Vermont angler Drew Price of Colchester completed the state’s first-ever Master Angler Sweep by catching at least one trophy-sized specimen of all 33 eligible fish species that are a part of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department Master Angler Program. Price started fly fishing in 1993, and in 2010 began catching and entering the fish in the Master Angler Program — and wanted to do it all with a fly rod.
At the end of 2010, he had caught 12 species. Two seasons later he had reached 24 species still with his fly rod. But in 2014, he began ice fishing. Once he realized he went as far as he could with the fly rod, he switched to regular fishing gear and bought his first spinning rod and started after the “hard to get” American Shad, Cisco and Eel. One by one he figured out where to fish and how to catch them. But the pike-pickerel hybrid continued to elude him. He did not give up, and three years later he completed his dream and received his Master Angler Pin.
Now this gentleman is a FISHERMAN!
Last Monday, Neal Hopkins and Hiromi Onozawa of Saratoga and Danny Newbold and his wife, Juliet, from Fresh Creek in Andros Island in the Bahamas and I were on Saratoga Lake at 5 a.m. Danny runs the Andros Bonefish Club; it was his first-time bass fishing, and it did not take him long to learn how to fish the wacky worm.
Hiromi hooked the first bass, a three-pound largemouth on her first cast; that is how the morning went for us. Within an hour or so, Danny was a bass fisherman, and that morning we caught and released 25 or more largemouth, a few pickerel and even a few panfish. Amazing how a sunfish grabs a 5.5-inch Stik-O-Worm. Neil boated a nice four-plus bass and I lost, at the boat, one that was well over five pounds.
The fishing was so good that morning that Danny, Neil and I were back on the water the next day well before the sun came up and caught more good-sized largemouth.
That afternoon the Tuesday Saratoga Bass Challenge attracted 34 teams, and they, too, caught some nice fish. Tim Paraso and Mathew Belmore of Indian Lake won their second Saratoga Bass Challenge tournament of the season with five bass totaling 14.38 pounds and received $765. Finishing in second place was the Saratoga team of Dave Munger and John Jenkins with 14.25 pounds, which included the big bass of the tournament, a 5.42-pound largemouth. They received $459 for the win and $340 for the lunker. Third place went to Jim Bubb of Clifton Park and Sean Noonan (I taught him everything he knows) of Saratoga with 12.11 pounds. They received $306.
LITTLE LAKE, BIG BASS
Mariaville Lake — a 197-acre body of water in Duanesburg — had a very abundant panfish population, and recently Ray Faught of Schenectady caught a largemouth on — you guessed it — a wacky worm. He was fishing off the bridge when he hooked and landed a 17-inch largemouth that weighed 2.5 pounds. Go to my blog to see photo at — http://noonanpics.blogspot.com/
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced Joe Viva of Schenectady has been awarded its annual Region 4 Wayne W. Jones Award of Excellence for his work as an outstanding volunteer hunting educator.
Viva has been teaching hunter education since 1992, and bowhunter education since 1993, during which he recruited and cultivated new instructors to the program and introduced innovative teaching methods.
“Joe Viva is always willing to step in to help with a class, provide support to bolster the confidence of new instructors, or serve as a mentor for current instructors,” said DEC Region 4 Director Keith Goertz. “It’s our honor to present him with this award. Viva has worked hard to reach out to instructors throughout the region to foster unity among teaching teams, and has led his instructors through policy changes and implementation of new protocols with level-headed leadership.
Most recently, Viva and his team helped to write guidance for the new instructor manual on how to respond to threats or incidents in the classroom. In addition, he has worked with Saratoga PLAN (Preserving Land and Nature) to educate the organization on the benefits of hunting, and demonstrated how hunters and other user groups can share natural resources without conflict.
All first-time hunters, bowhunters, and trappers must pass one or more specific courses before obtaining a New York State hunting license. DEC-certified instructors teach safe and responsible firearms conduct and skills while stressing the important role hunters and trappers play in conserving our renewable natural resources.
Volunteer instructors provide invaluable support to the implementation of New York State’s hunter education program, which DEC credits with helping to produce the safest generation of hunters on record. The hunting incidents per 100,000 hunters over the last five years have been the lowest on record since statistics started being compiled in 1958. Since the 1960s, the incident rate has plunged more than 70 percent.
The past five-year average is down to 3.2 incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 per 100,000 in the 1960s.
Reach Gazette outdoors writer Ed Noonan at at [email protected]