Rainbow trout liberated with help of Crosby School students



I don’t know if you saw Berkshire Eagle photographer Ben Garver’s great picture and caption, “Fishing, in Reverse” featured in the Saturday, May 9, 2015 Berkshire Eagle.  It was about Crosby Students assisting in the trout stocking the previous day at Onota Lake.  I was there and please allow me to tell you more about it.


The trout stocking scheme was the brainchild of, and first brought up in a 2014 meeting of the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen BCLS) by its president Mark Jester.  Working closely with Andrew Madden, Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) Western District Manager, Jim Legacy DFW ‘s Angler Education Program Manager out of Westborough and Donna Baker, Principal of the John C Crosby Elementary School, they made it happen.


The weather was perfect and around 11 AM, the school busses arrived at the Onota Lake Pavilion.  Approximately 140 second and third graders showed up and orderly filed into lines.


Before the stocking began, Jester welcomed the kids and informed them that the League was sponsoring the event and explained the proceedings.  “You are all becoming conservationists today”, he said.  He thanked Mrs. Baker and parents who were there to witness the event.  He got a few boos  and jeers when he told them they cannot kiss the fish.


Madden then explained that they will be stocking rainbow trout.  “We grow these fish for about a year and a half and we need you to help us get the fish into the water”, he said.  He asked the kids for a show of hands as to how many of them fish.  What a  pleasantl surprised when almost all of them raised their hands.


Legacy spoke and said the Angler Education Program has some 100 instructors statewide.  He explained the procedure for stocking the fish.   Mrs. Dana Ohman, DFW Western District Fish Biologist would net some fish out of the stocking truck and put them in a 5 gallon bucket (with no water). Two kids would run them to the edge of the lake (perhaps 100 feet) and toss the fish out of the buckets into the water.  Every kid would get a chance until the allotted numbers of trout were stocked.   Madden and Legacy would stand in the water in hip boots to ensure that all of the fish made it safely and swam away.


The kids tolerated the speeches and instructions, but they really came to life when Ohman reached in with her net and produced a couple of gorgeous trout.   That prompted a loud and enthusiastic round of applause and shouts of “Yea!”


The kids were told that the fish couldn’t breathe until they got into the water so they ran as fast as their little legs could carry them.  Some kids were so pumped up that they threw the buckets, fish and all into the water.  When all of the kids had their chance, it was the teachers turn to run with the buckets of fish.  I’ll bet some of them hadn’t run that fast in years. Even Jester sped by with a bucket of fish.


In all, some 300 gorgeous rainbows were liberated and there was not one casualty.  Following that, the kids had a picnic at the pavilion.  What a wonderful day! I can’t speak more highly of the efforts of Mark Jester, the DFW folks, Mrs. Baker and her staff of teachers and the well behaved students.  I suspect they will remember that day for a long time.  I know I will.


While at the stocking, I bumped into former DFW Biologist Leo Daley.  Remember him?  He worked out of the local office and retired from the Division over 25 years ago.  At 87 years old, he is sharp, looks good, is very active, and even teaches karate now.


Speaking of retirement, I heard that local DFW Biologist Tony Gola recently retired after 40 years with the Division.  His co-workers wanted to have a retirement party for him but insisted on a silent retirement and demanded that DFW not throw any party or do anything for him.  So, shhh, don’t tell a soul.  I suppose we can whisper a thank you to him for his many years of dedicated service. *****


The following waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week:  Hoosic River in Clarksburg, Cheshire and Adams; Green River in Alford, Egremont and Great Barrington; Williams River in West Stockbridge and Great Barrington, Westfield River in Becket, Chester, Chesterfield, Huntington and Middlefield; Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Pelham Brook in Charlemont and Rowe, Dry Brook and South Brook in Cheshire, Housatonic River (C&R) in Lee and Stockbridge, Dunbar Brook in Monroe, and the following lakes:  Ashfield, Upper Highland, Littleville, Pontoosuc, Laurel, Windsor, Pelham  and Goose Pond. *****

In his monthly report to the BCLS, DFW Manager Andrew Madden reported a couple of interesting tidbits.  He announced that the DFW recently acquired 60+ acres of land in Hinsdale abutting the Hinsdale Flats Wildlife Management Area.  The acquisition included fields and wetlands and improves access and protects huntable areas on existing land.

He also reported that as a result of eagle surveys he is seeing a sharp increase in eagle nests.  They are popping up in new places.  In fact, on the day of his report, he learned about two more new nests.  Up to 46 nesting pairs now exist in the state; whereas, just a few years ago the number was 24 to 26. If you hear of any new nests let him know.

New regulations for Striped Bass fishing went into effect this year


The Division of Marine Fisheries (MarineFisheries) has adopted a 1-fish recreational bag limit for Atlantic Striped Bass but the recreational minimum size limit remains the same at 28 inches.  This bag limit reduction (from 2 fish) was undertaken to reduce recreational harvests in Massachusetts by at least 25%, as required by the Interstate Fishery Management Plan (IFMP). Massachusetts’ commercial quota has also been reduced by 25%.

Last October, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission approved an addendum to the IFMP for Atlantic Striped Bass. The addendum responds to results of the 2013 benchmark stock assessment, which found that fishing mortality in 2012 was above target, and female spawning stock biomass has been steadily declining below the target level since 2006.  Enforcement of alternative rules across the entire population of for-hire permit holders (numbering 900), particularly when they are fishing without patrons aboard, would have proven troublesome.  A universal rule also removes any negative perceptions about benefits from a “dual-standard” allowed to for-hire patrons.  Anglers in Massachusetts will operate under the same rules as those in neighboring states in 2015, as New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut have also adopted 1 fish at 28″ minimum rules.  For more information, refer to www.mass.gov/marinefisheries. *****


According to club spokesman Tim Minkler, 65 anglers participated in the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club Fishing Derby that was held on May 3 from dawn to 3PM at Stockbridge Bowl.  It was a perfect day with good sun and temperatures reaching into the mid-70s.

The following individuals were $100 Winners:  Largest Trout:  12 year old Seth Slemp from Lee, (2 lbs, 16.5”); Largest Bass:  Austin Consolati, from Lee (1 lb, 9 oz., 14”); Largest Pickerel: Silas Amlaw, New Lebanon, NY (4 lb, 26”); Largest Bullhead: Seth Slemp again (1 lb, 13”).

Ages 12 and Under Winners:  Largest Trout:  First – Seth Slemp, noted above ; Second – Colin Mackie, from Becket, 1 lb 12 oz, 14.5”;  Third – Dylan Trumps, South Lee, 1 lb, 7 oz., 14”;  Fourth-  Gabriel Nascimento, Richmond, 13 oz, 12”.  Largest bullhead was caught by Seth Slemp noted above. *****

The Onota Fishing Club will be holding its annual Trout Derby on Onota Lake on next Sunday at the Pavillion.  The derby will run from 6:00 AM to 12:00 Noon. Trophies and prizes will be awarded for both children and adult divisions.  Cost for adults is $15 and for children $5.  Breakfast will be available to all participants with an all-you-can-eat fish fry following the derby.  There will be a $10 fee for all non participants for the fish fry.  Tickets are available in advance at Portsmitt’s Lakeway Restaurant or at The Onota Lake Pavillion the day of the derby. *****

The following waters were scheduled to be stocked last week:  Deerfield River received Tiger Trout in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Westfield River in Chesterfield, Cummington, Huntington, Russell and Windsor; Housatonic River in Dalton and Hinsdale, Hubbard River in Granville, West Brook in Great Barrington, Bennett Brook in Hinsdale, Town Brook in Lanesborough, Hop Brook, Beartown Brook and West Brook in Lee, Trout Brook in Peru, Buck and Clam Rivers in Sandisfield, Hop Brook in Tyringham, Hemlock Brook and Green River in Williamstown, Plunkett Lake, Laurel Lake, Lake Garfield, Lake Buel, York Lake, Otis Reservoir, Onota Lake and Stockbridge Bowl.

Mark your calendar, free fishing days this year are June 6 and 7 in Massachusetts.  Other nearby states’ free fishing days are:  Maine – May 30 and 31, New Hampshire – June 6, Vermont – June 15 and New York – June 27 & 28. *****


The Lee Sportsmen’s Association will be holding a Basic Pistol Course on May 11 and May 18.  The course cost is $100.00.  To sign up, contact Larry Karlquist at (413) 442-7807. *****


The Lenox Sportsmen’s Club is holding a Chicken, Sausage and Polenta dinner fund raiser this Friday evening.  Doors open at 5 PM and dinner is served at 6:30 PM.  Tickets cost $15 per person. *****


According to MassWildlife, some 1,130 turkeys were harvested the first week of spring turkey season.  The weather is great, the birds are gobbling, and there is plenty of season left (season ends on May 23).  They urge you to get out there.

Last week I mentioned that brothers Owen and Travis Bush each bagged a bird during the Lee Youth Turkey Hunt.  Their picture is shown above.

Young turkey hunters experience a cold but successful hunt

Young turkey hunters experience a cold but successful

With their mentors, youths took to the woods early last Saturday morning taking advantage of the special Youth Turkey Hunting day.  The frigid weather didn’t discourage the eighteen enthusiastic youths mentored by Stockbridge Sportsmen Club members.  Seven kids bagged gobblers and three others had shot opportunities but didn’t connect with their shots.  Everyone saw birds and all had birds answering their calls. Max Buffoni bagged the largest tom, it weighed 21.5 lbs. They had their first muzzle loader shotgun harvest with one of the new Knight muzzle loaders that was donated to the club by board member Rob McDermott last year.  After the hunt they all went to the club for a great lunch.

At the Lee Sportsmen’s Association, 8 kids went out.  Two birds were bagged by brothers Owen and Travis Bush.  Owen’s bird weighed 22 lbs and Travis bagged a 14 lb jake.  The boys were mentored by parents Jana and Todd Bush.  Yep, you read that right, mom was right there in the turkey blind with them at 5 AM, freezing with the others. The club provided  burgers and dogs after the hunt.

The Cheshire Rod & Gun Club had 11 kids that participated.  One got a 14 lb jake and the other got a 17 lb tom with an 8 inch beard.  Sorry, no names of the youth hunters were provided.

MassWildlife reported that 69 young hunters statewide were successful in the Young Adult Turkey Hunt Program. *****

A child’s fishing derby will be held next Saturday from 7AM to 3PM at Wild Acres near the Pittsfield Airport.  Lion Aviation will sponsor the derby and will stock trout for the day’s event.  The Onota Fishing Club will host the event and provide poles, bait and assistance to all children.  They will also provide breakfast and lunch for all participants.  Trophies will be awarded to all children who catch a tagged trout.  Parking is available at the upper level of Wild Acres Pavilion.  *****

The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation is holding another free kid’s fishing derby at their lower pond in Hartsville next Saturday, from 9 to 10:30 AM.    Its last derby was well attended with 32 participants catching 58 brook trout and prizes for all.   *****

The following waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout the weeks of April 20 and 27:  Hoosic River in Adams, Cheshire and Clarksburg;  Ashfield Lake,  Clesson Brook, South River and Swift River in Ashfield, Clesson Brook in Buckland, Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont, and Florida, Westfield River in Becket, Middlefield, Chesterfield, Cummington, Chester, Russell, Huntington, Savoy, Worthington, and Windsor; West Branch Brook in Chesterfield, North Pond in Florida, Upper Highland Lake, Stones Brook and Swift River in Goshen; Little River, Littleville Lake and Norwich Pond in Huntington, Otis Reservoir, Richmond Pond, Onota Lake, Greenwater Pond, Goose Pond, Big Pond, Lake Garfield, Lake Mansfield, Westfield Brook and Windsor Pond in Windsor.


Windsor Lake in North Adams, Bronson Brook, Little River and West Branch Brook in Worthington, Konkapot River in Monterey, New Marlborough and Sheffield, Chickley River  in Savoy, Hawley and Charlemont; Cold River in Savoy, Charlemont and Florida; Hudson Brook in Clarksburg, North Pond in Florida, Berry Pond and Kinderhook Creek in Hancock, Farmington River in Otis and Sandisfield, Green River in Alford, Egremont and Great Barrington; Housatonic River (C&R) in Lee and Stockbridge and Housatonic River (SW) in Pittsfield.


Tiger trout were stocked into Onota Lake and Windsor Pond.  Tagged trout were stocked into the Deerfield River, Littleville Lake and the Westfield River in Russell. *****

The Cheshire Rod & Gun Club is starting this year’s monthly pistol shoots next Saturday. All shoots will take place at the club on Saturdays starting at 10 AM.  The entry fee is $10 for the first shoot and $5 for the second.  Winners will split half of the 1st shoot’s dollar take, and all of the 2nd shoot.


The 2nd shoot is the same caliber as the first, but with a surprise.  If you have any questions, call either Chuck Jones at (413) 684-3391 Martha Lee at (413) 212-4154.

Four honored at BCLS Conte Banquet

Four honored at BCLS Conte Banquet

The Cheshire Rod & Gun Club banquet hall was packed for the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen’s  Silvio O. Conte Memorial Awards Banquet which was held last Saturday evening.  Award winners were: Shaun Smith of Lee – Sportsman of the Year, Mark Jester of Pittsfield – John Zuber Award, retired Mass DFW Director Wayne MacCallum of Grafton- Lifetime Achievement Award and the Adams Outdoor for Youth organization – Sportsmen’s Appreciation Award. They were selected by the various sportsmen’s clubs which make up the BCLS.   Their individual feats were highlighted in prior columns.

Smith’s award was in recognition of his dedication, leadership and commitment to the sportsmen of MA.   BCLS President Mark Jester presented a plaque and citations from State Senator Benjamin Downing representing the Senate and State Rep William “Smitty” Pignatelli representing the House of Representatives. Jester congratulated and thanked him for all of the work that he did for the paraplegic hunting program in MA.  For over 40 years he dedicated himself to those who can no longer walk around the woods. “Because of his efforts, they are still getting out into the woods and enjoying the outdoors”, said Jester,   “Their memories of being out into the outdoors are good ones instead of just sitting in the chairs to which they are bound.”


“It’s not a one man show”, Smith said in accepting the award.  He thanked the past and current members of the DFW for their help over the years as well as Al Vincent who has been involved in the program for as long as he has.  He also thanked his understanding wife Mary for her support of his involvement in this program.


Mass F & W Board Chairman George “Gige” Darey of Lenox presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to MacCallum for his efforts to preserve and protect the rich natural resources which will forever benefit the citizens, habitat and wildlife of this great Commonwealth.  Noting that he is highly regarded nationwide, he credited MacCallum for pushing for the “presumption of openness” for passive recreation on State lands, for initiating the Land Stamp, a supplement to the Open Space Bond Bill, which resulted in the preservation of thousands of acres in Massachusetts, and more.


In accepting the award MacCallum said that it was a real honor and pleasure to be the director and to work with all of the sportsmen across the state. He loved his job.  He commended Acting Director Jack Buckley for all his help along the way.


Wayne Tinney of Adams accepted the Sportsmen’s Appreciation Award for the Adams Outdoor for Youth Organization.  He is its President.  The award is in appreciation of the Club’s unwavering commitment to the community and to the community’s greatest assets, it youth.  “This award is all about helping the kids in our community” said Tinney.


Tinney then presented the John Zuber Award to Mark Jester of Pittsfield for recognition of his unwavering dedication to the sportsmen of Berkshire County.  He called him one of the hardest working guys in all of the sportsmen’s groups.


“This is one of the greatest honors ever bestowed upon me”, said Jester.  “John Zuber was a great friend and this award means a lot to me.  If it wasn’t for John (Previous BCLS President) the County League wouldn’t be what it is today”. Jester talked about hunting with his dad and how he got him involved and sparked his love for the outdoors.   He thanked the sportsmen for making it possible for him to represent them in Westborough, Boston and with local legislators. *****


Next Sunday, the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club will be holding its annual Spring Fishing Derby on Stockbridge Bowl from dawn until 3:00 PM.  There will be $100 prizes for the heaviest trout, pickerel, bass and bullhead.  Free lures for all kids 12 and under.  Pre-registration fee is $10, after that it is $15.  Official rules and weigh-in will be at the boat ramp.  For more information call (413)644-3590 or (413)298-4630.  *****


The spring turkey hunting season opens tomorrow.   Good luck and have a safe and enjoyable hunt.  Watch out for the ticks.


Fond memories of opening days

To us older folks, the third Saturday in April brings back fond memories.   It marked opening day of the fishing season.  In those days, the fishing season closed on February 28 and by the time April came around, we were ready to get out fishing again.  There were a lot of preparations for opening day. Fishing licenses had to be bought, new fishing equipment was purchased, night crawlers caught, live bait bought, leaky boots patched, outboard motors tuned up, preparations made for boat rentals, etc.  The night before, sandwiches were made and thermoses ready.


For a week or so before opening day, many of us drove from lake to lake checking on their conditions.   We wanted to make sure that the ice was gone off of them and there was open water in which to fish.  Some lakes were unfishable due to the ice.  There was great speculation as to which lures would work.  Would it be the gold colored Al’s Goldfish, the Silver and Blue Wobble Rite, the Red and White Daredevil?


If you wanted to get a good spot to fish, you had to get to the location around 4:30 AM on opening day.  With all of the excitement and anticipation, sleep was practically impossible the night before.


One year, in the early 1970’s, my long time fishing partner, Jerry Zink and I decided to not even go to bed so that we could be the first to get to our chosen spot.  It was the back side of Laurel Lake in Lee where the “white bridge” was located.  We knew for a fact that the DFW stocked trout off of that bridge, and we wanted to catch some of them.


We decided to spend the evening at Joe’s Bar in Lenox, socializing with the crowd, playing the pin ball machine and watching a barroom brawl or two until closing time.  After that, we would go to my house where I would cook up some bacon and eggs.  After that, we would get our fishing stuff together and arrive at Laurel Lake around 4:00 AM.  The plan progressed like clockwork and we pulled into the parking spot near the white bridge around 4:00 AM.  We were the first ones there.


It was still dark, so we got all of our gear ready; leaned our fishing poles against the car and put the bait and creels on the hood.  It was a little chilly, so we sat inside the car to keep warm.  As soon as we saw a car headlight approaching, we would jump out of our car, grab the gear and go immediately to the bridge so that we would be the first there and have the best spot.


The next thing we knew, the sun was high and shining brightly and the hordes of the world were in our fishing spot.  Both sides of the bridge were crowded and fish were splashing as they were being hauled in.  Kids were running around shouting, fish were flopping on the roadway, bobbers were hanging from trees and a couple of fishing lines were already tangled up in the overhead telephone line which ran nearby.


Jerry and I had fallen asleep and were awakened by all of the commotion.  We couldn’t even get near the water.  We left there and tried our luck at Richmond Pond and met the same conditions there.   No fish were caught that opening day.  It served us right for being so smart and trying to be the first there.


Jerry suggested that maybe next year we’d make some adjustments…..perhaps eating beforehand made us tired……yeh, that’s it, next year no bacon and eggs.


Actually, we never pulled an opening day all-nighter again. *****


The following Western District waters were scheduled to be stocked during the week of April 6:   Hoosic River (SW) in Adams and Cheshire, Green River in Alford, Egremont and Great Barrington; Westfield River in Becket, Chester, Cummington, Huntington, Middlefield, Savoy, Windsor and Worthington; Deerfield River in Buckland and Florida; Williams River in West Stockbridge and Great Barrington; Housatonic River (SW) in Pittsfield, Lee(C&R) and Stockbridge (C&R); Konkapot River in Monterey, New Marlborough and Sheffield; Lake Garfield and Onota Lake*****


The following waters were scheduled for stocking last week:  Walker Brook in Becket and Chester, Yokum Brook in Becket, Deerfield River in Buckland and Florida; Westfield River in Chester, Huntington, Middlefield, and Worthington; Hoosic River in Clarksburg, Housatonic River in Dalton and Hinsdale, Wahconah Falls Brook in Dalton, Sackett Brook in Dalton and Pittsfield,  Town Brook in Lanesborough, Greenwater Brook in Lee, Goose Pond Brook and Hop Brook in Lee and Tyringham, Depot Brook in Washington, Green River and Hemlock Brook in Williamstown, Yokum Brook in Lenox, Factory Brook in Middlefield, Farmingon River in Otis and Sandisfield, Potash Brook in Russell, Buck and Clam Rivers in Sandisfield, Larrywaug Brook in Stockbridge, Windsor Brook in Windsor, Pontoosuc Lake, Laurel Lake, Lake Buel, Plunkett Lake,  Littleville Lake, Windsor Lake, Onota Lake, Stockbridge Bowl  and Goose Pond. Stocked waters are subject to change based on water conditions, staffing functioning trucks, etc. *****


The results for of the Greylock BASS Club for 2014  are as follows:  1st Place and Angler of the Year  (2 years in a row)  Bill Gates, 2nd Place – Joe Chague, Chip McCann, Jim Underhill (3 way tie), 3rd Place – Dave Benham.  Benham also won the Big Bass of Year Award with a 4 lbs 12 oz largemouth out of Onota Lake.


Their tournament schedule for 2015 is as follows:  May – Richmond Pond and Pontoosuc Lake,   June – Onota Lake, and July – Saratoga Lake.  The Tournament of Champions is in September on Lake Champlain.


To become a boat member, contact Bill Gates at 413 243 1744. *****


Questions/comments:  Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com.   Phone:  (413) 637-1818

Will “Hoggin Paws” make another appearance this year?

Last June, Jay Rhind of Stockbridge just finished his bike ride when he turned into his driveway and found a car parked there.  Two people in the car told him that a bear just jumped through his front screened door and was inside.

Jay immediately called 911 then started his recon.  Peeking through the kitchen window he saw nothing out of place.  He walked around to the back door and noticed a crushed empty ice cream container (Vanilla Haggen Dazs) on the ground and then he noticed the back screen door had been pushed through.  He figured that the bear entered the front door, found the ice cream, exited out the back door and went on his way. He slowly entered the house and found himself instinctively on high alert as he rounded the corner entering the kitchen.  Just then he saw a big Black Bear exiting.  He was in what seemed like a very long standstill between the bear and himself, both frozen in their tracks. The “Fight” in the “Fight or Flight” clearly wasn’t an option as he wasn’t about to start bear wrestling in his kitchen wearing bike shorts without a referee.  Instead he quickly decided to plan for his “Flight”- he’d turn and bolt out the back door slamming it behind him before the bear had any idea what was happening. He barely (no pun by Jay) made a move to turn for the back door when, in an instant,  the bear took his cue and raced past him and jumped out the front door leaving that overpowering musky black bear scent behind. Somehow in the middle of all this Jay thought he should take a few photos because no one would ever believe him. He whipped out his trusty iPhone, composed a photo and pressed the button.  “photo library full, clear space to take photos” was all the screen showed.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  Jay thought to himself.  He rapidly pressed delete, delete, delete and took a picture.  Not his best photo but under the circumstances…..

After the bear ran past him and jumped out the front door it spun around resting his paws on the door’s lower edge ready to jump back in.  Jay yelled “NO BEAR NO!” as he got down. He jumped up again, again “NO BEAR NO!”  This happened a few times before the bear realized that he must be dealing with a mad man (Jay’s words) and decided to walk away out through the back yard. Jay walked back to the kitchen to assess the damage.  A loaf of bread was on the counter untouched, and their little yellow canary with all his bird seed next to the refrigerator was also untouched (although the canary hasn’t been right since).  Then Jay noticed the freezer door slightly ajar with muddy claw prints on the edge.  He couldn’t believe it. The bear walked past the bread and bird seed and went straight for the freezer, opened the door, removed the Haagen Dazs and had what appeared to be a very nice treat. After this incident at Jay’s house, the police were called for similar events nearby where bears had entered houses.  This particular bear however had his routine down.  Head for the freezer, eat ice cream.  According to Jay, it became known as Public Nuisance #1, Hoggin Paws the Bear.

Jay wrote to Ben and Jerry’s, thinking maybe “BEARly Vanilla” might work, but never heard back.

DFW Western District Manager Andrew Madden said a bear broke into about a dozen residences in the area last summer and there were multiple reports that it went to the freezers after ice cream.  The Stockbridge police were actively involved and asked for assistance from DFW.  The difficulty was being there at the right time to nab the suspect.  DFW trapped a bear in the neighborhood but they couldn’t determine if it was the right bear.  Usually troublesome bears are male juveniles, but the one they trapped, marked with an ear tag and relocated was a female.  There have been plenty of bear sightings since but no further incidences.


According to Madden, a bear actively trying to get into residences is a serious issue, not good for bear or people.   Fortunately it came to an end, whether it was a result of their trapping or the result of the changing of people’s behavior.  That bear is lucky to still be around.


MassWildlife says that now is time to take down birdfeeders and other sources of food.   Bears will often ignore natural foods such as skunk cabbage and head to a bird feeder for an easy meal.   Once it gets food from a feeder, garbage can, or open compost, it will revisit the site and look for similar foods in other yards.  Conflicts can arise that pose hazards to both bears and people.  They encourage people to view their new video about Black Bears as well as their revised website section which addresses  living with Black Bears and preventing conflicts.*****

The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation will be holding a kid’s fishing derby at the lower pond in Hartsville next Saturday, from 9 to 10:30 AM.    Children under 12 years old must be accompanied by an adult. *****

Next Sunday at 4:00 PM, the Lenox Library will feature Stephen Booth who will reflect on the space between city and wilderness as a place of rest, retreat and repose in the Housatonic River Valley.  He will explore the “middle landscape” of the river valley through art and literature. A former HVA board member, cold water conservationist and excellent fly fisherman Booth is researching the links among culture, communities and conservation. This free lecture is sponsored by HVA in memory of Berkshire conservationist, Professor Chauncey C. Loomis, Jr.   A reception will follow.

Half a million trout to be stocked this spring


According to Mass DFW, close to 500,000 brook, brown, rainbow and tiger trout will be stocked by them this spring. The fish will come from their five hatcheries located in Sandwich, Palmer, Belchertown, Sunderland, and Montague.  The Western District should get about 100,000 of them. They reported that it has been another challenging year for the hatcheries given the extremely cold, icy, and snowy conditions that have prevailed this past winter.

Nevertheless, they report that the close to 500,000 trout being stocked this spring, coupled with the more than 67,000 twelve plus inch trout stocked last fall should provide some excellent fishing in the coming months.  Due to the heavy snow and thick ice that remains on lakes and ponds across the state, trout stocking likely will not begin until the first week in April, beginning with the eastern region of the state moving westward as the ice and snow melts.

Here are some 2015 trout stocking facts provided by Mass DFW:  45% of the trout average over 14 inches, 72% of them average over 12 inches, 218,000 rainbows will average over 14 inches, 46,500 rainbows will average over 12 inches, 10,000 rainbows will average between 9 and 12 inches, 750 brown trout will be over 18 inches, 46,600 brown trout will average over 12 inches, 79,400 brown trout average between 9 and 12 inches, 1,350 brook trout will average over 15 inches, 37,600 brook trout will average over 12 inches, 47,000 brook trout between 9 and 12 inches and 2,500 tiger trout that will average over 14 inches.

Anglers are encouraged to check the trout stocking schedule for the district near them, or contact individual district offices for the latest stocking information. Trout stocking schedules will be updated every Friday between the end of March and Memorial Day.

There is a Tags ‘N Trout program which is a cooperative venture between MassWildlife and participating clubs, businesses and other groups.  A certain number of trout are tagged and stocked into selected water bodies in each MassWildlife District.  The tagged trout in each water body are sponsored by a local sportsmen’s club, business, or other entity.   Any angler who catches a trout with a bright pink tag will receive a prize from the local cooperator in the Tags ‘N Trout Program.

In the Western District, tagged trout will be stocked in the following waters:  Ashfield Lake, Westfield River, Upper Highland Lake, Deerfield River and Littleville Lake.   If you catch one, contact the sponsor for your prize.   A listing of the sponsors is available on the MassWildlife web site. *****

The Onota Boat Livery’s 2015 Ice Fishing Contest ended on March 15.  Congratulations to the following winners who won $50 store prizes:  Largest pike – 23 lbs 8 oz, 42 inch out of Onota Lake, caught by John Kozlowski of  Pittsfield,  Largemouth Bass – 4 lbs 1oz, 21 inch out of Pontoosuc Lake caught by Austin Dufur of Adams; Smallmouth Bass – 3 lbs 15 oz out of Long Pond by Ed Vidal of  Pittsfield; Perch – 1 lb 2 oz out of Pontoosuc Lake by Bubby Carofiles of Stephentown, NY;  Crappie – 1 lb 5 oz out of Onota Lake  by Bruce McCauley of Hinsdale; Pickerel – 3 lbs 7 oz out of Onota Lake, by Corie Tremont of  Pittsfield and Trout – 1 lb 10 oz, 17 inch, out of Laurel Lake caught by Joe Chague of Pittsfield.  Congratulations to all.


Vicki and Cliff White will be teaching basic pistol classes in the near future at two sportsmen’s clubs.   The Lenox Sportsmen’s Club is offering a course at its club house in Lenox on the evenings of April 14 and April 17 beginning at 5:00PM.  The Lee Sportsmen’s Association will be offering one on Saturday, April 11 from 8:00AM to 6PM at its clubhouse in Lee. These classes provide great opportunities to learn the skills, knowledge and attitude to be a responsible gun owner.  Information on these classes can be obtained from the clubs’ web pages or at  cliffxring@gmail.com *****


Congratulations to 7 year old Emma Ranzoni of Lee for catching the above pictured 5 lb 2 oz, 20 ½ inch largemouth bass out of Buckley-Dunton Lake in Becket last Saturday.   According to her dad Matt, the fish made a long run, the tip-up spooled out, the line knotted up at times and all sorts of maladies happened before finally landing the fish.  She will receive a bronze pin under the MA Freshwater Sportfishing Awards program.  Her dad, who does some taxidermy, will mount it for her.


What a wonderful story to wrap up the 2015 ice fishing season.


Cub Scouts take to the ice



Last weekend, Joe Chague of Pittsfield had his second annual ice fishing class on Laurel Lake for Sacred Heart Church Pack #20 Cub Scouts.  He was assisted by friend Mark Markham also of Pittsfield.  Some 15 scouts, siblings and friends showed up for the class.  They were taught how to cut holes through the ice, sound the holes, set up and bait tip-ups, jig for fish, etc.  Midway through the class, they stopped for cups of hot chocolate and hot dogs.


They had a great time and were unaffected by a couple of snow squalls that passed through.   Although none of them caught fish of their own, they got to see and handle some nice white and yellow perch caught by Mark.  He caught them using a jigging stick as well as on tip-ups.


Some parents had a thrill, too, and perhaps learned a thing or two about ice fishing.  Joe had several different types of tip-ups on display; from very old to new Y2K compliant.   I set up a tip up that was probably made in the 1930’s.  It was a single piece tip-up with no reel, the kind that I learned to ice fish with when I was a kid.  You can well imagine the thrill when that flag went up and I caught a pickerel. Never thought I would ever catch another fish on such a tip-up again.


As the picture indicates, these kids really got into this sport. Did you ever see 15 excited kids racing to respond to a tip- up?  Well, don’t get in their way.


Such events as this and the R.O.P.E.S. (Respect Other People Encouraging Self-esteem) ice fishing derby are wonderful ways to get kids (and parents) outdoors and interested in ice fishing. *****


Some 46 coyotes were entered into Dave’s Sporting Goods Coyote Contest this year, and the winners were as follows:  Carl Dolle of North Adams bagged the most coyotes with a tally of 22.  He also got the heaviest one which weighed 46 ½ lbs.   Cliff Briggs of Great Barrington won the random raffle.  If Carl’s name sounds familiar, it is because he bagged the largest coyote in last year’s contest, one weighing 50 lbs.  In the 2013 contest, Carl got the most coyotes with a tally of 24, and in 2012, he bagged the most coyotes with a tally of 16.  Do you think that maybe he knows what he is doing?  *****

Governor Baker recently appointed former State Representative George Peterson, from Grafton, as Commissioner of the Department of Fish & Game.  Peterson served 10 terms in the House before deciding to not run again in 2014.   Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton, who served with Peterson in the House, also appointed Mary-Lee King deputy commissioner of Fish and Game.  This announcement came as great news to sportsmen statewide.


“As an avid outdoorsman and former commercial fisherman, George will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience as well as a unique understanding of the issues most important to sportsmen and commercial fishermen across the Commonwealth,” said Beaton. “I am honored to lead the DFG, and look forward to upholding the Department’s ongoing commitment to the protection of the Commonwealth’s wildlife, open space, and outdoors educational programs,” said Peterson.  King previously held the title of Legislative Director for the DFG, and worked as a chief policy advisor for former Gov. William Weld and chief of staff to then-Sen. Paul Cellucci. *****


Getting that urge to go fly fishing?  Well, this Friday evening, the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited is hosting an International Fly Fishing Film Festival at the Berkshire Hills Country Club, 500 Benedict Road, Pittsfield.   You are invited to see some of best rated fly fishing videos of 2014 taken from around the world.  You are encouraged to bring the whole family.


Doors open at 6:30 PM and the film will be shown at 7 PM.  The cost is $12 for advanced tickets or $15 at the door.  The first 45 attendees will receive a free copy of Stonefly Magazine.  There will be a 50/50 raffle and a handmade 9’ 4wt fly rod will be given out as a door prize.  Refreshments will be available.  Tickets can be obtained by calling Bill Travis 413-447-9720, by contacting any Taconic TU Chapter Board member, (listed on its website  http://www.taconictroutunlimited.org, under “Members”) or on-line at: www.THEF3T.com and search for the date.


Questions/comments:  Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com.   Phone/fax:  (413) 637-1818



2014 County League of Sportsmen Award winners are announced


Shaun Smith of Lee was selected to receive the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen (BCLS) 2014 Sportsman of the Year Award.   The Lee Sportsmen’s Association’s nomination states that “Shaun has been a long time sportsman over the years, and last year celebrated his 40th year being a volunteer for the Massachusetts Paraplegic Hunt program.  For many years he has taken the lead organizing the South County paraplegic hunt to make sure all hunters have a great time.  Shaun is also involved in Hunter Education Courses as a basic instructor and in firearm training as a NRA certified pistol and rifle instructor and a range safety officer.  Shaun runs the indoor archery league and has been working very hard to move the club into the 21st century.”


Former Massachusetts DFW Director Wayne MacCallum of Grafton was selected to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.   His many achievements were the main focus of last week’s column.


The Adams Outdoor for Youth organization was selected to receive the Sportsmen’s Appreciation Award.  The 31-year-old non-profit organization was founded by town resident James “Jimmy” Carpenter, who also served as its first president. Meetings occur on a monthly basis, and there are more than 130 “family members.” Among the youth-focused activities and events offered by the group are ice-fishing derbies, a well-attended spring fishing derby held in conjunction with the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and the BCLS, and another very popular annual youth fishing derby. Annually, it holds a well attended game dinner and 100% of the proceeds are used for financial scholarships for youths interested in attending sports camps and a state-sponsored conservation camp.  Education-focused scholarships are also offered to Berkshire area high school seniors.


BCLS President Mark Jester of Pittsfield was selected to receive the prestigious John Zuber Lifetime Achievement Award.   Just look at his accomplishments:  BCLS delegate since 1982 and its president for 17 years, former Lakewood Sportsmen’s Club Secretary; Lenox Sportsmen’s Club Secretary, Board Member and VP since 1984. He was Instrumental in the Adopt-a-Forest Program, involved in getting the ACEC designation for the Housatonic River,  serves on several different environmental and non-profit charitable organizations, former founding member on the Governing Board of the Housatonic River Restorations, Sportsmen for Land Preservation, Western Mass Sportsmen’s Alliance, Berkshire Environmental Coalition, Board of Directors for GOAL, BCLS Representative on the Mass Sportsmen’s Council, appointed to the Massachusetts Zebra Mussel Task Force, leader of the local effort to get the National Archery-in-Schools Program established in the Berkshires.  In the last 4 years he has signed up 10 schools into the program with thousands of students participating.  He has taught youth archery classes at Lenox Sportsmen’s Club since 1996 and coordinates and hosts the Conte Banquet every year. He is constantly meeting with City, State and Federal Legislators, DCR, GOAL, DFW, USF&W and Massachusetts F&W Board on sportsmen’s issues.  He has even testified before the EPA in Washington DC.


He has worked on behalf of sportsmen’s issues with and for National Wildlife Federation (NWF) surrounding federal legislation with EPA on the Mercury Rule/ Clean Air and Clean Water Act.


He hosts a local TV outdoor sports programs “GOAL Show” with Executive Director James Wallace and “The Outdoor Report” with the NWF. He was named the 2000 BCLS Sportsman of the Year, 2001 Massachusetts Sportsmen’s Council Sportsman of the Year and the 2014 recipient of the MSC’s highest award, the Ray Gribbons Award.


The richly deserved awards will be presented at the Silvio O. Conte Memorial Banquet at the Cheshire Rod and Gun Club on the evening of April 18.   Tickets can be obtained from any BCLS delegate.   *****


The East Mountain Sportsmen’s Club will be conducting a Basic Hunter Education Course at its club location at 312 Henderson Road, Williamstown. The dates are April 13, 17, 20, 24, 27 and May 1 from 6 to 9 PM. All first-time hunters who wish to purchase Massachusetts hunting or sporting licenses must complete a Basic Hunter Education course.  For more information, call 508-389-7820. *****


The next Lee Sportsmen’s Association Pistol Course will be held on Monday March 23rd and Monday March 30th. The cost is $100.  Participants will be given a student packet and learn the attitude, skills and knowledge necessary to become a responsible gun owner.  Course includes handling, dry firing, parts and operation of revolvers and semi auto pistols, cleaning, storage, opportunities to shoot in different venues, and the current MA gun laws.  Upon successful completion, participants will receive a MA State Police Certificate for application for their LTC.  Contact Larry K. at 442-780 for more information. *****

DFW is sending out electronic hunter surveys to approximately 32,000 licensed hunters through Novi Survey, an online survey company. The survey is designed to understand hunter effort and preferences and to collect important local “on-the-ground” information that will help manage game in the Commonwealth. The survey takes approximately 5-15 minutes to complete. All responses are anonymous, identifying information such as email and IP address will not be recorded.  If you haven’t received the survey by the end of this month, check your junk or spam folder for an email from MassWildlife/Novi Survey.  A reminder will be emailed to license holders who have not responded within a week. ****

The Locker Room in Lee recently held its 23rd annual ice fishing derby at Laurel Lake.  Tournament Director Butsy Crawford, who recently turned 90 years old, ordered up some great weather and about 100 fishermen participated.   The Adult Heaviest Fish, a 5lb 1 oz pickerel, was taken by Bill Ahern.  The Kid’s Heaviest Fish, a 2 lb 1 oz pickerel was taken by Jack Clarke.  A pasta dinner with raffle prizes was held at the Locker Room afterwards.  All of the proceeds went to Lee Youth Football.


DFW Director Wayne MacCallum retires



This Thursday marks the last day on the job for Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (DFW) Director Wayne MacCallum.  He is retiring as Director after 27 years.  He received his Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology from UMASS in 1968 and his Master’s Degree from Penn State University where he studied the nesting ecology of Black Ducks.   He joined the then Massachusetts Division of Fish & Game as a waterfowl technician.  Shortly thereafter, he entered the private sector and over a ten year period progressed from Staff Scientist, to Manager of Environmental Management Services for Woodward Clyde Consultants.


MacCallum returned to the DFW in 1983 as the Assistant Director of Wildlife and became Director in 1988.  He has served as President of the Northeast Fish and Wildlife Directors Association and the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.  He served as Chairman of the Atlantic Flyway Council, the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture, and the Woodcock Task Force.  He received a Presidential appointment to the North American Wetlands Conservation Council where he was elected its Chairman.  (This Council was in charge of various measures including how to disseminate $100 million to repair damages to the environment and native species from the BP oil spill).


He was a member of the Sea Duck Joint Venture, and the International Task Force on Waterfowl Regulations.  He has been honored by numerous conservation and sporting groups in Massachusetts and by professional and national conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, The Wildlife Society and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.


A lot of wonderful accomplishments were achieved under his watch from 1988 through 2014:  State lands increased from 59,189 acres to 204,164, deer harvest went from 5,596 to 11,165, turkey harvest from 57 to 2,550, bear harvest from 37 (west of CT River only) to 240 (Worcester County and west).   His focus was not only on game, but also on the rare and endangered species.  For example, Bald Eagles increased from 3 pairs to 40 pairs nesting in MA (486 chicks have fledged since 1989) Peregrine Falcons increased from 2 pairs to 31 (48 fledged last year) and Piping Plovers increased from 135 pairs to 670. As Marion Larson, DFW Chief of Information & Education pointed out, “Wayne will be quick to point out that all that has been accomplished is due to the hard working, caring and professional staff. Still, it all flows from the leader and these are the results of his leadership.”

The Fish & Wildlife Board has appointed Acting Director Jack Buckley to fill in until it hires a permanent successor.


Although a resident of Grafton, MA, MacCallum is well known and respected here in the Berkshires, too. He has attended every Berkshire County League of Sportsmen awards banquet as well as the various local DFW land acquisition ceremonies.  He is on a first name basis with many local sportsmen.

Mary Romaniec, Reporter for the Grafton News wrote a wonderful piece about MacCallum and his similarities with Henry David Thoreau. “As Thoreau found and wrote about prolifically, the natural environment is ours as stewards to protect.  It seems that MacCallum and Thoreau would have been friends in their love for the environment mixed with pragmatic application on how it is managed.  Thoreau too must have wondered what the future held for the generations to come as he looked to the future.  (Throeau) wrote, “Each town should have a park, or rather a primitive forest, of 500 or a thousand acres, where a stick should never be cut for fuel, a common possession forever, for instruction and recreation.”

“In MacCallum”, Mary wrote, “He would be glad to know the legacy of stewardship for the land was well entrusted.”   Many sportsmen and conservationists agree. *****

The coyote and bobcat hunting seasons ended yesterday. Bobcat and coyote must be checked no later than 4 working days after the close of the season.  The cottontail rabbit, snowshoe hare and fox hunting seasons ended on February 28.  With the exception of a special upland bird hunting option (page 34 of the Fish & Wildlife Guide), the only hunting season that is still open now is crow hunting, which ends on April 10.    The next hunting season to open in our area will be turkey hunting on April 27.  (The Youth Turkey Hunting day is April 25.) *****

The Lenox Sportsmen’s Club Sunday Ham Shoots begin today and run every Sunday in March.  Ticket sales begin at 12:30PM and shooting commences at 1:00PM.  The cost is $3.00 per shot with chances to win your choice of a Ham or a gift certificate to Harry’s Supermarket.  The full kitchen will be open.  Contact Brady Kerr at (413) 212-0894 for more information.

The Lee Sportsmen’s Association is also having Turkey Shoots every Sunday in March from 1:00 to 4:00PM.   The cost is $2.00 a round with chances to win a choice of turkey, steak, spiral ham or pork loin.  They will also have a money-shoot for $3 a round.  Grilled lunch available.


Next Sunday at1PM the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club will be holding a multi-state firearms course.  It includes firearm laws covering licensing, storage, transportation, operation and safe handling of firearms, shooting fundamentals, etc.  Participants will receive a course certificate which will allow them to apply for licenses in Massachusetts, Utah, New Hampshire and Maine.  A Utah firearm permit is honored in 30 states.   The fee for the entire 5 hour course is $140 or one can take just the Massachusetts or Utah segments for $100.   Preregistration is required.   Call or e-mail Robert J. McDermott at (413)232-7700 or robmcdermott@verizon.net.*****

6, 3th, 20th, and 27th is tentatively organized for March