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Rod, Gun and Game: Eastern Basin Lake Erie is home to Walleye cash

Our eastern basin Lake Erie is home to some of the top walleye tournament events in the entire country. Imagine getting paid to fish for cash, merchandise, fame and a great time on the water? The Lake Erie waters along the New York shoreline offer exactly such fine opportunity!

The Southtowns Walleye Association recently ended their 8-day walleye tournament with an awards ceremony that featured 400 people in attendance at their club headquarters located at 5895 Southwestern Boulevard in Hamburg. While this event paid the top 200 walleye catchers with cash prizes, the big fish and big cash of the tournament went to Mark Herring with his 12.24 pound walleye monster.

The Southtowns Walleye Association clubhouse is open to the public for dinner festivities every Thursday evening, with monthly meetings held on the 3rd Thursday of each month. For more info, visit or call (716) 649-8202.

Multiple other walleye tournament events are just ahead, starting with the Amara-Can Walleye Classic, a team event hosted by the New York Walleye Association. This is a two day, team event on July 12 and 13, 2014. Teams can be a minimum of two anglers per boat or a maximum of four, with an entry fee of $125 per team that will weigh in five walleye per day for each of the two tournament days at the weigh-in site situated at Chadwick Bay Marina in Dunkirk. The Amara-Can is set up for a maximum of 150 teams.

For more info regarding the Amara-Can, drop an email to, write the New York Walleye Association at P.O. Box 373, Buffalo, N.Y., 14207, or by telephone, call Bob Zoeller at (716) 875-8148 or Dayton Kane at 875-8872. The NY Walleye Association meets the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30 P.M. at the American Legion Niagara Frontier Post #1041, 533 Amherst St. Buffalo, N.Y. 14207.

The Sunset Bay Walleye Shoot-Out is a new walleye tournament now in its second year. This event will run from the mouth of Cattaraugus Creek and is limited to the first 65 teams and has a waiting list right now. Entry fee is $500 per team and this event is very popular with walleye anglers because of the 100% payout policy. Tournament day is July 26, 2014, with an optional pre-fish tournament ($100 extra fee) set for the day before. For info on the Sunset Bay Walleye Shoot-Out, email Captain Don Ruppert at or call tournament director, Bob Rustowicz at (716) 830-6394.

The Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club Walleye Derby is a 3-day event set for August 1st, 2nd and 3rd, 2014. This is another team event geared to biggest three daily fish and biggest single fish of the day for the three tournament days. Limited to 100 teams, this event has a waiting list for new teams to register. For info, contact Zen Olow at (716) 640-2776.

Where else would you rather be than eastern basin Lake Erie when it comes to trophy walleye fishing? The aye’s have it! We live in a great country, have a great Independence Day!

NYS Black Bear Plan/New Hunting Rules

The NYSDEC is proposing a new ten-year black bear management plan that outlines the principles and methods used to monitor and manage black bear populations in New York. The plan will provide strategic guidance for future bear-related activities, including several proposed hunting rule changes.

Key elements of the new bear plan will maintain scientific monitoring of bear populations, continued use of stakeholders (hunters, farmers, campers, general public) to assess bear impacts and identify population trend objectives, recommendations to expand areas open to bear hunting throughout upstate New York and to increase hunting opportunities in portions of southeastern New York. The plan emphasizes an integrated DEC approach to reduce negative black bear impacts by increasing public awareness to prevent human-bear conflicts, by addressing individual incidents of bear damage, and by controlling bear population numbers in areas where necessary.

To begin implementing the new bear plan, DEC proposed hunting rule changes that will establish or revise bear hunting seasons in upstate New York, create a supplemental early firearms season for the Catskills and Western Hudson Valley area, and provide a uniform start for bowhunting and early bear seasons in the Northern Zone.

More specifically, the proposed changes will allow bear hunting in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 6A, 6G, 6N, and all of 6K during the Northern Zone early bowhunting season, early muzzleloader season, and regular firearms season; allow bear hunting in WMUs 4A, 4B, 4J, 5R, 6P, 6R, 6S, 7A, 7F, 7H, 7J, 8A, 8C, 8F, 8G, 9A, and 9F during the Southern Zone early and late bowhunting seasons, regular firearms season, and late muzzleloading season; create a supplemental firearms bear season for 16 days beginning the 1st Saturday after Labor Day (Sept. 6 - Sept. 21, 2014) in WMUs 3A, 3C, 3H, 3K, 3J, 3M, 3P, 3R, 4P, and 4R; begin the Northern Zone bowhunting season for bears on the same day as the early bear season, the 1st Saturday after the 2nd Monday in September (2nd Saturday after Labor Day).

The written public comment period on the proposed hunting changes will end on Monday, July 7, 2014. Send your thoughts and comments by email to: or by snail mail (in writing) to: Mr. Bryan L. Swift, NYSDEC - Bureau of Wildlife, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY, 12233-4754.

NYS Deer Harvest Numbers

New York big game hunters harvested 243,550 deer during the 2013-14 hunting seasons, nearly equivalent to the statewide the year before. The totals include 128,850 antlerless deer (adult females and fawns) and 114,700 adult bucks (1.5 years or older). Northern zone hunters took 32,300 deer, including 19,500 adult bucks, while southern zone hunters (not counting Long Island) took 208,300 deer, including 94,200 adult bucks.

Hunters took a record number of bucks (approximately 55,300) aged 2.5 years or older in 2013. These older bucks, which many hunters desire, accounted for 48 percent of harvested adult bucks statewide in 2013, compared to only 33 percent (45,350) in 2000 when New York’s deer population peaked. That compares to only 28 percent (33,000) in the early 1990s. One reason for this type of record size harvest is the overall size of the deer population, which is larger than desired in most of NYS. Although mandatory antler restrictions in 11 WMUs in southeastern New York are a contributing factor, many New York hunters outside those areas are voluntarily choosing not to take young bucks, thereby letting these bucks get another year or two older before they are taken.

The DEC confirms that more antlerless deer need to be harvested, marking a trend of concern for DEC big game managers. In portions of southeastern New York and our Lake Plains region here in WNY, harvest trends confirm that deer populations are too high. This means that deer numbers are above levels recommended by local stakeholders who live, hunt or manage land in those areas.

Even with the liberal opportunities to harvest antlerless deer by hunters, DEC has stated that not enough doe’s are being harvested to reduce deer populations to desired levels. In these areas, DEC has formally announced they must consider new ways to increase the antlerless deer harvest to achieve highway safety and public interest. Stay tuned.

The deer harvest data is gathered by DEC from two main sources: harvest reports that are called in or sent in (mandatory reporting) from successful hunters, and DEC staff examination of nearly 16,200 harvested deer at check stations and meat processors. The statewide harvest estimates are concluded from cross-referencing these data.

Note that 2013 marked the second youth deer hunt event in New York State that was conducted over Columbus Day Weekend. Youth deer hunters include 14 and 15-year old junior hunters that were allowed one deer harvest with a firearm, antlered or antlerless, when properly accompanied by a licensed and experienced adult mentor. An estimated 8,860 junior hunters participated last year, harvesting 1,275 deer (728 adult bucks and 547 antlerless deer). Congratulations to these young hunters helping the wildlife management cause!

More info and about the 2013-14 deer harvests, including charts and maps describing the harvest, is available from DEC at this website link:

Outdoors Calendar

July 12-13: Amara-Can Walleye Classic, Chadwick Bay Marina – Dunkirk Harbor, 5 fish/day for 2 days, call 716-875-8148

July 26: Sunset Bay Walleye Shoot-Out, Lake Erie at Sunset Bay, NY, 6 fish/day for 1 day, email:; cell: Bob Rustowicz 716-830-6394

Aug. 1-3: Northern Chautauqua Conservation Walleye Derby, Dunkirk Harbor, contact: Zen Olaw 716-640-2776.

Send outdoors info to Forrest Fisher Column 10 days in advance, email:

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