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Rod, Gun and Game: Ready those boats for the Lake Erie Walleye Tournament

BUFFALO — Western New York anglers have their rods, reel, lures and lines ready for the Southtowns Walleye Tournament on Lake Erie. This eight-day event will run Saturday, June 8 at midnight – Sunday, June 16 at 4 p.m.

The weather was not cooperating last weekend at Barcelona Harbor, during pre-tournament fishing.

Strong, gusty winds, from the south and southeast, spawned 3 – 5-foot waves, a few miles offshore. The previous night’s storm generated west – east surface currents, in excess of 4 mph.

This type of lake current moves the location of baitfish forage and predator schools to more offshore locations. That means, if you went perch fishing in 50 feet of water, dropped your anchor and turned on your boat speed indicator, you will read approximately 4.1 mph on the boat speed gauge. That is a true test of your anchor rope’s and your anchor’s abilities to hold bottom.

Getting your anchor back, in those conditions, might take some effort. In the future, when you detect this type of current, remember: Do not anchor. Go home, to reduce the length of your honey-do list.

Several days of strong, offshore winds can also turn the lake over and cause the fish to either be killed by thermal shock effects or move 20 or 30 miles, to more comfortable water temperatures.

Before launching, check the lake water temperatures, online, at

When we returned to Barcelona Harbor, windblown and wobbly, Judy Hafner approached our boat, during retrieval. She said she knew that the fishing and lake conditions could have been better.

Hafner asked me to step inside and meet some friends of hers. She said that she was a United States Coast Guard Auxiliary-certified vessel examiner from Dunkirk Detachment Flotilla 32 and was looking for some boats to inspect. She said, “Are you man enough to show all of us you are driving a safe boat?”

The last time I took my 21-foot Sylvan Super-Sportsmen in for inspection was in 1989. That sticker was still on the bow window.

Hafner recorded my hull ID number and checked, to make sure the New York State registration letter numbering scheme agreed with the registration.

She asked if I had ever taken a boating safety course. I had, quite a few years ago. But Hafner said that the rules of navigation have not changed, during the last 20 years. I had two stickers, handed out at the Erie County Fair, on my dashboard.

After all was said and done, Hafner asked to see my hand signal flares and distress flag. I asked why there is a 3-year old rule for hand flares, since they always work. Hafner said that flares work, if they are kept dry, but many become wet on boats.

I think this rule might actually be about economic impact and financial support to certain agencies.

After the inspection, which I passed, Hafner told me that she works between 96 and 100 hours, per month, doing training and boating inspections.

Every organization has volunteers, but here is one example of a hard worker who volunteers nearly all of her free time to help others.

My hat’s off to Hafner, who is affiliated with the United States Department of Homeland Security, Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary, Ninth District, Eastern Region, Division 3, Flotilla 32 and Dunkirk Detachment. For more information about the next boat inspection event, email

The anglers who figured out the Barcelona current did well. The fish averaged 7 – 8 pounds. All were taken on stickbaits, but none of the anglers would share their lure colors, hook modifications for lure balance, lead core color numbers and boat speed. Everyone who caught fish needed to compensate for the lake current.

Best of luck, to everyone participating in the walleye contest, June 8 – 16. Contest Chairman Roy Walczak and Cochair Cody Allen reminded everyone to register by Friday, June 7, to participate. The cost is $25. A Calcutta is also available, for another $20.

Call the SWA office at 649-8237 or call Walczak at 627-3172.

March on Albany

A group of approximately 25,000 gun owners will assemble in Albany on June 11, to protest the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Act.

Speakers will include “Justice with Judge Jeanine” host Jeanine Pirro and a former district attorney from Westchester County, N.Y. Former Secret Service agent and U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino and gun rights advocate and former New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino will also attend, as well as Assemblyman and radio talk show host Bill Nojay.

The Sportsman Clubs Shooters Committee on Political Education and Erie County Federation bus groups will depart from the Eastern Hills Mall on June 11 at 4:30 a.m. and will arrive in Albany at 10. Buses will return to the mall by 8:30 p.m. To make reservations to be a passenger, contact Rich Davenport at 510-7952 or Approximately 18,000 advocates’ opposing the NY SAFE Act made a previous trip on Feb. 28.

Cabela’s in Buffalo

After all the anticipation and ensuing disappointment, regarding a Bass Pro Shops store in downtown Buffalo, a major outdoor retailer has finally made a commitment to tap into the economic benefit that 110,000 licensed sportsmen in Erie County can provide.

Erie County has the highest number of licensed sportsmen in the state. The new, 88,000 square foot facility will attract those who hunt, fish, shoot, trap, camp, hike and picnic.

The new Cabela’s store will be located across from the Galleria Mall on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga. A grand opening is scheduled, for some time next year.

Outdoor calendar

– June 8: Kids fishing clinic, Tifft Nature Preserve, 1200 Furhmann Blvd. Five learning stations will be open, from 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. The free event is open to the public. Bait and rigs will be provided, as well as a Sahlens hot dog lunch. Call 851-7010, to register or for more information.

– June 8 – 16: Southtowns Walleye Tournament on Lake Erie. Winner will be the angler with the largest single fish. There is a $25 entry fee. For more information, call 649-8237 or 627-3172 or visit or

– June 16: Niagara Frontier Gun Show, Alexander Fireman’s Hall, Route 98, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. For more information, visit

– June 26: Summer fly fishing with Ray Marks, six-week class. Lake Shore Central School. Call 926-2270, to register.

– June 28 and 29: BassEye Celebrity Fishing Challenge, NFTA small boat harbor, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation fundraiser and bass-walleye contest. For more information, call 204-2535 or visit

Send information for the Springville Journal’s Forrest Fisher column, 10 days in advance, to

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