Gene Chague: Ice fishermen should be careful from this point



Even though there was more than 18 inches of ice on our lakes on Wednesday, ice fishermen should be careful from here on.

Ice fishermen love winters like this, as they get in an extra week or two of ice fishing. They will find a way onto the ice, even if they have to lay boards from the shore over the open water to the ice. If you are one of them, be careful. There were times when my friends and I did that in the morning, but got wet feet getting off, due to the thawing during the day.

The Onota Boat Livery 2014 Ice Fishing Contest ended on March 16. Congratulations to the following winners who won $50 prizes:

Largest pike: 22 pounds, 13 ounces, 45 1/2 inches out of Onota Lake, caught by Rich Rando of Cheshire; Largemouth bass: 5 pounds 6 ounces, 22 inches out of Pontoosuc Lake, caught by Austin Dufur of Adams; Smallmouth bass: 3 pounds 1 ounce, 18 inches out of Onota Lake by George Hess of Pittsfield; Perch: 1 pound 10 ounces, 15 inches out of Pontoosuc Lake by Charlene Michon of Shaftsbury, Vt.; Crappie: 1 pound, 8 ounces, 15 inches out of Pontoosuc Lake by Joe Schwartz of Stephentown, N.Y.; Pickerel: 5 pounds 3 ounces, 28 inches out of Stockbridge Bowl, by Joe Chague (my nephew) of Pittsfield; Trout: 5 pounds 8 ounces, 25 inches out of Onota Lake, caught by Roy Harvender of Stephentown, N.Y.

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Say, remember that youngster mentioned in this column a few weeks back who caught all of those large pike? Dylan Crea, who recently turned 13 years old, had caught and released pike weighing 14.2 pounds, 15 pounds, 18.9 pounds and 19.8 pounds. Well, he did it again!

On March 13, he caught a 13.8-pound tiger muskie out of Pontoosuc Lake which was 40 inches long with a 15-inch girth. That in and of itself was a remarkable feat, but consider this: Tiger muskies, which are a cross between a muskellunge and pike, have not been stocked into our waters since 2006. Furthermore, being hybrids, they cannot reproduce.

According to information obtained from Google, their average life span is 8 to 10 years. It is quite possible that we will never see another one caught out of our waters, unless someone catches it again. You see, Dylan released that fish back into Pontoosuc Lake after measuring and weighing it. To see a picture of Dylan holding that fish, log onto, then subcategory "ice fishing."

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This should be my last column dealing with ice fishing this year. It has been a great ice fishing season with a lot of big fish being caught. Seriously, I could have featured a picture of a big fish in every column. Some of the delegates of the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen recently commented on the number of large fish caught in the Berkshires through the ice this season, and they asked Division of Fisheries & Wildlife Western District Manager Andrew Madden why. With tongue in cheek, he quickly responded "good management."

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Keeping with ice fishing, last weekend, Joe Chague had an ice fishing class on Onota Lake for Sacred Heart Church's Pack 20 Cub Scouts. He was assisted by his friend Dan Miraglia. The youngsters were taught how to cut holes through the ice, sound the holes, set up and bait tip-ups, how to jig for fish, etc. The kids made their own jig sticks. Midway through the class, they were provided with cups of hot chocolate.

They had a great time, even though the fish were not biting and it started to rain. Each kid went home with a prize. The Onota Boat Livery donated much of the equipment, such as bait, jigging sticks, sounders, etc. Perhaps we will see them out ice fishing with their parents next year.

Incidentally, DFW's Madden reports that due to the delayed spring thaw, trout stocking will likely begin later this year, around the last week of March or the first week in April in many areas around the state. To find out what water bodies are stocked, click onto the MassWildlife Trout Stocked Waters page. Once stocking has begun, check the stocking schedules which will be updated by Friday of each week.

For you folks who don't use those new-fangled computer gadgets, I will list the stocked waters in this column.

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The Lenox Sportsmen's Club had its club elections a while back, and here are its 2014 officers:

President: Tom Ferguson of Pittsfield; VP: Mark Jester of Pittsfield; Secretary: Brady Kerr of Dalton; and Treasurer: Bernie Abramson of Pittsfield.

The officers for the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited are:

President: Allen Gray of Pittsfield; VP: Ron Wojcik of Windsor; Treasurer: Richard Bordeau of Pittsfield; and Secretary: Marc Hoechstetter of Cummington.

Many thanks for your dedication and hard work.

To reach Gene Chague:,
or (413) 637-1818.


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