NORTH TONAWANDA – The state Department of Environmental Conservation’s annual free fishing weekend Saturday and Sunday allows people to fish without a license – and Gateway Harbor in North Tonawanda is hoping that people will get “Hooked on the Tonawandas” during their annual tournament on the same weekend.
The goal of the tournament is to introduce fishermen and potential anglers to Gateway Harbor and the Erie Canal as a fishing resource with easy access and a wide variety of fish.
A $15 tournament entry fee makes contestants eligible for cash and prizes valued at $3,000. For a fifth year, Cabela’s is a tournament sponsor.
Those younger than 16 may register as an adult to compete for prize money or fish for free in the junior division and be entered in raffles and compete for fishing merchandise and a trophy. Junior anglers also must register. This year, the Boys & Girls Club of the Tonawandas will benefit in the charity event.
The competition is restricted to fishing in a boat or along the banks of the Erie Canal in North Tonawanda and the City of Tonawanda. If competitors are fishing from a boat, each person must be registered.
Contestants will try their luck at catching the largest fish, by weight, in each of these categories: smallmouth/largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye, carp, perch and bullhead/channel cat.
Catching the largest of the game fish will net a first prize of $500, and the largest carp, perch or bullhead will bring a prize of $150. Cash prizes also will be awarded for second- and third-place fish. A number of door prizes will be awarded to registered contestants.
Registration forms are available at local bait and tackle shops in North Tonawanda: Niagara Outdoors, 223 Witmer Road; Rainbow Sports, 267 Oliver St.; and Wiggling Willies Bait Shop, 457 Oliver. Also, in Buffalo, at Scime’s Tackle, 2815 River Road; Big Catch Bait & Tackle, 2287 Niagara St.; Russ’ Bait & Tackle, 1226 Niagara St.; and Worms N Things, 1111 Furhmann Boulevard.
Registration forms also are available at the Chamber of the Commerce of the Tonawandas, 254 Sweeney St., North Tonawanda, or online at fishgatewayharbor.net.
Registration will be located in the Gateway Harbor pavilion on the North Tonawanda side of the canal at Sweeney and Webster streets. There will be registration from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. The awards ceremony will be held at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.