by Mark Daul
Last week, when it was so hot the trees were whistling for the dogs, my wife and I took a little car ride. We were actually headed for the Canal Fest in the Tonawandas, but never got over the South Grand Island Bridge; we got sidetracked by visiting Grand Island, a place I haven't fished from in years.
I heard about the brand-new fishing dock called Fisherman's Landing, located at the southern tip right near the south Grand Island Bridge on East River Road. Hoorah! What a great place for shore fishermen. I didn't go there to fish, just to see what the place looked like. There is handicap parking right near the dock safety rail, and non-handicap parking is just above the hill. I could see down in the clear water that this could be a bass haven for shore anglers just outside the weedbed.
When we arrived, there was a lone fisherman named Steve trying his luck. When I approached him and asked, "How's the fishing" he replied, "No fish, but fishing is good." I thought, now there is a person I could like, telling it like it is.
I asked Steve if he lived around here. He said "No, I'm from Depew." "How did you find this place Steve?" He replied, "I was driving over the bridge and spotted this dock, so I drove around to take a look. I had my fishing rod in the car, went looking for bait, and found a gas station that had a sign 'Live Bait.' I got some bait, and so far, I only caught a couple tiny rock bass." It was 94 degrees that day on the car's digital temperature gauge, and the fish seem to lay low on days like that, just like people do.
When I was talking to my newfound friend Steve, I asked if I could take his picture while fishing or tossing his rod out. He said, "No, I'd rather not." I told him I write articles for Niagara Frontier Publications. He still didn't want his picture taken, so I looked him in the eye and said, "I'll bet I know why!" A big grin came across his face, and he said, "think so?" then I told him, "I'll bet you are playing hooky from work!" With a broadened grin and a chuckle he said, "Yup, you're right!" So I let it go at that. How many of us have done the same thing on a summer day.
After checking out the huge amount of tiny newborn minnows and larger shiners traveling the edge of the dock, I thought, with bait fish like this in here, there has got to be a load of smallmouth bass lurking just outside the weed beds looking for a fast meal, maybe even a northern pike or two. The picture showing the dock is looking east showing the south bridge. Notice how nice the dock is paved and the garbage receptacles placed there. Handicapped parking is ground level, just about where I'm taking the picture from. No seating, so bring a lawn chair.
After our investigation of the new landing, we hopped in our car and headed down East River Road to Whitehaven Road to get on the Thruway and pulled into a McDonald's. Seemed like a good idea to stop and get a bite at that time of day. We pulled in the parking lot and spotted TC's Tavern next door. Surely they have air conditioning and food, so we drove through McDonald's lot and right into TC's. We were greeted by Sarah, the very congenial barmaid, whom we found out later was named "Miss Tease" by Dale, a patron who moved over to give us his seat at the bar. I thanked him and told him we came in to cool off, and he said, "Yeah, it's about time we got some nice weather isn't it?" I had to agree; our winters are just too long around here. In our short stay, and being complete strangers, it seemed like we knew all the people in there forever. To top it all off, Dale had printed across his T-shirt "Fandemonium" the favorite saying of Van Miller, the former radio voice of the Buffalo Bills. Among the eats, TC's has burgers, chicken fingers, beef on weck that Sarah says is outrageously good and highly recommended. Looks like a good clean place for locals to hang out with three flat-screen TVs, a pool table, darts, and a new "Touchtones" Internet jukebox. We'll go back.
I suspect Grand Island people are reading this column and not to sound like a broken record on this subject, but if you fish or boat off the west and southwest Island area, be sure you know your border waters. Canadian law enforcement has been brutal. In a nutshell, if travelling in Canadian waters, do not shut your motor off and drift, you will be illegal according to them. Don't touch the underwater soil with a sinker or anchor or you will be breaking the law, and subject to a $1,000 fine. If you plan on doing that, you need to notify the system called CAN PASS. If you haven't heard of this before now, call this number 1-888-226-7277, and you can ask about it, and also register at that number if you plan on entering or landing. I wonder how this works out for the swimmers at Beaver Island. There, you could swim out and immediately turn into a foreigner in another country. Silly, isn't it?
I have a lot of great things to say about Grand Island's fishing opportunities and there's no room in this column today, but that will be a subject of a future column for sure.
If you want to know more about our local outdoors, check out www.OutdoorsNiagara.com for the latest updates and interesting stories. Be sure to check the Outdoors Forum where our local fishermen post their findings. For comments and suggestions, please email me at [email protected] or email Niagara Frontier Publications at [email protected] Always remember one thing, take a kid fishing and don't bypass the elders who can't get out. They like fishing, too! Always bring a camera.
In case you were wondering, the Fishermen's Landing was paid for by Niagara River Greenway funds and the New York State Local Waterfront Revitalization program.