By RYNE R. MARTIN
LOUISVILLE - Nine hundred has been a magical number in the Syracuse area in recent days as Syracuse University basketball coach Jim Boeheim became just the third Division I college basketball club to reach that number of wins in his career.
But the magic number for the St. Lawrence River Walleye Association is 1,000 - the number of contestants they would love to attract to the seventh annual Northern Pike Challenge scheduled for Feb. 23 in Louisville and Waddington. Fishing will take place again this year on Fobares Pond, Brandy Brook, Coles Creek and at Wilson Hill.
Its all about bringing people to St. Lawrence County and let them experience the great fishing we have here, according to Michael Gagner, president of the St. Lawrence River Walleye Association.
We get people from all over - all over New York state, Pennsylvania, Vermont. Last year we had the worst storm of the year on the day of the tournament, but the show must go on. We still had close to 900 entrants, he added.
Mr. Gagner said the tournament will be offering approximately $25,000 in cash and prizes with minimum payouts of $1,000 guaranteed for each hour of the tournament, which runs from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. This year there will also be two $2,500 cash payouts for grand prizes and approximately $10,000 worth of door prizes.
He said the tournaments major sponsors, Subway and Budweiser, will also each sponsor an hour of the tournament and will provide items and gifts from their respective brands during those respective hours. Mr. Gagner said any other businesses interested in sponsoring an hour of the tournament can contact him at 315-384-3450.
The walleye association will also once again be sponsoring a youth division for youngsters up to age 15 with a $10 entry fee and 100 percent payout. Mr. Gagner said sign-ups for the tournament will be getting underway shortly.
The cost for the adult division will be $30 until Feb. 21 and then $35 from Feb. 18-21. Contestants can also sign up on the morning of the fishing challenge.
Youngsters under 15 can fish in the adult division. But they can only fish in one division or the other, not both, Mr. Gagner stressed.
Sign-up locations will be the Massena American Legion, Sandys Custom Tackle in Lisbon, Chapmans Sport Shop in Black Lake, Northwood Outfitters in Potsdam, Green Machine Bait and Tackle in Waddington and Uppstroms Bait and Tackle in Waddington.
Contestants can also sign up on line at www.stlawrenceriverwalleyeassociation.com .
It is a catch-and-release tournament. One of our objectives is to protect the river. We would like all the fish that are caught and brought to the weigh-in to have their head and gills in the water, Mr. Gagner said.