Ultimate honor for Point Breeze

Bill HiltsPoint Breeze, a small hamlet on Lake Ontario in Orleans County best known among fishing circles for its Oak Orchard River, was recently named the Ultimate Fishing Town in the U.S. for 2013 by the World Fishing Network. That, in and of itself, is big news – especially for a county that offers angling as its main tourist attraction. But there’s a much bigger picture that needs to be told – and recognized by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, as well as the Division of Tourism.

For starters, the 2012 winner was just 30 miles to the west, another small hamlet in Niagara County – Olcott Beach in the Town of Newfane. We blogged this out one year ago. It’s pretty amazing that after more than 700 nominations and a nationwide vote, the Greater Niagara Region has achieved back-to-back wins in the ultimate battle for the top fishing spot. Incredible!

In taking that line of thinking to the next level, the first-ever Ultimate Fishing Town, in 2011, was another small community by the name of Roscoe, home to historic Catskills fly fishing. In three years, New YorksState owns the top Ultimate Fishing Town designations in the United States.

As a side note, the Town of Waddington, located on the St. Lawrence River in St. Lawrence County, was runner-up in 2011 and 2012. They were also the Northeast Region winner for 2013 and will certainly be considered a favorite in 2014 when the contest will be held again.

It’s designations like these that the Empire State should be hanging its hat on. Both DEC and the “I Love NY” tourism folks should be shouting from the rooftops and saying “hey, look at us – we’re great for fishing, too!” Instead, it’s been a struggle to even gain recognition in our own state.

We seem to be going in reverse when it comes to our promotion efforts. The amazing thing is that it’s not the money. One case in point is a reworked Great Lakes fishing brochure the DEC started to update – something we had hoped to see for winter trade shows in early 2013. Money was earmarked from an Occidental Chemical natural resources damages settlement to finance the printed piece. Unfortunately, the state didn’t let them spend it in a timely fashion. After everything was proofed and ready to go, the four-color promotional piece was put on hold, waiting for the necessary approvals … from the governor’s office. Really? Money that’s in the bank from a settlement has to be approved by the governor? If we ran this agency as a business, some heads would be rolling. The last word was that it received approval on April 30. That was two months ago!

In the meantime, outdoor media continues to struggle getting information out of DEC. Everyone has to go through the press office in Albany. You can no longer just pick up the phone and dial in a favorite fisheries biologist or wildlife biologist. However, you can if you are not a member of the media.  This is not a good direction we are heading in. Enough of the soap box. Congrats to Point Breeze and Orleans County on a job well done. Let’s hope we can tell some people about it. 

Categories: New York – Bill Hilts Jr

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