Catch-and-release ice fishing may be profitable
Some summer bass anglers, who release all of their fish, cringe every time there is an ice fishing derby. They are concerned that the lakes are being depleted of bass at a time when they are "egging up."
Frequently, when a nice sized bass is caught during a derby, it is kept for weigh-in, and then the angler finds out that someone else caught a larger one and wins the prize. Now he is stuck with a dead fish. Hopefully, he likes to eat bass or knows someone who does. In ice fishing derbies, there could be considerable numbers of bass that needlessly die.
Paul Tawczynski, owner of Taft's Tackle Shop in Great Barrington and the members of the Great Barrington Fish & Game Club have come up with a novel idea for their upcoming ice fishing derby on Feb. 9 at Mercer's Pond.
Anyone who catches a bass weighing 2 pounds or more and brings it live to the derby weighing table wins a $10 gift certificate to Taft's Tackle Shop. Once weighed in, the bass must be released live into a nearby hole which has been cut into the ice. If the bass cannot be released alive, then the deal is off.
This is a win-win situation for all. The angler receives the $10 certificate even though he may not have won the contest; the contest winner who caught the largest bass gets the certificate, the first place prize and bragging rights; and the fish is allowed to live and free to spawn in June and maybe fight a lucky fisherman next summer.
Paul feels that other sportsmen's clubs might want to consider doing the same thing, especially releasing the bass, which are not stocked into our waters by the DFW. He is an avid tournament bass fisherman who led the Housatonic Valley Bass Club into the Bass Club World Champions in Shreveport, La., last summer. Incidentally, his tackle shop is a Mass. Certified Weigh Station and can provide paperwork for anyone wishing to file for a state sport fishing award.
Random Casts: You may recall last week's column's focused on the various ice fishing derbies planned for our area this winter. Please allow me this opportunity to correct a mistake. The information about the Lee Sportsmen's Association and Canaan Conservation Club derbies was incorrectly stated. The LSA derby will take place on Goose Pond and not Queechy Lake and the CCC will take place on Queechy Lake and not Goose Pond.
If you plan to fish in the Deerfield Valley Sportsmen's Club's derby on Harriman Reservoir in Vermont, Feb. 23-24, please beware of the following: To prevent the spread of fish diseases such as Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia into Vermont, fishermen can only use bait purchased from an approved Vermont vendor, accompanied by an official dated & numbered receipt. And it must be used within two days at a pre-designated body of water. (Anglers can also use perch or rainbow smelt they catch, but must be used that day and not transported).
These are part of emergency orders that currently are set to expire on Feb. 19, but the Deerfield Valley Sportsmen Club folks who run the Harriman Derby aren't taking any chances. They have become an approved vendor and will have bait available for sale at the derby. For more info on VHS, go to www.vtfishandwildlife.com/vhs.cfm.
There are other rules that you should also be aware of. As of Jan. 1, 2007, it became illegal to use lead sinkers weighing one-half ounce or less to fish in Vermont. When fishing in Vermont, you must remove and properly dispose of all lead sinkers in your tackle box. Also, I believe that you must have your name and address on your tip-ups.
While we are on the subject of ice fishing, the City of Pittsfield Harbormaster has issued a reminder to ice fishermen who use the city's lakes to please clean up after themselves by disposing of all debris accordingly. He has received numerous complaints from the public regarding this issue. Garbage and other debris left on the ice are likely to end up in the lake when the ice melts.
It is one thing to leave some pieces of hot dogs or rolls on the ice for the gulls and crows; it is quite another thing to leave paper, plastic and aluminum containers. Please, if you tote the stuff in, tote it out.
Fresh Scents: Some 28 hunters participated in the Berkshire Beagle Club rabbit hunt that was conducted on Jan. 12. Sixteen cottontails were bagged along with three snowshoe hares. Bob Jones of Lee bagged the largest cottontail that weighed 6 pounds, 2 ounces. Shaun Santolin of Adams bagged the largest snowshoe, which weighed in at 6 pounds, 13 ounces. After weigh-in, everyone sat down to a delicious spaghetti and meatball dinner.
The next rabbit hunt will be the annual President's Day Rabbit Hunt conducted by the Lenox Sportmen's Club on Monday, Feb. 18. Weigh-in time is 5 p.m., followed by a venison stew meal. The entrance fee is $10. For more information, contact Ron Carr at 442-5122.
The Pittsfield Sportsmen's Club is planning its 23rd annual Heart and Liver Supper Dinner Delight for the evening of Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Luau Hale Restaurant on Lenox Road, Lenox. The tickets for this delicious meal cost $15 for adults and $8 for children under 12. Dinner proceeds will benefit their Land Acquisition Fund. To obtain tickets, call Joe at 443-1925, Barb at 684-2535 or Frank at 443-6003.
To reach Gene Chague: Berkwoodsandwaters@adelphia.net, (413) 637-1818.
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