Mom, look what I caught!”

That’s what 4 year old Austin Decker said to his mother after landing the big carp pictured above.  He was fishing at Onota Lake with his mom Courtney, Uncle Corey and friend Pat Santolin, all of Pittsfield.  He caught it with his little pole and worms on Mother’s Day.


Sorry, can’t tell how big it was as they immediately took the picture and released it back unharmed, but wiser, into the lake.  He could hardly hold it what with its squirming trying to get free.  It had to be around 10 lbs, wouldn’t you say?


Many thanks go to Karen Decker, also of Pittsfield, who passed on the information.  The very proud grandma only wishes that she was there to witness the event. ****


The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation is holding another free kid’s trout fishing derby at their lower pond in Hartsville next Saturday, June 13 from 9 to 10:30 AM.

The folks at the hatchery point out that if your derby experience feels too overcrowded or if you have a younger less experienced angler then they may want to fish during office hours from 9 AM to 4 PM provided they abide by the following rules:  Kids must be 13 years of age or younger, must be supervised by an adult, must get a pass, can keep a maximum of three fish, must return the pass and record the number of fish caught before leaving and must pick up any trash. Monthly derbies will still be held.  *****


Author Bob Romano wrote another excellent book entitled Brook Trout Blues.  This is his third in his series of novels set in Western Maine’s Rangeley Lakes Region.  The main character is once again Salvatore D’Amico, a middle-aged fishing guide in that area, who has the uncanny ability to get entwined in interesting situations.


Weird things happen to him just because he is trying to mind his own business and preserve his quiet peaceful lifestyle of fly fishing and guiding other anglers in that remote area.  Things like a missing neighbor, an attractive reporter who is trying to hit on him, a motorcycle gang, a pot farm, and more.


The book has a nice plot which definitely holds your interest.  It incorporates a good dose of mystery, adventure and intrigue.  As good as that is, what really impresses me each time I read one of his books is how Romano captures the characters and surrounding environs.   His words have the ability to take you to that region and you can almost smell the balsam and spruce forests, hear the roar of the rivers and the sounds of waterfowl, itch from the blackflies and mosquitoes and feel the dampness of the shaded forest floors.   You can almost hear the colorful residents speak in their unique accents (Don’t tell them they have an accent!)


I enjoyed this book and hope he is working on another.  The 232 page soft cover book is complimented by the cover art of John Swan and interior artwork of Trish Romano.  It is published by Birch Brook Press and costs $23.00.  For more details, go to or Romano’s website: *****


Russ Cohen, River Advocate from the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration (DER), is taking advantage of Governor Baker’s Early Retirement Incentive Program and is stepping down. He has worked for the Commonwealth for over 27 years, originally with the Mass. Riverways Program, part of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and Environmental Law Enforcement. He considered himself extremely fortunate to have worked for and with wonderful people, including Riverways Program Coordinators Judy Wagner, Maria Van Dusen and Joan Kimball, and then, after the Riverways Program became part of the DER in 2009, Tim Purinton and Hunt Durey.


Among the highlights of his work was the drafting of the “Rivers Bill”, which, after years of prolonged and determined effort on the part of many, eventually became the Rivers Protection Act.  He also took part in the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs’ Watershed Initiative, in which he served on five watershed teams including the Housatonic.  I first met him when he frequently traveled out to the Berkshires to attend our meetings of the Friends of Williams River back in the 1980’s.   We immediately established a solid friendship which lasts to this day.


For his work with rivers he has received many awards: Environmental Achievement Award from Save the Bay (RI), the Environmental Service Award from the Mass. Association of Conservation Commissions,  Public Servant of the Year Award from the Environmental League of Massachusetts, Environmental Merit Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,  Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Massachusetts Wetland Scientists, and the River Steward Lifetime Achievement Award from the League of Women Voters and Sudbury-Assabet-Concord River Stewardship Council.


Russ also received a “Heritage Hero” award from the Essex National Heritage Commission for his foraging writing and programs. Most recently, Russ received the 2013 Education Award from the New England Wild Flower Society, in recognition of both his rivers work and foraging programs.  Russ has just completed his 40th year of teaching courses about wild edibles.  In 2004 he wrote an excellent book, Wild Plants I Have Known…and Eaten.  (It is in its 5th printing)


Fortunately for us, he expects to stay involved in some capacity in land and watershed conservation and stewardship in New England and upstate NY, particularly where it overlaps with interest in edible wild plants.  He is exploring the possibility of partnering with land trusts and other owners/managers of conservation and other lands to enhance the plant diversity on suitable sites, particularly by adding native edible species.


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