Sunset Bay Shootout blasts off Saturday
The 8th Annual Sunset Bay Walleye Shoot Out, the “Super Bowl” of Great Lakes walleye fishing and the highest-paying walleye shootout in the country, is slated for Saturday at Cabana Sam’s in Sunset Bay (Irving). The tournament will award more than $150,000 in cash and prizes for the fleet of 110 boats and more than 400 anglers who will be participating. It comes at a great time because walleye fishing is hot.
Capt. Don Ruppert and his team (Scott Wind, Jim Kuwik and Art Wind) from WaveTamer Sportfishing continue to grow the event and the expanded venue is setting new standards for competitive walleye fishing.
The main event begins with a shotgun start format Saturday morning. After boat inspections, the fleet positions themselves just outside the pier heads at Cattaraugus Creek. At 7 a.m. sharp, the horn blows and all 110 boats take off to their “secret” locations they feel will produce the best catches. The teams can fish anywhere in Lake Erie, provided they return to the pier heads by 3:30 p.m. to weigh in their catch. Each team can present up to six walleyes with a minimum size of 24 inches or longer for tournament standards. The largest total weight of the fish brought to the scales determines the winner. A state of the art weigh-in system provided by Innovative Outdoors offers the public highly visible live weights for both big fish and total box weight, making it fun for the spectators.
“We are very pleased with the consistent growth of the tournament,” Ruppert said. “Moreover, the reach that the tournament now has is nationwide. We have anglers coming from 14 states to fish our tournament. Fishermen from as far away as Texas, Oklahoma and Florida are traveling into our region to participate. It’s very exciting to showcase our world-class Lake Erie Walleye fishery right here in Western New York along with so many other great things that Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties have to offer. It is also very satisfying to see the positive economic effects the anglers bring to the local businesses.”
The event offers great opportunities for the general public. Everyone is welcome to come and watch the show. For those willing to get up early, the pier heads at Cattaraugus Creek provide a safe, easy access walkway on the waterfront, adjacent to the start. “Seeing 110 professional fishing boats take off at one time is a very unique thing to see,” Ruppert said.
The weigh-in show is also open to the public. It is a very unique venue, as the stage is located on the beach at Cabana Sam’s in Sunset Bay. The tournament utilizes an exciting "hot-seat" format that keeps the current leading team on stage until they are bumped off by a larger total weight (team). The last team standing is crowned as champions. The weigh-in show starts at 4:45 p.m. Saturday. Should any anglers/teams be interested in fishing the tournament in the future, contact Ruppert at 716-435-4137 or firstname.lastname@example.org
FLW Costa Series invades Buffalo July 26-28
The Costa Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) Series returns to Lake Erie and Buffalo next week with the second of three New York-based Northern Division tournaments set for July 26-28. Last here in 2011, this tournament will be coordinated by the FLW out of Safe Harbor Marina, 1111 Fuhrmann Blvd., Buffalo. The first tournament for this division was held last month on Lake Champlain.
There are 170 boats registered and it’s still not too late to sign up, according to Ron Lappin, the Costa FLW Series tournament director. There is a $50 late fee and you can register until July 25 at the SUNY Erie South Campus for a public information and registration event starting at 4 p.m.
“The Northern Division has grown so much,” said Lappin. “The Great Lakes are fish-producing machines. It’s amazing to me how good the bass fishing is.”
The economic impact from this contest is impressive. This tournament alone is expected to generate 1,200 room nights and $836,000 in revenue, officials said. The promotion received from this event will also be a huge benefit, potentially attracting other bass anglers to the area from around the world.
Fishing starts at 6 a.m. each day. Day 1 and Day 2 will hold weigh-ins at Safe Harbor Marina at 2 p.m. The final weigh-in on Day 3 will take place at 3 p.m. at Cabela’s, 2003 Walden Ave., Cheektowaga for the Top 10 bass anglers. Only the Top 10 will be fishing on Day 3. The defending champion from the 2011 event is Larry Mazur of Lancaster.