Tuesday, May 2 started off with a pretty heavy rainfall, but by the time the school bus arrived at the Tolland State Forest campground beach on Otis Reservoir, the rain stopped and it cleared up a bit. Arriving in the bus were sixteen 4th graders and their teacher, Bethany Mielke, from the Farmington River Elementary School. They arrived around 11:00 am and they had a job to do – release about 200 of the 400 rainbow trout that were patiently waiting in the nearby MassWildlife stocking truck. The event was coordinated by the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen.
MA Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR) Bob Mason, Adam Hull, Mark Jester and Western District Manager Dom Sacco were there to greet them along with MassWildlife’s Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden, aquatic biologist Leanda Fontaine-Gagnon and technician Ray Bresette.
Bresette netted a few trout at a time from the truck’s tank, put them into empty 5 gallon pails and then handed them to the youths who then ran them to the water’s edge and tossed them into the lake. Each of the youngsters took several turns in releasing them. Only a couple of pails got tossed out along with the trout. Teacher Mielke got to release some of them as well as the bus driver Darlene Deschaine and all of the DCR folks. Even I got to carry a pailful, dropping only one trout along the way. It was retrieved and released unharmed into the water, too. There were no fish casualties and all of them happily swam away.
After all 200 trout were liberated, Andrew and Leanda answered questions from the kids as well as explained some of the many projects they work on. Ironically, as Andrew was explaining the loon restoration project, we could hear a pair of yodeling loons on the lake somewhere off in the distance. And as he was explaining the eagle restoration and banding project, high up in the sky above us was a soaring bald eagle. Gosh he had to feel good, for he and his staff spent many hours over the years on their restorations in Massachusetts.
Later on, the remaining 200 trout were released into Otis Reservoir at a different location. It was a great day. The kids were all well behaved and perhaps left the reservoir that day with lifelong fond memories.
One MassWildlife stocking truck broke down recently and set back the stocking schedule, but they have a new truck now and they are stocking like gang busters. The following waters were stocked last week: Green River in Alford, Egremont and Great Barrington; Green River in New Ashford and Williamstown, Yokum Brook in Becket, Yokun Brook in Lenox, Walker Brook in Becket and Chester, Konkapot River in Monterey, New Marlborough and Sheffield; West Brook in Lee and Great Barrington, Potash Brook in Blandford, North Branch Hoosic River in Clarksburg, Hubbard Brook in Granville, Farmington River in Otis and Sandisfield, East Branch of Westfield River in Savoy and Windsor, Housatonic River (C&R) in Lee, Greenwater Pond in Becket, Beartown Brook and Hop Brook in Lee, Factory Brook in Middlefield, Garfield Lake in Monterey, Big Pond in Otis, Onota Lake, Pontoosuc Lake, Stockbridge Bowl, Potash Brook in Russell, North Pond in Savoy, Depot Brook in Washington, Hemlock Brook in Williamstown, and Westfield and Windsor Brooks in Windsor.
Although much of the focus of this column has been on trout lately, bass fishing is ongoing, too. Recently, the Greylock Bass Club had a bass tournament on Onota Lake and the winners were: 1st Place – Dave Benham 14.13 lbs, 2nd Place – Joe Chague 13.04 lbs, 3rd Place – Mike Naventi 9.11 lbs and 4th Place – Jim Underhill 9.05 lbs. The Big Bass winner was Joe Chague with a 4.12 lbs largemouth. The above weights represented the total weight of all of the bass legally caught by the anglers. The breakdown of bass was pretty much 50/50 largemouth to smallmouth.
Little bears In his May report to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden reported that the bear complaints and issues are cropping up again. Unique this year is the fact that DFW has had 5 bears that Andrew responded to that are yearlings which weighed under 20 lbs. They should be in the 50-70 lb weight at this point. They picked up one in a garage that was freezing and weighed 13 lbs. They took it someplace where it was fattened up and then released. He picked up another one recently that weighed 9 ½ lbs.
Madden feels that it is some kind of strange biological phenomena which may be drought related from last year or maybe food source related, he’s not really sure. This high incidence of really tiny starving bears is going on throughout New England. Vermont has had 6 or 7 cases of it.
The Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club is having its Spring Fishing Derby at the boat ramp on Stockbridge Bowl next Sunday, May 21 from dawn until 3:00pm. Prizes of $100 will go the heaviest trout or salmon, pickerel, bass and bullhead. There will be free lures for all kids 12 and under. Food will be available. Pre-registration fee is $10 and post registration is $15. Tickets are available at the Minkler Insurance Agency, 31 Main Street, Stockbridge, (W)413-644-3590, (H)413-298-4630 or from any club member.
The Pittsfield Sportsmen’s Club is sponsoring a Kid’s Fishing Day on Reynolds Pond in Cheshire next Sunday May 21, from 8:00 am until 1:00 pm. Kids are encouraged to bring poles and fishing tackle and if they have none, extra poles will be available. Lunch will be available. For questions, contact Travis DelRatez at 413-441-7979.
The attached picture shows a Farmington River Elementary student tossing some trout out into Otis Reservoir. Standing next to him on the left is DFW Western District Aquatic Biologist Leanda Fontaine-Gagnon and to the right is teacher Bethany Mielke