Think you know all of the freshwater fishes in Massachusetts?

 

Don’t answer that until you read the new MassWildlife brochure entitled Freshwater Fishes of Massachusetts. I don’t know about you, but I thought the only sunfish in Massachusetts were Bluegills (Lepomis Macrochirus) and Pumpkinseeds (Lepomis gibbosus). True, some classify the Crappie, Perch and Rock Bass as sunfish, but I don’t. Some others, including MassWildlife, categorize Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass as sunfish, but not me. I call them gamefish.

Well, according to the new MassWildlife brochure, there are also Banded Sunfish (Enneacanthus obesus), Redbreast Sunfish (Lepomis auritus) and Green Sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus) residing in the Commonwealth. In fact some have been caught here in the Western District. It also lists another kind of pickerel in Massachusetts called the Redfin Pickerel (Esox americanus) which only grows to a size of 6 to 10 inches and resides in the eastern part of the Commonwealth. Interestingly, in the Minnows family is listed the Common Carp (Ciprinus carpio). I don’t know about you, but I have a problem calling a 40 lbs carp a minnow!

This excellent new brochure, which is free at any DFW Regional Office, has excellent color pictures of them and other Massachusetts freshwater fish as well as other interesting information. Local DFW Aquatic Biologist Leanda Fontaine Gagnon had a hand in producing it.

New Natural Heritage Atlas
On August 1, 2017, the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) released the 14th Edition of the Natural Heritage Atlas. The Atlas is used by project proponents, municipalities, and others for determining whether or not a proposed project or activity must be reviewed by the NHESP for compliance with the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act and the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act Regulations.
Updated Priority and Estimated Habitats will be posted on the Division’s website and made available electronically as a downloadable geographic information system (GIS) data layer. Additionally, the Division will provide the town-based Priority and Estimated Habitat maps to planning boards, building inspectors, and conservation commissions in municipalities where these areas have been delineated. See www.mass.gov/nhesp for more information, including the final maps and a summary response to the Priority Habitat public comments.
NHESP, part of the Massachusetts DFW, is one of the programs forming the Natural Heritage network. NHESP is responsible for the conservation and protection of hundreds of species that are not hunted, fished, trapped, or commercially harvested in the state, as well as the protection of the natural communities that make up their habitats. The Program’s highest priority is protecting the vertebrate and invertebrate animals and native plants that are officially listed as Endangered, Threatened or of Special Concern in Massachusetts.
The overall goal of the Program is the protection of the state’s wide range of native biological diversity.
Riverside Trails Seminar, Saturday, September 9
According to the Great Barrington Land Conservancy, Trail Building is a process that is , complex and rewarding especially in a riverfront area.
The GB Land Conservancy invites you to learn about the planning and implementation of riverside trails from expert trail builder, Peter Jensen. The seminar will run from 10:00am until noon.
Peter has been building trails for over 30 years, and the Great Barrington River Walk was one of his early projects. Attendees can learn how this National Recreation Trail grew from a garbage filled bank to a rehabilitated riverfront area and peaceful in-town walkway celebrating the beauty and history of Great Barrington and the Housatonic River.
Peter will share his expertise and trail building experiences in a power point presentation followed by a guided walk along River Walk. The seminar is free and open to the public. Participants will have an opportunity to talk to Peter about their own trail projects or riverside trail goals. Register as soon as possible as space is limited at info@gbtrails.org
This program is provided by Great Barrington Land Conservancy as part of the 2017 River Walk Community Programs.

Community Celebration Day, also September 9
From 10:00am until 4:00pm, the Berkshire Natural Resources Council will be having a Community Celebration Day at the Holiday Farms, 100 Holiday Cottage Road in Dalton, MA. There will be hay rides, guided walks, archery, fishing, birds of prey with Tom Ricardi and music all day. While registration is not required, they ask you to consider letting them know by registering and getting a free ticket.

Massachusetts Outdoor Exposition, Sunday, September 17
The Massachusetts Outdoor Expo, also known as The Big MOE is a free, family-friendly event designed to introduce young and old to wildlife and the outdoors. Attracting several thousand attendees annually, the Big MOE features a variety of skills stations, craft tables, and other exhibits relating to wildlife and the outdoors. This is your opportunity to try new outdoor skills and activities such as fishing, archery, kayaking, shooting, building a bird box, geocaching, mountain biking, nature arts and crafts. Visit a New England Pioneer Encampment, take a peek at live birds of prey and native reptiles, be part of a tree stand safety demonstration and get up close and personal at the 4-H petting zoo. Local sportsmen’s clubs, outdoor businesses, conservation organizations and state agencies sponsor most of the activity stations.
You may recall last year that the event was cancelled, presumably due to liability issues. Well, this year adults and youths will be required to sign a Liability Release Form. This form can be found at the Big Moe Fawns Expo website and you are asked to print it off beforehand and bring one per person with you.
The Big MOE location is the Hamilton Rod & Gun Club in Sturbridge, MA. Admission, parking and all activities are free. Convenient parking provided at the Sturbridge Business Park, 660 Main St., with free shuttle bus transportation. No pets or alcohol allowed, but food and drink are available for purchase.

Massachusetts has a new state record Bowfin

It weighed 7 lbs 14 oz and was caught Sunday evening, July 23, out of the Taunton River. 16-year-old Tauri Adamczyk, from Taunton, MA, caught that fish. The Bowfin was 26.5 inches long with a girth of 14 inches.
Fishing with her father Jeff from shore and using cut bait, she saw a little nibble on her line. When she picked up her pole and set the hook, the fish took off down the river. Tauri who was using a strong rod and line was able to work the fish back close to shore. It was then that they realized they had forgotten the net. Her father ran to the car and got it. He was sure happy to see that and the fish was still on Tauri’s line when he came back and netted it. They are undecided as to whether or not to have it mounted.
Tauri is no novice when it comes to catching Bowfins. In 2015, she received the MassWildlife gold pin for catching the largest Bowfin that year weighing 7 lbs 4 oz. (The gold pin is awarded to the largest fish of a particular species that year). That was the first year that the Bowfin was recognized by MassWildlife as a sportfish and became part of the Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program. It replaced the Broodstock Salmon pin which was delisted as an eligible fish after the MassWildlife and the US Fish & Wildlife Service stopped stocking the Broodstocks into our waters. To be eligible for a pin (bronze or gold) a bowfin must weigh at least 6 lbs for adults and 4 lbs in the youth category.

In fact, 2015 was the year that she won the Youth Catch & Keep Angler of the Year. She won the award by catching the following “pin” fish: Bowfin out of the Taunton River, Taunton; Brook Trout, Hamblin Pond, Barnstable; Brown Trout, Grews Pond, Falmouth; Brown Trout, Long Pond, Plymouth; Bullhead, Snipatuit Pond, Rochester; Carp, Housatonic River, Lee; Carp, Charles River, Dedham; Chain Pickerel, Snake Pond, Sandwich; Crappie, Long Pond, Lakeville; Landlocked Salmon, Wachusett Reservoir, West Boylston; Largemouth Bass, Chartley Pond, Norton; Rainbow Trout, Cliff Pond, Brewster; Smallmouth Bass, Flax Pond, Brewster; Sunfish, Little Pond, Plymouth; Sunfish (another gold pin fish), Coonamessett Pond, Falmouth; Tiger Trout, Long Pond, Plymouth; White Perch, Snipatuit Pond, Rochester and Yellow Perch, out of Monponsett Pond, Halifax. Quite an accomplishment for a 14-year old kid. Tauri said that she has been fishing with her dad since she was a little girl.
So, you never heard of a Bowfin? Well, it’s a primitive fish in the Gar family. They go by other names such as, Dogfish, Grinnel, and Mud Fish. They are easily identifiable with a single dorsal fin that runs from mid body to the tail, large head, sharp teeth, two barbells projecting anteriorly from its nose, and a black spot near its round tail. They average from 1 to 5 lbs and 15 to 25 inches in length. The world record is 21 ½ lbs. They breathe under water through their gills, and breathe on the surface with their gas bladders. They are very aggressive weedy predators. They are considered rough fish and not recommended for the table, but perhaps you can smoke them.
According to Alan Richmond from the biology department of UMASS, only one species of the family Amiidae has survived over the millions of years and that is this one, the (Amia calva). They are native to the Mississippi River watershed but were first noticed in the Connecticut River drainage in the 1980’s. Now it lives mainly in the Connecticut and Taunton river drainage systems, although they have been caught right here in the backwaters of Onota Lake in Pittsfield. In fact, the first year that I began writing this column, I featured this fish in my May 9, 2004 column. John Valentine of Pittsfield a caught a 28-inch Bowfin out of Onota Lake. At that time, the DFW did not consider it a sportfish and recommended that you not release it back into the waters because it is not native to this area. They didn’t want them to spread in our local lakes and compete with our native fish. We can only speculate how these fish got into our waters, but some say they may have been the result of accidentally getting in with live bait that is imported from the south.
Catch & Release validated
Remember my July 23, 2017 article about 12-year old Nina from Queens, NY who caught that big bass in Ashmere Lake? If you recall, she was fishing with her 10-year old cousin Gage at Dave and Maggie Bimbane’s cottage on July 4 weekend when she caught the 18 inch, 2.5 lbs largemouth bass which was living under a boat dock. After catching and photographing it she released it.
Well, don’t you know, young Gage also caught an 18 inch, 2.5 lbs bass from under that same dock on July 26. According to grandparents Dave and Maggie, he remained calm and collected, in spite of the fact that his fishing pole was bent under that dock. After catching and also releasing the fish, Gage said, “Oh, I think I’m done for a while”.
Dave and Maggie feel that the same fish was caught by both children……and so do I. That being the case, what better testimony for the concept of Catch & Release than this. If you are not going to mount or eat your catch, then release it and let someone else experience the excitement and joy that you got when you caught it.
Young Gage may not realize it now, but he sure owes his cousin Nina a huge thank you.
Questions/comments: Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com. Phone: (413) 637-1818.

 

Kids fishing with little fish sometimes catch lunkers

 

Over the Fourth of July weekend, 12-year old Nina from Queens, NY was visiting her grandparents Dave and Maggie Bimbane on Ashmere Lake in Hinsdale. She was netting some small “baby” sunfish along the shoreline with her 10-year old cousin Gage. She decided to rig the sunfish onto a fishhook and toss it out near their dock. She saw a nice largemouth bass follow the bait and attack it. According to grandpa Dave, there was a lot of excitement (screaming and yelling) when they tried to net the bass. It was too big for their net but she was able to land it anyway.

Nina went through the decision of either mounting it as a trophy or cooking it. She finally decided that it had lived all these years and it should be set free, which she did. Grandpa Dave is really proud of young Nina. “It was a great choice for a 12-year old person.” he said. That fish may provide great pleasure to another angler in the future and maybe that angler will also release it.

The bass measured 18 inches long and weighed 2.5 lbs. Looks heavier than that, don’t you think? I’ve got a feeling that she will do more visiting and a lot more fishing up at the lake in the future.

It never ceases to amaze me. Most bass fishermen fish with rubber worms, lures, plugs, spinner baits, etc. They probably have hundreds of dollars invested in their equipment. I wonder if they remember their younger days when they would simply hook a small bait to the red and white bobber and cast it out. Kids sure caught a lot of fish in those days using that method. I don’t remember practicing “Catch & Release” back then, because we fished for food.

In addition to the small fish, we would fish with what we called crabs (crayfish), perch bugs (dragonfly nymphs) and any other wiggly pinching critter that we caught along the shorelines and riverbanks.

Basic Hunter Education Courses
All first-time hunters who wish to purchase a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license must complete a Basic Hunter Education course. One will be taught at the Ashfield Rod & Gun Club, 161 North Street, Plainfield, MA, on August 3 and August 19. The times are 6:00 to 9:30pm on August 3 and 8:00 am to 3:30 pm on August 19.

The second course will be taught at the Pittsfield High School, 300 East Street, Pittsfield. The dates are September 5, 7, 12, 14, 19 and 21 from 6:00 to 9:00pm.

Participants must attend all class dates and times to successfully complete the course. To enroll, call (508)389-7830.

Land Acquisitions
Recently, MassWildlife completed three Western District land projects. All three of them built on existing land holdings and enhanced access for sportsmen while protecting a diversity of
habitat.

The first one was the acquisition of 24 acres of land located within the Long Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Otis. Based upon topo maps, it appears to be between Angerman Swamp and Hayden Swamp and to the east of the boundary with Beartown State Forest near the Tyringham town border. There does not appear to be any ready access to it, but the closest road appears to be Stebbens Road in Otis. There is no informational write-up of the property available yet.

The second one was the acquisition of 24 acres of land abutting the Chalet WMA in Lanesborough. It is between the Chalet WMA and the Boulders Wildlife Conservation Easement area with access from Gulf Road. There is limited parking space (2 cars) nearby on Gulf Road. The Chalet WMA has over 6,400 acres within its boundaries.

The third one was the acquisition of 66 acres abutting the Ram Hill WMA in Chesterfield, MA. Access to the area is off of Route 143, across from Dead Swamp. Sorry, there is no informational write-up of the property available yet. This increases the acreage of Ram Hill WMA to 244 acres.

Incidentally, much of the information about the WMA’s was obtained from MassWildlife’s Wildlands Web Viewer where one can find out information about all of the WMA’s and other preserved lands. There are three base maps of the properties: USGS older maps, the newer topographic maps and satellite maps. These maps are currently being updated to give valuable information such as total acreage, access and parking locations, boat launches, etc. Check them out on http://maps.env.state.ma.us/dfg/masswildlifelands.

Eagle Update
Readers may recall my June 18, 2017 column wherein I noted that it appeared that eagle nests in Pittsfield, Great Barrington, Richmond, Russell and Lenox failed to produce young this year. Things were looking dismal. Well, there is some good news. This year they had successful eaglets develop in June in Buckland, Otis, and Monterey. MassWildlife banded only 2 chicks in the Western District and both were in the Monterey nest. Statewide, MassWildlife banded 29 chicks, recorded 57 active nests and had 50 eaglets fledged.

MassWildlife also reported that when an early spring storm destroyed a Bald Eagle nest containing eggs, chances were extremely small that the pair could re-nest. However, one pair of eagles beat the odds this spring by building a new nest and hatching two eggs. This successful second nesting is the first ever recorded in Massachusetts. MassWildife recently visited the nest and banded two chicks.

Questions/comments: Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com

Revival of a classic
If you are a baby boomer fisherman or older, you knew the name of the pictured lure. And if you are younger, chances are that when you saw that picture, you said,”Oh yes, I saw one of those in Dad’s (or Grandpa’s) old fishing tackle box”. If you didn’t cast that lure into our lakes and ponds in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and catch a lot of fish, something was wrong. Just mentioning that lure congers up warm and joyful memories alongside those who were most special to us – our parents or grandparents. The lure is the Al’s Goldfish.
Al’s Goldfish Company was founded by Al Stuart of Indian Orchard, Massachusetts. After World War II, Al returned home from military duty and started up a local sporting goods store. Soon thereafter, Al’s Goldfish appeared on the American fishing landscape. “There is uncertainty as to whether Stuart purchased the Al’s Goldfish from somebody or if he actually invented it himself” said John L. Occhialini, who later purchased the company. “ But he was the one that developed it for sure and he started producing it in the basement of his sporting goods store.” From 1953 through 1973, Al’s Goldfish sold nearly 1 million lures each year.
The original name for the lure was Stuart’s Goldfish but was renamed Al’s Goldfish in 1954. It was popular locally and it grew to the point where in 1954 he incorporated Al’s Goldfish Company. Stuart started out by stamping the lure out of brass but over time he refined and enhanced the finish using 22 karat gold. “He was actually ahead of his time in manufacturing production methods for the early 1950s,” said Occhialini. “He stamped out everything himself, did the plating and so forth.”
Stuart was also a devoted world traveler and in his travels he came up with many new ideas for his lures and he discovered ways to save money on manufacturing costs by purchasing hooks and materials overseas. Stuart was also ahead of his time as a savvy marketer and businessman. He cozied up to local media and sought out sports writers throughout the country, thus keeping Al’s Goldfish Company in the public’s eyes and ears.
“The big jump for the Al’s Goldfish was when he teamed up with Gadabout Gaddis in the early 1960s,” said Occhialini. “That’s when Al’s Goldfish really took off and really was one of the largest selling lures at that time.” The boomers remember Gadabout Gaddis (Roscoe Vernon) who was widely known as the pioneer of outdoor and fishing television. He inspired millions of Americans to venture out and enjoy the outdoors, to take up fishing and the cause of conservation. His TV show aired locally, right after the Friday Night Fights.
“Gadabout Gaddis actually sold a kit on his TV shows that was produced by Al’s Goldfish Company,” Occhialini explained. “And it included the Al’s Goldfish in it of course. As part of that arrangement, Gadabout Gaddis mentioned it on his TV show many times, and that’s when it really became a national seller. It soon became one of the best selling fishing lures in the country from the late 1950s through the 1970s. “It was one of the three biggest sellers in the 60s. According to the Stuarts, they were shipping out tractor trailer loads of them.
After Al Stuart passed away, his daughter inherited the business. With her husband, she ran the company for a number of years. In that time, the operation was downsized considerably, and many cost-conscious changes were made to the lures and the manufacturing processes. This unfortunately had a negative effect on the quality of the product and the prosperity of the company itself. By 1999, the advancing age of the owners and waning interest in the company led to their decision to retire and sell Al’s Goldfish Company, to Occhialini.
Upon acquiring the company, Occhialini revived the products, eliminating some of the cheaper, poor-selling plastic lures and concentrated on boosting the classic lineup of metal lures. He brought back the genuine 22 karat gold plating, which had been substituted with a cheaper alternative under the previous owners, in spite of the $300 an ounce cost of gold at the time.
Stamped and cast in marine brass, the lure is as durable today as it was over 50 years ago. “We were still using the same dies that Al Stuart used,” professed Occhialini. “So there hasn’t been a whole lot of change in fifty years. Once it is cast, the Goldfish is plated in shiny metallic finishes that include genuine gold, nickel, copper, reflective prism, and other colors. The lures have always been made In America. The blanks are made in Massachusetts, the paint is applied in Rhode Island, the split rings are made in Wisconsin, and the company headquarters is in Maine. All lures are hand-painted with hand-mixed color by Bob Christopher.

In 2006, Field and Stream magazine named Al’s Original Goldfish lure one of the “50 Greatest Lures of All Time.” In 2007, the lure made Field and Stream’s Top 10 Best Trout Lures of all time.
In May, 1966, Dana Deblois caught a 19 lbs 10 oz brown trout out of Wachusett Reservoir using the Al’s Goldfish 1/4 oz Gold Orange. It still remains the state record brown after all these years, making it the oldest Massachusetts state record catch.

Al’s Goldfish Company is now headquartered in Biddeford, Maine. The company was bought by Mike Lee in 2015 with a goal of continuing the American lure-manufacturing tradition.
Contact Information: Mike Lee, Al’s Goldfish Lure Company, Biddeford, Maine, mike@alsgoldfish.com, phone 413-543-1524.

Fishing Derby
The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation in Hartsville-New Marlborough is having a free children’s fishing derby next Saturday, July 8 from 9 to 10:30 AM at its lower pond. Children aged 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Revival of a classic
If you are a baby boomer fisherman or older, you knew the name of the pictured lure. And if you are younger, chances are that when you saw that picture, you said,”Oh yes, I saw one of those in Dad’s (or Grandpa’s) old fishing tackle box”. If you didn’t cast that lure into our lakes and ponds in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and catch a lot of fish, something was wrong. Just mentioning that lure congers up warm and joyful memories alongside those who were most special to us – our parents or grandparents. The lure is the Al’s Goldfish.
Al’s Goldfish Company was founded by Al Stuart of Indian Orchard, Massachusetts. After World War II, Al returned home from military duty and started up a local sporting goods store. Soon thereafter, Al’s Goldfish appeared on the American fishing landscape. “There is uncertainty as to whether Stuart purchased the Al’s Goldfish from somebody or if he actually invented it himself” said John L. Occhialini, who later purchased the company. “ But he was the one that developed it for sure and he started producing it in the basement of his sporting goods store.” From 1953 through 1973, Al’s Goldfish sold nearly 1 million lures each year.
The original name for the lure was Stuart’s Goldfish but was renamed Al’s Goldfish in 1954. It was popular locally and it grew to the point where in 1954 he incorporated Al’s Goldfish Company. Stuart started out by stamping the lure out of brass but over time he refined and enhanced the finish using 22 karat gold. “He was actually ahead of his time in manufacturing production methods for the early 1950s,” said Occhialini. “He stamped out everything himself, did the plating and so forth.”
Stuart was also a devoted world traveler and in his travels he came up with many new ideas for his lures and he discovered ways to save money on manufacturing costs by purchasing hooks and materials overseas. Stuart was also ahead of his time as a savvy marketer and businessman. He cozied up to local media and sought out sports writers throughout the country, thus keeping Al’s Goldfish Company in the public’s eyes and ears.
“The big jump for the Al’s Goldfish was when he teamed up with Gadabout Gaddis in the early 1960s,” said Occhialini. “That’s when Al’s Goldfish really took off and really was one of the largest selling lures at that time.” The boomers remember Gadabout Gaddis (Roscoe Vernon) who was widely known as the pioneer of outdoor and fishing television. He inspired millions of Americans to venture out and enjoy the outdoors, to take up fishing and the cause of conservation. His TV show aired locally, right after the Friday Night Fights.
“Gadabout Gaddis actually sold a kit on his TV shows that was produced by Al’s Goldfish Company,” Occhialini explained. “And it included the Al’s Goldfish in it of course. As part of that arrangement, Gadabout Gaddis mentioned it on his TV show many times, and that’s when it really became a national seller. It soon became one of the best selling fishing lures in the country from the late 1950s through the 1970s. “It was one of the three biggest sellers in the 60s. According to the Stuarts, they were shipping out tractor trailer loads of them.
After Al Stuart passed away, his daughter inherited the business. With her husband, she ran the company for a number of years. In that time, the operation was downsized considerably, and many cost-conscious changes were made to the lures and the manufacturing processes. This unfortunately had a negative effect on the quality of the product and the prosperity of the company itself. By 1999, the advancing age of the owners and waning interest in the company led to their decision to retire and sell Al’s Goldfish Company, to Occhialini.
Upon acquiring the company, Occhialini revived the products, eliminating some of the cheaper, poor-selling plastic lures and concentrated on boosting the classic lineup of metal lures. He brought back the genuine 22 karat gold plating, which had been substituted with a cheaper alternative under the previous owners, in spite of the $300 an ounce cost of gold at the time.
Stamped and cast in marine brass, the lure is as durable today as it was over 50 years ago. “We were still using the same dies that Al Stuart used,” professed Occhialini. “So there hasn’t been a whole lot of change in fifty years. Once it is cast, the Goldfish is plated in shiny metallic finishes that include genuine gold, nickel, copper, reflective prism, and other colors. The lures have always been made In America. The blanks are made in Massachusetts, the paint is applied in Rhode Island, the split rings are made in Wisconsin, and the company headquarters is in Maine. All lures are hand-painted with hand-mixed color by Bob Christopher.

In 2006, Field and Stream magazine named Al’s Original Goldfish lure one of the “50 Greatest Lures of All Time.” In 2007, the lure made Field and Stream’s Top 10 Best Trout Lures of all time.
In May, 1966, Dana Deblois caught a 19 lbs 10 oz brown trout out of Wachusett Reservoir using the Al’s Goldfish 1/4 oz Gold Orange. It still remains the state record brown after all these years, making it the oldest Massachusetts state record catch.

Al’s Goldfish Company is now headquartered in Biddeford, Maine. The company was bought by Mike Lee in 2015 with a goal of continuing the American lure-manufacturing tradition.
Contact Information: Mike Lee, Al’s Goldfish Lure Company, Biddeford, Maine, mike@alsgoldfish.com, phone 413-543-1524.

Fishing Derby
The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation in Hartsville-New Marlborough is having a free children’s fishing derby next Saturday, July 8 from 9 to 10:30 AM at its lower pond. Children aged 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

 

Record turnout for Jimmy Fund Derby

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Basic Hunter Education Course

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

 

License to Carry Courses

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

 

Wild Turkey Surveys

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

 

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

 

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

 

Bald Eagles

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

School vacation evokes fond, sometimes scary memories

School vacation evokes fond, sometimes scary memories

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

New book published on fishing the Cape Cod Canal

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Fishing Derbies

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

 

Trout Stockings

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

 

Forest Tour

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

 

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

 

The Housatonic Valley Association

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

 

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

 

Its fishing derby time

The 25th Annual Harry A. Bateman Memorial Jimmy Fund Fishing Derby will take place on Saturday, June 3, at the Frank Controy Pavilion at Onota Lake in Pittsfield from 6:00 AM to 12:00 PM. No fishing license is required because it is Free Fishing Weekend for the state of Massachusetts.

 

The derby’s purpose is to raise money for the Jimmy Fund – Dana Farber Cancer Institute For Children.  All of the proceeds will be donated to the Jimmy Fund in memory of Harry A. Bateman a former member of Central Berkshire Bowmen and I.U.E. Local 255 who was well known throughout Berkshire County and who became a victim of cancer in 1992.

 

Many trophies and prizes will be given out to the adult and youth winners of the fishing derby.   There is even a special category for those fishing with a bow & arrow. All fish must be weighed in at 12:00 PM and can be caught at Onota Lake from boat or shore. Fishing tackle is given with the trophy prizes and 2 prizes for heaviest trout.  A sportsman award, which includes a tackle box with over $100 of tackle, is given out to a child

 

Fee is $10 for adults and $5 for children 14 years old and younger and it includes food and beverages. No alcohol is served at this event.   All children receive a free gift and they get a chance at winning a mountain bike. The carp shoot is part of the fishing derby because that was something that Harry enjoyed.   Advanced tickets may be purchased at Avid Sports, Dave’s Sporting Goods, Maces Marine and Onota Boat Livery.

 

Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club Fishing Derbies

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

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

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

Family Fun Day

Next Saturday, from 10 AM to 4 PM, Mass Audubon at Pleasant Valley welcomes all to its Family Fun Day, its annual day of fun and learning for people of all ages.

 

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

 

Trout stockings

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

 

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

 

Students liberate rainbow trout into Otis Reservoir

Tuesday, May 2 started off with a pretty heavy rainfall, but by the time the school bus arrived at the Tolland State Forest campground beach on Otis Reservoir, the rain stopped and it cleared up a bit. Arriving in the bus were sixteen 4th graders and their teacher, Bethany Mielke, from the Farmington River Elementary School.  They arrived around 11:00 am and they had a job to do –  release about 200 of the 400 rainbow trout that were patiently waiting in the nearby MassWildlife stocking truck.  The event was coordinated by the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen.

 

MA Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR) Bob Mason, Adam Hull, Mark Jester and Western District Manager Dom Sacco were there to greet them along with MassWildlife’s Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden, aquatic biologist Leanda Fontaine-Gagnon and technician Ray Bresette.

 

Bresette netted a few trout at a time from the truck’s tank, put them into empty 5 gallon pails and then handed them to the youths who then ran them to the water’s edge and tossed them into the lake.  Each of the youngsters took several turns in releasing them.  Only a couple of pails got tossed out along with the trout.  Teacher Mielke got to release some of them as well as the bus driver Darlene Deschaine and all of the DCR folks.  Even I got to carry a pailful, dropping only one trout along the way.  It was retrieved and released unharmed into the water, too.  There were no fish casualties and all of them happily swam away.

 

After all 200 trout were liberated, Andrew and Leanda answered questions from the kids as well as explained some of the many projects they work on.  Ironically, as Andrew was explaining the loon restoration project, we could hear a pair of yodeling loons on the lake somewhere off in the distance.  And as he was explaining the eagle restoration and banding project, high up in the sky above us was a soaring bald eagle.    Gosh he had to feel good, for he and his staff spent many hours over the years on their restorations in Massachusetts.

 

Later on, the remaining 200 trout were released into Otis Reservoir at a different location.  It was a great day.  The kids were all well behaved and perhaps left the reservoir that day with lifelong fond memories.

 

Trout Stocking

 

One MassWildlife stocking truck broke down recently and set back the stocking schedule, but they have a new truck now and they are stocking like gang busters.   The following waters were stocked last week:  Green River in Alford, Egremont and Great Barrington; Green River in New Ashford and Williamstown, Yokum Brook in Becket, Yokun Brook in Lenox, Walker Brook in Becket and Chester, Konkapot River in Monterey, New Marlborough and Sheffield; West Brook in Lee and Great Barrington, Potash Brook in Blandford, North Branch Hoosic River in Clarksburg, Hubbard Brook in Granville, Farmington River in Otis and Sandisfield, East Branch of Westfield River in Savoy and Windsor, Housatonic River (C&R) in Lee, Greenwater Pond in Becket, Beartown Brook and Hop Brook in Lee, Factory Brook in Middlefield,  Garfield Lake in Monterey, Big Pond in Otis, Onota Lake, Pontoosuc Lake, Stockbridge Bowl, Potash Brook in Russell, North Pond in Savoy, Depot Brook in Washington, Hemlock Brook in Williamstown, and Westfield and Windsor Brooks in Windsor.

Bass Tournament 

Although much of the focus of this column has been on trout lately, bass fishing is ongoing, too.  Recently, the Greylock Bass Club had a bass tournament on Onota Lake and the winners were:  1st Place – Dave Benham 14.13 lbs,   2nd Place – Joe Chague 13.04 lbs, 3rd Place – Mike Naventi 9.11 lbs and 4th Place – Jim Underhill 9.05 lbs.  The Big Bass winner was Joe Chague with a 4.12 lbs largemouth.  The above weights represented the total weight of all of the bass legally caught by the anglers.  The breakdown of bass was pretty much 50/50 largemouth to smallmouth.

Little bears In his May report to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden reported that the bear complaints and issues are cropping up again.  Unique this year is the fact that DFW has had 5 bears that Andrew responded to that are yearlings which weighed under 20 lbs.  They should be in the 50-70 lb weight at this point.  They picked up one in a garage that was freezing and weighed 13 lbs.  They took it someplace where it was fattened  up and then released.  He picked up another one recently that weighed 9 ½ lbs.

Madden feels that it is some kind of strange biological phenomena which may be drought related from last year or maybe food source related, he’s not really sure.  This high incidence of really tiny starving bears is going on throughout New England.  Vermont has had 6 or 7 cases of it.

Fishing Derbies

 

The Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club is having its Spring Fishing Derby at the boat ramp on Stockbridge Bowl next Sunday, May 21 from dawn until 3:00pm. Prizes of $100 will go the  heaviest trout or salmon, pickerel, bass and bullhead.  There will be free lures for all kids 12 and under.  Food will be available.  Pre-registration fee is $10 and post registration is $15.  Tickets are available at the Minkler Insurance Agency, 31 Main Street, Stockbridge, (W)413-644-3590, (H)413-298-4630 or from any club member.

 

The Pittsfield Sportsmen’s Club is sponsoring a Kid’s Fishing Day on Reynolds Pond in Cheshire next Sunday May 21, from 8:00 am until 1:00 pm.  Kids are encouraged to bring poles and fishing tackle and if they have none, extra poles will be available.  Lunch will be available.  For questions, contact Travis DelRatez  at 413-441-7979.

The attached picture shows a Farmington River Elementary student tossing some trout out into Otis Reservoir.  Standing next to him on the left is DFW Western District Aquatic Biologist Leanda Fontaine-Gagnon and to the right is teacher Bethany Mielke

 

Another successful Youth Turkey Hunt Day

Saturday, April 22, was the day when the youths and their mentors took to the woods to bag a gobbler.  For the kids it was the culmination of classroom instructions, safety classes, shooting practice, etc. Traditionally, the special youth turkey hunting day occurs on the Saturday before the opening day of the spring turkey hunting season.  Each year I try to cover the kids at a different sportsmen’s club that has the youth turkey hunting program.   Last year I was at the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club, this year the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club and next year I hope to be at the Lee Sportsmen’s Club.

 

This year the SSC had a fairly large group of kids (20) to mentor.   As you can see by the photo, they did very well with 5 kids bagging birds and just about every kid and mentors had action, either by having toms respond to their calls or having opportunities to see some.  That’s really important for it takes a great deal of fortitude for the youngsters to get up early and be out in the woods before daybreak.  If they don’t have some kind of positive action, they may get immediately discouraged and not ever go turkey hunting again.

 

Mike Buffoni, who heads up the Stockbridge program and who also is a mentor had a memorable morning himself.  He and his accompanying youth spotted a female moose during the hunt.  Others hunters spotted a bear of two.  Mike has to be super proud of his two sons Max and Marco for they both bagged gobblers.

 

The day started off damp and raw with a few sprinkles here and there but as the day progressed, it warmed up.  When the kids and mentors returned to the club around noon, (turkey hunting must cease at noon) they were treated to a hot roast beef dinner expertly prepared by Chef Peter Delgrande.

 

After the meal, the customary procedure is to teach the kids how to dress the birds, breast them out for consumption, and save the tail feathers, beards and spurs for display.   Getting that first turkey was a big event for these kids and I’m sure they wanted to save such items for fond memories and bragging rights.

 

While one of the mentors was eating his meal, he picked at least 20 ticks off of his shirt – both wood ticks and deer ticks.  He had hung his hunting jacket on the back of his chair and they were jumping off of that onto his shirt.  He said that he had also pulled a lot of ticks off of him when he finished hunting and was leaving the woods.

 

From what I hear and see, this is going to be one heck of a year for ticks, so please make sure you use a tick repellent spray on your clothes, such as permethrin, and be sure to carefully inspect yourself when you get home.

 

Matt Ranzoni, who headed up the Lee Sportsmen’s Association youth hunt, had 6 kids participate this year and 3 of them were successful.  Donavan Coccomo got a tom weighing 21 lbs, Hunter Briggs got a 20 lb bird and Matt Driscoll got a 15 lb jake.  Travis Bush passed up a jake because he saw a tom that he was after.  The other two hunters, Dorian Page and Owen Bush had close calls.

 

No word was received as to how the kids at the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club did.

 

The Lee and Cheshire youth turkey hunt programs are similar to that of the Stockbridge Club, but I doubt very much that they had the kind of delicious meal that Delgrande prepared.

 

As of midweek, MassWildlife only had harvest numbers on what had been reported online. Many check stations still issue physical seals so they aren’t able to obtain harvest numbers until they get information back from all the check stations statewide after the season closes.

 

Incidentally, readers may recall my March 5 column, ”NE Turkey Hunting Hall of Fame inductees announced”, wherein I mention that MassWildlife’s James Cardoza was one of the inductees for supervising the recovery of Massachusetts wild turkey.  Following that article, 90-year old Joe Robinson called me to tell the rest of the story.  Robinson, a former DFW Western District biologist, retired 35 years ago, but he remembered the turkey recovery effort quite well and related the following:

 

The real credit for reintroducing the turkeys back into Massachusetts belongs to the then DFW Western District Supervisor Winn Saville, and his staff including Frank Putnam, Ed Hover, Fred Bohlman and Joe.  “We were the pioneers”, he said.  “Members of the staff traveled to New York in the early 1970’s, got the birds and released them in Beartown State Forest.  We kept an eye on them to see how they were doing.  We built feeders for the turkeys and put bags of corn into them.  The deer got a lot of that corn.”  Joe said that the first turkeys migrated to the Great Barrington area along with their poults.  After some years of reintroducing them and their own self populating, the hunting season was opened 1980.

 

Fishing Derbies

The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation in Hartsville-New Marlborough is having a free children’s fishing derby next Saturday, May 13  from 9 to 10:30am at its lower pond.  Children aged 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

 

Trout Stocking

The following waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week:  West and Middle Branches of the Westfield River in Becket, Chester, Huntington, Middlefield and Worthington; Littleville Reservoir in Chester and Huntington, Trout Brook in Peru, York Lake in New Marlborough, Otis Reservoir, Laurel Lake, Richmond Pond and Windsor Pond in Windsor.

 

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

 

Front left to right; Curt Wilton III, Max Buffoni, Madison Gilmore, Nick Powers, Zack Lupioni  Back row left to right; Kadin Shafiroff, Brady Whalen, Matt Fletcher, Bailey Gilmore, Marco Buffoni, Nick Puntin, Darrin Cloran, Nate Smith.  Not in picture; Kade Groeber, Kevin Triono, John Field III, Myles Houle, Juliana Hektor, Briel Winters, Brett Smith.