It’s a world record!

 

If this featured picture looks familiar, it is because I ran it in my October 30, 2016 column, and also mentioned it in a follow-up article of Val Percuoco and her sisters in my February 5, 2017 column.  So why am I fixated on that fish?

Well, last week it was announced that not only was that 3 lb 8 oz white perch a state gold pin winner and the new state record, but it is also the new world record!  That catch landed her in the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wisconsin.  There, it was recently recognized as the Division 1 Rod and Reel 10 lb. Line Class World Record.  About the same time, the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) recognized the fish as the new All-Tackle World Record for White Perch.

As you may recall it was caught out of Wachusett Reservoir north of Worcester.   Check it out again, for its not every day that a world record fish is caught in Massachusetts waters.

Bald Eagles

According to MassWildlife, there are now more eagles nesting in Massachusetts than any time in the recent past, and they need your help keeping track of them. Please report eagle sightings to Andrew Vitz (MassWildlife’s State Ornithologist, andrew.vitz@state.ma.us). Many of our nesting eagles are banded with color-coded bands that identify the individual, so make sure to look for these leg bands whenever you see or photograph an eagle.

According to DFW Western District Supervisor, Andrew Madden, there will be a big push to locate nesting eagles in our area, especially in North County.   They are particularly interested in evidence of nesting eagles (e.g., birds carrying sticks or sitting in nests). When there is evidence of a new breeding territory, DFW staff verifies the report as they monitor known nests. MassWildlife will conduct its Spring Eagle Survey on Friday, April 7. The Survey consists of coordinated teams of staff and volunteers who spread out across the state to check on historic nest sites and look for new nests.

According to MassWildlife, we have both Golden and Bald Eagles in the state. Both grow to approximately the same size, but the white head and tail of the adult Bald Eagle differentiates it from the Golden Eagle. Immature Bald Eagles may be confused with both immature and adult Golden Eagles.

The adult Golden Eagle is nearly uniformly dark without the mottling found on the immature Bald Eagle. Golden Eagles at any age may have relatively sharply defined, bright, clean white patches of varying size at the base of the inner primaries and outer secondaries on the wings and a clean white area at the base of the tail. All immature Bald Eagles have whitish axillaries and, depending on age, can have extensive, “dirty” white mottling virtually anywhere on the head, body, wing linings, and tail.  The Golden Eagle’s legs are feathered to its toes; the legs of the Bald Eagle are unfeathered.

Basic Hunting Course

All first-time hunters who wish to purchase a Massachusetts hunting or sporting (combination) license must complete a Basic Hunter Education course.  There will be such a course at the Becket Town Hall at 557 Main Street, Becket on April 10, 12 and 15.  The times are: on April 10 from 5:30pm to 9:00pm; and on April 12 and 15 from 8:00am to 5:00pm.  There may also still be openings in the scheduled class at the East Mountain Sportsmen’s Club which starts also on April 10 (previously mentioned in this column).  To enroll call (508)389-7830.

 

Coyote Contest

Nineteen coyotes were entered into Dave’s Sporting Goods Coyote Contest this year, and the winners were as follows:  Jay Fortier of Washington, MA bagged the most coyotes with a tally of 6.   Joe Trybus, of Lanesborough, MA got the heaviest one which weighed 44 1/2 lbs. Congratulations to both hunters.  Keep up the good work.

 

No trout stockings in the Western District yet

 

DFW WD Fisheries Manager Leanda Fontaine Gagnon went to check some access points during the week and because of the snowstorm, they have decided they were not able to start the stocking last week as planned.  Probably they will start next week.

 

Club events

The Lee Sportsmen’s Association and Ducks Unlimited will be having its 3rd Annual Youth Sportsmen’s Gala dinner and raffle on Saturday, April 8 at the Country Club of Pittsfield.  It is billed as a night of fantastic food, great raffle prizes, music and fun.  Doors open at 4:00 pm and dinner served at 6:00 pm. The price is $100 per person.   For more information, contact Virginia DuBois at (413)446-5404.

 

The Lenox Sportsmen’s Club is having its annual Spring Ham Shoots beginning today and running for the next three Sundays beginning at 12:30 pm.  The costs are $3 per shot.   You are encouraged to bring your shotguns and .22 cal rifle or pistol, as they have a few 22 shoots during the day as well.  Prizes include hams, gift certificates and some other items. The kitchen will be open for burgers dogs, sausage and a few other items.

 

The Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club will be having a 450 Round Indoor Archery Tournament to benefit the Aim for Higher Education Scholarship Fund on April 8 and 9.  Click onto the club’s web site, events and calendar page to find out the times, prices, categories, etc.  There will be a Chinese raffles and auction.  There will be a spaghetti dinner at 6pm on Saturday and a pancake breakfast on Sunday Morning.

 

The Cheshire Rod & Gun Club will also have turkey and ham shoots every Sunday from March 26 until Easter. They start at 1pm and the cost is $3 a shot.

2016 shotgun deer hunting season off to a good start

 

 

As of noon last Wednesday, 82 deer were checked in at the DFW Western District Headquarters in Dalton, MA. Some 52 were checked in on opening day.  That figure is significantly higher than last year’s figure at the same time.  Some of those deer were bruisers with beautiful antlers and good body weights..  For example, Peter Derby shot a 6 point buck in Hinsdale that weighed in at 202 lbs.  Thomas Wiencek shot a 9 point buck in Cheshire that weighed 198 lbs.  These were field dressed weights.  To estimate their actual live weights, multiply the field dressed weight by 1.26.  So the estimated live weight of Derby’s deer was approximately 255 lbs and Wiencik’s deer weighed approximately 249 lbs.  Nice deer, ey?

 

The season was only two and a half days old and preliminary harvest numbers were not available from the outlying check stations.  We do know that the Mill River check station weighed three huge deer; a 10 pointer weighing 181 lbs, an 8 pointer weighed in at 186 lbs and another 10 pointer which weighed 157 lbs.   There was an 8 pointer shot in Richmond that weighed 176 lbs, an 8 pointer that weighed 179 lbs and a 10 pointer weighing 184 lbs shot in Lee.  There was an 11 pointer that weighed in at 164 lbs in Monterey and a 12 pointer taken off of Mt Greylock that weighed 174 lbs.  These large deer were in addition to the “normal” sized deer.
DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden said that his office and the outlying check stations all exceeded last year’s harvest numbers for opening day.  He attributed the high harvest numbers to the almost ideal conditions:  ample snow for tracking and pleasant temperatures.  On Tuesday and Wednesday, when I was at the office, the conditions were less than ideal with pretty good downpours.  Even so, the hunters were not deterred.  Around noon time on Tuesday there was a steady stream of hunters checking in their deer.   That kept Madden and Wildlife Technician Derek McDermott out in the rain most of the day checking them in.

 

Effective last year, a third black bear hunting season was started which runs through the 2 week shotgun deer hunting season.  As of noon on Wednesday, 4 bear were checked in at the Western District Check Stations.  According to Madden, this indicates that all of the bears have not yet denned up for the winter in spite of the large snowfall which occurred the previous week.  He did say; however, that hunters can still tag bears online during this season, so he doesn’t yet know  what the tally is.

 

With the hard rainfall and fog on Tuesday and Wednesday, much of the snow melted and tracking might have been more difficult.  But there was plenty of mud and soft ground so it was still possible to track the deer.

 

The shotgun deer hunting season runs until next Saturday, December 10.  If you haven’t been able to get out yet, don’t worry.  There appears to be a lot more deer out there this year, possibly due to the mild winter we had last year.   This year’s shotgun harvest numbers should be relatively high.  After that season, the primitive firearms (black powder) deer hunting season opens on Monday, December 12 and runs through Saturday, December 31.

 

 

 

Coyote Derby

Dave’s Sporting Goods in Pittsfield is having its Coyote Derby again this year.  It will run until the end of coyote hunting season which is March 8, 2017.  Entrance fee is $10 and prizes will be awarded to the person who bags the most coyotes, the largest coyote and there will also be a random draw.

 

Licenses on sale

The 2017 hunting, sporting, freshwater fishing, and trapping licenses are available for purchase through MassFishHunt, at a license vendor location, or at a DFW office.   Good news!  There are no increases in the license fees this year.    In fact, there has not been a license fee increase since 1996.

 

At that time, Massachusetts Fish & Wildlife Board Chairman George “Gige” Darey of Lenox, and the then DFW Director Wayne MacCallum calculated that with the $10 fee increase they imposed, they wouldn’t have to request another increase until the year 2006.  It has now been twenty years.

 

How is that possible, you ask?  Darey attributes it to several factors:  good grant writing, division downsizing, modernization and priority.  Darey said that during the downsizing, no one lost their jobs.  One examples of modernization is that more and more pheasants are being bought, rather than raising then.  This allows for excellent birds at  lower prices because they are saving money on manpower costs.  The Division is also utilizing more economical ways of raising the fish, too.

 

2016 Guides are available

You can now download your 2017 Massachusetts Guide to Hunting, Freshwater Fishing and Trapping Laws (formerly called the abstracts) or pick one up at a licensed vender or at a DFW office.  This year’s cover has a nice picture of a coyote.

 

Listed in the 2017 Guide are the following changes:  1) Migratory game bird seasons and bag limits are now set in the Spring;  2) Federal Migratory Game Bird Stamps may be purchased online through MassFishHunt (mass.gov/massfishhunt) when purchasing your hunting license and state waterfowl stamp and 3)There are new Learn-to-Hunt and Explore archery and bowhunting programs that provide unique opportunities for new hunters and archers to gain important knowledge and skills.

 

In the 2017 Guide, DFW Director Jack Buckley highlighted some of the Division’s accomplishments during 2016.  I plan to list them in next week’s column.

Its time to get ‘out fishin’

 

One day last fall, Ms. Jeanne Cawley of Hinsdale approached me with a copy of the following poem.  She said that it used to hang in a cottage where her father  stayed long ago while fishing in the Adirondacks in NY.   It was written by Edgar A. Guest and she wondered if he was a poet or just someone who used to fish the Adirondacks and stay at that cottage.  It obviously had significance to Jeanne and I promised to look into it.

Well, it turns out that Mr. Guest was a prolific English-born American poet who was popular in the first half of the 20th century and became known as the People’s Poet.   He wrote over 11,000  poems which were syndicated in some 300 newspapers and collected in more than 20 books, including A Heap o’ Livin’ (1916) and Just Folks (1917).  Guest was made Poet Laureate of Michigan, the only poet to have been awarded the title.  His popularity led to a weekly Detroit radio show which he hosted from 1931 until 1942, followed by a 1951 NBC television series, A Guest in Your Home.

The poem, entitled Out fishin’, is as follows:

A feller isn’t thinkin’ mean,

Out fishin’;

His thoughts are mostly good an’ clean,

Out fishin’. He doesn’t knock his fellow men., Or harbor any grudges then; A feller’s at his finest when Out fishin’. The rich are comrades to the poor,

Out fishin’; All brothers of a common lure,

Out fishin’. The urchin with the pin an’ string Can chum with millionaire an’ king; Vain pride is a forgotten thing,

Out fishin’.

A feller gits a chance to dream,

Out fishin’; He learns the beauties of a stream, Out fishin’; An’ he can wash his soul in air That isn’t foul with selfish care, An’ relish plain and simple fare, Out fishin’. A feller has no time fer hate, Out fishin’; He isn’t eager to be great, Out fishin’. He isn’t thinkin’ thoughts of self, Or goods stacked high upon a shelf, But he is always just himself, Out fishin’. A feller’s glad to be a friend, Out fishin’ A helpin’ hand he’ll always lend, Out fishin’. The brotherhood of rod an’ line An’ sky and stream is always fine; Men come real close to God’s design, Out fishin’. A feller isn’t plotting schemes, Out fishin’; He’s only busy with his dreams, Out fishin’. His livery is a coat of tan, His creed -to do the best he can; A feller’s always mostly man, Out fishin’.

 

Things have certainly changed since Mr. Guest wrote those words.  For one thing, it’s no longer just a “feller’s sport”   but the gals love it too.  Just ask Connie Rickard and her daughter Akira Derr of Pittsfield, pictured above. It is so nice to see a mother and daughter spending quality time fishing together.

 

Thank you so much, Jeanne, for bringing this poem to our attention. There is something special in the words written by angling poets who have long passed beyond the river bend.  Their words ring just as true and beautifully today as then.  Maybe in a future column I can feature another of his poems entitled Fishing Nooks *****

 

Approximately 120 anglers participated in the Wild Acres Youth Fishing Derby which was held on Saturday, May 9.   Lion Aviation sponsored the derby and stocked 400 trout for the day’s event.  The Onota Fishing Club hosted it and provided poles, bait and assistance to all children.  They also provided breakfast and lunch for all participants.  50 of the trout were tagged and trophies were awarded to all children who caught them.

 

In addition to the stocked brook and rainbow trout, a couple of bass, sunfish, perch, bull head, frogs and two turtles were caught.  It looked like Steve Fones’ grandkids had the best luck, catching 13 trout including 3 of the tagged ones.   All of them were released.  Granddaughter Jordan Hamilton caught a big rainbow trout and a nice bass.  Young Lucas Fones had a good day, too.  The Stimpson’s caught some nice ones, too. *****

The following waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week:  Hoosic River in Cheshire and Adams, Clesson Brook in Ashfield and Buckland, Cold River in Charlemont, Florida and Savoy; Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Housatonic River  in Pittsfield (S/W), Lee (C&R), Stockbridge (C&R), Dalton and Hinsdale;  South Brook in Adams and Cheshire, Dry Brook in Cheshire, Konkapot River in Monterey, New Marlbough and Sheffield; and the following lakes and ponds:  Otis Reservoir, Greenwater Pond, Laurel Lake, Big Pond, Lake Buel, Onota Lake, Norwich Pond  and Windsor Pond. *****

In his monthly report to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, Division of Fisheries and Wildlife District Manager Andrew Madden noted that this spring, MassWildlife is once again working to help the Common Loon, a Species of Special Concern under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act.  Loons are threatened primarily by lead poisoning, induced by the ingestion of fishing sinkers lost by anglers, as well as acid rain, pesticides, shoreline development, and human disruption.  Management efforts, including monitoring and floating nest rafts, have been critical in increasing the number of breeding pairs in the Commonwealth.  The Western District will have 2 loon rafts deployed this spring at water supply reservoirs in Hinsdale and Lee. *****

 

Recently, Madden reported that some 430 coyotes were harvested statewide during the past hunting season.  Of that total, approximately 75 – 80 were harvested in Berkshire County.  No statewide figures were available.

 

Cub Scouts take to the ice

 

 

Last weekend, Joe Chague of Pittsfield had his second annual ice fishing class on Laurel Lake for Sacred Heart Church Pack #20 Cub Scouts.  He was assisted by friend Mark Markham also of Pittsfield.  Some 15 scouts, siblings and friends showed up for the class.  They were taught how to cut holes through the ice, sound the holes, set up and bait tip-ups, jig for fish, etc.  Midway through the class, they stopped for cups of hot chocolate and hot dogs.

 

They had a great time and were unaffected by a couple of snow squalls that passed through.   Although none of them caught fish of their own, they got to see and handle some nice white and yellow perch caught by Mark.  He caught them using a jigging stick as well as on tip-ups.

 

Some parents had a thrill, too, and perhaps learned a thing or two about ice fishing.  Joe had several different types of tip-ups on display; from very old to new Y2K compliant.   I set up a tip up that was probably made in the 1930’s.  It was a single piece tip-up with no reel, the kind that I learned to ice fish with when I was a kid.  You can well imagine the thrill when that flag went up and I caught a pickerel. Never thought I would ever catch another fish on such a tip-up again.

 

As the picture indicates, these kids really got into this sport. Did you ever see 15 excited kids racing to respond to a tip- up?  Well, don’t get in their way.

 

Such events as this and the R.O.P.E.S. (Respect Other People Encouraging Self-esteem) ice fishing derby are wonderful ways to get kids (and parents) outdoors and interested in ice fishing. *****

 

Some 46 coyotes were entered into Dave’s Sporting Goods Coyote Contest this year, and the winners were as follows:  Carl Dolle of North Adams bagged the most coyotes with a tally of 22.  He also got the heaviest one which weighed 46 ½ lbs.   Cliff Briggs of Great Barrington won the random raffle.  If Carl’s name sounds familiar, it is because he bagged the largest coyote in last year’s contest, one weighing 50 lbs.  In the 2013 contest, Carl got the most coyotes with a tally of 24, and in 2012, he bagged the most coyotes with a tally of 16.  Do you think that maybe he knows what he is doing?  *****

Governor Baker recently appointed former State Representative George Peterson, from Grafton, as Commissioner of the Department of Fish & Game.  Peterson served 10 terms in the House before deciding to not run again in 2014.   Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton, who served with Peterson in the House, also appointed Mary-Lee King deputy commissioner of Fish and Game.  This announcement came as great news to sportsmen statewide.

 

“As an avid outdoorsman and former commercial fisherman, George will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience as well as a unique understanding of the issues most important to sportsmen and commercial fishermen across the Commonwealth,” said Beaton. “I am honored to lead the DFG, and look forward to upholding the Department’s ongoing commitment to the protection of the Commonwealth’s wildlife, open space, and outdoors educational programs,” said Peterson.  King previously held the title of Legislative Director for the DFG, and worked as a chief policy advisor for former Gov. William Weld and chief of staff to then-Sen. Paul Cellucci. *****

 

Getting that urge to go fly fishing?  Well, this Friday evening, the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited is hosting an International Fly Fishing Film Festival at the Berkshire Hills Country Club, 500 Benedict Road, Pittsfield.   You are invited to see some of best rated fly fishing videos of 2014 taken from around the world.  You are encouraged to bring the whole family.

 

Doors open at 6:30 PM and the film will be shown at 7 PM.  The cost is $12 for advanced tickets or $15 at the door.  The first 45 attendees will receive a free copy of Stonefly Magazine.  There will be a 50/50 raffle and a handmade 9’ 4wt fly rod will be given out as a door prize.  Refreshments will be available.  Tickets can be obtained by calling Bill Travis 413-447-9720, by contacting any Taconic TU Chapter Board member, (listed on its website  http://www.taconictroutunlimited.org, under “Members”) or on-line at: www.THEF3T.com and search for the date.

 

Questions/comments:  Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com.   Phone/fax:  (413) 637-1818