Jan. 18-20 show to feature fishing gear, tips from pros
By Terry Duffy
As the Buffalo-Niagara waterways of the Great Lakes continue to gain in prominence as a world-class fishing destination, plans are shaping well for what will likely be one of the best fishing/outdoors show of its type to hit the Cataract City.
The sixth annual Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo is set for Friday-Sunday, Jan. 18-20, at the Conference and Event Center, 101 Old Falls St., Niagara Falls. The event expects to fit that “world-class” bill quite well, with dozens of exhibitors and presenters expected, both local and beyond.
“We take great pride in offering a multi-species fishing show with many well-known fishing manufacturers, local and regional fishing retailers, local fishing guides and outfitters, family-friendly fishing trips, discounted tackle, the best local fishing boat dealers, kayak fishing watercraft, marine electronics, local fishing clubs and much more,” it reads on the event website, www.niagarafishingexpo.com. “The show highlights the rich waters of Western New York, which offers up to anglers one of the most productive and diversified year-round freshwater fisheries on the planet!”
For the scores of visitors, particularly those who travel from long distances to enjoy this region’s wealth of clean, beautiful waterways, it must seem like a dream come true. And for the many fortunate to call these parts home, it certainly is.
Speaking of the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo’s significance – and more importantly the absolute value of local waterways – is one who knows it probably better than most: longtime dedicated fisherman and outdoors aficionado Mark Daul of Outdoors in Niagara.
“The Niagara Falls Fishing Expo is the best thing to hit Niagara Falls after DiCamillo’s sliced bread,” Daul wrote. “The Fishing Expo is going to reveal a lot of fishing knowledge that you won’t want to miss.
“When you attend this expo, you can learn a lot about fishing Lake Erie, Niagara River and Lake Ontario through its seminars. There is a lot of history concerning these areas and what can be learned from it.
“Lets go back to the Prohibition days when whiskey and beer were being smuggled across the upper and lower rivers. Even though recreational and commercial fishing were the greatest waters in the world to catch large varieties of fish, everyone enjoyed the value of this resource until the time when factories came in and the waterways got industrialized.
“Industrialization put the crimps on the clean waters we had back then. And slowly but surely, pollution from these factories and chemical plants started using the clean pure waterway as a sewer.
“Time went on and, in the 1960s, environmentalists woke up, the public woke up, and our governments (state and federal) woke up. They saw what the pollution was doing and started working on it right away. It took many years to bring our waterways back, and to restore the safety and the recreational values of it.”
Daul added, “Fishing is phenomenal, with just about any kind of freshwater fish you can think of, including pre-historic sturgeon and gar pike. The fish have been around longer than dinosaurs.
“Think about it, think about today vs. yesterday; we are finally back on track, and enjoying some of the finest fishing in the world.”
So what can fishing and outdoors enthusiasts look forward to at this fishing/outdoors extravaganza? Plenty.
More than 90 local industry exhibitors are expected – encompassing the big names in fishing and outdoor gear.
According to show organizers, many of the top fishing manufacturers will be on hand with the latest products, and there will be opportunity for one-on-one interaction with anglers, as well as insightful seminars.
“They’ll cover all aspects of ‘cold’ (salmon and trout) and ‘warm’ (walleye, bass and perch) water fisheries along with ice fishing – which are of interest to our targeted attendees,” organizers said.
Whether it’s a major purchase, such as a boat/motor package, or marine/electronics components and outfitting, or the smaller needs such as rods, reels, lines or lures – one is likely to find some great deals at this show.
But that’s not all. Visitors will find an “academy” of sorts at this expo with a focus on angling. Nearly a dozen industry experts are expected for clinics in the Conference and Event Center.
“Education offerings are targeted at novice, casual and diehard fishermen and women by some of the best in the business who call the nearby lakes, rivers and streams their home. From bass and walleye to salmon and trout; from perch to piers, stream casters to trolling nuts; from fly fishing to ice fishing – there is a little bit of everything for every type of angler and level of expertise,” show organizers said.
Scheduled seminars include:
•Tournament Tactics with the Bass Pros Clinic – 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18; Room No. 1.
Instructors Mark Menendez and John Murray will share their knowledge and insights on what has made them successful fishing bass tournaments over the course of many years. Both will also answer questions.
•Eastern Lake Erie Super Walleye Clinic – 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 19; Room No. 1.
This clinic is presented by well-known Western New York charter-boat Capt. Joe Fonzi. He has been fishing the waters of Lake Erie since he was a child and has been guiding on Lake Erie for 17 years. Fonzi is a respected pro staffer for Cabela’s, Ranger Boats, Traxstech, Warrior Lures and Mack Lures. He also has top-10 finishes in both national bass and walleye tournament circuits.
•Fly Fishing for Trout in WNY Clinic – noon Saturday, Jan. 19; Room No. 1.
Well-known fly fishing guru Rick Kustich will present fly-fishing techniques and strategy for both inland and migratory trout, including steelhead and lake-run brown trout.
Trout continues to be the most sought-after species with a fly rod, and a wide range of opportunities exist throughout WNY and the entire northeast. This seminar will provide a detailed focus on rods, reels, lines, rigging, casting, and flies used in the pursuit of trout.
•Bass Tips from the Pros for Young Adults – 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19; Room No. 1.
Menendez is passionate about getting young adults more involved in fishing. This clinic is specifically for high school and college attendees, who are currently the largest growth area for fishing, and offers additional education that will help them improve their catches.
•Tournament Tactics with the Bass Pros Clinic – 4 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 19; Room No. 1.
Instructors Brad Knight and Billy McDonald will share their knowledge and insights on what has made them successful fishing bass tournaments over the course of many years. A Q&A session will also be provided tor attendees.
•Catching More Fish with Electronics: How to Get the Most from Your Sonar and GPS Clinic – 10 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 20; Room No. 2.
Instructor Capt. Lance Valentine of Walleye101.com will offer an in-depth class designed to help anglers catch more fish by fully utilizing the features/functions available on their sonar and GPS units. This “practical” clinic will focus on how to best use electronics on the water to catch more fish.
•New Age Great Lakes Trout and Salmon Clinic – 10 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, Room No. 1.
Instructor Russell Gahagan owns and operates Anglers Avenue Pro Shop/The Reel Shot Sheboygan, and has been one of the pioneers of fishing tackle on the Great Lakes over the past 15 years. Gahagan has designed tons of color patterns used today by manufactures such as Michigan Stinger, Dreamweaver and Silver Horde. He is a tournament-winning fisherman on the trail, which travels around Lake Michigan.
•Ultimate Walleye Clinic – noon, Sunday, Jan. 20; Room No. 1.
Every year, instructors Mark and Jake Romanack of the “Fishing 411” TV series create new and interesting seminars for the Greater Niagara Fishing Expo. The “Ultimate Walleye Clinic” on Sunday amounts to a crash course in walleye fishing. This intensive two-hour long clinic uses video clips from the TV series joined with a keynote graphics presentation to keep the audience on the edge of its seat. Topics of interest include: lead core and spinners for suspended walleye-bottom bouncing deep water walleye; using the precision trolling, 50 plus 2 method for crankbait trolling; casting strategies for structure loving walleye; using sub-surface probes for finding and catching walleye; and two-motor trolling tactics for walleye.
This clinic is offered at no charge, but seats are limited. A freewill donation for charity will be taken during the seminar.
In addition to the academy, look for a number of more intense clinics for those experienced anglers in search of a “deep dive” into a subject area. Taught by the experts in the particular area, most are free, but some may require a ticket to attend to manage attendance.
One to check out is the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association’s annual “Salmon School,” for those experienced anglers looking for a daylong peak into open-water Lake Ontario Salmon fishing. Offered once per year, it is among the top salmon schools offered anywhere in the Great lakes – as evidenced by the fact that it has sold out every year since it began in 2007.
For those with a love of fishing and the outdoors, the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo is a must attend. It will offer just about everything for the fisherman and then some.
Whether you are just getting into it, or are more experienced and looking to upgrade rods, reels, marine electronics, tackle, a boat and motor, or kayak; interested in booking a charter/guide fishing trip; joining a local fishing club; learning how to clean and cook your catch; or just be in the company of fishermen who have the same passion for fishing that you do, this show is for you.
For more information on the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo, visit its Facebook page or website.