New water pipeline planned for McLaughlin Fish Hatchery

 

On June 24, Governor Charlie Baker and Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton joined anglers and state and local officials at the McLaughlin Trout Hatchery in Belchertown, MA for a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the construction of a nearly mile-long water pipeline and hydropower turbine that will supply six million gallons of water daily to the hatchery, produce renewable energy, and reduce the hatchery’s electric demand.

The McLaughlin Hatchery is located near the Swift River and is the largest of five MassWildlife trout hatcheries.  It is responsible for half of the state’s entire annual trout production, (approximately 225,000 pounds) with a “retail value” exceeding $2 million. The hatchery operation includes an egg-hatching and fry-rearing facility producing nearly 750,000 fry (very young fish) which are then distributed to the other state hatcheries to grow large enough to stock. A staff fish pathologist monitors fish health and water quality for this and the other hatcheries to ensure high quality fish production.  Fish raised at the McLaughlin Hatchery are stocked in nearly 500 rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds throughout Massachusetts.

According to MassWildlife, water for the hatchery is currently pumped uphill from the Swift River to the hatchery resulting in annual electricity costs of approximately $60,000.00. Leaves, snow, ice, and other debris from the river can block the intake screens, and impede water flow to the pumps. If the water flow is blocked, the pumps automatically shut down to prevent damage and hatchery staff must respond within minutes to prevent disruption to hatchery operations.

During the summer when the Quabbin Reservoir discharges surface water into the Swift River, water temperatures can exceed 72oF creating potential problems for the hatchery including fish mortality, disease, and parasite outbreaks. Warm water temperatures lead to decreased dissolved oxygen levels and increased stress for the fish resulting in lower fish growth rates. Administratively, decreased dissolved oxygen levels and warm water temperatures trigger water quality discharge permit concerns.

The new pipeline project will tap water from the Chicopee Valley Aqueduct and provide the McLaughlin Hatchery with a reliable, gravity-fed source of cold water, eliminating the environmental/biological risks associated with the water withdrawal from the Swift River. The result is an energy cost savings of $60,000.00 per year. The project also includes installation of a hydropower turbine on the pipeline. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) has received a grant to fully cover the cost of the hydropower unit which will generate almost $53,000.00 in annual revenue for the MWRA. According to MassWildlife, this project is a win – win scenario for the MWRA, the hatchery, and the Commonwealth.

The estimated completion cost, including construction, is $4.4 million with an estimated completion date of the end of 2016 or early 2017.

Mountain Trail Upgrades

By now, you probably know about the proposed mountain trail upgrades on Pittsfield State Forest and October Mountain State Forest which were recently proposed by the DCR.  Reporter Dick Lindsay did an excellent article about them in the Wednesday, July 6, 2006 issue of the Berkshire Eagle “DCR reveals plans for trail upgrades” and there is little I can add.

 

I should emphasis that the DCR is serious about closing, blocking or naturalizing certain illegal off road vehicle trails.  They intend to monitor them and immediately close any re-opened trails or new trails.    They intend to install wildlife cameras and engage DCR Rangers and Environmental Police in sting operations.  They are especially concerned with the illegal trails in the Sykes Mountain area of October Mountain State Forest, north of New Lenox Road.  A word to the wise, they can also follow those illegal trails to their origination points.

 

They intend to enhance public information, education and signage to raise awareness of illegal trail issues and impacts    However; they will work cooperatively with willing stakeholders to create new approved connections, maintain legal trails and monitor trail networks.

 

The draft plan and accompanying maps are available for viewing on the DCR websight.  A hard copy is available for review at the DCR West Regional Headquarters on South Street in Pittsfield, MA.  Public comments on the draft plan will be received until August 1 online or by writing to the DCR.

 

Quabbin Controlled Deer Hunt

Applications for the 2016 Quabbin Controlled Deer Hunt are now available at the DCR deer hunt web page (www.mass.gov/dcr/deerhunt).  Completed applications must be submitted by August 15 to be eligible for the lottery drawing in September. Beginning this year, all applications must be submitted online and there is no longer an application fee.

Applicants can use any computer with internet access, including those at public libraries, to complete the application form. During the application period, staff at the Quabbin Visitor Center (485 Ware Road, Belchertown) will be available to assist hunters with the online application on Saturdays from 9:00 A.M. to noon and Wednesdays from noon to 3:00 P.M.

The 2016 controlled hunt will occur during the state shotgun season in the Pelham, New Salem, Petersham and Prescott sections of the Quabbin Reservation. Applicants may apply in groups with a minimum of two hunters up to a maximum of six hunters on each application. On September 7, approximately 1,100 permits will be drawn based upon hunter’s license numbers and successful applicants will receive written notification from the DCR by early October. For more information, call the Quabbin Visitor Center at (413) 323-7221.

Truckload of goodies raffle winners

Karen Kruszyna, spokesperson for the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club recently announced the winners of its Summer Sizzler Raffle. They are:  First Prize winner of the whole truckload – Angela Swistak of Cheshire, 2nd Prize winner was Missie Baker of Hancock, 3rd Prize – Rick Moffett of Adams, 4th Prize – Carol Daniels of Cheshire and 5th Prize –Ashley Yarmey of Hinsdale.

Veterans helped by Healing Waters

 

 

Last May my wife Jan and I were camping at the Indian Hollow Campground along the East Branch of the Westfield River in Chesterfield, MA.  The Massachusetts/Rhode Island Council of Trout Unlimited (TU) rented the camping area for the weekend and delegates from both state’s TU chapters were there to conduct business and do a little fly fishing.

 

Next to our campsite was a sizeable group of men.   I commented to Jan that we wouldn’t get much sleep that night with that many guys there probably partying all night.  I knew the group leader, Bill Manser, from Royalston MA, a TU member, and inquired about the group. He explained the group was made up of veterans and mentors participating in a therapeutic fishing trip as part Project Healing Waters.

 

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc.™  (not to be confused with Wounded Warriors) is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings.

The Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center (MVOC) in Gardner, MA joined the program and runs its group at its Stallings campus in Winchendon where they meet bi-weekly.  The idea behind Healing Waters is simple – to provide a therapeutic and fun outlet for physically or mentally disabled vets by teaching them the basics of fly fishing, casting, tying, and rod building, and then going out on fishing trips to ideal spots such as the Indian Hollow campground.

Nationwide, Healing Waters raises its own money with a budget of close to $3 million and administrative costs are kept low, in the 15 % range, reserving as much as possible to fund trips and provide gear for the vets who take part.  The entire program is completely free to the Veterans.   In addition to funding from Healing Waters, the MVOC group is sponsored by the non-profits TU and the New England Fly Tyers.

The group is open to any veteran who has a disability, whether physical or mental.  “ 95% of what we have here is post-traumatic stress,” said Manser. With that in mind, MVOC counselor Michael Young is the therapeutic support for the group, joining Manser and the volunteer mentors who bring a variety of outdoor skills to the group, some of them being vets themselves.

Later that day, I saw them out fly fishing in the river, each with his mentor, and each doing a good job of fly casting.

Jan and I had no problem with the vets that night.  There were no drugs or alcohol at their campsite.   During the middle of the night I saw a small campfire still ablaze, but there was no noise.  Some guys were standing around it talking low with their mentors or with one another.

Although they brought their own food, the TU Council invited them to its own picnic so that they could co-mingle.  It was at that time that I had a chance to talk to a few of them.  There were veterans from Viet Nam, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.  One veteran, Mike Bousquet, really got involved with the group and recently received its Participant of the Year award for New England from Deputy Regional Coordinator Richard Diamond.  Nominated for the award by Manser, Bousquet heard about the program while living at Hero Homestead in Leominster, a transitional housing facility for veterans run by the nonprofit Veteran Homestead.  He had been an avid angler throughout his life and recalled that after his first meeting spent tying a fly, he went out with the group that weekend and was successful in catching fish.

“Fishing is a pastime to me, something that I can stay calm with even when I’m not with the group.  I enjoy many, many things about it – the serenity about the environment and where you are.   It’s been a blessing.”

“He started as a participant and has now worked up to be a mentor, so it’s an accomplishment,” said Manser

John Sherwin, an Iraq vet said that Manser has saved his life.  “He helped restore some hope.  Sometimes the right person being there makes all of the difference…….someone who is interested.”    The mentors are dedicated, skilled and passionate in what they do.   According to Manser, some mentors travel great distances to attend the meetings.  Also, there would be no work or volunteers were it not for the generous donations of gear and outfits.

I couldn’t help but feel for the Viet Nam veterans who are still struggling after nearly fifty years.   I believe no one who returns from serving their country in war, comes back the same.  Some come back with physical scars, others with invisible ones.  Some come back in coffins.  Some turn to drugs or alcohol, get into trouble, end up homeless or in prison or take their own lives.  They need help, understanding and compassion to get over the hurdles.

With funding available and the group thriving with the help of volunteer staff, Manser encourages more veterans to join so they can be helped.  Veterans or volunteers interested in participating can reach Manser at (978)895-5261 or bmanser@msn.com.   Its home website is projecthealingwaters.org, and facebook page is project healing waters – Winchendon.  Donations are always happily and gratefully accepted.

So how does fly fishing help?    Perhaps it is as fly fishing author Tom Meade wrote in his 1994 book entitled Essential Fly Fishing, “The rhythm of the rod carries your body, mind and spirit to the water.  Whether you catch a fish or not, the water will always give you a little of its strength, some of its energy and much of its peace.”

 

Mountain trail plans to be discussed

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will be holding a Public Meeting on the Draft Trail Plans for the Pittsfield and October Mountain State Forests on Wednesday, June 29, 2016 from 6:30 to7:30 PM at the DCR West Region Headquarters at 740 South Street, Pittsfield, MA.

 

It will be presenting an overview of the Draft Trail Plan’s contents and recommendations, and inviting public comments. The plan and accompanying maps are available for viewing on the DCR website at http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/public-outreach/public-meetings/. It will also be available for review at the DCR West Region Headquarters on South Street and the DCR Planning Office at 136 Damon Road, Northampton, during business hours, beginning on June 30.

 

Public comments on the plan may be submitted to DCR until August 1, 2016, either online at http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/public-outreach/submit-public-comments/ or by writing to the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Office of Public Outreach, 251 Causeway Street, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02114.

 

If you frequent these mountains, I recommend that you allow yourself some time to review this plan.  It is 54 pages long, not including the 4 pages of maps.  Take the time to read and digest it. For me, reading about 10 pages a day and writing notes or comments works.    Quite frankly, I am impressed with the work and thought that went into it and it certainly deserves our serious consideration.

 

Youth Outreach Fishing Derby

The Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, with the help from members of the Cheshire Rod  & Gun Club, Adams Outdoor for Youth and others held its Youth Outreach Fishing Derby at Reynolds Pond in Cheshire earlier this month. This year they hosted 25 kids from the “State Street T” group from North Adams.

 

They got to enjoy the fishing experience with local sportsmen helping them bait their hooks, cast lines, catch fish and clean them if they wanted to bring them home to eat. While at the derby, they all had a tasty lunch and later went home with new fishing outfits and great memories.

 

Thanks to Karen Kruszyna of Cheshire for providing the picture of the young lady angler.  It is one of my favorite fishing pictures.

 

Youth Rifle League

The Stockbridge Sportsman’s Club Youth Rifle league will run from July 6 to August 24 on Wednesday nights from 5:00 to 7:00 PM.  Registration will be on July 6 in the banquet hall at the club at 5:00 PM.   This will also be the first night of the league. The cost is $40 per child and they will need their own eye and ear protection. Children do not need to be members of the club in order to join the league. Applications can be found on club website at stockbridgesportmansclub.org.

 

State record lake trout follow-up

I received quite a few comments after last week’s article regarding the record lake trout which was caught out of Quabbin Reservoir recently.  Readers may recall that it weighed 25 lbs 7 oz.  Please allow me to address some of them here:

 

Why no picture of the fish?   Well there appears to have been only one picture taken of the fish with the successful angler William Roy of Palmer, MA.  I forwarded it to the Eagle with the write-up, but unfortunately, the quality was not good (grainy) and the Eagle could not use it.  To see a picture of that fish, click onto the MassWildlife page on Facebook and scroll down to around June 8.    If you are willing to wait to see a better picture of it, I think it will be detailed in MassWildlife’s July newsletter.

 

What was the previous Massachusetts record lake trout?  It weighed 24 lbs 0 oz caught out of Wachusett Reservoir by Michael Sienkiewicz in 2004.

 

Did Roy really catch the fish in 10 feet of water?  No, I worded that wrong.  Roy was trolling the lure at a depth of 10 feet below the surface.  Quabbin Reservoir averages over 50 feet in depth and I’m sure he was trolling in deeper water.  If he was trolling his lure in 10 feet of water, he would have been hooking up on the bottom all day long.

 

How old was that fish?  That’s difficult to say.  It depends on the lake that they live in.  In some lakes like the Great Lakes they grow faster because of the abundance of food fish.  Lake trout on bigger lakes have been reported to reach nearly 70 years of age, although 10-20 is more typical for fish that reach maturity.  Only on larger lakes do lake trout even break the 50-pound barrier and grow bigger than 3.5 feet.  The biggest recorded lake trout weighed 102 pounds and was caught in a gill net on Lake Athabasca, Saskatchewan.

 

Scientists usually gauge the age of fish by the rings on their scales. But since lake trout have small scales, they may have been underestimating their ages for many years. Today experts use the otoliths (inner ear bones) and sections of their fin rays to age lake trout.

 

Thank you for bringing the errors and omissions to my attention.

Bateman derby nets $5,000 for Jimmy Fund

 

According to Steve Bateman, organizer of the 23rd annual Harry A. Bateman Memorial Jimmy Fund Fishing Derby, over 220 anglers registered for the event on Saturday, June 4 at the Onota Lake pavilion.  Thanks to them and the numerous sponsors, the derby realized its $5000 goal.    This derby has county-wide support with many sponsors digging deep into their pockets, possibly because so many people’s lives are touched by cancer these days. The weather that day couldn’t be nicer nor the food tastier. Here are the derby winners:

Children’s Heaviest Game Fish Category: 1st Place:  Jason Sweetser – rainbow trout – 2 lbs 5 oz, 2nd Place: Rebecca Stimpson – rainbow trout – 2 lbs 2 oz, 3rd Place:  Rose Proper – rainbow trout 2 lbs 2 oz.

Children’s Heaviest Non-Game Fish Category:  1st Place: Brody Baumgartner – white perch – 9 oz, 2nd Place: Marissa Wendling – bullhead – 9 oz, 3rd Place: Brandon Barde – pumpkinseed – 7 oz.

 

Adult Heaviest Game Fish Category:  1st Place: Alex Kent – Largemouth bass – 3 lbs 8 oz, 2nd Place: Steven Fones Sr. – Largemouth bass – 3 lbs 7 oz, 3rd Place Martin Farrell – Rainbow trout 2 lbs 7 oz.

 

Special Heaviest Fish:  Bass – Tim Lambert largemouth bass 3 lbs 9 oz, Perch/Crappie – Shaun Hereforth  – crappie 1 lb 3 oz, Carp – Matt Clark 11 lbs 1 oz common carp, Trout (adult) – Dave Christman – rainbow trout 2 lbs 10 oz, Trout (child) – Dylan Lambert – rainbow trout 2 lbs 6 oz.

The Sportsman Award, won by 13 year old Angel Sayers, was well deserved. According to Steve Bateman, she was out there all day fishing sometimes over her waist in water.

Dylan Lambert was the winner of the award dedicated in memory of Chris Porter,   Alex Kent was the winner of the award dedicated in memory of John and Thelma Drury.   All passed away in the last year or so.  Six kids won bicycles that day.

 

Report Wild Turkey Sightings Sportsmen and women, birders, landowners, and other wildlife enthusiasts are encouraged to assist with the annual Wild Turkey Brood Survey. MassWildlife conducts a survey from June through August each year to evaluate turkey brood numbers. “The brood survey serves as a long-term index of reproduction,” explains Dave Scarpitti, Turkey Project Leader. “It helps us determine productivity and allows us to compare long-term reproductive success, while providing some estimation of fall harvest potential.”   Turkey nesting success can vary annually in response to weather conditions, predator populations, and habitat characteristics.

 

New this year, they are asking people to record observations of male turkeys, so be sure to count all jakes and tom turkeys that are seen.  Scarpitti also points out that citizen involvement in this survey is a cost-effective means of gathering useful data, and he encourages all interested people to participate.  A new turkey brood survey form is posted on the agency website. You are encouraged to look carefully when counting turkey broods as the very small poults may be difficult to see in tall grass or brush. Multiple sightings of the same brood can also be noted.

 

The survey period runs from June 1 – August 31. Completed forms should to be mailed to: Brood Survey, DFW Field Headquarters, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581.

 

New Bowhunting/Archery Workshops

Here in the Berkshires, there has been a need for bowhunting instructors for some time.  Well, MassWildlife is introducing two new archery programs: Explore Archery and Explore Bowhunting.   Educators from town recreation centers, school groups, 4-H, scouting groups, and other community groups looking to provide a new learning opportunity might consider implementing one, or both, of these new programs.

Explore Bowhunting is designed to help instructors teach outdoor skills to students age 11 and older. Using 23 versatile lessons and hands-on activities, students gain confidence interacting with the environment and strengthen their appreciation for wildlife and the woods. MassWildlife trains and certifies instructors and offers all Explore Bowhunting equipment for loan free of charge.

Explore Archery is an international style target shooting program that promotes a lifelong interest in the sport of archery to participants of all ages. Again, MassWildlife trains educators and allows them to borrow equipment free of charge. This allows any certified instructor the ability to create an archery program in their area.

Both programs have a mandatory training course and one can attend either training workshop or both. The local workshop will be held at MassWildlife Western District Office, 88 Old Windsor Road, Dalton on July 18.   The Explore Bowhunting workshop will start at 8:00 am and run until 1:00 pm.  The Explore Archery course will run from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.

For more information about these workshops, check out the MassWildlife Explore Bowhunting and Explore Archery pages.

Encroachment

Are you encroaching on DFW’s Wildlife Management Areas?  If you are, better look out.  They have new tools for spotting encroachment and other illegal activity.  Using aerial photography, GIS surveys and official survey plan anchor points they can see exactly where their boundary lines are.  If you have a shed on their property or are mowing parts of it, etc., they will know and may come knocking at your door.

 

Don’t rely on obtaining ownership through adverse possession.   According to the DFW legal department, there is no adverse possession with state property.

MA Fish & Wildlife Board gets status update on deer

 

 

The Massachusetts Fish & Wildlife Board conducted its May meeting at the Western District Headquarters of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) in Dalton, MA, on May 26.  At that meeting, DFW Deer Biologist David Stainbrook presented his 2015 deer review and made recommendations for the 2016 Deer Permit Allocations.

 

The Statewide 2016 deer harvest was as follows:  Youth hunt – 146, Archery – 4,187, Shotgun – 4,088 and Primitive Firearms – 1,633, totaling 10,054.  The breakdown was as follows:  5,814 adult bucks, 3,439 does and 801 button bucks.  The total number was down from the 2014 harvest by 6% and the 5 year average by 4%.  Stainbrook noted that last year’s deer hunting season was unique in that due to the lack of snow, there was an abundance of food and the deer didn’t have to move as frequently or far to get to the food.  That could explain why fewer deer were seen and taken this last deer season.  Neighboring states also had similar experiences.  (Use that as your excuse for not getting a deer last year.)

 

Because antlerless harvests vary according to the permits issued, DFW monitors the adult bucks for trends as long as changes in hunting hours, success and reporting rate are factored in. In the Western District (zones 1 through 4S) here is the 2015 breakdown of bucks harvested by all methods:  Zone 1 – 218, up 25% from previous year and up 39% from 5 year average, Zone 2 – 417, up 4% from prior year and up 25% from 5 year average; Zone 3 – 338, up 9% from previous year and down 3% from 5 year average; Zone 4N – 343, down 2% from prior year but up 10% from 5 year average; Zone 4S – 174, up 14% from prior year and up 7% from 5 year average.

 

These figures make up part of the formula for determining deer permit allocations.  Another factor is the age structure.  In our district, 50% of the 2015 harvest was made up of deer 2 ½ years and older.  That tells the biologists that there is no unbalanced age structure and consequently no overharvesting taking place.  These figures have been consistent over time.  In Zone 1 – 3, the population is increasing, in Zone 4 -5 it is stable, in Zones 6 and 8 the population is on the lower end of the desired range.

 

Based upon these statistics and other factors, Stainbrook’s recommendation to the Board was to keep the 2016 antlerless allocations unchanged in all zones except for Zone 6 which will be reduced from 450 to 300, Zone 8 from 2,800 to 2,500 and the Quabbin area reduced to 500.  In our area, Zone 1 allocations will be 400, Zone 2 – 175, Zone 3 – 1,100, Zone 4N – 375 and Zone 4S 275.

 

There will be no changes in the youth permits this year but DFW is closely monitoring them.   Last year (the program’s 1st year) some 1,339 youths participated in the one-day special hunt, bagging 146 deer of which 90 were antlerless.  This year, they expect around 2,000 kids participating.  The numbers of antlerless deer harvested by them may very well affect deer densities in some zones.

 

Last year, the Board was concerned about the effects of the historic 2014-2015 snow totals, especially in eastern Massachusetts, and what impact, if any, they had on the deer population.  To help determine that, deer biologists analyzed dead deer from across the state to determine the causes of death.  A good method for determining if death was caused by starvation is the analysis of the fat content in the bone marrow.  The analyses concluded that the fat contents were about normal and there was no evidence of massive starvation.  There were a few instances where it appeared some died of starvation, but that was in areas of high deer densities in eastern Massachusetts, where some towns closed their borders to deer hunting.

 

Another good indicator is an increase in the direct mortality of fawns over the winter.  Biologists did not see any drop in the 1 ½ year old deer harvested in 2015.  There are other indicators of winter mortality, called indirect mortality.  That is where a deer or fawn survived the winter but their antler mass was less than in normal years; ie not enough protein to grow the body and the antlers.  The 2015 harvest did not indicate any unusually low antler mass.   Also, according to Stainbrook, there was no drop in fawn reproduction across the state last spring.

 

As a result of all of the analyses, it was concluded that the historic winter did not seriously impact the Massachusetts deer population.

 

Bow Hunting Course

There will be a MassWildlife Bow Hunter Education Course at the Worthington Rod & Gun Club, 458 Dingle Road Rte. 112, Worthington, MA on Sunday, June 12 from 8 AM to 4:30 PM.  Students must attend the all day class to successfully complete the course.  Call 508-389-7830 to enroll; classes are filled first-come, first-served, and enrollment cannot be processed via email.

 

Spring Trout Stocking

DFW Western District Manager, Andrew Madden has announced that the spring trout stocking has been completed for 2016.  I must say they outdid themselves this year with large, beautiful fish.  If you have been paying attention to the sizes of the winning trout in the fishing derbies, you have to agree, for it was not uncommon to see trout caught which weighed in excess of 2 lbs.  Now, all that has to be done is for you and the youngsters to catch some.  Tight lines!

Jimmy Fund Derby coming up next weekend

The 24th Annual Harry A. Bateman Memorial Jimmy Fund Fishing Derby will take place on Saturday, June 4, at the Frank Controy Pavilion at Onota Lake in Pittsfield from 6:00 AM to 12:00 PM. No fishing license is required because it is Free Fishing Weekend for the state of Massachusetts.

 

The derby’s purpose is to raise money for the Jimmy Fund – Dana Farber Cancer Institute For Children.  All of the proceeds will be donated to the Jimmy Fund in memory of Harry A. Bateman a former member of Central Berkshire Bowman and I.U.E. Local 255 who was well known throughout Berkshire County and who became a victim of cancer in 1992.

 

Many trophies and prizes will be given out to the adult and youth winners of the fishing derby.   There is even a special category for those fishing with a bow & arrow. All fish must be weighed in at 12:00 PM and can be caught at Onota Lake from boat or shore. Fishing tackle is given with the trophy prizes and 2 prizes for heaviest trout.  A sportsman award is given out to a child which includes a tackle box with over $100 of tackle.

 

Fee is $10 for adults and $5 for children 14 years old and younger and it includes food and beverages. No alcohol is served at this event. All children receive a free gift and they get a chance at winning a mountain bike. The carp shoot is part of the fishing derby because that was something that Harry enjoyed.   Advanced tickets may be purchased at Avid Sports, Dave’s Sporting Goods, Maces Marine and Onota Boat Livery.

 

Readers may recall that the derby organizer, Stephen Bateman recently received the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen’s Lifetime Achievement Award for organizing and running this derby.  It has raised over $25,000 for the Jimmy Fund over the years.

 

Family Fun Day

Also next Saturday, from 10 AM to 4 PM, Mass Audubon at Pleasant Valley welcomes all to its Family Fun Day, its annual day of fun and learning for people of all ages.  There will be live animal demonstrations, music, guided nature walks and talks and hands-on crafts activities, displays and more.  The event is free but food will be available for purchase.

 

There will be kids’ crafts and educational exhibits by Berkshire Environmental Action Team, Housatonic Valley Association, Flying Deer, and Northern Berkshire Beekeepers Association.  At 10:30 AM and 12:15 PM there will be a puppet show “The Twig Family in the Oak Tree; at 11:30 AM a family concert by George Wilson; at 1:30 PM “Birds of Prey” Live Raptor Show and at 3:00 PM Tom Tyning’s “Turtles are Terrific!”

 

MassWildlife’s Anniversary Open House

MassWildlife has been conserving fish and wildlife since 1866.  You are invited to join them in celebrating its 150th anniversary at an open house also next Saturday from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM at its Field Headquarters at 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA.  There you can experience the breadth of agency programs through interactive displays, demonstrations, and guided walks. This event is family oriented and will feature live animals, guided nature walks, interactive fish and wildlife displays, crafts, and hands-on activities like archery, casting, and simulated target shooting.  Governor Baker plans to be there. Visit www.mass.gov/masswildlife150 to see all anniversary events and information.

 

Lots of things going on next Saturday.  Good excuse to get away from the yard work.

 

Fishing Derby Winners

According to Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club spokesman Tim Minkler, 78 anglers participated in its fishing derby which was held on May 22 at Stockbridge Bowl.  It was a nice day to fish with a little bit of everything – sprinkles, clouds, sun and then it warmed up at the end to around 60 degrees.  Here are the results:  Largest Trout – Colin Mackie of Becket, 3 lb, 13oz, 20 inch brown trout;  Largest Bass –   Bob Felix of North Adams,  4 lb, 7oz, 19 inches; Largest Pickerel –  Mike Soncini, of Housatonic, 4 lb, 14oz, 27 inches and Largest Bullhead –  Seth Slemp, 1 lb, 3oz, 14”.  Wow!  What great fish!

 

The Age 12 and Under Winners: Largest Pickerel:  First – 12 year old Chris Jordan, Great. Barrington, 1 lb 15oz, 20 ½ inches; Second – 7 year old Mitchell Keenan, Lee, 1 lb, 16 ¼ inches;   Third – 10 year old Collin Parker, West Stockbridge, 14 oz. 16 inches, Largest Bullhead –  Dylan Trumps, Lee, 15 oz, 12 ½ inches; and Largest Rock Bass –  Collin Parker 6 oz, 8 ½ inches.

 

Trout Stockings

The following waters were stocked with trout last week:  Westfield River in Huntington, Chester, Middlefield and Worthington; Littleville Lake in Huntington, Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida, Goose Pond and Laurel Lake.

 

Memorial Day

Last weekend my wife Jan and I were camping at Indian Hollow along the East Branch of the Westfield River in Chesterfield, MA.  The Massachusetts/Rhode Island Council of Trout Unlimited (TU) rented the camping area for the weekend and delegates from all of the  TU chapters were there to conduct business and do a little flyfishing.   Next to our campsite was a group of about 30 men who were part of the Project Healing Waters program.  Some were war veterans who were down on their luck and some were their mentors.

 

I had hoped to write about this group during this Memorial Day weekend, but as you can see, there were a lot of time-sensitive articles which had to get into this week’s column.  I hope to write about the veterans in an upcoming column.  Please remember them and their fallen comrades this weekend.

 

 

 

 

Anglers learn to fly fish through OLLI course

Ten enthusiastic anglers tried out their newly acquired fly fishing skills at the Wild Acres Pond in Pittsfield on May 10.  They had taken a 6 week course entitled Getting Hooked on Fly Fishing which was taught by Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited board members through the OLLI – Berkshire Community College program.  Teachers included William Travis, Henry Sweren, John Burns, BenWoods and Marc Hoechstetter, some of the best flyfishers in the Berkshires.

 

The course included a video about the joys of fly-fishing.  Other segments included an introduction to the gear and equipment, macro-invertebrates, fly casting, knots, fly selection and two segments fly fishing on water.   The flies were tied by the instructors. LL Bean donated 3 rods, reels and lines and Orvis donated a rod, leaders and tippets.

 

Bob Bott and his wife Nancy were at Wild Acres.  They said that they had always wanted to learn how to fly fish and this was a good way to begin.  You can feel the grace and the movement of the rod, said Nancy.  Leigh Merlini said that she was not a sportswoman but was taking the course because she always wanted to learn how to do it.  She commented on how wonderful the instructors were.  Chris Kersten recently retired and he took the course because he never had the time to learn to fly fish before.  OLLI seemed to be a perfect way to get started.

Bob Derosiers got interested in taking a course when Henry Sweren mentioned that TU folks were teaching flyfishing to youngsters.  Bob wondered if TU would teach it through OLLI.   There was so much interest that they immediately filled the class.    Incidentally, he attended the recent flyfishing film festival at the Wahconah Country Club and won the door prize, a fly rod that Taconic TU President Alan Gray had built.     Bob caught a smallmouth bass with it on this day, the first fish on a flyrod for him in 50 years.

 

Michelle Fitzgerald took the course because her late husband was a fly fisherman and left a lot of equipment.  She had to decide whether to take up fly fishing or sell the equipment.    She had a great time and caught her first fish on a fly rod, a smallmouth bass.  Her husband would have been so proud of her.

 

Mary Ann Hayden signed up for the course because it was something that her sons, who are now grown men, took up and loved.   “I feel like a kid” she said “Its so fun.”   I always loved nature and this is just another way to tune in to it.  “(I love) just watching the water and beautiful surroundings.”   She also loves fishing with a barbless hook and can release the fish unharmed.

 

Mark Gross also had a great time.   He felt that it was better late than never to take up this sport.    He used to fish the Retallic Pond in Richmond with barbless hooks back in the 1970’s but it has since silted in.

 

Lee Abraham had never flyfished before but rather fished with a spinning rod.  He saw the course advertised and felt that this was an opportunity that he shouldn’t let go by.

 

Barbara McShane said that flyfishing was something she always wanted to do.   She considers herself a “miserable fisherman, not good at all” but is enjoying the sport. She is determined to become a proficient flyfisher.

 

All of the participants had nothing but praise for the instructors.  There were no grumpy old men there that sunny day but enthusiastic fellows who were all smiles.  The beaming ladies with their fly rods, vests, sun glasses, and stylish fishing hats looked pretty spiffy.

 

Onota Fishing Club Derby winners

In spite of strong winds and choppy waters at Onota Lake last Sunday, 75 kids and adults signed up for the derby.  That’s according to President Ed Blake.  Board members Paul Carr and Fred Ostrander ran the event assisted by fellow members Chuck Leonard, Wobbey Barnes, Chris Cimini, Ray Wesselman, Andy Zurrin, Fred Valentine, Rick Pierce, Paul White and probably others.

 

Derby winners in the youth category were 5-year old Hunter Proper who caught a 2 lb 4 oz, 17 inch rainbow trout.  It was the largest trout of the day in either the youth or adult category.  Second place went to his cousin 6-year old Anthony Corkins who caught a 2 lb 4 oz, 16 ½ inch rainbow.  Third place went to 12 year old Emma Kostyun with a 1 lb 7 oz, 14 ¾ inch rainbow.

 

Winners in the adult category were Nick Mancivalano with a 2 lb, 16 inch rainbow.  Second place went to Ed Kucka with a 1 lb 12 oz, 15 ½ inch rainbow and Mark Farrell took 3rd with a 1 lb 10 oz 15 ¼ inch rainbow.

 

There was plenty of food there and it was excellent, especially Rose’s chowder.  You never know who you will meet at these fishing derbies.  Matt White, former Boston Red Sox southpaw pitcher was there.  You may remember him on the Red Sox team of 2003.

 

Trout Stockings

The following waters were stocked with trout last week: Westfield River in Chester, Chesterfield, Huntington, Middlefield, and Worthington; Deerfield River in Buckland, Clarksburg and Florida; Green River in Williamstown, Housatonic River in Pittsfield (SW Branch), Greenwater Pond, North Pond, Upper Highland Lake, Littleville Reservoir, Pontoosuc Lake, Goose Pond, Laurel Lake, Lake Buel, Big Pond, Otis Reservoir, Onota Lake, Richmond Pond, Stockbridge Bowl and Windsor