Gene Chague | Berkshire Woods and Waters: Welcome back to spring fishing season


That picture of the old man and kid? Well, that is my late Uncle Albert "Bert" Cummings from Glendale, Mass. He was occasionally a model for Norman Rockwell and what you see is a copy of the photograph that Mr. Rockwell worked off of for a picture commissioned by the State of Maine. It appeared on the cover of the Spring 1962 issue of Maine Fish & Wildlife Magazine. Mr. Rockwell was rather talented, wouldn't you say? The youngster is Keith Loveless.

I thought this was an appropriate time to include it in the column, to coincide with the beginning of the spring fishing season.

Spring trout stocking has begun in Western District

Since Thursday, March 28, DFW Western District personnel have been stocking trout into our local waters. Approximately 100,000 trout are expected to be stocked here this spring. Waters stocked to date are: Deerfield River in Florida, Charlemont and Buckland; West Branch of the Farmington River in Sandisfield, Tolland and Otis; Konkapot River in Monterey and New Marlborough; East Branch of Westfield River in Windsor, Cummington and Chesterfield; West Branch of the Westfield River in Becket, Middlefield, Chester and Huntington; Richmond Pond, Stockbridge Bowl, Lake Buel, Laurel Lake and Onota Lake.

All of the trout stocked were nice-sized rainbows.

Today is Acid Rain Collection Sunday

If you know Marc Hoechstetter of West Cummington, Lauren Gaherty of Pittsfield, Richard Green of Monterey, Cindy Delpapa of Becket or Andy Kawczak of North Adams, you might want to thank them for volunteering to get out of bed early this morning and trudging to designated water bodies to collect water samples. One volunteer has to hike nearly a mile uphill to collect a sample out of a reservoir. The samples are then consolidated and transported to laboratories at Westfield State College or the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission for analysis for ph, alkalinity, major cations, anions and stable isotopes.

Similar collections and analyses are conducted by volunteers across the Commonwealth on the same day. It is part of the Acid Rain Monitoring (ARM) Program that was originally established by Dr. Paul Godfrey from UMass 36 years ago. Since that time, dedicated volunteers have been gladly dipping their bottles into the frigid waters doing their part to help in this program.

Their work has not gone unnoticed, for in 2013 (30th anniversary of the ARM project) they all received formal citations from Governor Deval Patrick, "In appreciation of their commitment to ecosystems of the Commonwealth."

Fishing Derby

The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation in Hartsville-New Marlborough is having a free children's fishing derby next Saturday, April 13 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at its lower pond. Children aged 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. These fishing derbies will run once a month through September of this year.

Help our endangered critters

If you haven't filed your State income taxes yet, there is still time to help support the recovery and protection of rare species and their habitats by contributing on Line 33A for Endangered Wildlife Conservation on the Massachusetts state income tax form. All funds go to MassWildlife's Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.

Massachusetts Junior Duck Stamp Contest

Congratulations to Tiffany Xiao, a student of the Apple-Leaf Studio in Boxborough, who won Best of Show in the 2019 Massachusetts Junior Duck Stamp (JDS) Contest. Her acrylic painting of a Barrow's Goldeneye pair was selected from 232 entries. Xiao's award-winning work will move on to the National JDS Contest to be held in Maryland. Good luck, Tiffany!

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Students in kindergarten through 12th grade from across the Commonwealth submitted original works of art depicting waterfowl in appropriate wetland habitat, demonstrating both artistic talent and a knowledge of the value of wetlands for wildlife. In March, MassWildlife hosted an awards ceremony for the top 100 winning artists at Field Headquarters. A combination of the top 100 artworks will be exhibited throughout Massachusetts in the coming year.

The Massachusetts JDS Program is sponsored by MassWildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with support from Massachusetts Sportsmen's Council. You can support the JDS Program and wetland conservation by purchasing Junior Duck Stamps featuring national winners from previous years. A limited number of Junior Duck Stamps are available for purchase at MassWildlife's Westborough Office (cash or check only) or buy online at

Words of Wisdom

On Saturday evening, March 23, I had the distinct pleasure of being awarded the Worcester County League of Sportsmen's Clubs "Words of Wisdom Award" at its Annual Appreciation Banquet at the Wachusett Country Club in West Boylston. That award is presented to a person who is using the media to inform and educate about the contributions made by sportsmen and sportswomen and their clubs.

I was blown away by this honor. I knew that this column had a decent number of readers here in the Berkshires, but was unaware that so many sportsmen in central Mass. knew of, much less read it. I thank the WCLS for considering me for this award. It means an awful lot to me and I shall never forget that evening.

It was also really cool that Mass. Fish & Game Commissioner Ron Amidon presented the plaque to me. You may recall that he was one of our group of eight flyfishermen who traveled up to Labrador in September of 2016 to fish the Minipi River system for large brook trout. (That was before he became a VIP!) To make that evening even more memorable, several of the flyfishermen who made that Labrador trip (and their spouses) were also there that evening. Seated at our table along with my wife Jan were Mike and Clair Shepard of Dalton, Mike and Diane Miller of Athol. Carl Racie of Athol, who had fished with us in Quebec, was also there with Joan Starrett.

I also received citations from the State Senate and the House of Representatives.

Additional recipients that evening who you may recognize were Wayne MacCallum, who was named the WCLS Sportsman of the Year Award. He is the former Director of the Mass. DFW who served in that capacity for over 25 years. Another recipient was former DFW Youth Turkey Hunt Coordinator Astrid Huseby who recently was promoted to DFW Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation (R3) Coordinator. She received the Youth Mentor Award. Other award recipients were State Senator Donald F. Humason, Jr. who received the Legislator of the Year Award for his vigorous work on Beacon Hill supporting sportsmen's causes. Will Rogers, a central Massachusetts, farmer received the Farmer of the Year Award. He was acknowledged for opening his farmland to hunters and fishermen. Rosemary Charon who has devoted countless hours to the WCLS, was inducted into its Hall of Fame.

I was also surprised to see how popular the outdoors sports are there. The WCLS represents over 25,000 sportsmen and women from over 50 clubs in Worcester County. According to Commissioner Amidon, that evening's event drew approximately 275 people, a half dozen State Representatives, three State Senators, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, EOEEA Secretary Matthew Beaton and many other dignitaries.

So, to the Central Massachusetts sportsmen/women and conservation minded readers who I previously did not know read this column, THANK YOU! And thanks for the wonderful work you are doing to conserve our environment and introduce our youth to it.

Incidentally, outdoor sports columnist Mark Blazis of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette wrote an excellent article covering that event in the Outdoors section of the March 26 issue, entitled "State's best sportsmen, women and outdoors advocates duly recognized".

More Thanks

Last month marked my 15th year of writing the Berkshire Woods and Waters column and I also want to take this opportunity to THANK YOU, the local readers and contributors who have provided oodles of information and photographs for this column over the years. THANK YOU to The Berkshire Eagle for providing space for the column and to the sports editors who have cleaned up my messes and made me look good over the years. I also THANK my in-house editor, (my wife Jan) who checks my copy before submitting and who has pretty much kept me out of trouble over the years.

It's been my great pleasure to share our Sunday mornings together.

Questions/comments: Phone: (413) 637-1818


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