet
  • Max Depth: 60 feet
  • Surface Elevation: 180 feet
  • Location: Middlesex County, Connecticut
  • Coordinates: 41.5030° N, 72.6517° W
  • Accessibility: Public boat ramps, fishing piers, and shoreline access points
  • Type of Lake: Reservoir
  • Lake Amenities: Boat ramps, picnic areas, hiking trails, restrooms, and parking facilities

Nestled in the scenic Middlesex County, McDonough Lake is a man-made reservoir that offers not only fantastic fishing opportunities but also a variety of recreational activities. It’s a great spot for a family outing, with beautiful surroundings and well-maintained amenities.

Types of Fish in McDonough Lake

McDonough Lake is home to a diverse range of fish species, making it an angler’s paradise. Here’s what you can expect to catch and where you might find them:

Largemouth Bass

  • Where to Find Them: Shallow, weedy areas near the shoreline and around submerged structures.
  • Best Time to Catch: Early morning and late evening during the warmer months.

Smallmouth Bass

  • Where to Find Them: Rocky areas and deeper waters, especially around underwater structures.
  • Best Time to Catch: Spring and fall are ideal for smallmouth bass fishing.

Northern Pike

  • Where to Find Them: Weedy areas and along the edges of drop-offs.
  • Best Time to Catch: More active in cooler months, particularly spring and fall.

Yellow Perch

  • Where to Find Them: Schools in deeper waters during the day, moving to shallower areas in the evening.
  • Best Time to Catch: They bite well year-round, but spring and fall are the best times.


  • Where to Find Them: Prefer deeper, cooler waters, near the bottom in rocky or sandy areas.
  • Best Time to Catch: Late evening and night during the summer months.


  • Where to Find Them: Deeper holes and around submerged structures.
  • Best Time to Catch: Nighttime, especially during the warmer months.


  • Where to Find Them: Shallow waters near vegetation and structures.
  • Best Time to Catch: Spring and summer are the best times for bluegill fishing.

Best Fishing Baits, Lures, and Tackle for McDonough Lake Fishing

Choosing the right bait and tackle is key to a successful day of fishing at McDonough Lake. Here are some recommendations:

Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass

  • Baits: Live bait like minnows and worms.
  • Lures: Plastic worms, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and jigs.
  • Tackle: Medium to heavy spinning or baitcasting rods with 8-12 lb test line.

Northern Pike

  • Baits: Live bait such as large minnows.
  • Lures: Large spoons, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and swimbaits.
  • Tackle: Heavy rods with strong braided line (20-30 lb test).

Yellow Perch

  • Baits: Worms, minnows, and small insects.
  • Lures: Small jigs, spinners, and spoons.
  • Tackle: Light spinning rods with 4-6 lb test line.


  • Baits: Nightcrawlers, minnows, and leeches.
  • Lures: Jigs, crankbaits, and spinners.
  • Tackle: Medium spinning rods with 8-10 lb test line.


  • Baits: Chicken liver, nightcrawlers, stink bait, and cut bait.
  • Lures: Not commonly used; focus on natural baits.
  • Tackle: Heavy rods with strong line (15-20 lb test).


  • Baits: Worms, crickets, and small insects.
  • Lures: Small jigs and spinners.
  • Tackle: Ultra-light spinning rods with 2-4 lb test line.

Best Fishing Spot Locations at McDonough Lake Fishing

Finding the right spot can make a big difference. Here are some of the best fishing locations at McDonough Lake:

Near the Dam

The area around the dam is great for bass and walleye fishing. The deeper waters and structure attract these fish.

North End of the Lake

The northern part of the lake has several coves and inlets, perfect for bass and pike. These quieter areas provide a serene fishing experience.

Bridge Areas

Fishing near bridges can be highly productive, especially for bass and perch. The structure provides shelter and attracts fish.

Deep Holes

For catfish, look for the deepest parts of the lake. These areas tend to hold larger catfish, especially during the hotter months when they seek cooler waters.

Weedy Shorelines

Northern pike and largemouth bass love to hide in weedy areas. These spots are ideal for using lures that mimic prey hiding among the weeds.

Rocky Shores

Smallmouth bass and walleye can often be found near rocky shores and underwater structures.

Fishing Tips and Recommendations for McDonough Lake Fishing

Fishing at McDonough Lake can be a blast if you follow some key tips and recommendations:

  • Early Morning and Late Evening: These times are often the best for fishing as fish are more active.
  • Weather Conditions: Overcast days can be ideal for fishing because fish are more likely to come to the surface.
  • Seasonal Patterns: Spring and fall are generally the best seasons for fishing as fish are more active during these times.
  • Stay Quiet: Fish can be spooked by loud noises, so try to keep noise levels down.
  • Use a Fish Finder: A fish finder can help you locate schools of fish and underwater structures.
  • Try Different Baits: If one type of bait isn’t working, switch it up. Sometimes fish can be picky.
  • Be Patient: Fishing requires patience. If you don’t catch anything right away, don’t get discouraged.
  • Check Local Regulations: Make sure you’re aware of any fishing regulations and limits for the lake.

McDonough Lake Fishing Reviews

McDonough Lake has received plenty of positive feedback from anglers. Here are five reviews from happy fishers:

  1. Jake M.: “McDonough Lake is my favorite spot! I’ve caught some of my biggest bass here. The scenery is beautiful and the fishing is always great.”
  2. Laura P.: “Had a fantastic day fishing with my family. We caught bass, perch, and even a couple of catfish. The kids had a blast!”
  3. Tom S.: “This lake never disappoints. Great variety of fish and the facilities are top-notch. Highly recommend it for a day trip.”
  4. Emily W.: “We had an amazing time at McDonough Lake. The fish were biting, and we loved the peaceful surroundings. Will definitely be back!”
  5. Dave K.: “McDonough Lake is a hidden gem. The water is clear, the fish are plentiful, and it’s a perfect place for both beginners and experienced anglers.”

Top-Rated Closest RV Parks, RV Resorts, and Campground for McDonough Lake Fishings

Planning to stay a while? Here are five top-rated RV parks and campgrounds near McDonough Lake:

1. River Highlands State Park

  • Features: Scenic sites, hiking trails, river access.
  • Amenities: Restrooms, picnic areas, playground.
  • Hookups: No hookups.
  • Distance to Lake: Approximately 8 miles.

2. Wolf’s Den Family Campground

  • Features: Large sites, swimming pool, playground.
  • Amenities: Restrooms, showers, camp store, laundry facilities.
  • Hookups: Water and electric.
  • Distance to Lake: Approximately 10 miles.

3. GrandView CampResort

  • Features: Wooded sites, fishing pond, mini-golf.
  • Amenities: Restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, Wi-Fi.
  • Hookups: Water, electric, and sewer.
  • Distance to Lake: Approximately 12 miles.

4. Nelson’s Family Campground

  • Features: Spacious sites, swimming pool, recreation hall.
  • Amenities: Restrooms, showers, camp store, laundry facilities.
  • Hookups: Water, electric, and sewer.
  • Distance to Lake: Approximately 14 miles.

5. Haddam Meadows State Park

  • Features: Riverside sites, fishing, boating access.
  • Amenities: Restrooms, picnic areas.
  • Hookups: No hookups.
  • Distance to Lake: Approximately 16 miles.

McDonough Lake Fishing Summary

McDonough Lake is a fantastic destination for anyone looking to enjoy a day of fishing surrounded by nature’s beauty. With its variety of fish species, excellent fishing spots, and helpful amenities, it’s no wonder why this lake is a favorite among local and visiting anglers alike. Whether you’re casting from the shore or out on a boat, you’re sure to have a memorable fishing experience at McDonough Lake.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for McDonough Lake Fishing

1. Do I need a fishing license to fish at McDonough Lake? Yes, a valid Connecticut fishing license is required for anyone over the age of 16.

2. Are there boat rentals available at McDonough Lake? No, there are no boat rentals directly at the lake, so you’ll need to bring your own boat or rent one from a nearby facility.

3. Can I swim in McDonough Lake? Swimming is not allowed in McDonough Lake due to safety concerns and water quality regulations.

4. Are there any fishing tournaments held at McDonough Lake? Yes, various local fishing clubs and organizations hold tournaments at the lake. Check local listings for upcoming events.

5. Is there a fee to access the lake? There is no fee for public access to McDonough Lake, but some areas may have parking fees.

And there you have it! Everything you need to know for a fantastic fishing trip to McDonough Lake. Pack your gear, grab your bait, and get ready for an unforgettable day on the water. Happy fishing!

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Directions To: McDonough Lake Fishing Guide

Best Fishing Bait, Lures & Tackle

Here’s some of the best fishing bait, fishing lures and fishing tackle McDonough Lake Fishing Guide: