Spend some quiet time on the lake and you can observe fish feeding in the shallows, turtles, frogs and snakes feeding and sunning on the shoreline, mammals such as deer, foxes, bears and muskrats and a wide variety of resident and migratory birds. Some of our more interesting bird species include Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, Ospreys, Kingfishers and a rich diversity of migratory waterfowl including Common Loons. Please remember that we share the lake with wildlife and other humans and need to be mindful of our activities that can impact habitat and the need for solitude.
LOPA, the City of Pittsfield and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife conduct regular seining and electrofishing studies on Onota Lake to identify fish species and monitor the health of the fishery. Seining studies have been conducted for over 15 years by the Berkshire Environmental Research Center and LOPA. This research and periodic electrofishing surveys indicates a healthy fishery with a wide variety of species.
Fish species known to inhabit Onota Lake include:
Common Carp, Rock Bass, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Chain Pickerel, Northern Pike, Yellow Perch, White Perch, Black Crappie, Bluegill, Pumpkinseed, Redbreast Sunfish, Brown Bullhead, White Sucker, Golden Shiner, Banded Killifish, Bluntnose Minnow, Rainbow Smelt, Bowfin, Trout (stocked in spring and fall)
Welcome to Fishermen – Onota Lake is a great destination for fishermen of all types and abilities. Onota is heavily fished by individuals and club tournaments and offers opportunities for fishing all year round on open water or through the ice. There are plenty of places to fish from the shoreline in Pittsfield’s Burbank Park and on the causeway at Dan Casey Memorial Drive. Boat fisherman can fish weedy shallows, rocky shorelines and troll deep water areas. Onota Boat Livery is a great source of local fishing knowledge and they stock a great assortment of bait, tackle and boating supplies. Please remember that trash can kill fish and wildlife and spoils the outdoor experience for your fellow enthusiasts. Know the fishing regulations and remember to comply with Massachusetts regulations on the use of lead based sinkers which can have negative impacts on waterfowl and predatory birds such as Bald Eagles.
LOPA is committed to protecting Onota’s fishery and providing great fishing opportunities for everyone. We continue to fund and support scientific studies and are working hard to control invasive species, while restoring native aquatic plant populations that provide critical habitat for baitfish, invertebrates and protection for gamefish. We also work to protect and maintain healthy shorelines to create habitat for fish prey and prevent erosion and sediment deposition in the lake.
We ask that clubs who use Onota Lake for fishing tournaments, consider sharing their tournament catch data with LOPA. This creel data can be a rich source of information to supplement the scientific studies and help us understand the health of the fishery. Club organizers can send tournament data to email@example.com.
For boating fishermen, please remember to comply with the clean boating program.
Our fisheries are very sensitive to not only to pollutants but also to invasive plant and animal species. Fishermen often fish a variety of waters in Berkshire County and New England and there are several waterbodies close to Onota Lake that contain invasive plants and animals such as Zebra Mussels or Quagga mussels including Laurel Lake, Housatonic River, East/West Twin Lakes (CT), Zoar Lake (CT), Lillinonah Lake (CT), Lake Bomoseen (VT), Lake Hortonia (VT), Lake Champlain (VT), Ballston Lake (NY), Lake George (NY), Hudson River (NY) and others. Please take the time to clean your boat and trailer if you have fished in any waters suspected of harboring invasive species and help keep Onota Lake healthy.
More information about the clean boat certification program and how to clean your boat can be found here: https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2017/10/10/clean%20boat.pdf
Also consider this for fishing regulations: https://www.mass.gov/guides/freshwater-fishing-regulations