Musky EXPO will Draw BIG FISH Lure-Makers from across the USA

  • EXPO event set for shores of Chautauqua Lake Musky Fishery
  • Baker Lures, Red October Monster Tubes, Custom Clarkey Baits, Top-Line Bait Company, Smuttly Dog Baits, Bam-Bam Bait Company, D&R Jerk Baits, LiLa Lures and many others will display their wares.
  • Expert Seminar Speakers, Lure-Swap event, and Kids Fish Corner are among the top draw attendance features 
Anglers from near and far are drawn to lure colors, lure sizes, and the mystique of certain brands of musky fishing lures. Zach Baker photo

By Forrest Fisher

Musky fishing is often considered legendary and mystical due to the elusive and unpredictable nature of muskellunge, also known as muskies. The magic of the musky fishery and related special hook-bending moments is upon us this weekend with experts in town. The hottest event for the coldest weather month of the year is focused on the biggest fish that swim in Chautauqua Lake. The New York Musky EXPO 2024 will run this Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 3-4, from the Chautauqua Suites Expo Center at 215 W. Lake Road (Route 394) in Mayville, NY. Admission is $15 for a 1-day pass and $20 for a 2-day pass; doors open at 9:00 a.m. both days. Kids under 12 and ages 13 to 17 are free when accompanied by an adult admission.

More than 75 booths will share their fool-em and hook-em wares, not to mention colorful fish fables and fairy tales about musky. It’s fun. I like that the show is open for everyone to learn more about our magical musky that calls Chautauqua Lake their home. Musky are the fish species that can provide chills and thrills on any day you drop a fishing line into Chautauqua Lake. Casting, trolling, drifting, bobber fishing – no matter, a musky might surprise you.

Knowledgeable musky fisherwoman, Katia Rivers, co-host for NY Musky Expo 2024, shares one of her Chautauqua Lake musky catches. NY Musky EXPO photo

Whether you fish or not, the biggest freshwater fish that swim in the Northeast thrive here in their native habitat of Chautauqua Lake. From Jamestown to Mayville, the 17-plus miles of Chautauqua Lake beckon to anglers of all ages and experience levels. If you are a fisherman or not, no matter where you go in western New York, northwest Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and even West Virginia, and in many other places around the country, there are bent-hook and broken-line fish stories about a finny Chautauqua monster locally called “Methuselah.” The “Big Flipper Fin” musky critter that got away at Chautauqua Lake.

Educational and professional seminars are included with each admission pass, and the price of admission also includes entry to the remarkable “Lure Swap Saturday” event set for Olives Restaurant (located inside the hotel) from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Lure swap stories often provide that one missing thing that anglers were searching for. It may complete their quest for better fish-catch understanding. Such details might mention lure rattles, glow paint, extra sparkle, color, and who knows…flash from finger-nail polish. You never know. If you like pizza, the Lure Swap event will include free gourmet pizza courtesy of the show sponsors.

The seminar schedule includes famous musky people who plan to deliver a handful of fishing lore and share secrets, talking about how, where, why, and with what for catching musky.

The NYSDEC will be on hand to share talk about the Prendergast musky hatchery and can help answer any questions for visitors. News about musky biology, habitat, and the science of aquatic resource decision-making, including proactive fishery resource management, will start seminar talks off on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. with the Thousand Islands Biological Station (TIBS) Director Dr. John Farrell and Dr. John Paul LeBlanc (Aquatic/Fisheries Scientists from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry). Look for Captain Vance Kaloz from All Day Musky Charters at 1:00 p.m. to discuss the “Art of the Drift,” seasonal bait fish changes, and how to adapt. At 3:00 p.m., listen to lure modification secrets with Brian Clark of Captain Chaos Musky Guide Service.

Big lures, like these “Jammers” from Lila Lures, as well as musky fishing advice, will be plentiful at the Musky Expo 2024 set for Feb. 3-4, 2024 at Chautauqua Suites Hotel and Expo Center in Mayville. Greg Jones photo

Then, on Sunday at 10:30 a.m., an All-Star Panel of musky fishing guides that includes Hans Mann of Buffalo Harbor Outfitters, Todd Young of Muddy Creek Fishing, Ed Pascua – of Medicine Man Charters, and Doug Vanasco/Joel Morrow – Of banging Bottom Outfitters, will offer an advice-filled treat for all to hear. At 12:30, The Niagara Musky Association will provide an advice-filled Musky 101 seminar to include proper gear presentation and catch/release logic with renowned NMA Musky Magazine author Scott McKee and Niagara River musky expert Joe Wilczewski. You can ask Wilczewski to share his delicious Musky Chili recipe. There is a rumor that he made 12 gallons of the yummy chili to share.

Katia Rivers, New York Musky EXPO 2024 hostess, says, “There will be door prizes every hour of the show, courtesy of Fins Braids (Made in the USA). There will be Sunday-only specials, raffles, giveaways, and one-day-only lure deals. In addition, NY Muskies – Chapter 69 will feature the “Kids Corner,” where youth anglers will find interactive activities, a scavenger hunt, a build-your-own lure event, a coloring contest, arts and crafts, a casting game, and more. Youth prizes and pick-a-lure from our donations will be a choice for each attending youth. The goal is for every child to leave with their own lure.”

Imagine a bit, but realize and accept what lure-maker Bucko Muro shares on lure size. “A musky can consume a meal 2/3 of its own length.” Those 14 to 18-inch wall-hanger lures at the show might be too small for Chautauqua musky! But not all musky baits must be big to catch these big fish. Evan Schoss makes his famous “Meatball” lures, which are smaller sorts of lures (5-6 inches) in a variety of hot colors, including the new “insane clown.” Chautauqua Lake Charter Captain Todd Young of Muddy Creek Fishing swears by the Schoss baits. That’s the big and little of it. Maybe not.

On the flip side, Noah Clarke from Custom Clarkey Baits will have his 17-inch “Yo-Daddy rattling minnows loaded with exterior glitter and two interior knocking sound chambers. I want to shake-shake-shake those lures. Another bait-and-switch lure includes full-time carpenter Adam Mueller with Top Line Bait Company. Mueller adds a hot-color rubber tail to a lengthy XL Dipstick wooden lure to make it even longer. This year, Mr. Toothy Jim Reynolds is bringing his freshly crafted 14-inch Lex Luther crankbaits among many other show newcomers this year. Big fish, big lures, you get it – the proverbial go-get-em advice for catching big fish.

Captain Mike Sperry (R) and his guests have shared several hefty musky catches this year in Chautauqua Lake. Visitors can chat with Sperry at the Musky Expo. Chautauqua Reel Outdoors photo

Famous lure makers will fill vendor booth hallways. Mark Smith will be there with his Smuttly Dog Baits. Steve Gould with Trophy Time Leaders and Lures, Zachary Baker with his jointed cedar wood Knocker Lures. The 5-inch and 7-1/2 inch Zach Baker musky lures have been a musky “best bait” for years now. Last year, musky fishermen identified that some of the newest hot musky baits made with a glow paint finish earned an instant reputation for fooling musky during daytime hours. Look for Mike Sperry from Chautauqua Reel Outdoors with those locally famous “Leo Mojo” and “Shayla Shad” lures, and check in with Brady Martz to learn more about the BamBam Bait Company baits with his popular large rubber-like Bowfin Lures in various colors. Bucko Muro will have his hand-made “Dive & Rise” (D & R) Jerkbaits that feature his famous screw-eye construction, variable weight inserts, and epoxy coat finish. Muro uses poplar wood for his walk-the-dog baits and old-growth white pine for his D&R baits. Greg Jones will be on hand with his famous 9-inch “Jammer” made by Lila Lures. Famous musky fishing lines “Barbarian Braid” and “Fins Braid” will also be on hand for show-goers. Red October Baits has a brand new showcase with their 10-inch MONSTER TUBES.  Many of the best musky lures are made by small shops and single-person business owners making ends meet through these outdoor fishing shows. The best thing? These mom-and-pop shop lures really catch big fish. Every lure has some secret associated with it. Just ask these lure makers to explain their details. It’s a fun weekend to visit Mayville, NY.

On Sunday (Feb. 4), world-renowned musky lure maker Zachary Baker will offer a show-special 5-inch Baker Musky Rattle Tiger Lure for an unbelievably low price. That’s a deal breaker! I was once at a Niagara Musky Annual Banquet to watch my table partners, Gary and Hope Melnyk, bid $125 for one of these smaller Baker musky baits. I asked, “But why? It’s just one lure, right?” Gary said, “You don’t understand, it’s a Baker Lure! I gotta have it.” Legends begin this way, they say, especially when they work.

The NY Musky EXPO 2024 show hours are Saturday, Feb. 3, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 4, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. For additional details on parking, hotel room availability and restaurant options, contact the Chautauqua Suites Expo Center at 716-269-7829. Every room reservation includes a breakfast buffet each morning. Show sponsors include Baker Lures, the Muskie Hanks Podcast, Chautauqua Reel Outdoors Tackle Shop, the Cortese Auto Group, and the Northwoods Sportsman’s Association, to name a few. Maybe one more “best part about this show” is the idea of fishing across the street in Chautauqua Lake to catch a panfish dinner for the trip home. Visit for free Chautauqua Lake contour maps, fishing advice in story form, winter shore access locations, secret fishing tips from local pros, fresh maple syrup outlet sources, and winter (or summer) lodging locations.

Bring a kid with you if you’re heading to the Musky Expo!

God bless tight lines.

Salmon Tourney Winners Find Big Spring Fish! Wilson, New York

Photo courtesy of Bill HIlts - Niagara USA

Winner of the Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament June 6 was the U-Betcha team led by Capt. Chris Vogt of Albion.

Congratulations to the U-Betcha team led by Capt. Chris Vogt of Albion. They won the Wilson Harbor Invitational Tournament and nearly $15,000 in cash last weekend. The tournament is based on the best six salmon for the day and their 6 fish weighed in at 90.92 pounds for a total score of 150.92 points based on 10 points per fish and a point per pound.

Second place team was Elise K. from Michigan, less than 3 points behind the winning U-Betcha team.

Second place was the Elise K team from Michigan, less than 3 points behind. The Hound Dog team from Wellsville was less than a point behind them. Big fish for the tournament was a 22.34-pound king salmon reeled in by the Tri-Lakes Sportfishing team headed up by William Jennings. Vogt found his winning combination between 4 Mile Creek and the red buoy marker drop off on the Niagara Bar in 250 feet of water. Rigged cut bait and Stingray spoons worked best for him during the tournament.

Blake Kowalski of Tonawanda holds up a couple king salmon for the Tough Duty 2 team that placed 5th in the Wilson Harbor Invitational tourney last weekend.

Capt. Mike Johannes of Ransomville, has been doing good about 6 miles west of Wilson in about 150 to 300 feet of water. Mostly dark spoons such as Carbon 14 and Seasick Waddler patterns have been best in the magnum size. Some fish have come on divers 150 feet back with 8-inch e-chip flashers and flies, too. Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors reports that fishing is tough but 200 to 280 feet of water right out in front of Olcott has been producing a few big kings over 20 pounds.  Depth varies. Mag spoons in green, white, black, and lemons.   Chartreuse and glow flies or meat rigs are working, too.  Some perch have been coming from 12 Mile Creek and Tuscarora over in Wilson.

Whether you are fishing above or below Niagara Falls in the Niagara River, pay attention to the border. Canada has once again shifted its policy to keep anglers and boaters from entering Canadian water space, announcing huge fines and possible boat confiscation for violators. The change took place June 1 and it will be revisited again on June 21, but it could be extended again.

Lower Niagara river action has been hampered by the arrival of the moss according to Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle. Fishing has been a bit slow. There are still a few steelheads up in Devil’s Hole believe it or not with water temperatures into the mid-60s. Bass action has been tough. Best spots have been at Joe Davis and the Coast Guard drift for boats. Tubes work best.

Mike Rzucidlo and Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls with a white bass double header in the lower Niagara River.

From shore, Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls has been using jigs. Bass action has been tough. About the only fish really cooperating has been sheepshead and he has caught some bruisers this week.

Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls is feeling a bit sheepish with a bomber of a freshwater drum in the Niagara Gorge on light line.

On the Bar near the green buoy, Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston reports some decent Coho action on MagLips off three-way rigs. Upper river bass action has been tough according to Capt. Ryan Shea. Fish are on the beds. Ned rigs have been producing a few fish, but you must work for them. There are some walleyes around, too.

This is National Fishing and Boating Week through June 14th. Get out there and enjoy our waters. Charter captains are back operating again. Stay safe!

Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director

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Destination Niagara USA
10 Rainbow Blvd.
Niagara Falls, NY 14303
p: 1-877 FALLS US | 716-282-8992 x. 303

Online Hunter Education Course Available For NY Hunters

Hunters ages 12 or older may purchase a license and head afield this spring.

  • The cost of the course is $19.95 
  • The online course will be available April 15 through June 30, 2020
Courtesy NYSDEC

First-time hunters who want to hunt during New York’s turkey hunting seasons must first earn a hunter education certificate prior to purchasing their first hunting license. This applies to both the regular season, May 1-31, and the youth (ages 12-15) turkey hunting weekend April 25-26. Unfortunately, all traditional hunter education courses have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many new hunters unable to get a certificate before spring turkey season.

Now there is a new option for earning a hunter education certificate. For a limited time, first-time hunters in New York can complete the required hunter education course entirely online.

The online course is available to anyone ages 11 and older and can be completed from a computer, tablet, or smartphone at any time. Students who complete the online course and virtual field day, and pass the final exam, will receive their hunter education certificate and can purchase a hunting license.

Only those hunters ages 12 or older may purchase a license and head afield this spring.

The cost of the course is $19.95. The online course will be available April 15 through June 30, 2020 on the Kalkomey website.

Summertime King Salmon Fishing is ON in Lake Ontario

  • High water is not a factor
  • Smart Troll with diving planes is highly effective
  • Warrior Spoon lures proved they are hot

By Forrest Fisher

Chris Kenyon (L) and Captain Jerry Snyder aboard Dandy Eye’s Fishing Charter are pretty happy about this nice King Salmon catch.  We all kidded Chris that he needed oxygen after a 38-minute battle with this fish.

High Great Lakes water levels have raised concerns for shoreline issues, but it sure has not affected the fishing. In Lake Ontario where the water level is the highest above average when compared to the other Great Lakes, we fished Lake Ontario to find heavy fun with no issues.

Working out of Hughes Marina in Williamson (NY) with part of our fun group aboard Dandy Eyes Charters and the other half aboard Miss Demeanor Charters, we readied for action. Our troop of anglers was a team of outdoor communicators from the New York State Outdoor Writers Association that were challenged by the team from Rush Outdoors TV (Pursuit Network). Led by Realtree camo superstar, Tim Andrus, the battle of Lake Ontario for heaviest weight at the scale after just three hours of fishing, was on.

Rush Outdoors TV Star, Tim Andrus, is ready for salmon action.
The New York State Outdoor Writers team fished from Dandy Eyes and enjoyed a great day on the water with lots of fish.

There is always more than just playing the game with outdoor media – there are jokes, tales from impractical history, shoelace tying fun (tying laces together when the other guy is sleeping, then yelling fish on!), and other such shenanigans. It’s all in real fun, and it is, and it was, real fun for everyone.

We left the marina at about 9:00 a.m. and headed northwest into the mild 8 mph wind that had created a perfect “chop” for keeping the mayflies off the boat. Aboard the comfy 31-foot Baha with Captain Jerry Snyder and Captain Sandy Miller from Dandy Eyes, we discovered so much about high-tech fishing.

Using 8-1/2 foot Okuma fishing rods with Daiwa Salt 30 or Shimano Tekota 600LC reels, each filled with 9-strand/45 pound test Torpedo Diver wireline, we trolled a King John flasher with a trailing Warrior silver-plated spoon in “Spoiler” color to fool some nice King Salmon.

A Chinook diving plane used with a 9-strand wire line and Smart-Troll device allows perfect depth and temperature lure placement. It’s a fish-catcher combination!

In all, we hooked up with 8 of these incredible fighting fish. Some of them took as long as 38 minutes to bring in! Fun? WOW! Sore arms and shoulders? Yes! Need for oxygen? Yes!

Smart Troll electronics allows temperature and depth data to remove all mystery.

Captain Snyder uses Smart-Troll electronics to measure the water temp, lure depth and lure speed – yes I think a fishy degree is required to figure all this hi-techy stuff out, as the fish were hoodwinked into thinking some of the flashy/UV-coated spoons presented at just the right depth for the day, 70-80 feet down in 130-140 feet of water, was their late breakfast. WHAM! Fish On! Love that sound from the captain.

Captain Jerry Snyder proved to all of us writer folks that he might just understand a little about the very tricky Lake Ontario salmon and trout fishery. Among all of us jousting him with jokes, laughable tales and more, he maintained his reliable and proven fishing method self to put the boat on fish that could be caught. We watched many fish we could not catch on the sonar screen, but then he changed his fishing tactics to win the FooltheFishzitzer prize. Masterful. Really was.

Captain Jerry Snyder at work…eyes, ears and full attention to the fishery.

Fishing aboard Dandy Eyes, we zeroed in on bringing fish to the boat even when the fish were not biting for many other charters. It might be embarrassing for other charters, as you might guess, but it’s quite a lot of fun at the dock when you return to share stories of your catch. Biggest fish, smallest fish, most fish – you know, the big fish tale spins abound. So that’s how it was last weekend when we fished with my outdoor media buddies Chris Kenyon, Leo Maloney and Bill Hilts in this fish-off match vs the TV stars and the camera crew from Rush Outdoors TV. Once more time – Fun? WOW! Yes it was. I’m trying to wipe the grin off my face, so please don’t mention it.

Famed outdoor writer, Leo Maloney (L), and Rush TV Show co-star, John Lenox, discuss the outdoor world and fishing secrets.

In a fun day of fishing, sharing jokes, bantering about all things, like where you might find a deer tick – no, not going there – and all that followed by the biggest question from Captain Jerry time after time: “Who’s Up?!! Fish On!”

Outdoor TV Show host and star, Bill Hilts, does the transfer work, live well to fish cooler, end of a very successful day!

We caught fish, King Salmon to 16 pounds – our smallest at 5 pounds, to win the jesting tussle at the scales. Hardy thank you to Wayne County superman outdoor educator Christopher Kenyon and TV stars, Tim Andrus and John Lenox, for wholehearted vying in this funfest battle. Both groups, a total of 12 people, are dedicated professionals committed to furthering the message of the great outdoors with everyone everywhere.

Love the battle hymn aboard our boat last weekend: “FISH-ON!” What a great tune.

Orleans County/Lake Ontario/Oak Orchard Fishing Report for March 26, 2019

  • This week’s Orleans County Fishing Report is from Ron Bierstine from Oak Orchard Tackle & Lodge – March 26, 2019.

Nice flows in the Oak are still somewhere near slightly high or just less. Good upstream supplies have been keeping these “high turbine flows” going. Chance of flows are coming down some toward, say, medium, through this week with no significant precipitation in the near forecast. Forecast is a chance of precipitation toward the weekend and slowly warming temps through this week. Any precipitation for maintenance of flows and some stain to the water would help preserve the nice tributary conditions. Water color on a slow clear in the Oak with still some cold nights. Water color is going on 3 ft of visibility.

Fishing pressure seems light through this mid-week period, some guys are still at the dam and some anglers are able to move around – fishing other downstream fast water spots. Action has been good for deep and slow drifters covering the fast water spots on mostly fresh steelhead that are giving themselves a good account in hard battles. That seems like an encouraging sign for steelhead conditions. There is some evidence of spawning from the earlier higher water but right now most fish seem tight and fresh. Water temperatures are nearing 40° F and with warmer days and especially not cold nights ahead look, for the water temperatures to continue to warm.

Other area smaller tributaries have medium flows and just slightly stained water color. Guys are spread out on all the waterways with reports of browns and some steelhead on those smaller tributaries. There are good opportunities now and ahead while cool conditions may hang on for spring steelhead action and some browns spread over all the different waterways.
Provided by Ron Bierstine, Oak Orchard Tackle & Lodge. 

Visit our Fishing Report on Orleans County, including weather forecasts and our “At the Oak, Orleans County” Facebook feed.

Steelhead Pen Rearing at the Oak

Volunteers are needed for 3 -4 weeks during April for feeding, cleaning and supporting steelhead pen rearing. Steelhead along with salmon have been pen reared at the Oak since the inception of pen rearing efforts. Last year steelhead were not reared at the Oak, as they were direct stocked. Pen reared fish always have greater survivability over direct stocked fish and hopefully better imprinting.

NYSDEC oversees pen rearing efforts and a large part of the financial burden for supplies which contributes greatly to Orleans County being a World Class fishing destination. This year, 2 new pens have been assembled by Spencerport BOCES students. Many thanks to past volunteers, NYSDEC and students for their support. This year, many Rochester Seth Green chapter TU volunteers have stepped up and we are looking for additional help. Please indicate your willingness to help in the workload in any capacity by contacting Ron Bierstine at 585-682-4546. If you’d like to help out for salmon pen rearing efforts Ron can direct you for that too.

We support all pen rearing efforts and any efforts for the betterment of the tributary and open lake fishery.

From Point Breeze on Lake Ontario, the World Fishing Network’s Ultimate Fishing Town USA and the rest of Orleans County, let’s make everyday a great fishing day right here in Orleans County!
The Team at Orleans County Tourism


  • Lake Erie – Buffalo, NY – Trophy Smallmouth Bass Fishery, is NEW ADDITION to FLW Northern Series
  • Lake Guntersville will host 2018 Costa FLW Series Championship November

MINNEAPOLIS (Aug. 22, 2017) – Fishing League Worldwide (FLW), the world’s largest tournament-fishing

2018 Costa FLW Series Schedule is Official 

organization, announced today the 2018 Costa FLW Series schedule, which will consist of three events in each of the five divisions – Central, Northern, Southeastern, Southwestern and Western – along with the no-entry-fee Costa FLW Series Championship to be held on Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Alabama.

The top 40 pros and co-anglers in the final point standings in each division after three qualifying tournaments will advance to the 2018 Costa FLW Series Championship, provided they fished all three qualifiers in a division.

The highest finishing pro from each of the five Costa FLW Series divisions based on final results at the 2018 Costa FLW Series Championship qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup, along with the highest finishing pro from the championship’s international division. A total of six Costa FLW Series pros will advance to the 2019 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of professional bass fishing.

Complete rules and entry dates will be announced soon.

2018 Costa FLW Series Season Schedule:

Central Division            Fishery                       City                                         Local Host

  • April 19-21         Table Rock Lake           Branson, Mo.       
  • June 7-9            Lake Barkley                 Cadiz, Ky.                      Cadiz-Trigg County Tourism      
  • Oct. 11-13         Lake of the Ozarks        Osage Beach, Mo.         Tri-County Lodging Association      

Northern Division

  • June 21-23       Lake Champlain             Plattsburgh, N.Y.           City of Plattsburgh
  • July 26-28         Lake Erie                       Buffalo, N.Y.                  Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission
  • Sept. 6-8           1000 Islands                  Clayton, N.Y.                 Clayton Chamber of Commerce    

Southeastern Division

  • Jan. 4-6            Lake Okeechobee          Okeechobee, Fla.         Okeechobee County Tourism
  • March 1-3         Lake Seminole               Bainbridge, Ga.             Bainbridge CVB
  • April 5-7            Santee Cooper              Summerton, S.C.           Clarendon County CC

Southwestern Division

  • Feb. 15-17        Sam Rayburn Reservoir Jasper, Texas               Jasper-Lake Sam Rayburn CC
  • March 22-24     Grand Lake                    Grove, Okla.                   City of Grove       
  • Oct. 4-6            Fort Gibson Lake            Wagoner, Okla.              Wagoner Area CC        

Western Division

  • Feb. 8-10           Lake Havasu                 Lake Havasu City, Ariz. Lake Havasu City CVB               
  • May 10-12         Clear Lake                     Lakeport, Calif.              Konocti Vista Casino Resort/Marina
  • Sept. 27-29       California Delta              Bethel Island, Calif.        Russo’s Marina   

Costa FLW Series Championship

  • Nov. 1-3            Lake Guntersville           Guntersville, Ala.           Marshall County CVB

The full schedule and details for each fishery can be found at

For complete details and updated information visit For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Costa FLW Series on Facebook at and on Twitter at

About FLW – FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2017 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW conducts more than 258 bass-fishing tournaments annually across the United States and sanctions tournaments in Canada, China, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros. For more information visit and follow FLW at FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube and Snapchat.

A Day with the New DEC Region 9 Director at Walleye MECCA Destination – Dunkirk, NY

Julie Barrett O’Neill, the new Director for NYSDEC Region 9, is a hands-on manager that loves to share conversation about the outdoors.
  • Need a limit catch of Walleyes? Visit Dunkirk, NY, in Chautauqua County. 
  • NYSDEC Region 9 has a new hands-on Director that knows the ropes: Julie Barrett O’Neill

By Mike Joyner

One can easily state that any and all ports of access to Lake Erie lead to the walleye capital of the world. You would be correct, just as your fishing partners’ may counter declarations. Rather than debate the issue, I’ll lead us into the “declaration of Dunkirk” as a “must experience” port of launch and a favored choice to pursue a great fishing experience on Lake Erie. As reported in recent years by myself and legions of the outdoor media, the 2022 walleye season on Lake Erie is consistent with all the observations and claims as a “Walleye Mecca” of prior years. Yes, folks, it’s that good!

This year’s VIP Fish Day, held annually every August, would greet us with mixed clouds, moderate temperatures, and the calmest waters I have ever experienced on this Great Lake. This year’s event was coordinated by Jim and Diane Steel of the Innovative Outdoors team. A well-organized and super friendly event. Lots of familiar faces and many new ones. The event pairs Charter Captains with outdoor writers, local legislators, business leaders, and members of the NYSDEC Fisheries group. The group of outdoor writers present would hail from Indiana, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Rhode Island and New York.

As a fishing partner, I would be paired up with Julie Barrett O’Neill, the new Director for NYSDEC Region 9. We would join Captain Hans Mann of Buffalo Harbor Outfitters on his 21′ Warrior boat for a morning of outstanding fishing.

Captain Hans Mann of Buffalo Harbor Outfitters treats his guests with comfort and fish-catching aboard his 21′ Warrior boat. The city of Dunkirk is in the background.

Our trip out into the harbor was inspirational for all its beauty and the lake’s calmness. We would be heading out to 60′ – 90′ depths to troll for walleyes that had been, in recent days, hanging near the bottom. Just 30 minutes into setting up the lines, we were already into fish as we started our first trolling run. Although we ran a pattern of depths, those we had out deep with dipsy divers and worm spinner jigs made it happen. The fish-catching started off with Julie landing the first walleye. We both would catch our limit for the day and release others back to the lake. To this day, in my humble opinion, walleye is one of the best fish to eat and is a welcomed treat in our home.

The fishing was fantastic, and the conversation during our trip was even better! Julie comes into her new role as Region 9 Director with an impressive resume. She is as passionate about the resource as any of us. Julie is incredibly excited about the outlook for Lake Sturgeon, which is making significant progress in the North American conservation story. Having a Director that is hands-on and very comfortable with fishing tackle is a good thing for us sportsmen. As I have, you’ll find her very approachable, friendly and knowledgeable. I would also learn that Hans is just as passionate about fishing for muskies and very involved as a board member of the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association. I can tell you Hans runs an efficient setup and is directly dialed in on walleyes. I can easily envision how he takes his ‘A’ game to muskies. I found Hans to be a great boat captain and super friendly. They are genuinely great people to enjoy time out on the water with. We would discuss many topics concerning the fisheries, future development, and the current issues with proposed windmills. In a few hours on a beautiful morning, all the essential goals of the VIP event were being met on a 21′ boat. The future for Eastern Lake Erie has a bright future, in my view.

The event concluded with a great lunch at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club. As in the past, we got updates on issues concerning the lake, the latest research, and the fishery outlook.

The Dunkirk pier fish-cleaning station is crowded with everyday anglers taking fillets home for dinner. Ice and free fishing advice are available here, plus you can observe an assortment of fish cleaning tools and methods.

It is a beautiful format to promote not only the great fishery and recreational opportunities of the area but also puts the significant stakeholders together in the same room, the same boat, to further the communication needed for developing the resource. The event is fully supported by the following organizations: Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, Erie County Fisheries Advisory Board and the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association.

© 2022 Mike Joyner- Joyner Outdoor Media

WNED-TV KIDS FEST – What an Awesome Event

  • 1400 New Kids – FIND the OUTDOORS for the First Time
  • Parents of Kids – DISCOVER FISH and FUN of New York OUTDOORS
  • Kudo’s to TV Station Crew and Outdoor Sportsman Volunteers

By Joe McAdams – ECFSC Kids Fest Co-Chairman

This was the Erie County Federation’s 1st participation of the WNED-TV Kids Fest.  I’ve attended this event with my grandson last year, so I had an idea of how the event worked and what to expect as an attendee. 

The press release was sent out and we prepared to add another community event to our calendar.  Unfortunately, we had no idea what to expect as a vendor.

Our platform consisted of standard Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs (ECFSC) banners and signage, Teach-Me-To-Fish posters supplied by Dave Barus, printed handouts for the Federation and an awesome supply of NYS fishing maps, fishing regulations and beginning fishing guides.

The crew consisted of President Jeff Jondle (event co-chair), Joe McAdams (event co-chair), Tom Fischer, George Rockey, Gary Melnyk, Hope Melnyk, and DEC biologist representative, Mike Todd.

Thanks to the assistance of the WNED studio crew members – we had our banner high on the wall.  We went right to work setting up shop.  This seasoned crew had everything ready to go in record time.

Our location in the TV studio – adjacent to the “Curious George and Friends” photo op and the “See Yourself on TV” green screen camera – gave us opportunity to present the Federation and all our programs to the interested parents.

Experienced crew assembles booth display.

Not knowing how many kids to expect and not having a large supply of prizes, we wanted to use a prize wheel to award drawing prizes. We brought 20 fishing poles, 100 mini-tackle boxes and over 200 Cabela’s braided wrist bands in hunter orange.

The stage is set, ready for kids and parents at WNED-TV Studios, Buffalo, NY.

We couldn’t get a prize wheel, so we used a Plinko board with a 1-in-4 chance to win a top prize (fishing pole).  Everyone else received a wrist band or mini tackle box.  We expected our cache of over 300 prizes to easily last the day.

To say that we were WAY OFF is an understatement!  Saturday’s pre-registered attendance was a little over 500, but an additional 400 kids purchased tickets at the door bringing the attendance to over 900 kids.  This was amazing!

There was genuine interest in the Teach-Me-To-Fish program with many parents eager to attend this year’s events.  I could not believe how many parents had never heard of ECFSC and Teach-Me-To-Fish.  We had more face time with parents than any other Federation event!

                           Kid-size mini-Plinko.

DEC representative Mike Todd brought the popular fish identification display and a new event – the “fish pool”.

The fish pool consisted of numerous laminated color prints of various regional fish with a Velcro nose.  Fishing poles equipped with a Velcro lined plug were used to make the catch.  The water consisted of a blue tarp and nautical rope rigging to prevent those fishing from “falling in”.

The idea was to have the kids hook their fish, then take it to the identification chart behind the pool.  This reinforced the fun of fishing with educational interaction.  The fish pool was a huge success.  Parents were taking pictures of their kids landing everything from Perch to Lake Trout!  At times, the line to fish in the DEC Fish Pool stretched across the room.

After the first day, we exhausted our supply of prizes.  We eliminated the mini-Plinko game and expanded the fish pond to account for the extra space.  Sunday’s attendees would have been disappointed if it wasn’t for George Rockey.  George came to the rescue with 200 stuffed emoji’s and 30 Frisbees to give away.

                                   DEC Fish Pool                                                                                Ryan McAdams lands a big bass. 

Sunday’s event was smaller and shorter in time with a schedule of 12-4.  There were 300 pre-registered and another 180 walk-ins that brought the total kids to almost 500.  The crowd was enthusiastic, and parents snapped up anything that had information about Federation programs.

Hope and Gary Melnyk kept an eye on the prizes and managed to stretch them out until 2PM.  Even without prizes, the kids still loved the fishing pond.


During this one event, we were able to reach more kids and engage more parents than the last 3 years of the “Teach-Me-To-Fish” program.  More importantly, was that the majority of kids that attended this event were under the age of 6.

Our literature, fishing guides and maps weren’t taken by browsers strolling by but were methodically acquired by young parents that were engaged by our Federation volunteers.

As a Director, former President, and longtime member of the Federation, I couldn’t be prouder of our all-volunteer team.  They took this opportunity to educate and enlighten.  To engage and provoke interest.

A special note of thanks for Mike Todd.  This passionate New York State DEC biologist and educator does not get paid to support our events.  He re-arranges his work schedule to cover the Federation sponsored events.

His fish pond was the hit of the show and had all of WNED-TV talking about what a great activity it was.

I can’t wait until next year…

Click on logo to learn more about EDUCATIONAL Outdoor Programs in Erie County, New York.

About the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen (ECFS): The Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, Inc. is an all-volunteer, charitable, non-profit organization that is dedicated to the promotion of fish and wildlife conservation, education of outdoor participants and related outdoor recreation. This promotion is accomplished in several ways. We conduct or sponsor a variety of educational opportunities for young and old. Including, but not limited to: • Sponsoring youths to conservation education camps. • Scholarships for conservation related education. • Instructor Workshops • Sponsoring Outdoors Woman program candidates.  We also sponsor many community service programs that include: • Hunters Helping the Hungry • Family Fishing Clinics • National Hunting & Fishing Day hands-on event for youth.  ECFS programs Grow with the Community: We are actively involved with the community – acting as liaisons to state and local government agencies that affect New York State conservation laws and activities; attempting to improve the hunting and angling conditions for the sportsman – promoting the multiple use of our lands, forests and waters for recreational purposes for all the people.  We sponsor legislation, participate in fish stocking in Lake Erie and tributaries, inland lakes and streams of Erie County. We assist the Conservation Department in pheasant stocking – and we are involved in the 4H pheasant stocking program.  Visit us and keep track of our outdoor educational event programming throughout the entire year: