by Mark Daul
Outdoors in Niagara
Non-fisher people are invited to read this column about our late-summer, early-fall fishing in the area.
Fishermen will be reading this anyway, especially after seeing that smallmouth bass in the picture that was recently caught at the Stella drift in Lewiston. It tipped the scales at 63/4 pounds, a really nice-sized smallmouth bass for our area. Several bass are caught every year that will approach 5 pounds, but the one you see here is considered a "lunker" for us around here. The New York State record smallmouth bass was caught in Lake Erie in 1995. It was recorded at 8 pounds, 4 ounces. Remember I told you about the 6-1/2 pound bass at Wilson Harbor?
Whatever you fishermen do, don't put your equipment away for the winter yet as the best is yet to come. Salmon are in the river and tributaries now and will only get better. Then the rainbows will be moving in. Both of which means that if you are a shore fisherman here is your opportunity to shine.
Boaters need to work just as hard for them as you do. At Wilson and Olcott the salmon are being caught right off the piers and the largemouth bass are cooperating in Wilson Harbor too, from boat or shore. Largemouth bass and smallmouth bass are close relatives and all belong to the black bass family. Rainbows have already been caught in the harbor, up in the back creek where the yacht club boats are moored. It's shallow in there but the fish don't care.
I was fishing off the boat launch pier there last Friday and fishing was slow for me; a couple of boaters came in and they had the same problem, only catching small perch. It was just a plain old beautiful day Friday with temperatures nearly hitting the 80 degree mark, and sunny - a great day for adding that vitamin D that we all need in our bodies. Milk or oranges don't give you nearly enough of "D" as good old sunshine does. In fact, there is more vitamin D in fish you eat than in most other foods.
When fishing is slow, fishermen know you can't always be there at the right time to coax the fish into biting. I know one thing though, as the weather changes and some cold rains come, that will trigger those lake perch to move into the harbor. Bring lots of emerald shiners.
The guy holding the fish is Brian Graham, a customer of ATS Logistics, a large freight company that has a district office on Main Street in Youngstown. Brian and his son Brad were guests of the freight company's district manager, Dan Daul. Daul arranges fishing excursions on the lower Niagara for his ATS customers. Lower river (and lake) Charter Capt. Frank Campbell had the honors of guiding the party in early September.
Graham, an avid fisherman, caught the bass on a golden shiner. It is the largest bass he's ever caught and he's thrilled with it. After catching a load of bass there, Campbell decided he would take his fishing party up into Devil's Hole, thinking possibly the party would latch on to a salmon on this trip. No salmon, but to everyone's surprise, Graham caught a hefty 21.5-inch muskellunge, king of freshwater fish, on a Kwikfish lure. This added a new feather to Campbell's cap and another thrill to the Graham fishing excursion that day.
If you don't like to fish don't, but never discourage the person that does. For some people fishing isn't classified as a "sport," because it doesn't have the word "ball" attached to it. If you can't roll it, kick it, throw it, bounce it off your head, punch it, it isn't considered a sport. But ask any fisherman, any age, what sport they like best, besides fishing, you would be surprised.
According to a poll question asked on the Outdoors Niagara website, on the question, "What is your favorite sport outside of fishing?" No. 1 answer was hunting, recording 53 percent. Next was golf at 13 percent; football came in third at 7 percent. Oddly, in my thinking, Horseracing finished at 4 percent, followed by basketball, NASCAR, boxing and soccer, each with a lowly 1 percent.
I want to add though that baseball did finish with 3 percent of the total. There were 186 voters who participated in the poll. If you are adding it up, 18 percent of the voters were undecided, and checked "other."
So, you see fishing and hunting are an important part of our outdoor sports, and I have to add, fishermen and hunters pay 100 percent for their sport; they're not subsidized by anyone. They purchase fishing and hunting licenses, pay an additional 10 percent federal tax on any goods they buy pertaining to the sport, like rods, reels, lures, shotguns, shotgun shells, special permits, and lots of other things such as paying boat launch fees.
I could go on and on, and in the end, guess what - we don't need the taxpayers money to build a new football stadium, a new soccer field, build and maintain baseball diamonds, etc. Not one fisherman or hunter will ever complain about the price of a license because he knows where it's going. We pay for fish hatcheries, stocking, hunting land, pay for our own shooting ranges, targets, and I could go on and on again, but right now I feel as though I'd better get off the soapbox and stop preaching, or go fishing as soon as I finish this. I know, I know, the grass needs cutting one more time, but the same grass will still be there tomorrow.
All I know is that Brian and his son Brad had a super day fishing and they love their sport. They practice it anytime they can. In the picture Brian is holding his prize and the guy with him hanging on Brian's shoulder, is my proud son Danny, who arranged this charter excursion with Campbell. Dan loves to get his clients out for some of our great fishing right here in Niagara County, especially focusing on the Niagara River and all of its greatness.
So get out. And take a kid fishing, like Brian just took his son Brad, even though Brad is a grown up; it does father and son good. I always like to remind you to see if you can get an elderly person out too. It could be the pinnacle of their life. You don't need to go far or have a lot of money, you can still buy a rod and reel for $10-12 and that includes the 10 percent hidden federal tax that everyone needs to pay for the privilege.
Wildlife Festival Reminder
Don't forget to get everyone out to the 23rd edition of the Wildlife Festival at the Power Authority on Lewiston Road. Saturday is also National Hunting and Fishing Day. Two big days: Saturday Sept. 28 and Sunday Sept. 29.
There is so much to do. You can try your own skills by fishing in a portable fishing tank. The festival is co-sponsored with the Niagara County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs and they will have a portable shooting trailer for youth and adults too. There will be food and all kinds of outdoors/wildlife exhibits to see and other hands-on activities. More than 50 exhibitors are expected.
Oh, and don't forget Carmen Presti will be there with his primates and a primate show for you, along with Liberty, the Bald Eagle. You can actually see a live eagle up close. There aren't many free things in life, but this one is, including good handicapped parking and free parking for everyone.
A big plus, great weather was ordered for the weekend too! See ya there! Calling all kids! There is even a fishing contest for kids. Get more info by calling 286-6661.