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Fishing / By Will Elliott: Opportunities to take the bait

Fish derby, tournaments and youth-focused clinic/outings are a main attraction in June.

Fishing forays heat up and anglers in early June have open seasons for all freshwater species except bass this coming month.

From a “Teach-Me-To-Fish” event at East Aurora Fish & Game on Saturday to a number of events on the statewide Free Fishing Days June 27 and 28, the competitions and clinics calendar has many days Xed for action.


• Southtowns Walleye Association holds its annual Walleye Tournament in June. This year’s, the 31st annual, is set for Saturday to June 14 on all Lake Erie waters and the upper Niagara River.

This biggest-fish tourney draws record numbers of entrants for a walleye contest each year, including some of the most experienced and successful charter captains and recreational anglers. But the top prize has never been taken by a previous winner. Anyone can win this contest, and many have repeated as prize winners, but the top-prize taker is a surprise each year.

• As a warm-up for the walleye tourney, SWA holds a perch derby in mid-May and each year the weather determines how well anglers do at rounding up five of the biggest ringbacks. The Memorial Day weekend saw wicked winds for Sunday and Monday outings, but that Saturday saw some breezes but good access to the perch hotspots.

Perch catches for both sizes and numbers had been spectacular earlier this season. The count dipped slightly but post-spawn perch came in prize-size on May 23.

“We had to look around for them for more than an hour, but once we got over a good school we stayed there all day,” said Tom Slawatycki of Elma, father of the SWA Perch Derby winner, Joshua Slawatycki, 17, who fished along with his brother Benjamin, 13, in this derby.

The trio set up over deep water between Evangola State Park and Cattaraugus Creek; Joshua pulled the heaviest of the catch kept, which numbered about 40. Dad said they could have taken their 150-fish limit that day. Joshua’s 5-fish entry totaled 5.85 pounds and took the top prize of $300.

All 10 of the top winners weighed “close seconds” with totals of more than five pounds for their five fish. In order, anglers’ with winning weights were: Jim Senick, 5.81; Anthony Quick, 5.71; Dave Moreno, 5.67; Morris Fried, 5.53; Elizabeth Lalonde, 5.52; Cody Allen, 5.50; Todd Wojiechowski, 5.37; Jack Gaul, 5.36; and Kenneth A. Meister, 5.25 pounds.

For details on the SWA perch derby and upcoming tournament, visit

• The Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Summer Tournament goes from June 13 to July 23, with top prizes throughout the tourney. Lake Ontario’s salmon run began solidly early this month and king-sized kings are being caught in Western New York waters. For entry and rules information on the summer tourney, visit

• The 14th Annual Celebrity BassEye Challenge, a fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, begins with a dinner and auction bash on June 25 and the competition on June 26. For details, visit

• A Hooked on the Tonawandas Fishing derby will be staged at the Gateway Harbor Pavilion June 27 and 28, offering free entries for kids. For all the details, visit

Kids clinics/derbies

• The Teach-Me-To-Fish gathering at East Aurora Fish and Game is designed for kids and parents to learn more and enjoy fishing. For entry details, check with Dave Smyczynski at 364-9082.

• The Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs and Department of Environmental Conservation team up to conduct two kids fishing clinics each year. Rod and reel, prizes and drawings will be offered to kids at each clinic. The first clinic will be at Tifft Nature Preserve on Fuhrmann Blvd. from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 13. For registration details, call 851-7010 or 597-4081.

The second outing, at Chestnut Ridge Park on June 27, offers kids a free outing with instruction, fishing access, lunch and prizes. For more details, check with Dave Barus at 597-4081.

• A Niawanda Park Kids Fishing Derby registers kids at 8 a.m. June 20 for fishing the upper Niagara River in Tonawanda. This derby is free. Call John and Kate White at 998-4497.

• The license-free fishing weekend of June 27 and 28 includes several area events for kids. Along with the ECFSC/DEC clinic, Southtowns Walleye Association holds its Kids Fishing Derby at Tifft Nature Preserve on June 27. For entry and event details, call Ron Wutz at 649-8202.

• A Free Family Fishing Weekend goes from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is open to all anglers both days on the upper Niagara River at Blackrock Canal Park at the foot of Ontario Street. For more details, check with George Johnson at 818-3410.

Additional derbies, tourneys, clinics might be announced for June and at least six major fishing contests are set for July and August. Details on these events will be shared on this page or in the Wednesday Fishing Line column.


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