10-plus pounder

Team Forever Fishing captures Big Fish Friday title

Photo by Gene Pauszek Pictured, from left, are: Bob Rustowicz Tom Brunn and Gregg Shelvay, who won the 11th annual Big Fish Friday portion of the 11th annual Sunset Bay Shootout with a walleye weighing in at 10.60 pounds.

The waters were described as rough, at least during the morning, when the 11th annual Sunset Bay Shootout launched Friday.

At least the thunder and lightning held off and no Small Craft warnings were issued for the competitors. Rainfall was spotty and held off for the weigh-in of Big Fish Friday, which was held on the Sunset Bay beach. A nice crowd showed up for the weigh-in, and the only things missing were sunshine and bikinis as even the swimmers and sunbathers were absent.

There were 66 teams that chose to enter fish for the BFF event and there were some hawgs.

Pete Beiger of team Size Don’t Matter started the event weighing in a nice walleye weighing 4.75 pounds. In fact, there were seven walleye in the 4-pound range.

Fish in the 5-pound range accounted for eight places with Captain Jim Steel being one of them. Steel and his family provide the state-of-the-art scales for this event as well as several other Lake Erie tournaments.

Photo by Gene Pauszek Pictured from left are: Scott Wilson Brian Davis, Tom Davis and Don Dearmyer, who took second place at Big Fish Friday with a 10.31-pound walleye.

There were 13 walleye in the 6-pound category with the lightest weighing an even 6 pounds entered by Mark Papalia of Team Foolish Pleasure and the heaviest one weighing 6.99 pounds entered by Nick Schmidt of Team Underdog, with Snoopy laying on top of his dog house as his team logo.

The 7-pounders provided the biggest category with 21 walleye in that range. Jason Marsh and Blake Kenny both entered fish weighing 7.01 pounds while Rodger Riggs and Mike Miller had identical walleye at 7.96 pounds.

Grant Smith just missed 8 pounds with his 7.98-pound entry.

There were nine entries that weighed in at 8 pounds including some familiar names like Darin Baron Team Fishin Tradition and Gregg “G Man” Marzec with 8.15- and 8.34-pound entries. Scott Beilanin just missed the money coming in 12th place with an 8.49-pound walleye.

The top 11 places starting from the bottom were: Rick Kazmarski, Troll Mato, at 8.52 pounds; Rob Reese, the Fish Whistle, at 8.54 pounds; Ashton Laird of Lime Lake Marina, which donated two boat packages, took ninth place with an 8.78-pounder; Bob Zak of team Zak Attack had the first 9-pounder at 9.08 pounds; while Tom Leman of team Ranger Tom had a 9.23-pound entry. Mark Lewandowski, the second-place finisher of the Barcelona tournament, had a 9.24-pounder while Charlie Klaus of team Here Fishy Fishy produced at 9.28-pound walleye. Dennis Alguire, fishing with his daughter Alicia on Team Battlefish, sat in the hot seat with a 9.31-pound walleye eventually being moved by Colton Kneer of Team Limit Takers with a 9.96-pound entry, good for third place. There were two 10-pounders and Brian Davis of team Black Cloud had to settle for second-place prize money with his 10.31-pound entry.

Photo by Gene Pauszek Pictured are Mark Lewandowski, Ricky Deubel and Chris Rhodes, who finished in sixth place with a 9.24-pounder and added points in the LEWs competition.

That’s because my old buddy Gary Pleva’s favorite fisherman Bob Rustowicz of team Forever Fishin went to his bag of tricks to produce another winning walleye at 10.60 pounds. Rustowicz, fishing with Tom Brunn and Gregg Shelvay, used a stick bait to land his hawg.

The Main Event, weather permitting, is scheduled for launch at 7 a.m. today with the weigh-in scheduled for 5 p.m. The public invited.


If you are looking for Lake Erie fish, the perch bite has been slow. Walleye success has been reported in 30 to 40 feet of water off DJ’s Campground and out of Barcelona near the Pennsylvania line. Sturgeon Point has been producing fish near the Canadian border in 70 feet and off the windmills in 40-45 feet. Bottom-bouncing techniques and worm harnesses have been productive. Try fishing the outter breakwalls by the Small Boat Harbor for bass. Consider jigs with plastic imitations in brown color near the bottom.

Zach at Hogan’s Hut reports the perch bite continues at the north end of Chautauqua Lake with some nice-sized fish and decent numbers being reported.


¯ There will be a pistol course on Saturday, July 24 at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club located at the foot of Mullet Street (turn toward the lake at the Country Fair). Call Gary Dudek at 366-3397 for details. There is an $80 fee for this course.

¯ The Bart’s Cove Walleye Invitational will be July 31-Aug. 1. Presented by Mark Mohr and Joel Ruggerio, the contest is similar to the defunct AMARA-CAN. Limited to 50 teams with a $500 team entry fee, there is a potential $10,000 cash payout. Start time is 6 a.m. ending at 3:30 p.m. each day. There is no Big Fish Friday. The captain’s meeting is on Friday at Bart’s Cove. New York waters only. To register call Mohr at 998-9871 or Joel at 868-3418.

¯ The Conservation Club Walleye Derby is Aug. 6-8.

¯ The Innovative Walleye Challenge will be Aug. 20-21 presented by Jim & Diane Steel.

¯ A Sportsman’s Rendezvous will be presented by the Cattaraugus County Trappers Association on Aug. 13-15 at the Cattaraugus County Fair Grounds. Admission is $5 with kids under 16 years of age free with an adult.

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