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Outdoors notebook: VanDam’s Bassmaster victory a classic

Anchor Marine was the scene for a new kind of competition in the Bassmaster Elite Series.

Called a Classic Brackets contest, the four-day event pitted eight qualifying Elite competitors in a daily, two-angler, head-to-head, weigh-in match out the Anchor Marine docks on Grand Island.

Entrants were confined to the upper Niagara River waters of the east river and New York State waters on the west side of Grand Island. New to this competition was an observer/judge on board each competitor’s boat to weigh, enter and immediately release the entrant’s catch.

Along with the observer, a Bassmaster camera handler covered each catch, which was live-streamed on and on WatchESPN.

Six anglers were eliminated by Thursday. The Friday final competition pitted Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., and Arizona’s Brett Hite. Van Dam won it with 20 pounds, 3 ounces.

VanDam receives $10,000 for his win and an automatic Classic berth. Look for a detailed column on this contest on next Sunday’s Outdoors Page.

Free fishing days

The Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing the addition of free fishing days statewide. Currently, anglers can fish for free during the last weekend in June, which follows the opening season for all fish species in New York State.

The proposal would add six more free fishing days: Presidents Day Weekend in February, the third weekend in May (following the walleye and pike-family season openers), National Hunting and Fishing Day (the fourth Saturday in September) and Veteran’s Day.

The DEC will accept input regarding the proposal until Aug. 31. To comment, send an email to: and in the Subject Line enter: Possible Amendment to Free Sport Fishing Days.

Steelhead plan

Lake Erie’s fishery provides a good balance of warm- and cold-water fish species. While walleye, bass, perch and other warm-water fishes get much attention, Erie’s open waters and feeder streams are health habitat homes for cold-water fishes, the rainbow/steelhead trout in particular.

The DEC has drafted a Lake Erie Steelhead Management Plan, which will provide a 10-year program of trout-related projects and rules-setting for New York State waters of the lake.

A comment period is open until Aug. 1. Details of the plan can be viewed in a PDF on the DEC Web site at draft management plan. To comment in writing, mail to: NYSDEC Lake Erie Unit, 178 Point Drive N., Dunkirk, N.Y. 14048 or email: with the Subject Line “Steelhead Plan.”

Bowhunter League

Archers have a weekly league shoot that offers a good prep for the Oct. 1 start of bow season.

Doc’s Archery in North Tonawanda begins its Fall Bowhunters TechnoHunt Virtual Video League starting the first week in August. Handicapped scoring puts all archers on an even shooting field. The league ends with a pizza and wings party the week before the archery deer season opener.

For league details and to register, stop by the shop at 908 Niagara Falls Blvd. in the Wurlitzer Building or call 693-2703.


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