by Mark Daul
Outdoors in Niagara
Who is Don Supon? That's your first question, I'll bet.
Let me tell you. He lives in Niagara Falls with his wife, Myra. Supon is a retired schoolteacher and an outdoors enthusiast from the get-go. Supon owns a deer camp in the Southern Tier that he maintains and visits often. It has trail cams set up so when he is not at camp, he can watch what wildlife appear before the cameras in his absence. He has shown me cam pictures of turkey, bear, coyote and of course deer. Hunting has always been one of Supon's major pastimes and I'm glad, because now I have some venison in my freezer.
We met several years ago, when we were both younger and doing our separate things, never really getting into deep discussions. Having the same acquaintances and the same interests, our relationship grew as we bumped into one another on occasion and volunteering for the betterment of outdoor activities. Now neither of us do much volunteering anymore at our age, but still help out wherever we can. Both of us always remind people to get out and enjoy the outdoors. As the saying goes, and its origin is uncertain; "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present."
Supon and I took up fishing together a couple of years ago, and we enjoy each other's company, mostly. By mostly, I mean that when we go out fishing together, I'm mostly out-fished by him. We are both nuts for perch fishing and that is what we 'mostly' do.
A couple of years ago, Supon was looking for someone to fish the spring trout and salmon derby with and I volunteered. When I said I'd fish it the weather was pretty nice, so I paid my entry fee and signed up for the event. The day we went out, the weather changed. We got out in the lake and set up around the green can (buoy) off the mouth of the lower Niagara. I froze on our way out and froze when we settled down after putting our rigs out, then froze on the way back to shore. The wind was blowing from the northwest, with a wet drizzle, until the sun broke. Even then it was still cold, the wind has no mercy.
We trolled for hours and all the while I'm thinking to myself, this is the reason why I gave up on this type of fishing many years ago. From then on, I'd remain the 'sunshine man,' the type that only goes fishing when the sun is shining and the thermometer reads over 65 degrees.
Supon owns a salmon/lake boat equipped with all the bells and whistles - a roof with side curtains - and now his lake fishing is being done with a new fisherman learning the ropes, Ransomville resident Dave Anastasia. I say "learning," but I know Anastasia catches on fast, especially from a good teacher.
The fish you see me holding in the picture isn't mine, I'm just holding it for Supon, like all good guests should do for the host. I was dressed in layers with a good quality wind and rain resistant Sterns jacket on with a hood. If this was in color, you would see my hands are beet red.
A few days ago it wasn't over 65 degrees and the sun wasn't shining, even though Don Paul on Channel 4 said it was going to be. We took our chances and went to the Lewiston Landing. At 7:45 a.m., we paid our $7 launch fee to the ever congenial Harbor Master Pat Mahoney. Mahoney was surprised to see us me launching the 'Outdoors Niagara' boat there. I told him neither of us was in any shape to launch the boat, drive up the hill to the parking lot, then walk back down those long steps, go fishing, come back off the water, go back up those dreadful steps to bring the trailer back down for the boat. Whew!
Mr. Congeniality, Mahoney, said "Gee, all you need to do is ask. I can pick you up and drive you down after parking the trailer in the lot, then drive you back up to the parking lot to get your vehicle."
Aha, Supon was ahead of all of us. He and I came in two vehicles. Like I said he lives in Niagara Falls, and I live in Youngstown. We met at the parking lot and he parked his truck in the handicap spot at the launch. We launched the boat so that when we took the boat out of the water, all he would have to do was drive up the hill and bring the car and trailer back down. Good thinking on his part, but one of us still had to park - boat and trailer above. Supon volunteered to do that and walk back down to the boat. Isn't he a wonderful 'volunteer?'
Let me tell you about our perch trip that day. Of course we were both excited to be out on the water. Supon sat up in the bow, and I in the stern. I had to run the motor, set the anchor and make sure we were in the right spot, especially with weatherman Don Paul's reportedly 15 to 20 mph wind blowing from a southerly direction. Anchors don't hold too well in that wind, but ours finally did catch something on the bottom, and did the job. We moved to another spot, dropped the anchor, grabbed something again, but when we went to move, the anchor was stuck solid. Thinking I needed to cut the anchor rope to get free, I fired up the 25 horsepower Mercury and slowly pulled the anchor free.
Perching was good for the guy up front. He was catching double headers on his $1.19 perch rig and I was catching nothing on mine from the back of the boat. Being the nice guy that he is, Supon told me, "Mark, move up about 20 feet, just opposite the dock over there." I pulled the anchor, moved up, dropped the anchor again, and started fishing. By moving up, I was now fishing where he had his line at. Good deal I thought, now I can do some catching in his spot. Not so, I never got a touch. The fish followed him those 20 feet and continued pestering his bait offerings even though we were using identical baits.
Jokingly, I said to him, "how about taking my rod, catch me a fish, then hand the rod to me and let me reel it in." As time went on - and silence was bliss - whenever Supon caught an undersized fish he would throw it toward my line, like saying, "you want a fish? here's one for you, now catch it." Really rubbing it in I thought. Then bam! I caught a legal-sized bass on my minnow. Yeah, it went in the cooler for my wife, she loves bass.
About 10 minutes later, again, bam! This time, a really nice-sized bass. I was really excited latching on to two fish in a matter of 10 minutes. As I was looking at the strain on my light line and watching it, I saw it move to the surface with the fish pulling it. Then it decided to show off, and go acrobatic. It broke water, winked one of those red eyes at me. Even though fish don't close their eyes, this one winked. After showing me how pretty his colors are, he spit the hook back at the boat. I think it was still airborne when it did that. I know it was big, and as friend, and outdoor writer the late Joe Ognibene used to say, "If it got away, you can make it any size you want it to be." He was right. OK, let's say the one I lost had to be a state record fish. Ha!
I guess fishing has taken up a good part of my life, and at this time of life it's really great to have a fishing friend to share the days with - get out and sit on or near the water, have some conversation about anything, go home and think about your next outing.