Monday, November 21, 2011

A Season for Fishing Events!

I've covered three more exciting fishing events this year: The Bassmaster Bass Pro Shops Northern Open on Oneida Lake, the Salmon River Fishing Derby and another Project Healing Waters event on the Salmon River! Read all about each event below!

(I've also included a few pictures from a fourth event - the annual LOTAC event on the Salmon River which was covered by my coworker, Mary Ellen Barbeau).

Bassmaster Bass Pro Shops Northern Open

On September 22-24, 2011 you may have seen numerous bass boats across Oneida Lake. The 2011 Bassmaster Bass Pro Shops Northern Open was taking place, while professional and amateur bass fishermen caught a multitude of smallmouth and largemouth bass.

I drove down on Thursday to watch the weigh-ins. They took place at Oneida Shores Park in Brewerton, NY. When I arrived I was surprised to see what an elaborate set-up they had! A huge ESPN outdoors van, a stage with national sponsors plastered across it, tv crews, media, a weigh-in station and bleachers for onlookers to sit on to watch the event. This wasn't just a small town tournament - this was a national tournament with competitors from all over the United States.

During the weigh-ins, competitors were interviewed and one man said he had been fishing Oneida Lake since 2007.  Another from Rochester said he has grown up fishing Oneida Lake. One angler enjoyed catching smallmouths, something he wasn't used to fishing for on other lakes.

In just the small amount of time I was there, it was evident that these anglers loved bass fishing on Oneida Lake.

For complete results of the tournament, visit Dave Figura, outdoor writer for the Post Standard, covered the entire event and you can find all of his articles on

Below is a video posted on showing the boats taking off in the morning to begin fishing for the tournament: (after the video are the photos from the event)

Salmon River Fishing Derby & Festival

While the Salmon River Festival has been going on for years, this is the first year for the Salmon River Fishing Derby. The derby took place as a fundraiser for the Salmon River International Sportfishing Museum, located in Altmar, NY.

Every year the festival attracts locals and tourists to check out vendors, listen to bands and to explore Pulaski. This year their goal was to attract more tourists, specifically fishermen, and to create a larger festival and an exciting derby.

Unfortunately for all events throughout the county the weekend of September 29th through October 2nd, it was cold and rainy. The turnout wasn't what was expected, but the museum still made money and some large Salmon were caught!

In total, the derby had 75 registrants. Every day the payout was $100 for first place, $75 for second and $50 for third. There was also a grand prize for largest Salmon of the weekend. Kenneth Green from Altmar claimed this prize winning $2,100 for catching a 31.8lb Salmon.

Many fishermen who didn't have time to stay and fish this year, plan on coming next year to fish in the derby. Derby organizers have decided to move the event to Columbus Day Weekend in 2012, hoping more anglers will be able to participate.

Project Healing Waters

I've already covered one Project Healing Waters event this year, but another PHW group from Washington D.C. came up to try their hand at Salmon Fishing on October 13th and 14th this year. Instead of staying in one location, this group took drift boats along the river. I was able to photograph and talk to them as they arrived at their destination in Pineville.

I first spoke to Sergeant First Class Bob Simonovich, stationed at Fort Drum, who told me it was his first time on the Salmon River and on a PHW trip. He claimed that the guides were awesome and that he was able to catch a huge salmon on day one of the trip.

One of the guides, Rob Snowhite, came from DC to help out with the event. Out of 10 years of guiding it was his first time rowing a drift boat.

"The Salmon River is an amazing resource," Rob said. "It is incredible fishing, the best without having to go to Alaska."

When asked about why he volunteers his time with PHW he responded, "It brightens their (soldiers and veterans) day and gets them out of their rooms once a week to learn casting and to go on trips.”

Another guide, local John Kuss from Altmar, said "this is my first PHW event and it definitely won't be my last. The veterans on my boat were very happy and had a great day of fishing.”

One of those vets was John Tinti, who has already been to the Salmon River two other times through PHW. He too claimed the guides were fantastic and that this was by far the best trip he has been on yet.

I can cover this event year after year and it never ceases to amaze me the smile it brings to the faces of those who served out country. The Salmon River is more than just a sport fishery, it's truly a water that heals.

LOTAC Catch & Clean Tournament
This is the second year for the tournament that involves fishing and picking up trash, and all of the details are the same as last year, which you can read all about here

Mel took a couple of photos to show off the trash collected along the Salmon River!