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Pond owners have a line to new fish

Care to adopt a fish?

The Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District offers pond owners fish that "need new homes," according to a district press release.

All fish sold through the district have been tested and certified free of disease and pathogens, which is a major concern with viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) discovered in some fish species inhabiting area waters.

Orders for largemouth bass and fathead minnows will be taken through July 14 for distribution from the ECS & WCD office in East Aurora on July 28. Both species are suited for either cool- or warm-water pond environments.

A trout fingerling distribution program is set for the fall.

For order forms, information sheets and applications for a Department of Environmental Conservation fish-stocking permit, visit: www.ecswcd.org; call 652-8480; or write: ECS&WCD, 50 Commerce Way, East Aurora, NY 14052.

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Bass eyeing benefit

The 2007 Greater Niagara BassEye Challenge, a fun fishing contest to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, is set for July 11-12 at Buffalo's Small Boat Harbor.

A casual evening of waterfront fun will begin Wednesday at 6 p.m., with a "Boats, Bait & Beer II" dinner and auction.

The competition to bring in the best assortment of both bass and walleye will get under way at 6 a.m. Thursday, ending with a Dockside Awards Dinner starting at 4 p.m.

Even the most casual of area anglers knows that catching a good batch of both bass and walleye on the same outing can be a genuine challenge for even the best of charter boaters.

Good reports are in for bass and walleye catches this spring, and prospects look great for the Greater Niagara BassEye this year.

Tickets for the dinner and auction, "Brewing Up a Cure for Cystic Fibrosis," go for $50 each or a 10-pack for $400 and are available online at: www.basseye.com or by calling the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (686-9400).

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Waterfowl fare

Waterfowl hunting seasons have been tentatively set for the 2007-08 season, with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) presenting no major changes from last season.

Early "resident" goose season (Sept. 1-25 in Western New York) remains at an eight-bird daily bag limit. DEC officials note that about 40,000 are taken annually during this early hunt. This early-season hunt helps slow the growth of resident geese, which has expanded in recent years.

The annual Youth Waterfowl Hunting Weekend is set for Oct. 13-14 in the Western Zone; regular duck hunting season begins Oct. 23 and goes until Dec. 6, reopening Dec. 29-Jan. 12 in the Western Zone.

Goose hunters must have a current (2006-2007) small game license, a 2007 federal waterfowl stamp and be registered in the Harvest Information Program (HIP) to be legally out goose hunting.

Registration sites, for the free HIP program on either a Web site or by phone, will be announced in mid-August.

To check on waterfowl hunting in New York State, visit: www.dec.ny.gov.

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Ontario angling data

Lake Ontario must not be suffering from increased gas pricing and VHS scares. A DEC summary of fishing-boat surveys for May indicate boat trips are up and catch rates for most species have improved.

During May last year, 8,558 boaters took trips; this year, 11,752 ventured into Lake Ontario waters. The coho catch in May jumped from 4,759 last year to 6,168 this past May.

Chinook (king) salmon slipped slightly from 4,513 to 4,442, but the rainbow trout take moved from 1,872 to 2,619 this year.

Brown trout showed the major increase, going from 4,117 to 9,083 this May. Lake trout delivered a drastic drop, falling from 1,173 to only 345 taken in May this year. Yellow perch catches, which were not noted and recorded last year, came in at 1,200 for May.

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Shooting for youth bills

Two state assembly bills that would allow youths to hunt big game with a gun and bow need help from New York's sportsmen and women.

A Junior Hunting License bill (A733) would allow youths, with adult supervision, hunting access at ages 14 and 15. A bow-hunting bill (A4623) would give young archers big-game hunting privileges at ages 12 and 13.

To find contact information for local legislators, visit: http://assembly.state.ny/us/.

e-mail: willodrs@gmail.com

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