Local and national attention for Western N.Y. fishing

Bill HiltsFor the last 15 years, local charter captains have been guiding national media the first week in May to the area’s outstanding spring fishing. At the same time, corporate sponsors have participated as well to help finance the effort, a platform for the writers and television show hosts to experience their products. Lake Ontario salmon and trout fishing, Niagara River trout and bass, and Lake Erie bass are all featured, but there are definite surprises along the way. It’s a win-win situation if there ever was one.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of fishing with Jeff Pierce, national sales manager (among other roles with the company) for Mustad Hooks. The Scottsville, N.Y. resident loves fishing the waters of Western New York and his boat is often seen in the shadow of Fort Niagara in the spring to catch salmon and trout.

“My son caught a seven-pound bass last week in front of the fort and I caught a 33-pound lake trout power trolling the bar around the green buoy marker,” said Pierce. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Mustad Hooks employs around 500 people around the globe. They had an office in Auburn, N.Y. but moved all its operations to Miami, Fla. recently. Pierce told them that he would be working from home if they wanted to keep him on. “I’ve fished on five continents so far and this fishing right here is some of the best in the world," he said.

As we drifted Fat Boy baits off three-way rigs on the bar, we managed to catch close to 20 lake trout up to 18 pounds, hoping to get a fish that would make the board for the Lake Ontario Counties Derby that was in progress. Tom Marks, representing Carbon-X rods, was also on board dragging baits. It was a beautiful day on the water as we swapped stories.

Earlier in the morning, we had been interviewed by the Time Warner Cable Your News Now (YNN) team about what was happening here with media and corporate sponsors. They were impressed by what they heard and really gave the area’s sportfishing resources a huge plug. With the likes of editors and writers representing Field and Stream, Outdoor Life, Bassmasters, In-Fisherman and On The Water to name but a few, the participating national media was a who’s who in the outdoor world…and many of those people were returning from previous media events here.

WGRZ, the Buffalo NBC affiliate, greeted the writers at mid-week in Lewiston at 5:55 a.m. prior to heading out for the day. They, too, were impressed with the quality of the media and how much they served as ambassadors of our local waters.

“I have a saltwater fishing show,” said Mark Davis of South Carolina, host of Big Water Adventures on The Outdoor Channel. “I fish from Alaska to Panama. But the first week of May I come to Niagara and fish freshwater for the week – it’s that good.”

We’ve had national attention for more than just the last 15 years. In 1991, we hosted the Outdoor Writers Association of America conference in Niagara Falls. This year, OWAA will be returning to the Empire State for another conference – this time in Lake Placid in September. That will be the topic of a future blog.

In the meantime, it’s good to see local media outlets finally getting it with our great fishing. It’s not just on the sports pages or in the outdoor publications. This is general interest news that’s reaching out to the masses. I guess you could say that this one was a win-win-win!

Categories: New York – Bill Hilts Jr

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