The right place, and the right time – it happens sometimes in fishing

Time and time again, it’s the fish that make us look good here in Western New York. Whether it’s a member of the outdoor media, a travel writer or simply an unsuspecting person thrown into an unlikely situation – and the spotlight for his or her 15 minutes of fame – the fishing resource is the reason for the accolades.

An excellent case in point was the fishing adventure that transpired with the Travel Media Showcase this fall in Niagara Falls. Travel writers from around the country are drawn to key tourism destinations across the United States for an annual conference each autumn.

Of course, the immediate area, the region, and the state have plenty of opportunities to showcase and attractions to feature. For the 2018 conclave, opportunities ranged from wine trails to the Erie Canal, hiking in the gorge to museums and other historic sites, and much more. Six people chose fishing in the lower Niagara River.

Because it was early September, it was going to be a coin flip. Would the salmon be available in any catchable numbers or do we simply head downriver to target bass and walleye with the hopes of catching something in our three-hour tour? We opted for the latter, to try and catch anything for photos and enjoyment. It was a beautiful day on the lower Niagara River, fishing out of Lewiston.

Ashley Dobbs, an employee with the Ocala (Fla.) Visitors Bureau, and Misty Well, outdoor writer for the Tampa Bay Times in Florida, were on board our 21-foot Lund captained by Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charters. As we motored downriver toward Fort Niagara, I wondered what the river would have in store for us. It wouldn’t be long before we found out.

Campbell rigged up some worm harnesses, fished off three-way rigs. Bouncing bottom along the Stella Drift, this is a popular spot for walleye and bass this time of year. A loud squeal at the back of the boat could only mean one thing – fish on! We figured it was going to be a bass as Ashley became super excited. She had never been fishing so had never caught a fish.

All of a sudden the fish took a run, peeling out line. No, it wasn’t a bass or a walleye. What else could it be? Big sheepshead? Sturgeon? One of the best things about the Niagara River is that you never know what you are going to catch.

By all rights she should have lost the fish. She didn’t know to keep the line away from the motor or away from the boat as the fish sounded. Several times it was scraping up against the side of the boat. But this was Ashley’s day in the sun, Niagara Falls USA style. Fifteen minutes later, with her arms tired and aching, she pulled the fish to a waiting net that Campbell was holding. It was a 20-pound Chinook salmon.Whatever prompted that fish to hit a worm harness, we’ll never know. It was a perfect case of being in the right place at the right time.

She was the center of attention for the rest of the conference as people came up to her and wanted to hear about her amazing catch. She will remember this fishing adventure for the rest of her life. And she wants to take up fishing when she gets back home to central Florida. All because she took a chance and decided to go fishing.

Think about that. Take someone fishing – you never know what’s going to happen.

Categories: Blog Content, New York – Bill Hilts Jr

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