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Scattershots (Nov. 27, 2019)

NYPA to close platform, offers new number

The New York Power Authority has announced the seasonal closure of its popular fishing platform in the Niagara Gorge will take place at the end of the day Nov. 30. This includes stairway access along Upper Mountain Road in Lewiston behind the Upper Mountain Road Fire Company. In addition, the stairs that lead to the shoreline of Devil’s Hole is already closed due to serious erosion issues.

A new number has been established to allow for regular updates. Call 286-6662 to find out if the fishing platform is open.

Pa. poised to break black bear record

For Pennsylvania big game hunters, this could be the year of the black bear. After the first two days of Pennsylvania’s four-day general bear season, a total of 1,330 black bears have been harvested. While it may seem like a lot, the 2018 comparison for the first two days was 1,622. In 2017, hunters took 1,310 over the same period. The real story is when you add special expanded opportunities that allow for muzzleloader, special firearms and archery. So far this year, a total of 3,205 bruins have been recorded, already topping the 2018 statewide bear harvest of 3,153. Last year was the 11th highest all-time in the Keystone State.

The current state record for annual bear harvest is 4,350 bears in 2011. With two days left in the season, there is a chance they could break the record. The statewide bear population is estimated at 20,000. When you factor in that bear license sales have exceeded 194,000 tags this year (some 20,000 tags over the previous record), this could be the makings of a new harvest total. We will try and update you in next week’s outdoor page.

Capt. Bob’s Outdoors Fall Derby update

With less than a month of angling action to go, the Capt. Bob’s Outdoors Fall Fishing Derby leader board is well established. However, there is room for improvement before the contest ends on Dec. 22. It’s still not too late to enter at the shop located at 10295 Main Street, Clarence. Call 407-3021 for more information on this fun competition. For the steelhead, brown trout and salmon divisions, fish may be caught and released if there is a witness with a photo next to a tape measure. All contestants must be registered at least two days in advance of weighing or measuring a fish. Winners are determined by length, but weight is a tiebreaker. For catch-and-release categories, the first fish entered will break a tie.

Current leaders are: Steelhead, Joel Meister of Lockport with a 32.5-inch fish caught in the lower Niagara River on a bead; Brown trout, Alex Hepworth of Williamsville with a 27-3/4-inch fish caught on a bead in a Lake Ontario tributary; Salmon, Joel Meister of Lockport with a 40.5-inch king caught on a bead in a Lake Ontario tributary; Perch, Barry Ball of Alden with a 14-1/4-inch Lake Erie perch; and Rudd, California Joe Pavalonis of Buffalo with a 17-1/8-inch fish caught in the Niagara River.

Niagara County seeks conservation nominations

The Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs is seeking good conservation-minded men and women as the group prepares for its next round of award selections for 2019. Deadline to submit a nomination is Dec. 16, 2019, because the awards banquet has been moved to Feb. 15, 2020, to avoid conflicts with other awards banquets. Location for the awards dinner will be at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara, 4487 Lake Avenue (Route 78), Lockport. Ticket cost is $40 per person. Contact Chris Schotz at 731-1641 or Mike Johannes at 523-1727 if you need more information.

Niagara County’s Federation has a long tradition of conservation leadership. Awards are named to memorialize past leaders, while helping to recognize current stewards of our natural resources and conservation programs. There are awards for club of the year, sportsperson of the year, youth of the year, conservation program of the year, top hunter safety instructors for firearms and archery, dedication to the Great Lakes fisheries, business of the year, lifetime achievement awards and awards for elected officials supporting conservation and/or Second Amendment rights. For information on the nominations form and the various categories, visit

Western Zone duck re-opens Nov. 30

The Western Zone duck season will re-open on Saturday. The season will continue through Jan. 5, 2020. No more than 2 mallards (1 of which may be a hen) may be included in your 6-bird daily limit (per person). Canada goose season is still open in the South Area, but the West Central area will close for the year on Dec. 1.

Island lottery drawings for blinds at Beaver Island, Motor Island, Strawberry Island and West River Parkway will take place every Monday, Wednesday and Friday starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Falconwood (formerly the Clubhouse/Casino) in Beaver Island State Park. The first drawing will be Friday. To participate in lottery drawings, hunters must be present a valid NYS Small Game Hunting license with a signed duck stamp, proof of completion of a Waterfowl ID course, and proof of registration in the Harvest Information Program. For further information, contact the Beaver Island Park Office at 773-3271.

For Joseph Davis, Fort Niagara, Wilson-Tuscarora and Golden Hill state parks, drawings normally take place on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Fort Niagara Park Maintenance Building. However, this week the drawing will take place on Friday due to the holiday. Dates for the remainder of the year will be Dec. 5, 12, 19 and 26; Jan. 2, 9. Call the park at 745-7273 if you have questions.

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