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  • News 4 Buffalo

    Local anglers have their “walleyes” on the prize

    By Hope Winter,


    IRVING, N.Y. (WIVB) — Anglers are starting their engines, and keeping their eyes on the forecast, as they embark in the Southtowns Walleye Association’s 40th annual Walleye Derby.

    “We get some of the best fishing in the country here by far, it’s amazing out here,” said Brian Plecas, derby co-chair and president of the Southtowns Walleye Association.

    Plecas said that the Derby is important to their association, because it drives memberships, and their youth programs, but it also shines a light on how much the sport of fishing reels in for Western New York’s economy.

    “People don’t understand how much fishing we actually have in this area,” said Plecas, “We have between tourism, gear, tackle, fuel, all of those different things that drive the economy, a lot of that is driven by a billion dollar sport fishing industry here in Western New York.”

    It’s an industry they’re trying to encourage more youth to become part of.

    “When I grew up, I was always outside, my mother would throw you outside, but we want to ge the kids out more and just introduce them to the next generation to come up and fish,” said Sue Guenther, recording secretary and former president of the Southtown’s Walleye Association, “It gets them away from the computers and away from their phones for a few hours, and out doing something in the fresh air.”

    “It’s the future of the sport the sport, I mean, conservation is the key,” said Plecas,” It’s based on youth, all of us, we’re trying to set the legacy for the future generations to be able to enjoy all the great resources that we have here in Lake Erie and Western New York, that’s our passion, that’s what we do, we want to have kids engaged and involved.”

    The Youth Division of the Derby has their own prizes, but there are a list of prizes for other contestants, including tackle, gear, rods, reels, lures, cash prizes, and even a $1,000 given to the biggest fish caught each day. As for the biggest fish caught throughout the entire derby, they’re not sure what the grand prize will be just yet–as they say the more people that are participating in the derby, the bigger the top prize is.

    “One of these days, I’d like to catch one that’s in the money,” Guenther laughed, “Just once, c’mon give me a break!”

    Guenther has been on the board of the association for more than 20 years, after getting into the sport with her husband. She has won countless awards with the organization, shared with us about the comradery of the organization.

    “I made a lot of friendships, a lot of people that I would probably would have never met if I wasn’t in the club,” said Guenther, “We’ll always learn from each other, we all do something a little bit different, it’s just, it’s a good time.”

    The 40th Derby of the Southtowns’ Walleye Association is already underway, and will continue through June 16. You need to be a member of the association to be part of the derby, and it costs $50 to join the derby. For more information on the association and the Derby, visit their website here.

    Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here .

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