Berkshire Woods and Waters: State record bowfin caught twice
Well, guess what, that record was beaten and a new record was established at 8 pounds, 1 ounce, and, get this — it was set by two people, a father and son. On August 6, David Souza of Berkley caught the first one, which measured 27 3/8 inches long with a girth of 13 inches. On August 8, his son, 21-year-old Jake caught another one which measured 26 3/4 inches and had a girth of 13 3/4 inches. Both fish were caught from a boat out of the Taunton River. Now, what are the chances of that, a million to one?
David caught his on an early, sunny day. His fish was the best of seven bowfin that he caught that day, and most averaged 4-7 pounds. Two days later, Jake caught his around dusk with low light around the same area. Both were using live and sometimes dead bait. Catching and then tying the record breaker was the "climax of the whole experience," said Dave.
"We are very competitive anglers. This is a blessing for a father, it felt like we hit the lottery."
Dave feels that the record will be beaten again, for he has lost some bowfin even larger. He thinks that there are some 10-plus pound bowfins swimming around there, possibly even 12 pounds.
The record-breaking bowfins were officially weighed in at the DFW Field Headquarters in Sandwich.
If Souza's name sounds familiar, it could be because Jake was the 2012 Angler of the Year and the 2013 and 2014 Youth Angler of the Year. In 2012, he caught the gold pin largemouth bass weighing 9.7 pounds (his mom, Deirdre had a replica of it made for him). In 2012, he caught the gold pin brown trout weighing 8.8 pounds. In 2013, he caught the gold pin sunfish weighing 1.2 pounds. In 2015, Dave caught the gold pin white catfish which weighed 6.7 pounds.
But wait, there's more. Dave and Deirdre's other son, 18-year-old Luke, caught the 2014 gold pin crappie weighing 2.3 pounds. Perhaps he will set the next record. Now wouldn't that be something. (A gold pin is annually awarded by MassWildlife to the person who catches the largest fish in the Commonwealth of a particular species. It is a component of its Freshwater Sportsfish Awards Program)
Deirdre is very proud of her men and their accomplishments. I asked her if she fishes and she said that she loves going out with them ice fishing. She likes to skate and do the cooking while they are on the ice.
The Souzas — what a wonderful angling family.
Trapper Education Course
This course is being offered in an alternative format known as independent study. In independent study, students are guided by an instructor team and take the same course as students in a traditional course, but will work independently to complete some of the work on their own. This essential homework is only part of the course. Students must also attend two class sessions as well.
A trapper hunter education course is being offered at the Lee Sportsman's Association, 565 Fairview St., Lee on Sept. 19 and 30. The course on the 19th will be from 6-9 p.m., and on the 30th from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. If you are interested in this course and wish to enroll, call 508-389-7830 immediately; students are enrolled first-come, first-served, and enrollment cannot be processed via email. When calling, provide your notification ID: 48700.
If the above course is not suitable, an additional trapper education course is being offered in Hadley on Sept. 20 and Oct. 1. Course listings can be found online at
Early Canada Goose Hunting Season
On Sept. 5, the early Canada goose hunting season opens up and runs until Sept. 22. New this year for the early goose season only, the hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Previously one could only hunt until sunset. The daily bag limit is seven birds per day. All the regulations regarding migratory bird hunting apply, such as the requirement for a HIP number, waterfowl stamps, the use of non-toxic shot (no lead) etc. The new 2017-2018 migratory game bird regulations are available from MassWildlife.
Black Bear Hunting
The first season of black bear hunting opens on Sept. 5 and runs through Sept. 23. A hunting or sporting license and bear permit is required for all seasons. Hunters may use rifles, handguns, muzzleloaders or archery during the first season. The second season runs from Nov. 6 through Nov. 25. During that season, one can hunt with a rifle, muzzleloader or archery only, handguns may not be used. Muzzleloaders and rifles cannot be used on Wildlife Management Areas stocked with pheasant or quail during the pheasant or quail season. A hunter orange hat is required if you hunt on a WMA. The shotgun season runs from Nov. 27 to Dec. 9 and only muzzleloaders, archery and shotgun may be used. Hunters must wear 500 square inches of hunter orange on their head, chest, and back.
No hunting of any bird or animal is allowed on Sundays in Massachusetts.
The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation in Hartsville-New Marlborough is having its last free children's fishing derby of the year on Sept. 9, from 9-10:30 a.m. at its lower pond. Children aged 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.
Questions/comments: Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com. Phone: 413-637-1818
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