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Rod, Gun and Game: Western New Yorkers head outside for season change

WE GOT A WHOPPER — Anglers fishing below Burt Dam in Eighteenmile Creek use long noodle-rod rigs and light monofilament line to score on big fish, beginning by Oct. 1. This brown trout weighed 18 pounds! Photo by Forrest Fisher.

BUFFALO — Hunters are thinking ahead to the Southern Tier early archery black bear and whitetail deer season that will open on Oct. 1, with hunting time from sunrise to sunset. There are numerous 3-D shoots, in many Western New York locations, to help archers hone arrow shooting skills, but many sportsmen are not finished with fishing season. The early archery season ends the day before the NYS big game firearms opener on Nov. 16.

Anglers fishing Lake Erie for walleye have experienced the usual end-of-summer slowdown, as school fish move back toward the western basin. Trollers working out of Buffalo, Sturgeon Point, Dunkirk and Barcelona said that, while the fish have scattered, they still have occasional fair catch rates.

Anglers fishing the deep water in the central portion of Lake Erie, west of Sturgeon Point and north of Cattaraugus Creek, near the international line, are still catching some impressive fish, though very few anglers are limiting out with six fish, per day. Working 65-70-foot-deep water, anglers running smaller stickbaits and black/purple or pink/green spinner-worm rig deployments closer to the bottom do very well. One problem with the worm rigs is that they attract smaller silver bass and white perch, foiling attempts for bigger walleye game fish. In this regard, many anglers prefer to run Renosky stickbaits with no worm, and have reported success.

Additionally, New York anglers fishing outside Presque Isle Bay near Erie, Pa., report limit catches of walleye fishing, just 2 miles outside the shoreline. Anglers are using similar stickbaits with sideplaner trolling rigs and six-10 colors of lead core line.

Local perch anglers dropping their minnow nets at the foot of West Ferry and Sheridan, looking for 2-3-inch emerald shiners are only catching tiny, newborn minnows, usually too small to use as bait. Some netters at Ferry Street used polarized sunglasses to find usable larger emeralds.

With emerald shiner minnows in the bucket, anglers also report that fathead minnows have worked well on the perch, in 70-71-foot depths off Evangola State Park. Anglers can access from Sturgeon Point or any of the three usual launches at Cattaraugus Creek. Two-hook spreader rigs work well on windy days, while in-line, two-hook, crappie style rigs score, on the calm days.

Local perch fishing mentor Herb Schultz advised, “Find a hungry school of perch and use 17-pound monofilament with 1-ounce sinkers with a sturdy crappie rig, to present the minnows. When the fish are on the feed, there is no need to use 4-pound or 6-pound line, to risk breaking fish off. Many times, you’ll find these Lake Erie perch are really big! Two of them will snap your line, if you are lucky enough to find the fish.”

Fishing for smallmouth bass with my granddaughter last weekend, it didn’t take much time trolling in waters between 20-30 feet deep to hook multiple big fish. Fishing near Van Burn Point and using downriggers set at 16-20 feet, we trailed the new Rapala Scatter Rap lure in silver/black at about 1.5-2 mph to enjoy heavy fish, in short order. While we could only see one other bass angler, in the distance, other bass anglers typically work drop shot rigs with plastic baits or jig heads near the bottom, to enjoy similar success on the rocky shoals that exist from Buffalo to Pennsylvania.

Anglers from all over the northeast can be found fishing Lake Ontario and the Niagara and Orleans County tributaries for king salmon; from a boat not far offshore. This is the hottest local action on the WNY fishing scene, right now.

Mature king salmon running on the heavy side, between 30-38 pounds, have been taken by trollers working flasher-fly rigs or spoons in 70-150 feet of water, between Olcott Harbor and the Niagara Bar, with the deep edge of the bar providing some great fishing action. Steelhead, Coho salmon, lake trout and brown trout have also provided mixed bag Salmonid fun for trollers, with the lake trout and brown trout usually found closer to the bottom, in 60-65 feet.

When the recent winds have driven boat anglers off the lake, shore anglers have started to catch a few salmon and brown trout from the piers, too. The Lower Niagara River water temperatures are still about the same as Lake Erie and not quite cold enough for the big king salmon run to trigger yet, but as soon as we have a few more cold mornings, the fish will be there in big numbers, making for some incredible fishing fun for shore anglers.

To learn more about the type of tackle you need and what lures to use, check the New York State Department of Conservation website at There you will also find advice on technique and links to maps famous for annual runs of Chinook salmon.

“No crossbow” for NYS this year
Sen. Pat Gallivan addressed about 100 visitors at the WNY Safari Club meeting at Michael’s Banquet Hall, last week.

“We have conducted our own polls with sportsmen at outdoor shows and across the region, with mailers, and found that the vast majority, about 65 percent, favor crossbow hunting in New York state,” Gallivan said, at that meeting.

“While even the NYSDEC is in favor of crossbow hunting and even some of the New York bowhunters agree, there seems to be just one issue and his name is Assemblyman Robert K. Sweeney from Long Island.,” he continued. “Sweeney is the chairman of the New York State Assembly Environmental Committee and he personally does not favor crossbow because he says it is a superior weapon. The issue is that crossbow cannot even come up for discussion, because the chairman Sweeney will not even allow it to be brought to the floor.”

Gallivan said that, when asked about it, Sweeney was reported to say, “I can’t let it come up for discussion and a vote – it will pass.”

Gallivan sadded, “If you know the real story, from the polls and the people, then you must realize that this position does not represent the position of the people and, in my opinion, that is simply wrong.”

Sportsmen at the Safari Club gathering said that this shows that the people of New York can be ignored with politics and legislators like Sweeney, who do not always represent the wishes of the people they are serving, allowing almost everyone there to agree that America is changing and democracy may need a new definition.

Gallivan advised his constituents to send emails, send letters and make phone calls to local legislators and especially to Assemblyman Sweeney’s office.

“You know, if the people said no to crossbow hunting, I would represent that position, but that is not the case and that is why we did our own own research,” Gallivan concluded.

Wayne Masters dies
Better known as “The Deer Lick” on Facebook, a knowledgeable and humble outdoor mentor for many, Wayne Masters, 68, of Tully, N.Y., passed away unexpectedly on Aug. 27. Masters was known for his research and articles on food plots and whitetail deer management. He had 30 years of experience as a wildlife technician for the NYSDEC, retiring in 2007. He worked with conservation clubs and cooperatives, across NYS, for 17 years. Masters was active as a sportsman and conservationist; he served as the president of the New York State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. He was a licensed NYS Outdoor Guide and will be missed by sportsmen from all across New York.

Outdoor calendar
– Sept. 12: Archery Shoot, West Falls Conservation Society, 15 targets, 4 p.m.-dusk, unlimited shooting. For more information, call 655-5030.

– 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. 17: 3-D Archery Shoot, Allied Sportsmen Club, 12846 Clinton St., Marilla, 5:30 p.m. For more information, visit

– Sept. 18: 3-D Archery Shoot, Evans Rod & Gun, Cain Road., 4 p.m,-dusk. For more information, call 549-0333.

– Sept. 18: 3D Archery Shoot, East Aurora Fish & Game, 1016 Luther Road, East Aurora, 5 p.m.-dusk, unlimited shooting, target bunks, open to the public. For more information, call Nadine at 982-7069.

– Sept. 19: Seminar, 7 p.m. Economics of Lake Erie. Professor Bruce Fisher will speak. Lake Erie Seaway Trail Center, Route 5, Woodlawn.

Send information for the outdoor calendar, 10 days in advance, via email to


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