Ashfield Lake yields state-record brook trout

Sunday, June 01

Recently, MassWildlife fisheries biologists certified a new state record for a brook trout that was caught this past April 19. Peter Harand of Easthampton caught a 10-pound eastern brook trout from Ashfield Lake in Ashfield.

Deciding to forego yard work for an hour, Harand was fishing with spinning tackle and a spoon when he caught the huge fish. He first brought the big brookie to Dave's Pioneer Sporting Center in Northampton for weighing, and he entered his catch in the Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program. He then brought the fish to MassWildlife's Field Headquarters to have it weighed and certified by the biologists.

To get an idea of how rare and large that brookie was, consider this: the average length is 10-12 inches, but they are occasionally caught measuring up to 21 inches and weighing four to six pounds. Harand's catch breaks the state record set in 1968 by Thomas Laptew, whose fish was caught in the Otis Reservoir and weighed six pounds, four ounces.

With trout like that in our nearby waters, maybe we should forego our yard work, too. I am told that we may experience some guilt for a while, but it passes quickly.

Incidentally, the largest brook trout on record was caught by Dr. William Cook in 1916 in the Nipigon River in Ontario and weighed 14 pounds, five ounces. But official freshwater fish records were not kept until 1895 and I prefer to recognize the "Devil Trout" that Sen. Daniel Webster caught in 1827. Undoubtedly you have seen the Currier & Ives print of that event. It supposedly weighed 14 punds, eight ounces and was caught in the East Connecticut River (later renamed the Carman's River) in Long Island.

I suppose the fish got its name from the events which author Nick Karas describes in his book entitled Brook Trout.

The senator was attending Sunday church services when someone ran in and told him about the fish that was spotted in the hole where the wheel was. Webster rushed out of the church, followed by many of the men. Even the Reverend left the pulpit and continued to deliver his sermon from the aisle, slowly working his way to the rear. After a hasty benediction, he also ran to the pool with the rest of the congregation to watch Webster go after the fish.

  • The last scheduled spring stocking of trout took place last week in the Deerfield River. Fisheries and Wildlife personnel widely scattered the fish using a float stocking system.

    Incidentally, next weekend is Free Fishing Weekend, so licenses are not needed for derbies or for fishing anywhere in the state.

  • The 16th annual Harry A. Bateman Memorial Jimmy Fund Fishing Derby will take place next Saturday at the Frank Controy Pavilion at Onota Lake in Pittsfield from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The derby's purpose is to raise money for the Jimmy Fund's Dana Farber Cancer Institute For Children. All of the proceeds will be donated to the Jimmy Fund in memory of Harry A. Bateman, a former member of Central Berkshire Bowman & I.U.E. Local 255, who was well known throughout Berkshire County and who died from cancer in 1992.

    Fifteen trophies and prizes will be given away to the winners of the fishing derby, including a special category for those carp fishing with a bow and arrow. The carp shoot is part of the derby because that was a sport that Bateman enjoyed.

    All fish must be weighed in by 2 p.m. Fishing tackle is given with the trophy, prizes and two $100 cash prizes for heaviest trout. A sportsman award, which includes a tackle box with more than $100 of tackle, is given out to a child. The fee, which includes food and beverages, is $10 for adults and $5 for children 14 years old and younger. All children receive a free gift and a chance at winning a mountain bike. There will be a silent auction and raffles. For information, contact derby chairman Steve Bateman at (413) 464-5035 or by e-mail at or

  • For South County anglers who can't make it to that derby in Pittsfield next Saturday, the Berkshire Hatchery Foundation Inc. is sponsoring a free fishing derby for youths 12 years of age and under at the Berkshire National Fish Hatchery Lower Pond in New Marlborough. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 11.

    Ninety-two anglers entered the annual Stockbridge Sportsmen's Club's spring fishing derby, which was held May 18. The winners are as follows: Largest trout — Mark White, of Stockbridge, two pounds, 14 ounce brookie; largest pickerel — Jordan Wadsworth, of Lee, two pounds, 14.5 ounces; largest bass — Molly O'Dowd, of North Adams, four pounds, 9 ounces, largemouth bass; largest bullhead — Chris Garrity, of Pittsfield, one poundm five ounces.

    The 12-and-under winners were: Largemouth bass - Nate LaCombe, of Great Barrington, two pounds, nine ounces; Eric Lomaglio, of Lenox, two pounds, seven ounces; Luke Trumps, of South Lee, one pound, 6.5 ounces; Largest trout — Brady Whalen (age 5), of Great Barrington, one pound, 15 ounces; Mike Buffoni, of West Stockbridge, one pounds, two ounces; Brea Wells, of Housatonic, 14 ounces; Largest bullhead — Chris Garrity, of Pittsfield, one pound, five ounces; and Ashley Trumps (age 6), of South Lee, 15 ounces.

    To reach Gene Chague:, (413) 637-1818.


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