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Rod, Gun & Game: Tourneys could yield big fish

GREAT CATCH — Marcos Rodriguez, who served with the Marines in Iraq, used an 8-foot Shimano fishing rod and Daiwa 27LG fishing reel, aboard Captain Fred Forsythe’s Castaway Charters recently, to catch this 9-pound walleye on a stickbait on Lake Erie near Barcelona.
The fishing buzz about Lake Erie walleye action this year has been nothing short of spectacular. The big surprise is that there are so many walleye schools located within a 15-minute boat ride just west of Erie Basin marina in Buffalo. People that have never caught big walleye before are coming back to the dock with limit catches of the usually hard-to-catch fish.

Being in the right place at the right time is a big part of it, but when so many transition fish (fish from Ohio waters that swam here for the summer) remain domiciled to remain in one area for over a month, as they have, pretty soon they run out of available forage and angler offerings look pretty good.

As the weather changes with the recent cool mornings for the last week or so, the water temperature is dropping and the fish may be fooled into thinking autumn is on the way. The fish could start their swim back to the western basin of Lake Erie, which has seen water temperature drop from 79 – 73 degrees in just six days, indicating that the weather may play a big factor for anglers to find the schooled fish for two Lake Erie walleye derbies running this weekend.

The big boat action with dozens of charter fishing captains and ordinary anglers competing against each other will be at the annual “Con Club” tournament held with headquarters at the Northern Chautauqua County Conservation Club at the foot of Mullet Street in downtown Dunkirk on the harbor.

The derby starts on Thursday, Aug. 1, with the captain’s meeting at 6 p.m., then full day fishing on Friday and Saturday with weigh-in starting at 3 p.m., then half-day fishing on Sunday, Aug. 4, with weigh station starting at 1 p.m. All activities are headquartered at the club facility, which usually attracts several hundred people to attend, each year.

The tournament is sold out to capacity, with 100 four-man teams registered for the event. More than 20 teams are in reserve if a team decides to drop out. This action offers more than $25,000 in cash prizes. For more information, call Zen Olaw at 640-2776.

The other weekend tournament in the running is the one-day fun fishing contest at Bison City Rod and Gun Club, located at 511 Ohio St. in Buffalo. This tournament is open to Bison City members and will feature prizes for biggest fish across three species: walleye, bass and yellow perch. Sign-up for members is at the club facility, with official weigh-in at 4 p.m., followed by dinner for participants.

In either of these fishing events, anglers realize landing one of the bigger fish is not easy. First, you need the right lures or baits and the hooks need to be sharp and strong, something that not every angler checks before each trip. Do it, if you plan to be in the winner’s circle at either of these events!

Diving planes, downriggers and side-planers with weighted lines have all been fooling limit catches of walleye, with copper and pink the hot colors, during these last few days. Renosky and Bomber stickbaits and spinner-worm offerings, too, have resulted in limit catches by anglers, but the other hottest new lure that is quietly taking the action by storm is the new Rapala Scatter Rap.

Get your lure to arrive at the 35 – 45 feet from surface level by whatever means you use; winning anglers need to assure that their equipment is strong and right. Check the line for nicks and frays, especially within the last 50 feet to the leader. Check your rod guides and assure they too are free of nicks and cracks, because rod guides will shred your line faster than a fish and especially when you have that 15-pounder coming to net. The same goes for rusty hooks and split rings: replace them.

Many anglers use fluorocarbon leaders to tie up their spinner/worm rigs. This is OK for inland lakes, where walleye are smaller, and never go too far above 8 – 10 pounds, but on Lake Erie, experts advise to use only steel leaders on the spinner/worm rigs.

Assuring that your line, rod and guides are good, hooks and split rings are acceptable and that, if you choose to run spinner/worm rigs that these are made with steel leader material, the last thing to identify is the leader between the end of your line and the terminal tackle.

Most savvy walleye anglers use 17 or 20-pound test fluorocarbon leaders of about 4 – 6 feet in length, between the end of the line from their fishing rod and the stickbait or spinner/worm rig. Add a high-quality snap-swivel to each end. You are now set to fish, hook and land that big walleye.

With dipsy-diver rigs or similar diving planes, many anglers use 40 or 60-pound braided super line tied directly to a high-quality snap swivel and this directly to the diving planes. Then attach the fluorocarbon leader from the diving plane to the lure or stickbait.

Modify the Renosky stickbaits, by removing the front treble hook, replacing the remaining two trebles hooks with size 4 Gamakatsu trebles for sure hooking action. Changing these hooks allows the lure to gain a wider wobble with more hooking power when a half-worm is added to the middle hook. The Scatter Rap hooks seem to be working out fine by themselves.

Outdoors Calendar

– Aug. 1: 3D archery shoot, West Falls Conservation Society, 15 targets, 4 p.m. start. Unlimited shooting. Open to the public. Call Mike at 655-5030.

– Aug. 3: Tightline Salmon Shootout Fish Tournament, Bluffer’s Park Marina, Toronto, Canada, six fish-per-day limit for one day. For more information, visit

– Aug. 4: New York state pistol permit class, Evans Rod & Gun Club, 864 Cain Road, Evans, 9 a.m. – noon. For more information, call Jerry at 549-7251.

– Aug. 7: 3D archery shoot, East Aurora Fish & Game Club, 1016 Luther Road, East Aurora, 5 p.m. start. Unlimited shooting; target bunks. Open to the public. For more information, call Nadine at 982-7069.

– Aug. 7: Western New York Safari Club monthly meeting, 7 p.m., Michael’s Banquet Facility, located at 4885 Southwestern Blvd. in Hamburg. For more information, call 565-1980.

– Aug. 8: 3D archery shoot, West Falls Conservation Society, 55 Bridge St., 15 targets in the hills and food in the kitchen; 4 p.m. start.

— Aug. 17: NYS Archery Hunter Safety Training, Southtowns Walleye Clubhouse, 5895 Southwestern Blvd, Hamburg, 8am-6 pm both days, pre-register at 627-0147.

— Aug. 17/24: NYS Hunter Safety Training, Armor Firehall, 4932 Clark St., Hamburg, 9am-5pm both days required., pre-register at 627-0147.

Email outdoors news to Forrest Fisher, 10 days in advance, at


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