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Generations flock to the riverbank for annual Family Fishing Day

For Lydia Baines, casting a line into the waters of the Niagara River off Broderick Park on Saturday brought back memories of her grandfather, an avid fisherman.

She remembered the task of having to skin and cut up a fish -- not to mention fighting off the mosquitoes.

And Saturday's sunny and breezy weather allowed her to create new fishing memories with her 10-year-old grandson, Xavion White Baines -- minus the less-appealing aspects of the pastime.

Xavion got to fish for only his second time during the fourth annual Family Fishing Day, held in the park from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and again today.

"It's a generational thing," said Lydia Baines, who noted that she and her grandson had been at the park "virtually all day."

And while she was helping her grandson fish, she also needed a little bit of a refresher.

"I was being taught or reminded how to fish," she said.

Apparently it worked. She and her grandson caught five fish, including one that was 16 inches long.

"It's very calming. You have to have patience," said Xavion, who will be a sixth-grader at City Honors come September.

Though the fish were plentiful, parking was a challenge for the estimated 1,250 people who attended Saturday. And at about noon, event volunteers ran out of the 1,000 wristbands they had.

This was a stark contrast to four years ago, when only 60 people came out to fish, said George Johnson, president of Buffalo United Front, which hosted Family Fishing Day.

"This is just the first day," he said. "The concept is to bring as many families out as possible."

Through sponsorships, 325 fishing rods and reels were provided to participants, and prizes were also awarded. Also featured were music, food, refreshments, clowns, a chess tournament and -- of course -- lots of worms.

"This symbolizes an opportunity for families throughout the city to come out and enjoy the waterfront and learn how to fish," said Mayor Byron W. Brown, who was on hand for the event. "There is a beautiful spirit out here."

The fishing extravaganza is a nice change from some of the negative attention the West Side sometimes gets from crime, said Tina Sanders, founder and president of No More Tears, an organization that's affiliated with Buffalo United Front.

"It's a change," said James Caffey, 52, of Niagara Falls. "It's nice to be able to come here and not worry about the craziness."

Caffey was accompanied by his fiancee, three children and brother-in-law, who also brought along his son. The group arrived about 10:30 a.m. and planned to stick around until the kids got tired, he said. All told, they caught more than 20 fish.

Caffey was helping his 9-year-old daughter, Danice, learn the skills of fishing.

"It was fun," said Danice, who also conceded that baiting the hook with a worm wasn't quite her favorite part.