Laughs and gaffs at Niagara’s outdoor media event

Gerry Benedicto Bass

The 2022 version of the Greater Niagara Outdoor Media event offered plenty of smiles as outdoor media professionals, writers and corporate sponsors gathered to catch fish and break bread May 1-7 in the Niagara River, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario. When a crew like this gets together, you better have some thick skin as the banter goes back and forth with a constant barrage of accusations, jabs, and ribbings – all with a friendly tone and never meaning to hurt feelings.

In the middle of the week, I had an opportunity to hop on board with Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston, primary organizer for the media blitz. Also on board was Gerry Benedicto, one of the key promotional folks and General Manager at Seaguar, a top fishing line for anglers and a sponsor for the event. A key component for the involvement of sponsors is to get their products into the hands of media people participating first-hand on the water with the captains.

Benedicto and company were featuring a new entry level fluorocarbon fishing line called BasiX. “We’ve spent the first 50 years developing high performance lines and leaders used by pros, captains, guides and avid anglers across the country,” said Benedicto. “With BasiX, were looking forward to serving the millions of anglers who are either fishing for the first time, getting reacquainted with the sport or managing a tight budget.”

As if on cue, Benedicto set the hook … on a snag.

“Go ahead and break it off,” said Campbell. “I’ve got plenty of baits because I knew I was going to be fishing with you and Hilts.” The gloves were off.

As Benedicto held the spool of the fishing reel, and we drifted with the river current moving away from the snag, the line simply became tighter and tighter as it slowed the boat. Finally, after some considerable pulling, the line snapped. It turned out to be a great example as to how strong this line was. It was 8-pound test.

I managed to set the hook on a smallmouth bass after it gobbled up my Strike King Swim-n-Shiner Swim Bait. After a fun little tussle, the 3-pound fish came to the side of Lund Pro-V and it was released to fight another day – after a couple quick pictures of course.

“These fish are hitting extremely light,” I mentioned to my fellow boaters. “You must have a sensitive touch to catch these.”

After a couple eye rolls and groans, everyone was back to casting again. It wasn’t long before I had another bass on. No one else had hooked up yet.

“Gerry, would you like to reel this one in?” I teased. This one was slightly bigger than the last.

Again, as if on cue, Benedicto set the hook … on another snag! Once again, he struggled with breaking the line.

“The BasiX line sure is strong,” said Campbell. “Thanks for showing that off Gerry.”

Campbell’s phone rang and it was writer Louie Stout of Indiana, one of the top bass writers in the country. He had held back from fishing because of a morning rain. Frank told him it was all good and that we would pick him up at the launch ramp in Lewiston.

I course, we couldn’t tell the truth that the rain had just stopped. We had to exclaim that the rain stopped hours earlier and the fishing had been great.

The next phone call was from Jay Feimster of North Carolina, a media maven with Point-Click-Fish and he had a question for Campbell.

“I just sent you a photo, will you look at it?” said Feimster.

Campbell opened the text and showed it around the boat without saying a word. A smile came over his face.

“Jay, it’s tough for me to tell for sure but I believe you caught a very rare Canadian Coho! Take a close-up or two and then stage some nice photos with you holding the fish up with a Lew’s Rod and Reel combo. We will really want to document this, and you may want to get it mounted.”

After he hung up, I said: “That’s a sheepshead, isn’t it?”

“Jay is a saltwater guy, and he doesn’t know what it is,” said Campbell. “Let’s have some fun with it.” Everyone on the boat was chuckling.

Fifteen minutes later, Feimster sent the photos. Frank confirmed that it was, in fact, a Canadian Coho and that when we were heading upriver we would slip by and take some more pictures soon. Be ready.

As soon as we pulled up, Feimster had a huge smile on his face. “Are these Canadian Cohos good eating?” he said. “I’d really like to try one.”

“They are so rare that no one has really tried to eat one,” said Campbell. “I would get it mounted!”

I had my camera out and was snapping shots left and right. Suddenly, I pulled my camera down and looked closely at the fish. “Jay, have you ever heard of a freshwater drum?”

“Sure, but never caught one,” he said.

“Yes, you have!” I proclaimed. “You are holding up a sheepshead, lesser known as a freshwater drum!”

Stout and Benedicto were getting a great laugh at Feimster’s expense. Benedicto was glad that the focus was off him.

On the next cast, I hooked another bass. “Gerry, do you want it?”

“No!”

As if on cue, Gerry set the hook … and this time it was a fish!

Categories: Blog Content, New York – Bill Hilts Jr

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