WNY Heroes host successful event

Submitted Photo Harold Sloppy is pictured with one of the first walleye in on Friday.

The fifth annual Western New York Heroes event was another success despite the weather.

Innovative Outdoors was the co-coordinator along with Chris Kreiger, president/co-founder of WNY Heroes Inc., and Lynn Magistreli, his program director. This strong team effort was able to put smiles on the faces of 100 veterans, even though Mother Nature turned a lot of those smiles a shade of green at times.

There were 65 captains and mates equipped with 35 boats offering to take their various crews out offshore on Lake Erie on Friday. The weather was sunny and warm, but the wind was strong, like it has been for most of the week. Blowing out of the south at 18 mph or more, the anglers knew they were in for a bumpy ride. It didn’t matter. These veterans were determined to share in the camaraderie and have a good time. If any of you readers were in the vicinity of the City of Dunkirk Pier you probably noticed the green van and crowd of people, just behind the cleaning station near the launch site.

Each person was checked off in attendance, issued a commemorative T-shirt and bag of snacks, and assigned to a captain and boat. They then gathered near the D dock area to listen to instructions and departed roughly around 7 a.m., with a return time around 1 p.m. With a continuous walleye chop that could turn a seasoned boater a lighter shade of pale, many of the boats came in early. The catching was feast or famine depending on location. Even walleye derby fishermen get skunked, and this year has been no exception. But the gathering is the source of enjoyment, and the fish are always a bonus.

Harold Sloppy, fishing with Dances with Fish Captain Ron Duliba, reported with one walleye but it was over 26 inches long and over 7 pounds.

Several other boats reported to the cleaning station with walleye in the 22-inch range. Captain Rob Oram fishing with Air Force veteran Bruce Gannon showed up with a two-man limit of 12 walleye, and reported throwing back eight more and losing a big one. They fished in 30 feet of water in front of the golf course using Berkley Flicker minnows in green and also purple alewive pattern. They were long lining these stick baits with no weight, on monofiliment line. They estimated the lures were diving only 10 feet deep. Note that there was a sand fly hatch earlier in the week and historically when this happens the walleye seem to feed heavily near the surface and are attracted to white or lighter-colored lures. Captain Frank Schoenaker also reported with a size able number of walleye.

The Department of Environmental Conservation Fisheries Crew was on hand to clean any of the fish for the veterans, while they took the opportunity to gather data on the walleye. Many of the veterans were pleasantly surprised to learn that the walleye and the rest of Lake Erie fish species are safe to eat, with the lowest level of contaminants of all the Great Lakes. In addition, the DEC revealed that they can determine the sex of each fish as well as the age by removing a bone in the head of the fish and counting the rings in the otolith, much like counting the rings in a tree.

After the fish were cleaned, each attendee was treated to a bag lunch of sub sandwiches provided by Cabana Sam’s and Innovative Outdoors. Other sponsors for this year’s event were The Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, Holiday Harbor, Black Hat Chimney and Fire Place cleaners.

WNY Heroes Inc. has been helping veterans for a number of years. In 2019 they gave out $420,000 in assistance. Accountants are still determining how much aid was given in COVID-19 ravaged 2020. Iraq veteran Chris Kreiger, the president and co-founder of WNY Heroes Inc., said it services 12 counties in WNY and also trains service/support dogs. They currently have trained 96 canine companions. If you would like to learn more about this worthwhile program go to ckreiger@wnyheroes,org or www.wnyheroes.org. or write to Chris Kreiger, 8205 Main St., Suite No. 1 Williamsville, NY 14221 or phone 716-630-5020 or fax 716-630-5023.

Locally the offshore yellow perch bite remains spotty. If you are on active fish you will do well. The results of the Southtowns Walleye Tournament were being reviewed on late Friday. The awards party at the club located at 5895 Southwestern Blvd., Hamburg is on July 10 from 1-5 p.m.


¯ It’s free fishing weekend in New York. You don’t need a license to wet a line but you have to adhere to the rules and regulations pertaining to size and amount, etc.

¯ The Lew Mead Memorial free kids fishing event is today at the state boat launch located in Lily Dale/Cassadaga. Open to youths aged up to 16 years of age, the program offers trophies and prizes for four age groups of both boys and girls and most every youth will receive a prize. Free hot dogs and beverage for all attendees. Sign-up starts at 7 a.m. with the weigh in at the same area until 11 a.m. You are invited.

¯ Next up is the Sunset Bay Shoot Out walleye tournament on July 16-17. Go to www.walleyeshootout.com email: donaldjruppert@yahoo.com or call 716-435-4137

¯ A new event the Bart’s Cove walleye Invitational is scheduled for July 31 and Aug. 1, with a 50-team limit at $500 entry fee per team. Tournament directors are Mark Mohr at 998-9871 or Joel Ruggiero at 868-3418. Registration cut-off is July 26.

¯ The Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club three-day walleye event is Aug. 6-8. Contact person is Chairman Zen Olow at 640-2776.

¯ Jim & Diane Steel’s Innovative Outdoors walleye derby is Aug. 20-21.


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