Walleye Fishing Clubs - New York Walleye and Southtowns Walleye Associations

By Will Elliott - Buffalo News Outdoor Reporter


 

 

Area Fishing Clubs /By Will Elliott  January 2009

Walleye fans keep organizations afloat

 

 

 

 

 

 

PICTURED: Jim Borucki, left, served as president of the New York Walleye Association. David “Woody” Woodworth heads the Southtowns Walleye Association.
Mark Mulville/Buffalo News
         Lake Erie’s walleye fishing was good and getting better when Bud Riser of Walleye International chartered the New York Walleye Association (NYWA) in 1980.

        Three years later, the Southtowns Walleye Association formed.

        For more than a quarter century, the efforts of dedicated members of these two clubs have made the Western New York walleye fishery an ’eye-catching enjoyment. The history of the two clubs shows how hard work — on and off the water — results in continued fishery success, fellowship and just plain fun.

NY Walleye Association

      Walleye Magazine and Walleye International editor-founder Riser, a Cleveland-area angler and charter boater, knew the potential for walleye clubs along the Lake Erie shoreline.

      While an exhibitor at outdoors shows in the Buffalo Convention Center each spring during the 1970s, Riser often chatted with local fishing experts. Area anglers such as Doug Hurtubise, Herb Schultz, Joe Fischer and legions of other regulars shared their interests and concerns such as tackle tips and tricks, fishery management issues, and public service programs to promote and sustain the ’eye fishery.

      “The first club met at various locations around North Buffalo and on Grand Island, but the group we now know as New York Walleye Association (NYWA) got into high gear when it began meeting at the George Washington [Fishing and Camping] Club on Niagara Street,” recalls Fischer, founding member of the NYWA and currently serving on the Erie County Fisheries Advisory Board.

      The George Washington club recently celebrated its 100th anniversary and members of both clubs shared their expertise with both fish-catching techniques and group organizational skills.

      NYWA members began setting up tournaments, kids and family fishing events, and fundraising programs to further their functions. Hurtubise led lively discussions and brought to meetings area fishing experts and political leaders.

      Like fishing outcomes from year to year, NYWA had its ups, downs and so-so results over the years, but the contests, kids events, social gatherings and fishery issues remain core concerns for its current membership.

      During the NYWA monthly meeting Jan. 6, new leaders were elected and two long-standing officers stepped down after more than a decade of service.

      Jim Borucki, an active member for nearly 20 years, served as NYWA president for 14 years. During his tenure, club activities and accounting records improved. The club, which now meets at the American Legion Post on Amherst Street on the first Tuesday of each month, holds its Amara-Can Tournament, Kids Fishing Days, fundraisers and in-club tournaments efficiently and successfully.

     Much of the success of those events was the result of continuous effort from George and Betty Boice. Throughout Borucki’s 14 leadership years, the Boices were there for planning, set-ups, event service, and often did the take-down, cleanup and record- keeping chores.

       Borucki also thanked MaryAnn Filsinger for her organized and accurate record-keeping throughout the years.

       Newly elected President Bob Zoeller looks forward to restoring the membership base and public involvements of NYWA to its earlier years when he and his late father, Gordon Zoeller, first joined the club.

Southtowns Walleye Association

      Well-strung nets work to bring together schools of worthwhile fish. To many observers, gill nets were the issue that strung together a school of worthy workers and friends who eventually became the Southtowns Walleye Association (SWA).

       While Hurtubise, Fischer, Jack Tessier, Mel Buttici, Hamilton “Skip” Earnst and other NYWA officers worked on issues in general and other “Northtowns” concerns, a core of anglers such as Schultz, Ed Soda and others from Hamburg and the south side of Buffalo began looking at immediate issues for that area.

         Of greatest concern was the issue of commercial gill netting, especially walleye stocks, which could be depleted and irreparably harmed if gill netting continued in eastern basin waters of Lake Erie.

      Shultz, Soda and scores of other anglers in the Southtowns formed a committee and began meeting around town and eventually in the offices of Assemblyman Fran Pordum.

      Pordum had a hard time explaining gill nets to legislators in Albany. “I sometimes had to explain to colleagues what a walleye is,” Pordum said years after the state finally passed gill-net ban legislation.

      As a result of this single-issue effort, and the fantastic walleye fishing found from Buffalo to Barcelona along the New York shoreline, the Southtowns Walleye Association formally chartered in 1983.

      Over the years, distinguished members such as Soda, Schultz, Jim Leonard, Joe Jemiolo and Tom Marks served as SWA president. David “Woody” Woodworth holds the office now.

      Woodworth promises big things in SWA’s Annual Tournament to celebrate the club’s 25th anniversary. To check out this tourney and all club activities, make a visit to www.southtownswalleye.org

 

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