Meet your new Fish and Game Commissioner

Ron Amidon of Templeton has recently been appointed by Governor Charlie Baker as the new Commissioner of the Department of Fish & Game (DFG). He replaced former Commissioner George N. Peterson, Jr. who decided to step down and spend more time with his family. The DFG oversees the Commonwealth’s marine and freshwater fisheries, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, plants, all endangered species, and the habitats that support them.
Amidon, whose career has been in large scale construction management, has spent over 30 years actively involved in the Commonwealth’s sporting community. He has served as the President of the Otter River Sportsmen’s Club, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Worcester County League of Sportsmen’s Clubs, President of the Gun Owners Action League, and Moderator of the Massachusetts Conservation Alliance. He is also heavily involved with Ducks Unlimited and Trout Unlimited and has a strong interest in identifying cold water habitats for trout, protecting wildlife habitat and supporting restoration of upland bird habitat. He is known and respected across the state as a staunch defender and protector of our outdoor sports heritage.
I have the good fortune to be able to call Ron a friend. I first met Ron and his wife Rena a few years back while camped along the banks of the East Branch of the Westfield River in Chesterfield. My wife Jan and I met and took an immediate liking to them. Through conversations, it didn’t take long to learn that Ron is a staunch defender of our hunting and fishing heritage and protector of the environment. He doesn’t just talk about these issues but takes action as witnessed by his commitments listed above.
He’s not a bad fisherman either as the attached picture shows. That wild brook trout, which he caught on a fly rod and quickly released, weighed more than 7 3/4 lbs. The picture was taken while Ron and a group of anglers fished the Minipi River system in Labrador last year. Local Attorney Michael Shepard of Dalton and I were in that group.
You get to know a guy that you share a lodge with in the middle of God’s Country. In the early twilight hours, sipping a steaming cup of coffee, while waiting for the guides to wake up, Ron and several of us would discuss hunting and fishing issues of the day. Having gotten to know Ron better, I can’t think of a more qualified person to head up the DFG.
In stepping down, Peterson, who had served as Commissioner since February of 2015 said, “I am very grateful to Governor Baker for giving me the opportunity to serve as Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game. I will cherish the time I spent working directly with the professional staff on the issues I deeply care about—habitat conservation, fisheries management, ecological restoration, and enhancement of public access to the Bay State’s wildlife, lands and waters, and outdoor activities such as fishing and hunting.”
Prior to his appointment as Commissioner, Peterson had served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for 20 years, representing the 9th Worcester District, and was the Assistant Minority Leader when he left the House of Representatives. He is an avid recreational fisherman and hunter. He is also a U.S. Army veteran.
Outdoor sportsmen could always count on Representative Peterson to support and promote their causes on Beacon Hill and were very appreciative of his accomplishments as the Commissioner. While Commissioner, he came out here to the Berkshires on numerous occasions to attend various functions and was on a first name basis with many of us. I’m sure you will join me in thanking him for his service in our military, in our House of Representatives and as F&W Commissioner and wish him the best in the future.
HVA Paddle Trip
On Tuesday, July 18, the Housatonic Valley Association will have a Beginners’ Paddle Trip from 4:30 to 7:00pm. There will be a free introduction to canoeing on a flatwater stretch of the Housatonic River in Glendale. Instruction will be provided by a certified instructor and canoes and equipment will be provided. Learn how to safely enter and exit a canoe, the basic strokes and how to steer. Program support is provided by Housatonic Heritage. Preregistration required. More information provided upon registering. Call HVA at 413-298-7024 or email adixon@hvatoday.

Report Fish Kills This Summer
With the warming up of our lakes and ponds, fish kills may occur. The sight of dead and dying fish along the shores of a favorite pond or river can be distressing and can prompt concerns about pollution. However, according to MassWildlife, the vast majority of summer fish kills reported are natural events.
Natural fish kills are generally the result of low oxygen levels, fish diseases, or spawning stress. Depletion of dissolved oxygen is one of the most common causes of natural fish kills. Water holds less dissolved oxygen at higher temperatures; in shallow, weedy ponds oxygen can be especially low as plants consume oxygen at night. Spawning of fish such as Sunfish and Largemouth Bass in late spring and early summer occurs in shallow waters along the shores. These densely crowded spawning areas become susceptible to disease outbreaks, especially as water temperatures increase. The result is an unavoidable natural fish kill, usually consisting of only one or two species of fish.
To be sure there isn’t a pollution problem, it’s always best to report fish kills (Environmental Police 1(800) 632-8075). A MassWildlife fisheries biologist will determine if the kill is a natural event or the result of pollution. When pollution is the suspected culprit, MassWildlife notifies the Department of Environmental Protection, who then conducts a formal investigation of the water and affected fish to determine the source of pollution.

Thanks to those who run the sportsmen’s clubs

 

Sportsmen’s clubs serve many purposes. Among other things, they introduce people to the outdoor sports by conducting mentoring programs which teach youths how to hunt turkeys, pheasants, duck and deer. They have spring fishing derbies, ice fishing derbies, bow hunting leagues, archery in the school programs, trout in the classroom programs, teach trap and skeet shooting, and more. Working with the Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) and the Housatonic Valley Association (HVA), they are involved with river clean-ups, invasive plant eradication, and more. Working with MassWildlife, they are involved with the BOW (Becoming an Outdoorswoman) Program, paraplegic hunts, school trout stocking programs, etc. Some groups work through OLLI (Osher Life Long Institute) to teach as fly fishing.

The days when dad or uncle taught the kids how to do all of these things are almost gone. Now, they have expert club mentors who take the place of parents who perhaps no longer participate in these sports, or a single parent who does not have the time or ability to teach them.

In many cases club delegates serve on the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, which is the umbrella organization for the individual clubs. The League, in turn, is a member of the Massachusetts Sportsmen’s Council, the umbrella organization for the individual County Leagues across Massachusetts. The League is also affiliated with the Gun Owner’s Action League (GOAL) and the NRA which are often on Beacon Hill in Boston, fighting to preserve sportsmen’s rights to own guns. These organizations require membership fees.

The sportsmen’s clubs have to pay for the club house maintenance, real estate taxes, loan interest, teaching materials, hatchery fish, etc. Some clubs have to maintain many acres of land and fencing. Some raise bunnies or pheasants. Others maintain trap or skeet shooting ranges, target ranges, etc. Someone has to mow, snowplow, maintain the property and cook for functions.

The annual club dues are not sufficient to pay for all of this. It is necessary to obtain added funds through special raffles, game dinners, turkey shoots (they don’t really shoot turkeys), banquets, facility rentals, etc. Someone has to plan, organize, direct and control these activities and funding and those duties usually fall upon the club officers and directors. Running a sportsman’s club requires a significant investment of time, and those who do so ask for nothing in return.

The annual Silvio O. Conte Awards Banquet tries to recognizes them with the Sportsmen of the Year Award, Lifetime Achievement Award, etc. In this column, I would also like to give a shout out to those dedicated individuals. Please know that for every officer listed here, there are many more directors and committee chairpersons behind the scenes who are assisting or advising them. The following listing of clubs are those active in the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen:
Pittsfield Sportsmen’s Club: Its President is Travis Delratez, 1st VP is Stanley Bushey, 2nd VP is Clem Caryofilles, Treasure is Mike Furey and Clerk & Secretary is David Pemble.
Taconic Chapter, Trout Unlimited: President is John Burns, VP is Henry Sweren, Treasurer is Bill Travis, and Secretary position is unfilled.
Berkshire Beagle Club: President is Rodney Hicks, VP is Al Costa, Treasurer is Tim Cahoon and Secretary is Pat Barry.
Lenox Sportsmen’s Club: President is Tom Ferguson, VP is Mark Jester, Treasurer is Bernie Abramson and Secretary is Derek Dubin.
Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club: President is Rob McDermott, 1st VP is Wayne Myers, 2nd VP is John Mange, Treasurer is Bonnie Buffoni and Secretary is David St Peter

Lee Sportsmen’s Association: President is Cliff White, VP is George Brooks, the Treasurer position is unfilled, and Secretary is John Polastri.

Cheshire Rod & Gun Club: President is Bill Bolotin, VP is Glenn Reynolds, Treasurer is Rick Gurneyand and Secretary is Chris Smith.

Adams Outdoor for Youth: President is Jody Goff, VP is Mike LeFebvre, Treasurer is Tom Tinney and Secretary is Kaitlyn Kline.

East Mountain Sportsmen’s Club: President is Steve Haskins, VP is Wayne Mclain, Treasurer is Travis McCarthy and Secretary is Kris Kirby.

Sheffield Sportsmen’s Club: President is Robby Brownson, VP is Jim Olmstead, Treasurer is Lee Donsbough and Secretary is Ryan Shimmon

Onota Fishing Club: President is Edward Blake, Treasurer is Chuck Lennon and Sergeant-at- Arms is Dick Barns.

Alford Brook Club: President is Earl Albert, VP is Ray Murray, treasurer is Dr. Bruce Person r and Secretary is Attorney Ed McCormic.

Berkshire County League of Sportsmen: President is Michael Kruszyna, VP is Wayne Mclain, Treasurer is Dan Kruszyna and Secretary is me. Those who serve as delegates to the Mass Sportsmen’s Council, GOAL and the NRA and who must travel considerable distances to attend monthly meetings are Clem Caryofilles, Mark Jester, Pete McBride and Gary Wilk.

Many thanks to all the dedicated members. My apologies for any errors or omissions.

Summer Sizzler winners

The winners of the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club Summer Sizzler drawing are: Grand Prize – Terry Miller, 2nd Prize – Lou Puleri, 3rd Prize – Joanne Farrell, 4th Prize – Pete Skowronski and 5th Prize – Clem Caryofilles.
Deer Antlerless Permits
The deadline to apply for an Antlerless Deer Permit is July 16. There is no fee to apply but a $5 fee is charged if you are awarded a permit during the Instant Award Period starting August 1.
Thank you Massachusetts waterfowl hunters!
According to MassWldlife, since 1975, you’ve contributed over $1.7million in Massachusetts Waterfowl Stamp funds to Ducks Unlimited. An additional $15million has been leveraged by DU, other states, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to secure and restore over 18,307 acres of waterfowl habitat across New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador. The Estabrooks Marsh in New Brunswick at the head of the Bay of Fundy was recently dedicated to Massachusetts by Ducks Unlimited Canada in “recognition of this important partnership.”

Revival of a classic
If you are a baby boomer fisherman or older, you knew the name of the pictured lure. And if you are younger, chances are that when you saw that picture, you said,”Oh yes, I saw one of those in Dad’s (or Grandpa’s) old fishing tackle box”. If you didn’t cast that lure into our lakes and ponds in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and catch a lot of fish, something was wrong. Just mentioning that lure congers up warm and joyful memories alongside those who were most special to us – our parents or grandparents. The lure is the Al’s Goldfish.
Al’s Goldfish Company was founded by Al Stuart of Indian Orchard, Massachusetts. After World War II, Al returned home from military duty and started up a local sporting goods store. Soon thereafter, Al’s Goldfish appeared on the American fishing landscape. “There is uncertainty as to whether Stuart purchased the Al’s Goldfish from somebody or if he actually invented it himself” said John L. Occhialini, who later purchased the company. “ But he was the one that developed it for sure and he started producing it in the basement of his sporting goods store.” From 1953 through 1973, Al’s Goldfish sold nearly 1 million lures each year.
The original name for the lure was Stuart’s Goldfish but was renamed Al’s Goldfish in 1954. It was popular locally and it grew to the point where in 1954 he incorporated Al’s Goldfish Company. Stuart started out by stamping the lure out of brass but over time he refined and enhanced the finish using 22 karat gold. “He was actually ahead of his time in manufacturing production methods for the early 1950s,” said Occhialini. “He stamped out everything himself, did the plating and so forth.”
Stuart was also a devoted world traveler and in his travels he came up with many new ideas for his lures and he discovered ways to save money on manufacturing costs by purchasing hooks and materials overseas. Stuart was also ahead of his time as a savvy marketer and businessman. He cozied up to local media and sought out sports writers throughout the country, thus keeping Al’s Goldfish Company in the public’s eyes and ears.
“The big jump for the Al’s Goldfish was when he teamed up with Gadabout Gaddis in the early 1960s,” said Occhialini. “That’s when Al’s Goldfish really took off and really was one of the largest selling lures at that time.” The boomers remember Gadabout Gaddis (Roscoe Vernon) who was widely known as the pioneer of outdoor and fishing television. He inspired millions of Americans to venture out and enjoy the outdoors, to take up fishing and the cause of conservation. His TV show aired locally, right after the Friday Night Fights.
“Gadabout Gaddis actually sold a kit on his TV shows that was produced by Al’s Goldfish Company,” Occhialini explained. “And it included the Al’s Goldfish in it of course. As part of that arrangement, Gadabout Gaddis mentioned it on his TV show many times, and that’s when it really became a national seller. It soon became one of the best selling fishing lures in the country from the late 1950s through the 1970s. “It was one of the three biggest sellers in the 60s. According to the Stuarts, they were shipping out tractor trailer loads of them.
After Al Stuart passed away, his daughter inherited the business. With her husband, she ran the company for a number of years. In that time, the operation was downsized considerably, and many cost-conscious changes were made to the lures and the manufacturing processes. This unfortunately had a negative effect on the quality of the product and the prosperity of the company itself. By 1999, the advancing age of the owners and waning interest in the company led to their decision to retire and sell Al’s Goldfish Company, to Occhialini.
Upon acquiring the company, Occhialini revived the products, eliminating some of the cheaper, poor-selling plastic lures and concentrated on boosting the classic lineup of metal lures. He brought back the genuine 22 karat gold plating, which had been substituted with a cheaper alternative under the previous owners, in spite of the $300 an ounce cost of gold at the time.
Stamped and cast in marine brass, the lure is as durable today as it was over 50 years ago. “We were still using the same dies that Al Stuart used,” professed Occhialini. “So there hasn’t been a whole lot of change in fifty years. Once it is cast, the Goldfish is plated in shiny metallic finishes that include genuine gold, nickel, copper, reflective prism, and other colors. The lures have always been made In America. The blanks are made in Massachusetts, the paint is applied in Rhode Island, the split rings are made in Wisconsin, and the company headquarters is in Maine. All lures are hand-painted with hand-mixed color by Bob Christopher.

In 2006, Field and Stream magazine named Al’s Original Goldfish lure one of the “50 Greatest Lures of All Time.” In 2007, the lure made Field and Stream’s Top 10 Best Trout Lures of all time.
In May, 1966, Dana Deblois caught a 19 lbs 10 oz brown trout out of Wachusett Reservoir using the Al’s Goldfish 1/4 oz Gold Orange. It still remains the state record brown after all these years, making it the oldest Massachusetts state record catch.

Al’s Goldfish Company is now headquartered in Biddeford, Maine. The company was bought by Mike Lee in 2015 with a goal of continuing the American lure-manufacturing tradition.
Contact Information: Mike Lee, Al’s Goldfish Lure Company, Biddeford, Maine, mike@alsgoldfish.com, phone 413-543-1524.

Fishing Derby
The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation in Hartsville-New Marlborough is having a free children’s fishing derby next Saturday, July 8 from 9 to 10:30 AM at its lower pond. Children aged 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Revival of a classic
If you are a baby boomer fisherman or older, you knew the name of the pictured lure. And if you are younger, chances are that when you saw that picture, you said,”Oh yes, I saw one of those in Dad’s (or Grandpa’s) old fishing tackle box”. If you didn’t cast that lure into our lakes and ponds in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and catch a lot of fish, something was wrong. Just mentioning that lure congers up warm and joyful memories alongside those who were most special to us – our parents or grandparents. The lure is the Al’s Goldfish.
Al’s Goldfish Company was founded by Al Stuart of Indian Orchard, Massachusetts. After World War II, Al returned home from military duty and started up a local sporting goods store. Soon thereafter, Al’s Goldfish appeared on the American fishing landscape. “There is uncertainty as to whether Stuart purchased the Al’s Goldfish from somebody or if he actually invented it himself” said John L. Occhialini, who later purchased the company. “ But he was the one that developed it for sure and he started producing it in the basement of his sporting goods store.” From 1953 through 1973, Al’s Goldfish sold nearly 1 million lures each year.
The original name for the lure was Stuart’s Goldfish but was renamed Al’s Goldfish in 1954. It was popular locally and it grew to the point where in 1954 he incorporated Al’s Goldfish Company. Stuart started out by stamping the lure out of brass but over time he refined and enhanced the finish using 22 karat gold. “He was actually ahead of his time in manufacturing production methods for the early 1950s,” said Occhialini. “He stamped out everything himself, did the plating and so forth.”
Stuart was also a devoted world traveler and in his travels he came up with many new ideas for his lures and he discovered ways to save money on manufacturing costs by purchasing hooks and materials overseas. Stuart was also ahead of his time as a savvy marketer and businessman. He cozied up to local media and sought out sports writers throughout the country, thus keeping Al’s Goldfish Company in the public’s eyes and ears.
“The big jump for the Al’s Goldfish was when he teamed up with Gadabout Gaddis in the early 1960s,” said Occhialini. “That’s when Al’s Goldfish really took off and really was one of the largest selling lures at that time.” The boomers remember Gadabout Gaddis (Roscoe Vernon) who was widely known as the pioneer of outdoor and fishing television. He inspired millions of Americans to venture out and enjoy the outdoors, to take up fishing and the cause of conservation. His TV show aired locally, right after the Friday Night Fights.
“Gadabout Gaddis actually sold a kit on his TV shows that was produced by Al’s Goldfish Company,” Occhialini explained. “And it included the Al’s Goldfish in it of course. As part of that arrangement, Gadabout Gaddis mentioned it on his TV show many times, and that’s when it really became a national seller. It soon became one of the best selling fishing lures in the country from the late 1950s through the 1970s. “It was one of the three biggest sellers in the 60s. According to the Stuarts, they were shipping out tractor trailer loads of them.
After Al Stuart passed away, his daughter inherited the business. With her husband, she ran the company for a number of years. In that time, the operation was downsized considerably, and many cost-conscious changes were made to the lures and the manufacturing processes. This unfortunately had a negative effect on the quality of the product and the prosperity of the company itself. By 1999, the advancing age of the owners and waning interest in the company led to their decision to retire and sell Al’s Goldfish Company, to Occhialini.
Upon acquiring the company, Occhialini revived the products, eliminating some of the cheaper, poor-selling plastic lures and concentrated on boosting the classic lineup of metal lures. He brought back the genuine 22 karat gold plating, which had been substituted with a cheaper alternative under the previous owners, in spite of the $300 an ounce cost of gold at the time.
Stamped and cast in marine brass, the lure is as durable today as it was over 50 years ago. “We were still using the same dies that Al Stuart used,” professed Occhialini. “So there hasn’t been a whole lot of change in fifty years. Once it is cast, the Goldfish is plated in shiny metallic finishes that include genuine gold, nickel, copper, reflective prism, and other colors. The lures have always been made In America. The blanks are made in Massachusetts, the paint is applied in Rhode Island, the split rings are made in Wisconsin, and the company headquarters is in Maine. All lures are hand-painted with hand-mixed color by Bob Christopher.

In 2006, Field and Stream magazine named Al’s Original Goldfish lure one of the “50 Greatest Lures of All Time.” In 2007, the lure made Field and Stream’s Top 10 Best Trout Lures of all time.
In May, 1966, Dana Deblois caught a 19 lbs 10 oz brown trout out of Wachusett Reservoir using the Al’s Goldfish 1/4 oz Gold Orange. It still remains the state record brown after all these years, making it the oldest Massachusetts state record catch.

Al’s Goldfish Company is now headquartered in Biddeford, Maine. The company was bought by Mike Lee in 2015 with a goal of continuing the American lure-manufacturing tradition.
Contact Information: Mike Lee, Al’s Goldfish Lure Company, Biddeford, Maine, mike@alsgoldfish.com, phone 413-543-1524.

Fishing Derby
The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation in Hartsville-New Marlborough is having a free children’s fishing derby next Saturday, July 8 from 9 to 10:30 AM at its lower pond. Children aged 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

 

Help bats by reporting colonies
If you see a colony of bats, MassWildlife asks that you let them know. They are studying bat colonies to see how many have survived after the onset of White-nose Syndrome, a deadly disease affecting hibernating bats. They believe that monitoring leads to advances in conservation and management for endangered bat species, ensuring protection and security of the colonies. E-mail Jennifer Longsdorf (jennifer.longsdorf@state.ma.us) to report a bat colony and include the address, location, type of structure where the colony was found (tree or building), and approximately how many bats are in the colony. Ten or more bats make up a colony. Your help is greatly appreciated.
Since the onset of White-nose Syndrome in Massachusetts, the state’s population of bats has dwindled to less than 1% of what it was. They cite one abandoned mine where almost every bat hibernating over the 2008/2009 winter died from White-nose Syndrome. Some 10,000 bats dropped to just 14 in the span of a single season. White-nose Syndrome is caused by a fungus that grows on cave-hibernating bats during the winter. The growing fungus rouses the bats from hibernation, causing them to use up precious fat stores before fully waking in the spring, leading to starvation. As a result of the drastic mortality from White-nose Syndrome, all species of cave-hibernating bats are listed as Endangered in Massachusetts.
MassWildlife named two species of bats, the Little Brown Bat and the Big Brown Bat which have summer colonies in Massachusetts. These colonies may be found in trees, buildings, or houses. The Little Brown Bat also hibernates in caves during the winter, where it can contract White-nose Syndrome. Before White-nose Syndrome occurred in Massachusetts, the Little Brown Bat was the most common bat species in the state. MassWildlife is especially interested in learning how surviving colonies of Little Brown Bats have persisted despite White-nose Syndrome, including the size and location of their colonies.
This summer, they will be banding Little Brown Bats, and tagging all females with radio transmitters to help them locate maternity colonies. They will also be doing surveys, site visits to bat colonies, and monitoring any newly discovered maternity colonies to determine colony size, site ownership, and security. Monitoring long-term population changes will greatly help them understand the survival of Little Brown Bats. This work will also be used in future recovery efforts.
Don’t worry about your hunting and fishing license fees going toward this bat study. According to Marion E. Larson Chief, Information & Education for the MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, they received a grant to study them and contractors to do the work. They simply need locations for the contractors to visit.
I hope they are successful in their recovery efforts. I miss these little critters especially when fishing near water bodies at twilight hours. Who can forget their kamikaze style dives toward us, and our wondering if they will pull up before smacking our heads. Oh sure, some women don’t miss them at all because of the rumor of them flying into and getting tangled in their hair. I wonder, is there any truth to that rumor?
Two comical events come to mind when I think about them. One occurred many years ago when my fishing buddy Jerry Zink and I were teenagers. We were bass fishing at night from a boat on Laurel Lake. In those days, we rented an old clunker wooden boat from Bing Miller and would row and fish all night. It was fun. We would cast our plugs into the darkness, hear them plop into the water and then work the plugs toward us. There was concern when we cast out the plugs and did not hear the plop. That usually meant that we were too close to shore and the plug landed in a tree. Barring that event, every now and then we would hear a loud splash and we would set the hook. We couldn’t see whose plug was hit so both of us reacted. One of us usually landed a good sized largemouth bass.
One night, while reeling in my plug, I sensed something was wrong. The plug didn’t gurgle, sputter, pop or wobble like it should. After reeling in and holding the rod up in the dim moon light, I could see a leaf hanging from the plug, which happens occasionally. I was deeply engrossed in our conservation (probably about girls), when I reached up to pull the leaf off. I missed it, time and again. Frustrated, I asked Jerry to shine the flashlight on it. You guessed it. A bat was hanging from the plug and every time I reached to remove it, the bat would fly up in the air with the plug. To this day, Jerry and I still chuckle about that.
The other time was about 15 years ago. One evening, a buddy Doug Yates from Dalton and I were flyfishing the East Branch of the Westfield River in Chesterfield, MA. Doug was fishing downstream from me, and over the sound of the river, I could hear him shouting. He appeared to be fighting a fish and because he was shouting to catch my attention, I assumed he had a good one on. But something was wrong. Instead of his rod bending down toward the water, it was bent up and the line going in a circle over his head.
Well, you guessed it again. While his fly was mid-air from a cast, a bat came along and snatched it. Now that’s what I call a good fly imitation! Every now and then, Doug and I chuckle over that, too.
Gosh, I hope my fishing stories involving bats haven’t ended.

Record turnout for Jimmy Fund Derby

On Saturday, June 3,  the 25th Annual Harry A. Bateman Memorial Fishing Derby on Onota Lake took place.  Eagle Reporter Derek Gentile did an excellent job of reporting the event with a picture and a listing of the winners.  (June 10, 2017 Berkshire Eagle, “Fishing derby lures hundreds”.  There is no need to repeat that information here, but I would like to mention or re-emphasis a few interesting tidbits.

 

According to Derby Organizer Stephen Bateman, “Despite the weather and the fact that the lake was treated for weeds, we had a record turn-out of 286 fisherman and about another 30+ people who attended.”  It was a very positive and upbeat event, with lots of fish weighed in, lots of prizes doled out and lots of good food.

 

Brendan Monahan, Development Officer for Event Fundraising at Dana Farber Cancer Institution in Boston, attended the event and presented awards to Steve and many of the derby staff.  In his speech, Monahan noted that over the 25 years of the derbies, $42,000 had been raised for the Jimmy Fund.  Well, as a result of this successful derby,  another $6,000 was added.

 

I must admit; however, that at times my thoughts were somewhere else.  I couldn’t help but think about the herbicides, with their harmful ingredients, that were applied just two days prior to this popular derby to raise funds for cancer research.  Really?

 

Another derby that took place on June 3 was the annual Youth Outreach Fishing Derby on Reynolds Pond in Cheshire.  This year, Deacon Robert Sams brought 13 kids from the First Baptist Church in Pittsfield and Alex Doherty brought 10 kids from the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition.  Most of the kids, ages 6 to 14 years old had never fished before.  The look of glee on the face of the featured young lad is an indication of the wonderful, memorable day that was had.  Every kid caught some nice sized brook trout.

 

It was all made possible by the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen.  It provided the mentors, equipment, bait, lots of brook trout and tasty food.  It also provided fish cleaning service and afterwards, sent the kids home with new fishing outfits and bags of fish for tasty meals.

 

This year’s volunteers comprised of members from the Lenox Sportsmen’s Club, Pittsfield Sportsmen’s Club, Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Cheshire Rod & Gun Club, Adams Outdoor for Youth, East Mountain Sportsmen’s Club, Greylock Bass Club, Ashfield Rod & Gun Club and the Berkshire Beagle Club.  A couple of guys from the Berkshire Lodge of Masons did the cooking.  I’ll bet these volunteers had just as much fun as the kids.

 

So why so late in reporting these derbies?  I was away flyfishing the AuSable River near Lake Placid, NY for a few days with Paul Knauth of Hinsdale and Allen Gray of Pittsfield.  It rained  most of the time and the river was running high.  Never-the-less, it was an enjoyable trip with all of us catching trout.  I have been fishing that river annually for over 30 years but never saw a brown trout caught the size that Paul landed this year.  It was a 22-inch fish which was lightly hooked in the lip.  It zoomed away in a flash when Paul released it.

 

Basic Hunter Education Course

All first-time hunters who wish to purchase a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license must complete a Basic Hunter Education course.    One will be taught at the Worthington Rod & Gun Club, 458 Dingle Road Rte. 112 – Worthington, MA., on the following dates:  July 24, 25, 27 and 28 from 5:30 to 9:00 PM.  Participants must attend all class dates and times to successfully complete the course.  To enroll, call (508)389-7830.

 

License to Carry Courses

The Lenox Sportsmen’s Club will be holding LTC and “Utah” Firearm Permit courses on  Saturday, June 25 from 10:00AM to 2:00PM. The LTC course costs $70.00, the Utah course costs $120, or $150 for both.  Pre-registration required.   Contact Tom Nadolny at 413-822-6451 or tnadolny1@gmail.com.rice/25 price is $70 for LTC. $125 for UTAH & $150 for both is $70 for LTC. $125 for UTAH & $150 for both

 

Wild Turkey Surveys

MassWildlife conducts the Annual Turkey Brood Survey from June 1 through August 31 each year to estimate the number of turkeys. The survey helps its biologists determine productivity and compare long-term reproductive success while providing an estimate of fall harvest potential. Turkey nesting success can vary annually in response to weather conditions, predator populations, and habitat characteristics. Citizen involvement in this survey is a cost-effective means of gathering useful data.  It’s not too late to participate.

 

MassWildlife advises us to be sure to look carefully when counting turkey broods, the very small poults may be difficult to see in tall grass or brush.

 

New this year, observations can now be reported online.  Simply fill in all the information and click submit and your turkey observations will be logged by MassWildlife. You can still download and print a Turkey Brood Survey form to complete over the course of the summer. Completed forms should to be mailed after August 31st to: Brood Survey, MassWildlife Field Headquarters, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581.   If you’ve submitted your observations online, do not mail in duplicate observations.

 

Bald Eagles

Staying with big birds, MassWildlife Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden recently reported to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen that it looks like another difficult year for Western District birds.  It appears that nests in Pittsfield, Great Barrington, Richmond, Russell and Lenox all failed to produce young. A combination of adult bird mortality, severe weather and other unknown variables are likely to blame. Western District Staff will be checking nests to see if they can find clues as to what happened.

School vacation evokes fond, sometimes scary memories

School vacation evokes fond, sometimes scary memories

 Whoopee!  School vacation!   How we looked forward to that.  It is hard to imagine that 66 years ago, in the summer of 1951, at age of 8 years old, I started fishing with my Lenox Dale Grammar School buddy Jerry Zink.  He and I immediately took to one another because we had the common interest of stream fishing.  He was already a fisherman of some renown living on West New Lenox Road (now Roaring Brook Road) where he fished Roaring Brook, Mill Brook and others.  I haunted the streams of East Street in Lenox including Woods Crossing Brook and another unnamed nearby brook.  There were many farms on the east side of Lenox in those days and we fished the streams that crossed their woods and pastures.

 

During that 1951 school vacation summer, we agreed to link up and fish the many small streams in Lenox which all held wild, speckled brook trout.  You couldn’t find a stream in Lenox that didn’t have them.  We frequently linked up at one brook that ran along Housatonic Street in Lenox which ultimately emptied into Woods Pond in Lenox Dale.

 

I had it easiest for I only had to walk a mile to get to it.  Jerry, on the other hand, had to walk or bike from his home, then along New Lenox Road, along upper East Street (which was a dirt road then) to Housatonic Street.  There we would fish the brook for a mile to Woods Pond, then walk along Crystal Street in Lenox Dale in hip boots, pick up a small can of fruit cocktail at Steinhilber’s Grocery Store in Lenox Dale, walk up Walker Street then onto East Street to my home.  After sitting on our lawn sharing the fruit cocktail, Jerry would head back home.  He covered a distance of 14 miles that day!  As we got older, we were then able to ride our bikes to that and other nearby streams.

 

Yes, that’s a long distance for a couple of 8 year old kids to hoof, but we didn’t think twice about it.  We had nothing to fear back then for there were no predators like bears, coyotes or some humans, nor were there any deer ticks.  True, there was the Korean War going on, but at our age, we knew very little about it.  Ah, such wonderful days, the skies were bluer and the grass greener.

 

One thing we did have to fear was nuclear holocaust, but we had that covered.  We would just climb under our school desks.  I must admit that I did worry a bit if we were attacked during summer vacation, for the school doors were locked and we couldn’t get to our desks.  A couple other things we had to worry about while fishing were the mean bulls that some farms had and grumpy farmers guarding their lands with shotguns loaded with rock salt.  Of course we would risk life and limb and always fished posted farmlands.

 

Our fishing gear consisted of a cheap pole, casting reel, Dacron line (no monofilament line back then), a tin which contained our hooks and sinkers, a jackknife and a Campbell Soup can in which we carried worms. (Later on, when we had the money, we bought green worm cans which attached to our belts.)  We also carried a measuring tape because the trout had to be 6 inches long in order to legally keep them.  We didn’t have creels but rather cut branches to carry our fish. That gave us a chance to show off our catches as we trudged along the roads.

 

We both had hand-me-down hip boots in which we proudly strutted.  My boots originally were black, but because of so many red patches required over the years, they were two-toned.  I don’t know why I wore them anyway, for they leaked terribly and were too big.

 

We never wore anything red which we believed attracted the mean bulls.  We wore drab greenish, brownish clothes so as not to attract them and also to avoid detection by the farmers as we snuck across their fenced in, posted pastures.

 

Oh, how I remember those days snuck across the pastures trying to get to the streams, and the terror we felt when we heard the sound of cowbells and thundering hooves approaching from somewhere.  Without looking back, Jerry and I would race for the nearest fence as fast as our little legs could carry us, hoping that it was not an electric fence and one which we could easily get under or over it without getting snagged by the barbs.

 

Inevitably, my boots got barbed, requiring yet another red patch that evening.  Usually the hooves and bells that we heard were from herds of milking cows which wouldn’t gore us, but might trample us with their hooves.  I guess we saw too many movies featuring herds of buffalo or cattle trying to trample Tom Mix.  Once the cows reached the fence, they would stand there looking at us, probably laughing.   We must have made their day.  I’ll never forget those days.

 

Years later, while attending a Trout Unlimited meeting, an interesting event occurred.  As usual, the older fishermen were congregated in the bar talking about fishing.  When it came time to start the meetings, it was nearly impossible to get them assembled in the meeting/room, in spite of sharp whistles, clanging glasses, shouting, etc.

 

That evening, chapter president Karl Kronberg brought an old cow bell into the noisy bar and rang it softly once or twice.  There was immediate silence and stillness.  People were frozen in action, in the middle of sentences, some holding glasses near their mouths.  It was like that old TV commercial “Well, my broker is E.F. Hutton and he said….”

 

Karl quietly told everyone that the meeting was about to begin.  They all filed in, albeit a little ashen colored.  I’ll bet they used to sneak through posted farm pastures, too.

New book published on fishing the Cape Cod Canal

How many times have you fishermen traveled over the Saginaw or Bourne Bridge on your way to surf cast for striped bass near Wellfleet on Cape Cod Bay or Race Point near Provincetown?  Traveling up Rte 6, have you ever peered at the Cape Cod Canal and wondered what the fishing was like there?  Were you ever tempted to stop and fish it but just didn’t know enough about it?  Maybe it is good that you didn’t stop because the fishing gear that you took along probably wasn’t adequate to land those big stripers in the Canal’s strong current.  That’s according to D.J. Muller who recently authored a new book entitled “Fishing the Cape Cod Canal, A Surfcaster’s guide to Stripers.”

 

The Canal, which is 7 miles long and 480 feet wide, connects Buzzard’s Bay to the south and west to Cape Cod Bay to the north and east and purportedly offers the striped bass fisherman unparalleled opportunities—a fishery unlike any to be found on any coast.  Before fishing the Canal or “the Ditch” one should know and understand the tides and migration patterns and how they affect the fishery.  One should also know what type of fishing tackle and lures to use.  According to Muller, your normal salt water rod, reel, line and lures probably won’t hold these 30, 40 or 50 lb fish which know how to use the strong currents and tides to their advantage.  He also explains the various methods of fishing the Canal.

 

I know one thing for sure, after reading this book, I would never use my regular surf casting gear in that canal.  A much heavier rod, reel and line are needed.  I could probably get away with using my lures, but would have to change out the hooks to heavier ones, as the author suggests.

 

And even if you had the necessary equipment, do you know where to fish?  Well, Muller covers that, too.  He doesn’t give away his secret spots but does recommend some storied locations on its banks.  He is a recognized authority on Northeast surfcasting who has been fishing the Ditch for over 15 years.  He is the author of The Surfcaster’s Guide to the Striper Coast, Striper Strategies and Striper Tales.

 

It is a clear, concise, no-nonsense, well written book.  I suspect that after reading this book, you wont head for the Cape to do some striper fishing without taking it along.

 

The book was published by Burford Books.   It is a 120 page paperback book which won’t break the bank at $14.95.  What a great gift for Father’s Day, and you know he won’t have it yet as it was just published this past May 27.  It should be available at bookstores, online book retailers, tackle and specialty shops or from the publisher, Burford Books (www.burfordbooks.com).

 

Fishing Derbies

The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation in Hartsville-New Marlborough is having a free children’s fishing derby next Saturday, June 10 from 9 to 10:30AM at its lower pond.  Children aged 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

 

Trout Stockings

Depending on the hatchery, staff, weather, water conditions, etc., the following waters may have been stocked last week: Otis Reservoir, Onota Lake, Westfield River in Becket, Middlefield, Chester and Huntington and the Green River in Alford, Egremont and Great Barrington.

 

Forest Tour

A  Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Bureau of Forestry Pre-Harvest Forest Tour will take place at the Pittsfield State Forest in Lanesborough tomorrow from 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM. DCR Forester Kevin Podkowka, will be leading a tour of the Potter Mountain – Lanesborough Timber Sale where he will discuss forest management techniques in a predominantly northern hardwood forest, provide a view of the trees designated for harvest, and explain how harvest operations will take place. A detailed silviculture prescription for the harvesting operation will be provided to attendees.

 

The meeting place is the parking area for Potter Mountain Road, Pittsfield State Forest in Lanesborough.  The tour will be conducted rain or shine. Attendees are encouraged to dress for the weather and to wear sturdy shoes. For additional information about the tours and DCR forest management on state forests, parks, and reservations,contact William Hill, Management Forestry Program Supervisor, at (413) 545-3891.

 

The Housatonic Valley Association

(HVA) recently announced the opening of a new floating dock which is located at the end of Park Street, just beyond Stockbridge Town Park. A new sign featuring a map of the local water trail, points of interest, and safety tips marks the entry to the dock The new dock is designed to provide easy access for paddlers of all abilities, giving a safer approach to the water over a treaded walkway and featuring a roller-entry system that makes it easier for paddlers to get their crafts into and out of the water. The launch location is convenient for destinations such as Goodrich Memorial Footbridge, the Mary Flynn Trail, Laura’s Tower, Willow Mill Dam, or (downriver) the Glendale Dam. “The absolute best way to connect with the river is to spend some time paddling it,” says HVA Berkshires Director Dennis Regan. “HVA’s mission of protecting the river and its surroundings begins with providing more opportunities for people to experience it up close. We hope this new dock will be the starting point for many lifelong adventures.” Onyx Specialty Papers, Berkshire Bank, TD Charitable Foundation, Fields Pond Foundation, Canyon Ranch and the Red Lion Inn were sponsors of the project.  Also, the citizens of Stockbridge, through the Community Preservation Committee, provided the major contribution for this project. Fundraising and project management were provided by the HVA.

 

Incidentally, the HVA recently moved to a new office which is located at the Merwin House, 14 Main Street, Stockbridge.  Stop in check it out some time.