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Scattershots: There's a new state record white bass

Record white bass caught in Niagara

Morgan Fonzi of Gasport reeled in a big white bass from the lower Niagara River on May 6. Then he reeled in a second. The hefty fish were not as big as the 3-pound, 10-ounce fish that his father, Capt. Joe Fonzi, reeled in the day before, but they were close.

That was when Joe asked Morgan to check the state record for white bass. They were both shocked.  The record was a 3-pound, 6-ounce fish caught by Robert Hilton from Furnace Brook in Westchester County, a tributary of the Hudson River, back in 1992.

Joe would have made the record books himself with his catch, but the family instead will be represented by Morgan's best, which was 3 pounds, 8 ounces.

The father-son duo was fishing in the lower Niagara River, not targeting any specific species. On Tuesday, they were catching a mixed bag of fish (that included steelhead, lake trout and bass) until they started catching white bass. They decided to stick with them, ending up with around 25 nice-sized fish, the smallest being 13 1/2 inches. Included in their catch was a 3-pound, 10-ounce white bass, what locals refer to as a silver bass. They look like a small striped bass, swimming up the Niagara River each May to spawn.

The next day they went after white bass specifically and found the bigger ones were holding deeper. The most effective bait was a five-eighths ounce Steelshad blade bait in a gold color and that was the bait Morgan was using to reel in the record catch.

Lake Erie virtual meeting set

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation will be hosting a virtual public meeting on the status of Lake Erie and the Upper Niagara River starting at 7 p.m. on May 21. The meeting will be held through a webinar format and focus on cold and warm water fisheries, along with a presentation on yellow perch barotrauma from NY Sea Grant. It will conclude with a 30-minute question and answer session with the experts from the Lake Erie Unit of DEC.

Participants can use the following link to join the meeting: If a password is required, enter the meeting password 2RZrJKc3si6, and click "join," and follow any instructions that appear on your screen. Participants are directed to use the meeting number 614 331 916.

Upon joining the meeting, participants will be prompted to connect to audio using their computer. To connect to audio via phone, use the following call-in information: toll-free number 1-844-633-8697 and access code 614 331 916.

Safety after Lockport accident

A recent turkey hunting accident in Lockport in which two hunters were shot emphasizes the need to be safe in the woods this hunting season. Last year was the safest year on record when there were only 12 hunting-related shooting incidents and only one accident during the spring turkey season. Turkey season runs through the month of May.

Due to so many people being off work, kids being out of school and a new online-only hunter education program in place, hunters need to take extra precautions when it comes to safety. Here are a few pointers to reiterate the basics of turkey hunting safety:

  • Never shoot at sound or movement.
  • Always identify your target before you even think about taking the safety off.
  • Take a moment and look beyond your intended target for anyone or anything that might be in your line of fire.
  • Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
  • Never wear red, white or blue when turkey hunting.
  • Bring along fluorescent orange for walking in and walking out.
  • Keep the gun muzzle always pointed in a safe direction.
  • If you are using a decoy, make sure it is properly concealed before you set up.
  • Never try to stalk the sound of a turkey. It could be another hunter.

Stay safe out there!

Bassmasters revise schedule

Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society has announced a revised schedule for 2020 due to Covid-19 impacts. Five tournaments will be held in and around New York, starting with the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Northeast Regional June 24-26 out of Presque Isle in Erie, Pa., and focused on Lake Erie.

If all goes as planned for the reopening of New York, the world of bass will have their eyes on a Bassmasters Elite tournament July 14-17 out of Union Springs on Cayuga Lake. That will be followed by the 2020 Site One Bassmasters Elite event out of Waddington on the St. Lawrence River July 23-26.

A third Bassmasters Elite contest will be held July 30-Aug. 2 out of Plattsburgh on Lake Champlain. There will also be an Eastern Open tournament Aug. 6-8 on Oneida Lake. For more information check out

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