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Hooks-Antlers outdoor column

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The Ogdensburg-Massena stretch of the St. Lawrence River boasts of exceptional fishing opportunities for early season walleyes.

In celebration of that fishing, the St. Lawrence River Walleye Association (SLRWA) and the St. Lawrence Valley Sportsmen’s Club (SLVSC) are hosting opening-day derbies on Saturday, May 4.

The two organizations certainly have the right to celebrate the kickoff of walleye season as the groups’ on-going stocking programs have been instrumental in enhancing walleye numbers in the river.

SLRWA Derby

The St. Lawrence River Walleye Association’s Opening Day Walleye Derby is a two-person team event, and the winning team will be determined by the total weight of its four largest fish. Eligible fish include three walleyes between 18-23 inches and one walleye over 23 inches. Derby organizers ask that fish be kept alive so that they might be released after being weighed in. Non-releasable fish will be subject to an 8-ounce penalty.

Interested anglers can register ($50 per two-person team) at JC River Run Bar & Grill in Waddington on Friday, May 3 from 6-7:30 p.m. On-site registration ($10 penalty fee) will also be available prior to 5:30 a.m. on the day of the event. Too, participants who are not members of SLRWA will be assessed a $5 re-stocking fee. The derby is a 100 percent payback affair (minus $200).

The Waddington Boat Launch at Whitaker Park will serve as the starting point for all participants, and the launch will also serve as the weigh-in station. Fishing boundaries extend from the Ogdensburg International Bridge to the top side of Robert Moses Dam in Massena. Fishing hours are from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. Weigh-ins will be conducted at the boat launch from noon until 3 p.m., and awards will be presented at the nearby JC River Run Bar and Grill at 3 p.m. In addition to cash prizes for the winners, numerous door prizes will be awarded.

The derby also includes an Optional Big Fish Contest. The entry fee is an additional $20 per team, and there will be 100 percent payback for the largest walleye entered. In addition, that winning walleye will be mounted courtesy of Ralph Miller of Nature’s Trophies Taxidermy.

SLRWA conducts four tournaments during the open-water season, and those events are the Opening Day Walleye Tournament (May 5), Opening Day Bass Smackdown (June 15), Annual Walleye Challenge (August 3), and Fall Bass and Walleye Classic (September 14).

Based on the results of those four derbies, the SLRWA will crown its Subway Angler of the Year, a title won by Jon Paul Gagner in 2012.

For more information on any of the derbies, call Mike at 384-3450, and for a complete set of rules for the Opening Day Walleye Derby, visit www.stlawrenceriverwalleyeassociation.com.

SLVSC Walleye Derby

In efforts to raise funds for its walleye stocking program and to promote St. Lawrence River walleye fishing, the St. Lawrence Valley Sportsmen’s Club is hosting its seventh annual SLVSC Walleye Derby on opening day.

The event is an open-boundary one, and fishing hours extend from midnight until 4 p.m. Winning fish will be determined by weight.

Interested anglers can register ($20) in Ogdensburg at Hosmer’s Marina, Bill’s Tire Center, Vinn’s Tavern, and Fisher’en Chips and in Lisbon at Sandy’s Bait and Tackle. Eligibility requires that all anglers in the boat be registered for the derby, and the minimum length for eligible walleyes is 21 inches. Weigh-ins will be held on the waterfront at Hosmer’s Marina from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The waterfront weigh-in site allows anglers who wish to do so to release their catch.

Based on 100 entries, the prizes will be $500 for first place, $200 for second, and $100 for third. In addition, numerous door prizes will be awarded. For more information, call Kevin Bateman at 393-0206 or Jerry Lincoln at 393-7506.

Like the SLRWA, the SLVSC will host an opening-day bass derby on Saturday, June 15.

Outdoors Calendar

Today-April 30—PFDs msut be worn when aboard any boat, canoe, or kayak less than 21 feet.

Saturday-Sunday—Racquette Valley F&G Club hosts Gun and Knife Show at 233 Coldbrook Drive, South Colton.

May 1—Spring Turkey Season opens in New York State.

May 4—Northern Pike and Walleye Seasons open in New York State.

May 4—St. Lawrence River Walleye Association hosts Opening Day Derby (384-3450).

May 4—St. Lawrence Valley Sportsmen’s Club hosts annual Opening Day Walleye Derby.

May 11—Homestudy Hunter Education Course at Potsdam Town Hall (In-person registration at Town Hall April 22-26).

May 25—Cape Vincent C of C hosts Annual Spring Fishing Derby (654-2481).

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