The inaugural Rob Ray Invitational Walleye Derby was held yesterday, and the event would have to be deemed a success.
Twenty-five teams paid their entry fee and started off from the Dunkirk/Chadwick Bay Marina area with a shotgun start at 6 a.m. There was a boat check prior to the event with tournament directors Rob Ray and Mark Mohr asking each boat to check their neighboring boat and vice versa before launch time. No problems were found and the event was off.
One boat did report mechanical difficulty after they cleared the breakwall and had to fish with their trolling motor, but for the most part all went well.
OBSERVER?Photos by Gene Pauszek
Pictured above, at left, from left to right, are: Larry Lazarczyk, Frank Nowak and Rob Ray displaying the “Big Dawg” trophy, which will display the winners of the Rob Ray Invitational walleye derby each year. Pictured above, at right, from left, are: Captain Bob Rustowicz, Tom Brunn II and Colin Setlock displaying a heavy box of walleye that was taken during Saturday’s derby.
Pictured is Jack Forbes, who caught this King Salmon Chinook while fishing in the Youth Division of the Lake Ontario Counties Derby on Friday. Forbes, who held the lead in the Youth Division after Friday, was fishing with Times Two Charters.
There were also a few tense moments before the fishermen arrived at the weigh-in site, which was held at the small pavilion building at Chadwick Bay Marina, the same area where the New York Walleye AMARA-CAN does its weigh in.
The scale would not work , even though it was OK the night before. Fortunately, the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club came to the rescue with their tournament scale.
Larry Lazarczyk and Frank Nowak took care of the weigh-in while Roberta Lazarczyk and Denise Tunney took care of the recording. Weigh-in started at 3 p.m. and the deadline to be in line was 5 p.m. This derby had the contestants select which of their six eligible walleye they wanted to be weighed first for Big Fish prize contention.
The weight was recorded by the ladies without being announced and then the rest of the fish were added to the scale. The scale could handle 30 pounds at a time, so the first half of the fish weight was recorded then the second half, which worked out fine.
Rob Ray wanted his derby to be a little different, so he requested that the weights be kept secret from the crowd, with only the individuals of the teams knowing for sure who the leaders/winners are until Sunday. The awards and winners will be announced at Ray's restaurant, Razor's Dawg House, located at 405 S. Cascade Drive Springville. Ray expects the event will start around 12:30 p.m. and conclude shortly afterwards.
There were a number of teams that put together a total of 40 pounds or more with a six-walleye total allowed per box. Judging by the fish they weighed in, I believe Bob Rustowicz, Tom Brunn II and Colin Setlock, Jason Roth, Ben and Tom Slawatycki and Jim Dolly Jr., as well as Dan Kearny, Larry Johnson and Rob Oram could end up in the money.
Other teams who also weighed in heavy boxes of fish were the Marzec G Man team, Jim Skoczylos and the Mike Munson team to name a few.
I don't believe any 10-pounders were weighed in and most all the fishermen reported fishing through numerous hook-ups with incidental fish like silver bass and sheephead.
Captain Bob Rustowicz reported catching his fish off Eagle Bay in 90 feet of water using worm harnesses presented on lead core line, braided copper line and dipsey diver presentations.
Tom Slawatycki reported it was "no picnic" traveling over 20 miles to Barcelona in the chop that developed during the day. His 13-year-old son Ben did well rigging, netting and landing fish during the day and the guys used 3-D worm harnesses, double willow leaf blades in watermelon/copper, presented on 10 colors of lead core fished on in-line Church brand boards.
Final results of the tournament will be announced in Monday's Sportsman's Journal.
The Bear Lake Rod & Gun Club will host 3-D archery shoots Aug. 24 and Sept. 14. They will also host a 200-yard gun shoot on Sept. 21. New members are welcome and the club's monthly meetings are on the first Sunday of the month at 4 p.m. They start the meeting off with a hot meal, so come hungry.
The Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club will also host the following free courses: Firearms (gun) hunter training Aug. 27-28 from 5-10 p.m. each day with two-day attendance mandatory.
Another gun course will be held Sept. 24-25 from 5-10 p.m., with two-day attendance mandatory.
A one-day archery course will be held at the Con Club on Saturday, Sept. 20, from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., with a lunch break. Note: To register for all courses, you must register online at the DEC website.
The Westfield Fish & Game Club will offer a trapping Class on Sept. 17-18 from 6-10 p.m. Call Vince Luce at 753-6347 for information.
The Westfield Club will also offer a Hunter Safety Training course Monday, Sept. 22 from 7-10 p.m., returning on Saturday, Sept. 27 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Two-day attendance is mandatory. Call 326-3218 for information.
A Pistol course at the club will be held Oct. 19, starting at 1 p.m. Call Dave Nichols at 581-0739 for information. Note there is a charge of $75 for this course set by Chautauqua County.
The Falconer Rod & Gun Club, located on Buffalo Street Extension, will host a trapping course Sept. 24 and Sept. 26 from 5:30-10 p.m. Two-day attendance is mandatory. Call Tim at 485-3376 for information.
The Bear Lake Rod & Gun Club, located at Route 310 Cassadaga/Stockton Road, will offer a trapping course on Oct. 17-18 from 6-10 p.m. Two-day attendance is mandatory. Call 595-3418 for information.
The First Greater Niagara Frontier Fishing & Hunting Show at the Getzville Fire Co., 630 Dodge Road (Corner Campbell Blvd and Dodge Road), Getzville, will be Sept. 13 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Sept. 14 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Admission is $5 and children under 15 years of age is free. Tables are $20 (No guns or ammo) New and used items for fishing and hunting. For information, contact Chuck Booker at 957-3566.
Hunt of a Lifetime Foundation raffle tickets will be on sale soon. Ticket price will be $50 per ticket with $66,000 in cash and prizes. Proceeds from this event enable children with terminal disabilities to partake in a fishing or hunting trip of their choosing.
The Warren, Pa. Gun Show will be Oct. 11-12 at the Warren Mall, located at Route 62 in North Warren, Pa. The event is sponsored by the Kinzua Country Auctions. This event will have tables available for $35. For information, call (814) 723-1446.
If your club is hosting a shooting event or training course (turkey shoot, etc.), drop a line and I will be glad to place an announcement in the calendar. I also am available to take photos and hear your success stories by calling 366-1772 or 467-2079.
Gene Pauszek is an OBSERVER outdoors columnist. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.