Gene Chague | Berkshire Woods and Waters: Western Mass. filled with campsites to fish out of

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Recently, MassWildlife listed what it considers the ten top campsites for fishing in Massachusetts. Five of them are right here in the western part of the state. They are beautiful areas right under our noses which we sometimes take for granted. Here's a look at the five area locations, in case you want to go visit one with your rod and reel.

Clarksburg State Park

With over 365 acres of hardwood forest surrounding Mauserts Pond, Clarksburg State Park is a perfect spot for camping, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. Oone can take advantage of 9.5 miles of foot trails surrounding the pond to look for wildlife, like moose or otters. There are 45 well-spaced and wooded campsites located near the pond. A cartop boat ramp is available for launching non-motorized boats. Mauserts Pond is a 49-acre, shallow, man-made pond offering great warmwater fishing opportunities — an ideal location for beginner anglers. Just outside Clarksburg State Park, anglers will find excellent trout fishing opportunities along the North Branch of the Hoosic River, which is stocked with trout annually.

Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) State Forest

Located in Goshen, visitors can enjoy fishing, swimming, and paddling in the Highland Lakes found in the DAR State Forest. Try fishing for trout in Upper Highland Lake, which is stocked with trout annually each spring. Lower Highland Lake is popular with anglers for largemouth bass and yellow perch. There is a paved boat ramp on Lower Highland Lake and an informal ramp on Upper Highland Lake, suitable for launching canoes, cartop boats, and small craft with electric motors. The 50-site campground offered at DAR State Forest is situated on a ridge between Upper Highland Lake and a scenic wetland where moose, bear, and beaver can be spotted. Hikers will enjoy 15 miles of trails with options for all experience levels. Try the Highland Lake Trail or make your way up to the DAR Fire Tower for a great mountain view.

Mohawk Trail State Forest

Mohawk Trail State Forest in Charlemont is one of the most scenic woodland areas in Massachusetts, covering 6,000 acres of mountain ridges, gorges, and woods. Visitors can enjoy camping, fishing, hiking, swimming, canoeing, and kayaking. There are 47 wooded campsites available seasonally, and six log cabins available year-round. In the state forest, enjoy trout fishing on the Deerfield River and Cold River. You may also try trout fishing in the Chickley River or Clesson Brook just outside the state forest.

Tolland State Forest

At the center of Tolland State Forest in Otis sits the 1,065-acre Otis Reservoir, which has a large concrete boat ramp and ample shore access for fishing. Anglers will enjoy catching a variety of fish here, including bass and stocked trout. There are 92 campsites available on a peninsula that juts out onto the Otis Reservoir, providing a unique camping experience for all to enjoy.

Beartown State Forest

This 12,000-acre forest in Monterrey is the perfect place to visit, no matter the season. Swim, fish, or boat in Benedict Pond. A gravel boat ramp is available to launch cartop boats, canoes, and small electric crafts. Shore fishing access is excellent from many areas of the shore for largemouth bass, yellow perch, and golden shiners. Take a walk along the 1.5- mile loop around Benedict Pond and look for wildlife including deer, bobcats, and even bears.

The other five campgrounds on the list are: Lake Dennison Recreation Area in Winchendon, Wells State Park in Sturbridge, Myles Standish State Forest in Carver, Nickerson State Park in Brewster and Harold Parker State Forest in Andover. To find out more about them, click onto https://www.mass.gov/service-details/top-10-campsites-for-fishing-in-massachusetts.

The MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program

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MHMGP provides financial assistance to private and municipal landowners of conserved lands to enhance wildlife habitat, while promoting public access for outdoor recreation. Over the past four years, the MHMGP has awarded over $1.5 million in funding to 28 different organizations and individuals for 63 habitat projects. MassWildlife anticipates the next MHMGP grant application will become available about now, with applications due in the early fall. Application information is available on the MHMGP web page.

The MHMGP encourages landowners to engage in active habitat management on their properties to benefit many types of wildlife, including species of greatest conservation need and game species. Although MassWildlife and other conservation organizations have made unprecedented investments in land acquisition in Massachusetts, land protection alone is not enough to guarantee the persistence of the Commonwealth's diverse wildlife. They feel that investment in habitat restoration and management is urgently needed on public and private lands across the state. To address this need, MassWildlife and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs have substantially increased their investment in habitat management on state wildlife lands and are committed to working with partners to promote these efforts on other conserved lands across the state.

New this year, MassWildlife is offering technical assistance to landowners who are interested in applying to the MHMGP, but the offer ends Monday. If you are interested in speaking to a MassWildlife Habitat Biologist about habitat management on your property or your eligibility for the MHMGP, contact James Burnham at James.Burnham@Mass.gov or call 508-389-6343. MassWildlife anticipates the FY 2020 MHMGP grant application will become available in mid-July, with applications due in the early fall.

Report any fish kills

Summer weather is here, and once again MassWildlife is reminding us that lakes and ponds are warming up, and fish kills may occur. The sight of dead and dying fish along a shoreline can be distressing and can prompt concerns about pollution. However, the vast majority of summer fish kills reported are natural events.

Natural fish kills are generally the result of low oxygen levels, fish diseases, or spawning stress. Depletion of dissolved oxygen is one of the most common causes of natural fish kills. Water holds less dissolved oxygen at higher temperatures; in shallow, weedy ponds oxygen can be especially low as plants consume oxygen at night. Spawning of fish including sunfish and bass in late spring and early summer occurs in shallow waters along the shore. These densely crowded spawning areas can become susceptible to disease outbreaks, especially as water temperatures rise. The result is an unavoidable natural fish kill, usually consisting of only one or two species of fish.

To be sure there isn't a pollution problem, it's always best to report fish kills. When a fish kill report is received, a MassWildlife fisheries biologist determines if the kill is a natural event or the result of pollution. In general, pollution impacts all kinds of aquatic life; therefore, the most important piece of evidence for the biologists is the number and variety of fish associated with the incident. When pollution is suspected, MassWildlife notifies the Department of Environmental Protection, who then conducts a formal investigation of the water and affected fish to determine the source of pollution.

To report a fish kill, contact the Environmental Police Radio Room at 1-800-632-8075.

Basic Hunter Education courses being offered

The Worthington Rod & Gun Club will be conducting a four-day Hunter Education Course at its clubhouse on 458 Dingle Road (Route 112) in Worthington. The sessions will run on Monday, July 29; Tuesday, July 30; Thursday, Aug. 1; and Friday, Aug. 2 from 5:30-9 p.m.

To enroll in the courses, call 508-389-7830. For more information, click onto http://www.mass.gov/service-details/basic-hunter-education-course-offerings.

Last reminder for antlerless deer permit

Deer hunters remember, you must apply for an Antlerless Deer Permit by this Tuesday, July 16, to be eligible for a permit.

Gene Chauge can be reached at berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com or 413-637-1818.


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