Housatonic Valley Association's Source to Sound returns after five-year hiatus


Photo Gallery | Housatonic Valley Association's Source to Sound Festival

LEE — Wyatt Markham has hooked fish using live bait but never with a woolly bugger.

Eager to learn fly fishing, the 8-year old Lee youth took the artificial fly and methodically tied it to the fishing line of a fly rod and reel.

The youngster's instructor was impressed.

"Not bad for a first time," said Karen Karlberg from Becket.

Wyatt's successful knot reminded Karlberg of her first attempt at fly fishing 25 years ago.

"A friend of mine took me out to the Farmington River ... and I caught a 21-inch rainbow trout," she recalled.

The fly fishing lesson on a sunny, breezy Sunday afternoon was one of several activities at the Lee Athletic Field calling attention to the recreational and educational opportunities along the Housatonic River.

The two-hour event was the second of nine scheduled stops during the Housatonic Valley Association's Source to Sound paddle trip and riverside celebrations that began on Friday.

Last held in 2011, Source to Sound centers around 110 canoeists or kayakers paddling parts of the 149-mile river over a 10-day period, according to HVA Berkshire Director Dennis Regan. He noted six signed up to paddle from the headwaters in Central Berkshire, arriving at Long Island Sound next Sunday.

Along the way, HVA staff and volunteers will display a variety information about the protecting the river's wildlife inhabitants, such as bald eagles; keeping the river clean and the historical importance of the river flowing through each community in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

"Our goal in the Berkshires is to show what a natural resource we have in our own back yard," Regan said.

The HVA continues to try and stem the tide of negative publicity the Housatonic gets from the decades of PCB pollution by General Electric and efforts to get GE to complete the cleanup of the contaminated river sediment.

With offices in Connecticut, eastern New York, as well as South Lee, HVA is dedicated to preserving the 2,000 squares of the Housatonic's watershed within the tri-state region.

By staging Source to Sound, Regan hopes the attention-getting event shows people that — above the water — the river is as pristine as those virtually untouched in northern Maine.

"If you're out paddling on the Housatonic, there's no distraction, no visible contamination," Regan said.

"You see views you don't normally see from the road or riverbanks," added John Messerschmitt.

Messerschmitt and his partner Dick Noble were in one of the five canoes along with four kayaks that launched from the riverbank at Lee Athletic Field Sunday afternoon for the next leg of the river adventure.

Joe Ruggerio of Southbury, Conn., 20 miles north of Long Island Sound, was on hand as one of the guides, having kayaked the entire river five years ago.

"Up here [in the Berkshires] the river is more shallow, you have beaver dams and it meanders making it more challenging," he said. "Where I'm from the river is wider and we have more motor boats to contend with."

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413 496-6233


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