Gene Chague: It's cold outside, but ice fishing derbies are red hot
It looks like we can finally head out onto the ice and do some ice fishing. Many of us never got a chance to ice fish last year what with the warm winter that we had. You may recall that some derbies had to be cancelled.
Last weekend, I was out fishing on Laurel Lake, and there were 5 or 6 inches of ice then. With the cold weather this past week, we must have put on 3 or 4 more inches of ice since then; so there should be plenty of ice. Nevertheless, I would stay away from any stream inlets or springs and be careful about using any vehicles on the ice just yet.
As listed above, the ice fishing derbies are starting next weekend. There may be more but these are the only ones known as of Jan. 23. Please note that the Josh Snyder Derby on Cheshire Lake will not take place this year. Thanks to Paula at the Onota Boat Livery in Pittsfield for compiling the 2013 schedule of ice fishing derbies and posting them on its web site. Many of the derbies include meals with the entry fees. Simply log onto Onotaboat.com, for more information about them.
Ice fishing is a good time to break out the deer, elk, moose and regular burgers. For some reason, they never taste as good as when they are grilled out on the ice. There's nothing like a burger that is charred black on the outside and raw on the inside, with a lump of frozen ketchup on a burned burger roll. One might even be lucky enough to get a hint of fire starter fluid in the burger. Umm! You just can't get a burger like that at home or in a restaurant.
Incidentally, the following is a list of Western District fish weigh stations: MassWildlife Western District Office, 88 Old Windsor Road, Dalton, (413) 684-1046; Taft's Tackle, 119 Park Street North, Great Barrington, (413) 528-1515; Terranova's Market, 14 South Main Street, Otis, (413) 269-4231; Avid Sports, 1576 West Housatonic Street, Pittsfield, (413) 997-3600 and Onota Boat Livery, 463 Pecks Road, Pittsfield, (413) 442-1724.
Call ahead for days and hours of operation. Remember that, for the Mass. Sportfish Awards Program, you can also get your fish weighed at any business where there is a certified scale, not just the locations above. Fishermen and women who believe they have broken a state record must present their fish in its entirety (whole) to qualified fisheries personnel at MassWildlife Field Headquarters in Westborough or at any of the five MassWildlife District offices.
Remember, if you entered the Onota Boat Livery Derby, you must weigh your fish there to qualify for its prizes. I noticed that there already is a 23-pound, 6-ounce pike, a 5-pound, 11-ounce trout, a 1-pound, 4-ounce perch and a 1-pound, 6-ounce crappie on the board.
Good luck and have a safe and enjoyable season.
Last Saturday, approximately 26 hunters entered the Berkshire Beagle Club's annual bunny hunt and dinner. Three cottontails and four snowshoe hares were checked in at the end of the day. The largest cottontail weighed 2.49 pounds and was checked in by Peter Stodden of Washington. George Baumann of Cheshire checked the heaviest hare, one weighing 3.1 pounds. Richard Churchill of Westfield was the large raffle winner, and many other hunters collected numerous raffle prizes.
The Beagle Club also elected its 2013 officers. They are: President Rodney Hicks of Richmond, VP Lew Hatch of Canaan, N.Y., Treasurer Tim Cahoon of Pittsfield, and the secretarial duties will be shared by others.
The Lee Sportsmen's Association will hold a venison and polenta dinner today at its clubhouse on Fairview Street at 4 p.m. after its turkey shoots. The money raised from this benefit goes toward helping to defray the cost of raising pheasants. These birds are then released onto public lands and can be hunted by any licensed hunter. The cost of the dinner is $12 per person and $6 for kids younger than 12 years old.
To reach Gene Chague:
or (413) 637-1818.