Reelin’ for a Cure event catching on – and catching fish – in western New York

For the third year in a row, a Reelin’ for a Cure ladies fishing tournament has been held out of the Niagara County ports of Wilson and Olcott the first day of the Fall Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Trout and Salmon Derby (Aug. 17 this year). The basic concept is a simple one – get the ladies out on Lake Ontario fishing for salmon and trout through a friendly team event and raise funds to combat the effects of cancer.

Cancer. The big “C.” As we grow older, we have either experienced the devastating impact of the disease ourselves or know someone close who has been impacted by its debilitating effects. We know people who have passed on as a result of a cancer-related issue, direct or indirect. When Stephanie Pierleoni of Newfane fished a similar women’s event in Oswego years ago, she asked her husband, Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Thrillseeker Charters, why we didn’t have one. “Start one up yourself,” was his reply.

And so she did, with the help of others. They started out with baby steps. The first year they wanted to keep it small and there were a dozen boats. The second year there were 17 teams. This year they hit the 21-boat mark as they continue to grow and gain support from captains, recreational boats and teams of women around Western New York. The event is starting to gain steam.

If ever there was a “win-win” situation, this is it. It gets women on Lake Ontario fishing for a cause, being exposed to one of the greatest freshwater fisheries in the country. Many of these ladies have never picked up a fishing rod before let alone reel in a chinook salmon … and they did plenty of reelin’ this year. They were having fun while raising money for some cancer-related outreach.

The first year of the tournament, nearly $5,000 was raised for Mary’s Wig Room. Last year, over $5,000 was raised for Breast Cancer Awareness of Western New York-Metastatic Research. This year, the final figure will be released in mid-September, but Pierleoni assures that it will be well over last year’s mark, in part because of people’s passion to help this most worthy cause.

Not only did some teams compete, they went above and beyond by raising some of their own funds before the tournament ever arrived. They came in from Rochester and Buffalo, from the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation and local businesses. Families and friends joined hands to team up to fight fish … and cancer. It became a celebration of fishing and surviving. It was a memorial for special people who didn’t survive the battle of their lives. There were smiles … and tears.

When the fish came to the scales at Krull Park this year, many impressive catches were held up (some apprehensively because those fish were big, slimy, and had teeth). The contest was based on a team’s best six fish, and the winner this year was the Legacy Ladies with a score of 166 points (based on 10 points per fish and a point per pound like other Lake Ontario tournaments). Capt. Rob Wescott of Hamlin, who operates Legacy Charters, made the trek to Olcott to help support the cause and do his part. Charter captains and recreational boats alike offered up their services to take the ladies fishing out of both Wilson and Olcott. If you don’t have a boat, the tournament will find you one. If you don’t have a team, they will find you one to fish on. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never fished before.

After all of the fishing and the weigh in, there was a cookout in the park to complete the celebration, relive on-water experiences, and plan for next year – the date is set for Aug. 16, 2019, the first day of the Fall LOC Derby. For more information, follow the tournament on Facebook and check out the website.

Categories: Blog Content, New York – Bill Hilts Jr

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