For over 50 years, MassWildlife has sponsored the Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program, which recognizes anglers who catch exceptional freshwater fish from water bodies of the Commonwealth that are open to the public.
Over the years, the program has evolved. Beginning in 2005, a youth category was added to recognize anglers 17 years and younger for their accomplishments. In 2015, the Bowfin category was added to the program (The Bowfin pin replaced the Broodstock Salmon pin). Also added last year was a Catch and Release component.
Anglers who catch the largest fish in the state in each category receive a gold pin and plaque which commemorates their accomplishments. If they keep the fish, they must have their catch weighed at a certified weigh station and submit an affidavit and photo to the Sportfishing Awards Coordinator. If they wish to release their fish alive, there are certain procedures which must be followed (check the MassWildlife web page for those instructions).
Last year, 6 gold pin fish were caught in our waters.
They are as follows: Adult Catch & Keep Category – 13-pound, 10-ounce Tiger Muskie caught out of Pontoosuc Lake by Mark Mohan, Jr. from Pembrook, Mass. Youth Catch & Keep Category – 3-pound, 10-ounce brown trout caught out of Onota Lake by Casen Kendal from Pittsfield; 2-pound, 5-ounce crappie caught out of Onota Lake by Jaxon Wallace of Pittsfield; 22-pound, 15-ounce Northern Pike caught out of Lake Buel by Mason Colli of Glendale and a 17-pound, 3-ounce Tiger Muskie caught out of Pontoosuc Lake by Andrew Mucci of Pittsfield. Catch & Release Category – A 43-inch Northern Pike caught out of Onota Lake by Jeffrey Klammer of Adams.
Anglers also receive bronze pins for catching fish of certain minimum weight requirements for 22 species. If one is lucky enough to catch a lot of pin fish, the angler qualifies for the title of Massachusetts Freshwater Angler of the Year. There are three categories: Adult Catch & Keep, Youth Catch & Keep and Catch & Release (adult or youth).
The 2015 Adult Catch & Keep Angler of the Year was Mark Mohan, Jr. of Pembrook. This is his third consecutive year that he has received that award. He received pins for the following categories: Brook Trout, 2 Brown Trout, 3 Carp, 3 Chain Pickerel, Channel Catfish, 2 Crappie, Largemouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, 3 Shad, including the gold pin, Smallmouth Bass (out of Onota Lake), Sunfish, gold pin Tiger Muskie (out of Pontoosuc Lake), Tiger Trout, a gold pin Walleye, White Perch and 4 Yellow Perch.
The 2015 Youth Catch & Keep Angler of the Year was Tauri Adamczyk of Taunton, MA. He received pins for the following: A gold pin Bowfin, Brook Trout, 2 Brown Trout, Bullhead, 2 Carp (one out of the Housatonic River in Lee), Chain Pickerel, Crappie, Landlocked Salmon, Largemouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, Smallmouth Bass, 2 Sunfish of which one was a gold pin, Tiger Trout, White Perch and a Yellow Perch.
The 2015 Catch & Release Angler of the Year was Michael Nee of Northborough. He received pins for the following: 2 Brook Trout of which one was a gold pin, Brown Trout, 2 Bullhead, Chain Pickerel, Crappie, Landlocked Salmon, 3 Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Rainbow Trout, 2 Smallmouth Bass of which one was a gold pin, 2 Sunfish of which one was a gold pin, 2 Tiger Trout, White Catfish, White Perch and 2 Yellow Perch.
Wow! These are tremendous fishermen. I was fortunate enough to get a picture of Andrew Mucci's 17-pound, 3-ounce Tiger Muskie, pictured above.
The Angler of the Year recipients and gold pin winners are honored each year at a ceremony (date and location to be announced in the spring). To see a list of all of the gold pin fish and where they were caught, click onto the MassWildlife website.
Twenty-one hunters participated in the Berkshire Beagle Club's annual bunny hunt on January 16. Two snowshoe hares and three cottontails were checked in. The largest hare, weighing 3.48 pounds, was taken by Pat McGrath of Adams in front of his dog Buck. The largest cottontail, weighing 3.25 pounds, was taken by Dave Morris of Lee in front of Tom King's (of Cheshire) dog Bomber. Following check-in, a meal of venison stew, venison chili and venison pasta was enjoyed by all.
The Lee Sportsmen's Association is having a Turkey Shoot today from 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. and a dinner from 4:00 to 6:30 p.m. The menu is venison stew and polenta and spaghetti and meatballs. The cost is $15 for adults and $7 children 12 and under. The dinner is to benefit its pheasant program.