Grabowski has five-hour battle with sturgeon

One of the really neat things about fishing is you never know what you might catch, especially when you are fishing from a boat in deep water.

Most savvy fishermen target a particular species and will set out appropriate baits to lure them in. A yellow perch fisherman hopes to hook into a 14 incher, or a triple header, and can tell when something unexpected like a sheephead or a bass hits the bait. The bass will usually rocket out of the deep and a sheep of the deep will make a small run before doggedly coming to the surface. A salmon will slam a bait and head for the far shoreline making a reel’s drag scream, while a trout will change direction on you faster than a thought. Walleye don’t really offer much of a fight, but the really big ones tend to stay down before coming up reluctantly behind the boat. Greg Grabowski, of Colden, was fishing for walleye in the end of September of 2011, off Meyers Reef while the Buffalo Bills were playing a home game. Grabowski was bottom bouncing a worm harness, searching for walleye when he thought he hooked the bottom of the lake. Equipped with a steel leader, he thought he was going to have to break off his line when the rig moved. He backed off the drag on his spinning reel loaded with 12-pound test Berkley line, had his wife Kathy put their 21-foot Crestliner in neutral and tried to pump the big fish up. The fish started to tow the boat. Realizing he had something huge, he shouted to another boater, Adam Fisher, who came up alongside and hopped in Grabowski’s boat to help him try and land the unseen fish. Finally, the fish came towards the surface and the crew saw their quarry, a lake sturgeon. The fish swam across the back of the boat and the guys were able to estimate the length of the fish as Kathy Grabowski snapped some photos. They estimated the length of the fish was 7-feet long and the width of the fishe’s back was over 21 inches. Greg played the fish for five hours while the lights and the noise from the Rich Stadium were in the background. Realizing the fish was a protected species, the fishermen hoped to slip a rope around the tail and get some accurate measurements and photos before releasing it. The fish had other plans and eventually snapped the steel leader heading for the deep. The Grabowski’s took Fisher back to his boat after thanking him for his assistance and hoped to have their story posted in their local newspaper. Fisher was going to try posting the event on YouTube, but they never saw it.

I met the Grabowski’s at the Dunkirk fish cleaning station and started talking about fishing while Greg was cleaning a nice walleye and the conversation led to big fish including a yellow perch Grabowski had caught back in the 80’s and submitted to the now defunct Genesee Beer Fishing contest. Greg claimed to have caught a perch over three pounds that won him that species division that year, $75, a certificate and some patches and other cool stuff, but the one that got away will be hard to top. I told the Grabowski’s I knew someone who would be interested in telling their story. I hope you readers enjoyed it.


Sporting licenses went on sale last week.

Fishing Tournaments: Niagara Fish Odyssey – on Lake Ontario and the Lower River. This is a multi-species event out of any port. The event runs from Aug. 17 until Aug. 25. Go to

LOC Fall Derby on Lake Ontario – Species are Salmon & Trout from any port. The event is from Aug. 16 until Sept. 2. Log on for details.

King of the Lake from Port Dalhousie, Lake Ontario, Canada Species – salmon from Port Pier Marina. Five salmon per day for two days. On Aug. 31 to Sept. 1. Email: for details.

Walleye Hunter Shootout – Port Maitland Lake Erie, Canada. Target species are walleye. Fish out of Grand River Dunnville Ontario. Four walleye/one day. Sept. 7. email:

Upcoming trapping classes: Falconer Rod & Gun Club located on the Buffalo Street extension in Falconer, Sept. 25 from 6-10 p.m., returning on Sept. 28 from 6-10 p.m. Register at first class. Limited to 30 students.

Trapping class at Westfield Fish & Game on Oct. 4 from 6-10 p.m., returning on Saturday, Oct. 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Call Rich at 595-3917 for a work book. Limited to 35 students.

The Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club bow course will be held on Sept. 21 from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., while the trapping course will be held on Saturday, Sept. 28, from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

The Bear Lake Rod & Gun Club will host their Memorial shoot & Gun Raffle on Sept. 15.

The Annual Hunting Expo held at the Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel, located at 777 Seneca Allegany Blvd., Salamanca, will be held on Saturday, Sept. 28 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 29 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. For more information, contact Jim Buck at 569-6810 or visit

There will be a gun show at the Frewsburg Firemen’s Rec Hall, 25 Hazzard St., in Frewsburg, on Oct. 26 and Oct. 27. Call 569-6810 for more information.

Gene Pauszek is an OBSERVER outdoors columnist. Send comments to