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Benches Installed at Bridge of Flowers

DRWTU Bench
Two views of the DRWTU bench at the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls.

On Friday the 25th of June, 2021, we unveiled the three Trout Unlimited benches at the Buckland-Side entrance to the Bridge of Flowers. The cut and polished Ashfield Stone for the benches was donated by Johanna Anderson in honor of her father, Ken Anderson, who was an avid fly fisher and served as president of the Boston Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Installation of the benches was supported by Joe Rae of J.S Rae. The engraving was done by Negus and Taylor of Greenfield. The main bench displays the Trout Unlimited logo. The long front edge is engraved with ‘Deerfield River Watershed Chapter of Trout Unlimited’. Our Motto, Conserving and Protecting Area Cold Water Resources, is engraved on the top. There is also a QR code on the edge of the bench that directs smart devices to this website. Two smaller benches, each with a beautiful matching streak of quartz, face each other nearby in the little plaza next to the West County Pub. On hand at the unveiling were members of the Bridge of Flowers Committee, and many of the DRWTU Board members – Kevin Kaminski, Jim Krupa, Randy Prostak, Jason Hooper, Secretary Sheila Kelliher, and President Mike Vito. DRWTU Vice President Eric Halloran, who is a resident of Shelburne Falls, opened the ceremony. President Ex-Officio Kevin Parsons, who played a major role in coordinating the effort and who has a business office in Shelburne Falls, spoke briefly in appreciation of all the collaborators on this project. Be sure to check it out next time you visit Shelburne Falls.

Tim Flagler to Present at June 2021 Meeting

Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions.

Our next Chapter meeting will be held Thursday June 17, 2021 at 6:30 PM over Zoom. We’ll have updates on the Brown Trout Telemetry Study and the Rice Brook Project. After a brief business meeting Tim Flagler will present “What Trout Like to Eat and Flies to Feed Them”. This presentation will include amazing underwater video of acquatic insects, bait fish and crustaceans. Tim Flagler has been fly fishing and tying for over 30 years. He founded Tightline Productions in 1998, a video production company that specializes in promotional and instructional video. Tim is known worldwide for his tying videos. If you have not seen him there, you probably have caught him tying-off with Tom Rosenbauer, or on TU’s national site. Want to join us and not a member or otherwise on our mailing list? Please email Eric Halloran, fishtalefabricators@gmail.com to acquire the zoom link.

Spirit of TU : Kevin Kaminski

Kevin Kaminski preps for a Telemetry run.
Kevin Kaminsky preps for a telemetry run to gather data on brown trout.

DRWTU received national attention when Board Member Kevin Kaminski was recognized for his contribution to our Brown Trout Telemetry Study and received the Spirit of TU Award. This is the first year that TU has chosen to grant the award to recognize “emerging leaders and unsung heroines and heroes who exemplify the spirit of TU. Folks who have set a positive trajectory for their conservationist future as up-and-coming leaders in their efforts to bolster the TU coldwater conservation mission.”

“When the Covid-19 pandemic hit last year, we almost had to shut down our mobile Brown Trout Telemetry study,” said Michael Vito, president of the Deerfield River Watershed Trout Unlimited (DRWTU) Chapter #349. “But Kevin stepped up and took on the mobile project himself, doing the work that 30 volunteers had been doing until Covid hit.”
Since October 2019, the DRWTU chapter, along with biologists at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Eastern Ecological Science Center/Silvio O. Conte Anadromous Fish Lab in Turners Falls, MA, has been tracking the movements of 30 Brown Trout surgically equipped with radio transmitters. DRWTU members, USGS biologists, along with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, are hoping to learn about any impacts the daily, hydro-peaking flows from Brookfield Renewable Power Companies Fife Brook Hydro-Electric Dam and Bear Swamp Pump Storage Facilities has on the daily lives of these Brown Trout, especially during the fall spawning season. A big part of the project initially had roughly 30 DRWTU volunteers attaching a single mobile-receiver system to their vehicles, driving up and down the 8.5-mile test area and capturing location data from the trout’s transmitters. But then Covid-19 nearly shut down the project. “Health guidelines told us we couldn’t allow 30 people to share a single, mobile receiver unit,” Vito said. “But then Kevin stepped up and offered to do the receiver runs himself. He saved this project. We’re all so grateful to Kevin.”

Here’s a video that describes Kevin’s role in keeping the project going:

Chapter Meeting 4-15-21

Dr. Shannon White
Dr. Shannon White will Zoom in to talk with us about her Brook Trout Studies April 15.

Our monthly chapter ZOOM meeting will be held on Thursday, April 15th at 6:30 pm. Our featured speaker will be Dr. Shannon White, a postdoctoral researcher at the US Geological Survey Eastern Ecological Science Center where she works on the conservation genetics of fishes of conservation concern. She will speak about her work on native brook trout genetics and movement in the Loyalsock Creek watershed in Pennsylvania. 
A key finding from her research is the importance of rare habitats and fish behaviors for understanding and improving brook trout conservation. Her talk will highlight a few of these studies and the implications for future management of native fisheries.
Dr. White is familiar with our current Brook Trout protection and enhancement project on Rice Brook in Charlemont. Information from her research will give us some guidance on best practices to help manage the Deerfield River Watershed’s native brook trout population, the largest in Massachusetts. 

Members and friends can locate the zoom link in the email announcement for the meeting. See you on April 15th!!

March Meeting – Tick Talk

Joellen Lampman to present ‘Don’t Get Ticked on the Stream’ at March 18 DRWTU Meeting.

Avoiding Lyme and other tick-borne diseases requires avoiding a tick bite! Join the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program’s Joellen Lampman as she talks about the different ticks in our area and their biology, the diseases they carry, and how to protect yourself and others from being bitten.

Joellen Lampman is Community IPM Extension Support Specialist with the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University. With a degree in Natural Resources from Cornell University, Joellen is a lifelong environmental educator. At the New York State Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program, she utilizes the clear knowledge-based, decision-making process of IPM to teach ecology and make a difference, one property at a time. In some circles she is also known as the tick lady.

February 2021 Meeting /w Southern Vermont Chapters

Please reserve the date for our upcoming, joint regional chapter Zoom meeting on Thursday, February 18th at 6:30 pm. Deerfield River Watershed TU will be joining the Connecticut River Valley TU (Deerfield watershed VT) and Southwestern VT TU (Battenkill, Walloomsac, Hoosic, etc.) on this ZOOM meeting and talking about the various projects our chapters are working on. We’re also inviting all the fishing guides in these regions to attend. This meeting is open to ALL members of each chapter. DRWTU members can expect an email message coming soon with the ZOOM meeting link.

March Brown Fly Tying Lesson

Video Available: Steve LaValley starts tying the March Brown.

Master Fly Tyer Steve LaValley taught the March Brown last February at a DRWTU sponsored Beginner Fly Tying Class at the Floodwaters Brewery in Shelburne Falls. Here’s the video:

Materials:

  • Hook: Size 10
  • Thread: Black 8/0
  • Tail: Moose mane
  • Rib: Flat waxed floss
  • Body: Hares ear Dubbing
  • Hackle: Speckled Brown Hen Hackle
  • Wing: Turkey Quills

Chapter Meeting at Rice Brook

DRWTU President Mike Vito marking the upper boundary of our work area on Rice Brook.

November’s DRWTU Chapter meeting will be held at Rice Brook on Saturday, the 28th at 10 AM. We’ll meet in the parking lot of the Warfield House in Charlemont just off Route 2.

This will be an outside event with social distancing and masks. Wear appropriate clothing for the weather and, if you will be helping out with the stream survey, be prepared for intermediate hiking and bushwhacking. After a brief Chapter business meeting, TU biologist Dr. Erin Rodgers will demonstrate how to use the Survey 123 app in conjunction with the TU Rivers app to assess the brook. These assessments will drive decisions around future conservation efforts.

Here are links to download the app onto your phone:

1.      The Survey123 application:  https://survey123.arcgis.com
2.      The TU RIVERS mobile application:
https://www.tu.org/science/science-engagement/angler-science/rivers/

October DRWTU Chapter Meeting Over ZOOM – A Success?

Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions presented Trout Spey 10/29/2020.

Our October chapter meeting was held on the Fourth Thursday of October – October 29 – and was held over Zoom! We covered a lot of ground since our last meeting was in February and a lot has happened in the meantime. The featured speaker was Tim Flagler, who presented on the topic of Trout Spey. Tim is an excellent presenter who many of you are probably already familiar with, through fly fishing shows as well as the quality videos he has produced for Trout Unlimited and Orvis. His production company, TightLine Videos, is top-notch.

We will be sending out the links via email to view Tim’s presentation which we taped for members who could not attend. If you are a member and you don’t receive the email by November 5, please contact us by leaving a comment here on the website or emailing DeerfieldRiverTU@gmail.com. Please feel free provide feedback about the Zoom meeting in the same manner. Here’s a quick feedback form you can use to let us know how you feel about virtual meetings. Click Here to view the form. So far we have received very positive feedback about the meeting and about Tim’s presentation.

What is Trout Spey?

Trout Spey is nothing new, it’s just a more effective way to swing flies like streamers, soft-hackles and classic wets. Yes, you can use it for nymphing and dry fly fishing, but swinging and stripping is where trout spey works best. The real difference comes when you employ either single-hand or two-hand spey casting techniques. These make for no back casts to worry about, much longer casts, easy, fast changes of cast direction, more effective mending and generally more relaxing fishing. Find out about it in the video we taped on the 29th. 

Tim provided this info about the trout spey setups he recommends:

DRWTU Partner, Franklin Land Trust, Conserves Trout Habitat

Brookies like this one will benefit from the FLT purchase and preservation of the Gudell Property adjacent to Crowningshield.

The following press release from Franklin Land Trust was prepared by Melissa Patterson-Serrill, FLT Director of Community Outreach and Education:

Franklin Land Trust (FLT) recently acquired for conservation 154 acres in Heath abutting its 96-acre Crowningshield Conservation Area (CCA). The 154-acre parcel purchase – which took place on June 25th, 2020 from the Gudell Family – was supported by funding from the MA Dept of Fish and Game; local, state and national chapters of Trout Unlimited; the John T. and Jane A. Wiederhold Foundation; the William P. Wharton Trust; and Franklin Land Trust’s Heath Conservation Fund. Tom Curren, FLT Executive Director, is thrilled to see this project cross the finish line. “This is a fine example of FLT’s partnership with other organizations in pursuit of shared conservation goals.  We’re proud to expand here upon the work accomplished during decades of efforts by local volunteers, private groups, other non-profits, and governmental agencies.”   

FLT’s Crowningshield Conservation Area was originally purchased and protected in 2015 with the support of local and regional Trout Unlimited chapters. It is preserved permanently under a Conservation Restriction held by the MA Dept of Fish and Game. “This land protection project and the habitat restoration of the uplands and stream habitat in the North River West Branch is the result of an incredible long term partnership including Franklin Land Trust, Trout Unlimited, MassWildlife, private foundations and local residents,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon. “The conservation restriction we acquired ensures permanent protection of the land, access for hunting, fishing, hiking, and birding, and protection of one of the finest cold-water fisheries in the region.”  

CCA has over one mile of river frontage on West Branch Brook, a tributary of the North River and an important subwatershed of the Deerfield River for native brook trout. In their native range, wild brook trout are a valuable indicator species for the overall health of a river and its watershed. They require clean, cold water to thrive and have seen sharp population declines due to warming water temperatures, pollution, and loss of habitat. FLT’s partnership with Trout Unlimited offers a unique opportunity for those who care about fishing, climate change, and land conservation to take real and meaningful action. 

“Our partnership with the Franklin Land Trust goes beyond our local chapter,” said Michael Vito, president of the Deerfield River Watershed Trout Unlimited Chapter #349. Paul Beaulieu, president of the Mass-Rhode Island Trout Unlimited Council, notes “The Council, a number of Massachusetts TU chapters, and individual TU members from around the Commonwealth reached into their own pockets and generously contributed to this purchase. We even got a grant from TU National’s Cold-Water Land Conservation Fund.” Bill Pastuszek, Mass Representative to TU’s National Leadership Council, noted: “The West Branch of the North River is an important native brook trout stream in Massachusetts. We all want to see it protected. The diversity and breadth of support for this acquisition shows the importance associated with this effort to preserve and enhance this resource.”

The Deerfield TU chapter will now start planning conservation projects to help protect and enhance the West Branch’s cold-water fishery. “We’ll start doing an assessment of this new stretch of river and see what it needs,” Vito said. Fish assemblage, bank erosion prevention, fish habitat restoration and a macro invertebrate study have already been completed by Trout Unlimited, FLT and Cole Ecological, Inc. in the Crowningshield portion of the West Branch. 

The newly acquired 154-acre parcel abuts the original 96-acre CCA to the south of West Branch Brook, ensuring that both sides of this cold-water stream and the drainages that feed it are permanently protected. “FLT is thinking about land conservation on a watershed scale,” said FLT Head Land Steward Will Anderson. “Tributaries and headwaters like those found at Crowningshield Conservation Area and the new Gudell acquisition are fed by groundwater and travel through shaded forests, supplying important cold water to the mainstems within the watershed. This cold water is critical to many aquatic species facing warming temperatures due to climate change.”

“The Gudell acquisition was the last piece of a very large puzzle,” said Alain Peteroy, FLT’s Director of Land Conservation. The Gudell parcel connects CCA to a 60-acre Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuary along its eastern border, and FLT recently conserved a small farm field, now owned by Heath Farmer Mike Freeman, that abuts the northern boundary of the CCA. The Freeman Farm produces organic beef, honey, and maple syrup and abuts 130 acres of privately conserved land on its northeastern boundary. Continuing north, the HO Cook State Forest offers an additional 918 acres of conserved land in the region. “This has been a continued process of building a significant conservation block, incorporating Sanders Brook and the West Branch of the North River,” said Peteroy. “We are looking at almost 500 acres of conserved land sitting next to over 900 acres of state forest land, all with tributaries that drain into the Deerfield River.” 

But as our rivers and streams face the impacts of climate change, land conservation is just one part of the solution. FLT, the Massachusetts Woodlands Institute (MWI), and Trout Unlimited are working to restore fish habitat by developing a new program called Forests for the Fish. This project is designed to enhance habitat for cold water fish by offering tools to forest landowners interested in improving fish habitat in their forest streams. “Private landowners – farms, families, organizations, and individuals – own over 2 million acres of forest in Massachusetts. This places the future of threatened species like native brook trout squarely in all of our hands,” said Emily Boss, MWI Executive Director. “Forests for the Fish will connect landowners who love and cherish their woodland streams with management resources and expertise.” To learn more about the Forests for the Fish program email info@masswoodlands.org

The Gudell parcel will be open to the public for hiking, fishing, birding, and hunting. Access to this newly acquired land will be through the trails at Crowningshield Conservation Area off West Branch Road. To learn more about the Crowningshield Conservation Area, and the Forests for the Fishprogram, visit www.franklinlandtrust.org