review by free lance outdoor writer


          After the second cast, I knew we were on the right lake. On this cast, a short flip towards shore, as TK was getting the boat straightened out, a small 12” large mouth bass gobbled my plastic worm and I had the first fish of the day.

I was invited to the Berkshire Fishing Club‘s, (BFC),, a private lake in Becket, and known as Palmer Brook Lake. I’m not a big fan of fishing privately owned stocked ponds or hunting posted property either, but I could easily get used to fishing here three times a week.

First of all, on their website, their lake is listed as only 125 acres, not huge by any standards. I was expecting to find this tiny, well manicured, perfectly round, man-made, golf course looking water hole. Nothing could be farther from the truth

Although the lake is only one mile long, there are miles of wooded shoreline, and the only grass nearby was at the dock where the clubs 10 fishing boats float quietly. Along these brushy shores are more submerged stumps than you can count. These underwater wooden tangles are sanctuaries for fish, in this case, on this lake, hundreds of large-mouthed bass. There are also clumps of over-hanging bushes, fallen logs, huge rocks, gravel bars, drop-offs, and beaver-dens. This lake is loaded with “structures”, and fish of all kinds gravitate toward them.

How did this lake get all this habitat? The 800-acre parcel that surrounds the lake has been in club owner Alan Strassel’s family for years. In the 1960’s the family decided to build a small dam and block Palmer Brook. This would flood the woods that surround the brook. No bulldozers were used except in the dam area, but many trees were harvested, (this is where all the stumps come from). This lake doesn’t sit at the bottom of the valley, but at the top of a mountain, and you get the feeling that a Bull Moose will walk out into the lake at any moment.

Getting back to the fishing itself, my partner for today, professional bass fisherman, Tom Kondel, (TK) arrived at the Berkshire Bass Club at 11am. As promised by the extremely friendly and accommodating staff consisting of Eric and Matt, our 16-foot boat was waiting for us at the dock. Matt quickly went through a few instructions, and we were off.

I remember fishing a few times in boats when I was younger. Back then the boats were smaller, aluminum, noisy, unstable, and after fishing an hour or so extremely uncomfortable. Times have changed, and Alan’s boats are nothing like those older boats. The BFC has a fleet of 16’ Sundance fiberglass flat-bottom boats available to all members. (Privately owned boats are not permitted on the lake). These boats are easy to handle, very roomy-enough for 3-4 people, and extremely stable, with a built in cooler for goodies. First of all the seats are raised, so you sit higher and it makes it easy to catch fish. Secondly, the seats have padded backrests, a huge plus for the aging baby-boomer crowd, (trust me).

The lake itself looks like it was lifted right off a calendar. TK and I were fishing on Memorial Day weekend, and for most of the day it felt and looked like we had the whole lake to ourselves. This is definitely not the norm on any lake over a summer holiday weekend. Not once did we see a car, or hear a car. Occasionally we would see another boat, way off in the distance. Most of the noise we heard was airborne in the form of a honking Canada Goose or a crow cawing. It was pristine; I couldn’t get over how quiet it was. No yahoo’s zooming past in jet boats or water skis.

TK and I were warned by the club that this weekend may not be the best time to fish, and that the fishing gets better as the water temperature rises. We fished for four hours and caught twenty bass in the 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 pound range, and at least ten pickerel between us, the numbers were split down between us. (He “front-ended” me all day though).

I’ve been bass fishing twice in my life, and on this lake all I did was cast a Senko and “twitch it” as I slowly reeled it in. TK used white spinner bait. I can’t imagine what the fishing is like when it warms up a little; a person could get arm weary reeling in so many big bass.

The $64,000 question may be, what does this cost? I think a better question is- what is it worth to you? You can fish the Berkshire Fishing Club in one of two ways, either as a year round member or as a one-day trial membership.

The one-day membership costs $250. Compare this to the costs of other fishing charters, both salt and fresh water trips. I just spent $400 for a six -hour charter on the Hudson River for Striped Bass. We caught three fish between four guys.

At the BFC you rent the boat and the lake, for the day. You’ll have a quality, (almost wilderness), experience, and catch lots of big, hard fighting fish. It’s all hassle free. There will be no loud music, or litter and nobody hogging the good spots.  All you have to do is show up with your fishing gear and have the time of your life with your family or friends.

A yearly membership costs $1500. Again, compare this to other club memberships, (golf, health, etc.), and it’s a better deal than you think. Alan admits that like most memberships, you have to utilize it to get your monies worth. If you factor in the cost of a good bass boat, the insurance, the maintenance, the gas mileage, (about three miles/gallon), the hassle of getting it into the water on busy weekends, and so on, the BFC looks like a pretty good deal.

Becoming a yearly member at the Berkshire Fishing Club is like saving money, plus you are pretty much guaranteed to catch lots of big, hard fighting fish almost every time. You can’t say that about any other lake around here.

For more information on the Berkshire Fishing Club, visit them on-line at or call them at (413)-243-5761.

David Willette is a free-lance outdoor writer who lives in Western Massachusetts. His first book, “Coyote Wars” is now available. He can be contacted at