On the Great Lakes, it’s tournament time, and the fishing has been fantastic

It’s July and it has been a hot summer so far – temperature-wise and fishing-wise. What’s a fisherman (or fisherwoman) to do?

The walleye fishing on Lake Erie has been nothing short of incredible. It’s not whether you can catch a limit, but how fast you can catch your six-fish-per-person allotment. From Buffalo to Barcelona, boaters have been catching plenty of ‘eyes. Ditto for Lake Ontario as salmonid chasers have been putting a hurt on salmon and trout all season long. The headliner has been the king salmon and fishing has been outstanding.

To add to the excitement, there is a long list of fishing contests going on. For Lake Erie, the Sunset Bay Walleye Shootout hit the water July 21. The field of 110 boats was filled early, offering up a payout of over $150,000 – the largest walleye shootout in the country. Competitive fishermen are clamoring for contests.

The following week bass fishing was in the spotlight. The Costa FLW Series Northern Division Tournament was set for July 26-28. More than 170 boats will be out pursuing smallmouth bass for some big bucks. It’s a great opportunity to participate in a real live bass tournament.

The same weekend as the Walleye Shootout was the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association’s club tournaments July 20-21. July 22 was the Wilson Bicentennial fishing tournament for salmon and trout as well. Throw in the Summer Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby (June 30-July 29) and you have a potpourri of fishing contests at about the same time. With all of this going on, anglers have to make the decision of what they want to fish for and enter.

Just like the walleye fishing, the salmon fishing has been off the charts from Niagara to Oswego. Most everyone has been catching salmon since the spring. Many times people blow off getting into a fishing contest because they think they don’t have a chance against the diehards or the charter captains. That couldn’t be further from the truth. This past week alone, I know of at least three salmon and at least one trout that would be on the board and leading divisional categories had they been in the contest.

Grand prize for the summer LOC Derby is $10,000, and the Fall LOC Derby, Aug. 17-Sept. 3, offers a whopping $25,000 grand prize. More often than not, it’s the person fishing Lake Ontario for the first time, someone catching their first salmon or some other novice angler who walks away with the big prizes. Check out the leaderboard at www.loc.org.

All of these fishing contests serve a valuable purpose. They are events that attract people from out of town. In the Walleye Shootout, 14 different states are represented. In the LOC derbies, they traditionally see in excess of 40 states being represented when it’s all said and done. The derbies are also a great promotional tool that helps to showcase the waters that they are in. It’s all win-win.

Remember that we need to support the Conservation Fund to help pay for the various fishing (and hunting) programs coordinated through the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. Every license dollar goes into that fund, and every license is also leveraged for federal excise tax monies collected through Wallop-Breaux, Dingell-Johnson and Pittman-Robertson funds. Those monies are used to support fish and wildlife programs, too.

Get out there and take advantage of our Great Lakes fishing – these are going to be the “good old days.”

Categories: Blog Content, New York – Bill Hilts Jr, Walleye

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