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Outdoors notebook: Lower Niagara, Lake Ontario yield a bounty

A Charity for Children fishing contest on the lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario Monday and Tuesday showed the solid presence of the river’s bass fishery and the lake’s salmon prospects.

The benefit event for the Niagara Falls Boys and Girls Club and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of WNY brought together sponsors and volunteer charter captains to catch fish and help raise funds for youth.

With moss nearly gone from lower-river waters, drifters had easier access to the smallmouth bite, and some impressive fish were measured and released. On Tuesday, Gary Ellis topped all bronzeback bites with a 19.75-inch entry.

The Most Outstanding Catch award on Monday went to Dick Grimm for his 29.5-inch Canadian coho salmon. On Tuesday, David Falzone posted the most outstanding catch with a 21-inch channel catfish. The Media Award went to Adolf Kleinhans of South Africa for his five king salmon that garnered 1,500 points.

Salmon winners both days entered 34-5-inch king (Chinook) catches. John Brunell took the Monday king. Fred Saia brought up the top Chinook on Tuesday.

Adam Thomas finished as Grand Champion Angler with a Tuesday catch of three trout and one salmon caught while aboard Capt. Mark “Sparky” McGranahan’s vessel.

We connected with river anglers working for bass, but our efforts were focused on salmon fishing around the Niagara Bar all of Tuesday with Capt. Mark Kessler of Fishgrappler Charters. The bite was steady, resulting in nine releases, four juveniles (2-year-olds), one jack (1-year-old) that was released, and a mature king fought for 10 minutes before it spit the hook. That, of course, was the big one that got away.

But Kessler, as so many other anglers and charter boaters have said, sees the fall run of salmon on Lake Ontario on into the lower Niagara River as the place to go for a big-fish fight.

Rules changes

Hunting and trapping seasons approach soon and sporting licenses went on sale Aug. 1. The new “Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide” is available at license-issuing outlets and on the DEC web site. The DEC call center has expanded calling hours until Oct. 1.

Hours to purchase licenses and register for the automated licensing system are 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

Along with renewal of hunting and trapping licenses, all can obtain a $5 Habitat Stamp and/or Trail Supporter Patch to help the Conservation Fund support fish and wildlife access, habitat and other programs.

Also, the Venison Donation Program, begun in 1999, helps feed the needy. View it at And volunteers are sought to participate in Citizen Science programs such as cooperator log-keeping for hunters and wildlife watchers. That program can be viewed at

Earlier this week, the DEC announced rescinding of an antlerless-only two-week period following the Oct. 1 start of the big-game archery season.

Call for exhibitors

The Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs is now accepting exhibitor’s registrations for the 45th Annual National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration at Elma Conservation Club from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 24.

Exhibitors set up at 8 a.m. For a sign-up form and more details, visit


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