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Rod, Gun and Game: Fishing is No. 1 in Western New York

LOOK AT THAT WHOPPER — Rich Davenport shows off his catch, during the recent VIP Fishing Event. Photo submitted by Forrest Fisher.

ERIE COUNTY — Last week, Erie County Fish Advisory Board member and economy statistics wizard Rich Davenport addressed a group of VIP legislators and regional media from Erie County and Chautauqua County, about Lake Erie fishing and boating activities. Speaking at a “VIP Fishing Event” sponsored at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club, Davenport emphasized that fishing is the No. 1 recreation in the country.

The event had brought Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards together for a few hours of fishing and fun, as well as many other local legislators from both counties. New York State Director of Fish and Wildlife Patricia Riexinger also addressed our under-utilized opportunities, with Great Lakes resources, but went on to provide additional information.

Riexinger said, “New York state is doing everything they can, within our limited budget, to help folks everywhere understand more about the incredible fishing opportunities we have, from our New York shorelines. Our fisheries biologists have done a great job and anglers only need to know more about where to access and who to call, for fishing services. We have just published a new I Love NY Guide to Great Lakes Fishing publication that should help anyone who wants to know more about Great Lakes fishing.”

The glossy paper booklet guide is 44 pages long, offers free depth charts of key Lake Erie fishing hotspots, with detailed explanations about when to fish, where to fish and how to fish. It is complete with full-color fish identification plates, launch sites, contact numbers and latitude/longitude coordinates. To obtain a free copy, write to NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, N.Y., 12233 or go online to

Some of the hotspots in the manual include high details of Evans Bar, Myers Reef, Seneca Shoal, Woodlawn Bar and more. The depth charts really make the guide effective and complete.

While the rough Lake Erie waters, that day, might have turned away many would-be anglers, Poloncarz and Edwards, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, had time to share common ideas and tight lines fishing together on the same boat, catching some huge fish.

Then Davenport provided a laundry list of vital economic facts, with data as proof of the need for more activity that each of the two county management groups might want to take advantage of, with regard to the Lake Erie waterway borne resources, since sorely needed economic stimulus for the region is available. Davenport said, “We only need to bring our efforts together and use the unmatchable benefits we have, right here, in this great Lake Erie.”

Davenport added valuable economy boosters are already present, but neither county really “goes after” world-class fishing tournaments, boat tour excursion ventures, scuba diving activities, sailing opportunities and many other water-related summer activity events, as a joint venture group. He added, “Lake Erie is a treasure.”

The event moderator was former NYS Assemblyman Dick Smith. Other speakers included Scott Gauld, a local BASS pro on bass fishing, Charter Captain Tom Marks on lake access, DEC fisheries biologist Don Einhouse and conservation club host Zen Olaw. The event spawned discussions on key issues and was highlighted with a walleye shore lunch at the conservation club.

As volunteer conservation groups provide leadership, to bring legislators together for common understanding that may benefit many others, into the future, so have these same groups brought together kids and parents to fishing.

It appears that, at least for fishing, the collective effort is yielding well-deserved results. Increased participation, in both fishing and boating, leads to increased license sales and boat registrations, key sources for funding state fish and wildlife conservation programs.

The 2013 Special Report on Fishing and Boating, just released by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and The Outdoor Foundation, also shows significant increases in fishing participation, among women and children.

In the United States, last year, 47 million Americans went fishing, an increase from 46.2 million in 2011.

While 9.4 million people stopped fishing, 10.2 million new or returning anglers participated in the sport, netting a gain of more than 870,000, establishing the highest number of new fishing participants ever recorded.

Americans made one billion fishing outings, in 2012, averaging 21.3 fishing days, per person. Forty-one percent of first-time fishing participants were female, bringing the total of female anglers to 34.4 percent. Adults 18 and older, with children in their households, participate in fishing at higher levels than adults without children. Fly fishing had the highest rate of first-time participants, with 20.5 percent.

Black bear attack
Last Monday, a 12-year-old girl was injured from an attack by a black bear, in a northern Michigan area. The young girl underwent surgery and is in stable condition, after suffering deep lacerations in her thigh.

Conservation officers on scene, shortly after the incident, said she was returning from a cabin when she first saw the bear and began to run, to reach homes nearby. The bear attacked and clawed her, but she was able to get to her feet and run again, when the bear caught up with her and attacked a second time.

The girl shouted for help, and a neighbor ran toward her, calling the girl’s name. This startled the bear and it ran off. The Department of Natural Resources is setting traps in the area and expected the bear will be euthanized and tested for disease, when caught. The estimated Michigan black bear population is 8,000 – 10,000 bears, mostly located in the Upper Peninsula.

New York has an estimated black bear population of 5,000 – 8,000, statewide. Back bears generally fear humans and will usually leave, if they become aware that people are present.

Bear attacks on human beings are very unusual and, in most cases, occur because a sow is protecting her cubs. In this case, there is no evidence that cubs were present. Use caution, if you witness a black bear.

Black bears are usually friendly and keep to themselves, but remember, they are wild animals and that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation also reminds us that black bears are fast, intelligent and can be dangerous.

Gun control issues wage on
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed three National Shooting Sports Froundation-opposed gun-control bills last Friday, that had been passed by the state Legislature, earlier this year. This included a ban on sales of .50-caliber firearms, despite his earlier call for such a measure. He also vetoed expanded background checks and a requirement that local law enforcement send information on missing guns to federal databases.

Christie said legislators had ignored his task force’s broad recommendations to address underlying causes for societal violence and, instead, focused on gun control. Christie did sign a bill to create a school-violence task force.

Outdoor calendar
Aug. 17-25: Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby, $10 or $20 entry, visit

Aug. 22: 3D Archery Shoot, West Falls Conservation Society, 15 targets, 4 p.m. – dusk, unlimited shooting, open to the public. Call 655-5030, for more information.

Aug. 24: NYS Hunter Safety Training, West Falls Conservation, 55 Bridge St., home-study course, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., Sept. 8: 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Call 662-5657, for more information.

Aug. 24 – 25: Great Lakes Tackle Invitational, walleye tourney, Harbor Creek, Erie, Pa. For more information, visit, or call 814-602-8432.

Aug. 26 – 28: NYS Hunter Safety Course, Eden-North Collins Rod & Gun, 2404 Sand Rock Road. Pre-register at 432-3049.

Aug. 27: 3D Archery Shoot, Allied Sportsmen Club, 12846 Clinton St., Marilla, 5:30 p.m. For more information, visit

Aug. 28: 3D Archery Shoot, Evans Rod & Gun, Cain Road., 4 p.m. – dusk. For more information, call 549-0333.

Aug. 28: 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 982-7069.

Sept. 7: Walleye Hunter Shootout, Port Maitland, Lake Erie, Canada. Fish from Grand River in Dunnville, Ontario. For more information, contact

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

Send information to Forrest Fisher Column’s outdoor calendar, 10 days in advance, via email to


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