- Fishing & Learning Adventure on the Buffalo River
- May 28, 2017; Bison City Rod & Gun Club, Buffalo, N.Y.
- 141 Kids, 322 Total Attendance; 21 Volunteers; 8-Learning Stations
By Forrest Fisher
The forecast for rain and fog was swept aside when bright, sunny skies with a gentle 75 degree breeze surprised families with kids from Buffalo and Western New York. They came to fish and learn at Bison City Rod & Gun Club for the 13th Annual Jimmy Griffin Memorial Teach-Me-To-Fish event.
Once a polluted waterway that would burn from the heat of a lighted match, today the Buffalo River waterfront is clean, alive, and hopping with fish, kayaks, canoes and kids with fishing poles. The Buffalo-Niagara Riverkeeper Group is a big part of the clean-up progress.
The kids and their families all learned a bit more about the adventure of the outdoors through the fun of fishing, many for the very first time!
While the river was running a bit muddy from recent heavy rains, the steady flow of riverfront kayakers, sailboats, canoes and power boats showed proof that water color is not a deterrent. Kids fishing from the Bison City fishing pier were busy. Even single adults without kids came to discover the fun and adventure of “how-to-fish”. More and more people want to know.
Lynda Kollar, Rose Barus and Linda Cooley energized a positive first-moment connection with folks at the registration welcome station.
Kids and parents learned “How-To-Fish” and what to do from Western New York bass pro, Scott Gauld, who took time to share “easy tips” for everyone in the program. He explained that catching a fish with a rod and reel (bait or artificial lure) is not only possible, it is fun and not difficult. Gauld provided that special seal of “sure-fun is right around the corner” that only a professional angler might be able to influence for new onlookers. Kids went away looking for the fishing pier!
Marine Unit 2 with Erie County Sheriff Tim Dusza and his team, provided tours of their vessel. Everyone learned about water-safety, kids were allowed to blow the horn and turn on the flashing lights. Big smiles there!
Russ Johnson and Bob Carlson, members of the East Aurora Fish & Game Club, who have perfected the system for educating kids and parents on how to tie a perfect Palomar Knot and Clinch Knot, taught everyone how to tie on a hook in only a few seconds.
Rigging a weedless plastic bait, a plastic worm or jig tail, was made easy with a hands-on demonstration by junior Bassmasters Alex Gauld and Collin Voss, as they provided each youth with a souvenir plastic creature bait sample from Cabela’s. The kids could use the bait to fish with or take home. The girls seemed to pick the pink squiggly-tail crayfish!
Environmental Conservation Officer, Jeff Jondel, and firearm safety instructor, Joe Mills, provided hands-on firearm safety training. They shared the rules of responsibility for parents and kids, so they could experience the Cabela’s BB-Gun Range, an inflated and fully enclosed, fully safe, “bounce house” style event. The NRA safety-instructors provided easy 1, 2, 3 steps for responsible use of a firearm, using a BB-gun. Kids and parents took turns checking their aim using Daisy Red Ryder BB-Guns, shooting at suspended souvenir paper targets. Happy kids took their targets home with ear-to-ear smiles as souvenirs.
Lifetime youth educator and certified New York State Archery champion, Paul Stoos, worked with Earl Farrel, Sr., to provide first-time how-to lessons for kids at the Cabela’s Archery Booth, using air-suspended floating ball targets.
Charter Captain Jerry May and walleye master, Ted Malota, taught kids how to cast a spincast fishing rod with hookless casting baits. The kids were sailing their lines a very long way toward hula-hoop targets in just minutes. Ted shared, “Wow, some of these kids are really good with so little practice!” Fun for all!
The kids and adults fished from “George’s Landing,” the legacy honor name for the Bison City fishing pier. It was a fun and exciting adventure station for kids, even more exciting for some parents who had never touched a live fish before. On-site fishing educator, Dave Solowski, provided eager kids with bait, pre-rigged rods, reels, bobbers, hooks, split-shot and plenty of nightcrawler bait supplied by Weekley’s Worms. Weekly’s Worms provides more than 50 million redworms and nightcrawlers to anglers every year. Imagine that!
Dockside outfitter, Donna Kayes, provided solid “pre-fish confidence” while outfitting each youth with a life-preserver before entering the fishing pier area. Several first-fish catches were recorded, with new adventure and fun had by all. The fish were placed in the aerated “Lunker Pool” and released by the kids after the event. Kids that did not catch a fish enjoyed seeing the swimming fish that others caught. After the event, the kids helped release all the fish to swim another day, a meaningful lesson in conservation for our youth.
At the newest learning station, “OUTDOOR AWARENESS,” outdoor educator, Sheri Voss, provided hands-on lessons for families with advice on how to stay prepared, protected, informed and proactive, whenever they head outdoors. There was special focus on deer ticks and the Lyme disease outbreak in northeast USA.
As families completed the learning station tours, a 70-page slide show was shown on the 7-foot screen indoors, allowing for continued fishing and outdoor adventure education. While observing the screen, the kitchen crew provided world famous Sahlen’s grill-cooked hot dogs, Perry’s Ice Cream, Paula’s Donuts, Gwen Jozwiak’s hand-made “fish cupcakes,” beverages and other munchies.
During the random gear raffle, 76 happy youths won a free rod/reel combo. Everyone else, adults too, took home fishing maps, tackle, and special prizes from the “Bison City Tackle Treasure Chest.”
The kids and the adults were all BIG WINNERS!
This special youth outreach event is annual event sponsored and coordinated by the Bison City Rod & Gun Club with special thanks to Ted and Doraine Malota, Cabela’s, Erie County Federation of Sportsmen, WNY Safari Club, Sahlen’s Meat Packing, the Norby Antonik Foundation, Weekley’s Bait, Paula’s Donuts and 21 dedicated volunteers who donated their time to help youth and their families learn more about the outdoors through the fun of fishing!