Gene Chague: Massachusetts spring trout stocking has begun

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Due to the mild winter and apparent early spring, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife has begun trout stocking. According to DFW Western District Manager Andrew Madden, they stock 25 lakes and ponds and 54 rivers and streams throughout all regions of the District. Madden cautions that stocked waters are subject to change based on water body conditions, staffing, and stocking trucks functioning.

On Friday, March 7, MassWildlife stocked Onota Lake in Pittsfield and Stockbridge Bowl in Stockbridge. The following waters were scheduled to be stocked last week: the Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Laurel Lake in Lee; Lake Garfield and Lake Buel in Monterey; the West Branch of the Farmington River in Otis and Sandisfield; Pontoosuc Lake in Pittsfield; and Richmond Pond in Richmond.

As in past years, I hope to get the trout stocking information to you as soon as possible. Many thanks to Andrew Madden and receptionist Deb Lipa for taking on the extra work of getting that information to me in time to include it in this column. The stocking schedule is also updated on the MassWildlife Web page every Friday by noon.

Spawn in the wild?

Here's a little tidbit of information that I picked up from the MassWildlife Facebook page. The question was asked if there is any success of naturally spawning trout from stocking or does the current infrastructure require annual stocking? The answer received from MassWildlife was, "Our stocking program is meant to provide trout fishing opportunities for anglers — we're not trying to get trout to reproduce."

Young adult turkey hunt

The Massachusetts Young Adult Turkey Hunting Program is a partnership program between MassWildlife, participating sportsmen's clubs, and the Massachusetts State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. The Young Adult Turkey Hunt Day this year will be April 23.

Hunter safety is emphasized in all aspects of the program to help build the confidence of young hunters so they may feel comfortable hunting alone or with others in the field. This program is more than just a day in the field hunting turkey; it is a comprehensive recreational program that includes two parts: a pre-hunt workshop and a one-day mentored hunt.

The Western District participating clubs are East Mountain Sportsmen Club, Cheshire Rod & Gun Club, Lee Sportsmen's Club, Stockbridge Sportsmen's Club, and the Worthington Rod and Gun Club.

Coyote contest

Only 11 coyotes were entered into Dave's Sporting Goods Coyote Contest this year, and the winners were as follows.

Once again, Carl Dolle of North Adams bagged the most coyotes with a tally of seven. Dave Willette of Williamstown got the heaviest one which weighed 47.6 lbs. Samantha Trybus of Lanesborough won the random raffle.

You may be familiar with all of these names. Last year, Dolle bagged the most coyotes with a tally of 22. He also got the largest one last year weighing 46.8 lbs. He bagged the largest coyote in the prior year, one weighing 50 lbs. In the 2013 contest, Carl got the most coyotes with a tally of 24, and in 2012, he bagged the most coyotes with a tally of 16.

Willette, the author of the book "Coyote Wars," has also bagged some 40-plus-pound coyotes in the past.

Trybus was featured in this column on March 23, 2014. You may remember her picture kneeling next to three coyotes that she bagged.

Dave "DJ" Benham, proprietor of Dave's Sporting Goods, commented that coyotes don't get much bigger that what Dolle has been bagging. On average, he said, they have been running between 30 and 37 lbs. Out of about 1,000 coyotes that have been checked in at his store over the years, only two weighed 50 lbs. or more.

Pistol course

The Lee Sportsmen's Association will be conducting a NRA basic pistol course on March 26 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. This is the new blended learning course.

Sign up at nraonlinetraining.org, the NRA's Basic Pistol Shooting page.

In this course, participants will learn the attitude, skills and knowledge necessary to become a responsible gun owner in your home, on your time line.

The cost is $100.00 and LSA members get a discount.

Once you complete the online learning, sign up through the NRA website for its course on the range with instructors. The course includes handling, range live and dry firing, cleaning, opportunities to shoot in different venues, and the current Massachusetts gun laws. Upon successful completion, participants will receive a Massachusetts State Police Certificate for application for a License To Carry. New candidates get a year membership included.

Contact Vicki at 413-770-9007 or lady45white@gmail.com for more information.

Shotgun 101

So you have your FID card. Do you want to learn how to shoot a shotgun?

The Lee Sportsmen's Association will be running a one day course entitled Shotgun 101 for beginners on April 10 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. It will take you from the classroom learning about various types of shotguns, operation and components, to live shooting on their field in trap and skeet. Limited spots are open. The cost is $35 for LSA members and $45 for non-members. Shotgun instructors will be Ken Pixley and John Ballard. To register, call 413-770-9007.

Beware the bears

MassWildlife caution us that black bears are starting to emerge from their winter dens. If you live in an area with bears, it's time to take bird feeders down. Eliminating food is the first step in preventing conflicts with bears and other wildlife. Please remember the old saying which goes "A fed bear is a dead bear."

Nothing good can come from a situation where a bear loses its fear of humans and seeks food in our neighborhoods. To learn how to prevent conflicts with bears, click onto the MassWildlife web page.

Direct questions and comments to berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com or 413-637-1818


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