Gene Chague: Looking for fish variety? Give Onota Lake a try

Sunday June 2, 2013


In the most recent issue of Massachusetts Wildlife Magazine, DFW Warm/Cool Water Project Leader Richard Hartley wrote an excellent article entitled "50 Years of Fishing Pins." It is a history of the Mass. Sportfishing Awards Program, wherein "pins" are awarded to anglers who haul in trophy fish.

These pins are awarded for 22 categories of fish species in two age categories (adult and youth). At the end of each year, the angler who caught the largest fish in each category is presented with a gold award pin and a plaque from DFW. The following information comes from Hartley's article:

Of the nearly 3,000 named lakes in the state, Onota Lake holds top honors for having produced pins for the most eligible species (17 out of 22). Pontoosuc Lake didn't do bad either, coming in fourth in the state (numbers not available).

Over the 50 years, nearly 26,000 fish entries have been submitted from more than 4,000 individual anglers. Largemouth bass holds the number one spot with more than 3,100 pins awarded, followed by trout with approximately 2,860 pins; pickerel with 2,600; smallmouth bass with 2,400; and yellow perch with about 2,200.

The top bass water in the state is Samson Pond in Carver with 89 pins; Onota Lake is fifth with 59 pins. Quabbin Reservoir/Swift River has garnered the most pins for trout with 334 of them. Onota is in second with 116.

Seventy-seven percent of the pins were recorded during open water season, followed by ice fishing (tip-up) with 21 percent. Fly fishing and bowfishing comprised the remaining 2 percent. Most of the pin fish (75 percent) were caught on live bait or worms, while lures and plastic baits accounted for 15 percent. Most of the pin fish were caught in May, followed by the month of April and then June.

So there you have it, folks. Some of the best fishing is here in the Berkshires. Grab a rod, a kid or two and "go git ‘em."


Fishing is good for you. At least that's what Dame Juliana Berners wrote in 1496 in her book "Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle." She wrote: "Youre aige maye more flowre and the more lenger to endure." I think that means fish and you will live a longer and happier life.

I love those old fish sayings. Apparently you do too, based upon the positive response I received from listing some in my April 15, 2012, column. Well, here are a few more:

n "The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope." -- John Buchan

n "Only when the last tree has been felled, the last river poisoned and the last fish caught, will man know that he cannot eat money."

-- Cree Indian saying

n "Bragging may not bring happiness, but no man, having caught a large fish, goes home through an alley."

-- Anonymous

n "An angler is a man who spends rainy days sitting around on the muddy banks of rivers doing nothing because his wife won't let him do it at home."

-- Anonymous

n "Nothing makes a fish bigger than almost being caught."

-- Anonymous

This "unknown" character is a busy writer.

n Lastly, one for the ladies: "Give a man a fish and he has food for a day; teach him how to fish and you can get rid of him for the entire weekend."

-- Zenna Schaffer


Congratulations to Taconic High School teacher Ron Wojcik of Windsor for concluding another successful after-school fly fishing class for six Taconic students. Last week, they put their training to good use and fished an undisclosed pond.

Ron thought of everything; not only did he provide pizza, but he also solicited a great mentor, Dr. Herb Rod of Pittsfield, for his one lefthanded young fly fisher. Dr. Rod is one of the best southpaw fly fishermen in the Berkshires. He had young Alex Kent casting his fly better than I could ever do on my best day.

Other participating students were: Adam Delphia, Adam Sperlonga, Michael Boc, Joe Kozlowski and AJ Bowman. In addition to Dr. Rod, and Wojcik other mentors included Trout Unlimited members William Travis, Allen Gray and me.


The following local waters were stocked with trout last week: Konkapot River in Monterey, New Marlborough and Sheffield; and the Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida. This could very well be the last of the spring stockings.


On May 7, I received an email from Dennis Regan of the Housatonic Valley Association, informing me that a Simon's Rock student had discovered didymo in the Green River off of Boice Road in Great Barrington. As of this writing (Thursday morning), no public announcement has been issued confirming the finding; however, I learned that signs are posted there informing the public of its presence.

Didymo (also called "rock snot") is an invasive freshwater algae that can form massive blooms in rivers and streams and potentially disrupt an ecosystem. They look slimy, but feel like wet cotton or wool, and can damage the habitat by choking out bottom-dwellers and removing food organisms for fish and other aquatic species.

They can be unwittingly spread by anglers and outdoor enthusiasts from one waterway to another through contaminated boots, fishing gear and boats.

Anglers and boaters are advised to help prevent its spread by scrubbing dirt and debris from anything that comes into contact with didymo. Equipment can be disinfected with a 5 percent salt solution, or by scrubbing well with dish detergent.

If disinfection is not possible, let equipment dry completely for at least 48 hours (and much longer for felt-soled boots). You may want to consider having two sets of boots in order to move safely from one spot to another.

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


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