No telling what you may catch while ice fishing


Sometimes you might hook onto weird stuff while ice fishing such an old boot or something from the bottom of the lake. Why, just a week or so ago, a buddy of mine pulled in a beer can. Somehow, his fishing line and hook wrapped around it. Hmmm, wonder how that happened.

Sunday, February 4 was a nice sunny day and Cory Walton of Hinsdale was out with his buddies ice fishing on Plunkett Lake in Hinsdale, MA. They had set up about 25 yards from the shoreline. Around 9:30 AM they saw a critter resembling a weasel along the shoreline near where some ice had buckled up. They didn’t pay too much attention to it, and were just enjoying the day.

Around 1:00 PM, Cory’s tip-up flag went up and he went to attend to it. As he was approaching it, he could see the tip-up shaking in the hole, a good indication that a sizeable fish was on the end of the line. When he got to the hole and checked his tip-up, he saw that all of the line was stripped from the reel, except where the line was tied to it. He set the hook and started hauling in the fish. Whatever was on the end of his line under the ice didn’t fight like a fish, but it was moving. When he started to pull it through the hole, he was shocked to see an angry river otter. Cory got it half way out of the hole, but it braced itself on the ice with its two front legs and refused to be pulled out of the hole.

The guys were all surprised and started hooting and yelling. The otter made a fierce spin, shook the hook and slipped back into the hole. After it got loose, the guys checked all around the hole for blood to see if it had been hurt. Fortunately, there was no signs of blood or other bodily damages.

Cory said that there was no open water anywhere for the otter to get into the lake and under the ice except for that buckled ice near the shoreline. Between that area and his tip-up there was no open water. Somehow it got into the water, swam under the ice to his live bait and took it. Presumably it had swum up from the Housatonic River in the Hinsdale Flats area, up Frissel Brook and into Plunkett Lake.

Well, fishermen have been known to stretch the truth a tad and I was a little skeptical after hearing this fishy story. It certainly was a classic requiring some imagination. Well, the skepticism disappeared when I actually saw a video of the event which was posted on Facebook by Cory’s buddy Justin Russell. Nope, this was definitely not fake news. Hmmm, I wonder if there is a State freshwater fishing award for otters.


The 32nd annual Jimmy Fund Ice Fishing Derby, which was held on Sunday, February 11 at Onota Lake was another success. In spite of the rainy weather, a nice crowd participated. The winners were:

Kids 12+ under
Caesen Kendall, 3.9 lbs Brown Trout
Dominic Curtin, 3 lbs Pickerel*
Miranda Dygun, 1.2 lbs Pickerel

*It’s interesting that Dominic Curtin’s mother, Eden Curtin, won this event when she was a child. According to Steve Bateman, she won it in 1995 or 1996 by catching a large Atlantic salmon. Its nice to see such traditions being passed on from generation to generation.

Young Adult 13-17
Rick Armstrong, 3.2 lbs Pickerel
Ben Mancini, 1.4 lbs Pickerel
Colby Gray 1.0 Lbs Brown Trout

Adults 18+
Eric Moser, 8.8 lbs Pike
Todd Wich, 6.2 lbs Pike
Ralph Wendling 5.0 lbs Pike

Congratulations to all.

The 13th annual Tom Wren Memorial Ice Fishing Derby will be held on Saturday February 24 from 6AM to 3 PM on Pontoosuc Lake in Pittsfield. Sign- ins will be in the marked gray camper shanty just on the ice off the public right away at Narragansett Park in Lanesboro. The gray camper shanty will have a big banner marking it. The cost is: Adults – $10 and children – $5. All cash brought in will be paid out in prizes. Prizes will be awarded for the top three heaviest fish in both adult and children’s categories. Final weigh is at 3 PM at the sign-in station. Participants are asked to please bring a big pail or something to transport the fish to weigh-in and ensure a healthy release.

Firearms safety course

A live fire NRA & Massachusetts State Police Certified Firearms Safety Course will be held on Saturday February 24th at the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club in Cheshire, MA. This is to qualify MA residents and non- residents alike for the MA License -To- Carry or FID Card. This will be a hands-on live firing, one day course. A full lunch will be provided and a $10 gift certificate to Pete’s Gun Shop. The cost is $100 which covers all ammo, safety gear, class materials, certificates, a hardcover NRA textbook and food. It runs from 9AM to about 4:30PM. Be there by 8:45 AM to sign in. Interested parties are asked to pre-register by calling or stopping in at Pete’s Gun Shop at 413-743-0780.

The Massachusetts LTC is now recognized for concealed carry in 29 states including:
Arizona, Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

This list is constantly being added to. Check with Pete’s periodically for new additions. Residents of Vermont can get the MA Non-Resident LTC by taking this course, and if National Reciprocity passes they can then take advantage of it.

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Banquet
The Bay State Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is having a banquet on Saturday, February 24 at the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club. Even if you don’t hunt elk, it is a social evening of fun, great food and camaraderie all for the benefit of elk country. Peter DelGrande’s famous Herb-crusted Boneless Prime Rib and Chicken Marsala Buffet is reason enough to attend.

Prizes include incredible firearms and bows, premium hunts, trips and adventures, limited edition art, handcrafted pottery and home furnishings, custom jewelry, and much more. Tickets are limited, and cost: Single Attendee – Includes 1 Meal & 1 Supporting Membership – $70.00, Couple Attendee – Includes 2 Meals & 1 Supporting Membership – $105.00. Doors open at 5:00pm. Call Gary D. Johnston at (413) 298-3623 for more information.

The 35th Annual Springfield Sportsmen’s Show

The show take place at the Eastern States Exposition (Big E) 1305 Memorial Ave., West Springfield, MA) on February 23 through 25. The show includes the best of hunting, fishing, boating and adventure recreation. The show hours are Friday from noon to 8 PM, Saturday 9 AM to 7 PM and Sunday 10 AM to 5 PM. Admission: Adults – $14, kids 6 to 12 $5 and under 6 Free.
The aisles will be filled with everything you need to enhance your sportsmen’s lifestyle. From all new hunting and fishing gear to special items like trip packages to exotic destinations
World renowned big game hunter and TV star, Dick Scorzafava will present his well-known Radical Hunting Success Seminar, sign books for his many fans and give away thousands of dollars worth of hunting gear in Dick’s Big Gear Giveaway.
Kids will see all of Bwana Jim’s favorite critters in person from alligators to snakes. In this entertaining and educational program, Bwana Jim will introduce you to an extensive array of animals and teach you all about how they live in the wild
David Pickering, the “Carp King,” is the go to expert when it comes to carp fishing. In his seminar, “Targeting Large Carp,” Dave will discuss strategies and various topics related to fishing for trophy carp.
Cory de Sousa was chosen by Tom Miranda to join the Elite Pro Staff of Mathew’s Dominant Bucks TV. His hunts have been filmed and they can be seen on Mathew’s Dominant Bucks TV as well as on Whitetail Slam TV. He is being recognized for his many years of experience and impressive success in the woods.
Paul Sannicandro of Moose Woods Guide Service will explain the principles of compass navigation. In addition, Paul will cover the importance of understanding the difference between magnetic north and true north as well as explaining the process of setting the declination for your compass.
Joe Judd, will be presenting a turkey hunting seminar. Joe is an award-winning turkey caller who has over 35 years of hunting experience to his credit. This highly regarded expert is a member of the Quaker Boy Pro Staff and he is also a member of the hunting Pro Staff for Alpen Optics. In 2013, Joe was the recipient of the prestigious Roger Latham Award presented by the National Wild Turkey Federation. A National Honor, this is the highest commendation given to a volunteer member by the NWTF.
Representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will be at the show to meet with military veterans and their family members to assist them with connecting with VA benefits. Eligible Veterans can sign up for VA health care at the show.
The Big Buck Display which is put on by the Northeast Big Buck Club will be there. The Big Buck Club is a non-profit organization dedicated to Northeast hunters and outdoorsmen. Each year, hundreds of volunteers measure trophy bucks from MA, CT, VT, RI, ME, NH, NY and PA.
There is so much more to see at the show.

Its ice fishing time, but be careful


Many outdoor enthusiasts are taking to the ice now that we are in mid winter. There are several ice fishing derbies taking place this and the next few weekends. Due to the warmth, last year’s season ended early and many ice fishermen felt short-changed. They were stuck with a lot of deer meat that they had intended to cook out on the ice.

This year has been another funny one with hard freeze – rain and thaw – hard freeze – rain, etc. The last forecast that I saw for this weekend was rain. Listed are some of the ice fishing derbies scheduled to take place in February, but as the dates near, perhaps you should check with the derby organizers just to be sure that none of them were cancelled due to ice conditions.

Upcoming Derbies

The Ashfield Rod & Gun Club’s Annual Youth Ice Fishing Derby will take place on Saturday, February 10 from 8 AM to 12 PM. New this year, there will be a 3 tip-up/hook limit due to the lake drawdown. Prizes will be awarded for all legally caught fish checked in at headquarters (The Ashfield Lake House). After the derby, a spaghetti dinner will be held at Sanderson Academy. There will be a $5 charge for adults, free for kids. Following the dinner, MassWildlife Western District Biologist Nathan Buckhout will be giving a presentation at the academy. For additional derby information, contact Joe Miraglia at (413) 628-4400.

The 32nd annual Jimmy Fund Ice Fishing Derby will take place on Onota Lake on Sunday, February 11. This derby is in memory of Bill “Geli” Gelinas, John Porter, Chris Porter, Cathy Saldo and John Drury. It will run from 6 AM to 2 PM. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $5 for kids and they are available in advance at the Onota Boat Livery on Pecks Road (413) 443-1366, and Maces Marine on Valentine Road, Pittsfield (413) 447-7512 or on the day of the derby at the Frank Controy Pavilion at Burbank Park on Onota Lake. Three divisions of trophies and prizes and plenty of good food.

The Lee Sportsmen’s Association will be holding its Ice Fishing Derby also on February 11 from 6 AM to 2 PM on Goose Pond. Check/weigh in will be at the shanty. Cost is $10 for adults and $6 for kids 12 and under. The adult winner of the heaviest fish will receive $100, and kids will win various prizes. There will be a spaghetti dinner at the LSA clubhouse afterwards. For more information, contact John Polastry at (413)822-8278.

On February 18, the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club will be holding its annual ice fishing derby on the 1st and 2nd Hoosac Lakes (Cheshire Lake) from sunrise to 4 PM. Weigh in will be at Farnams Causeway. An Eskimo Propane Auger ($500 value) will be awarded to the heaviest ticket holder fish. There will be youth fun prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places. Prizes and refreshments at 5 PM at the Club House. Kids 14 and under free with adult ticket. For more information, contact Corey McGrath at (413)841-5070.

If ice fishing derbies don’t appeal to you, perhaps you would prefer doing a family ice fishing day such as that held by the Kinneys of Dalton. As my wife Jan and I approached them on Ashmere Lake in Hinsdale last Sunday, we were delighted to see kids were having fun playing out on the ice and catching fish. It was nice seeing kids outdoors and not sitting home playing computer games. Grandpa and the dads set up along an undeveloped shoreline, something becoming more and more rare these days. In the old days, there was no problem finding such places, but now much of our lake shorelines are developed and have “No Trespassing” signs.

As we neared, we could hear the crackling sound and smell of burning wood from a small bonfire that was made with wood that they brought with them in their sled and dead wood and sticks found on the nearby forest floor. No saws were seen there, nor propane tanks nor hibachis on which to cook their food. Just like the old days, the food was simple and easy to prepare……hot dogs on a wooden spit over the open fire. I suspect that gramps Lawrence “Chip” Kinney had something to do with that, for surely, he remembers those old ice fishing days, too.

Boy! Did that bring back memories. After gabbing with them for a while, and admiring pictures of the nice fish that the kids had caught and released, Jan and I (and Jacques our beagle) left them. But that sight and memories still lingered in my mind and after some urging from Jan, I went back to take their picture and get their names.

If you closely observe the picture, you will see the bonfire with pieces of old logs and branches burning away. Now I ask you old timers, does that bring back fond memories?

Fundraiser for pheasants

There will be a turkey shoot at the Lee Sportsmen’s Association today starting at 1:00 PM and following that there will be a venison stew and spaghetti dinner at the Club. The cost is $15 for adults and $7 for kids under 12 years old. The proceeds of these events will be used to raise pheasants to be stocked on lands for the general public to hunt. Contact John Polastri for more information.

Incidentally, the LSA is the only Berkshire County sportsmen’s club that raises and stocks pheasants and only one of two clubs in Western Mass that does so.

Basic Hunter Education Course

There will be a basic hunter education course held at the Pittsfield High School, 300 East Street, Pittsfield, Massachusetts on: March 6, 8, 13, 15, 20 and 22 (all Tuesday and Thursday evenings), from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. You must attend all class dates and times to successfully complete the course. If you are interested in this course and wish to enroll, call (508) 389-7830 immediately; students are enrolled first-come, first-served, and courses fill quickly.

Fly Tying

Henry Sweren, president of the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited, recently announced that free Winter Fly Tying Sunday Afternoon events will be held at Berkshire Hills Country Club from Noon to 3 PM on February 11, 18 and March 4h and 18. For more information, contact Henry at (413) 822-5216.

Regulations Prohibiting Bump Stocks and Trigger Cranks

If you hold a Massachusetts firearms license or firearms identification card, you should have or will be receiving a notice from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. Section 52 of Chapter 110 of the Acts of 2017 directs them to inform you that bump stocks and trigger cranks are illegal in Massachusetts. Section 53 of Chapter 110 provides the changes that will take effect in two stages: Effective immediately upon its signing, the new law prohibited the purchase, sale or offering for sale of trigger cranks or bump stocks. Effective February 1, 2018, the new law will prohibit possession of bump stocks or trigger cranks, including possession in a private home. There are no exceptions to this prohibition for licensed firearm owners; an FID card, a License to Carry or even a license to possess a machine gun will not authorize possession of a bump stock or trigger crank.

Because the law does not allow for transfer or sale of these prohibited items, if you currently possess one of them within Massachusetts, you should contact your local police department or Massachusetts State Police to get details about how to transfer custody of the prohibited item to the police for destruction. Retention of such a prohibited item beyond the 90-day period will expose the owner to criminal prosecution.

I think most gun owners know why this new regulation came about (Las Vegas shooting) and should have been expecting it.

If you did not receive this notice, you may have a problem on your hands. If you have moved, Massachusetts General Law Chapter 140, section 131(l) states: Any licensee shall notify, in writing, the licensing authority who issued such license, the chief of police into whose jurisdiction the licensee moves and the executive director of the criminal history systems board of any change of address. Such notification shall be made by certified mail within 30 days of its occurrence. Failure to so notify shall be cause for revocation or suspension of said license.
Good luck!


Outdoor artistic/writing opportunities available for youngsters

Junior Duck Stamp Contest: “There is still time to enter the Massachusetts Junior Duck Stamp (JDS) contest,” advises MassWildlife’s Wildlife Education Specialist Pam Landry. “Any student, from kindergarten through grade 12, regardless of whether they attend public or private school or are home-schooled, can submit original artwork in this fun and educational competition. Even if students do not enter the art competition, the related information can serve as a valuable resource in art or science classrooms.” The entry deadline is February 15, 2018.
The JDS program links the study of wetlands and waterfowl conservation with the creation of original artwork. Students in grades K-12 learn about the habitat requirements of various kinds of ducks and geese and then express their knowledge of the beauty, diversity, and interdependence of these species artistically, by creating a drawing or painting which can be submitted to the JDS art contest. The art is judged in four age group categories in a statewide competition; the entry judged Best of Show moves on to represent Massachusetts in the national JDS competition. Art teachers, science teachers, and parents who home-school can visit its website for an information packet and entry information.
For more information, contact Pam Landry at (508) 389-6310, or

New England Outdoor Writers Association outdoor writing contest: NEOWA recently announced its 6th annual Youth Outdoor Writing Contest. The rules for the contest are as follows:

1. The contest is open to students in New England. Submissions from students in grades 6-8 will be entered in the Junior Division; grades 9-12 will be entered in the Senior Division.

2. The topic must be outdoor-oriented (fishing, hunting, boating, canoeing, hiking, camping, nature, ecology, etc.). Any prose or poetic form is acceptable.

3. First, second, third and two honorable mentions will be chosen in both the junior and senior divisions. Winners will receive certificates and cash prizes. First place $150, second $100, third $50, honorable mention $25.

4. The written work should not exceed 500 words. Entrants must submit by mail, three legible 8½ x 11 copies of his or her work with a title of the entry and the author’s name. The entrant must also include a cover sheet including name, age, address, telephone, e-mail and grade in school. One copy of the entry must also be sent by email.

5. The deadline for mailing contest entries is Feb. 15, 2018. Mail entries to Youth Writing Contest, c/o Randy Julius, 487 Central St., East Bridgewater, MA 02333.
Email: Phone 508-378-2290, 508-642-2997.

NEOWA will announce the contest winners during spring 2018.
Don’t feed the deer
A message from MassWildlife: Although well-intentioned, people who feed deer in the winter may not understand the negative unintended consequences of this seemingly benign activity.
A host of microorganisms (bacteria, protozoa and fungi) and enzymes in the deer’s digestive system enables the breakdown of plant material into a form that allows for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. The composition of this digestive microflora actually changes during the year to help deer digest the different types of seasonally available foods. As warm weather foods, such as green, soft vegetation, die off in the fall, deer gradually shift to browse, woody plant material such as twigs and buds. Accordingly, the deer’s digestive microflora slowly adjusts to this dietary change over a period of weeks.
During the winter months, if abrupt changes in diet occur with introduced high carbohydrate foods like corn, apples, and deer pellets, it can disrupt the deer’s stomach chemistry, triggering bloat, diarrhea, damage to the rumen (the first of four stomach chambers), and even death. High levels of lactic acid produced as a by-product of the carbo hydrate-digesting bacteria overwhelm other microflora, reduce the rumen’s pH (rumen acidosis), and damage the rumen lining. This lactic acid can also be absorbed into the bloodstream and can rise to potentially fatal levels.
Even if a deer survives the initial issues, damage to the rumen lining can be permanent, potentially leading to future digestive problems. Feeding deer can also cause deer to congregate in larger numbers, increasing disease transmission risks, and causing deer to adjust travel patterns that increase vehicle collision risk.
A healthier, safer way to support deer through particularly rough winters is to improve existing natural habitat. Creating areas of young hardwood and shrub-dominated understory forests (e.g., recently cut), especially near coniferous covers of hemlocks, pines and firs, is very beneficial. In locales where deer numbers are much higher than what the natural habitat can support (evidenced by over-browsing), opening large blocks of land to regulated hunting can reduce deer densities, benefiting the remaining deer and the local ecosystem.
Private landowners, land trusts, and cities and towns can provide winter food and cover for deer and other wildlife by including selective forest cutting in their habitat management plans.
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. The Basic Hunter Education course is designed for first-time hunters and is standardized across North America. All government-issued Basic Hunter Education certificates, from any North American jurisdiction, are accepted as proof of successfully completing the course in order to purchase a hunting or sporting license.

Anyone who has held a hunting license prior to 2007 in this or any other state, or is a graduate of a Basic Hunter Education course in this or any other state, does not need any additional training and may immediately create a customer account and purchase a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license ([ Proof of a previous license or certificate is not required.

A Basic Hunter Education Course will be taught at the Cheshire Rod and Gun Club, 310 Curran Road, Cheshire, MA, on February 12, 16, 19, 23, 26 and March 2, 2018, from 6 PM to 9 PM for all 6 evenings. You must attend all class dates and times to successfully complete the course.
If you are interested in this course and wish to enroll, call (508) 389-7830.
Firearms safety courses
The Lenox Sportsmen’s Club is having a License-to-Carry / UTAH firearms course on Saturday, January 28 from 12:00 to 4:00 PM. It is a Massachusetts State Police Compliant course. The cost is $70 for LTC, $125 for UTAH and $150 for both. Preregistration required. Contact Tom Nadolny at (413)822-6451 or or Dennis Leydet at (413)329-7081 or
Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club News
In its most recent newsletter, the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club announced that it has recently purchased approximately one hundred acres of land adjacent to its existing property, along the northwestern boundary. This purchase brings the total acreage to just over two hundred acres, and helps protect the Club from potential encroachments. It thanked those involved in the extended negotiation and purchase, led by its immediate past president, Wayne Slosek. Special thanks also went to its attorney and Club member Jack E. Houghton, Jr., “whose diligence and persistence” saw it through some difficult issues. Thanks were also given to the Skorput family, who were the previous owners, for their patience and generosity throughout the process, most especially Peter, who acted as point man for the family.
The Club was able to pay the cost from its treasury, but as a result, is requesting the membership to step up when paying this year’s dues by including an additional donation to help replenish it. I’m sure it wouldn’t refuse donations from non-members as well.
Incidentally, after forty years of putting out the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club newsletter, Gary Johnston handed off the responsibility to Max Scherff, a new club member who has graciously volunteered to share his literary expertise with all members. “It has been my great pleasure to contact you over the years through this newsletter” wrote Johnston, “I have always felt that communicating with the membership about the ongoing activities at the club are vital to our continued success. I have great confidence in Max.”
Ice fishing derbies
The 40th Annual Raymond “Skip” Whalen Ice Fishing Derby will be held at Stockbridge Bowl boat ramp on Sunday, January 28 from 7 AM to 1 PM. Entry fees are as follows: Kids under 15 years old – $5 (and they all win something) , Club members and Town residents – $10, Nonmembers aged 15 and up – $15. Tickets may be purchased at Wheeler & Taylor and Berkshire Insurance Group in Stockbridge, at the Club on Saturday mornings 9 AM to noon, or on Derby Day at the Bowl only until 9 AM.

Also on January 28, the Onota Fishing Club is having an ice fishing derby on Onota Lake from 6 AM to 2 PM. There will be cash prizes for adults and kids and donuts, muffins, coffee, hot cocoa. There will be a pasta dinner afterwards. The adult entry fee is $15 and for kids under age of licenses, $5. Tickets for the dinner after the derby cost $12. Register at the Controy Pavilion.

Please note:

Any club or organization that wishes its ice fishing derbies (or any other events) mentioned in this column must get the information to me two weeks before the scheduled event. It has to be in this column the Sunday before the scheduled event and my deadline is the Wednesday before that. Thank you.

Questions/comments: Phone: (413) 637-1818



Berkshire County 2017 bear harvest set a record

According to figures released by MassWildlife, 119 black bears were harvested in the Berkshires last year beating the prior record of 106 which was set in 2016. The harvest numbers have been steadily rising over the years. For example, 57 were harvested in the Berkshires in 2013, 78 in 2014 and 75 in 2015. Berkshire County continues to have the most resident bears and consequently the highest harvest totals. The county with the next highest harvest was Franklin County with 64 bears harvested last year.
The statewide harvest came in at 268 bears in 2017 and that represents the second highest total, just below the 283 bears taken in 2016. A statewide breakdown by hunting season is as follows: September season (Sept. 5 – Sept. 23) was 151, the November season (Nov. 6 – Nov. 25 was 26 and the Shotgun season (Nov. 27 – Dec. 9) was 91.
New regulations proposed for Wildlife Management Areas

MassWildlife is proposing leash and waste disposal regulations for dogs on Wildlife Management Areas (WMA). MassWildlife has a long tradition of welcoming dogs on WMAs and dogs are still welcome on them under this new proposal.
MassWildlife proposes to take this action due to repeated complaints from WMA users about negative and unsafe encounters with unleashed dogs and issues with dog waste. MassWildlife protects and manages these areas to sustain wildlife abundance and diversity and provide wildlife-related recreation, including hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching, while at the same time providing a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience for all visitors. Therefore:
1. The proposed regulations require leashing dogs and other domestic animals on WMAs. Dogs may be off-leash only when hunting or hunt-training with licensed hunters under existing regulations, or if they are participating in retriever or bird dog trial events that have been permitted by MassWildlife. Leashing dogs decreases conflicts with both people and other dogs, resulting in a safer and more positive experience for everyone.
2. The proposal also requires dog owners to pick up dog waste and dispose of it offsite. Removing dog waste reduces nuisance and protects the safety and health of dogs and other pets, people, and wildlife.
In a recent report to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden noted that here in the Berkshires, the problem is not so severe. But in the WMAs in the eastern part of the state it is a real problem because large numbers of unleashed dogs are roaming in some of those WMAs. In many cases it is the dog sitters who are bringing them.
Hunters, whose license and Wildland Stamp fees helped purchase these lands, cannot fully enjoy the hunting experience because of the numbers or dogs, some of them aggressive, disrupting hunting activities.
A public hearing has been scheduled for February 6, 2018 at 7 PM at the MassWildlife Field Headquarters, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, 01581. Information on the public hearing, public comment process and proposed regulatory language is posted on MassWildlife’s website at Outdoor sportsmen, and any other users of Wildlife Management Areas, are encouraged to attend or weigh in, by mail or email, on this proposed regulation.
MassWildlife Habitat Grants announced
Eighteen municipalities, organizations, and private landowners across the state have been awarded a total of $506,856 in grants for wildlife habitat improvement projects. The MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program was developed to establish partnerships between MassWildlife and private and municipal landowners to enhance habitat and increase recreational opportunities on properties across the state. This year, funds provided through the grant program will benefit 20 wildlife habitat improvement projects, totaling 950 acres in 19 Massachusetts communities. The projects will complement the ongoing habitat management efforts currently underway on state owned lands.
The Habitat Management Grant Program is in its third year, and has now awarded over $1,215,000 in funding to 51 projects. The Program’s mission is to provide financial assistance to municipal and private landowners of conserved properties to improve and manage habitat for wildlife that has been deemed in greatest conservation need and for game species. Projects awarded with funds are also designed to expand outdoor recreational opportunities. The funds are provided through MassWildlife’s Habitat Management Grant Program. This year, the Baker-Polito Administration increased the funding of the program by $200,000 utilizing environmental bond funds.
“The Habitat Management Grant Program is a great example of the strong partnership between the state, municipalities, private landowners and organizations working together to conserve land and wildlife,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These grants are an important tool to help build upon the thousands of acres of important conservation land for wildlife and residents across the Commonwealth.”
“Massachusetts is home to an incredibly diverse array of protected natural resources and habitats that include saltwater marshes, mountain summits, and old growth forests,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Habitat for common and rare plants and wildlife requires active and ongoing maintenance and management in order to thrive, and these grants will assist in those important efforts.”
“Habitat management is key to benefiting birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians which depend on some less common habitats,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon. “I’m grateful that we have the opportunity to expand our habitat management footprint and improve recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women, birders, naturalists and other outdoor enthusiasts.”
“About 80 percent of Massachusetts’ lands where wildlife is found is owned privately,” said Jack Buckley, MassWildlife Director. “Therefore, as an environmental agency we should promote and apply science-based habitat management activities with committed municipal and private landowners, thereby protecting their investment in wildlife and habitat.”
Local or nearby awardees of this year’s Habitat Management Grant Program are:
• $36,500 to the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, Great Barrington, to conduct invasive species control at Housatonic Flats and Thomas and Palmer Preserves.
• $16,675 to the Franklin Land Trust, Heath and Plainfield, to enhance native shrub habitat on Crowningshield Farm (Heath) and Guyette Farm (Plainfield).
• $36,630 to the Town of Lenox, to conduct hardy kiwi invasive species control within Kennedy Park.
• $15,632 to the Sheffield Land Trust, to work to control invasive species at Ashley Falls Woods.
• $20,503 to the Nature Conservancy, Sheffield, to create and improve old field and shrubland habitats at the Schenob Brook Preserve.
• $15,500 to the Cherry Hill Realty Trust, Stockbridge, to remove the invasive hardy kiwi plant.
• $20,905 to the Town of Stockbridge, to treat invasive species at Gould Meadows and Bullard Woods.
• $24,493 to Mass Audubon, Tolland, to create shrubland habitat at the Richardson Brook Wildlife Sanctuary.
Winter Waterfowl Survey
Every 5 years, MassWildlife conducts a winter waterfowl survey of sites where people feed wild ducks and geese. While the feeding of wildlife is discouraged, there is no state law or regulation that prohibits feeding (though some municipalities do restrict or prohibit feeding). MassWildlife is asking the public’s assistance in reporting current waterfowl feeding locations for biologists to identify and count these birds.
The survey will be conducted statewide this month and includes sites in urban, suburban, and rural areas near fresh, brackish, and salt water. Feeding sites range from municipal parks where many visitors come to feed the ducks to ducks in backyards feeding on spilled bird seed or handouts thrown out someone’s back door.
MassWildlife biologists will visit historic feeding sites from January 8 to 26. Because these locations can change over 5 years, public input is needed. If you know of a spot where waterfowl are being fed, let them know by phone at 508-389-6321 or by e-mail at Include the town and specific location where you’ve seen waterfowl being fed this January. If you are able, also include the number of ducks and/or geese (preferably by species) that you see at a feeding site at one time.
Mallards are by far the most common duck at feeding sites but other ducks may be observed as well. American black ducks are common and wood ducks, pintails, gadwalls, American wigeon, and hooded mergansers are seen on occasion. Canada geese are common at many feeding sites.
MassWildlife’s survey started 45 years ago and documented the increase of mallards at feeding sites reaching peak numbers of over 20,000 mallards at 218 sites during the 1993 survey and declining thereafter. This decline can be attributed to more Canada geese utilizing the sites resulting in many areas being posted “No Feeding” because of the mess geese made. The last survey showed that the number of mallards was down to 9,700 at 139 sites along with nearly 1,600 geese (down from over 5,300 geese recorded during the 1998 survey).

Marlborough Flyfishing Show

The 2018 Fly Fishing Show will take place from January 19 through 21 at the Royal Plaza Trade Center in Marlborough, MA. There will be over 50 talks and demonstrations each day. While there, you might shop for the newest tackle, book your next dream trip, watch tying and casting demos and learn from the experts. There will be more than $40,000 in door prizes.

All the new rods, reels, fly tying materials, books, DVDs and latest equipment will be on display to test and purchase. There is a casting pond for casting demos and it is available to test your new rod. Some of the celebrity authors this year include Joe Humphreys, Gary Borger, Bob Clouser, Ed Engle, Sheila Hassan, Jason Randall, Bob Romano and others, and they will be happy to autograph your books.

Show Hours are: Friday: 10AM – 6PM, Saturday: 9AM – 5:30PM and Sunday: 9AM – 4:30PM. Ticket costs: One day $15, Two-day pass $25, Three-day pass $35, Children under 5 free, under 12: $2, Scouts under 16 in uniform: free and Active Military with ID: $10. Click onto more details.

This is a must-attend event for New England flyfishers and flytyers. The next closest show of this magnitude is in New Jersey or Pennsylvania.

A most memorable fishing trip, Part 2

Last week, this column followed the remarkable trip of Rex Channell and his wife Trish Watson across Canada. Readers may recall that they traveled in their 25-foot Coachman Freelander (aka FISHlander) and camped and fished all across Canada. Let’s pick up the trip when they crossed back into the USA from British Columbia, Canada.

Passing into Idaho, they stopped to visit Matt Sawyer former Marketing Director of Butternut Ski Area in Great Barrington who now works at Lookout Pass Ski Area in Idaho. For the next several days they fished such famous rivers as the Coeur D’Alene, Little St Joe and Quartz Creek with Matt, also an avid fisherman, as their guide.
Then onto Montana where on August 8, they visited two different former Berkshire County ski friends in the Whitefish, Montana area – Emily Goodrich and Paul Descouteau. There was a very real wildfire threat in the Flathead area of Montana, especially in Seeley Lake where active firefighting was prominently visible. Instead they fished Livingston, MT – the Little Blackfoot River, Yellowstone River and Boulder River – which offered up cutthroat, rainbow and browns of various sizes. They splurged on a float trip on the Yellowstone River with Montana Trout Anglers and had a very successful trip catching healthy (1-2 lb) rainbows and browns.
They crossed into Wyoming on August 18 through the very crowded Yellowstone and Great Teton National Parks at the height of the tourist season. They stopped in to see former Berkshire-ites, Jonathan Gray in Jackson, WY and Celeste Young in Victor ID and visited the Jackson National Fish Hatchery (Snake River cutthroat). On recommendation of several local guides, they trekked the 15-mile dirt road up the Grey’s River out of Alpine, WY. There, they experienced the spectacular solar eclipse on the Grey’s River with only a herd of ranch cattle as company. Unfortunately, the fishing was pretty slow with only a couple of Snake River cutties netted in the three days.
So back in Alpine, they took another guided float trip, this time on the Salt River with Pioneer Anglers Fly Shop. It was an evening float that started at 3:00 pm and lasting until dark with continuous surface action using big hopper patterns and producing a lot of Snake River cutthroat several in the 2+ lb range. On their way through central and southeastern Wyoming, they visited the Museum of the Mountain Man in Pinedale and the Saratoga National Fish Hatchery (primarily lake trout). They saw several enticing rivers (e.g. North Platte) and alpine lakes (e.g. Lake Marie in the Snowy Range of the Medicine Bow National Forest) but left them to fish another trip as they were making their way to Colorado to meet up with relatives in a few days. At an over-night in Laramie, Wyoming, they camped in the Prairies Lake region and tried fishing from shore on the Gelatt and Twin Butte Lakes with no luck.
On August 25 and 26, they traveled to Boulder and Castle Pines, Colorado to visit friends and family sightseeing in the Garden of the Gods and the Red Rocks parks. In Salida, one of their favorite places in Colorado, they stayed near Chalk Creek for three days and fished Wright’s and Chalk Lakes catching lots of rainbow trout in the 10”-14” range on size 2 to 10 terrestrials. And they visited three Colorado State Fish Hatcheries – Mt Shavano (kokanee salmon, Snake River cutthroat, rainbow and cutbow), Chalk Creek (rainbow) and Roaring Judy (kokanee salmon, cutthroat, rainbow).
Rex and Trish spent the next 12 days in southern Colorado, visiting transplanted friends, taking in the sights and fishing some great areas. In the Gunnison area, they fished Cement Creek, Spring Creek and Taylor Reservoir for small browns and brookies. They toured the Ross Reel factory in Montrose. They fished the San Miguel River outside of Ridgeway catching rainbows on dries against straight red-rock cliffs. From Ouray, “the Switzerland of America”, they took the Million Dollar Highway which traverses three passes over 10,000 feet high in 57 miles ending up in Durango where they fished the Lemon Reservoir and Florida River.
They spent the next week in Utah visiting the national parks and monuments – Arches, Canyon Lands, Capital Reef, National Bridges, Glen Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion. In Moab, they went off-roading to fish the small alpine Oowah Lake. While marveling at the landscape, they took plenty of time to fish the southern Utah area around Loa hiring guide/owner Mike James of the Quiet Fly Fisher who gave them a diverse sampling of river, lake and reservoir. Both Rex and Trish were successful catching tiger trout in the 3 lb category with a size 16 imitation boatman fly. Some of the waters they sampled both with Mike and on their own include the Fremont River, Ferris Lake, Forsyth Reservoir, Bicknell Bottoms, Boulder Mountain Reservoir, Garcane Power Plant Reservoir, Boulder Creek, and Upper East Boulder Reservoir catching tiger, rainbow and brook trout. In Bicknell, they visited the J Perry Egan State Fish Hatchery (brook, rainbow and lake trout).
They spent 4 days in Arizona (9/18 – 9/21) to see the north rim of the Grand Canyon – so awe-inspiring – and to visit an aunt and uncle in Phoenix. However, it was still very warm (highs above 100°) so they decided to go back into the mountains of Colorado as soon as possible. Passing back into Colorado, they stopped at Mesa Verde National Park. On 9/23-9/24, they stayed at the Elk Trace B&B, a working ranch in Pagosa Springs, CO, to celebrate their 34th wedding anniversary fishing (naturally) this time in the nearby Williams Creek and Reservoir.
They spent several days in Mogote, CO, to fish the Conejos River, a river they had fished a few years ago. They stayed at the dispersed wilderness site at Elk Creek since Colorado state campgrounds had been closed since mid-September. They took a day trip with Conejos River Anglers and landed a lot of 16”-20” browns using size 20 and smaller nymph patterns with a double dropper rig. On the way east, they fished the Arkansas River at several pull-offs along US 50 through Canyon City and into West Pueblo but had no luck. The last stop they made in Colorado was to the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum, incredible collection of aircraft from the last 120 years.
Now in the plains states, Rex and Trish were interested in laying down some miles. They quickly passed through Kansas and Missouri. They visited Boot Hill Museum and Front Street, Dodge City, KS as a fun diversion from driving. And they took a detour to Branson, MO, to visit Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede – good, clean entertainment. They visited relatives outside of St. Louis, MO and friends in Indianapolis, taking in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis Zoo.
On October 5 they finally made it into Michigan. Their first stop was to the Richard Clay Bodine State Fish Hatchery (brood stock for steelhead). In Spring Lake, they visited
Nick Petrinec who took them out on the Muskegon River in his Jet boat. They spent several days fishing, first the Pere Marquette River in Baldwin, catching big king salmon using egg patterns and grey mop flies, then the Manistee River at the Hodenpyl Dam in Mesick, Michigan netting several 10”-12” rainbows using Adams nymphs and stimulator dries and finally, the North and South Forks of the AuSable River in Grayling, where they were skunked. They made one more stop in Michigan to visit ski friends – Cheyanne Sawyer (the daughter of Matt from Idaho) – at Boyne Mountain Ski Area. They traversed the Upper Peninsula before crossing back into Canada at Sault Ste Marie, taking in Niagara Falls on the Canadian side.
They arrived home on October 20 after discovering that all campgrounds and RV parks were closed in the northeast leaving only Walmart Parking lots as places to camp.
They were gone some 164 days, of which 96 of them were spent fishing. They traveled through 8 Canadian provinces, 17 states, traveling 16,708 miles. They visited 7 fish hatcheries, and if you are wondering why, they have a special place in their heart for them. They were married in one.
What an amazing trip! They hope to have a video program of the trip early in 2018, with the locations and times to be determined at a later date.
But wait! You might think they would be tired of camping and fishing by then, but guess what. On October 23, they did some wilderness camping on the Deerfield River in Charlemont, MA and Trish caught the pictured 20- inch plus brown trout!
Ice Fishing
With this serious cold snap, some hard water anglers will be heading out onto the ice to do some ice fishing. There may be enough ice, especially in the higher elevations, but be careful in the lower elevations. You might want to stay away from any stream inlets or areas where there are currents which will have thinner ice. MassWildlife has some ice thickness guidelines, be sure to check them. Simply search “Stay Safe on Ice”, on its web page.
The last weather forecast that I saw mentioned temperatures in the 5 below zero area. Keep a sharp eye on the youngsters so that they don’t get frostbitten hands and feet. If you go, don’t forget to bring your 2018 fishing license.
Personally, I love to ice fish, but I’m going to wait another week, just to be on the safe side.

A most memorable fishing trip – Part 1


Readers may recall from last fall’s Canadian fishing articles of local fishermen, there were still two more anglers flyfishing up in Canada. Rex Channell and his wife Trish Watson. Rex is a local flyfishing guide who operates under the name of Allure Outfitters. I had promised to write about the trip when they returned. I had no idea at the time that they wouldn’t return until mid-October, after a 5 1/2 month trip. So, let’s take a break from this fall’s hunting articles and think fish for a while.

Rex and Trish packed up their 25-foot 2015 Coachman Freelander and began a fishing journey the likes of which most of us can only dream.

On May 9, 2017 they set out for West Falmouth to flyfish the Cape Cod Canal for schoolies (small striped bass). After 3 days, they headed for New Hampshire and Maine to visit friends, do some hiking, check out the beaches and lighthouses, etc. They stayed at the Desert Dunes of Maine Campground in Freeport, ME. (Yes, there are desert dunes up there), and they fished the Saco River near Fryeburg. While there was surface activity, they did not land anything.

They fished several stretches of the Crooked River in Bethel, ME while visiting friends but the river was high and non-productive. They went on to visit and fish with Brenda Sears (former Coordinator/Leader of Casting for Recovery in Massachusetts and licensed Maine guide) and her son Justin in Rangeley, ME, angling in such famed rivers as the Magallaway and Rangeley happily netting many nice brook trout and landlocked salmon in the latter on size 10 – 12 mayfly and stimulator patterns as well as larger streamers for the next 6 days.

Moving on to Greenville, ME in the Moosehead Lake region they fished the Roach River (no luck) and the Kennebec River with Rex catching a nice 3 lb brookie on a size 2 cone-head streamer. They spent several days camping and fishing on Perch Pond in the Deboullie Wilderness Area – only accessible by 25 miles of dirt roads deep in the North Maine Woods. While the fishing was not spectacular – some small brook trout – the wilderness itself was! The final Maine waters they fished were the Fish River and the Wallagrass Stream near Fort Kent again landing brookies and landlocked salmon on streamers. They said in general the rivers in Maine were difficult to fish this time of year (May) as the waters were high with late spring run-off but they were still able to land enough fish to make them happy and eager for more.

They drove from Ft. Kent and arrived at the Sugarloaf Provincial Parc in Atholville, New Brunswick on June 8. There they fished the St Lawrence River at Tide Head catching small salmon, climbed Sugarloaf Mountain and rode mountain bikes throughout the park. They traveled the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec Province and looked into fishing the Cascapedia River for Atlantic Salmon, but while the season was open, the salmon had not started up the rivers yet. They were told that the returning Atlantic Salmon count was down by two thirds in recent years in Quebec and New Brunswick. So, instead, they visited the Cascapedia River Museum and went on a hike in the Chic-Chocs (a mountain range in the central region of the Gaspé Peninsula).

While in Quebec Province, they fished the Pesciculture – Peche de la troute – a trout farm in St Felicite. For the next several days (June 14 through June 19) they camped, visited lighthouses, and museums and ferried across the St Lawrence River on their way to Labrador. On June 21 they arrived in Labrador City, Labrador. (population around 10,000). The people there were so incredibly friendly and helpful that they decided to stay 3 three days where they fished for brookies in Tanya Lake and Dumbell Lake both within the town boundaries.

There is only one road of 530 km (317 miles) between Labrador City and Happy Valley-Goose Bay and one population center – Churchill Falls. It is so remote that they signed out a satellite phone in Lab City to carry in case of emergency turning it in (without incident) when arriving in Happy Valley.

When they found a boat ramp/camp on the Ossokmanuan (Ossok) Reservoir along the way to Church Falls, they stopped to camp and fish resulting in catching the pictured large landlock salmon (called Ouaniniche) using 4x, sized 12 mayfly imitations (parachute gray flies). They hiked to Churchill Falls in Labrador (The falls are 245 feet high, located on the Churchill River) and toured the hydro-power plant of the same name, the third largest in the world and 1000+ feet underground. They took another opportunity to camp and fish at a pull-off on the Cache River where they caught more brook trout on dries before arriving at Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador was one of their primary destination points as they had scheduled a fly-in float plane fishing trip to Igloo Lake Lodge for the first week of July. (If that place sounds familiar, that is where local Attorney Michael Shepard and fellow anglers fished last summer. Remember that big brook trout that Mike was holding in a picture featured in this column on October 8, 2017?) Rex and Trish spent a week there catching huge brook trout and northern pike. Fifteen minutes into the trip, they were into 8 ½ lb brookies. Rex caught the pictured one just shy of 10 lbs later in the week. In the lake, they were using large sculpin patterns while trolling, while in the rivers they were catching the brookies on stimulators and smallish gray ghost flies.

They drove across Quebec taking a more northerly route along the Saguenay Fjord and avoiding the large eastern Canadian cities. They fished Lac Bujold, Lac du Milieu and the Chigoubiche River in Quebec along the way to Ontario. Only Lac Bujold offered up any fish – brook trout.

On July 16, they arrived at the Lost Lake Wilderness Campground in Gowganda, Ontario which provides fishing for large northern pike, walleye, smallmouth bass and brookies on 8 lakes including Lost Lake, Hill’s Lake and Aurora Lake. They stayed there 3 days and caught plenty of fish on both dry and wet flies. One of the larger pike was caught using home-made cork popper on a 3 wt rod. Although they rarely take the fish, they had a wonderful shore lunch of walleye and pike that they caught the day before.

While in Gowganda, they visited Hill’s Lake Fish Hatchery. Budd Lake near Wawa, Ontario was the last opportunity they took to fish heading into the vast plains. They camped at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario, taking in the impressive waterfalls and before entering Winnipeg, they stayed at the Falcon Lake Provincial Park.

Westward they traveled and on July 22, they reached Morris, Manitoba where they attended the Manitoba Stampede and Rodeo. In Saskatchewan they camped at the Moose Jaw River Park on July 23 where they rode bikes instead of fishing as the water was low, slow and murky.

While they had planned on going to Banff and Jasper National Parks in Alberta, the wildfire threat in that region made them change their route. On July 24 they arrived in Crowsnest, Alberta and stayed at the Lundbreck Falls Provincial Park camping right on the river. There they fished the Crowsnest River for rainbows having great luck especially in the evenings where mayfly hatches were happening. (If that
name sounds familiar, that is where Paul Knauth, Allen Gray and I had tremendous rainbow trout fishing this past August, and was highlighted in this column on October 1).

On July 27, they arrived in Fernie, British Columbia and stayed at Snowy Peaks RV Park and for 5 days there. Again, fishing mostly in the evening, they caught a lot of healthy (2+ lb) west-slope cutthroat trout on the Elk River. This was all dry fly fishing with the go-to fly being a size 14 yellow sally. Fishing in this area of BC was more expensive since there is a fee of $20 per rod per day added to the cost of a fishing license for most of the big rivers, including the Elk, but the results were well worth it.

Their last stop in Canada was the Goat River outside of Kitchner, BC. They wilderness camped on the river 3 miles up a multi-use dirt road (logging and recreation) and fished the Goat River, catching 12” cutthroat and rainbow trout on yellow sallies and small stimulators.

On August 2, they crossed the US/Canadian border at Porthill, ID stopped in Spokane, Washington. Did they head for home? Heck no, the fishing trip was only half over. We’ll pick up the rest of the journey, hopefully in next week’s column.

Annual Berkshire Knapsacker New Year’s Day Hike and Gathering
The event will take place at the First Congregational Church Hall, 25 Park Place, Lee, MA. Two hikes are scheduled (or snowshoe as conditions warrant). The longer hike will be on the Appalachian Trail starting at the Route 20 parking area, led by Harold Moon. They will hike to the Goose Pond cabin and back, about four miles. They will leave the Church at 10:00 AM and return around 12:30 PM.
The shorter hike will be around Basin Pond in Lee, starting at the Becket Rd. parking lot, hiking through hemlock groves and over a stream to the site of the 1960 dam ruins and back, about 3 miles. They will leave the Church Hall at 10:15 AM and return around 12:30 PM.
A pot-luck lunch begins around 1:00 PM, (bring your own place setting, serving utensils, and an appetizer, dessert, salad, or entree to share) followed by a short business meeting.
At 2:00 PM, Dr. Richard Greene, an experienced and accomplished wildlife tracker, will present a program entitled “An Up-Close Look at Wildlife” He will discuss the value of wildlife cameras in conservation and science and will share his photos and videos capturing our local wildlife in their natural habitats. Dr. Greene’s presentation is free and open to the public.

Paraplegic hunters enjoy another special day

According to Trina Moruzzi, MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife Supervisory Biologist and Paraplegic Deer Hunt Coordinator, sixteen hunters participated statewide in the paraplegic hunts which were held on November 2 through 4. Three deer were harvested, all bucks- one in Southern Berkshires, one at Devens and one at Otis/Edwards. This translates to a 19% success rate for this year’s hunt. In the past five years, these hunters have averaged around a 25% harvest success rate.
Here in the Berkshires, six hunters participated this year – four in the southern and two in the northern Berkshires sites.
The southern Berkshires folks hunted in the Mount Washington area and it was coordinated out of the DCR Headquarters there. Fred Lampro and Mark Portiere headed it up this year. The hunters were: Sidney Eichstedt of Lee, Greg Baumli of New Lebanon, NY, Steve Gladding of Westfield, MA and Vyto Sablevicius of Norwich, MA. Helpers included: Shaun Smith, Brian Ingerson, Marc Portieri, Greg Arienti, Rick Thelig, Tom Dean, Paul Antonozzi, Fred Lampro, Al Vincent, Paul Mullins and Chuck Pickert, all from the Berkshires or northern Connecticut.
For the 9th year in a row, Chuck Pickert brought his trailer-mounted smoker/grill and cooked breakfasts and lunches for the three days. Tricia Vollmer made the fish chowder and other individuals also prepared the desserts and other food needed for the three-day event. A lot of friends who own restaurants and businesses donated food and condiments. I intentionally arrived there on Friday, just before lunch. On that day, the lunch menu was: homemade fish chowder, smoked pot roast, smoked Vidalia onion gravy, Luau baked beans (with pineapple) and home-made desserts. The day before, Pickert prepared a smoked pork loin lunch.

So how did the hunt go this year? A button buck was taken the first day by Sidney Eichstedt. Over the last 20 years that he has been participating in the paraplegic hunt, he has taken 14 deer. Three of the four other hunters saw deer. I didn’t get to see the deer as it was already cut up.

The volunteers are amazing. They did a lot of prep work by scouting several areas and placing trail cameras to see where the best deer activity was. They analyzed the pictures to determine the best places in which to place the hunters. They set up wooden ramps on which to place the wheelchairs, transported the hunters to the locations and helped to drive the deer toward the hunters. If a hunter shot a deer, they tracked it, field dressed it and dragged it to the hunter’s van. In Sidney’s case, one of the volunteers even drove the deer to a butcher to be cut up that evening.

This year, one of the hunters and his volunteers encountered two other deer hunters who planned to hunt the same area. When they learned that paraplegic hunters wanted to hunt the area, they graciously left the woods with no hard feelings.

The two hunters at the Northern Berkshires site were: Dale Bailey of Clarksburg and Shawn Mei of Baldwinville, MA. Volunteer included Rick French, Alex Daigle, Tony Mei, Stacy Sylvester, and J. Sylvester. They hunted in the Williamstown area but had no luck.
DFW Western District Manager Andrew Madden and his staff of Nate Buckhout, Jacob Morris-Siegel, Derek McDermott and Ray Bressette were on hand at both sites to help out and check in the deer.

“Since 1972, this hunt has provided thousands of hours of recreational opportunities for paraplegic sportsmen and women and I am proud to be part of it.” said Moruzzi. She noted that volunteers are integral to the program and thanked them all for their enthusiasm and commitment. There is some concern that the numbers of hunters taking advantage of the paraplegic hunt have been dwindling, mainly due to their aging or passing away. If you are a paraplegic sportsman or sportswoman interested in participating in the 2018 hunt, contact Trina Moruzzi at or call (508) 389-6318.
Incidentally, the definition for paraplegic per 321 CMR 2.06 states: “(b) Paraplegic: A Division (MassWildlife) application form completed by the applicant and an attestation on the form by a physician that the applicant is a person who has total paralysis of the lower half of the body, or a condition that prevents any use of the lower limbs.”
2017 Tri-Club Champions
Congratulations to the Sheffield Sportsmen’s Club which won the 2017 Tri-Club Championship Skeet Tournament. The scores were: Sheffield Sportsmen’s Club: 1350, Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club: 1348, and Lee Sportsmen’s Association: 1216
Lee Donsbough was the high scorer for Sheffield. The “Iron Man Shoot” at Sheffield was won by Buddy Atwood. High trap was won by Mike DiGiovani and high skeet was won by Ryan Simmons. The 50 5-Stand, 25 Skeet and 25 Trap are shot in this contest.

Shotgun Deer Hunting Revisions
Shotgun deer hunting season will be starting on November 27. A new regulation revision is that hunters must check in their deer at a deer checking station the first week, but can check their deer on-line during the second week of shotgun deer season.

Also, DFW Western District Supervisor Madden recently reported that there is a new deer checking station in East Otis. It is Papa’s Healthy Food & Fuel, 2000 East Otis Road, Otis, MA, 413-269-7779. It will be open for the first week of Shotgun Season only with the special hours: from November 27 through December 2, 2017, Monday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm.

Shortnose Sturgeon
In August, near the Vernon Dam, in Vernon, VT, an angler caught and released alive a shortnose sturgeon. This is the first confirmed case of a shortnose sturgeon living above the Turners Falls, MA Dam. It was thought that the dam and the natural waterfall there had always been the limit of where these fish lived in the river. This is exciting news for the sturgeon, which is endangered in the Connecticut River.

However, this also has implications for the hydroelectric facilities in the region, particularly the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage facility. It’s critical that their equipment function in a way that does not harm these fish. And the problem with Northfield Mountain is there’s not any protection against fish – big or small – from being drawn into the intake pipes.

The Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC), which issued this news release, was already on top of the problems with the intake pipes before the shortnose sturgeon was caught. It will be even more committed to ensuring that this problem be fixed when the new FERC hydro licenses are issued.

Benches dedicated in honor of Darey and Wislocki

Last Sunday afternoon, members of the Gould Meadows Restoration Committee held a ceremony at the waterfront of Gould Meadows on Stockbridge Bowl to dedictate two benches in honor of George Darey and George Wislocki. They were honored for their hard work and dedication enabling the transfer of land from the Gould Family to the Town of Stockbridge back in 1981.
After short talks by both men, paper weight plaques were presented to them with the same wording as on their benches: “To George”Gige” Darey/George Wislocki In recognition of George’s work in regard to the purchase and sale agrement from the Gould Family to the Town of Stockbridge in 1981” A toast of bubbly was presented by Tim Minkler of Interlaken, with the words “ “Hail! Hail! The two Georges for all their efforts preserving this land for future generations!”.
According to a historical note prepared by Wislocki, there were plans back in 1981to subdivide the 94.8 acre meadow into building lots. Committee member Minkler remembered that there were plans to build 60 homes on this land. “If this development had ever taken place, we could have seen 60 mega mansions on this land polluting Stockbridge Bowl. Thank God the two Georges stepped up to the plate to save this beautiful tract of land.” he said. (Darey was a member of the Lenox Board of Selectmen and MA Fish & Wildlife Board at the time and Wislocki was the Executive Director of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council).
In 1979, when Darey got wind that the Gould Meadows was going to be put on the market, he contacted Stockbridge Selectwoman Mary V. Flynn and soon thereafter a meeting was called. At that meeting it was decided that the Town of Stockbridge should attempt to secure an agreement to purchase the property from the estate of Lee Higginson Gould for the sum of $250,000.
The plan was to seek a grant from the State’s Division of Conservation Services for 50% of the cost and a second grant of 25% from the US Department of Interior. The remaining 25% was to be raised through a private fund drive. The Friends of Gould Meadows was formed to raise these funds.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra donated $22,000 . Other major contributors included the Laurel Hill Society and the Stockbridge Bowl Association. Joseph Kruger of Camp Mah-Kee-Nac contributed greatly and rallied the Bowl’s summer residents as well. During the next 24 months the Friends raised over $62,500 from 492 contributors with most of the credit for raising the monies going to Flynn whose affection for these lands appeared boundless.
George Wislocki attended to securing the State and Federal grants. State Senators Fitzpatrick and Webber as well as State Representative Duffin supported the endeavor. Unfortunately, there was a glitch. President Reagan’s Interior Secretary James Watt “froze” the entire allocation of the Land and Water Conservaion Fund with the consequence that the “federal share” came into doubt. Committee Co-Chair Henry Williams and Jack Fitzpatrick urged Congressman Silvio O. Conte to override Watt’s efforts.
However, it was not necessary as Rep. Duffin and Sen. Webber filed a bill in Massachusetts General Court which amended the State’s Open Space Grants Program. It was approved and the State could then contribute up to 80% of the purchase price of conservation land to be acquired by towns.
At its March 9, 1981 Town Meeting, the voters approved the necessary bonding authorization to acquire the property and keep it forever conservation lands. On August 19 of that year, a ceremony was held at Gould Meadows to honor Selectwoman Mary Flynn’s contribution to the purchase. A single oak tree was planted in the middle of the meadow and Bishop Leo O’Neil of Springfield blessed it. Governor King flew in by helicopter and music was provided by a small gathering of Tanglewood musicians. Beneath the tree a small plaque was installed which read: “This tree shall be known throughout time as the Mary Flynn Oak. Her wisdom, political skills and love of Stockbridge served to protect these meadows.”
The plaque has disappeared but the oak remains. Arthur Dutil of Stockbridge kept a watchful eye on the tree, watering and trimming it, and now it is sturdy and healthy. Every summer Gary Johnston of Interlaken mows the meadows around it. The Gould Meadows Restoration Committee is at the meadow most every Saturday morning doing various tasks. Volunteer helpers are always welcomed. Contact Tim Minkler at (413)644-3590 (w) or (413)298-4630 (h) if you wish to help out.
As Wislocki commented, the project wasn’t dominated by wealthy people but rather ordinary people and sportsmen who loved the Berkshires.
Talk about a beautiful meadow. It is on the southeast side of Rte 183, across from Kripalu.with signage and a small parking area. Access is free and open to the public. There are about 95 acres of open meadows and woods with around 1,000 feet of frontage on Stockbridge Bowl which comprises the area between the Tanglewood and Kripalu beaches.
Congratulations and many thanks to the two Georges!
Shad study
According to a recent news release, MassWildlife is teaming up with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Vermont Fish and Wildlife, and New Hampshire Fish and Game to better understand juvenile American shad production in the Connecticut River. The study focuses on 3 major dammed sections of the river.
Forage fish like American shad are important prey resources for numerous freshwater predators popular with anglers, including small and largemouth bass, walleye, and channel catfish. However, little is currently known about juvenile shad production.
Using electrofishing sampling, biologists are learning about the relationship between the number of juvenile shad and the number of adult shad returning to the river to spawn. This coordinated effort will help biologists understand which areas of the Connecticut River have a higher supply of prey fish for predators and where anglers may find better fishing opportunities. Data may also be used to inform relicensing of dams and provide perspective on how current shad production compares to historical populations which existed before dams were installed.
East Branch Westfield River
If any anglers are wondering why the fishing isn’t that great this fall in the East Branch of the Westfield River, there is a reason. MassWildlife decided to skip stocking the river this fall due to the low water conditions.

Labrador trip came close to a washout

Last week I wrote about the Alberta, Canada flyfishing trip that Allen Gray, Paul Knauth and I took a few weeks ago. If you recall from my September 24, 2017 column, good flyfishing buddy Attorney Michael Shepard of Dalton returned to flyfish in Labrador with 8 other anglers most of whom he had fished with in Quebec and Labrador before. Last year, you may recall, they fished the Minipi River system. This time the anglers fished out of Igloo Lake Lodge on Igloo Lake, a different river system. Like last year, Mike Miller of Athol, MA arranged the trip.
While we arrived in our cottage in Blairmore, Alberta the same day we left home, Mike’s trip was a bit more entailed. They first had to drive to the airport in Montreal, Canada on Wednesday, August 16 and spend the night there. They flew out the next morning with a stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia before landing in Goose Bay, Labrador. They spent that night in Goose Bay and then flew out (by float plane) to Igloo Lake arriving on Friday. When they returned, they did the same, with one exception which I will get into later.
Mike’s fishing partner on this trip was William Waite (Bill) from Westminster, MA (You may recall him from my article last year. He was the least experienced flyfisherman who caught the largest brook trout (8 lbs). Remember? His guide had forgotten the net and had to net it with a 5-gallon pail.)
Igloo Lake is located about 70 miles southeast of Goose Bay. Jim Burton is the owner of two lodges on that lake. According to Mike S., the facilities were beautiful, the boats were topnotch, his guide was the best he ever fished with and the food was restaurant quality. The lodges are located in one beautiful part of Labrador. Burton also owns a float plane which allows him to fly anglers out to other water bodies. There is a one mile stretch of river near the camp which flows into the lake, but the waters were low because of a drought there this past summer. The first day, Mike and Bill fished that stretch catching smaller trout.
The following day, Mike Miller and 3 others flew out to Char Lake, some 200 miles north of Igloo Lake to fish for Arctic Char. They congregate there during their spawning run. Because the float plane could only take 4 anglers at a time, Mike Shepard was scheduled to fly in on the second day. The anglers had phenomenal luck, catching some 80 char and sea run brook trout, many of them caught on char flies that Mike Shepard had tied for them. Well don’t you know, when it was Mike S.’s time to fly out the next day, there were 50 mph winds and the trip was postponed. Then came the rains and fog and a low ceiling. The nasty weather lasted for 3 days and Mike S. and Bill were never able to fly into Char Lake.) It was a big disappointment because Mike really wanted to catch an Arctic char on this trip.
While the other guys were fishing Char Lake, Mike S. and Bill fished the pond at the bottom of the nearby river and caught 6 or 7 pike averaging around 30 inches. Mike caught a 7 ½ lbs. brook trout.
The next day, they fished Burton Pond. To get there, they had a 30-minute boat ride across Igloo Lake and then trek 1 ½ miles across a peat bog. Burton Pond is a big lake, not connected to Igloo Lake, which runs into the Eagle River and ultimately to the North Atlantic. Mike S. and Bill trolled Zoo Cougers and green leech flies. They got into some 5-6 lbs. brook trout which were podding up and boated a dozen or so of those bruisers. Bill and Mike caught 17-18 northern pike in the 30-inch range in Igloo Lake using big green and purple bunny leeches.
On the last day at Burton Pond, Bill and Mike S. caught 22 brook trout all over 5 lbs. Bill caught 14 trolling and Mike caught 8. In the last hour of fishing, Mike proceeded to catch three 5-pound brookies, as well as a 6 and 7 pounder all on size 8 and 6 green drake dry flies.
Incidentally, all fish were released unharmed. They all had a very successful trip, wouldn’t you say?
On the August 25 return trip, they hit a snag. Their luggage was left behind in the Goose Bay airport. They had planned on spending the night in Montreal and enjoying a good meal; however, without their luggage, they didn’t even have a change of clothes. So, they drove home that evening. (Incidentally, Mike Shepard never got his luggage until September 25.)
There’s always potential drawbacks when you book a fishing trip to these hard to reach Canadian destinations. In order to reserve a spot, you have to book early, sometimes a year in advance, and you never know what conditions you will encounter when you get there. In Mike’s case, it was 3 solid days of wind and rain. If you recall, in our trip to Alberta, it was the fires that closed down our rivers. As they say, “You pays your money and you takes your chances”. (An old idiom with intentional grammatical errors).
At the time of this writing, there is another local angler on his way home from a Canadian fishing trip. Rex Channel of Pittsfield, who is a local fishing guide and owner of Allure-Outfitters. He actually fished Igloo Lake a couple of weeks before Mike and then headed west fishing all across Canada and parts of western US. Hopefully, I can write about his trip when he returns home.
Berkshire Natural History Conference
On Saturday, October 14, the 3rd Annual Berkshire Natural History Conference will feature presentations by local and regional naturalists, as well as acclaimed authors at the Berkshire Community College from 9 4 p.m. MassWildlife will have a table set up at the event, and retired MassWildlife Biologist Jim Cardoza will make a presentation on wild turkey conservation.
Watch out for moose
MassWildlife urges drivers to use caution because it’s mating season for moose. During September and October, moose become more active and cross roads more frequently. Also in May and June during yearling dispersals, when yearling moose are driven away by their mothers. Moose eyes rarely shine because their eyes are above headlight level and their dark color makes them very difficult to spot at night.
I’m sure readers are tired of reading this advisory year after year. However; as you know, each year we have an influx of new young, inexperienced drivers on our roads who may not have gotten the word. It’s a good time to talk about this with your new drivers.
Questions/comments: Phone: (413)637-1818

Attached is a picture of Attorney Michael Shepard with one of his large brook trout

Making the best of a fishing trip

Allen Gray of Pittsfield, Paul Knauth of Hinsdale and I recently spent 9 days flyfishing in south western Alberta, Canada. We were concerned even before we left that there would be fires all over the place out there. While flying into the Calgary, Alberta airport, the pilot commented that there was fair weather and there should be a smooth landing and that the only problem that we may encounter would be the smoke. We had also heard rumors that parts of Crowsnest Pass and Hillcrest, Alberta were being evacuated. (Upon arrival, we found that not to be true. Fake news!)
Driving the 2 ½ hours southwest to our cottage in Blairmore, Alberta, we could smell and see the smoke. We had intended to fish the Livingstone, Carbondale and Oldman Rivers, located in or near the Rocky Mountain Provincial Forest. But upon arrival, we quickly learned that these rives were closed to fishing in order to prevent the possibility of starting more fires. Not only were they closed, but also the roads which led to them. One person who owned land along a closed road told us that they had to have a permit just to get to their homes. They weren’t even allowed to ride their horses on their own property (presumably a ranch).
Our first morning, we went to the local fly shop to purchase some flies and fishing licenses. There we met other fishermen and guides and we all were facing the same problem….where to fish? Anglers were disappointed to learn that after traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to fish a particular river, it was closed. Prior to leaving home we knew that there were forest fires in Alberta, British Columbia and Montana, but we had already purchased airline tickets, rented a cottage, arranged for a car rental, etc., well in advance and we would lose the down payments. So,we took our chances and went anyway.
Susan Douglas-Murray, co-owner of the Crowsnest Café and Fly Shop said that basically there were only 2 nearby rivers which we could fish that were still open, the Crowsnest River and the Castle River. We had known about these rivers from past trips, but we usually bypassed them in favor of the more popular Livingstone and Oldman Rivers, where we could catch West Slope Cutthroat Trout. Because all of the visiting anglers were referred to these same two rivers we expected to see shoulder to shoulder fishermen on them.
We needn’t have worried for these rivers are large and cover great distances with plenty of room for everyone. If we wanted to, we could have fished over 25 miles of the Crowsnest River, a beautiful river which flows through farms, grasslands and several towns.
On our first two days, we fished the Castle River, another gorgeous river. Paul and Allen had decent luck but I lost two giant rainbow trout that broke my leaders. We were fishing in 88 degree weather those days with no shade to speak of. It was definitely hat dunking weather.
For most of the remaining days, we fished the Crowsnest River, a river that is virtually loaded with rainbow trout, some of them really large. They were very frisky trout, nothing like the hatchery- reared rainbows around here. Paul phrased it accurately, “You hook into one of those large rainbows and after jumping a few times, they settle onto the river bottom and say, c’mon angler, let’s have at it”. One behemoth broke three of his tandem fly rigs before he finally landed it. Same thing happened to me. I lost 5 of those big rainbows, the likes of which the world has never….. before I could land one. Allen lost a couple of the big ones, too, before landing some. Although they would leap 3 or 4 times, we were able to handle the smaller rainbows, but the big ones gave us serious trouble.
During our entire stay, we could smell and see the smoke from distant fires and hear the sounds of helicopters ferrying firefighters and equipment somewhere. There was one day we were fishing in what appeared to be a snowstorm, but it was actually falling ashes. We never saw the normal color of the sun, for it was always orange or red caused by the smoke. At times it looked like a big balloon in the air. Fortunately, it wasn’t a choking type of smoke and the days were usually gorgeous.
There were a couple of days when the wind was horrific, making it difficult to place your fly where you wanted it. Once while crossing a river, a sustained strong wind came up which almost blew me over. I grabbed my hat and stuffed it into my shirt, while bracing against the wading staff. The wind was so strong that it bent my flyrod like I had a fighting fish on. Trying to handle the river current, strong wind, hat, fly rod and cigar was a chore. Something had to go and it was the cigar. I watched that expensive cigar float down the river. It cost darn near a buck.
In the evenings before dinner, we would sit out on the deck, have a drink and look at the Canadian Rockies, or at least what we could see of them through the smoke. Then we would enjoy a delicious meal expertly prepared by Allen.
In the mornings we made our sandwiches and headed for the fly shop. One morning as we entered the shop, one of the fishermen there pointed to Paul and said to the others, “That’s him!” The day before he happened to see Paul land a large trout and agreed to take a picture of him holding it. Paul became an instant celebrity whose advice was sought. Even the resident professional fishing guide who was in the shop that morning wanted to know what flies he used. They were quietly huddled over the fly selection as Paul advised the guide which ones to use.
It started to get chilly the last couple of days with rain and hail and temperatures in the low 30’s, but that didn’t deter us from fishing to the end. I doubt any of us were overly upset at not fishing our intended rivers because we discovered great new fishing areas.
The memorable 10-day fishing trip cost less than $2,500 per person and that included our food which probably shouldn’t be included in the cost as one has to eat somewhere anyways. If you decide to go there someday, be sure to stop at the Crowsnest Café and Fly Shop and Susan will steer you to some fantastic fishing waters.