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Rod, Gun and Game: Want to catch your dinner? Follow these guidelines

BUFFALO — Fishing is a fun and relaxing activity and an affordable way to feed your family, and Western New York has some of the best fishing in the country.

However, certain waterways in Western New York have a long history of pollution, that has made some of these fish harmful to eat. A new website,, offers easy-to-understand materials to educate Western New Yorkers on how to make healthier choices, when eating locally caught fish.

The website offers an interactive and easy-to-understand guide created to educate anglers and fish consumers about eating fish caught in Western New York. This guide answers questions such as “Are fish healthy to eat?,” “Can I see pollution in water and fish?” and “Will eating polluted fish make me sick?”

Also included in this guide are tips for choosing healthier fish and making fish meals safer to eat, a fish identification section, waterway maps, for many popular local waterways, and fish consumption advisory information issued by the New York State Department of Health, for all local waterways with specific health advisories.

There is information about buying fish, how to make the best choices in the store and where fish in the store come from. Sometimes, locally caught fish can be a better choice.

It is important to know that fish from popular local waterways are tested, but fish testing does not take place in every NYS waterway; it focuses on popular local fishing spots, that are known or are likely to be polluted. Not all types of fish in NYS are tested for pollution, only the fish most likely caught by people who fish for sport. Fish are not tested for all types of harmful chemicals, only for certain chemicals, because resources are limited. Many of the new chemicals that enter our waterways each year are untested and their effect on human health is unknown.

For official NYSDOH advisories and recommendations on fish consumption, go to or call 1-800-458-1158. Remember that proper cleaning of fish will go a long way toward reducing and nearly eliminating many contaminants.

Lake Erie is actually very clean and quite clear, too. It is possible to see 30 – 40 feet down, on many days, making it a scuba divers’ wonderland. The zebra mussels helped to clean up the lake, even though they are an invasive species, brought here in the ballast water of sea-going ships – another source of pollution we need to control.

To bring yet more attention to the message of fish consumption and cleaning up our local waterways, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is piloting a new mobile messaging campaign called Catch of the Day, that encourages anglers to use their phones to upload pictures of their catch and in return, receive a link to their new fish consumption advisory materials, at All you have to do is text “COD” to 877-877 and follow the prompts.

Their goal is to show all the activity that is going on, along our revamped Buffalo and WNY waterfront. Riverkeeper will also take catch of the day photos and post them on Facebook page and on the community foundations website, at They are hopeful that such popular social media will help increase interest in our local waterways and increase awareness about local fish consumption advisories.

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper has created posters and picture-based pocket guides, originally intended for the inner-city refugee community in Buffalo, with information about eating fish caught in Western New York. The pocket guide provides focus on helping the reader to identify common local fish and helps educate folks about which fish tend to be less polluted and safer to eat.

The free information also contain important facts about the health risks of eating chemically polluted fish, water pollution and helpful tips for making fish meals safer to eat. This guide is also available in several languages.

While modern manufacturing processes are more in control from pollution than ever, one of the major problems that still exists, in several areas of WNY, is sewage pollution. Sewage is a mixture of everything that is flushed or poured down the drain and can contain human waste and medicines, plus harmful chemicals. Stormwater is any water that runs off hard surfaces, such as buildings and roads, and into the sewer. It can contain fertilizer and pesticides, which wash off lawns and farms, as well as chemicals and trash which wash off roads, when it rains.

Combined sewer overflows are still a major source of water pollution, in WNY 
The bottom line is that sewer overflows make our waterways less safe, by polluting them with untreated sewage and stormwater containing harmful germs and chemicals. In WNY, there are 52 combined sewer outflow points that overflow into many local streams. Those include the Niagara River, Black Rock Canal, Buffalo River, Scajaquada Creek, Cazenovia Creek and many others.

While all of this overflow activity is unhealthy, it also adds to another problem that is getting bigger, each year: blue-green algae blooms. While we hear much more about this problem in the western basin of Lake Erie, this is everyone’s problem, today. Blue-green algae are naturally found in lakes and streams, but these naturally occurring algae can form harmful algae blooms in nutrient-rich waterways, caused by sewage overflows.

Human contact with large amounts of blue-green algae can be toxic to humans and animals, too. It can be difficult to tell a non-toxic or toxic bloom, but blue-green algae blooms can discolor the water, making it look like pea soup or have floating dots of algae or water, with green streaks on the surface. Rinse off your skin, if you come into contact with an algal bloom.

Many towns and cities have sewer systems that combine sewage and stormwater in the same pipe, before treatment. Each year, more than four billion gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater are dumped into local waterways, when these sewer systems overflow, during storms, due to limited capacity issues.

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper created the materials for the benefit of public health, with funding from the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. For updates on the project and riverkeeper’s public health and environmental justice work, visit

To learn about riverkeeper’s other exciting programs, events and initiatives to protect and restore the quality and quantity of our local waterways, while connecting people to water, visit

If you would like to request a copy of the poster or pocket guide, call 852-7483 ext. 26 or email

Bass Pro shops sponsors NHF day
Conserving wildlife and the lands that offer what we all enjoy in the outdoors, are of the utmost importance. National Hunting and Fishing Day is a day set aside to celebrate all that sportsmen do, to support those efforts.

This year, Bass Pro Shops once again announced its continued, major sponsorship of National Hunting and Fishing Day, which continues to benefit hunters, fishermen and outdoorsmen. Each year, NHF Day is set to take place on the fourth Saturday in September. This year, NHF Day falls on Sept. 28.

In Erie County, the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen, in conjunction with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and host Elma Conservation Club, located at 600 Creek Road in Elma, will offer a whole day event, beginning at 9 a.m. on Sept. 28.

There will be 23 learning stations, where the kids can learn to tie a fly, make a lure, shoot a long bow, compound bow, crossbow and bb-gun, shoot a shotgun at a flying trap target, learn to cast a line, watch a dog retriever work in the pond or see a host of birds of prey, such as hawks, eagles and more. It’s quite an event and it’s all free. For more information, contact Rich Davenport at 510-7952 or

Team USA claims gold at archery world cup
After just missing the seemingly elusive gold team medal in the past two World Cup stages, Reo Wilde of Pocatello, Idaho; Dave Cousins of Standish, Maine and Braden Gellenthien of College Station, Texas have regained their spot at the top of the podium. In a surprise match-up against a young team from South Africa, the experienced American archers prevailed, taking a slow but steady lead to finish with gold. Korea took bronze, over the Netherlands.

USA Archery is the national governing body for the Olympic sport of archery, in the United States. USAA selects and trains Olympic, Paralympic, World Championship, Para World Championship, Pan Am and Parapan Am teams, as well as developing archery, at the grassroots level, across the United States.

Thousands of archers participate in USA Archery’s National Championship and United States Archery team qualifier series events, each year. Local archery legend Jake Kamiski is also a member of the strong USA Olympic archery team that defeated the Korean super-team, last summer.

Outdoor calendar
– Aug. 29: 3D Archery Shoot, West Falls Conservation Society, 15 targets, 4 p.m. – dusk, unlimited shooting, open to the public. For more information, call 655-5030.

– Aug. 29: NYS Waterfowl ID Course, Elma Conservation, 600 Creek Road, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m., Call 681-5690 to register or for more information.

– Aug. 30: NYS Hunter Safety Training, Elma Conservation, 600 Creek Road, pick up materials, from 7 – 8 p.m. For the Sept. 14 – 15 course, call 681-5690.

– Aug. 31: NYS Archery Training, Allied Sportsmen, 12847 Clinton St., Marilla, Home Study, 7 a.m. – 4 p.m., Call 474-0460, 6 – 9 p.m.

– Sept. 2: Hawkeye Bowmen 3D Labor Day Archery Shoot, 13300 Clinton St., Marilla, 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. For more information, call 998-4857.

– Sept. 3: 3D Archery Shoot, Allied Sportsmen Club, 12846 Clinton St., Marilla, 5:30 p.m. For more information, visit

– Sept. 4: 3D Archery Shoot, Evans Rod & Gun, Cain Road, 4 p.m. until dusk. For more information, call 549-0333.

– Sept. 4: 3D Archery Shoot, East Aurora Fish & Game, 1016 Luther Road, East Aurora, 5 p.m.– dusk, unlimited shooting, target bunks, open to the public. Call 982-7069, for more information.

– Sept. 7, 14: NYS Hunter Safety Training, Southtowns Walleye Association, 5895 Southwestern Blvd, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sept. 7, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sep 14. For more information, call 627-0147.

– Sept. 14: WNY Chapter 29 Pheasants Forever Banquet, Classics Banquet Hall, 2425 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst. Call 568-1619 or 433-3547 for tickets or more information.

– Sept. 28: Annual Hunting Exposition, Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel, 777 Seneca Allegany Road, Salamanca, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., For more information, call 569-6810 or visit

– Sept. 28: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s annual fall festival, Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve in Cheektowaga, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. For more information, call 683-5959 or visit and search for fall festival.

Send information to Forrest Fisher Column, 10 days in advance, via email to


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