Rod, Gun and Game: Walleye tournament lends fishing opportunity
If the number of emerald shiners has ever been higher in Lake Erie, it must have been before I started fishing in the 1950s with my father and grandfather. Predatory fish, such as walleye, bass and yellow perch, are getting bigger and faster than ever before, as are seagulls and other water-based wildlife.
Anchored anglers fishing for yellow perch in offshore depths of 50 - 65 feet can glance into the water with polarized sunglasses to see emerald shiner schools swimming by at five – 10 feet below the surface. There are also mid-depth smelt schools and hordes of bottom schooling gobies.
The Southtowns Walleye Association 2012 walleye tournament will run from Saturday, June 9 at 12:01 a.m. – Sunday, June 17, ending at 4 p.m. This event will attract more than 1,000 anglers from all parts of New York state and the northeast, all vying to catch the largest single walleye by weight. All walleye measured must be a minimum of 26 inches in length. Anglers are allowed to fish the U.S. or Canadian waters of Lake Erie and must have a valid fishing license, purchased prior to the tournament start, to be eligible.
According to co-chairpersons Sue Guenther and Cody Allen, “There are cash and merchandise prizes for [the] top 200 walleye, with biggest payouts for the top 10 fish.” The Southtowns Walleye Association has paid out 200 cash and merchandise prizes since the event began 28 years ago.
Participants must purchase gas, oil, truck and boat gear, safety equipment, fishing tackle, bait, launch fees, docking fees, hotel rooms, food and fishing licenses. The economic contribution to Western New York and New York state from the anglers fishing this tournament and the Southtowns Walleye group is in the millions of dollars.
Call the Southtowns Walleye office at 649-8202 to get on-board in the tournament.
Last year, while fishing the tournament with my grandson, I fished from Buffalo and ran into the waves to start fishing, to allow the wind to push us back to Buffalo if the weather worsened. While trolling for walleyes off Myer’s Reef with modified blue Chattersticks with no bait attached, my grandson hooked a fish. After 35 minutes, he landed the fish, but it wasn’t a walleye. It was a channel catfish.
In playing and landing the big fish, the boat had moved 1.2 miles downwind from the waypoint, where we had already caught three walleyes and the catfish. On the first troll through the same area, my grandson and I hooked up with another fish.
Using the same lure and the same rod, he had another channel catfish, this one weighing 34 inches.
In all, from 7 a.m. – noon, we caught five walleye to 8 pounds, no contest winners, several big perch to 12 inches, several giant sheepshead, plus those two ‘cats, all on the Chattersticks.
We took the biggest catfish to the Bison City Rod & Gun Club, where that fish was entered into the club’s annual fishing contest. My grandson won the oddball species category when the contest ended in September.
May 31: New York state spring turkey season closes.
May 31: Buffalo Sabres Alumni Lake Ontario Spring Salmon Derby, Fifth Annual, Krull Park in Newfane Marina in Olcott. Participants fish with present and past Sabres players. For more information, visit www.sabresalumuni.com.
June 2: Teach Me To Fish, fish derby for kids and parents, East Aurora Fish & Game, 1016 Luther Road, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., Includes lunch, free rod and reel and outfit prizes. Call 597-4081 for more information.
June 2: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Festival, Hyde Park in Niagara Falls, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Kids’ fishing derby, 8 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., hosted by the Niagara River Anglers Association. For more information, call 691-5456.
June 5: East Aurora Fish & Game monthly meeting, 1016 Luther Road, East Aurora, beginning 8 p.m. Call 652-2256 for more information.
June 6: Western New York Safari Club monthly meeting, Michael’s Banquet Facility, 7 p.m. For more information, call Mark Mann at 655-2784.
June 6: Western New York Wounded Warriors fishing tournament, NFTA Small Boat Harbor. For more information, call Jim Hanley at 316-3567.
June 9 – 17: Southtowns Walleye annual walleye tournament. For more information or to enter, call 649-8202.
Send information 10 days in advance to email@example.com.