Sunday April 7, 2013

LENOX

If you have never experienced stocking Atlantic salmon fry into our local rivers and streams, you have one last chance.

The final salmon fry stockings will take place in our area as follows: West Branch Westfield River in Becket on April 10; East Branch Westfield River in Chesterfield on April 11; East Branch Westfield River in Windsor on April 12; East Branch Westfield River in Cummington on April 26; and West Branch Westfield River in Chester on April 29. No date has been set for the final school stockings.

If you wish to participate in the fry stocking, visit the MassWildlife website at http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/fisheries/anadromous/salmon_fry_stocking.htm. You will find times, contacts, meeting places, etc.

At a meeting of the Connecticut River Atlantic Salmon Commission last July, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that it will no longer culture salmon for restoration efforts in the Connecticut River Basin. The agency has supported salmon restoration for 45 years, but current low return rates and the science supporting salmon restoration have caused the USFWS to focus its efforts on other anadromous fish in the basin. The salmon program has resulted in many significant ecological benefits for the Connecticut River watershed and other anadromous fish species.

The USFWS will continue to work with state agencies represented on the Commission and other conservation interests to restore and sustain other fisheries in the river basin such as American shad, American eel, river herring, and shortnose sturgeon.

As a result of the USFWS decision, White River National Fish Hatchery, which has been closed since August 2011 due to flooding damage from Tropical Storm Irene, and Dwight D. Eisenhower National Fish Hatchery, both in Vermont, will no longer rear salmon. The USFWS is also evaluating the future role of the Richard Cronin National Salmon Station in Massachusetts. The agency will continue to support education and outreach programs that build awareness about Atlantic salmon.

The effort to restore the salmon fishery was spearheaded by the late Congressman Silvio O. Conte, who was referred to as the father of the return of the Atlantic Salmon to the Connecticut River. For about 25 years, I, my wife Jan and several members of the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited have participated in these stockings.

We are saddened to see the program end, but understand the reason for being discontinued. Several local schools had salmon egg rearing programs and they will end after this spring's salmon stocking, too.

MassWildlife will still monitor the Connecticut River salmon returns for the next 5 years. That's how long it takes for them to grow up in our rivers, migrate out to the sea and then return up our rivers to their spawning grounds.

Incidentally, did you know that Mass DFW stocks about 10,000 fingerling landlocked salmon in the Quabbin Reservoir every spring? These salmon are raised in the Roger Reed Hatchery in Palmer.

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The recent drowning in the Glendale stretch of the Housatonic River is a sad reminder that state boating regulations require that all persons aboard canoes and kayaks between Sept. 15 and May 15 wear a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) at all times. In addition, children under 12 are required to wear PFDs in boats of all types throughout the year.

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Over the winter, you may recall that I listed some ice fishing derbies that benefited football programs, scholarship funds, etc. Well recently I received the following: First, the Stockbridge Sportsman's Club sponsored an "Aim for a Cure" Archery Benefit Shoot for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation on March 16-17. Archers came from all over for the weekend-long event, which raised more than $6,000! The club wishes to thank the many people and businesses who donated raffle prizes and their time to make this event successful.

Do you know Bill Drumm of Hinsdale? He worked in local archery/gun shops and more than 20 years ago harvested a buck with his bow that qualified for Pope & Young recognition and is believed to be one of the first officially measured bucks in the Berkshires.

Drumm suffered a stroke this past November, which led to complications including blindness in one eye and dialysis every other day at home. He has been unemployed as a result of the stroke and has been denied disability.

His close friend and sports shop owner, Tom Philips, reports that a fundraiser will be held for Bill next Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. at the ITAM Lodge in Pittsfield. There will be six bands, a 4-wheeler raffle, 50/50 raffle, Chinese raffle, great food and more. All proceeds raised will go directly to Bill to help defray his mounting medical expenses.

For more information contact Michelle Rachielle at (413) 281-2499, Lisa Duda (441-6077) or Philips (655-2505).

It is really nice that our local sportsmen, businesses and concerned citizens come together to help out at such times.

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The following area waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week: Hoosic River in Cheshire and Adams; Green River in Alford, Egremont and Great Barrington; Westfield River in Becket, Chester, Chesterfield, Cummington, Huntington, Middlefield, Savoy, Windsor and Worthington; Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont, and Florida; Williams River in West Stockbridge, and Great Barrington; Konkapot River in New Marlborough, Monterey and Sheffield; Farmington River in Otis and Sandisfield; Mansfield Lake in Great Barrington, Plunkett Reservoir in Hinsdale, Lake Garfield in Monterey, Windsor Lake in North Adams, and Onota Lake in Pittsfield. Tight lines!

To reach Gene Chague:
Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com,
or (413) 637-1818.