VIP Day still a success a decade after inception

OBSERVER Photo by Gene Pauszek Captains Lance Ehrhardt and Phil Switkowski are busy cleaning donated walleye for the annual VIP day dinner. Close to 100 walleye are collected for the event and Captain Lance had a hand in cleaning all of them!

Wednesday was the annual VIP Day. This event has been going on for close to 10 years, and was the brainchild of three fishermen who had a background in the The Eastern Lake Erie Charter Association. Joe Jemiolo, who has since passed away, Captain Lance Ehrhardt and Zen Olow. The focus of the event was to bring people together and experience and showcase the wonder of Lake Erie first hand.

Invitations are extended to people of influence, either in the world of politics, business, communication and those in charge of monitoring the eco-system of one of the truly Great Lakes. During this time period, the attendees have now grown to over 100. Those who continue to make this event successful are participants from three counties: Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara and getting that participation was a feat in itself.

The VIP day includes a simple formula. Invitation, fishing on Lake Erie for a half day compliments of the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Association and friends, and a tasty meal of fried walleye and trimmings, including homemade deserts.

During the meal, guest speakers deliver PowerPoint presentations. Read OBSERVER Publisher John D’Agostino column on water pollution in Lake Erie that was presented by Rich Davenport. Scary stuff!

The lake is undergoing changes with the walleye fishery, with anglers experiencing lots of walleye in the 14- to 18-inch range and there is a projection of fantastic yellow perch fishing on the near horizon. It’s a great time to be on or involved with the lake, but we need to monitor and protect it. We also need to elect officials who are aware and sensitive to our treasure, because it is also our drinking water and a way of life more precious than gold.

One last insight: Several individuals from the ELECA are responsible for providing the walleye dinner. Captains Lance, Joe Schoenacker, Phil Switkowski and Zen Olow with co-operation from Don Ruppert and the Sunset Bay Shoot Out, Razor’s Big Dawg tournament, Captain Jim Tunney for transportation, along with all the fishermen who donated their fish and the wives of the ELECA, the Con Club, Cheesecake by Ray and donations from the Chamber of Commerce make it a success. Another great job! Thank You!


The Cattaraugus County Sportsmans Rendezvous takes place Aug. 11, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., Aug. 12 from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sunday Aug. 13, from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Cattaraugus County Fairgrounds, in Little Valley. Admission is $5 per car per day. Camping is permitted. This event will feature gun dealers, trapping supplies, trapping demos ,taxidermy dealers, mountain man encampment, and a trapping class if you sign up on the DEC website. Saturday will offer the Trapper’s Chicken BBQ, with other venders also on site. No Alcoholic beverages vended. Saturday night is auction night. For more information contact Kevin Parker or text at 474-7251. Look for the “Big Buck” display also!

The Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s office will be holding a bow hunters education course on Monday, Sept. 4 and Wednesday, Sept. 6, from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. each day at Hideaway Archery in Dayton. Two-day attendance mandatory for certification. No charge for the course. Participants should be 12 or older, however students age 11 must be accompanied by a parent both days. Class is limited to 35 students. Bring identification, pen or pencil, snacks and a beverage. Mandatory pre-registration at For more information contact the Sheriff’s Office, The DEC at 372-0645, and pick up the course material at Hideaway Archery, or the Sheriff’s Office or print online.

The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy will be giving a seminar at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club on Sunday, Aug. 20. Continue reading this column for further details.

The Bear Lake Rod & Gun Club will host a .22 caliber pistol or rifle “spinner target” course on Sept. 9, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Cost is $10 per person and includes a hot dog or hamburger, chips and a non-alcoholic beverage. Open to the public. On Saturday, Aug. 19, the BLR&G Club will host Chappy Outdoors, a 3-D benefit shoot with a 9 a.m. shotgun start. Contact Rudy Abersold at 397-9717 for information. All shoots are open to the public contact Rob at 485-3773, Tom at 680-0209 or the Club at 595-3334. The Bear Lake Club is located at 4391 Cassadaga-Stockton Road, Stockton 14784. They will also host a hunter safety training course on Aug. 23 and 24 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. both days, two-day course mandatory.

The Innovative Outdoors Walleye Challenge from Chadwick Bay Marina is Aug. 26, with optional Big Fish Friday. For details contact Jim Steel at 983-7867 or visit

If your club or organization is holding a hunter safety training/trapping course or a turkey shoot or any other outdoors event, and would like to see it posted in the calendar, send information to the OBSERVER, 10 East Second Street, Dunkirk, N.Y. 14048, or call the sports dept. at 366-3000 ext. 5 after 6 p.m.

Note: If you have a big-game fishing or trapping success story you would like to share, call 366-1772, or 467-2079 and leave a name, phone number and a time you can be reached. You can also call 366-3000, ext. 5, after 6 p.m.