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Rod, Gun and Game: Western New York perch contest offers fun to all participants

CAUGHT THE BIG ONE — Chris Thiel said that his two daughters, Katie (left) and Alexandra are his good luck charms, when it comes to turkey hunting. Theil took this 20-pound bird at 8:30 a.m. near Boston, on May 18.

BUFFALO — For the 197 contestants participating in the Southtowns Walleye yellow perch fishing contest was a fun-filled day, complete with a complete fish fry dinner, clam bake, unlimited beverages and a room full of experienced anglers.

Participants fished from various launch access points, including Buffalo, Sturgeon Point and Cattaraugus Creek. I counted more than 75 boat trailers at Sturgeon Point, where many anglers had to work hard for their catch. Nearly every group caught a few 10 – 12-inch fish.

Contest chairmen Ray Barren and Jerry Lesinski conducted the weigh-in. Each angler weighed his or her five largest perch. My grandson had one doubleheader, in which he caught a 13-inch and 12-inch fish on a Ted Malota chartreuse-colored spreader rig, with live emerald shiner minnow bait. He was proud to hear he had 4.89 pounds for his five fish.

Lesinski said that my grandson had produced the heaviest bag for a youth, so far.

We fished in 54 feet of water, outside the pack of boats, which were located about a mile offshore from Sturgeon Point.

Bob Hollingsworth won the contest, with a 6.84 pound bag, including one fish that was measured at nearly 15 inches long; this was a female that was still full of eggs. Most perch spawned about two weeks earlier, so this was a late fish.

Hollingsworth said that he fished the area between Evangola State Park and Point Breeze campground, in approximately 53 feet of water, to find the feeding school of perch. He and his partner hooked approximately 70 fish. Hollingsworth took home the $300 first prize.

The remaining winners were Dave Shaffer, with 6.43 pounds of fish; Dick Shaffer, with 6.17; Anthony Quick, with 5.95; Fred Skrabucha, with 5.90; Tim Gaul, with 5.87; Jerry Kempf, with 5.87; Jim Senica, with 5.77; Kathleen Muir, with 5.56 and Bruce Wager, with 5.55.

Youth entrants were placed into a free raffle drawing, in which several rods and reels and tackle grab bags were given away. The prizes were donated by Jim Dolly of Triple-S Wholesale Sporting Goods.

Volunteers cleaned about 1,000 perch, which were turned in, for the fish fry cookout. Approximately 200 perch were given out, to the participants who had not caught any.

Roy Walczak was the gatekeeper for the fish fillets; he checked for bones and ran the fish into the kitchen, where Dennis Strobel and Doug Freeman headed up the kitchen staff and cooked the massive amount of fish. Other volunteers included Nancy Walczak and her raffle crew, as well as Ron Wutz and Wager.

President David “Woody” Woodworth oversaw the dinner and awards. All of his grandchildren were at the event, with him, in the new Southtowns Walleye facility clubhouse, the former Club Lorelie. That facility is located at 5895 Southwestern Blvd. in Hamburg.

The upcoming nine-day walleye contest on Lake Erie will cost participants $25. Other special events, such as a spring trip to fish the Atlantic Ocean from Boston, near Cape Cod, for cod, halibut and other ocean fish, soon will be announced.

Beside hosting these fun activities, the group also addresses policies, regarding fishing, hunting and shooting.

Meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m., except for June, which the event is held on the first Thursday, before the annual Southtowns walleye contest June 8 - 16.

That event will feature thousands of dollars in prizes. Visit, to view a list of registration stations.

Sponsors included Emerling Chevrolet, Big Jon Sports, Hi Tech, Northern King, Torpedo Divers™, Moor Electronics©, Slide Diver©, Faria Marine Instruments©, Challenger Lures, Labatt Blue©, Budweiser®, Reef Runner®, Traxtech® and Lake Onaping Fishing Lodge. For more information, call 649-8202.

Turkey hunting in WNY

Chris Thiel took his two daughters turkey hunting in the rolling hills of Boston, on May 18. This was 9-year-old Katie’s first time out and 12-year-old Alexandra’s second time.

Thiel and his daughters headed out before sunrise and hunted various spots. This was a warm spring day with overcast skies, which Thiel said he prefers, so the sun is not illuminating the hunters. The trio watched four gobblers strutting about 200 yards away, but could not call in the birds.

The turkeys eventually vanished into the scrub brush. Later, a strutting gobbler walked toward the hunters’ setup. Thiel asked his daughters to cover their ears and took the bird, with a 30-yard shot, using his newly-camouflage Mossberg 500 with Remington Nitro 3-inch No. 5 load, at 8:30 a.m. The bird weighed 20 pounds, undressed, and had a 9-inch beard and 1-inch spurs.

Thiel said, “My kids are lucky charms, since I harvested a jake last year, with Alexandra and my son Anthony. I’m sure they’ll never forget this special moment.”

Thanks to growing spring foliage, turkey hunters are experiencing increasingly-reduced visibility, in the woods.

When taking your shots, ensure that no other hunters are in the area. While the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation reported reduced numbers of birds, many local hunters have done well.

California leads in law race

The California Justice Department recently announced that the technology to microstamp firearms is now unencumbered by patents. As a result, a law passed in 2007 has become effective.

Every newly-introduced semiautomatic handgun model in the state must now have a microstamped firing pin, that would engrave the firearm’s identification information on each cartridge casing that is fired from the pistol.

The law was never before implemented, because the technology was patented. The new law can be considered a gun ban, since manufacturers cannot legally comply with the law.

The patent-holder said that his concept functions unreliably and requires further study and he pointed out that it should not be legislatively mandated, at this time.

Microstamping can be easily circumvented by criminals, by their filing down the imprinted code or swapping in an unmarked pin.

California also became the first state to ban the use of traditional lead ammunition, in hunting. The previous traditional ammunition was banned only in California condor range areas.

Additional gun laws

Colorado and Maryland have recently passed legislation that is similar to the New York State Secure Ammunition and Firearms Act.

Maryland will completely ban modern sporting rifles. That state sheriff’s departments announced that they will not support the new laws and added that they view the new legislation as opposition to the United States Constitution’s Second Amendment.

Outdoor calendar

– June 1: “Teach-me-to-fish” fun derby for kids and parents. East Aurora Fish & Game Club, located at 1016 Luther Road; 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Free. Includes lunch and free rod and reel prizes. For more information, interested parties can call Dave Smyczynski at 949-9483.

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

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