Massachusetts hunters/anglers look west (not east) for great hunting and fishing

Deerfield River Bob MallardVisiting our son Josh, daughter-in-law Kelly, and 2 ½ year old granddaughter Ada in Bridgewater, Massachusetts two weekends ago, a story in the Boston Sunday Globe grabbed my attention.

In Your Backyard, by Ben Carmichael, a Globe correspondent, had a subtitle: You don’t have to travel to the West to find some great spots for fly fishing and bird hunting.

I immediately anticipated a great story about Maine. Alas. Here are the first two paragraphs.

“People think they have to fly West to find this,” said Eric Gass, looking out at the rolling hills spread out before us, resplendent in their fall color.

That was last October. Gass is a hunting and fly fishing guide based in the Deerfield River Valley. And he is onto something. For those who live in New England and enjoy chasing both feathers and fins, the conversation about where to go bird hunting and fly fishing for trout is so often about someplace else. The consistent call is to head to the American West. The assumption is that there couldn’t be anything worthwhile close to home. Could there?

Of course there could be. Just a couple of hours away in Maine. At this point, I eagerly anticipated the revelation that Maine offers great fall bird hunting and angling. But no. A photo below that paragraph in the Globe trumpeted the fact that “The fly fishing and bird hunting by the Deerfield River can be as good as anything out West.”

Why not Maine? Well, here is the sad (for this Mainer) end of that Globe story.

“Unfortunately we can’t fly out to Montana every weekend,” Bonzagni said. “But you can get a taste of it every weekend in Western Mass.”

Photo: Maine writer Bob Mallard, in the Deerfield River

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.