Gene Chague | Berkshire Woods and Waters: Great turnout at the Wild Acres youth fishing derby

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There was decent weather for a change at the Wild Acres Fishing Derby, which was held last Saturday, and over 100 anglers took advantage of it. This was the sixth year that the City of Pittsfield Conservation Commission and Lyon Aviation sponsored the event.Representing the City of Pittsfield were Becky Manship, Recreation Activities Coordinator, and Rob Vanderkar, Pittsfield Conservation Agent. Assisting the anglers, cooking the food, and providing other assistance were the Onota Fishing Club President Fred Ostrander and his team of OLC volunteers. Dave's Sporting Store provided the worms and some equipment, Lyon Aviation donated funds for the event and The Berkshire National Fish Hatchery provided the good-sized brook trout for anglers to atch. The City of Pittsfield provided the food, which was expertly cooked up by Al Lucier, proprietor of Ozzie's Steak & Eggs of Hinsdale.

There were a slew of trophies awarded based upon the fish sizes and the age group category of the kids. The results are as follows:

8 and under category: 1st Place — Lola Rodriguez (14 inches, 1 pound, 4 ounces, largest fish of the day), 2nd — Trenton Scales (13.5", 1.1 pounds), 3rd — Wyatt Underhill (13.5", 1 pound). The following kids in that age category also received trophies: Easton Tatro, Bryer Farrell, Kaylee Prew, Aiden Brewts, Tarey McDurby, Jace Coco, Griffen Sobolewski, Ryker Farrell, Cora Dicroche, Carmelo Coco, Kaiden Kalinowski, Elise Sobolewski and Declan Gallant.

9 to 11 category: 1st Place — Austin Sayers (12.75", 10 ounces), 2nd — Rebecca Stimpson (12.75", .8 ounces), 3rd — Bella Munson (12.5", 1 pound). Other trophy recipients: Selena Rodriguez, Noah Wesley and Tyrus Ospellino.

12 to 14 category: 1st Place — Jimmy Spaniol (14", 1 pound, one ounce), 2nd — Tyler Gaudette (12.5", .7 ounces) and 3rd — Brett Healey (11.5", .5 ounces).

The kids had a great time. Look at that little girl proudly showing off her fish. A nice sized brook trout in one hand and a lollypop in the other. It doesn't get any better than that!

Our hats off to Lyon Aviation, the City of Pittsfield and the Onota Fishing Club for providing the kids with a such wonderful day.

Trout stocking

The following local waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week.

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Rivers and brooks: Beartown Brook in Lee; Chickley River in Charlemont and Hawley; Clesson Brook in Ashfield and Buckland; Cold River in Florida and Charlemont; Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Green River (south) in Alford, Egremont and Great Barrington; Hoosic River (north branch) in Clarksburg and North Adams; Hoosic River (south branch) in Adams and Cheshire; Hop Brook in Lee and Tyringham; Housatonic River (southwest branch) in Pittsfield; Hudson Brook in Clarksburg and North Adams; Sackett Brook in Dalton and Pittsfield; Walker Brook in Becket and Chester; West Brook in Great Barrington and Lee; Westfield Brook in Windsor and Cummington; Westfield River (east branch) in Cummington, Chesterfield and Huntington; Williams River in West Stockbridge and Great Barrington; and Yokun Brook in Lenox.

Ponds: Big Pond in Otis and Richmond Pond.

Deerfield River trout study

In 2018, MassWildlife and Trout Unlimited launched a project to study brown trout in the upper Deerfield River (Fife Brook Dam downstream to Charlemont). If you fish in this section of the river, you can contribute to the study by completing an online form at during or after each fishing trip you take. Since 2018, and for the duration of the study, the adipose fins of all hatchery brown trout stocked in the upper Deerfield River will be removed. During this spring, a number of brown trout already in the upper Deerfield River will be captured and marked with individually-numbered external tags.

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You are asked to fill out the form every time you fish in this section of the Deerfield River. Data collected from completed forms will show the ratio of wild-to-stocked brown trout being caught, the number of tagged fish being caught, the general locations that brown trout are being caught, and the effort expended by anglers in this section of the river.

The adipose fin is a small fatty fin on the dorsal surface (back) of the trout between the tail and the dorsal fin. Research has shown that the removal of this fin is the least intrusive, detrimental, or painful compared to all other fins on the body. Fin clipping is performed by trained biologists, who then stock the fish in their usual locations in the upper Deerfield. Eventually, all hatchery fish in this section will be marked with a fin clip. Anglers should note that for the next few years, there may be holdover hatchery browns in the system that have not been marked.

This project took shape through a collaborative process involving MassWildlife and Trout Unlimited (in particular, the Deerfield River and Greater Boston Chapters and the Massachusetts-Rhode Island Council), and included input and assistance from a number of other interested parties and individuals from UMass, U.S. Geological Survey, local Deerfield River fishing guides, and local watershed groups. The study will yield data on important population metrics including abundance, mortality, and growth rates of individual fish. MassWildlife will use this information to more effectively manage the upper Deerfield River brown trout fishery.

Free fishing days

Did you know that you can fish in Massachusetts and neighboring states for free without having to purchase a fishing license? In Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the free fishing day is Saturday, June 1. In Vermont, it is Saturday, June 8. In New York, you can fish free on the weekend of June 29-30. The free fishing weekend in Maine is June 1-2. In Connecticut, there are two days, July 6 and August 31. Sorry, Rhode Island's free days already went by. They were May 4-5.

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Residents and nonresidents may fish without a license. All legal fishing methods and limits apply.

Wild and Scenic Westfield River Free Workshops

Next weekend, there will be two free workshops conducted by the Wild and Scenic Westfield River group. On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 there will be a workshop entitled "Insect Tracking" with naturalist Charley Eiseman. You are invited to join them in Chesterfield as they track and admire the tiny critters that live in the forest. What is a leaf miner and what is making their exquisite eggs?

Then on the next day, May 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 there will be a workshop on Center Pond in Becket entitled "Lets Pull Together" Center Pond Weed Project & Action Sports Free Hand and Foot pulling training for land owners and community members. At this workshop you will learn to identify and remove invasive plants, and be part of the solution.

For questions and to register, contact Meredyth Babcock at 413-623-2070 or email

Old Mill Trail Interpretive Hike

On Wednesday, from 3:30-6:30 p.m., the Housatonic Valley Association and Berkshire Natural Resources Council will be conducting a hike along the Old Mill Trail, located in Hinsdale and Dalton. You are encouraged to explore the mill history of the area through augmented reality and learn about the natural history of the area.

It is free and open to the public. Meet at the trailhead on Old Dalton Road in Hinsdale. For more information, contact HVA at 413-298-7024.

Gene Chague can be reached at or 413-637-1818.


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