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Labrador guide Edwin Dominery holds a large brook trout caught by Kevin Geroux.

Recently, flyfishing friend Gary Hebert, from Richmond, New Hampshire, sent me a photo of a large brook trout (Speckled trout, as they are called in Labrador, Canada) that was recently caught in a river in the area of Igloo Lake in Labrador by Kevin Geroux.

He was fishing with Edwin Dominery, a guide out of Igloo Lodge. Estimated to weigh over 14 pounds, it was immediately released unharmed. The fish was not officially weighed because there was no certified scale available at the time. Igloo Lodge prides itself on ensuring good fish handling, allowing all fish to be released unharmed. This means that they must be quickly released, with minimal handling, with use of barbless hooks, and flyfishing only.

So how did they estimate the weight of that fish? Well, there is a special dimension formula that is accurate in determining the weight of a fish. The dimensions of that fish (length, girth, etc.) have been sent to Newfoundland fish biologists to do the official calculations. They are not yet sure if it will be official but the calculations have this fish at 14-plus pounds, and measuring 25 1/4 inches long with a 22-inch girth.

Why the big deal about this fish? Well, the official world record for brook trout is 14 1/2 pounds, and measured 31 1/2 inches long. It was caught out of the Nipigon River in Northern Ontario's Superior Country Region back in 1915. To this day, that record still holds. If Geroux’s brookie doesn’t break the world record, it may have a good chance at breaking the Labrador record.

Igloo Lodge owner, Craig Gillingham said that they are still in the process of evaluating this “monster brookie” and will get back to me with the particulars as soon as known.

According to Gary, it was caught and released a week or so before they arrived at Igloo Lodge.

Gary spent the last week of the season fishing with several friends including Carl Racie of Athol and his son Tim Racie of Groton, Mike Miller of Athol and his grandson, Brandon Jones of Leominster and Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Ron Amidon of Templeton. Local angler attorney Mike Shepard and I had fished with them in Labrador a few years back and we stayed in touch over the years. We were supposed to join them on last year’s trip, but due to the closing of the Canadian border, we weren’t able to go. After the border finally opened, this year’s scheduled trip was pushed back to the last week of the season. The other guys could make it, but Mike and I couldn’t as we were already committed to fish in Yellowstone National Park, Montana and Idaho.

Gary said that they had the whole place to themselves. The guides were great as usual and the facilities and meals were top notch. They had a great week fishing which was exclusively in the river due to low water conditions in the lakes and ponds. As noted from the water color in the photo, the river was dark green with virtually no visibility, caused by an algae condition. That made for very treacherous wading conditions — Gary fell three times and broke two rods. He wasn’t sure how the fish could see their flies, but they did catch and release dozens of 5-to 9-pound brookies. Mike Miller netted a 10-pounder (which is very close to the Labrador record). Commissioner Amidon sent us several pictures of giant brookies that he caught in their full spawning regalia.

The weather was cold and rainy with some snow. They had planned to do some fly outs to other areas for Artic Char and/or Atlantic Salmon but the (spawning) runs were three weeks earlier than normal, so that combined with bad flying conditions prevented them from those side trips. All in all, they had a great trip despite the hassle getting their COVID-19 tests and beating the clock to cross the border.

Incidentally, local anglers Rex Channel and Trish Watson of Pittsfield were up there in early September and they also had phenomenal luck. Rex sent me a picture of him netting a 9-pound brookie.

Next year, Mike Shepard and Craig Smith of Dalton and I will be heading up there to try our luck at catching one of those behemoths, assuming, of course, that the pandemic is under control and the border remains open.

Early Bear Hunting Season Results

In his most recent report to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden reported that the 2021 early bear season produced a much lower harvest than the previous year. Some 112 bears were taken this September as compared to 236 in September last year. He cited several factors which probably contributed to the lower harvest including high natural food abundance and poor hunting conditions.

The second bear hunting season starts Monday and runs through Nov. 20. Only rifle, muzzleloader and archery hunting implements are allowed during that season. Only archery equipment may be used on Wildlife Management Areas stocked with pheasants.

License to Carry Course

Pete’s Gun Shop of Adams is holding a one-day Live Fire NRA and Massachusetts State Police Certified LTC Safety Course on Saturday, Nov. 13. It will be held at the Cheshire Rod and Gun Club starting at 8:30 a.m. The course consists of classroom instruction followed by live firing.

This is to qualify Massachusetts residents and non-residents alike for the Mass. LTC or FID Card. It will be a hands-on, live fire course. You will be given a $10 gift certificate to Pete's Gun Shop in appreciation for taking the course. The cost is $100 and covers use of their range, firearms, ammo, safety gear, class materials, certificates and the NRA Safety Textbook. Interested parties are asked to pre-register by calling or stopping in at Pete's Gun Shop at 413-743-0780, as space is limited. A non-refundable deposit is required to reserve your seat at the time of registration. They do accept credit cards in person or by phone. This live fire course fills up very quickly so call or stop in early to pre-register.

Will your semi-auto shotgun now become illegal?

Last week I received a disturbing special announcement from the Lee Sportsmen’s Association which stated the following: “It appears that legal responsible firearms ownership is threatened by poorly thought out, overly broad, and likely unconstitutional bills. While all are currently still in committee, it is incumbent on responsible firearms owners to act to protect our sport and defend our constitutional rights within the Commonwealth.”

There were several proposed bills, but what they were mainly concerned about was a proposed bill (H.4038) An Act Banning Semi-Automatic Weapons which was referred to the Mass. Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security on July 29, 2021. If passed, it will expand the current assault weapons ban to cover all semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. The Bill amends MGL to replace the term “assault weapon” with “rifles and shotguns containing semi-automatic mechanism” while also removing all exemptions under the assault weapons ban. Significantly, assault weapons ban grandfathering date of Sept. 13, 1994 is left unchanged, meaning that every semi-automatic rifle or shotgun sold in the Commonwealth since the assault weapons ban went into effect will be affected. No provisions are made for the registration or disposition of currently owned, affected semi-automatic rifles or shotguns.

So, if I understand this bill correctly, if you bought a Charles Daly 3-shot semi-automatic duck hunting shotgun or a Browning 5-shot semi-automatic deer hunting shotgun 25 years ago, they would now be considered assault weapons? Really? C’mon!

There is a Firearms Policy Coalition which has a link to send a message to the State House opposing this Bill: https://oneclickpolitics.global.ssl.fastly.net/messages/edit?promo_id=13721.

In addition to that, may I suggest that you contact your state legislators and ask them to oppose this proposed bill. Also, you may want to ask them to talk to their fellow legislators on Beacon Hill and explain to them that hunting is still a way of life for many out here in the Berkshires and that misconstruing a semi-automatic hunting shotgun as an assault weapon would negatively affect many hunters.

Gene Chague can be reached at berkwoodsandwaters@gmail.com or 413-637-1818.

Gene Chague is a longtime sportsman and editor of The Eagle's Berkshire Woods and Waters outdoors column.