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Annual Children’s Ice Fishing Derby at Ashfield Lake hooks crowd

  • Nine-year-old Tyler Dubreuil of Shelburne caught a 13-inch-long rainbow trout at the Annual Children's Ice Fishing Derby in Ashfield last weekend, where 78 children competed for prizes.<br/>LAURA RODLEY

    Nine-year-old Tyler Dubreuil of Shelburne caught a 13-inch-long rainbow trout at the Annual Children's Ice Fishing Derby in Ashfield last weekend, where 78 children competed for prizes.
    LAURA RODLEY Purchase photo reprints »

  • The rainbow trout caught by Tyler Dubreuil of Shelburne netted him a hockey stick as a prize. While some contestants returned their catches to Ashfield Lake, Dubreuil said he planned to take his fish home and eat it.<br/>LAURA RODLEY

    The rainbow trout caught by Tyler Dubreuil of Shelburne netted him a hockey stick as a prize. While some contestants returned their catches to Ashfield Lake, Dubreuil said he planned to take his fish home and eat it.
    LAURA RODLEY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Nine-year-old Tyler Dubreuil of Shelburne caught a 13-inch-long rainbow trout at the Annual Children's Ice Fishing Derby in Ashfield last weekend, where 78 children competed for prizes.<br/>LAURA RODLEY
  • The rainbow trout caught by Tyler Dubreuil of Shelburne netted him a hockey stick as a prize. While some contestants returned their catches to Ashfield Lake, Dubreuil said he planned to take his fish home and eat it.<br/>LAURA RODLEY

On Saturday morning, families bundled in thick coats, hats and mittens covered the ice of Ashfield Lake, where their members, young and old, tried to stay warm while keeping a close eye on holes drilled into the 12-inch-thick ice. The turnout was for the Annual Children’s Ice Fishing Derby, a free event for young anglers who vie to land the biggest fish.

Tyler Dubreuil, 9, of Shelburne, won a prize after pulling in a 13-inch-long rainbow trout.

“I was pretty much amazed,” he said of his catch, talking inside derby headquarters, the Lake House Restaurant on the lake’s shore, where participants came to get their fish measured. Tyler said he has done ice fishing before, but this was his first foray as a derby contestant. For his prize, he chose a hockey stick out of an assortment of items supplied by area vendors.

Tyler was one of the 78 children — 55 boys and 23 girls — who participated.

“It’s the most we’ve had in a long time,” said Ashfield resident Joseph Miraglia, a member of the Ashfield Rod and Gun Club, which sponsored the event.

Families came from Cummington, Plainfield, Holyoke, Hatfield and Wendell, with some past participants traveling from Concord, N.H. There were also two exchange students from Mexico, who are attending Sanderson Academy in Ashfield for two weeks, who tried to snag fish.

Of the 25 fish caught that morning, Matthew Pollen of Ashfield caught the largest, a 28-inch-long pickerel, and Alison Lynde of Greenfield caught a 16.78-inch-long pickerel, the largest in the girls’ division. While some of the young anglers returned their catches to the lake, Tyler said he planned to take his rainbow trout home and eat it.

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Sugaring season

The sugaring season is off and running. It’s following its more traditional schedule this year, instead of the early start it got last year in January, area maple sugar producers say.

Jeffrey and Leann Mason of Red Bucket Sugarshack on Kinnebrook Road in Worthington started tapping on Feb. 4. Their first boiling was Feb. 15, and their restaurant opens this weekend.

In the weeks leading up to the sugar season, the couple, who are members of the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association, have been busy replacing tubing damaged by squirrels across 10 of the 258 acres they tap each year. The squirrels “chew on the tubing. They don’t eat it — they’re gnawing on it,” explained Jeffrey Mason.

One way to deter them is to coat the tubing with a cayenne pepper concoction, but he doesn’t use it because it makes it difficult to handle the tubing.

“You have to wear gloves. It’s nasty stuff,” he said. Apart from that, it’s business as usual.

The Masons install some 9,000 taps on their maple trees to collect the sap.

Serena and Paul Zononi own and operate Paul’s Sugarhouse on Route 9 in Williamsburg. He has been sugaring almost a half-century, he said; he started sugaring when he was 8 years old and is now 57. The Zononis started preparing to gather sap from the more than 4,000 taps they set out on Feb. 18, said Serena Zononi, speaking at their home in Williamsburg.

“We would have started tapping last week, but we got that snow,” she said. “It’s up to Mother Nature when the sap runs,” she said. They need freezing nights and 40-degree weather during the day, she said. Their sugarhouse is slated to open starting this Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Brian and Karen Rowe’s High Hopes Farm Sugar House at 1132 Huntington Road in Worthington also opens this weekend, with hours from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Windy Hill Farm on Sam Hill Road, owned by Jerry Mollison, is another Worthington Sugar House. For a list of sugar houses and other information, visit www.massmaple.org.

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Plainfield community supper

All Plainfield residents, friends and family are invited to the free Plainfield Community Pot Luck supper sponsored by the Plainfield Congregational Church that will take place Saturday at 6 p.m. at Town Hall on Main Street. Entertainment featuring local talent will follow at 7 p.m. Coffee and tea will be served. Those interested in performing, or who can help set up or clean up can call dinner coordinator Roberta Wooldridge at 634-5064.

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