International fishing flavor in western New York

“I love it when a plan comes together!”

It seemed like George Peppard Jr. would say that every week when “The A-Team” aired on NBC during the 1980s. And it was always some roundabout way that led to achieving whatever goal or objective needed to be obtained.

May 10-13, the Confederation Internationale de la Pesche Sportive (CIPS) held its 39th annual Fishing Congress at the Doubletree Hotel in Niagara Falls. Previous gatherings like this that I personally attended had little to no fishing available during the meeting days. We changed that up. Added to the mix was pre-Congress and post-Congress offerings that would help to showcase the western New York spring fisheries for salmon, trout, bass and whatever else would end up on the end of a fishing line.

CIPS is the governing body that currently oversees 144 National Federations from 77 countries. When you add up the number of members they represent, the total is more than 50 million anglers from around the globe. In the world of fishing, this is a big deal – and it’s the first time this group has ever stepped on U.S. soil or traveled on U.S. water. Hosted by the U.S. Angling Confederation and Destination Niagara USA, delegates started to arrive on May 8.

May 9 had a variety of fishing excursions on Lake Erie, the Upper Niagara River and the Lower Niagara River. Smallmouth bass up to 6 pounds and trout up to 15 pounds were reeled in and released to the excitement of these anxious participants. Of course, some quality western New York fishing guides must take some of the credit, too.

May 10 was a Lake Ontario salmon trip out of Wilson. Two boats were filled with delegates and the result was nothing short of incredible. Imagine catching 15 to 20 fish – mostly king and Coho salmon – in four hours of fishing. That’s what they experienced. The excitement level was high when they returned to the hotel to share their stories and pictures.

On Friday, May 11, we threw a curveball into the normal scheduling. “Fishing Friday” was a day that allowed for delegates to attend their meetings either in the morning or the afternoon. Many did not need to attend both. So we arranged for lunch at the 4 Points by Sheraton on the upper Niagara River in Niagara Falls USA. Delegates could arrive early or stay after lunch and hop on board a boat with area guides.

Things worked out splendidly. Smallmouth bass were the primary targets for the catch-and-release season and, once again, fish up to 6 pounds were reeled in – big fish for the upper river for sure. They must have known that there were plenty of cameras around.

Sunday morning was a lower Niagara River trout trip for some delegates who stayed on, and Monday offered some lower river bass action for South African delegate Andries Maree, who caught a personal-best smallmouth that tipped the scales at nearly 5 pounds. However, I am sure he lost several much bigger than that.

Just like that, the 39th CIPS Congress was history. On to Kazakhstan for the 40th annual event next year. They will have some big shoes to fill as we set the bar high for future Congress activities. A big shout out to Elizabeth Davis and the staff at Destination Niagara USA for a job well done in making this important gathering a huge success.

Yes, I love it when a plan comes together.

Categories: Blog Content, New York – Bill Hilts Jr

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