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Lake Erie is warming up for the annual Southtowns Walleye Fish-Fest

FISHING IN THE DARK: The night bite is good for walleyes in nearby Lake Erie, as angler Ken Johnson hoists a nice 7-pound fish taken on a slow trolled shallow-diving stickbait in six to ten feet of water.
ERIE COUNTY—With some hot days and warm nights working to escalate the water temperature of our nearby Lake Erie fish tank, the fish have taken notice and so have many anglers who are happy to quicken the late start to the 2014 fishing season.

While shallow water night-time trolling is usually a three or four week long cycle each year, the lake went from ice to high 50-degree temperatures in a very short time this year. That is something new for anglers, and for the fish too, but what it really means is that the female walleye have finished spawning in short order and the male walleye are not going to be in those shallow waters very long feeding on their own young longer than a few more days.

Warm water and walleye are not friends, so by the time the 30th Annual Southtowns Walleye Association Tournament begins this Saturday, most of the larger fish will have moved to deeper, cooler water, but usually, not far from the surface. The wind will have the largest effect on where the fish will move to, as any consistent wind direction will create currents that can sweep warm surface water into a bay, or remove it just as quickly and replace it with icy-cold water. Spring in Western New York is like that! So anglers will be required to think as they fish, especially if they are not catching them.

The water temperatures affect the baitfish too, moving the forage from shallow to deep and vice-versa, but if can locate the forage populations of emerald shiners, smelt and alewives, you are likely to score well on Lake Erie walleye during this festive contest.

The Southtowns event is no small fishing derby, it is the largest, richest, non-professional walleye fishing contest in North America! With $26,000 in cash prizes and thousands more in merchandise prizes, it is an eight day event with over 2,000 participants, so there are strict rules for competitors that include a polygraph test. Chairman Rusty Ellis is supervising his 14-person committee with humble, but stern, regulations for weigh station rigors and major sponsor bonus prizes.

The contest will run from midnight (12:01 a.m.) of June 7 through June 14 at 4 p.m. The weigh-in stations are open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. every day at these locations: Barcelona Harbor Boat Launch, 326-6633; Hanover Boat Launch at Sunset Bay, 934-2273; Sturgeon Point Marina, 947-4452 and the NFTA Small Boat Harbor, 828-0027.

At the weigh station, participants will need to show their New York state fishing license, their tournament application and their fish, then fill out an affidavit identifying who they were fishing with at the time of catch and other information. The fish will be weighed, measured for length and scanned with a device that can detect abnormalities such as extra sinkers and similar weights pushed into the fish’s stomach. As you can see, cheating is not wise and violators are subject to legal prosecution, similar to most other modern fishing competitions held elsewhere in the country.

Cost of participation is $35 for members, $75 for non-members, though youth under 16 years of age can compete free in the special youth division. Prizes are $5,000 for the heaviest walleye; $3,000 for second and $1,500 for third. Fourth to 10th place will win a $500 cash prize; 11th to 50th will win $100; and 51st to 200th place bring home $50. Major sponsor prizes include extra cash or prize awards from Challenger Lures, Emerling, Traxtech, Warrior Lures, Anchor Marine, Kishel’s Scent’s, Hi-Tech Lures and Cannon fishing products.

Tournament prizes will be awarded on June 21 at the Southtowns Walleye clubhouse grounds, located at 5895 Southwestern Blvd., in Hamburg, from noon to 4 p.m. in a picnic format for all participants, with random merchandise drawings for all in attendance. For about 2,000 fishing folks, this should be a fun week.

Fishing techniques will vary from angler to angler, but most anglers will troll for the wily walleye. Effective trolling lures include deep-diving crankbaits, shallow-running stickbaits and spinner/worm harnesses. At this time of year, the lures are taken to proper depth with the additional use of side-planers, lead core line and intermediate snap-on sinkers.

For a report on the hottest Lake Erie walleye lures during the tournament, there is only one way, call a bait shop! They will sell out of every hot lure there is and be able to tell you that. You will usually not get that information from other anglers during the contest. Give Gerry Begier a call at Bill’s Hooks Bait & Tackle in Dunkirk, 366-0268, as her store is located amidst the usual early June hot fishing action between Barcelona and Dunkirk.

Please be courteous at the boat launch, as your patience may be tested with so many people heading to the lake with their fishing rigs.

Good luck to all!

New Whitetail E-Book

Neil and Craig Dougherty’s bestselling book, “Whitetails: From Ground to Gun”, is now available as an eBook. Some say the book has revolutionized deer hunting. “Everywhere we went, we heard from tech savvy hunters asking for an e-version, so we got busy and converted it to a Kindle version that will work on all kinds of devices,” Craig Dougherty said. The book provides new information on how big bucks interact with their environment and how to hunt them. The book is organized into two parts: Part I - “The Land Connection” focuses on the relationship between land and white-tailed deer. It examines how deer use land and how to create outstanding whitetail properties. Part II -”Mature Deer and How to Hunt Them,” provides unique insights into mature buck behavior and how to hunt them. The book’s 12 chapters are loaded with insight into how to think like a deer and how to consistently grow, hunt and take mature bucks in heavily hunted areas. New breakthrough information on the whitetail rut is a highlight of the book, as well as hundreds of proven tips, tactics, and illuminating photos. The Kindle eBook price is $9.99 and can be downladed at:

NYS Deer Birth Control Project

It takes all kinds of folks in this new, modern world of 2014. In one New York State community, a place called Hastings-On-Hudson, the Archery Wire News Service just informed us that the mayor and folks there are working with several groups to tranquilize and inject female wild deer with a trial birth control drug that will cost around $1,000 per animal. With a goal of injecting 50 doe, the project will be interesting for folks in this small village about 20 minutes north of Manhattan. For other folks, like you and me, who may occasionally wish to hunt our wild deer population, you gotta wonder how the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and NYS Department of Health would even consider allowing approval for such a project, since who knows what that drug might do to our child bearing population if humans were to eat some of these wild test deer? Maybe if you live in an area where no one would ever dare to eat meat, much less, fat-free venison, and the bushes and plants around your multi-million dollar home was daily food for wild deer, you could understand this project. Then again, maybe understanding wildlife control by contaminating the wild, free, populations of wild animals in one local area could also be well beyond local understanding. There are many details on this project that have been covered by Associated Press and many other news services, do a google search for more.

Outdoors Calendar

June 5: Southtowns Walleye monthly meeting, 5895 Southwestern Blvd., Hamburg, 649-8202.

June 5: Boston Valley 6-week trap league starts, 6-8 p.m., 9624 Zimmerman Road, Boston, open to public, call Ernie Miller 649-4651.

June 7: NYS Archery Safety Course, 8 a.m.-6 p.m., 5895 Southwestern Blvd., call 627-0147.

June 7-14: Southtowns Walleye 30th Annual Fishing Competition, call 649-8202 for information.

June 7 and 8: Lake Lane Fishing and Hunting Getaway Outdoor Show and Fishing Derby, 1339 Windfall Road, Olean, call 373-2080 for info.

Send outdoors info to Forrest Fisher 10 days in advance, Email:


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