Berkshire Woods and Waters: Kids fishing with little fish sometimes catch lunkers

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Over the Fourth of July weekend, 12-year-old Nina — from Queens, N.Y. — was visiting her grandparents, Dave and Maggie Bimbane, on Ashmere Lake in Hinsdale.

She was netting some small "baby" sunfish along the shoreline with her 10-year-old cousin, Gage. She decided to rig the sunfish onto a fishhook and toss it out near their dock. She saw a nice largemouth bass follow the bait and attack it.

According to grandpa Dave, there was a lot of excitement (screaming and yelling) when they tried to net the bass. It was too big for their net but she was able to land it anyway.

Nina went through the decision of either mounting it as a trophy or cooking it. She finally decided that it had lived all these years and it should be set free, which she did.

Grandpa Dave is really proud of young Nina.

"It was a great choice for a 12-year-old person," he said.

The bass measured 18 inches long and weighed 2.5 pounds. Looks heavier than that, don't you think? I've got a feeling that she will do more visiting and a lot more fishing up at the lake in the future.

It never ceases to amaze me. Most bass fishermen fish with rubber worms, lures, plugs, spinner baits, etc. They probably have hundreds of dollars invested in their equipment. I wonder if they remember their younger days when they would simply hook a small bait to the red and white bobber and cast it out?

Kids sure caught a lot of fish in those days using that method. I don't remember practicing "Catch & Release" back then, because we fished for food.

In addition to the small fish, we would fish with what we called crabs (crayfish), perch bugs (dragonfly nymphs) and any other wiggly pinching critter that we caught along the shorelines and riverbanks.

Basic Hunter Education Courses

All first-time hunters who wish to purchase a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license must complete a Basic Hunter Education course.

One will be taught at the Ashfield Rod & Gun Club, 161 North Street, Plainfield, on Aug. 3 and Aug. 19. The times are 6 to 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 3 and 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 19.

The second course will be taught at the Pittsfield High School, 300 East Street, Pittsfield. The dates are Sept. 5, 7, 12, 14, 19 and 21 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Participants must attend all class dates and times to successfully complete the course. To enroll, call 508-389-7830.

Land Acquisitions

Recently, MassWildlife completed three Western District land projects. All three of them built on existing land holdings and enhanced access for sportsmen while protecting a diversity of habitat.

The first one was the acquisition of 24 acres of land located within the Long Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Otis. Based upon topo maps, it appears to be between Angerman Swamp and Hayden Swamp and to the east of the boundary with Beartown State Forest near the Tyringham town border. There does not appear to be any ready access to it, but the closest road appears to be Stebbens Road in Otis. There is no informational write-up of the property available yet.

The second one was the acquisition of 24 acres of land abutting the Chalet WMA in Lanesborough. It is between the Chalet WMA and the Boulders Wildlife Conservation Easement area with access from Gulf Road. There is limited parking space (two cars) nearby on Gulf Road. The Chalet WMA has over 6,400 acres within its boundaries.

The third one was the acquisition of 66 acres abutting the Ram Hill WMA in Chesterfield. Access to the area is off of Route 143, across from Dead Swamp. Sorry, there is no informational write-up of the property available yet. This increases the acreage of Ram Hill WMA to 244 acres.

Incidentally, much of the information about the WMA's was obtained from MassWildlife's Wildlands Web Viewer where one can find out information about all of the WMA's and other preserved lands.

There are three base maps of the properties: USGS older maps, the newer topographic maps and satellite maps. These maps are currently being updated to give valuable information such as total acreage, access and parking locations, boat launches, etc.

Check them out on http://maps.env.state.ma.us/dfg/masswildlifelands.

Eagle Update

Readers may recall my June 18, 2017 column wherein I noted that it appeared that eagle nests in Pittsfield, Great Barrington, Richmond, Russell and Lenox failed to produce young this year. Things were looking dismal.

Well, there is some good news. This year, they had successful eaglets develop in June in Buckland, Otis and Monterey. MassWildlife banded only two chicks in the Western District and both were in the Monterey nest. Statewide, MassWildlife banded 29 chicks, recorded 57 active nests and had 50 eaglets fledged.

MassWildlife also reported that when an early spring storm destroyed a Bald Eagle nest containing eggs, chances were extremely small that the pair could re-nest. However, one pair of eagles beat the odds this spring by building a new nest and hatching two eggs. This successful second nesting is the first ever recorded in Massachusetts. MassWildife recently visited the nest and banded two chicks.

Questions/comments: 413-637-1818.


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