Gene Chague | Berkshire Woods and Waters: Anglers learn to fly fish through OLLI course
Ten enthusiastic anglers tried out their newly acquired fly-fishing skills at the Wild Acres Pond in Pittsfield on May 10. The group had taken a six-week course entitled 'Getting Hooked on Fly Fishing' which was taught by Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited board members through the OLLI–Berkshire Community College program. Teachers included William Travis, Henry Sweren, John Burns, Ben Woods and Marc Hoechstetter — some of the best fly fishers in the Berkshires.
The course included a video about the joys of fly fishing. Other segments included an introduction to the gear and equipment, macro-invertebrates, fly casting, knots, fly selection and two segments fly fishing on water. The flies were tied by the instructors. L.L.Bean donated three rods, reels and lines and Orvis donated a rod, leaders and tippets.
Bob Bott and his wife Nancy were at Wild Acres. They said that they had always wanted to learn how to fly fish and this was a good way to begin. "You can feel the grace and the movement of the rod," said Nancy. Leigh Merlini said that she was not a sportswoman, but was taking the course because she always wanted to learn how to do it. She commented on how wonderful the instructors were. Chris Kersten recently retired and he took the course because he never had the time to learn to fly fish before. OLLI seemed to be a perfect way to get started. Bob Derosiers became interested in taking a course when Henry Sweren mentioned that Trout United folks were teaching fly fishing to youngsters. Bob wondered if Trout United would teach it through OLLI. There was so much interest that they immediately filled the class. Incidentally, he attended the recent fly fishing film festival at the Wahconah Country Club and won the door prize, a fly rod that Taconic Trout United President Alan Gray had built. Bob caught a smallmouth bass with it at the Wild Cares Pond event, the first fish on a fly rod for him in 50 years.
Michelle Fitzgerald took the course because her late husband was a fly fisherman and left a lot of equipment. She had to decide whether to take up fly fishing or sell the equipment. She had a great time and caught her first fish on a fly rod, a smallmouth bass. Her husband would have been so proud of her.
Mary Ann Hayden signed up for the course because it was something that her sons, who are now grown men, took up and loved.
"I feel like a kid," she said. "It's so fun. I always loved nature and this is just another way to tune in to it.
"[I love] just watching the water and beautiful surroundings."
She also loves being able to fish with a barbless hook so she can release the fish unharmed.
Mark Gross also had a great time. He felt that it was better late than never to take up this sport. He used to fish the Retallic Pond in Richmond with barbless hooks back in the 1970s, but the pond has since silted in.
Lee Abraham had never fly fished before, but rather fished with a spinning rod. He saw the course advertised and felt that this was an opportunity that he couldn't let go by.
Barbara McShane said that fly fishing was something she always wanted to do. She considers herself a "miserable fisherman, not good at all," but is enjoying the sport. She is determined to become a proficient fly fisher.
All of the participants had nothing but praise for the instructors. There were no grumpy old men there that sunny day, but rather enthusiastic fellows who were all smiles. The beaming ladies with their fly rods, vests, sunglasses, and stylish fishing hats looked pretty spiffy.
Onota Fishing Club Derby winners
In spite of strong winds and choppy waters at Onota Lake last Sunday, 75 kids and adults signed up for the derby. That's according to President Ed Blake. Board members Paul Carr and Fred Ostrander ran the event, assisted by fellow members Chuck Leonard, Wobbey Barnes, Chris Cimini, Ray Wesselman, Andy Zurrin, Fred Valentine, Rick Pierce, Paul White and probably others.
Derby winners in the youth category were five-year-old Hunter Proper, who caught a two-pound, four-ounce, 17-inch rainbow trout. It was the largest trout of the day in either the youth or adult category. Second place went to his cousin, six-year-old Anthony Corkins, who caught a two-pound, four-ounce, 16-and-a-half-inch rainbow. Third place went to 12-year-old Emma Kostyun with a one-pound, seven-ounce, 14-and-three-quarter-inch rainbow.
Winners in the adult category were Nick Mancivalano with a two-pound, 16-inch rainbow. Second place went to Ed Kucka with a 1-pound, 12-ounce, 15-and-a-half-inch rainbow and Mark Farrell took third with a one-pound, 10-ounce, 15-and-a-quarter-inch rainbow.
There was plenty of food there and it was excellent, especially Rose's chowder. You never know who you will meet at these fishing derbies. Matt White, the former Boston Red Sox southpaw pitcher, was there. You may remember him on the Red Sox team of 2003.
The following waters were stocked with trout last week: Westfield River in Chester, Chesterfield, Huntington, Middlefield, and Worthington; Deerfield River in Buckland, Clarksburg and Florida; Green River in Williamstown; Housatonic River in Pittsfield (SW Branch); Greenwater Pond; North Pond; Upper Highland Lake; Littleville Reservoir; Pontoosuc Lake; Goose Pond; Laurel Lake; Lake Buel; Big Pond; Otis Reservoir; Onota Lake; Richmond Pond; Stockbridge Bowl and Windsor Pond.
Questions/comments: Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com or call (413) 637-1818.
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