by Mark Daul
Outdoors in Niagara
Every year, New York state offers a license-free fishing weekend, always the last full weekend in June. On Saturday and Sunday, June 23 and 24, you will be able to fish any and all New York state waters without a license. This is intended to get people and families out to the waterways and enjoy the sport, whether it is for the first time or anglers that kind of drifted away from the sport. This is really a great time to get the whole family and all your friends out fishing for a weekend. All state Department of Environmental Conservation fishing rules must be followed.
"Free" is a great bargain when you consider an annual fishing license can cost $29 for an adult between 16 and 69 years of age. If you are in that magic age of 70 or older, you can get by with a $5 bill for yours. All fishing and sporting licenses are valid from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, every year.
When buying your license you might consider pitching in an additional $5 for a Habitat/Access Stamp. I don't know why more people don't know about this, but it is a donation going directly to a fund setup that does just what it says, improving wildlife habitat and increasing access to fishing and hunting areas wherever possible, and all that depends on how much money is donated through this program. I buy one every year, and when I renewed in my local Town of Porter clerk's office, I was told I was the only one that bought one last year, and so far the only one for 2012. You don't have to purchase a license to support it, just walk into any license issuing office anytime, and tell them you want to buy a Habitat/Access Stamp. When I was checking around with some local issuing agents, they weren't sure what I was talking about, but when they looked, they saw they could issue them right from their computer that goes to the DEC offices. Simple. You get a tag that looks just like your sporting license and anyone can buy one anytime.
Bass season opens on June 16, and from reports I have, bass have been cooperating big time everywhere there are bass waters, and the fishers can't wait for the season to begin. The Wagon Wheel Restaurant in Niagara Falls is holding its opening day annual Bass Contest to kick off the season, and there are others coming as the season progresses. For further information, call 283-9861.
Good catches of perch are questionable in Niagara County waters, but in Lake Erie around the small boat harbor has been producing limited catches with some 15 inch-plus being reported. If you go, fish 25 to 38 feet of water in between the new and the old windmills you see on land.
New boating season is here, and here is a reminder. Wherever you fish our border waters, be forewarned, the Canadian authorities are clamping down on recreational boaters entering their waters illegally. You could be in a sailboat, a motorboat, a canoe, kayak, a raft or a float tube, but you must report to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) upon entering Canadian waters. The CBSA website says, "Failure to report may result in detention, seizure or forfeiture of the vessel and/or monetary penalties. The minimum fine for failing to report to the CBSA upon entry to Canada is $1,000 Canadian."
Go here to check all the rules: http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/media/facts-faits/096-eng.html.
You can interpret the rules any way you want, but they are going to enforce their own rules regardless of what you think. Here is a phone number they give: Telephone Reporting Centre at 1-888-226-7277. You have to know where that magic line is in the river, upper or lower
The Outdoors Niagara website at www.OutdoorsNiagara.com has more information on the outdoor forum. There you can see what others have to say. If you have comments or suggestions about this column, email me at [email protected] or email [email protected]. And by all means take a kid fishing this summer. You won't be sorry.