Sportsman’s Corner: Bathymetry data and eagles too

  • This pair of bald eagles were hanging out in the mid-day sun along the Connecticut River in Montague. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ


Published: 2/14/2020 9:45:04 PM
Modified: 2/14/2020 9:44:50 PM

The latest news from MassWildlife is information about a new addition to the information available from the agency on maps of many of the ponds and lakes in the commonwealth.

If you’re fishing on one of the 168 Massachusetts ponds with digital bathymetry information, you can use your mobile device to access a pond map and see this depth information in real time as you walk.

Gone are the days of drilling a hole only to find you’ve hit a shallow, weedy area.

By using the My Location feature on the map, you can target fish species based on depth. You can target species by noting what depth you find fish and the focus on that habitat for jigging or setting your tip-ups. MassWildlife recommends that if you are jigging for perch you might want to prospect to find a depth where you find feeding perch and then follow that depth around the lake. They also suggest in the February news release that if you are targeting bass or pickerel you should stick to flats or edges of drop-offs.

To get started, go to online to You will find that bodies of water with a yellow border indicate ponds with digital bathymetry. Zoom into any one of these locations for depth information. If you’re at a pond, click the My Location button(looks like a circle or crosshair, see image above) to show your movements in real time. Digital bathymetry data for new ponds are added all the time.

Ponds without digital bathymetry still offer valuable information about the water body. Click any point on the map to see details about access and fish populations for that water body along with a pdf bathymetric map you can print.

In that same press release, MassWildlife’s Species Spotlight for February is the bald eagle! The bald eagle is a great conservation story.

From that release, some interesting facts

Common name: Bald eagle

Scientific name:Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Size: 3 feet in length with a 7-foot wingspan, 8–15 pounds

Range: Alaska and Canada south throughout the United States to Florida and Baja California

MA Conservation status: Special concern

Federal conservation status: Not listed (delisted in 2007)

Other facts

■The bald eagle is the largest nesting bird of prey in Massachusetts, with a wingspan of at least 6 feet, sometimes more than 7 feet.

■In the wild, bald eagles may live 20 years or more. The oldest wild individual on record lived 38 years.

■The eagle first appeared as an American symbol on one of the first U.S. coins, a copper piece minted in Massachusetts in 1776. The bald eagle became our national bird in 1782.

■In Massachusetts, mated pairs of bald eagles construct their nest, or fortify the previous year’s nest, primarily from December through February, in preparation for egg laying in March or early April. With leaves down and eagles becoming active around nest sites, now is the season to scout for eagle nests in coastal areas or near large inland rivers, lakes and reservoirs!

Threats and conservation

■Historically, the bald eagle was not only revered, but also persecuted by people who viewed it as competition for fish and a threat to poultry and game birds.

■From the 1940s until it was banned in 1972, the pesticide DDT caused egg mortality and further decline of the bald eagle.

■Restoration of the bald eagle in Massachusetts began in the 1980s, when MassWildlife and other partners transported young eaglets from wild nests (mostly from Canada) and raised them in cages overlooking the Quabbin Reservoir. Once the birds were ready to fledge, the cage doors were opened, and the eagles released.

■Release of captive-born bald eagles in Massachusetts continued at a reduced effort through the 1990s and early 2000s, with the last release in 2003.

■Since the 1980s, breeding pairs of bald eagles have increased at an accelerating rate in Massachusetts, with more than 70 breeding pairs recorded in the state in 2018 and again in 2019.

■Initially listed as endangered under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act, the continuing recovery of the bald eagle led to its designation as threatened in 2008, and now special concern as of January 2020.

■MassWildlife has been banding and monitoring bald eagles in Massachusetts since 1989. Staff use band information to track bald eagles through an observer network to learn more about these protected birds.

■If you are interested in assisting MassWildlife with the ongoing study of the bald eagle, you can help. Since most new nests documented by MassWildlife are a result of following up on leads submitted to us by the public, you might discover the next new site.

There is no doubt that bald eagles are here in the North Quabbin Region and so it is logical that there be one or more local nesting sites. As spring approaches, you might see eagles flying with nest building materials or even locate a nest, almost always close to water bodies. If you do, please contact MassWildlife by emailing if you have information about a possible eagle nest so that we can continue to monitor and conserve this species.

E-Edition & Local Ads


athol forecast

Most Popular

Judge hears arguments on motion to dismiss Wendell State Forest case, sets deadli

Options for Nichewaug Inn property 

Shelly A. Prim

Sportsman’s Corner: Manage your land

Social Media

Athol Daily News

14 Hope Street,
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Telephone: (413) 772-0261
FAX (413) 772-2906


Copyright © 2020 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.