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About Gene

Gene was born and raised in Lenox, MA. He grew up on a small family farm where he developed his love for the critters that also lived on that land. At an early age he fished for the wild speckled brookies that were in the brook that crossed his land. After a 4 year stint in the USAF and graduated from college, he returned home to Lenox. Although a banker by trade, he was an avid sportsman and loved hunting and fishing. Among his many accomplishments were: President of the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU), Chairman of the MA/RI Council of TU, received the Stream Champion Award from TU National, received various awards from the Housatonic Valley Assoc., Secretary of the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen. He was the recipient of the 1990 Berkshire County Sportsman of the Year Award, After retiring from his banking careen, he began writing a weekly outdoor sports column for the Berkshire Eagle and continues to do so to this day.

Record turnout for Jimmy Fund Derby

On Saturday, June 3,  the 25th Annual Harry A. Bateman Memorial Fishing Derby on Onota Lake took place.  Eagle Reporter Derek Gentile did an excellent job of reporting the event with a picture and a listing of the winners.  (June 10, 2017 Berkshire Eagle, “Fishing derby lures hundreds”.  There is no need to repeat that information here, but I would like to mention or re-emphasis a few interesting tidbits.

 

According to Derby Organizer Stephen Bateman, “Despite the weather and the fact that the lake was treated for weeds, we had a record turn-out of 286 fisherman and about another 30+ people who attended.”  It was a very positive and upbeat event, with lots of fish weighed in, lots of prizes doled out and lots of good food.

 

Brendan Monahan, Development Officer for Event Fundraising at Dana Farber Cancer Institution in Boston, attended the event and presented awards to Steve and many of the derby staff.  In his speech, Monahan noted that over the 25 years of the derbies, $42,000 had been raised for the Jimmy Fund.  Well, as a result of this successful derby,  another $6,000 was added.

 

I must admit; however, that at times my thoughts were somewhere else.  I couldn’t help but think about the herbicides, with their harmful ingredients, that were applied just two days prior to this popular derby to raise funds for cancer research.  Really?

 

Another derby that took place on June 3 was the annual Youth Outreach Fishing Derby on Reynolds Pond in Cheshire.  This year, Deacon Robert Sams brought 13 kids from the First Baptist Church in Pittsfield and Alex Doherty brought 10 kids from the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition.  Most of the kids, ages 6 to 14 years old had never fished before.  The look of glee on the face of the featured young lad is an indication of the wonderful, memorable day that was had.  Every kid caught some nice sized brook trout.

 

It was all made possible by the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen.  It provided the mentors, equipment, bait, lots of brook trout and tasty food.  It also provided fish cleaning service and afterwards, sent the kids home with new fishing outfits and bags of fish for tasty meals.

 

This year’s volunteers comprised of members from the Lenox Sportsmen’s Club, Pittsfield Sportsmen’s Club, Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Cheshire Rod & Gun Club, Adams Outdoor for Youth, East Mountain Sportsmen’s Club, Greylock Bass Club, Ashfield Rod & Gun Club and the Berkshire Beagle Club.  A couple of guys from the Berkshire Lodge of Masons did the cooking.  I’ll bet these volunteers had just as much fun as the kids.

 

So why so late in reporting these derbies?  I was away flyfishing the AuSable River near Lake Placid, NY for a few days with Paul Knauth of Hinsdale and Allen Gray of Pittsfield.  It rained  most of the time and the river was running high.  Never-the-less, it was an enjoyable trip with all of us catching trout.  I have been fishing that river annually for over 30 years but never saw a brown trout caught the size that Paul landed this year.  It was a 22-inch fish which was lightly hooked in the lip.  It zoomed away in a flash when Paul released it.

 

Basic Hunter Education Course

All first-time hunters who wish to purchase a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license must complete a Basic Hunter Education course.    One will be taught at the Worthington Rod & Gun Club, 458 Dingle Road Rte. 112 – Worthington, MA., on the following dates:  July 24, 25, 27 and 28 from 5:30 to 9:00 PM.  Participants must attend all class dates and times to successfully complete the course.  To enroll, call (508)389-7830.

 

License to Carry Courses

The Lenox Sportsmen’s Club will be holding LTC and “Utah” Firearm Permit courses on  Saturday, June 25 from 10:00AM to 2:00PM. The LTC course costs $70.00, the Utah course costs $120, or $150 for both.  Pre-registration required.   Contact Tom Nadolny at 413-822-6451 or tnadolny1@gmail.com.rice/25 price is $70 for LTC. $125 for UTAH & $150 for both is $70 for LTC. $125 for UTAH & $150 for both

 

Wild Turkey Surveys

MassWildlife conducts the Annual Turkey Brood Survey from June 1 through August 31 each year to estimate the number of turkeys. The survey helps its biologists determine productivity and compare long-term reproductive success while providing an estimate of fall harvest potential. Turkey nesting success can vary annually in response to weather conditions, predator populations, and habitat characteristics. Citizen involvement in this survey is a cost-effective means of gathering useful data.  It’s not too late to participate.

 

MassWildlife advises us to be sure to look carefully when counting turkey broods, the very small poults may be difficult to see in tall grass or brush.

 

New this year, observations can now be reported online.  Simply fill in all the information and click submit and your turkey observations will be logged by MassWildlife. You can still download and print a Turkey Brood Survey form to complete over the course of the summer. Completed forms should to be mailed after August 31st to: Brood Survey, MassWildlife Field Headquarters, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581.   If you’ve submitted your observations online, do not mail in duplicate observations.

 

Bald Eagles

Staying with big birds, MassWildlife Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden recently reported to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen that it looks like another difficult year for Western District birds.  It appears that nests in Pittsfield, Great Barrington, Richmond, Russell and Lenox all failed to produce young. A combination of adult bird mortality, severe weather and other unknown variables are likely to blame. Western District Staff will be checking nests to see if they can find clues as to what happened.

School vacation evokes fond, sometimes scary memories

School vacation evokes fond, sometimes scary memories

 Whoopee!  School vacation!   How we looked forward to that.  It is hard to imagine that 66 years ago, in the summer of 1951, at age of 8 years old, I started fishing with my Lenox Dale Grammar School buddy Jerry Zink.  He and I immediately took to one another because we had the common interest of stream fishing.  He was already a fisherman of some renown living on West New Lenox Road (now Roaring Brook Road) where he fished Roaring Brook, Mill Brook and others.  I haunted the streams of East Street in Lenox including Woods Crossing Brook and another unnamed nearby brook.  There were many farms on the east side of Lenox in those days and we fished the streams that crossed their woods and pastures.

 

During that 1951 school vacation summer, we agreed to link up and fish the many small streams in Lenox which all held wild, speckled brook trout.  You couldn’t find a stream in Lenox that didn’t have them.  We frequently linked up at one brook that ran along Housatonic Street in Lenox which ultimately emptied into Woods Pond in Lenox Dale.

 

I had it easiest for I only had to walk a mile to get to it.  Jerry, on the other hand, had to walk or bike from his home, then along New Lenox Road, along upper East Street (which was a dirt road then) to Housatonic Street.  There we would fish the brook for a mile to Woods Pond, then walk along Crystal Street in Lenox Dale in hip boots, pick up a small can of fruit cocktail at Steinhilber’s Grocery Store in Lenox Dale, walk up Walker Street then onto East Street to my home.  After sitting on our lawn sharing the fruit cocktail, Jerry would head back home.  He covered a distance of 14 miles that day!  As we got older, we were then able to ride our bikes to that and other nearby streams.

 

Yes, that’s a long distance for a couple of 8 year old kids to hoof, but we didn’t think twice about it.  We had nothing to fear back then for there were no predators like bears, coyotes or some humans, nor were there any deer ticks.  True, there was the Korean War going on, but at our age, we knew very little about it.  Ah, such wonderful days, the skies were bluer and the grass greener.

 

One thing we did have to fear was nuclear holocaust, but we had that covered.  We would just climb under our school desks.  I must admit that I did worry a bit if we were attacked during summer vacation, for the school doors were locked and we couldn’t get to our desks.  A couple other things we had to worry about while fishing were the mean bulls that some farms had and grumpy farmers guarding their lands with shotguns loaded with rock salt.  Of course we would risk life and limb and always fished posted farmlands.

 

Our fishing gear consisted of a cheap pole, casting reel, Dacron line (no monofilament line back then), a tin which contained our hooks and sinkers, a jackknife and a Campbell Soup can in which we carried worms. (Later on, when we had the money, we bought green worm cans which attached to our belts.)  We also carried a measuring tape because the trout had to be 6 inches long in order to legally keep them.  We didn’t have creels but rather cut branches to carry our fish. That gave us a chance to show off our catches as we trudged along the roads.

 

We both had hand-me-down hip boots in which we proudly strutted.  My boots originally were black, but because of so many red patches required over the years, they were two-toned.  I don’t know why I wore them anyway, for they leaked terribly and were too big.

 

We never wore anything red which we believed attracted the mean bulls.  We wore drab greenish, brownish clothes so as not to attract them and also to avoid detection by the farmers as we snuck across their fenced in, posted pastures.

 

Oh, how I remember those days snuck across the pastures trying to get to the streams, and the terror we felt when we heard the sound of cowbells and thundering hooves approaching from somewhere.  Without looking back, Jerry and I would race for the nearest fence as fast as our little legs could carry us, hoping that it was not an electric fence and one which we could easily get under or over it without getting snagged by the barbs.

 

Inevitably, my boots got barbed, requiring yet another red patch that evening.  Usually the hooves and bells that we heard were from herds of milking cows which wouldn’t gore us, but might trample us with their hooves.  I guess we saw too many movies featuring herds of buffalo or cattle trying to trample Tom Mix.  Once the cows reached the fence, they would stand there looking at us, probably laughing.   We must have made their day.  I’ll never forget those days.

 

Years later, while attending a Trout Unlimited meeting, an interesting event occurred.  As usual, the older fishermen were congregated in the bar talking about fishing.  When it came time to start the meetings, it was nearly impossible to get them assembled in the meeting/room, in spite of sharp whistles, clanging glasses, shouting, etc.

 

That evening, chapter president Karl Kronberg brought an old cow bell into the noisy bar and rang it softly once or twice.  There was immediate silence and stillness.  People were frozen in action, in the middle of sentences, some holding glasses near their mouths.  It was like that old TV commercial “Well, my broker is E.F. Hutton and he said….”

 

Karl quietly told everyone that the meeting was about to begin.  They all filed in, albeit a little ashen colored.  I’ll bet they used to sneak through posted farm pastures, too.

New book published on fishing the Cape Cod Canal

How many times have you fishermen traveled over the Saginaw or Bourne Bridge on your way to surf cast for striped bass near Wellfleet on Cape Cod Bay or Race Point near Provincetown?  Traveling up Rte 6, have you ever peered at the Cape Cod Canal and wondered what the fishing was like there?  Were you ever tempted to stop and fish it but just didn’t know enough about it?  Maybe it is good that you didn’t stop because the fishing gear that you took along probably wasn’t adequate to land those big stripers in the Canal’s strong current.  That’s according to D.J. Muller who recently authored a new book entitled “Fishing the Cape Cod Canal, A Surfcaster’s guide to Stripers.”

 

The Canal, which is 7 miles long and 480 feet wide, connects Buzzard’s Bay to the south and west to Cape Cod Bay to the north and east and purportedly offers the striped bass fisherman unparalleled opportunities—a fishery unlike any to be found on any coast.  Before fishing the Canal or “the Ditch” one should know and understand the tides and migration patterns and how they affect the fishery.  One should also know what type of fishing tackle and lures to use.  According to Muller, your normal salt water rod, reel, line and lures probably won’t hold these 30, 40 or 50 lb fish which know how to use the strong currents and tides to their advantage.  He also explains the various methods of fishing the Canal.

 

I know one thing for sure, after reading this book, I would never use my regular surf casting gear in that canal.  A much heavier rod, reel and line are needed.  I could probably get away with using my lures, but would have to change out the hooks to heavier ones, as the author suggests.

 

And even if you had the necessary equipment, do you know where to fish?  Well, Muller covers that, too.  He doesn’t give away his secret spots but does recommend some storied locations on its banks.  He is a recognized authority on Northeast surfcasting who has been fishing the Ditch for over 15 years.  He is the author of The Surfcaster’s Guide to the Striper Coast, Striper Strategies and Striper Tales.

 

It is a clear, concise, no-nonsense, well written book.  I suspect that after reading this book, you wont head for the Cape to do some striper fishing without taking it along.

 

The book was published by Burford Books.   It is a 120 page paperback book which won’t break the bank at $14.95.  What a great gift for Father’s Day, and you know he won’t have it yet as it was just published this past May 27.  It should be available at bookstores, online book retailers, tackle and specialty shops or from the publisher, Burford Books (www.burfordbooks.com).

 

Fishing Derbies

The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation in Hartsville-New Marlborough is having a free children’s fishing derby next Saturday, June 10 from 9 to 10:30AM at its lower pond.  Children aged 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

 

Trout Stockings

Depending on the hatchery, staff, weather, water conditions, etc., the following waters may have been stocked last week: Otis Reservoir, Onota Lake, Westfield River in Becket, Middlefield, Chester and Huntington and the Green River in Alford, Egremont and Great Barrington.

 

Forest Tour

A  Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Bureau of Forestry Pre-Harvest Forest Tour will take place at the Pittsfield State Forest in Lanesborough tomorrow from 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM. DCR Forester Kevin Podkowka, will be leading a tour of the Potter Mountain – Lanesborough Timber Sale where he will discuss forest management techniques in a predominantly northern hardwood forest, provide a view of the trees designated for harvest, and explain how harvest operations will take place. A detailed silviculture prescription for the harvesting operation will be provided to attendees.

 

The meeting place is the parking area for Potter Mountain Road, Pittsfield State Forest in Lanesborough.  The tour will be conducted rain or shine. Attendees are encouraged to dress for the weather and to wear sturdy shoes. For additional information about the tours and DCR forest management on state forests, parks, and reservations,contact William Hill, Management Forestry Program Supervisor, at (413) 545-3891.

 

The Housatonic Valley Association

(HVA) recently announced the opening of a new floating dock which is located at the end of Park Street, just beyond Stockbridge Town Park. A new sign featuring a map of the local water trail, points of interest, and safety tips marks the entry to the dock The new dock is designed to provide easy access for paddlers of all abilities, giving a safer approach to the water over a treaded walkway and featuring a roller-entry system that makes it easier for paddlers to get their crafts into and out of the water. The launch location is convenient for destinations such as Goodrich Memorial Footbridge, the Mary Flynn Trail, Laura’s Tower, Willow Mill Dam, or (downriver) the Glendale Dam. “The absolute best way to connect with the river is to spend some time paddling it,” says HVA Berkshires Director Dennis Regan. “HVA’s mission of protecting the river and its surroundings begins with providing more opportunities for people to experience it up close. We hope this new dock will be the starting point for many lifelong adventures.” Onyx Specialty Papers, Berkshire Bank, TD Charitable Foundation, Fields Pond Foundation, Canyon Ranch and the Red Lion Inn were sponsors of the project.  Also, the citizens of Stockbridge, through the Community Preservation Committee, provided the major contribution for this project. Fundraising and project management were provided by the HVA.

 

Incidentally, the HVA recently moved to a new office which is located at the Merwin House, 14 Main Street, Stockbridge.  Stop in check it out some time.

 

Its fishing derby time

The 25th Annual Harry A. Bateman Memorial Jimmy Fund Fishing Derby will take place on Saturday, June 3, 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 Bowmen 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, which includes a tackle box with over $100 of tackle, is given out to a child

 

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.

 

Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club Fishing Derbies

Seventy seven anglers participated in the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club (SSC) Spring Derby which was held last Sunday at Stockbridge Bowl.  According to Club spokesman Tim Minkler, it was cold in the morning but warmed up in the afternoon.   The derby results were:  $100 Winners: Largest Trout:  John Herrington, Richmond, (4 lb, 6 oz., 20 ½ “ Brown Trout.  Wow!)  Largest Bass: John Nemec, Westfield, (3 lbs., 5 oz., 18”), Largest Pickerel: John Jones, Lee, (3 lbs., 12 oz., 24”), Largest Bullhead: Seth Slemp, Lee, (1 lb., 5 oz., 13”).

Age 12 and under Winners:  Largest Pickerel:   1st Blake Cella, Lenox, (1 lb., 11 oz., 20 1/2”)  2nd Mitchell Keenan, Lee, (1 lb., 15 ½”)  Age 8, Largest Trout:   1st Thomas Koldys, Housatonic (1 lb., 14 oz., 15 ½”) Age 11,  2nd Blake Cella, Lenox, (1 lb. 5 oz., 16”) Age 12.

The SSC also recently held its Kids Fishing Derby (for SSC Club members and their family age 12 and younger) at Minkler Pond.  There, 2 year old Dominic Curtin of Tyringham took 1st prize by catching a 19 inch, 2 lb 10 oz rainbow trout.  Son of Josh and Eden Curtin, he is on a roll.  Last year he also came in 1st for his age group and now is the reigning champ two years in a row.   Bass FishingOn Sunday, May 14, bass fishing was pretty good at the Greylock Bass Club Tournament on Congamond Lakes in Southwick, MA.  Only 1.5 oz decided 1st and 2nd places and 5 oz between 4 th and 5th.  Joe Chague took 1st place with a total weight of 14 lbs 6.5 oz.  The 2nd place winner was Mike Naventi with 14 lbs 5 oz,   3rd was Dave Behnam (DJ) with 13 lbs 6 oz, 4th was Dan Miraglia with 10 lbs 3.5 oz and 5th was Carlos Torra with 10 lb 3 oz.  The Lunker Largemouth Bass, which weighed 3 lb 10 oz was taken by Joe Chague.  After official weigh-in, all bass were returned safely to the waters.

Family Fun Day

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 kids’ crafts and educational exhibits by Berkshire Environmental Action Team, Housatonic Valley Association, Flying Deer, and Northern Berkshire Beekeepers Association.  At 10:00 am there will be Fiddle Tunes with Eric Buddington, at 10:30 am an “Owl’s for Tots” presentation, at 11:30 am and 1:30 pm an Eyes on Owls presentation show.  From 11:30 am to1:30 pm lunch from Lucia’s Empanadas, available for purchase, and at 3:00 pm, Tom Tyning’s “Fantastic Frogspresentation..   Snacks will be available for purchase

 

Trout stockings

The following waters were scheduled to be stocked during the week of May 15 – 19:  Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Chickley River in Charlemont and Hawley; Cold River in Charlemont and Florida; Westfield River in Chesterfield, Cummington, Huntington and Russell; Walker Brook in Becket and Chester; Sackett Brook in Dalton and Pittsfield; Littleville Reservoir in Chesterfield and Huntington; North Pond in Florida, Upper Highland Lake in Goshen, Bennett Brook and Plunkett Reservoir in Hinsdale, Norwich Pond in Huntington, Lake Buel, Onota Lake, Ashfield Pond  in Ashfield and Windsor Pond in Windsor.

 

The following waters were scheduled to be stocked last week:  All branches of the Westfield River in Huntington, Chesterfield, Cummington, Becket, Middlefield, Russell, Worthington, Savoy and Windsor; Littleville Reservoir in Chester and Huntington, Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Laurel Lake, Onota Lake, Otis Reservoir, North Pond, Lake Buel, Goose Pond, Housatonic River C&R in Lee, Windsor Pond, Pontoosuc Lake, Plunkett Reservoir, Stockbridge Bowl and Richmond Pond.

 

Thank you Gige

 

There were a lot of strangers in the Town of Stockbridge on Saturday, May 13.  Governor Charlie Baker was here as well as Lieutenant Governor Karen Polito.  EOEEA Secretary Matt Beaton, former EOEEA Secretary and State Senator Bob Durand, former State Senator Stephen Brewer, several former Fish & Wildlife Commissioners including Walter Bickford, Dave Peters, Mary Griffin and current Commissioner and former State Representative George Peterson, former Director of the MA DFW Wayne MacCallum and current Director Jack Buckley, MA Senator Anne Gobi,  and Representative Kulik from Worthington.  There were several former and current Fish & Wildlife Board members, officers of the Mass Sportsmen Council and the Worcester County League of Sportsmen.

 

They all linked up at the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club with local State Representative Smitty Pignatelli, Senator Adam Hinds, former Berkshire Natural Resources Chairman George Wislocki, current BNRC Chairman Tad Ames, current F&W Board member and President of the Mass Outdoor Heritage Foundation Steve Sears, and a whole host of sportsmen, DFW personnel and environmental dignitaries.  There was even a man there that claimed to be an official from the Town of Ripton, MA.  Those who couldn’t attend such as current F&W Board Chairman Joe Larson and former Governor William Weld sent letters and gifts.

 

They were there to celebrate 88-year old George “Gige” Darey’s retirement from the MA Fish & Wildlife Board.  Gige didn’t want a retirement party and only agreed to it when he learned that it was also a fund raiser for the Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation which he and MacCallum co-founded.  There was not an empty chair in the place and everyone who attended personally knew and/or worked with Gige over the years.  Co-Chairmen for the event were Durand, Peters, MacCallum and Sears, and what a great event they put together.

 

Space does not allow me to mention all of the people and wonderful words said about Gige.  Don’t get me wrong, they also took advantage of the opportunity to roast him and to mention some “spoof’s” that they participated in with him over the years.  Appeals Court Judge Joseph Trainor did an excellent roasting job.

 

Rep. Smitty Pignatelli said that he couldn’t think of anybody who has taught him more about the importance of conservation of open space and protection and the rights of sportsmen than Gige.  .  He repeated a phrase once told to him by the late Bill Wilde (of Highlawn Farm), “Our natural beauty is more valuable than an oil well in Saudi Arabia.”

 

Senator Hines noted that his work and had an impact.  “ It made a difference”.   After making wonderful comments, State Senator Gobi presented him the Red Poppy Award, (for Korean War veterans). After Peters and Durand related some comical past events and listed many of Gige’s accomplishments he was presented an award from the Mass Outdoor Heritage Foundation.

 

Rep. Kulik read a resolution from the MA House and Senate, congratulating him on the occasion of his retirement.  It recognized his 38 years on the Board of which 35 as its chairman and the fact that he was first appointed by Governor Michael Dukakis, served under the 7 subsequent governors, preserved thousands of acres of vital wildlife habitat while providing public access and making the MA F&W Board one of the most respected wildlife agencies in the country.  It noted his establishment of the Non-Game Advisory Board, passage and implementation of the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Act, institution of the Wild Wings Conservation Stamp, the development of the core habitat protection and the development and expansion of many youth programs.

 

BNRC’s George Wislocki and Tad Ames noted that Gige was one of the founders of Sportsmen for Land Preservation and helped raise over $300,000 over the period of 6 years, which was crucial for the survival of the BNRC.  “He cemented a relationship of the BNRC with the sportsmen of Berkshire County”.

 

Mike Roche, member of the MA F&W Board announced that the Board created an award in Gige’s name. “ From this time forward there will be a Gige Darey Award to be presented to a MassWildlife staff member who exemplifies the values, work ethics and standards that George created.”

 

Former DFW Director Wayne MacCallum described the F&W Board.  It sets policy, regulatory authority and has to approve the hiring of every person appointed to the DFW.  “George was absolutely incredible in terms of requiring that all appointments were made with the most qualified people.  He was a strong advocate in support of professional natural resource management. Not only in Massachusetts, he is legendary throughout the country for the programs the MA DFW has instituted He is a fierce fighter for the environment.  Much of what you see here (open space) has to do with George Darey.  Under George’s leadership, the DFW went from a hooks and bullets agency to an integrated agency incorporating the protection of many different species”.   They haven’t had a license increase since 1996.

 

On behalf of his and his son’s generation, EOEEA Secretary Matt Beaton thanked him for his inspiration.  Lt Governor Polito commented on Gige’s long service and mentioned that his services were all for free. (Other than travel expense reimbursement, F&W Board members are not paid).  She thanked Gige for sharing so much of his time, energy and love for this Commonwealth.  He is a great friend to all sportsmen.   “Having Gige on this Board for 38 years chairing it for 35 years absolutely mattered here in the Commonwealth”, she said.

 

Gige took a little razzing from Beaton and Governor Baker for missing 5 of those Board meetings out of 400 over the course of 38 years.  Twice as a pall bearer, once an ice storm prevented him from getting through, a health issue and one day to go bird hunting.

 

Governor Baker said that “George is a hero, not just because of the time he spent on the Board but the good work that was done.     We all benefit tremendously from the coalitions that he built.  We live in a difficult age where people draw very bright lines and have trouble viewing any other point of view but their own and are really not that experienced in coalition and finding common ground.  One of the truly great things is that he found common ground all of the time, and he had a core set of principles.  He understood that he was one player among many and he never forgot that. “

 

“He worked extremely hard to figure out where the common ground was and where the opportunity was to support the stuff that he cared so much about.  Along the way he created a bunch of public and private institutions that stood the test of time and will be here for a very long time.  The legacy is not just the history but its also what is going to happen going forward because those institutions are in place and will continue to perform long after the rest of us have gone on to do other things.  “You are such a son of Massachusetts”, Governor Baker said, “and you have meant so much to the Commonwealth and so much to the people of the Commonwealth”.

 

In accepting his citations, awards and standing ovation, Gige commented on how much his partner Ginny Acabane meant to him and how lucky he is.  Referring to his service on the Board, he said, “The ride that I have been on, I would not change one bit”.  As to the sportsmen, he said that he has enjoyed working with them and was very proud to represent them.

 

All attendees were given a memento coffee mug.  On one side is a picture of Gige with his faithful Brittany Spaniel, Éclair.  (In a joint effort of the F&W Board and local sportsmen, that dog was purchased and imported from Brittany, France  and was presented to Gige by Mike Roche on March 9, 2013, following the early, unexpected death of his previous dog).

 

On the other side of the mug were words that really struck me:  “A hundred years from now, if fish still swim in our rivers and deer still prance through our fields, if we can recognize the view from atop our favorite Berkshire heights, we will in large measure have George L. “Gige” Darey of Lenox to thank. For nearly a quarter-century now as Chairman of the State Fish & Wildlife Board and at the center of a network of conservative groups, Mr. Darey has devoted his time, energy and powers of persuasion to making sure we and our children will have woods to walk in and game to shoot.”   October 12, 2002, Berkshire Eagle editorial.

Pictured seated are George “Gige” Darey and his partner Ginny Acabane.  Standing are Lt. Governor Karen Polito and Governor Charlie Baker.  Picture provided by S. A. Sears Photagraphy

Students liberate rainbow trout into Otis Reservoir

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.

 

Trout Stocking

 

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.

Bass Tournament 

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.

Fishing Derbies

 

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