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.

 

Love is in the air

 

Recently, MassWildlife has requested us to report local eagle sightings to Andrew Vitz, MassWildlife’s State Ornithologist, and/or to DFW Western District Supervisor, Andrew Madden. Mark Thorne of Pittsfield has been observing and documenting the Onota Lake eagle nest for 10 years now, and the female has been the same one every year.

 

She was banded in 2002 (#T98) from the Hudson River in New York.  Now 15 years old, she may be considered middle aged as they can live up to 30 years.  The males have changed over the years, three since Mark has been monitoring them, and the current one has been with her since 2014.  He was banded (#WR8) as a chick in 2006 from the Connecticut River area here in Western Mass, making him 11 years.  They had been on eggs since the beginning of March, with both eagles sharing duties sitting on them.  Eaglets may have hatched by now.

 

Supposedly, they mate for life, but if one member of a pair dies or is killed, the other will actively court another mate.  However; there has been some contention over this nest from a third eagle.  No locked talons that Mark has seen, “just a lot of fast flying and screaming from all parties, ending with the intruder being shown the door to another part of the county”.  Sadly, Mark says, that’s how her current beau came into the picture, so we’ll have to see how this plays out.  He believes that “mating for life” depends particularly on how long the current male can withstand the challenges of other younger males.

 

Breeding Bald Eagles were extirpated from Massachusetts during the early 1900s. However, from 1982 to 1988, forty-one young Bald Eagles from Michigan and Canada were relocated to Quabbin Reservoir. Following this restoration effort, they were confirmed to breed successfully in the state by 1989.  Eagle numbers have increased slowly but steadily since that time. During 2015, an all-time high of at least 51 pairs of Bald Eagles maintained breeding territories in Massachusetts.  Around here, they were located as follows:  Westfield River (2), Deerfield River (2), Housatonic River (1), Onota Lake (1) and Lake Buel (1).    Population abundance in Massachusetts is limited mainly by amount of potential breeding habitat (i.e., number of large water bodies surrounded by mature forest and having shallow waters and abundant fish).

 

Fishermen should be diligent in proper disposal of fishing line and equipment, as eagles are known to accidentally ingest hooks. At least one eaglet has been killed in Massachusetts after becoming tangled in fishing line.

 

Be careful while driving, too. Recently, a very important bird in the history of Bald Eagle restoration in Massachusetts died after being hit by a vehicle on Rte 5 in Northampton. A veterinarian determined it had a broken back and spinal cord damage, and had to be euthanized.   Known by #W02 on its leg band, this 28-year-old eagle was one of the three first wild-born eagles to hatch in Massachusetts in modern times. Since 1989 when W02 hatched, at least 646 wild-born Bald Eagle chicks have fledged in the Commonwealth.

Poor bird, it died without a real name. RIP #W02.

TU Event

On Thursday, April 20, the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited will have Ron Merly, Connecticut fishing guide and Author of Flyfisher’s Guide to Connecticut as its guest speaker.  He will be speaking about the Farmington and Housatonic Rivers.

 

An avid fisherman, Merly has been fishing the trout streams of Connecticut and on Long Island Sound for over 45 years. He has held the current Connecticut state record for sea-run trout since 2006. A self-taught writer, he was awarded first place in the Best Magazine Article category by the New England Outdoor Writers Association in 2009 and 2010. He has served as the president of the Nutmeg Chapter of Trout Unlimited since 2010, and has been a member of its Board of Directors since 2000.  He has resided on the Connecticut coastline for his entire life, and has flyfished all over New England, as well as in Mexico and Honduras.

 

The event will be held at the Berkshire Hills Country Club at 500 Benedict Rd., Pittsfield.  Doors open at 6:00 pm.  The presentation is free and open to the public.  Dinner is optional.

 

Earth Week

Earth Week runs from April 17 through April 23 this year.  Numerous communities celebrate an entire week of activities focused on the environmental issues that the world faces. The most common practice of celebration is planting new trees.  Coincidentally, that is also school vacation week.

 

Friday, April 21, is called Earth Day and MassWildlife has planned a trout stocking event that day.  It will take place at Burbank Park on Onota Lake at 1:30 pm.  Andrew Madden, DFW Western District Supervisor, plans to liberate 400-500 rainbow trout into the lake.  The public, especially the youngsters, are invited to watch them release the fish.  DFW may allow some of the kids to carry pails of trout for release.  They may also have some stuff to hand out to the kids.

 

Trout Stockings

The following local waters were scheduled for trout stocking last week:  Konkapot River in Monterey, New Marlborough and Sheffield; Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Farmington River in Otis and Sandisfield, Hoosic River-South Branch in Cheshire and Adams, Hoosic River-North Branch in Clarksburg, Green River in Alford and Great Barrington, Williams River in West Stockbridge, Egremont and Great Barrington;  Westfield River in Becket, Chester, Huntington, Middlefield and Worthington;  Hudson Brook in Clarksburg, Littleville Reservoir in Chester and Huntington, Trout Brook in Peru, Green River in Williamstown, Greenwater Pond in Becket, and Big Pond in Otis.

What is the DER and what does it do?

 

 

The Massachusetts Division of Environmental Restoration (DER) was created in 2009 with the merger of the Riverways and Wetlands Restoration Programs. DER coordinates ecological restoration to improve habitat for fish and wildlife and restores important ecosystem services that improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts citizens.  DER works with many partners across a variety of aquatic systems, from freshwater to saltwater, to restore the ecological integrity of degraded habitats for the benefit of people and the environment.

 

In 2016 alone, the Division removed 2 dams and completed 2 wetland restoration projects, restoring 285 acres and opening 13 river miles statewide.  It advanced work on multiple river and wetland restoration projects that have recently initiated construction or will begin construction next year.  Once complete, those projects will remove 8 dams, reconnect more than 78 river miles and restore nearly 280 acres of degraded wetlands.

 

Using Commonwealth funds, DER leveraged $10 million in newly awarded external funds.  Volunteers worked in 72 communities devoting more than $100,000 worth of labor towards protecting and restoring our rivers and wetlands.  The DER provided technical support and guidance in more than 170 communities and across all 27 major watersheds.

 

DER, together with its partners, has restored in total over 1,800 acres of coastal wetlands and reconnected over 250 miles.

 

In Western MA, the DER was recently awarded a $179,620 grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.  The grant will build municipal capacity to upgrade culverts and increase the pace of culvert replacement in the Deerfield River Watershed.  The Deerfield River has an abundance of coldwater streams, which provide essential habitat for fish species. In 2011 many towns were hard hit in the region after Tropical Storm Irene.  This grant, in conjunction with other DER funds will immediately advance the design and/or construction of up to 6 culverts in the Deerfield River Watershed and, in time, will lead to many more replacements.

 

DER’s Streamflow Restoration program continues to work with municipal partners in Pittsfield to improve streamflow below recreational dams.  This past winter, DER installed a telemetry station at the Onota Lake dam that measures water level and assists with lake management and downstream releases to Peck’s Brook, a tributary to the West Branch of the Housatonic River.  Last fall DER also funded a survey of macro-invertebrates in Peck’s Brook, along with several other streams in the area, to better quantify changes in the aquatic community after modifications were made to upstream dam management.  Recent monitoring shows significant improvements in both streamflow and macro-invertebrate populations in the brook, despite 2016 drought conditions.

 

In 2017, DER will be working on 11 new priority projects adding to its total roster of 62 projects.  Here in the Berkshires, the Kitchen Brook Dam in Cheshire, has a provisional status of Significant Hazard.  It has an impassable obstruction on the brook, which drains part of Mount Greylock’s eastern slope and is tributary to the coldwater trout stream Thunder Brook.  That brook is where DER previously worked with the town to removal another aging dam and to replace an undersized culvert with a fish-friendly crossing.  Removal of Kitchen Brook Dam will open up 4 miles of high quality cold water habitat for Eastern Brook Trout.

 

The Kinne Brook Dam in Chester was removed in 2014, and now two undersized culverts will be replaced in 2017-2018.  The goal is to restore river functions to the high-quality cold-water stream which is a tributary to the Westfield River.  It is abundant with eastern brook trout.  The barrier removals were done in partnership with Trout Unlimited and others.

Several years ago, the DER removed a dam on the North Branch of the Hoosic River in Clarksburg.  Now, there is an Urban River Restoration Priority Project planned for the Hoosic River in North Adams.  The goal is to modernized North Adams’ aging concrete flood chutes with habitat, river and community friendly modifications while maintaining existing flood risk management levels.   So far a concept design for the South Branch Hoosic River restoration is in place including preliminary designs for a Phase I restoration in the Noel Field area. Soil, sediment and groundwater sampling was just completed in the Phase I restoration area. Concept design work for the North Branch of the Hoosic River is just beginning and will take about a year to complete.

 

The DER is a division which reports directly to the Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game.  Tim Purington is its Director.  It is one of my favorite state agencies because we can see tangible results which affects our lives and benefits the critters. I hope it continues to receive sufficient funding to accomplish it very important work.

 

Trout Stockings

The following local waters were scheduled to be stocked last week.  Due to the rain and high waters, this schedule was subject to change: Ashfield Pond, Housatonic River (East Branch) in Dalton and Hinsdale, Housatonic River SW Branch in Pittsfield, Pontoosuc Lake, Lake Garfield, Lake Buel, Windsor Lake in North Adams, Onota Lake, Goose Pond, and Windsor Pond in Windsor.

 

Water Safety

According to the Massachusetts Environmental Police, most boating fatalities in the Commonwealth result when boaters fail to wear life jackets while in small craft in cold water or weather. Paddlers in canoes and kayaks are required to wear life jackets from September 15 – May 15.  They also advise us to:  Make sure everyone wears a life jacket, follows navigation rules, such as safe speed and spotters, never boat under the influence and keep in touch by using cell phones, etc.  Don’t panic if you fall into the water.  Stay afloat with the help of your life jacket, regain control of your breathing, keep your head above water in vision of rescuers, and stay with the boat if possible

It’s a world record!

 

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

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

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

Bald Eagles

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

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

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

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

Basic Hunting Course

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

 

Coyote Contest

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

 

No trout stockings in the Western District yet

 

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

 

Club events

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

 

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

 

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

 

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