Meet your new Fish and Game Commissioner

Ron Amidon of Templeton has recently been appointed by Governor Charlie Baker as the new Commissioner of the Department of Fish & Game (DFG). He replaced former Commissioner George N. Peterson, Jr. who decided to step down and spend more time with his family. The DFG oversees the Commonwealth’s marine and freshwater fisheries, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, plants, all endangered species, and the habitats that support them.
Amidon, whose career has been in large scale construction management, has spent over 30 years actively involved in the Commonwealth’s sporting community. He has served as the President of the Otter River Sportsmen’s Club, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Worcester County League of Sportsmen’s Clubs, President of the Gun Owners Action League, and Moderator of the Massachusetts Conservation Alliance. He is also heavily involved with Ducks Unlimited and Trout Unlimited and has a strong interest in identifying cold water habitats for trout, protecting wildlife habitat and supporting restoration of upland bird habitat. He is known and respected across the state as a staunch defender and protector of our outdoor sports heritage.
I have the good fortune to be able to call Ron a friend. I first met Ron and his wife Rena a few years back while camped along the banks of the East Branch of the Westfield River in Chesterfield. My wife Jan and I met and took an immediate liking to them. Through conversations, it didn’t take long to learn that Ron is a staunch defender of our hunting and fishing heritage and protector of the environment. He doesn’t just talk about these issues but takes action as witnessed by his commitments listed above.
He’s not a bad fisherman either as the attached picture shows. That wild brook trout, which he caught on a fly rod and quickly released, weighed more than 7 3/4 lbs. The picture was taken while Ron and a group of anglers fished the Minipi River system in Labrador last year. Local Attorney Michael Shepard of Dalton and I were in that group.
You get to know a guy that you share a lodge with in the middle of God’s Country. In the early twilight hours, sipping a steaming cup of coffee, while waiting for the guides to wake up, Ron and several of us would discuss hunting and fishing issues of the day. Having gotten to know Ron better, I can’t think of a more qualified person to head up the DFG.
In stepping down, Peterson, who had served as Commissioner since February of 2015 said, “I am very grateful to Governor Baker for giving me the opportunity to serve as Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game. I will cherish the time I spent working directly with the professional staff on the issues I deeply care about—habitat conservation, fisheries management, ecological restoration, and enhancement of public access to the Bay State’s wildlife, lands and waters, and outdoor activities such as fishing and hunting.”
Prior to his appointment as Commissioner, Peterson had served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for 20 years, representing the 9th Worcester District, and was the Assistant Minority Leader when he left the House of Representatives. He is an avid recreational fisherman and hunter. He is also a U.S. Army veteran.
Outdoor sportsmen could always count on Representative Peterson to support and promote their causes on Beacon Hill and were very appreciative of his accomplishments as the Commissioner. While Commissioner, he came out here to the Berkshires on numerous occasions to attend various functions and was on a first name basis with many of us. I’m sure you will join me in thanking him for his service in our military, in our House of Representatives and as F&W Commissioner and wish him the best in the future.
HVA Paddle Trip
On Tuesday, July 18, the Housatonic Valley Association will have a Beginners’ Paddle Trip from 4:30 to 7:00pm. There will be a free introduction to canoeing on a flatwater stretch of the Housatonic River in Glendale. Instruction will be provided by a certified instructor and canoes and equipment will be provided. Learn how to safely enter and exit a canoe, the basic strokes and how to steer. Program support is provided by Housatonic Heritage. Preregistration required. More information provided upon registering. Call HVA at 413-298-7024 or email adixon@hvatoday.

Report Fish Kills This Summer
With the warming up of our lakes and ponds, fish kills may occur. The sight of dead and dying fish along the shores of a favorite pond or river can be distressing and can prompt concerns about pollution. However, according to MassWildlife, the vast majority of summer fish kills reported are natural events.
Natural fish kills are generally the result of low oxygen levels, fish diseases, or spawning stress. Depletion of dissolved oxygen is one of the most common causes of natural fish kills. Water holds less dissolved oxygen at higher temperatures; in shallow, weedy ponds oxygen can be especially low as plants consume oxygen at night. Spawning of fish such as Sunfish and Largemouth Bass in late spring and early summer occurs in shallow waters along the shores. These densely crowded spawning areas become susceptible to disease outbreaks, especially as water temperatures increase. The result is an unavoidable natural fish kill, usually consisting of only one or two species of fish.
To be sure there isn’t a pollution problem, it’s always best to report fish kills (Environmental Police 1(800) 632-8075). A MassWildlife fisheries biologist will determine if the kill is a natural event or the result of pollution. When pollution is the suspected culprit, MassWildlife notifies the Department of Environmental Protection, who then conducts a formal investigation of the water and affected fish to determine the source of pollution.

Thanks to those who run the sportsmen’s clubs

 

Sportsmen’s clubs serve many purposes. Among other things, they introduce people to the outdoor sports by conducting mentoring programs which teach youths how to hunt turkeys, pheasants, duck and deer. They have spring fishing derbies, ice fishing derbies, bow hunting leagues, archery in the school programs, trout in the classroom programs, teach trap and skeet shooting, and more. Working with the Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) and the Housatonic Valley Association (HVA), they are involved with river clean-ups, invasive plant eradication, and more. Working with MassWildlife, they are involved with the BOW (Becoming an Outdoorswoman) Program, paraplegic hunts, school trout stocking programs, etc. Some groups work through OLLI (Osher Life Long Institute) to teach as fly fishing.

The days when dad or uncle taught the kids how to do all of these things are almost gone. Now, they have expert club mentors who take the place of parents who perhaps no longer participate in these sports, or a single parent who does not have the time or ability to teach them.

In many cases club delegates serve on the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, which is the umbrella organization for the individual clubs. The League, in turn, is a member of the Massachusetts Sportsmen’s Council, the umbrella organization for the individual County Leagues across Massachusetts. The League is also affiliated with the Gun Owner’s Action League (GOAL) and the NRA which are often on Beacon Hill in Boston, fighting to preserve sportsmen’s rights to own guns. These organizations require membership fees.

The sportsmen’s clubs have to pay for the club house maintenance, real estate taxes, loan interest, teaching materials, hatchery fish, etc. Some clubs have to maintain many acres of land and fencing. Some raise bunnies or pheasants. Others maintain trap or skeet shooting ranges, target ranges, etc. Someone has to mow, snowplow, maintain the property and cook for functions.

The annual club dues are not sufficient to pay for all of this. It is necessary to obtain added funds through special raffles, game dinners, turkey shoots (they don’t really shoot turkeys), banquets, facility rentals, etc. Someone has to plan, organize, direct and control these activities and funding and those duties usually fall upon the club officers and directors. Running a sportsman’s club requires a significant investment of time, and those who do so ask for nothing in return.

The annual Silvio O. Conte Awards Banquet tries to recognizes them with the Sportsmen of the Year Award, Lifetime Achievement Award, etc. In this column, I would also like to give a shout out to those dedicated individuals. Please know that for every officer listed here, there are many more directors and committee chairpersons behind the scenes who are assisting or advising them. The following listing of clubs are those active in the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen:
Pittsfield Sportsmen’s Club: Its President is Travis Delratez, 1st VP is Stanley Bushey, 2nd VP is Clem Caryofilles, Treasure is Mike Furey and Clerk & Secretary is David Pemble.
Taconic Chapter, Trout Unlimited: President is John Burns, VP is Henry Sweren, Treasurer is Bill Travis, and Secretary position is unfilled.
Berkshire Beagle Club: President is Rodney Hicks, VP is Al Costa, Treasurer is Tim Cahoon and Secretary is Pat Barry.
Lenox Sportsmen’s Club: President is Tom Ferguson, VP is Mark Jester, Treasurer is Bernie Abramson and Secretary is Derek Dubin.
Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club: President is Rob McDermott, 1st VP is Wayne Myers, 2nd VP is John Mange, Treasurer is Bonnie Buffoni and Secretary is David St Peter

Lee Sportsmen’s Association: President is Cliff White, VP is George Brooks, the Treasurer position is unfilled, and Secretary is John Polastri.

Cheshire Rod & Gun Club: President is Bill Bolotin, VP is Glenn Reynolds, Treasurer is Rick Gurneyand and Secretary is Chris Smith.

Adams Outdoor for Youth: President is Jody Goff, VP is Mike LeFebvre, Treasurer is Tom Tinney and Secretary is Kaitlyn Kline.

East Mountain Sportsmen’s Club: President is Steve Haskins, VP is Wayne Mclain, Treasurer is Travis McCarthy and Secretary is Kris Kirby.

Sheffield Sportsmen’s Club: President is Robby Brownson, VP is Jim Olmstead, Treasurer is Lee Donsbough and Secretary is Ryan Shimmon

Onota Fishing Club: President is Edward Blake, Treasurer is Chuck Lennon and Sergeant-at- Arms is Dick Barns.

Alford Brook Club: President is Earl Albert, VP is Ray Murray, treasurer is Dr. Bruce Person r and Secretary is Attorney Ed McCormic.

Berkshire County League of Sportsmen: President is Michael Kruszyna, VP is Wayne Mclain, Treasurer is Dan Kruszyna and Secretary is me. Those who serve as delegates to the Mass Sportsmen’s Council, GOAL and the NRA and who must travel considerable distances to attend monthly meetings are Clem Caryofilles, Mark Jester, Pete McBride and Gary Wilk.

Many thanks to all the dedicated members. My apologies for any errors or omissions.

Summer Sizzler winners

The winners of the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club Summer Sizzler drawing are: Grand Prize – Terry Miller, 2nd Prize – Lou Puleri, 3rd Prize – Joanne Farrell, 4th Prize – Pete Skowronski and 5th Prize – Clem Caryofilles.
Deer Antlerless Permits
The deadline to apply for an Antlerless Deer Permit is July 16. There is no fee to apply but a $5 fee is charged if you are awarded a permit during the Instant Award Period starting August 1.
Thank you Massachusetts waterfowl hunters!
According to MassWldlife, since 1975, you’ve contributed over $1.7million in Massachusetts Waterfowl Stamp funds to Ducks Unlimited. An additional $15million has been leveraged by DU, other states, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to secure and restore over 18,307 acres of waterfowl habitat across New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador. The Estabrooks Marsh in New Brunswick at the head of the Bay of Fundy was recently dedicated to Massachusetts by Ducks Unlimited Canada in “recognition of this important partnership.”

Help bats by reporting colonies
If you see a colony of bats, MassWildlife asks that you let them know. They are studying bat colonies to see how many have survived after the onset of White-nose Syndrome, a deadly disease affecting hibernating bats. They believe that monitoring leads to advances in conservation and management for endangered bat species, ensuring protection and security of the colonies. E-mail Jennifer Longsdorf (jennifer.longsdorf@state.ma.us) to report a bat colony and include the address, location, type of structure where the colony was found (tree or building), and approximately how many bats are in the colony. Ten or more bats make up a colony. Your help is greatly appreciated.
Since the onset of White-nose Syndrome in Massachusetts, the state’s population of bats has dwindled to less than 1% of what it was. They cite one abandoned mine where almost every bat hibernating over the 2008/2009 winter died from White-nose Syndrome. Some 10,000 bats dropped to just 14 in the span of a single season. White-nose Syndrome is caused by a fungus that grows on cave-hibernating bats during the winter. The growing fungus rouses the bats from hibernation, causing them to use up precious fat stores before fully waking in the spring, leading to starvation. As a result of the drastic mortality from White-nose Syndrome, all species of cave-hibernating bats are listed as Endangered in Massachusetts.
MassWildlife named two species of bats, the Little Brown Bat and the Big Brown Bat which have summer colonies in Massachusetts. These colonies may be found in trees, buildings, or houses. The Little Brown Bat also hibernates in caves during the winter, where it can contract White-nose Syndrome. Before White-nose Syndrome occurred in Massachusetts, the Little Brown Bat was the most common bat species in the state. MassWildlife is especially interested in learning how surviving colonies of Little Brown Bats have persisted despite White-nose Syndrome, including the size and location of their colonies.
This summer, they will be banding Little Brown Bats, and tagging all females with radio transmitters to help them locate maternity colonies. They will also be doing surveys, site visits to bat colonies, and monitoring any newly discovered maternity colonies to determine colony size, site ownership, and security. Monitoring long-term population changes will greatly help them understand the survival of Little Brown Bats. This work will also be used in future recovery efforts.
Don’t worry about your hunting and fishing license fees going toward this bat study. According to Marion E. Larson Chief, Information & Education for the MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, they received a grant to study them and contractors to do the work. They simply need locations for the contractors to visit.
I hope they are successful in their recovery efforts. I miss these little critters especially when fishing near water bodies at twilight hours. Who can forget their kamikaze style dives toward us, and our wondering if they will pull up before smacking our heads. Oh sure, some women don’t miss them at all because of the rumor of them flying into and getting tangled in their hair. I wonder, is there any truth to that rumor?
Two comical events come to mind when I think about them. One occurred many years ago when my fishing buddy Jerry Zink and I were teenagers. We were bass fishing at night from a boat on Laurel Lake. In those days, we rented an old clunker wooden boat from Bing Miller and would row and fish all night. It was fun. We would cast our plugs into the darkness, hear them plop into the water and then work the plugs toward us. There was concern when we cast out the plugs and did not hear the plop. That usually meant that we were too close to shore and the plug landed in a tree. Barring that event, every now and then we would hear a loud splash and we would set the hook. We couldn’t see whose plug was hit so both of us reacted. One of us usually landed a good sized largemouth bass.
One night, while reeling in my plug, I sensed something was wrong. The plug didn’t gurgle, sputter, pop or wobble like it should. After reeling in and holding the rod up in the dim moon light, I could see a leaf hanging from the plug, which happens occasionally. I was deeply engrossed in our conservation (probably about girls), when I reached up to pull the leaf off. I missed it, time and again. Frustrated, I asked Jerry to shine the flashlight on it. You guessed it. A bat was hanging from the plug and every time I reached to remove it, the bat would fly up in the air with the plug. To this day, Jerry and I still chuckle about that.
The other time was about 15 years ago. One evening, a buddy Doug Yates from Dalton and I were flyfishing the East Branch of the Westfield River in Chesterfield, MA. Doug was fishing downstream from me, and over the sound of the river, I could hear him shouting. He appeared to be fighting a fish and because he was shouting to catch my attention, I assumed he had a good one on. But something was wrong. Instead of his rod bending down toward the water, it was bent up and the line going in a circle over his head.
Well, you guessed it again. While his fly was mid-air from a cast, a bat came along and snatched it. Now that’s what I call a good fly imitation! Every now and then, Doug and I chuckle over that, too.
Gosh, I hope my fishing stories involving bats haven’t ended.

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.

New book published on fishing the Cape Cod Canal

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Fishing Derbies

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

 

Trout Stockings

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

 

Forest Tour

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

 

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

 

The Housatonic Valley Association

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

 

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

 

Its fishing derby time

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club Fishing Derbies

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

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

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

Family Fun Day

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

 

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

 

Trout stockings

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

 

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

 

Thank you Gige

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Students liberate rainbow trout into Otis Reservoir

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Trout Stocking

 

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

Bass Tournament 

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

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

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

Fishing Derbies

 

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

 

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

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

 

Stocking trout on Earth Day

 

On Friday, April 21, Earth Day, MassWildlife conducted a trout stocking event at Onota Lake in Pittsfield.  Usually, the stocking dates and times are kept secret so as to avoid “stocking truck followers” from catching a lot of fish before the trout have had time to acclimate to their new surroundings.  But this time it was different.  MassWildlife wanted the public, especially children who were out of school during school vacation to be there and to participate.  And a lot of kids and their parents and grandparents did show up.

About 350 nice sized rainbow trout were put into white 5 gallon pails, 3 or 4 at a time, and the kids and older folks scurried to the lake’s edge to toss them into the water.  They had to hurry as no water was put into the pails in order to keep the loads lighter.

It was a great day for all involved.  I couldn’t help but chuckle as some of these kids weren’t much bigger than the pails they were carrying.  MassWildlife’s Western District Aquatic Biologist Leanda Fontaine-Gagnon stood in the water in hip boots to ensure that every trout was safely liberated and I am happy to report that there were no casualties—at least not until some nearby fishermen caught some.  Derek McDermott and Ray Bresette of MassWildlife carefully  netted the trout out of the stocking truck and placed them into pails for the kids lined up to take their turns at stocking. Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden ensured that the operation went smoothly and also provided some pamphlets and animal track information.

There were a lot of smiling faces seen that day, not sure who had the most fun, the kids, their parents/grandparents or the MassWildlife team.

Pictured above, wearing the tiara, and stocking some trout was 15 year old Meghan Kalbaugh of Chicopee, MA who came to the event with her parents.  She is the reigning Miss Western Mass Outstanding Teen.  She had a beautiful sash but took it off while stocking so as not to get it wet and slimy from the fish.

Message to the young lads, turn off the smart phones and computer games, pick up your fishing rods and head for the lakes.  No telling who will be out there stocking the trout.  Look at what you missed!

Trout stocking

The following local waters were scheduled to be stocked last week:  Hoosic River in Cheshire and Adams, Deerfield River in Buckland, Florida and Charlemont;  Clesson Brook in Ashfield and  Buckland, Swift River in Ashfield,  Cummington and Goshen; Pelham Brook in Charlemont and Rowe, Housatonic River in Hinsdale and Dalton, Little River in Worthington and Huntington, West Branch Brook in Chesterfield and Worthington, Ashfield Pond and South River in Ashfield, Dry Brook and South Brook in Cheshire, Wahconah Falls Brook in Dalton, North Pond in Florida, Stones Brook in Goshen, Dunbar Brook in Monroe, Mill Brook in Plainfield, Bronson Brook in Worthington, Plunkett Reservoir in Hinsdale, Goose Pond in Lee and Tyringham,  Lake Buel in Monterey, Windsor Lake in North Adams and Otis Reservoir in Otis.

Lakes are being remapped

In his latest report to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, Fisheries and Wildlife Board member Stephen Sears of Dalton, reported that DFW fisheries personnel are in the process of making new maps of all our lakes. He said that they will be incredibly accurate.  They will also be available on-line.  They already mapped Onota Lake and will be doing Pontoosuc Lake soon.  Click onto the MassWildlife web page to check out the new Onota Lake map.

 

Loons

MassWildlife cautions us that Common Loons, a species of Special Concern, have been observed taking shiners on anglers hooks and hooking themselves.  They urge anglers to pull hooks baited with shiners out of the water when loons are present and continue fishing when they have passed.   Anglers may recall that the protection of the loons was a major reason why the use of lead weights under 1 oz have been prohibited in Massachusetts.  Apparently, the loons ingest them and then later die an agonizing death from lead poisoning.

 

I love loons.  Of all the sounds heard in the wilds, by far my favorite is the yodeling sound of a loon on a quiet night on or near a crystal clear northern lake.   Upper Maine and Canadian lakes provide such waters.  Loons require clear lakes because they it make it easier for them to see prey underwater. Chances are, while listing to the loons, you may also be marveling at the Aurora borealis (northern lights).  They go hand-in-hand.

 

Last year, while fishing in Labrador, I saw some loons and commented to a guide my fondness for this bird.  He did not share my feelings, in fact, he downright despised them.   He said that they can grow to 12 lbs and they eat an awful lot of fish each day.  The outfitters and guides up there get their livelihood from fishermen and they want them to catch a lot of fish so that they come back.  Loons compete with them for the fish.

 

Thinking that he was exaggerating, I checked into it when I got hone.   In one study, scientists estimate that loons eat 22% of their body weight each day.  In another study, biologists estimate that loon parents and their 2 chicks can eat about a half-ton of fish over a 15-week period.

 

Well, even so, I still love the sight and sound of that bird and support its restoration in Massachusetts.

 

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

Accompanied by a picture of Miss Teen Western Massachusetts, Meghan Kalbaugh, stocking trout.  Standing next to her is her father James.

 

Four honored at BCLS Conte Banquet

 

About 130 people packed the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club banquet hall last Saturday evening for the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen’s (BCLS) Silvio O. Conte Memorial Awards Banquet. Award recipients included Doug Frank of Lee (2016 Sportsman of the Year), Karen Karlberg of Becket (Lifetime Achievement Award), Tom Macy of Sheffield (Sportsmen’s Appreciation Award) and Robert McDermott of West Stockbridge (John Zuber Outstanding Achievement Award).

 

All were selected by the delegates of the various sportsmen’s clubs which make up the BCLS.   Their individual feats were highlighted in my March 26, 2017 column,  “2016 BCLS Award winners announced”.  The banquet was dedicated in honor of George “Gige” Darey of Lenox.    Mark Jester of Pittsfield was the emcee for the event.  Congratulations to all of the recipients.

 

Gige Darey respectfully declined to accept an award preferring that one go to one of the above deserving recipients.   He did give a moving speech recounting his 38 years on the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board.  Gige has been kept busy giving talks these days.  Recently, he received an award from the Worcester County League of Sportsmen and two weeks ago, he received a Special Recognition award from the Massachusetts Sportsmen’s Council.  At that banquet, Lt Governor Polito, several State Senators and Representatives and many other dignitaries honored him for his many achievements.

 

As you may know, Gige recently stepped down from the F&W Board, of which he served as its chairman for 35 of years.  During that time he accomplished a great deal.  He oversaw the restoration and recovery of the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, osprey, turkey, deer, bear and piping plover.  He was instrumental in increasing land acquisition and protection, habitat identification and management, education and outreach and the new environmentally state-of-the-art Field Headquarters in Westborough.

 

One of his proudest achievements was to getting “Presumption of Openness” into the language of the Open Space Bond Bills, ensuring that all state land so purchased would be open to passive recreation including hunting, fishing and trapping.  He led the efforts to transfer the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program to the DFW, now a model for the nation.

 

Referred to as the champion for all wildlife, from fish and big game, to the less heralded species greatly needing our understanding and protection, it is no wonder that the 818-acre Housatonic Valley Wildlife Management Area bears his name.

 

Gige is not done receiving accolades yet.  On May 13, there will be an event celebrating his lifelong commitment and achievements as well as raising funds for the MA Outdoor Heritage Foundation.  It will take place at the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club, 24 West Stockbridge Road (Route 102), MA.

 

The event,  co-chaired by Bob Durand former Secretary of Environmental Affairs, Dave Peters former Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game, Wayne MacCallum former Director Division of Fish and Wildlife and Steve Sears President of the MA Outdoor Heritage Foundation Board, will take place from noon to 4:00pm. Buffet at 1pm, speaking program at 2:00pm, silent auction and raffle at 3:00pm.  The cost is $50 per person.

 

If you are unable to attend but still wish to contribute to the Outdoor Heritage Fund, of which Gige is a founding Board member,  make checks payable to: Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation (note George L Darey fund) P.O. Box 47, Westborough, MA. 01581.  You may want to consider a sponsorship and tax deductible donation that will honor and further the mission of natural resource protection which has been Gige’s lifelong commitment.

 

Some sponsorships categories are:   Woodcock -$100, Whitetail Deer-$250, Black Bear -$500 and Bald Eagle-$1000. For more information about the Foundation, visit them at massoutdoorheritage.org.

 

Fundraiser

On April 29, the Lee Sportsmen’s Association is holding a fundraiser called Aiming for Zero Steel Match.  The purpose of the event is to support the fight against veteran suicide.  Shoot times are 9:00 am and 1:00 pm with no preregistration required, $25 registration fee, $5 side match.  Centerfire pistols and .22LR pistols and .22 rifles welcome.  If you can’t attend but would like to donate, visit the Aiming for Zero/Active Heroes website.  Click on join existing club then List on registered teams.  Choose individual fundraiser and type in Paddy Sullivan. He is registered as an individual, and not with a team. He is doing this for His National Honor Society service project.

 

Trout Stocking

The following local waters were scheduled to be stocked last week. Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Chickley River in Charlemont, Hawley and Savoy; Cold River in Charlemont, Florida, and Savoy; Westfield River in Chesterfield, Cummington, Huntington and Russell; Housatonic River in Lee and  Pittsfield, Hop Brook and Goose Pond Brook in Lee and Tyringham, Upper Highland Lake in Goshen, Mansfield Lake in Great Barrington, Kinderhook Creek in Hancock, Norwich Pond in Huntington, Greenwater Brook in Lee, York Lake in New Marlborough, Berry Pond in Pittsfield, Buck and Clam River in Sandisfield, Larrywaug Brook in Stockbridge and Onota Lake in Pittsfield.

 

Spring Turkey Season

The spring turkey hunting season opens tomorrow in Massachusetts and runs through May 20. Immediately following harvest, hunters must fill out and affix the tag from their turkey permit to the turkey. The turkey must be reported either online via the MassFishHunt system or at a traditional check station within 48 hours of harvest and before the bird is processed for food or taxidermy. The MassFishHunt system generates a confirmation number which must be written on the harvest tag attached to the turkey; the confirmation number serves as the official seal. The tag (or metal seal from a check station) must remain on the bird until it is processed for food or taxidermy.