On Friday, April 21, Earth Day, MassWildlife conducted a trout stocking event at Onota Lake in Pittsfield. Usually, the stocking dates and times are kept secret so as to avoid “stocking truck followers” from catching a lot of fish before the trout have had time to acclimate to their new surroundings. But this time it was different. MassWildlife wanted the public, especially children who were out of school during school vacation to be there and to participate. And a lot of kids and their parents and grandparents did show up.
About 350 nice sized rainbow trout were put into white 5 gallon pails, 3 or 4 at a time, and the kids and older folks scurried to the lake’s edge to toss them into the water. They had to hurry as no water was put into the pails in order to keep the loads lighter.
It was a great day for all involved. I couldn’t help but chuckle as some of these kids weren’t much bigger than the pails they were carrying. MassWildlife’s Western District Aquatic Biologist Leanda Fontaine-Gagnon stood in the water in hip boots to ensure that every trout was safely liberated and I am happy to report that there were no casualties—at least not until some nearby fishermen caught some. Derek McDermott and Ray Bresette of MassWildlife carefully netted the trout out of the stocking truck and placed them into pails for the kids lined up to take their turns at stocking. Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden ensured that the operation went smoothly and also provided some pamphlets and animal track information.
There were a lot of smiling faces seen that day, not sure who had the most fun, the kids, their parents/grandparents or the MassWildlife team.
Pictured above, wearing the tiara, and stocking some trout was 15 year old Meghan Kalbaugh of Chicopee, MA who came to the event with her parents. She is the reigning Miss Western Mass Outstanding Teen. She had a beautiful sash but took it off while stocking so as not to get it wet and slimy from the fish.
Message to the young lads, turn off the smart phones and computer games, pick up your fishing rods and head for the lakes. No telling who will be out there stocking the trout. Look at what you missed!
The following local waters were scheduled to be stocked last week: Hoosic River in Cheshire and Adams, Deerfield River in Buckland, Florida and Charlemont; Clesson Brook in Ashfield and Buckland, Swift River in Ashfield, Cummington and Goshen; Pelham Brook in Charlemont and Rowe, Housatonic River in Hinsdale and Dalton, Little River in Worthington and Huntington, West Branch Brook in Chesterfield and Worthington, Ashfield Pond and South River in Ashfield, Dry Brook and South Brook in Cheshire, Wahconah Falls Brook in Dalton, North Pond in Florida, Stones Brook in Goshen, Dunbar Brook in Monroe, Mill Brook in Plainfield, Bronson Brook in Worthington, Plunkett Reservoir in Hinsdale, Goose Pond in Lee and Tyringham, Lake Buel in Monterey, Windsor Lake in North Adams and Otis Reservoir in Otis.
Lakes are being remapped
In his latest report to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, Fisheries and Wildlife Board member Stephen Sears of Dalton, reported that DFW fisheries personnel are in the process of making new maps of all our lakes. He said that they will be incredibly accurate. They will also be available on-line. They already mapped Onota Lake and will be doing Pontoosuc Lake soon. Click onto the MassWildlife web page to check out the new Onota Lake map.
MassWildlife cautions us that Common Loons, a species of Special Concern, have been observed taking shiners on anglers hooks and hooking themselves. They urge anglers to pull hooks baited with shiners out of the water when loons are present and continue fishing when they have passed. Anglers may recall that the protection of the loons was a major reason why the use of lead weights under 1 oz have been prohibited in Massachusetts. Apparently, the loons ingest them and then later die an agonizing death from lead poisoning.
I love loons. Of all the sounds heard in the wilds, by far my favorite is the yodeling sound of a loon on a quiet night on or near a crystal clear northern lake. Upper Maine and Canadian lakes provide such waters. Loons require clear lakes because they it make it easier for them to see prey underwater. Chances are, while listing to the loons, you may also be marveling at the Aurora borealis (northern lights). They go hand-in-hand.
Last year, while fishing in Labrador, I saw some loons and commented to a guide my fondness for this bird. He did not share my feelings, in fact, he downright despised them. He said that they can grow to 12 lbs and they eat an awful lot of fish each day. The outfitters and guides up there get their livelihood from fishermen and they want them to catch a lot of fish so that they come back. Loons compete with them for the fish.
Thinking that he was exaggerating, I checked into it when I got hone. In one study, scientists estimate that loons eat 22% of their body weight each day. In another study, biologists estimate that loon parents and their 2 chicks can eat about a half-ton of fish over a 15-week period.
Well, even so, I still love the sight and sound of that bird and support its restoration in Massachusetts.
Questions/comments: Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com. Phone: (413) 637-1818
Accompanied by a picture of Miss Teen Western Massachusetts, Meghan Kalbaugh, stocking trout. Standing next to her is her father James.