Cattaraugus Creek a hot spot for perch fishing

Saturday turned out to be a pretty nice day for this columnist.

Two out of three of my fishing partners were available to go perch fishing and the weatherman forecasted a favorable day for heading offshore. All three of us were entered in the Southtowns Walleye Association one-day perch fishing contest on the same day and we all had clear schedules.

Fishing out of the Cattaraugus Creek area, we were on the water before 7:30 a.m. with a bucket of live minnows from Miller’s Bait. Despite gloomy skies, the chop was manageable. Motoring straight off the mouth to 63 feet of water, we dropped anchor and started a slow pick of smaller-sized yellow perch with occasional 9-10 inchers. We ended up with about 50 keepers and a surprise 10-pound walleye caught off a perch rig, but the day continued to get better.

The Southtowns Walleye Association now has their own club house, located on Southwestern Boulevard, next to Ballard’s Camping, and activities with the club have only gotten better. It cost $10 to enter the one-day contest, open to members only. A year-long membership is $25. Arriving at the deadline to weigh our five-perch maximum, Gary Pleva, Ray Pauszek (11) and myself – along with all the contestants – were treated to free roast beef sandwiches and beverages from the bar. After 4 p.m. all the contestants were also treated to a free perch dinner as promised with all the trimmings plus a free door prize ticket. The club had volunteers that cleaned donated yellow perch in shifts for the event. They had over 200 pounds of filets donated and turned away even more cleaned fish because they already had enough.

There were 197 entrants in this years’ event. Each team of entrants was capable of weighing in five yellow perch maximum for a total weight of five perch. The winners (in descending order) this year were: Bob Hollingsworth 6.84 pounds, David Shafter 6.43, Dick Shaffler 6.17, Anthony Quick 5.95, Fred Skrabucha 5.90, Tim Gaul 5.87, Jerry Kempf 5.87, Jim Senica 5.77, Kathleen Muir 5.56 and Bruce Wager 5.55. The cash prize structure awarded $300 to the winner, $200 to the runner-up, $100 to third place, $75 for fourth and fifth place and $50 each for sixth through 10th place.

SWA President David “Woody” Woodworth praised the volunteers who made the event possible including contest chairman Ray Barren, co-chair Jerry Lesinski, Doug Freeman and Dennis Stoberl (who work their magic in the kitchen along with the ladies), bartenders Ronnie Wutz and Bruce Wagner, donors who donated fresh clams amd desserts, and Jim Dolly, who donated prizes for the kids’ drawing and door prizes. What a great time!

Their upcoming walleye contest, which runs from June 8-16 with an awards party the following Saturday, June 22, should be even more fun. You can sign up locally for the event at Bill’s Hooks and Barcelona Market in Westfield.

By the way, Hollingsworth’s largest perch was 14 3/4 inches long and still full of eggs. He and his partner caught 70 perch in 53 feet of water between Evangola State Park and Point Breeze. Locally, the walleye turned on Friday night off the spawning sites for anglers’ long-line trolling Rapalas. Go Fish!

Calendar:

The spring turkey and walleye seasons are open . I will be looking for hunting and fishing stories and photos to publish. Call 366-1772, 467-2079 or the OBSERVER at 366-3000, ext. 5 after 5 p.m. Good luck and be safe!

Our local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Lakeshore Longbeards, will meet Tuesday. The meeting will start at 7 p.m. and is open to the public. Discussion will focus on their upcoming youth event known as JAKES Day. The Longbeards are looking for ideas for hands-on activities, for youth of many ages that pertain to the outdoors. They still have seed corn available, too. The meeting is open to the public.

The Bear Lake Rod & Gun club will host a 3-D archery shoot from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. today. Watch for their special rifle shoot on June 9, featuring a 200-yard open rifle shoot from 8 a.m.- 3 p.m. For more information on these shoots or on the Bear Lake Club, call either Rob at 485-3773, Tom at 680- 0209 or the club house at 595-3334. All shoots are open to the public.

If your club is hosting a hunter safety training/archery/trapper/pistol course, turkey shoot or any event that pertains to the outdoors, call 366-1772 or 366-3000 ext. 5 after 5 p.m.

The Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club Take A Kid Fishing Day is set for June 8. Sign-up sheets are now available at the club.

Saturday, June 15 marks the first time the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Festival and the Great Lakes Experience (GLE) will be held in Dunkirk. This event is a sister event to the one held in Buffalo since 2001. GLE is looking for fish and wildlife-related exhibitors and regional environmental groups to participate. The goal is to engage the community and work with local stakeholders to protect and enhance the natural resources of the Lower Great Lakes. There is still time to get on board by emailing Jennifer Colon at colon@fredonia.edu or, to register an exhibit, contact Beth Smeader at bsmeader-gle@yahoo.com.

The Cassadaga Lakes Association will host their 20th annual Lew Mead Youth Fishing Tournament on June 29 at the DEC boat launch on Dale Drive in Cassadaga from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. This event is free for all youth ages 16 and younger. If you would like to donate a door prize, volunteer or are looking for more information, call 595-3950.

Several safe boating courses are being offered in the area. These classes are New York state-approved boater safety classes required for anyone between 10 and 18 years old to operate a motor boat and everyone age 14 and above to operate a personal water craft like a jet ski. There is no pre-registration required. All registration will be done on site. Parents of attendees under the age of 18 must sign a release form.

On June 15, the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club will host a course at 1 North Mullet Street. The course is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with lunch provided. The course is free to anyone ages 10-17. Attendees age 18 and over will have to pay a $10 fee to New York state prior to receiving the certificate card.

Gene Pauszek is an OBSERVER outdoors columnist. Send comments to sports@observertoday.com.