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Rod, Gun & Game: Perch contest an enjoyable event

Chris Thiel and his two daughters, Katie (left) and Alexandra (right) are dad’s happy good luck charms when turkey hunting. Theil took this nice 20-pound bird at 8:30 a.m. near Boston, NY, last Saturday.
For 197 contestants in the annual, one-day, Southtowns Walleye yellow perch fishing contest this year, last Saturday was a fun-filled day complete with roast beef sandwich lunch, a complete fish fry dinner, clam bake, unlimited beverages and a roomful of fish talk expertise, all for the cost of $10.

Anglers fished from various launch access points including Buffalo, Sturgeon Point and Cattaraugus Creek. I counted over 75 boat trailers at Sturgeon Point where many anglers had to work hard for their perch, but almost every group caught a few 10-12 inch fish. The biggest fish came from the area near the “Catt” and east toward Evangola State Park.

Contest chairmen Ray Barren and Jerry Lesinski conducted the weigh-in, where each angler weighed in their five largest perch. My grandson had one double-header where he caught a 13-inch and 12-inch fish on a Ted Malota chartreuse-colored spreader rig with live emerald shiner minnow bait, and he was proud to hear he had 4.89 pounds for his five fish.

Jerry Lesinski said, that’s the heaviest bag for a youth so far! My grandson’s smile went from one side of his face to the other, ear to ear; that made my day! We fished in 54 feet of water outside the “pack” of boats located about one mile offshore from Sturgeon Point.

The winner of the contest was Bob Hollingsworth, with a whopping 6.84 pound bag, including one fish nearly 15 inches long, a female still full of eggs. Most perch have spawned about two weeks earlier, so this was a late fish. Hollingsworth said he fished the area between Evangola State Park and Point Breeze campground in about 53 feet of water to find the feeding school of perch where he and his partner hooked about 70 fish. Hollingsworth took home the $300 first prize.

The remaining winners were Dave Shaffer with 6.43 pounds, Dick Shaffer, 6.17, Anthony Quick, 5.95, Fred Skrabucha, 5.90, Tim Gaul, 5.87, Jerry Kempf, 5.87, Jim Senica, 5.77, Kathleen Muir, 5.56, and Bruce Wager, 5.55. The cash prizes were divided as follows: first: $300, second: $200, third: $100, fourth and fifth: $75 each, sixth through 10th: $50 each.

In addition, youth entrants were placed into a free raffle drawing and several rods/reels and tackle grab bags were given away to the youngsters, all of these prizes donated by expert angler Jim Dolly, from Triple-S Wholesale Sporting Goods.

Volunteers cleaned about 1,000 perch turned in for the fish fry cookout and folks took turns learning new styles of fish cleaning tactics from each other. About 200 perch were given out to folks that didn’t catch any and that made for some happy folks too.

Roy Walczak was gatekeeper for the fish fillets, checking for bones and running them into the kitchen where Dennis Strobel and Doug Freeman headed up the kitchen staff and cooking the massive number of tasty fish. Nancy Walczak and her raffle crew were among day-long volunteers, as was Ron Wutz and Bruce Wager tending the bar.

President David Woodworth conducted the dinner and prize festivities in his usual jovial manner and enjoyed the special fun-tournament day for another reason, he had all of his grandchildren there with him and they all enjoyed the new Southtowns Walleye facility clubhouse, the former Club Lorelie. The facility is located at 5895 Southwestern Boulevard in Hamburg.

Annual membership dues are $25 per year, and then the fishing contests and other special events are additional. The perch contest was $10, the upcoming annual 9-day walleye contest on lake Erie is $25, and there are other special events, such as a spring trip to fish the Atlantic Ocean from Boston, near Cape Cod, for cod, halibut and other ocean fish.

The group is active in fun activities, but also is involved in addressing policy regarding fishing and hunting and shooting concerns of sportsmen. Monthly meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m., except for June, which is held on the first Thursday, the Thursday before the annual Southtowns walleye contest set for June 8-16.

That contest will feature tens of thousands of dollars in prizes for the single biggest fish caught by a lucky angler, with cash prizes through the first 200 places. Visit online at for more information.

Sponsors include such big names as Emerling Chevrolet, Big Jon, Hi Tech, Northern King, Torpedo Divers, Moor Electronics, Slide Diver, Faria Marine Instruments, Challenger Lures, Labatt Blue, Budwesier, Reef Runner, Traxtech, Lake Onaping Fishing Lodge and others. One thing for sure, it seems you always get more than your money’s worth at Southtowns Walleye, something not easy to do in this day and age. Hat’s off to this Southtown’s crew. Call 649-8202 with any questions.

Successful turkey hunters

Last Saturday, May 18, Chris Thiel took his two daughters turkey hunting in the rolling hills near Boston, New York. It was Katie’s first time out (age 9) and Alexandra’s second time (age 12).

Thiel and his kids headed out before sunrise and hunted various spots. Because it was a warm Spring day with overcast skies, which Theil said he prefers so the sun is not illuminating the hunters. The trio watched four gobblers about 200 yards away strutting, but just couldn’t call them in.

They eventually vanished into the scrub brush. Later on, with two decoys set afield, a strutting gobbler came out and walked toward our setup. Thiel asked the kids to cover their ears and took the nice bird with a 30 yard sho, using his newly camouflage painted Mossberg 500 with Remington Nitro three inch number five load at 8:30 a.m. The bird weighed 20 pounds undressed and had a nine inch eard with one inch spurs.

Thiel says, “my kids are lucky charms, since I harvested a jake last year with Alexandra and my son Anthony. I’m sure they’ll never forget this special moment.”

With the rapidly enraging foliage of the spring season, turkey hunters will have reduced visibility in the woods. Use caution when taking the shot to assure no other hunters are in the area and that the area beyond the shot zone is not restricted for the shot to travel in. While DEC reports reduced numbers of birds, many local hunters have done well.

California leads in ineffective law race

Last Friday, the California Justice Department announced that the technology to microstamp firearms is now unencumbered by patents. As a result, a law passed in 2007 became effective immediately. Every newly introduced model of semi-automatic handgun in the state must now have a microstamped firing pin that, theoretically, would accurately and reliably engrave a firearm’s identification information on each cartridge casing fired from the pistol.

The law was never implemented because the technology was, and remains, patented. The law is, in essence, a gun ban since manufacturers cannot comply with the law. The patent holder has acknowledged his concept functions unreliably and requires further study and should not be legislatively mandated at this time. As a crime-solving tool, microstamping can be easily circumvented by criminals by filing down the imprinted code using common household tools or swapped out for unmarked pins.

Also, California last week passed legislation that would make it the first state to ban completely the use of traditional lead ammunition in hunting. Previously, traditional ammunition was banned only in California condor range areas.

In other state gun news, similar to the NY Safe Act, Colorado and Maryland have recently passed legislation similar to the NY Safe Act. In Maryland, there will be a complete ban on modern sporting rifles. Similarly too, state sheriff groups contend they will not support the new laws as they see them as opposing the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Outdoors Calendar

May 23: Erie County Federation of Sportsmen, monthly meeting 13319 Miller Ave., Chaffee, at Erie Conservqtion Society clubhouse, 7 pm, free dinner, call 640-2776 for information.

June 1: “Teach-Me-To-Fish” fun derby for kids/parents, East Aurora Fish & Game, 1016 Luther Rd., 10 am-1 pm, Free, includes lunch, free rod/reel prizes, call Dave Smyczynski at 949-9483 for more information.

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