Spring trout fishing is upon us

 

Close to 500,000 brook, brown, rainbow and tiger trout will be stocked this spring from the DFW five hatcheries located in Sandwich, Palmer, Belchertown, Sunderland and Montague.  The Western District should get about 100,000 of them.  It has been a challenging year for the Division’s trout hatchery managers between the drought conditions that prevailed much of last summer and the extremely cold, icy and snow conditions that have prevailed this past winter.

Nevertheless, close to 500,000 fish will be stocked this spring, coupled with the more than 67,000 12+ inch trout stocked last fall should provide some excellent fishing in the coming months.  Due to the delayed spring thaw, trout stocking could not begin until the last week of March or the first week in April, beginning with the Cape area and then moving westward as the ice and snow melts. 

Here are some 2014  trout stocking facts provided by Mass DFW: 41% of the fish average over 14 inches, 71% of the fish average over 12 inches, 195,000 rainbows will average over 14 inches, 71,000 rainbows will average over 12 inches, 12,000 rainbows will average between 9 and 12 inches, 500 brown trout will be over 18 inches, 43,000 brown trout will average over 12 inches, 81,000 brown trout average between 9 and 12 inches, 1,250 brook trout will average over 15 inches, 31,200 brook trout will average over 12 inches, 38,200 brook trout between 9 and 12 inches, 10,000 brook trout between 6 and 9 inches and 4,700 tiger trout that will average over 14 inches.

Anglers can check the DFW weekly trout stocking schedule pages for information about stocking in each district, or contact individual district offices. The schedules will be updated every Friday between March and Memorial Day.

.The following local waters were scheduled to be stocked last week subject to alterations or cancellations:  Pontoosuc Lake, Onota Lake, Laurel Lake, Stockbridge Bowl and the Farmington River.

Get your fishing equipment ready, oil the reel, replace the old line, patch up the boots, etc.  Don’t forget to print out your fishing license.  Pick up a copy of Trout Unlimited’s Anglers Guide to Trout Fishing in Massachusetts to find out where to go and what to use.  (The Bookstore in Lenox has a new supply of them).  Tell the kids, mom and gramps to get ready, too, because you are taking them this year.  There will be an awful lot of trout out there to catch and a lot of hours may have to be devoted to catching them.  It’s tough, but hey, somebody has to do it. *****

This Thursday evening, Rich Strolis of Catching Shadows Custom Flies will be the guest speaker at the Taconic Chapter of TU meeting at the Bass Water Grill in Cheshire. For him, fly tying is as much of a passion as fly-fishing, and this is something that he truly believes is an integral part of becoming a solid angler.  He will offer a fly tying demonstration and talk about a variety of styles and types of fly patterns from both simple to complex that will accommodate tiers of all skill sets.  Whether you are a beginner who wants to learn the basics, or a seasoned veteran who wants to brush up on some of your skills he will have something for you. *****

 

The event is free and open to the public.  Social hour starts at 5 PM, the presentation at 6 PM and dinner off of the menu (optional) to follow at 7 PM.  For more information, contact Ron Wojcik at (413) 684-4141 or rwojcik@bcn.net.  *****

The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation will be holding a kid’s fishing derby at the lower pond next Saturday, from 9 to 10:30 AM.   Please let them know if you are coming by emailing http://www.berksfish.com/events.html and giving the number of children attending.  Children under 12 years old must be accompanied by an adult. *****

MassWildlife reminds us that black bears are emerging from their winter dens and seeking food and it’s time to take down bird feeders. In many cases, bears will ignore natural foods such as skunk cabbage and instead head to the nearest birdfeeder for a good meal. To avoid this problem, they are asking property owners to be proactive by removing bird feeders and other potential bear foods promptly and taking other preventative measures. 

 

The bear range is expanding eastward and some residents in eastern Massachusetts may notice bear activity in the coming months and years. Taking action now, by removing feeders and securing trash, will help avoid conflicts with bears now and in the future. “If food such as bird seed, pet food, unsecured trash or dumpsters are easy for bears to find, conflicts can occur that pose hazards to both bears and people.” says Laura Conlee, DFW Wildlife Biologist. Removing bird feeders will not create a problem for birds as feeding stations only supplement available natural foods.

 

 Click onto the MassWildlife website for more tips on preventing bear conflicts. *****

 

Parting reminder:  Falling into cold water (less than 50 degrees) can cause a cold shock response that makes breathing difficult and can lead to rapid drowning, even for experienced swimmers.  The wearing of a dry suit when kayaking in cold water is recommended as well as wearing a personal floatation device (PFD).  Kayaking with a buddy is also recommended.  In Massachusetts all canoe and kayak occupants must wear a US Coast Guard approved PFD from September 15 to May 15.  Readers are probably getting sick of reading this message every year and but I ask your understanding.  Each year there are new people taking up the paddling, fishing and hunting sports and may not be aware of the regulations and potential dangers involved with them.

 

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

 

Cold, early April fishing days remembered

Early April always brings back fond and humorous memories of the old days.   As mentioned in several previous columns, my fishing buddy Jerry Zink and I did a lot of fishing, beginning as far back as second grade in school.  I guess you could call us fishing fanatics, never getting enough of fishing.  It was always a sad day when February 28 rolled around each year for that meant the end of all forms of freshwater fishing until the third week of April.  (Now days in Massachusetts, we can fish year round). 

Those 6 or 7 weeks until fishing season reopened were brutal for the sportsman, for there was nothing to do on Saturday mornings.  At least the fly fishermen could tie flies during that period, but we weren’t fly fishermen back then.  Depression and boredom settled in.   Some guys hung around Dick Moon’s Sporting Goods Store or the department stores like the Big N, K-Mart or Zayres waiting for the new fishing stuff to come in and be displayed.  To cut the boredom, some guys traded in their cars for newer models, bought expensive record players, etc.  Some even took the opportunity to swap in their girlfriends for new ones.

Jerry and I were bored, too.  Finally, around 1970, when we were in our late 20’s, we decided to do something about it.  We bought NY fishing licenses and fished over there.  Their season opened on April 1 and that gave us an early start on fishing before the MA season opened.  We had to fish the rivers because the ponds there were frequently still frozen over. 

 We were bait fishermen back then.   Sometimes we fished with live shiners, but usually with worms or night crawlers.  The only problem was we couldn’t dig any earthworms or catch any night crawlers because it was too cold at that time of year.  Heck, many times the ground was still frozen.  Jerry solved that problem.  He ordered a supply of bee moths (grubs) from Minnesota.  He found out about them through advertisements in Field & Stream outdoor magazine.  The grubs came in containers stuffed with wood shavings and were relatively inexpensive.  And boy, did the trout love them.

We usually fished the Kinderhook Creek right across the border in nearby Lebanon and Canaan, NY.  More than once we slid down frozen, icy banks to get to the river’s edge.  The fishing was usually slow, but we managed to catch a few, even though sometimes it was bitterly cold.

 One cold day, we fished the Green River in NY near Hillsdale.  We could spot the fish but they were logy and very difficult to catch.  Back then if we didn’t catch our limit and we knew there were still a few fish around, we persevered until we did catch them.  Well, on this particular day, the fish were playing hard to get.  They were just giving us the fin.

 Brook trout fishing requires stealth and little movement, otherwise you will spook them.  We had to stand still in hip boots with our hands constantly exposed and wet.  We couldn’t fish properly wearing gloves because we just couldn’t feel the delicate nibbles.  Finally, after 3 or 4 hours, we had to leave them for it was just too cold. 

 We couldn’t wait to hop into my car and start the heater.  But when we got to the cart, my hands were so cold I had no strength to unlock the door.  Then I tried unlocking it with both hands.  No luck.  I asked Jerry to unlock it and his hands were just as cold as mine and he couldn’t unlock it either.  Then we tried unlocking it with 4 hands, my two and Jerry’s two hands on top of mine.  (That must have been a sight)  No luck. 

 Our hands were so cold and weak that we couldn’t figure out if it was us or the lock had frozen up.   Probably a little bit of both.  We couldn’t even flick the Zippo lighters to melt the locks.  We were standing there on a country road next to the car trying to figure what to do next, when a car approached us and Jerry flagged him down.  The driver lowered his window a little and asked if he could help us. 

 Now, here I have to paint the picture.  Here we were two young strong men weighing over 200 lbs each in our late 20’s approaching his car in our hip boots.  At that time, Jerry sported long hair, a full beard and mustache.   When he bent down to talk through the car window a look of sheer panic crossed the driver’s face.  Charles Manson, the murderer, was in the news those days and perhaps the man thought Jerry looked liked him and he would be slain right then and there on the spot.  When Jerry asked him if he could unlock our car for us, he floored the gas pedal and spun out, kicking up rocks and gravel.  We watched him race down the country road kicking up a cloud of dust that lingered for some time afterward.    Laugh…………You had to be there.

 Eventually we got the car door open and laughed all the way home.

Nearly 45 years have passed since that event but about this time each year, the subject comes up and Jerry and I still laugh like heck.  In retrospect Jerry wondered what the driver’s reaction would have been if we had just asked him to sit there for 5 minutes with the engine running so we could sit on the ground and hold our hands by his tailpipe.  Guaranteed, 10 minutes after he left the men in white coats would have arrived to take us to a warm place.