Anthony Barone with his fish

Anthony Barone holds his 8-pound carp that was fished out of Onota Lake in Pittsfield.

Well, I’m back home in the Berkshires after a wonderful fly-fishing trip to the Yellowstone National Park (YNP) in Montana/Wyoming and in Idaho. That was followed by a delightful vacation at YNP with my wife Jan. I’ll write about those trips eventually, but while I was away several news releases were issued by MassWildlife which were of some significance:

Fall trout stocking

MassWildlife will stock over 65,000 trout statewide this fall.

Here’s the breakdown: Nearly 28,000 rainbow trout will be over 14 inches long, over 33,000 rainbow trout will be over 12 inches and about 4,000 brown trout will be over nine inches long. The Western District will probably receive about 20 percent of them. MassWildlife feels that these fish, coupled with the 500,000 stocked this past spring, should provide some great fall fishing.

The tentative start date is the last week in September. Many local fly fishers wonder if they will stock the East Branch of the Westfield River this fall. Andrew Madden, DFW Western District Supervisor noted that fall stocking in the Westfield River is determined by water volume in most years. Water levels look good at this point so stocking is likely unless weather patterns change dramatically. So, we should have good fly-fishing conditions in that river as well as the Deerfield River.

Anglers can get daily stocking updates from the MassWildlife website.

New pheasant regulations proposed

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife will hold a public hearing on Sept. 28 at 9:30 a.m. about quail and pheasant hunting regulation changes. The public hearing will be held via a Zoom webinar, and will occur after the Fisheries and Wildlife Board’s monthly meeting.

The proposed regulations include the establishment of a permit for hunting quail and pheasants, elimination of the seasonal bag limit on these birds, removal of the roosters-only restrictions, and the elimination of the hunter registration process for pheasant hunting at Martin Burns Wildlife Management Area in Newbury, Mass. Madden noted that the regulatory proposal only establishes the permit. The prices for all licenses and permits are established through a different process (the one we just went through with the license increases). In the case of the pheasant/quail permit it will cost $4 in 2022, $8 in 2023, $12 in 2024, $16 in 2025, and $20 in 2026.

The meeting can be accessed through the DFW website (mass.gov/service-details/fisheries-and-wildlife-board-public-hearings-on-proposed-regulatory-amendments). Due to filing requirements, the Fisheries and Wildlife Board must vote on the proposed amendments at the closing of the hearing. In turn, there will be no comment period after the hearing. To send in comments before the hearing, email the Assistant to the Director, Susan Sacco, at susan.sacco@mass.gov or by writing to 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581.

Surplus Antlerless Deer Permits

According to MassWildlife there are surplus antlerless deer permits available for sale in the eastern part of our state. For example, in Zone 9 there are 1,410 surplus permits, in Zone 10 there are 9,092, in Zone 11 there are 7,770, in Zone 13 some 2,526 are available and in Zone 14 there are 2,619. So, if you weren’t awarded a permit in one of our local zones, you might want to think about hunting there. In addition to putting some delicious venison on your table, you would be helping to get that deer population out there lowered to desired levels. The sale of surplus antlerless deer permits by Wildlife Management Zone will be staggered over the following days in September: Zone 11: Tuesday, Sept. 28 at 9 a.m.; Zone 10: Wednesday, Sept. 29 at 9 a.m.; Zones 9, 13 and 14: Thursday, Sept. 30 at 9 a.m. Surplus permits are $5 each and are first come, first served until sold out. You may purchase one Zone 11, one Zone 10, and one Zone 9 permit per day; up to four permits per day may be purchased for Zones 13 and 14.

Surplus permits may be purchased online using MassFishHunt or in person at authorized license vendor locations. To purchase a surplus antlerless deer permit online, Log into MassFishHunt with your last name and date of birth and then follow the instructions.

Thanks to Massachusetts firefighters

A hearty thank you and congratulations to the crew of 20 Massachusetts firefighters who assisted with wildfires in the Northern Rockies region. They are now safely back home.

The group headed west on Aug. 14 and returned to the Hopkinton State Forest Headquarters on Sept. 4 after being on the ground for two weeks in western Montana and northern Idaho (about the time my fishing buddies and I were out there). The Massachusetts crew was made up of 14 Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) firefighters, three Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (DFW) firefighters and three municipal firefighters.

The firefighters, who were part of a “Type 2 initial attack hand crew,” engaged in direct fire suppression by working on the perimeter of three large uncontained fires. The team coordinated with heavy equipment and helicopter bucket drops to contain the flames and protect structures.

Jim Montgomery, Commissioner of the Massachusetts DCR, was in Hopkinton to greet the firefighters and thank them for their efforts.

According to the Associated Press, U.S. wildfires have scorched nearly 7,900 square miles (20,460 square kilometers) this year in forests, chaparral and grasslands ravaged by drought. The vast majority are on public lands in the West that also serve as popular spots for summer activities such as camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, rafting and biking.

An Onota Carp that had a discerning palate

Recently, I received an email from Mrs. Alexandra Barone. She and her husband Anthony Barone are new to the Berkshires and here is what she wrote:

“My husband, to our surprise, caught an 8-pound Common Carp last Sunday at around 4:30 p.m. We thought we would take time after work, starting our new ministry, Rejoice, (a children’s center serving severe mentally and physically challenged, adolescent children) in Dalton, (to) breathe and absorb the beauty and silence. We have been vacationing here in the Berkshires for some time, and the hectic lifestyle we were experiencing in the past, had to come to an end, as we aren’t getting any younger, lol…

We like to fish, but had no plans of fishing. It was just a spur of the moment…grab towels, a blanket and of course a fishing pole. We had no bait; although, I had cooked barbecue ribs on the grill the night before, and that just so happened to be our bait. So, I suppose Carp enjoy pork, as funny as it seems.

The fish put up such a fierce fight, that my husband said, ‘I think that I caught the alligator of Onota Lake!’

Fish to us are such a beautiful species, but we love to enjoy its meat and Omega 3s. Being it’s our first big catch of any kind of fish, it had a delicious flavor… a Christmas dinner favorite, dating back to the Medieval times, and enjoyed in the European regions.

My husband learned for the first time how to fillet, (and) as I enjoy cooking, I learned how to prepare this special Common Carp. (It) was ‘divine tasting,’ no fishy flavor, though I prepared it by soaking the fillets in salt water overnight.

What a spectacular catch, Anthony Barone, my Darling. It was not only relaxing but also an extraordinary and exciting day, we had together at Onota Lake!”

Now isn’t that a sweet story?

Thank you for sharing that story with us Alexandra. You couldn’t have picked a better place to relax than on the shores of one of the Berkshires’ most beautiful lakes.

Alexandra is right in noting that Carp is a major dish in European countries. My grandparents, when they came over here from France, loved to dine on carp, but for some reason, that fish meal never became popular with people here in the U.S. They don’t know what they’re missing.

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.