Gene Chague: Near-record bullhead caught by local 6-year-old
On Wednesday, Feb. 20, Nathan Luczynski, 6, of Cheshire, was ice fishing on Cheshire Lake with his father Tim.
It was a cold and windy day and around 10 a.m., a tip-up flag went up. Tim was 80-90 yards away from it and Nathan responded to the flag.
Tim watched his young son pulling and pulling line for what seemed like 4 or 5 minutes. He pulled in approximately 60 or 70 yards of line before he finally pulled the fish out of the hole. At first, Tim was hoping that it was a big bass. You can imagine his surprise when he discovered it was either a big bullhead or catfish.
They brought the fish to the DFW Regional Headquarters in Dalton, and two biologists confirmed that it was a brown bullhead. It measured 23.2 inches long, with a girth of 14.7 inches and weighed 6 pounds, 1 ounce. That fish weighed only 3 ounces shy of the Massachusetts state record.
To get an idea as to the rarity of catching a fish this size, an adult fisherman qualifies for a State bronze pin if a bullhead exceeds 2 pounds. In the youth category, the bullhead only has to be 1 pound to get a pin.
I think Nathan and his family might travel to the New England Fishing and Outdoor Expo at the DCU Center in Worcester next February to pick up a gold pin and trophy for that fish. It is doubtful that a larger bullhead will be caught for some time.
Incidentally, the state record brown bullhead, which weighed 6 pounds, 4 ounces, came out of Forest Lake in Methuen in 2008 and was caught by Roger Aziz Jr. of Methuen.
Tim said that if the fish turned out to be a catfish, he was not going to mount it because they grow to good size. But seeing that it was a potential award winner and very nearly a state record, he is having it mounted by Countryside Taxidermy in Cheshire. He said that he purchased his shiners from JCB Live Bait also in Cheshire.
According to Lenox Sportsmen's Club Vice President Mark Jester, the 29th annual club rabbit hunt was "tough going" this year.
Even though there was plenty of snow cover, it was a very hard crust with temperatures in the single digits early in the day and never getting above freezing. There was only one cottontail weighed in and that was by 12-year-old club member Nick Puntin of Becket, and it weighed 3 pounds. Nick hunted with his father Chris and grandfather Bill.
Seventeen brave hunters participated that day. One hunter fell through some ice up to his waist crossing a swampy area and called it quits early. However, he did make it to the club later for a venison goulash dinner.
The Stockbridge Sportsmen's Club (SSC) is holding a game dinner this Saturday. Social hour is from 6-7 p.m. with dinner at 7. The cost is $20 for adults and $10 for kids 10 years old and under. For more information, contact Marc Fadding at (413) 441-4249.
The SSC is a very active club which is rapidly approaching 400 members. Its youth archery program is well underway and there are currently 76 kids signed up, ranging from 4-15 years old.
Staying with the subject of young hunters, archers and anglers, did you pick up on the fact that both Nathan Luczynski and Nick Putin shared their experiences with their dads? I don't know about you, but I get a warm and fuzzy feeling about that. And if the parents can't get these kids out, it is nice to know that the local sportsmen's clubs are picking up the slack with archery programs, youth rifle leagues, fishing derbies, etc. If for no other reason, I encourage you to join and/or support them.
Coyote and bobcat hunting seasons end this Thursday. The cottontail and snowshoe rabbit seasons ended last Thursday. It is time to clean the gun and safely lock it away. If you are not an ice fisherman, now is a good time to get out the fly tying kit and tie a few flies for the spring trout fishing season which is about a month away.
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