Scattershots: DEC seeks input on Lake Erie walleye proposal … – Buffalo News


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Adam McInerney of Cattaraugus with a chunky Lake Erie tributary steelhead. 
DEC seeks input from Lake Erie walleye anglers
The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation is considering lowering the minimum length required to keep a walleye in Lake Erie and they would like to hear from anglers. Currently, the minimum size for walleye in the lake is 15 inches long. DEC would like to reduce the minimum size to 12 inches.
It might sound crazy, but the agency’s justification is sound. Over the last decade, the Lake Erie walleye population has increased dramatically with consistently strong classes of fish year after year. As a result, a number of sub-legal fish are caught and released by fishermen on a consistent basis. However, due to anglers reeling these fish in from deep water, many of the undersized fish do not survive due to barotrauma. Since it is illegal to possess a walleye of less than 15 inches, they are put back into the lake with little to no chance of survival. By changing the regulation, the fish could be kept and eaten instead of wasting this resource. Take the survey at survey.alchemer.com/s3/7167626/Lake-Erie-walleye-minimum-size-survey.
Not everyone is in favor of this proposal. Some area charter skippers have questioned whether we are dealing with only local fish stocks and wonder how this will impact the future of the resource at the east end of the lake. Will this allow some people to specifically target 12- to 15-inch walleyes in certain nursery areas and negatively impact those locations? It certainly creates some food for thought. The deadline to comment is Jan. 27.
WNY Trout Unlimited to host DEC’s State of Streams
DEC’s Region 9 Fish Biologist Scott Cornett will host his annual “State of the Streams” presentation for any interested anglers. Once again it will be held at the monthly meeting of the Western New York Chapter of Trout Unlimited, scheduled Jan. 31 at Orvis Buffalo, 4545 Transit Road, Amherst. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. with fly tying and social activities, followed by Cornett’s presentation at 7. This is open to the public.
Speaking of fly fishing, there was some breaking news this past week when it was announced that no special ticket will be needed to attend the Fly Fishing Social at the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo on Feb. 17 at the Niagara Falls Convention Center. You must only pay for the cost of admission to the show ($10). There will be seminar speakers, guides, industry professionals, fly fishing manufacturers and retailers.
First Saturday Stream Explorers starts Feb. 4
If you are looking to learn how to fly fish, tie a fly, cast a fly rod, stream ecology and conservation, you might want to check out the First Saturday Stream Explorers program hosted by Cub Scout Pack 591 and WNY Trout Unlimited. This is a weekly family-friendly program that is free, and open to the public starting Feb. 4 from 9 to 11 a.m. at St. John Paul II Church, 2052 Lakeview Road, Lake View.
The program will start in the basement of the church, but there will be regular outings to the Hobuck Flats area of 18 Mile Creek and other access points as weather allows. To register or to find out more information about the program, email outreach@wnytroutunlimited.org.
2023 Winter Birding Challenge Open
Calling all birding enthusiasts: Buffalo Audubon and Outside Chronicles are again teaming up to create a Winter Birding Challenge that is already underway (Jan. 1 was the starting date). There is still plenty of time to get involved. The program will end March 21. Cost is $20 to participate for an individual, $15 for Buffalo Audubon members.
The challenge is a relatively simple one. Complete at least 20 of 30 winter birding challenge tasks by the deadline (such as finding seven species of gulls or 10 species of ducks in a day, as a few examples) and you will earn a patch for 2023. You also will receive a chance to win a pair of Vortex Viper HD binoculars. For more information, check out outsidechronicles.com/winbirdlogin/.
Western New York is a special place when it comes to birds and birding opportunities. It is one of the best times of year to view certain kinds of birds because the Niagara River never freezes. Flocks of ducks numbering in the tens of thousands make their winter home between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Different species of gulls congregate in the Niagara River every day in search of food. It’s one of the main reasons that the Niagara River has been globally recognized as an Important Bird Area.
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Adam McInerney of Cattaraugus with a chunky Lake Erie tributary steelhead. 
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