Berkshire Woods and Waters: Record turnout for Jimmy Fund Derby


On Saturday, June 3, the 25th Annual Harry A. Bateman Memorial Fishing Derby on Onota Lake took place.

The Berkshire Eagle Reporter Derek Gentile did an excellent job of reporting the event with a picture and a listing of the winners (June 10, 2017, The Berkshire Eagle, "Fishing derby lures hundreds.")

There is no need to repeat that information here, but I would like to mention or re-emphasize a few interesting tidbits.

According to Derby Organizer Stephen Bateman, "Despite the weather and the fact that the lake was treated for weeds, we had a record turn-out of 286 fisherman and about another 30+ people who attended."

It was a very positive and upbeat event, with lots of fish weighed in, lots of prizes doled out and lots of good food.

Brendan Monahan, Development Officer for Event Fundraising at Dana Farber Cancer Institution in Boston, attended the event and presented awards to Steve and many of the derby staff. In his speech, Monahan noted that over the 25 years of the derbies, $42,000 had been raised for the Jimmy Fund. Well, as a result of this successful derby, another $6,000 was added.

I must admit, however, that at times my thoughts were somewhere else. I couldn't help but think about the herbicides, with their harmful ingredients, that were applied just two days prior to this popular derby to raise funds for cancer research. Really?

Another derby that took place on June 3 was the annual Youth Outreach Fishing Derby on Reynolds Pond in Cheshire. This year, Deacon Robert Sams brought 13 kids from the First Baptist Church in Pittsfield and Alex Doherty brought 10 kids from the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition.

Most of the kids, ages 6 to 14 years old, had never fished before. The look of glee on the face of the featured young lad is an indication of the wonderful, memorable day that was had. Every kid caught some nicely-sized brook trout.

It was all made possible by the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen. It provided the mentors, equipment, bait, lots of brook trout and tasty food. It also provided fish cleaning service and afterwards, sent the kids home with new fishing outfits and bags of fish for tasty meals.

This year's volunteers comprised of members from the Lenox Sportsmen's Club, Pittsfield Sportsmen's Club, Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Cheshire Rod & Gun Club, Adams Outdoor for Youth, East Mountain Sportsmen's Club, Greylock Bass Club, Ashfield Rod & Gun Club and the Berkshire Beagle Club. A couple of guys from the Berkshire Lodge of Masons did the cooking. I'll bet these volunteers had just as much fun as the kids.

So why so late in reporting these derbies? I was away flyfishing the AuSable River near Lake Placid, N.Y. for a few days with Paul Knauth of Hinsdale and Allen Gray of Pittsfield.

It rained most of the time and the river was running high. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable trip with all of us catching trout. I have been fishing that river annually for over 30 years but never saw a brown trout caught the size that Paul landed this year. It was a 22-inch fish which was lightly hooked in the lip. It zoomed away in a flash when Paul released it.

Basic Hunter Education Course

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 Worthington Rod & Gun Club, 458 Dingle Road Rte. 112 in Worthington on the following dates: July 24, 25, 27 and 28 from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

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

License to Carry Courses

The Lenox Sportsmen's Club will be holding LTC and "Utah" Firearm Permit courses on Saturday, June 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The LTC course costs $70, the Utah course costs $120, or $150 for both. Preregistration required.

Contact Tom Nadolny at 413-822-6451 or

Wild Turkey Surveys

MassWildlife conducts the Annual Turkey Brood Survey from June 1 through Aug. 31 each year to estimate the number of turkeys.

The survey helps its biologists determine productivity and compare long-term reproductive success while providing an estimate of fall harvest potential. Turkey nesting success can vary annually in response to weather conditions, predator populations and habitat characteristics.

Citizen involvement in this survey is a cost-effective means of gathering useful data. It's not too late to participate.

MassWildlife advises us to be sure to look carefully when counting turkey broods, the very small poults may be difficult to see in tall grass or brush.

New this year, observations can now be reported online. Simply fill in all the information and click submit and your turkey observations will be logged by MassWildlife.

You can still download and print a Turkey Brood Survey form to complete over the course of the summer. Completed forms should to be mailed after Aug. 31st to: Brood Survey, MassWildlife Field Headquarters, 1 Rabbit Hill Rd., Westborough, MA 01581.

If you've submitted your observations online, do not mail in duplicate observations.

Bald Eagles

Staying with big birds, MassWildlife Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden recently reported to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen that it looks like another difficult year for Western District birds.

It appears that nests in Pittsfield, Great Barrington, Richmond, Russell and Lenox all failed to produce young. A combination of adult bird mortality, severe weather and other unknown variables are likely to blame.

Western District Staff will be checking nests to see if they can find clues as to what happened.

Questions/comments: 413-637-1818.


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