The Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers recently had its Cast and Blast event in Lewiston, N.Y., in the western part of the state by Niagara Falls.
A Cast and Blast event is just that: 10 outdoor writers hunted Eastern turkeys in gorgeous beech tree forests, and 10 writers fished bodies of water across the region in search of smallies, trout and salmon.
Because of the mild winter, spring turkeys seemed to reach their gobbling, hormonal peak about two weeks early in most areas of the country and made for some tough hunting late in the season. Western New York was no different, as we had a tough hunt while chasing some tight-lipped birds.
However, our hunting coordinator was the legendary turkey caller Ernie Calandrelli, public relations coordinator at Quaker Boy Game Calls, and he was my guide for two days. Calandrelli can make turkey calls sing, especially mouth calls. It was a great opportunity to learn from the best. The birds did not cooperate, but Calandrelli's walleye-cheek chowder made up for it.
As you can imagine, fishing reigns supreme in that part of the country. Trophy smallmouth bass can be found in Eastern Lake Erie or the lower Niagara River, and drift fishing for steelhead, lake trout and brown trout in a portion of the Lower Niagara River known as Devil's Hole is a local favorite.
In addition, fishing for salmon and trout on Lake Ontario draws anglers from across Canada and the United States. As part of the AGLOW group, we experienced it all.
Three of us fished Lake Ontario with Captain Bob Cinelli on his White Mule, a refurbished 36-foot Tiara fishing boat.
We used downriggers to a 76-foot depth, with black, sliver and white spoons, while huge planer boards kept our lines from tangling. When the first rod arched over, the guys yelled at me, and I pulled in a 12-pound king salmon. My next turn was the prize, my 18-pounder.
We have a good King bite all year long, Cinelli said.
The Niagara River is the border between the United States and Canada. American anglers fish from the American side because it's a hassle to fish from the Canadian side.
The Lake Ontario excursion brought back memories of salmon fishing on Lake Oahe, reminding me it's been awhile and I need to hold a nice Coho in my hands very soon.
The salmon bite on Oahe started a month ago and it's been good, said Chad Rau at Carl's Bait Shop in Fort Pierre. Salmon range from seven to 15 pounds. Fish around the turbines and along the face of the dam. You will catch big northerns there, too. One guy caught a 27-pounder while salmon fishing.