If you are wondering why all the big boats are gathering around Chadwick Bay Marina, the Big-top tent inside the same facility, the gala atmosphere and all the unusual fishing attire being worn around town, it's because the 19th annual AMARA-CAN walleye tournament is back in town.
The event is hosted by the members of the New York Walleye Association. The leadership has changed over the years but the concept remains the same. The AMARA-CAN features a team event made up of two to four fishermen who depart from a common port (Dunkirk Harbor). The teams are divided into two groups (A and B). They depart from port at a specified time each day of the two-day event. Group A departs at 7 a.m. on Saturday and must return to the same port by 4 p.m. on Saturday or forfeit their total weight of a maximum of five walleye for that day. Group B departs at 8 a.m. and must return by 5 p.m. on Saturday. On Sunday, the times switch for both groups - B leaves at 7 a.m. and A leaves at 8 a.m. However, return times are shortened by one hour Sunday, meaning B must be back in at 3 p.m., and A must be in by 4 p.m. The event is for walleye only with each team allowed to weigh in a maximum of five walleye per day. There are 10 cash prizes awarded to the top 10 teams who manage to post the heaviest accumulative weight of up to 10 walleye over the two-day event. Each team paid an entry fee of $250 for the event. As of press time, there were 82 teams entered. There is still time to enter before the tournament officially starts at 7a.m. today. Look for Bob Zoeller.
On any given day, any group of fishermen can go out and have a great day of fishing and weigh in five walleye that average more than 8 pounds apiece. The tough part is trying to repeat that feat the next day, in less time and starting an hour later, knowing some serious cash is on the line, and most likely a lot of fishermen will be fishing in the hot spots. The AMARA-CAN is a test of fishing skill with luck thrown in, too. Each day the event awards the top three heaviest walleye for the day so every team has a chance to make some serious cash even if they catch only one (big) fish per day.
OBSERVER?Photo by Gene Pauszek
Meghan Leslie, Mike Herburger and Nancy Barber proudly display this years AMARA-CAN commemorative T-shirt. The ladies are from Dunville Canada. The 19th Annual AMARA-CAN?Tournament begins today.
The public is invited to come down and witness the weigh-in each day inside the fenced area of Chadwick Bay Marina. Look for the green chalk board which will post the teams number and captain. Awards are given Sunday after the results are tabulated. There are concession stands selling commemorative hats and t-shirts, hot food and cold beverages, and raffles . Fish tales are usually free.
The Dunkirk Fire Department will be on hand each day to signal the starting times for each group at 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. each day. Bring the youngsters as the scene is pretty neat.
New for this year is rule No. 9 which will allow the use of up to three rods per anglers fishing aboard each boat. This is a DEC regulation change which gives the anglers the option.
Also many of the teams came over from Canada or from out-of town to fish this event. Chuck Climenhage organized a pre-fish event called Big Fish Friday where the teams paid $100 per boat for a payout of the top three walleye by weight. Bob Rustowicz won this year's event with an 11-pound 2-ounce entry. I can hardly wait to see what this year's AMARA-CAN will bring in. Look for coverage in the OBSERVER on Sunday and Monday.