Otis Reservoir

Last Updated: 4/2018
       Most sportsmen come to Otis in search of the catchable trout released by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. The fishing for these trout is good, well into mid summer, and picks up again in late September and October when the reservoir receives a fall stocking of fewer but larger trout. Most are taken by trolling small spinners and spoons, or by still-fishing the bottom by boat or from shore with dough-baits or worms.
        Smallmouth fishing is generally best from May through July. Although these fighters rarely reach trophy size and can be very spotty as to distribution within the lake, any angler who searches them out should find some action. Bottom-bouncing jigs, rubber slugs and live crayfish are very effective. The major problem is finding a spot away from water skiers and speedboats. Ice fishermen do well on yellow perch, large and smallmouth bass and black crappie, but chain pickerel are scarce. There is always the possibility of catching a trophy tiger muskie. (1998)
      The lake was originally formed across three ponds in 1865, by a dam across the Fall River, a tributary of the Farmington River created by the Farmington River Power Company. It was used for water storage, ensuring a steady supply of waterpower for mills along the Farmington River. In the early part of the twentieth century, the rise of the automobile led to the development of many seasonal cottages along the lakeshore. Building took place along most of the lakeshore and on many inland lots. These cottages were fairly inexpensive, being purchased by middle-class people: bankers, barbers, tradesmen, construction contractors, and others. A trend that accelerated in the 1980s was for wealthy people to purchase cottages and upgrade or replace them with expensive second homes. This trend continues. Many people from Connecticut and New York use these as weekend or vacation homes. In addition, many have converted their cottages into year-round residences. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otis_Reservoir
        This huge, 1,200-acre reservoir is a study in contrasts. While it is large, it is also relatively shallow, with a maximum depth of 48 feet and an average depth of about 15 feet. The southern third of the Tolland State Forest controls a third of the shoreline (primarily in the southern basin), yet the remainder is heavily developed with seasonal and permanent homes. One is likely to see canoes and cabin cruisers here on the same day. Aquatic vegetation is scarce, limited mostly to pond lilies growing in scattered clusters in the coves.
        Consider the length of this paddle and give yourself plenty of time.  Get a weather report before you start.  Wind can be a major factor regarding paddle time.  Consider bring at least one meal with you and if possible bring a stove.  One strategy is to make this into two paddles breaking it into 3 hours each.  Remember boating should be fun and not a marathon on water.
         The Reservoir is drawn down 8 feet each winter.  Keep this in mind during spring when it is still very low.
Boat Ramp South and Dismal Bay (3 miles)
       Leave the state boat ramp and head south along the shore.  This area is void of any structures and can accessed only on trails.  There are numerous opportunities to observed wildlife.  Keep your eyes sharp.  At the far southern part of the reservoir, there is a passage into Dismal Bay.  It is extremely shallow and is best explored when water levels are high.  You can spend an extra hour exploring around this marsh area.
      Continue North along the east side of shore north of Dismal Bay.  As the lake turns right you will come across your first summerhouse.
Southeast Bay (2.5 miles)
       Enter Southeast Bay by following the wooded shoreline.  Again this is a very isolated wooded area.  As you reach the far end you will meet an in-coming stream.  Now follow the north shore of the bay where numerous homes with small beaches and boat docks are. At the end of this stretch is a point of land, mile 5.5, with homes on Lands End Drive.
East Shore (3.5 miles)
         Turn north at the point and begin the long paddle north. Pass to your west a small island and then Clark Island, which is much larger and part of the State Forest. At mile 6.5 you will see to the west the passage to Southwest Bay.  The entire shore north is filled with homes, small docks, small beaches, and many boats. At about mile 8.2 you will enter a bay to the northeast. At 8.5 miles a streams comes in whose source is Big (Benton) Pond.  This stream is very shallow but in high spring waters it may be possible to paddle.  Now paddle west to a small point of land at mile 9.0.
West Shore to Kibbe Point (2.4 miles)
      Follow the shore westward into a small bay where West Shore Road follows and next turn southward following a wavy shoreline once again filled with homes. A point of land at 10.2 miles is where Hayre Island is with a solitary house. Travel house and pass a small island to your east (or left) at mile 10.8.  At mile 11.0 are Bay Point and a small bay.  Finally you will reach Kibbe Point at mile 11.4.
Southwest Bay (3 miles)
         Head west from Kibbe Point.  Note that the south side of the passage is Tolland State Forest.  Follow the shore to the northwest passing many homes and docks.  At about mile 12.0 you enter a bay between Gate Island and the mainland.  At 12.2 miles is North Gate Island Road.  You should be able to pass under the road and continue north to new outlet dam on Tolland Road.  At the west end of the dam is the alternate put-in at mile 12.5.  It’s a good place of a break and a short walk on the dam.
Head south along the west shore. At mile 12.9 you will come to the private Camp Overflow. Pass between the shore and a small island at mile 13.0.  Follow wavy shore as homes give way to woods and Tolland Road. At mile 13.8, an entrance to a marshy shallow bay can be entered in the State Forest.  Turn north and at mile 14.1 a swimming beach is a good stop in the State Forest.  Reach the Point of land at mile 14.4 and turn south (right) toward the boat ramp.
     Head south down between Clark Island and the mainland for 0.6 miles back to the State Forest boat ramp mile 15.0.

Skill Level:            Class 1 - Flat water
Estimated Time:   5 to 7 hours
Total Distance:     15.0 miles
USGS Map:           Otis, MA (7.5’x15’)
Dam near spillway:
   Nearest Address: 700 Tolland Road, East Otis, MA 01029
   Boat Launch: Car top launch only with limited parking.
   Position: 42-09.51 N 73-03.52 W
State Park Paved Boat Ramp:
   Nearest Address: Main Road, Tolland, MA 01034
   Boat Launch: Paved Boat Ramp for all types of boats.  Fee Required
   Position: 42-08.69 N 73-02.60 W​​
Pay Paved Boat Ramp:
  Launch Address: 1311 Reservoir Road, Otis, MA
  Boat Launch: Paved with a fee of $10.00
  Position: 42-10.41 N 72-02.56 W

Physical Features:
  • Area:                1200 acres
  • Max depth:         48 feet
  • Average Depth:  15 feet
  • Transparency: 
  • Terrain Type: Wooded, State Park
Fish Population
  • Last survey 1980
  • 6 species: chain pickerel, yellow perch, pumpkinseed, brown bullhead, golden shiner and white sucker.

Put In and Take Out:
  • Take Exit 2 in Lee of the Mass Pike.
  • At the end of the ramp turn left at the stop light.
  • Follow Route 20 East for 6.9 miles.
  • Turn right onto Route 8 South and continue for 5.6 miles to Otis center.
  • Turn left onto Route 23 east for 3.1 miles.
  • Turn right West Shore Road. Follow brown lead-in signs. Continue on West Shore Road (becomes Reservoir Rd. then Pine Road) for 0.8 miles.
  • First Put-In (A) at the end of Dam.
  • Turn left on to Tolland Road and continue for 2.6 miles to day-use area entrance and (B) boat ramp.

Car top near Dam: A car top launch with parking can be done on Tolland Road at one end of the new earthen dam near the overflow outlet to the reservoir. 
State Boat Ramp: Located on the western shore behind Clark Island. This is a surfaced ramp, adequate for everything from canoes to moderate draft boats.  There is parking for at least a dozen vehicles. You may be charged a $8.00 park usage fee.
State Pond Map
Tolland State Forest
     The centerpiece of this state forest, located in the rolling southern Berkshire Hills, is the 1,200-acre Otis Reservoir. The lake provides a wide variety of recreational activities. A public boat launch ramp is available, popular with fishermen seeking out trout and bass in the lake's depths.
        A unique and popular destination during the summer is the campground, located on a scenic and wooded peninsula. Also available is a day-use area with sandy beach and several multi-use trails. Hunting is open (in season) for all types of game including turkey, bear and deer.
Tolland State Forest
Campground Map
Trail Map
The Dam and Spillway Rehabilatated in 2012
Car Top Launch next to Spillway
Portable Restroom

  • State Park Beach
  • State Park Boat Ramp
  • ​Marina
    1471 Reservoir Road, Otis, MA
  • Pay Boat Ramp ($10.00)
    1311 Reservoir Road, Otis, MA

State Boat Ramp
Boating Regulations

  • Posted speed limit is 45 mph between sunrise and sunset.
  • Otis Reservoir has been designated and posted as a body of water that allows watersking.
  • Waterskiing is prohibited between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM on Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays, from Memorial Day to Labor Day in the area between Kibbe Point and Tolland State Forest Campground.
  • No person may operate any watercraft or personal watercraft in excess of headway speed when said watercraft is within 150 feet of any channel, tunnel, pier, mooring, wharf or floating structure or designated swimming area.
  • No watercraft, except pontoon or sail powered boats, may exceed 24 feet in length overall.
  • All boats using the Dismal Bay area shall not exceed 5 mph (No Wake).
Large Parking Area