Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

August 11, 2013

HILTS: Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey starts next weekend

By Bill Hilts Jr.
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby – formally known as the “Fall Classic” – will be held for 37th time, starting Saturday and running through Aug. 25. After starting out as the Niagara County Fishing Derby, this competition is now opened to three counties (Niagara, Erie and Orleans) in an attempt to encourage more involvement in this family-oriented event. With a big focus on the Junior Division, this move will give the kids more opportunity to wet a line while they are out of school.

With the huge Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Fall Derby kicking off on Friday, the Greater Niagara Derby will give contest-hungry anglers a couple extra chances at the big bucks. While most everything else is the same, there are a few new twists that could land you a few extra dollars. First, a daily $100 prize for the biggest salmon caught each day – taking a page out of the LOC event. Second, the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association is back with a special $500 cash prize for the largest salmon caught by a LOTSA member while competing in the derby. In addition to that, the witness (who also must be a LOTSA member) will also receive a check for $200. When you register for the Fish Odyssey, toss in another $10 and you’ll be considered registered in that fine organization. You can also register online at www.lotsa.org.

Species categories for the adults include salmon, smallmouth bass, walleye, carp, lake trout and brown/rainbow trout (combined). For the kids, categories will be salmon, trout, bass, walleye, carp and panfish. All panfish catches will earn a ticket, to be drawn at the awards ceremony for special prizes – one per day. Entry fee will stay the same at $20 for the adults, free for the kids. A one-day pass will also be available for $10. It doesn’t get any easier than that. Adults and kids can register online at www.fishodyssey.net.

Speaking of kids, Charlie the Chimp is back for a “Charlie Challenge,” with a special prize for the kids if you beat his minimum size in the Junior Division. Once again, fish categories include bass (both largemouth and smallmouth), trout (brown, rainbow and lake), panfish, carp, walleye and salmon. Thanks to Carmen Presti and The Primate Sanctuary for talking Charlie into his honorary chairmanship for the Fish Odyssey event.

Changes to the Odyssey website are now in place thanks to Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors. Check out www.fishodyssey.net regularly. Registrations are now out wherever LOC registrations are available in Erie, Niagara and Orleans counties.

The Fish Odyssey Derby also comes at a time when lake fishing is at its peak, which coincides with a fishing love of the late Dick Robinson of Ransomville. Robinson was one of the early organizers of the Niagara County Derby and served for many years on the county’s derby board and fisheries board. He was also past president of the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Club and passed away in June. This year we will honor this man as a tribute to all he did and meant to the sportfishery. The 2013 version will be the Richard “Dick” Robinson Memorial Event. Get those kids out fishing!!

Crossbows deadfor this year

If you are a crossbow enthusiast and were hoping for change between now and this fall, you can forget it. You can thank downstate Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, chairman of the Environmental Conservation Committee for the Assembly, for not allowing any crossbow bill to come up for a vote. The amazing thing is that this Suffolk County lawmaker doesn’t even know what he pushed for last time when a two-year crossbow bill that was passed for 2011 and 2012.

In an interview conducted by New York Outdoor News editor Steve Piatt in the an issue published Friday, Sweeney insists that the crossbow is a superior weapon and should not be placed in the early archery season. In his mind, the last crossbow legislation was manipulated by the Department of Environmental Conservation to allow for its use during the early archery season and he didn’t want to see that happen. The reality is that the crossbow was only allowed in the regular and late muzzleloader seasons. For reasons like this, the crossbow should be managed by the state’s DEC – not the state’s legislature. Do you think Sweeney knows more about crossbows and hunting seasons than our DEC does?

Pick up a copy of NY Outdoor News to see the full interview or check out their online edition at www.nyoutdoornews.com. If you want to keep your pulse on things happening around the state’s outdoor scene, this is the publication to buy, coming out every two weeks. It’s current and full of pertinent information.

Friday deadline for commenting on proposed fish regulations

New York’s DEC is in the final stages of seeking public comment on several proposed fishing regulations changes, some of which could affect local anglers here in Western New York. The deadline for commenting on these changes is this Friday, and you can do so on the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/91959.html. You must send a separate email for each change you wish to comment on.

One change involves the statewide regulations for muskellunge. The proposal is to make the inland musky waters a standard 40-inch minimum length (not including Great Lakes waters) and also make the opening date the last Saturday in May – instead of the third Saturday in June, the current regulation. Another proposal would set the minimum length for a musky for the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River at 54 inches instead of the current 48 inches.

Some proposals would allow for more year-round trout fishing opportunities at certain streams and also adjust regulations for other trout waters. Some areas would become catch and release only. There are also regulations changes for gear in some Great Lakes waters and defining what “night” is for tributary angling. The minimum size for walleye in Honeoye Lake would increase from 15 to 18 inches should that particular regulation be approved.

Any changes that would take effect would happen on Oct. 1, 2014. Make your comments now before it’s too late.

Bill Hilts Jr. is the outdoor sports specialist with the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. Contact him at billhiltsjr@gmail.com.

Today • Orleans County Fishing Derby continues through Aug. 18. Niagara County weigh station is The Slippery Sinker in Olcott; Orleans County weigh stations are Narby's and Captains Cove. For more info call (716) 778-0713. • Beaver House and Lighthouse viewing from 1:30-4 p.m. at Golden Hill State Park. Parking fees apply. For information and registration call 282-5154. Monday • Archery hunter education class at from 5:30-9:30 p.m. at Hess Road Wesleyan Church, 2514 Hess Rd., Appleton. Part two will be Tuesday at the same time. Register by phone between 5-9 p.m. with Larry Koch at 778-9935 or Rich Evans at 433-4189. Class size limited to 40 students. Wednesday • Iroquois Arms Collectors will hold a meeting starting at 8 p.m. at the Frontier Volunteer Fire Company hall located at 2176 Liberty Drive, Niagara Falls. Contact Don Clark at 791-4628 for more information. Thursday • Shooters Committee on Political Education (SCOPE) will hold their monthly meeting at 7 p.m. at the American Legion in Ransomville. For more info call Don Clark at 791-4628. Friday • Opening day of the Fall Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby, which continues through Sept. 2. and offers a $25,000 Grand Prize for biggest salmon. Weigh stations include The Boat Doctors and The Slippery Sinker in Olcott; Wilson Gas Shack, Wilson; Creek Road Bait and Tackle, Lewiston; Narby's and Captain's Cove in Orlean's County. For more info contact (888)REEL-2-IN or check out their website at www.loc.org which includes a leader board and registration options. The fall paper is available in area shops, as well as online at www.loc.org. • Exploring Threatened Habitats at from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Evangola State Park. For more information and registration call 549-1050. • Firearms Hunter Safety Education Class at from 6-8 p.m. at Somerset Conservation Club, Johnson Creek Road, Barker. Pre-register in person at the first class. Parts two and three are Aug. 17-18 from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Class size limited to 20 students. For more info contact Jeff at 765-9633. Saturday • Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey begins through Aug. 25 in Niagara, Erie and Orleans Counties, with a $2,500 grand prize and six fish categories to choose from. Weigh stations include The Boat Doctors and The Slippery Sinker in Olcott; Wilson Gas Shack, Wilson; Creek Road Bait and Tackle, Lewiston; Narby's and Captain's Cove in Orlean's County; Scime's Tackle and Variety, Tonawanda. Check out www.fishodyssey.net for details. Kids are free for a special junior division. • Jim Carr Pistol Permit Class for Arizona-Florida-Utah starting at 9 a.m. at Niagara Gun Range, Niagara Falls Blvd., North Tonawanda. You must pre-register by calling 693-4000. For more information contact Carr at 778-9431. This course allows certification to be able to get your pistol permit in the three aforementioned states, which qualifies you to use your permit in some 30 states across the country. • King of the Oak Tournament Series out of Point Breeze, Orleans County. Sign up at Lake Breeze, Four C's, Captain's Cove or Narby's. Bring your best three fish to the weigh station at Lake Breeze by 3 p.m. For more info contact Mike Waterhouse at 585-589-3103.

Bill Hilts Jr. is an outdoor writer with the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. Contact him at billhiltsjr@gmail.com.