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Outdoors by Will Elliott: Why fishing captivates

The answer to why folks fish comes with a series of serious replies and an abundance of good and bad jokes.

From “a jerk on the end of the line and a fish on the other” to “Fish fear me, could it be the odor?” colorful commentary goes with every fish story.

Clearly, for the cost of most gear, everything from hooks to high-powered fishing boats, an angler could fill the freezer with fillets from Tops, Wegmans, etc. and have change left to buy more gear.

Part of fishing’s lure in Western New York is location – said more than three times. Within two hours of Buffalo City Hall, often within minutes of the hall’s steps, boaters and shore anglers can fish for everything from bluegills and bass to bull-sized muskies, trout, salmon, walleye, pike, panfish and assorted other freshwater species at dozens of sites most areas of the country offer at much greater distances, if at all.

Shore access can be tricky at times. Public areas in the city and metro can be limited. However, bait and tackle dealers can give new and unfamiliar folks directions to good access places that might become hot spots.

One of the greatest sources for access and fishing information in general is the newly expanded and upgraded “Western New York Hot Spot Fishing Map,” a free publication that fishery advisory boards in Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties compiled with county support. This map provides anglers with information on waters everywhere from Barcelona Harbor in southwestern Chautauqua County to Fish Creek in northeast Niagara County.

The map indicates locations for fish catches, launch sites, 25 shore-fishing access sites each for Erie and Niagara counties and even fish-cleaning stations for successful anglers. Site and contact information for bait and tackle shops and charter captains are provided.

For a free copy of this map, call (866) 908-4569, (800) Buffalo (283-3256) or (877) 325-5787 during business hours.

But why do so many folk seek to catch a fish? Involvement ranges from Opie Taylor carrying a cane pole alongside Sheriff Andy to Kevin Van Dam winning his next national tournament.

No two fisher folk head to the water for the same reason, be it trophy taking, catch-and-release or fresh fish catching for the pan. Diversity is everything in fishing. Filleting fish shows how different every angler prepares a fish. As an observer of expert filleting folk from the southern tip of South Africa to Canadian northlands in four provinces, I can assure you that no two knife-handlers separate meat and frames/scrap the same way.

For example, one year we visited a commercial fish processing plant in Leamington, Ont., where a dozen Portuguese women were filleting 8- to 10-inch, scaled yellow perch in a matter of seconds. All were proficient; no two zipped around rib and backbones with exactly the same slicing strokes.

Same goes for the way the Opies and Van Dams head to the water and drop in a lure. Competition is a factor, but the majority of area anglers head to the waters just to fish. Counting bets between boat and shoreline mates and even major tourneys such as the Lake Ontario Counties or Southtowns derbies, the main draw of fishing is to see if you can find where the fish are biting and if they will hit your lure.

As years pass, the aura becomes involving first one’s kids and then the grandkids in the loud and quiet excitement fishing provides.

The best tip for new mentors is to first take kids where they can catch fish, any fish, quickly. A young boy or girl has yet to prioritize. A carp catch is just as exciting as a trout. Many a bluegill became a youth’s first trophy fish.

Winning in fishing begins before any competition starts. A parent or grandparent can sense a Super Bowl-, Stanley Cup-, World Series-like win the morning or moment a fishing trip or outing is planned.

No two fishing trips are the same. Guides such as Dan Dietzen, Joe Fonzi, Frank Campbell, Vince Pierleoni, John DeLorenzo and dozens of other chartering and recreational anglers have logged many hundreds of trips on area waters. Each and all will tell you that no two days on the water, even with the same fishing partners, are ever the same.

Weather, fish–biting outcomes and the companionship of friends and new acquaintances along the way continuously draw anglers to sites where, no matter how factual the account, the telling ends up an amusing fish story.

Serious or fun, competitive or recreational, chartered or casual, regularly or whenever, fishing has on intrinsic magnetism that catches folk more than a count/amount or trophy catch of a lifetime.

We fish because tomorrow’s trip might be another trophy day, but it will certainly be fun.


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