Onota Lake

Last Updated: 11/2013
        The dominant fishery here involves the catchable trout. The MDFW stocks thousands of trout for put and take fishing every spring and fall. Most of these trout are caught within a month or two following their release, but Onota has long been known for its ability to produce trophy brown trout. As a result it has been designated as special brown trout water, with a 15 inch one per day limit on browns. This is done to enhance the ability to produce trophies. The bonus salmon provide another outstanding opportunity to catch a trophy and will continue to be stocked as long as they are available.
     Northern pike fishing is very popular during the winter. Onota does not produce many pike, but it has a reputation for breaking state records for the species. While the fishing for pickerel, bass, yellow perch and sunfish is good, most of the harvest occurs along with the pike and trout fishing. Carp fishermen should target this lake; a new state record is probably swimming in its depths.
             There is a double concrete boat ramp and parking lot located on the southeast shore about 1/3 of the way from the southern end. The ramp is suitable for virtually any class of trailer boat and there is adequate parking for 75 vehicles. There is also a cement-fishing pier located in one of the better fishing areas.
              The paddle around the lake is a true mix of landscape.  For about 1.5 you will ride along Burbank Park and for another 1.5 miles of the paddle you will be experiencing woods and open fields.  As for the remainder of the paddle, summer and year round homes dot the shoreline mixed with roadway and summer camp.  The views of the mountains are spectacular no matter the season.  On an early morning paddle with the air still, the reflection of the mountains, trees, and sky can take your breath away.  This is one paddle you should not miss if you wish to experience lakes in the Berkshires.
         Onota Lake, as well as Lake Pontoosuc, is the head waters of the west branch of the Hoosatonic River.  Both would be considered suburban in character and extensively used by the public at large.  This means a great deal of boat traffic on weekend and especially during the summer months.
East Side and Northward
      After launching, head north around a small peninsula in Burnbank Park.  There is a small beach used in the summertime.  Following the coast, Lakeway Drive and a walking trail works its way north to another beach with a building and parking lot.  This entire coast is heavily used for fishing and swimming.
North of Burbank Park and East of Thomas Island you will enter a cove.  The coved is lined with homes.  A temporary single lane bridge has been constructed over an old bridge that needs replacing.  When the water is low, you can just squeeze with a kayak under the bridge otherwise, it is impassible. There is a current under the bridge that eventually leads to a dam and an outlet stream.
       Travel north along the cove and you will come to the only commercial marina, Onota Boat Livery 463 Pecks Road, on the lake.  Follow the shoreline around the East side of Thomas Island and exit the cove.  You have traveled 2.0 miles since the boat launch.
North End
        As you travel north on the West side of Thomas Island you pass homes and docks and see a causeway in the distance.  Travel along the causeway, Dan Casey Memorial Blvd..  Water enters from the other side from a small pond being fed by several brooks.  The causeway is another place where many people like to fish.  The water rises close to the road and can be flooded during heavy rains.
For over half a mile, as you turn south along the west shore, there are no buildings, only trees and marsh where you may spot some wildlife.
West Side
       At about 4.0 miles into your paddle, or halfway, on the west shore a beach for a summer camp will appear.  This Camp Winadu for boys (formerly Camp Stevenson Witawentin). 
        Another half a mile brings you to Apple Tree Point lined with summer homes.   For the next mile follow coast to a small island.  You have a choice of paddling around on the open lake side or squeezing through a pipe culvert that passes under a private drive way.
South Side
        At about 6 miles into your paddle you will enter a cove in the south west side of the lake.  The houses and docks become sparse but the size of the homes become much larger and fields rather than woods characterize the shore.    Follow the south shore eastward and you will eventually come to a small shallow cove void of structures.  Turn north around the south peninsula that is forested.  Finally, you will enter the south cove.  Though the peninsula is wooded, the south shore is field lined with docks that are part of large homes located a fair distance from the shore along West Street.  For the most part, this area is quiet most of the day.
East Side
       Travel north for your final stretch.  The shore wooded void of any buildings.  On the first southern most section hidden behind a layer of forest and not visible is Hillcrest Family Health Center, which is part of Berkshire Health Systems (berkshirehealthsystems.org). The rest of the wooded shore is part of Burbank Park where you can occasionally see a trail that allows access to several spots to fish.
      Finally you will see the fishing pier followed by the boat launch as you finish you 8-mile paddle.

Skill Level:            Class 1 - Flat water
Estimated Time:    2.5 to 3 hour
Total Distance:       8 miles
USGS Map: Pittsfield West, MA (7.5’x15’)
Launch Address:    

300 Lakeway Dr, Pittsfield, MA 01201, Burbank Park
Boat Launch: Paved State Boat Launch.
Position:    42-27.95 N 73-16.8 W    
Physical Features:
  • Area:                617 acres
  • Max depth:         66 feet
  • Average Depth:  22 feet
  • Transparency:    17 feet
  • Terrain Type: Summer Homes, Woods, City Park
Fish Population
  • Last survey 1993
  • Northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, brown trout, chain pickerel, yellow perch, white perch, bluegill, pumpkinseed, black crappie, rock bass, brown bullhead, white sucker, carp, golden shiner, common shiner and rainbow smelt. There are also reports of white catfish. Bonus brood stock Atlantic salmon (some weighing more than ten pounds) in the spring.     
Put-In/Take-Out (14.2 miles, about 25 minutes)
  • From US Route 90 (Massachusetts Turnpike) take exit 2.
  • At the end of the ramp turn right on to Housatonic Street.  You are on Route 20 West.
  • Follow Route 20 through town and toward Lenox and Pittsfield.
  • Route 20 and 7 will merge. You are in Lenox, continue north.
  • Turn left when Route 20 turns left (west) in Pittsfield, you are now on West Housatonic Street.
  • Turn right on South Merriam Street.
  • Turn left on West Street
  • Turn right at stop light on to Valentine Road. Pass Taconic High School on right.
  • Turn left at sign for Burbank Park on to Lakeway Drive.
  • Stay left (straight) to boat launch.
State Pond Map
Paved Boat Ramp
A Popular Fishing Pier
Burbank Park has picnic tables, beach and shoreline trails
Large Parking Area