Gene Chague | Berkshire Woods and Waters: Half-million trout to be stocked across state

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Close to 500,000 brook, brown, rainbow and tiger trout will be stocked this spring from MassWildlife's five hatcheries located in Sandwich, Palmer, Belchertown, Sunderland and Montague. According to DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden, about 100,000 trout will be stocked in our area. These fish, coupled with the more than 65,000 fish stocked last fall, should provide some excellent fishing in the coming months.

Stocking was scheduled to begin in the southeastern area of the state during the first full week of March, with the Western District stocking taking place any time now subject to weather and water conditions. Anglers can get daily stocking updates at

www.mass.gov/trout, or by contacting local district offices for the latest stocking information.

Here are some facts and statistics about the stockings: Most of the trout will be over 12 inches; more than 40 percent of the trout will be over 14 inches; more than 51,000 brook trout will be over 12 inches; more than 45,000 brown trout will be over 12 inches; more than 200,000 rainbow trout will be over 14 inches; more than 1,200 brown trout will be over 18 inches; more than 500 brook trout will be over 15 inches; and more than 2,500 tiger trout will be over 14 inches.

Madden noted that the DFW puts a lot emphasis in stocking big fish as opposed to stocking smaller fish to grow.

New Trout and Salmon Stamp in Connecticut

There are a considerable number of area anglers who fly fish in the Housatonic and Farmington Rivers in Connecticut. Please be aware that they will now require a Trout and Salmon Stamp. State officials say that all of the money invested in this stamp is guaranteed to go to support fisheries programs.

Anyone age 16 or older, including everyone who is 65 or older, who chooses to do one or both of the following must purchase a stamp — fish in one of the following areas: Trout Park, Trout Management Area, Wild Trout Management Area or a Broodstock Atlantic Salmon Area; and harvest (keep) trout, kokanee salmon or Atlantic salmon anywhere in the state (except for places not stocked by the state).

The fee is $5 for age 18-plus and $3 for those 16-17. The stamp is good for the calendar year. The stamp will print on your fishing license as an additional privilege.

The stamp requirement will be effective once published on the eRegulations system by the Secretary of State's Office.

Incidentally, opening day of trout season in Connecticut is April 14.

Big Brown Trout caught out of Stockbridge Bowl

On Jan. 27, Linda and Andrew (Andy) Stephenson of Lenox were ice fishing on Stockbridge Bowl. Fishing for yellow perch, they were using small bait and small hooks. While Andy was making some coffee, Linda's tip-up flag went up. She set the hook on the fish and began pulling it in. At first, it didn't appear to be that big of a fish, but when it got near the hole, Linda caught sight of it and excitedly shouted that she had a really big fish.

Andy saw she was fighting a pretty good fish, so he hustled to grab a gaff and ran over to help her. Before he could get to her with the gaff, Linda realized she had to do something immediately or lose the fish. She pulled the fish partially out of the hole and, with her bare hand, scooped it out. When she got the fish on the ice, they discovered that it was a large brown trout. The small hook was half straightened out, so Linda would surely have lost that fish if she hadn't done some quick thinking and taken immediate action.

The brown trout weighed 6.9 pounds on their unofficial scale and was 28 inches long. They were unfamiliar with how to qualify the fish for a state pin and didn't get it properly weighed on certified scales or measured. If they had, it would have easily qualified for a pin, perhaps the gold pin. Oh, well, they took it home to eat. Some of it was cooked, but it was not as tasty as the perch, so they brined and smoked the rest.

They are going to get a reproduction mount of the fish to hang on a wall.

Linda is no stranger to hauling in large fish. In 2007, while she and Andy were on their honeymoon, she caught a 49-inch, 42-pound king salmon on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. Andy said that he is pretty used to being out-fished by Linda, for she always seems to end up with the best catch of the day.

Young Adult Turkey Hunting Program

If you are thinking about enrolling a youngster into the Massachusetts Young Adult Turkey Hunting Program, you had better get a move on it. To participate, young hunters must be ages 12 to 17, must have completed Basic Hunter Education before the day of the hunt and must have completed the Youth Turkey Class.

Participants who are at least 15 years old who wish to use a shotgun must have a Firearms Identification Card.

The hunting program is a two-part workshop. It teaches young adults proper hunter safety and techniques. Hunters will get to hunt wild turkey under supervision of an experienced adult hunter. MassWildlife, the Massachusetts State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and participating Sportsmen's Clubs run the program.

This workshop is a dress rehearsal for the actual turkey hunt. This year, the hunt occurs April 28.

The youth turkey permit for youths ages 12 to 14 is good not only for the youth day, but also for the regular spring season.

You do not need to be a member of a club to participate in the seminar and hunt.

Hunting mentors are adults with a current state hunting license and a turkey permit for the current year. Parents/guardians are encouraged to take part in the hunt if they can. Legal guardians can involve themselves as much as possible, even if that means sitting in during the workshop.

Young adults who took part in a pre-hunt workshop in a previous year do not have to attend it again. They can take part in only the hunt. In this case, young adults must mail MassWildlife Field Headquarters to get their turkey permit for the current year.

Local participating clubs are: Lee Sportsmen's Association, Stockbridge Sportsmen's Club, Cheshire Rod & Gun Club, the East Mountain Sportsmen's Club and the Worthington Rod & Gun Club.

For more information about the program, click onto: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/young-adult-turkey-hunt-program.

Firearms Safety Course

Avid Sports at 1201 W. Housatonic St. in Pittsfield will be holding its next Firearms Safety Course on March 20 at 5 p.m. This course allows you to apply for a pistol permit or F.I.D. card. Call 413-997-3600 or message them for more details.

Bowhunting Education Course

There will be a bowhunting education course at the Singletary Rod and Gun Club, 300 Sutton Ave. in Oxford, on April 28, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For directions, click onto http://www.singletaryrodandgun.com/directions.html. If you are interested in this course and wish to enroll, call 508-389-7830 immediately.

Youth Sportsmen's Gala Event

The Lee Sportsmen's Association and Ducks Unlimited will be having its fourth Berkshires Youth Sportsmen's Gala at the Country Club of Pittsfield on April 7, from 6 to 10 p.m. Doors open at 4. There will be a general raffle, silent and live auctions, food, music and fun. Tickets cost $100, and there are various sponsor packages.

For more information, contact Virginia Dubois at 413-446-5404.

Correction


Readers might have been confused with last week's column regarding who caught that 30.8-pound northern pike out of Lake Buel. The column headline listed (Matt) Ranzoni as having caught it, but it was actually caught by Mike Scarpa of Lee. Matt helped by grabbing the big fish by its gills and pulling it out of the hole, but Mike Scarpa actually hooked and fought that fish and brought it to the hole. The photo was provided by Matt Ranzoni.

Sorry about that, Mike.

As a consolation, you can add a couple of more pounds to that fish's weight — nobody will object!

Gene Chague can be reached at berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com or 413-637-1818.


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