First day a success at AMARA-CAN shootout

The 2014 AMARA-CAN Walleye Classic tournament will officially kick off today at 7 a.m. This is a team event where teams of walleye fishermen will compete to bring in the heaviest total weight of five walleye per day for two days.

There are details to the rules, which were explained at the Captains meeting held at the outside Clarion pavilion last night, but 2014 looks like it should be an exceptional year.

If you are an early morning riser, you can view the teams departing in their assigned waves at 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. today and Sunday. All teams have a common starting point out of the Dunkirk Harbor/Chadwick Bay Marina area.

The Dunkirk Fire Department has been recruited over the last few years to provide some excitement, signaling the start with their water cannon and all the bells and whistles. It’s really pretty neat, so come on down and join the fun with a great view from the Dunkirk Pier area.

This event is hosted by the New York Walleye Association, which has chosen to sponsor the event out of the city of Dunkirk for each of the 21 years the event has taken place.

I spoke with two fishermen who were signing up on Friday afternoon and quizzed them for their input. Bruce Byler and Bob Malinowski from Fair Haven, which is located in the Finger Lakes region, have been participating for 12 years now.

They have yet to win, but they enjoy the area, the people and the fishery. Byler and his friend are adept at fishing for salmonids on Lake Ontario, but seek out walleye for a change of pace and the tablefare.

Both fisherman also enjoy fishing for Lake Erie trout during the summer and later in the river.

Another team entering again was Billy and his son Frankie DeFazio, who hail from West Virginia. The DeFazio’s were formerly bass fishermen and became converts to Lake Erie’s famous walleye fishery. Now they enjoy the best of both worlds fishing for bass earlier in the spring and summer and focusing on the walleye in the later part of summer.

The DeFazio’s, who live in Clarksburg, W. Va., operate a mom and pop restaurant back home called Thelma’s Hot Dogs. In case you are in the area say hi!

Not much has charged as far as the rules are concerned. Teams can be made up of two anglers up to a maximum of four. A team of four anglers would be allowed to utilize 12 fishing rods (3 per angler) as per New York state law. Not everyone can fish effectively and proficiently with 12 rods out, so the experienced anglers have an edge.

The Big Fish award, which pays out a prize for the three heaviest walleye caught each day, is a wild card that enables every angler a chance at winning a substantial prize and trophy.

There have been some changes to the menu offered by the New York walleye group this year with Italian sausage with peppers and onions available as well as barbecue hamburgers and of course hot dogs. This year has a new logo T-shirt as well as hats, which are on sale to the public.

The public is invited and encouraged to attend the official weigh-in, which is at the Chadwick Bay marina complex. Look for the line of anglers with large coolers in tow.

Competing anglers must be in line to weigh-in by 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. today depending on their start time. Failure to make the deadline will eliminate their weight for the day.

The fishing for walleye as well as trout has been good and a lot of interest has been shown for this year’s event. New York Walleye will accept last minute entries up to 7 a.m. Saturday morning so hurry!

Look for coverage of this event on Sunday and Monday in the OBSERVER.