Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fishing Behind the Lines

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to get a behind-the-scenes look at a fishing show filmed on the Salmon River. The show is called, "Fishing Behind the Lines" and it's set to air on WPBS in the fall.

According to the WPBS website, the show "is a 13-part, 30-minute series designed to be a fishing and destinations show concentrating on the perspective of a soldier of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, NY." Four segments of the show will be filmed at fishing locations in Oswego County.

On an extremely warm spring day, I met up with local river guides Andy Bliss of Chasin' Tail Adventures Tom Burke of Cold SteelSportfishing. They were generous enough to donate their time and equipment to accommodate Specialist Rodney Tiner, a combat medic with 3-6 Field Artillery in 1st Brigade Combat Team, and the star of this episode!

Cameraman and producer, George Haley, and Host, Don Meissner, also joined us. I started off in a drift boat with Andy and George. Don and SPC Tiner started their trip off with Tom.

During the beginning of our trip, George filled me in on some show details. He said their overall goal was to educate civilians about soldiers, their life and their story. He explained that along with filming the fishing trip, he also films and interviews the solider and his family. Of course, not to forget about the great tourism aspect of the show, they will also be featuring a five-minute segment each week showcasing the area’s attractions.

What an awesome idea for a show, and what an even better opportunity for some of our local heroes! I was so thrilled to take part in this!!

The morning started off slow, as Capt. Tom and Capt. Andy took turns with Don and SPC Tiner while trying out a few different techniques. I'm not even going to begin trying to explain what they were. They all have a technical term such as "plugging" or "floating," but as far as I'm concerned, the techniques should be called "leaving the rod in the boat and drifting down the river" or "anchoring the boat and fishing from one location.".I'm sure some of you out there will agree with me.

Because of the lack of fish-catching that morning, I asked George what would happen if no one caught anything that day, and his response was "we pick another day and film again." I was hoping this wouldn't happen because it would have been such a waste of a gorgeous day of filming! Then I joked that "when you aren't paying attention or you are changing out your battery, I'm sure someone will land a fish".

Sure enough...

George was changing his battery when Don got a fish on! Don fought and landed the first steelhead of the day! It looked like our luck was about to change.

And it did! Throughout the next few hours, SPC Tiner and Don caught more than enough steelies and browns for the show! George was afraid he wouldn't even be able to show every catch because of time! That is definitely a successful fishing trip which makes for a successful fishing show!

The best part was, SPC Tiner had a blast. Every time he fought a fish he was grinning from ear to ear, and even more so when he landed one!

Unfortunately, as viewers, you won't be able to see all of the action that went on that day, you'll just have to take my word for it! Luckily, you will get to learn more about SPC Tiner and all he has done for our country. You'll also get to see what else you can do right here in Oswego County!

I took a bunch of photos so hopefully that will give you an idea of how our day went. If you have never fished the Salmon River before then you're missing out on the greatest fishing trip you'll probably ever take!

*On a side note - this is my last blog post for Oswego County. I am leaving my position to stay at home with my daughter and future daughter, who is due in August. I will continue to be an avid outdoorswomen when time allows, and I will be involved with events along the Salmon River as I continue to fill my volunteer position on the Salmon River Sport Fishing Museum board. I loved all of the opportunities I was blessed with during my 6 years with Oswego County. I enjoyed writing this blog and learning more about the great outdoors. Please continue to follow the two other Oswego County blogs by professional sportswriter, Spider Rybaak, and nature and arts guru, Kelly Jordal.

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!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Salmon River Festival & Derby

Fall is here and it's time to celebrate! Come to the Salmon River Festival & Derby next weekend, September 29 - October 2, and enjoy everything that is fall! The festival takes place in Pulaski, NY where there will be a fishing derby along the world-famous Salmon River, vendors, food, drinks, entertainment, a farmers' market, wine tasting and more!

The derby will start Thursday and continue until Sunday, while the festival takes place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Fishermen have signed up from all over the northeast, including Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey, to fight for the largest Salmon to win cash and prizes! If you're interested in participating, you can sign up for $35 until the day of the derby, and for $45 starting Thursday.

For more information on the festival and derby, call 315-298-9990, or visit

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pirates Spotted off Lake Ontario!

*Before I continue, I just have to point out that today (September 19) is national Talk Like a Pirate Day! How convenient!!

There have been numerous Pirate sightings in Oswego this past summer, so I decided some investigative work was in order. I invited my new coworker, Cassie, to aid me on my mission of discovering these so-called pirates. We headed over to the H. Lee White Marine Museum, where the rumored pirate sightings were taking place.

The rumors were true!

We found ourselves surrounded by pirates - young and old, congregating at the museum! Apparently, every summer, they meet up for a special "Pirate's Day" event!

I think Oswego County must be pretty awesome if pirates choose us for their meet up destination. It must be all of the water... we have Oneida Lake, Redfield Reservoir, Salmon River, Oswego River and of course... Lake Ontario! Did you know Oswego County has more shoreline along the lake than any other NY county? 

The strapping young pirates, all dressed to the nines, began their day by making treasure maps! After creating maps, the pirates split up to hunt down buried treasure. It could have been buried anywhere... at the museum, on the historic LT5 tug boat, or the Derrick Boat 8. All of the pirates found treasure in candy and other goodies!!

They all worked up a hearty appetite after hob nobbing on the deck and playing an intense game of musical chairs! It became cut-throat when not one, but TWO chairs were taken away each round until the last two pirates were left to square off. It was a head-to-head fight and everyone watched intently until a young buccaneer was finally crowned the victor.

The hungry pirates sat down for lunch, which was grub so grand they were stuffed in no time. My mouth was watering as plate after plate was brought out by the young lasses helping accommodate the pirates.

Before the day was over, the mates tried their luck at winning dubloons for their journey back home.

If you have a little pirate who would like to participate in the Marine Museum Kids' Pirate Days next year, you can call 315-342-0480 or visit their website at

If hanging out with pirates isn't your cup of tea, there are a lot of other things you can do at the Marine Museum:

  • 9/24 Sat. “Lighthouses of Oswego,” 1:30pm. Part two of a three-part mini lecture, featuring Ted Panayotoff, lighthouse historian and City of Oswego Lighthouse Committee chair who will discuss the various lights, the lighthouse keepers and related topics that spanned Oswego’s rich maritime history. H. Lee White Marine Museum, 315/342-0480,
  • 10/1 Sat. “Lighthouses of Oswego,” 1:30pm. Part three of the mini lecture, featuring Ted Panayotoff, lighthouse historian and City of Oswego Lighthouse Committee chair who will discuss the various lights, the lighthouse keepers and related topics that spanned Oswego’s rich maritime history. H. Lee Whtie Marine Museum, 315/342-0480,
  • 12/11 Sun. Christmas at Sea Open House, 1pm. Traditional holiday decorations, music, refreshments, and Santa.  Miniature train displays courtesy of the Oswego Valley Railroad Association. H. Lee White Marine Museum, W. First St., 315/342-0480,, Admission free.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fishing Seminars, Project Healing Waters and Pro Am, OH MY!

What a busy spring and summer we've had here in Oswego County! I've been all over the county taking photos and helping out with numerous events. I normally dedicate an entire post to each of the following, but since they're all fishing related, I've combined them in one.

Women's Fly Fishing Seminar:

The women's fly fishing seminar took place on May 14th and 15th. Every year women from all over get together, thanks to Trout Unlimited, and learn how to fly fish on the Salmon River. 

This year the women fished on the Upper Fly Zone on the Salmon River in Altmar. I showed up on Saturday to document the event. It was a very rainy day, but the women were tough and had no complaints while they fished. It was also a great memory for many of the women who fished alongside of Pulaski resident, Ellen Boyle, who had helped out with the event for years along with Project Healing Waters and numerous other organizations. Unfortunately, Ellen passed away a month after the event. I remember talking to her while she was standing in the river, soaked head to toe, and when asked how she was doing her response was, "GREAT... I don't care if I'm wet I'm still having fun!" I think it's safe to say that was the attitude of all the women on the river that day. May Ellen rest in peace and may her memory live on through women who love to fish!  

(Continue past these photos to read about Project Healing Waters and the Pro Am Tournament)

 Ellen Boyle - She will be greatly missed!

Project Healing Waters:

The Project Healing Waters event, a national program that has been coming to the Salmon River for a few years now, took place the following weekend, May 21st and 22nd. 

In short, Project Healing Waters is a program where wounded soldiers and veterans get to learn fly fishing for rehabilitation. You can learn more about it on their website,

This year's event took place along the Douglaston Salmon Run in Pulaski. I stopped by on Saturday and hung out for a while, taking pictures and talking to some of the fishermen (and one fisherwoman)!

Douglaston was the perfect location because it was quiet, calm and extremely accommodating to their physical needs. All of the participants had a blast hanging out, joking around, and fly fishing; as they do every year when they come to the Salmon River.

*A HUGE thanks to Fred Kuepper for all of the work and effort he has put into the Women's Fly Fishing Seminars and Project Healing Water events. Fred has decided to take a break from these events to focus on other endeavors. He will still be around to help out and I'm sure you'll see him out fishing the river from time to time!

(Continue past these photos to read about the Pro Am Tournament)

 The whole gang!

 Above: Wounded warriors getting ready to fish the Salmon River!
Below: River guides who donated their time to support our troops!

Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon and Trout Team Tournament:

2011 marked the 17th year for the Oswego Pro-Am tournament, a tournament where professionals and amateurs take over the lake trying to catch the biggest fish imaginable to win cash and prizes. I love helping out with this tournament because it's the one place you get to really see the size of the fish that come out of Lake Ontario.

At the early hour of 5 am on Sunday, I was down at Mexico Point (mouth of the Little Salmon River) to collect disclaimers from the teams fishing out of that port. The phrase "it must be in the water" took on new meaning after the tournament because both of the winning teams claimed the Little Salmon River as their home port. (Or maybe I'm just good luck!)

On Sunday afternoon I went to Oswego to help photograph the event. For years it has rained during the pro-am tournament, but this year the sun was out in full force. Thank goodness the Econo Lodge was accommodating all of us on their riverfront property, as well as serving us delicious burgers and keeping us hydrated with water and other beverages. A big thanks to them for their continued help with the tournament.

This year’s pro division winners were Trout One/Fish Chopper. The am division winners were Horsin' Around. Congratulations to both teams and all of this year’s participants!!

 Check out my huge fish on the top right!
Thankfully some participants let me pretend I caught their fish.

Am winners, Horsin' Around - weighing in, checking their score and showing off their catch (I wanted to pretend I was part of the winning team - thanks guys!)

 Congratulations Am Division Winners, Horsin' Around!

Congratulations Pro Division Winners, Trout One/Fish Chopper!