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    Niagara Pro-Am May 19-21 – Three Day Bash with over 100 percent payback and $10K-plus extra cash! The 33rd Annual Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament remembering the late Skip Hartman of Olcott will be held again this year out of the ports of Wilson and Olcott in Niagara County, showcasing the spring fishery with the May 19-21 dates. This year’s version will once again be focused on one weekend – but offering three full days of fishing (if Mother Nature allows). Last year’s winner, Capt. Greg Gehrig of Oswego and the Shark Tank team, won $29,000 – the most ever for a single tournament payout in Niagara. The Pro Division will return to its roots this year with only a Classic Division of your best 12 tournament-legal fish. The competition will be fierce under a set of tight regulations and the use of observers. Best box each day wins $1,000 cash; the overall winner for the three days will be competing for the Niagara Cup and a check for $10,000. In the Amateur Open class, best three fish for the day will earn the top prizes – with expanded fishing time and no charter captains allowed. Each day is a separate contest; best two days win the Am Open Cup and an extra $500. More than 100 percent cash and merchandise payback for the competitors. Check out www.lakeontarioproam.net for the entry forms, rules and other pertinent information. You can now register online. See you there!
  2. Attention Anglers fishing King Salmon in Niagara County waters during May 2016 Like the Beatles song goes, we all need a little help from our friends – and this is the perfect time to lend a hand … while you are fishing! The Niagara County Fisheries Development Board working with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Niagara River Anglers Association (NRAA) and Lake Ontario Trout & Salmon Association (LOTSA) want to get a better understanding of the makeup of the large number of Chinook salmon that show up along the Niagara County shoreline every May. This coming May 2016, many of the three-year-old class of Chinook salmon will have their adipose fin missing (clipped) if they were raised in the Salmon River Fish Hatchery. And if that fin is clipped, the fish will have a coded wire tag implanted in their head that identifies their stocking type (direct versus pen reared) and their stocking location. Biologists need the head for the study. In order to obtain this information, we need the help of all anglers fishing out of the ports of Fort Niagara/Youngstown, Wilson and Olcott. We are requesting the head from any Chinook salmon caught in the month of May that is harvested for food and has its adipose fin missing. Only 3 year old kings with the adipose fin missing. These heads can be placed in a bag and then in freezers located at Fort Niagara, Wilson and Olcott in specific locations (Fort Niagara State Park next to the fish cleaning station; Bootlegger’s Cove Marina next to the ship’s store; Wilson Boat Yard next to the Gas Shack; Wilson-Tuscarora State Park near the fish cleaning station; and the Town of Newfane Marina, Olcott adjacent to the fish cleaning station. The DEC will collect the heads from the freezers, as well as analyze the data so that it can be used as another piece of information to help with management of the king salmon program. This is the last year class of Chinook salmon that were clipped and marked in the lake. Therefore it is our last chance to capture this important data to help with managing the Chinook salmon program in Lake Ontario. Assisting with this program is a win-win situation for all – you will be helping yourself as well as your fellow anglers. We all need a little help from our friends! Bill Hilts Jr. SnoutcollectionInstructionsSimple.pdf
  3. At midnight on May 11, the entry deadline for Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament online registrations will be closing – the easiest way for teams to register in the Niagara County events. The website for the tournament has all of the information at www.lakeontarioproam.net, including rules, registration, past performances and other guidelines to follow. This year’s tournament celebration is something special. In fact, there’s over $40,000 in guaranteed cash prizes for teams fishing in both Niagara events May 24-25 and May 31-June 1. This year is the 30th Anniversary of the Pro-Am fishing tournament in Niagara USA. In the early years, Lowrance Electronics was the mover and shaker to get things accomplished, bringing in other big name sponsors like Eppinger Lures, Big Jon and Cannon to get the ball rolling. The first 10 years the focus was on conservation, with 10 percent of all the entry fees going to natural resource enhancement. A sister tournament was created on Lake Michigan out of Manistee and Ludington, at the same time that the Niagara County event was established out of Wilson and Olcott. Thanks to the Niagara County Fisheries Development Board for making the Lowrance selection easy in New York. Natural resource enhancement projects were already in place with others being talked about. One vision was to create an expanded artificial reef in Lake Ontario that would serve as an attractor reef for lake trout. The guys involved in those early years included the likes of Skip Hartman as chair of the Fisheries Board; Pinky Robinson; Red Douglas; Bob Stratton; Elbert Benton; Jan Gertz; Rod Hedley; Ken Sprenger; Don Johannes; Dick Robinson; and others. Many of them are no longer with us, to share in this celebration of three decades. On the Lowrance side of things, it was Mark Ames, Thayne Smith and a young Mark McQuown who stepped forward to run the show. Olcott held its fireman’s field days and held a parade; Wilson started up its 5K Salmon Run and also had special events associated with the tournament. Today, it’s all about the fishing. After 10 years, the tournament changed formats to include a Pro Division and an Amateur Division – an attempt to level the playing field for different levels of competitors. A Challenge Cup was established, with the first expansion being in Oswego, 20 years ago this year. Other ports were added and subtracted along the way – Rochester, Sodus, Point Breeze. Now it’s back to just Niagara and Oswego. While it worked for a while, the format was revamped once again in 2012 to create a five fish Trophy Division and a 12 fish Classic Division over two days. In addition, the Recreational Open Division was born. The Recreational Open Division is the minor leagues for the bigger tournament picture. The rules are as simple as can be – go fishing in the morning of each event any time you want out of any port and catch three fish. You just have to be in line by 12:30 pm at Krull Park in Olcott. No observer is required like it is in the Trophy and Classic divisions. There are some minimum lengths like an 18 inch minimum size for salmon, lakers and browns; a 21-1/2 inch minimum for steelhead and a 25-1/2 inch minimum for Atlantics. Only one lake trout per team can be weighed in each day. You can only bring three fish to the scales. That’s it! Since every day is treated as a single event, new this year is a chance to win the LOC Derby Cup – a trophy and an extra $500 in cash for the best TWO scores from the four possible Open events this year: May 24-25 and May 31-June 1. Fish two or fish all four and pick your best two scores. Not bad to get a feel for the tournament atmosphere. The deadline for walk-on Open registrations is actually May 19 for the first weekend; May 26 for the second weekend – cash only. You can do that at The Slippery Sinker or The Boat Doctors in Olcott. Don’t delay! Get registered and join in on some of the fun. Here’s a quick link to the registration site: https://www.niagara-usa.biz/ProAmRegistration/proam_Registration.asp -- Bill Hilts, Jr. Director, Outdoor Promotions
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