The History Begins…
The year is 1982. The location is the back room of Stan Stopa’s Live Bait Shop on 24th street in Niagara Falls. If the walls of that back room could talk, they would tell us about a small group of people that had gathered with one common interest. That was to create an organization that could help provide better opportunity’s for fishermen using the Niagara River through better access, cleaner waters, stocking and education.
Those five simple initiatives would prove to be the backbone of the Niagara River Anglers Association. They still guide us today in many of the things we do.
On June 21, 1983, Rich & Dave Rotella, with help from Rich Messing & Terry Woods repaired the broken dock at the City Dock at Griffon Park. Rather than wait until someone was hurt, or to go another season with the dock broken, Rich and his crew went to work. With about four hours of labor and $15 in NRAA funds, the dock was again in tip top shape. The second meeting of these forward thinkers was held at “Bubba’s Bar” on Niagara Street in Niagara Falls. This was to be an “organizational” session. This group hadn’t even come up with a name yet. That evening is when people stepped up volunteering to be officers, filling the traditional seats that most organizations have.
John Delorenzo became our first President with his father Jim agreeing to serve as Vice President. Jimmy took on the duty to provide them with a set of guidelines for our first constitution and by-laws. Several weeks later they were done and adopted. They still stand today with only minor changes occurring over the years.
June 25, 2983 Colbert’s Smallmouth Bass contest was held.
Winners and NRAA members were;
- Dave Rotella $100. 17 5/8″
- Rich Rotella $75. 17 3/8″
- Bill Henwood $50. 17 ¼”
- Mike George $25. 17″
A special note of gratitude . . . . .
Jim Delorenzo passed away in the fall of 2003. Jim had stayed close to the NRAA helping organize many of its early days events, such as our past held Annual Perch Fry and contest. He also was the chairman of our members “Big Fish recognition rewards”. We have had many hard working members over the years that have since passed away. To try and include them all would not be an easy task. But it was felt that due to Jim playing such a large part of our beginning, we need to pay special tribute to him. Thanks Jim. May you rest in peace.
Dry Dock Marine
Who remembers a place of business that was called Dry Dock Marine? It was located on Porter Road in the Falls. Well Jim Delorenzo owned and operated that establishment.
and history is made . . . . .
Following this second gathering and having some organizational structure now in place, it was time to move forward. Local outdoor writers were notified of the groups intentions and through these columns, the “first” membership organizational meeting was scheduled. On June 22, 1982 the first membership meeting was held at the “Buena Vista” on Center Street in Lewiston. There were over 80 people in attendance. At the conclusion of the meeting, almost all 80 joined at a yearly fee of $5.00. So I guess you can say our first yearly dues structure was born. Those enrolling at this first meeting have often been referred to as NRAA Charter Members.
1st membership meeting June 22, 1982 . . . .
Here are the “actual minutes” as recorded by then secretary Rich Rotella and read at the July 28 meeting:
Meeting was called to order at 8:00pm
John Delorenzo introduced temporary officers and welcomed new members. He gave a summary of the goals of our group. “Sportsmanship, Clean Waters, Litter Free, River Bank Improvement and Land Owner Relations. ”Minutes read from June 22nd meeting & accepted as read. Vince Delorenzo read the by-laws & explained each article. A discussion was held about any questions & explained by Vince satisfactorily to the membership. A question was brought up about December installation of officers. Board will take up at the next board meeting. Canadian membership was discussed and explained about mutual goals. Canadians are more than welcome to the NRAA. Joe Ognibene mentioned the river starts at the Peace Bridge and our work should be concentrated there too. John D explained our goals will cover all the area waters, not just the river, & explained our priorities. Launch ramps that are controlled by towns and cities that charge for launching were discussed & will be looked into. A member from the floor explained about the plans the Village of Lewiston has for the park & launch area. A discussion about this was held.
June 22 meeting continues . . . . .A rod & reel will be given away at the July meeting to the member who signs up the most members. President suggested that members take applications & try to sign up members. Access to the river will be a priority and a committee will be formed to work on this. Charlie Pelcin suggested that walleye stocking be started again. Stocking will be handled by a committee. The President explained our organization will push for this. Dick Robinson explained the figures of stocking the lower river. 250,000 lakers were stocked and 325,000 to 350,000 were stocked at the Niagara Bar. Olcott got 32,000 this year. The trout stocking is good at our end of the lake. Over 500,000 have been stocked. Dick suggested that cooperation between the groups is important. (LOTSA & NRAA). We are contacting Bill Shepherd to study walleye and to see if it is feasible to stock. Dick Robinson explained about the various programs the fisheries board is undertaking. The question was posed to Dick about steelhead stocking & he explained the programs that are in the works. Canadian stocking is about 500,000 fish. Ice Boom discussion was held. It was suggested that spring perch spawning was held up. Our organization will look into the effects of the boom. The dirt and debris on the ice was brought up & will be included in our agenda. June 22 meeting . . . . . almost done now . . . . .Dave Kindzia suggested that our organization educate our members as to fishing techniques at each meeting. Charles Pelcin suggested to the body to think about officers during the summer months to run for election in November. A member suggested our group join the Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs in Niagara County. We will approach the necessary people to do so. We will have a lunker fish trophy award each year. The Perch Sweep is our first social event planned for the near future. We will sponsor a early fish derby next year. Possibly in March or April. A major fundraiser.The following committees were formed” Access: Bud Myers, Joe Ognibene, Jerry Chew, Jim Hubbard. Political Action: Joe Ognibene, Don Bronson, Chuck Pelcin, Mark Larsen, Art Buckley, Bob Fry. Education: Mark Daul. Sport Fishing: Tom Tucker, Ed Fields, J.P. Miller. The next meeting will be held the third Monday of July at the Imperial Lounge. Meeting Adjourned.
History of our News & Views . . . . .
The publication was started in 1982. By today’s standards, it was quite primitive. Hand written, passed on to someone who would type it (yes on a typewriter). Mark Daul, Henry Ziuko and Karen George had those honors. Our first entry into computers was when Don Bronson and his wife took over the honors some years later. The typed pages would then be retyped onto a master sheet for a imeograph machine. Then copies ran off for each page. Then the group of volunteer’s would sit down, assemble, staple and put on a mailing label. WOW For some years the News & Views was a monthly publication. Today it is issued five times yearly, pulled together by our editor and sent to a printer as a “down load”. Then printed, labeled and mailed. WOW is that what is called “progress”?
November 1984 it was announced that NRAA Charter Member Stan Stopa has finally retired for good from the Bait & Tackle business. While most of us will miss the great service he provided, we all wished Stan and his wife a great retirement. Stan passed away a few years ago. Thanks Stan and may you rest in peace.
Early membership records . . . . .
In those early days keeping the NRAA membership was done by hand. The Membership Chairman would keep a list of each member, their address and phone number. It was somewhat labor intense. Plus if you had to make any corrections, or try and do it in alphabetical order, well you get the idea. Then along came Brian Deters from Frontier Travel Services located on Main Street in Niagara Falls. Brian volunteered the computers in his office to make and maintain our membership lists. He even volunteered his office girls to do this for us. At this time the membership was almost 1,000 strong. Of course today, all is computerized. Obtaining the membership records is available with the click of a button. With today’s technology, who knows what the future will bring. WOW is that what’s called “progress”?
November 1, 1984 Marks Tackle will be opening a second location at 327 Hyde Park Blvd. Marks “Tackle Two” will be offering a fast food diner and a gasoline stop.
Where did we meet over the years….
Do you remember the meeting locations that were used for NRAA gatherings over the past 25 years? Well here’s a walk down memory lane . . . . .1st ever organizational meeting was in the back room of Stan Stopa’s Live Bait on 24th street in Niagara Falls. 2nd organizational meeting was at Bubba’s Bar on Niagara street in Niagara Falls. 3rd and very first meeting open to the public was held at Parrone’s Buena Vista Restaurant in Lewiston. They were soon to be moved to the Imperial Garage- Lounge at 512 Third Street in Niagara Falls, (needed room) Over those early days there were several meetings held in other locations, such as St. Theresa’s School in DeVeaux and the Colonial Lounge on Third street in the Falls. The next regular location for meetings was the Oxford House Rathskeller on Main Street as of June 15, 1987. Then they were moved to the Moose Lodge for 1988 thru 1992 on Niagara Falls Blvd. And finally in September of 1992 they came to rest at the LaSalle Sportsman’s Club. I hope you enjoyed the walk through history. I wonder how many know of all those locations that have been a part of our journey over the past 25 years.
Events and Contest of the NRAA . . . .
APRIL 1983 . . . the 1st Annual Smelt Dip and Fry was held at the Lewiston Sand Docks.A small group of NRAA members got together and dipped for smelt. They cleaned some of their catch and fried them fresh on the spot. This idea was continued on over the years. And year after year it grew in numbers. Not only NRAA members, but the community were invited to come and try a few of these tasty will fish.
Then about 20 years later, the Village of Lewiston made it into a week long festival. It is kicked off on the first Friday in May with the Annual NRAA Smelt Fry. The only problem we have found over the years, predicting just when the smelt would run up the river. So we now buy the smelt to ensure all have a chance to eat. In 2007 we bought and cooked some 300 lbs. All done by volunteers and last year done in under 2 hours. This event now sees well over a thousand visitors each year to our tent.
FALL OF 1983 . . . . was the time of the 1st Annual Perch Fry. It was set up for members to come out, catch a few perch, clean them and dine on the tasty fillets. And if they were lucky, maybe win a prize. Member Mike George would do his magic with coatings and fry pans for all to enjoy.This event continued on for many years. Here are a few winners names I found from the past.
1987 1st place Pete Tarajos 13 1/8”
1988 1st place Mike Fox 12 ½”
March 1983 . . . 1st Annual Rainbow Country Fishing Fair was held. This event was organized by the NRAA. It was held each year at the Niagara Falls Native American Center (the Turtle). This first show say over 600 attend. In 1984 it grew to over 900. This event went on for several years. It was a great under taking by our group. It took a lot of hard work, contacts of vendors, scheduling of events by outdoors celebrities, etc.
Spring of 1983 . . . 1ST Annual NRAA Bass Classic. This is perhaps the fist organized event the NRAA held. The great news is that it is still going strong some 24 years later. While it has seen participating numbers go up and down, it is still an event many members look forward to each year. Again here are some of the winners from a few years that I came across.
1986 1st place Fred Ridley 5.04 lbs
1987 1st place Dan Woodward ?
1988 1st place Dan Woodard 7.14 lbs
1989 1st place Dan Woodard 6.16 lbs
1992 1st place Anthony Cerrone 7.14 lbs
1993 1st place Paul Devlin Sr. 7.9 lbs
2005 1st place Ted Merletti 6.64 lbs
2007 1st place Andy Hastings
February 22, 1986 . . . 1st Annual NRAA Winter Steelhead Contest. This was the day of our very first Steelhead contest. This very first event saw 21 entrants. Despite very tough fishing conditions, the wind, bitter cold temps, nearly everyone caught fish. The winners of this first winter contest were;
- 1st place Joe Augustyniak 11.12 lbs
- 2nd place Mike Behunin 10.12 lbs
- 3rd place Harold Edwards 10.04 lbs
1987 1st place Kevin Kiehl 12.15 lbs
1993 1st place Andy Hastings 12 lbs
1997 1st place Kyle Hurlburt 12.06 lbs
2001 1st place Jim Rechtsiegal 12.02 lbs
2002 1st place John Manfra 14.04 lbs
2003 1st place Dr. Mike Pell 17 lbs
2005 1st place D.J. LaVoy 13.12 lbs
This event is still going strong today. Over the years it has seen entry numbers range as high as 160 plus.
In 2002 the name of the event was changed to honor one of the NRAA’s long time members. It would now be called the “Roger Tobey Memorial NRAA Steelhead Contest”. Roger passed on unexpectedly after a tragic accident on October 10, 2001. Roger was one of our hardest working volunteers. Always there when needed. A tree was planted in Rogers honor at the Wilderness Preserve. May he rest in peace. This event is still as strong as ever. And to the efforts of all those who have been involved over the years, to my knowledge it was only canceled one year. What a great fishery we have in this area. There are always anglers that come here to fish this event from places as far away as Ohio and Pennsylvania.
OTHER EVENTS . . .
This list could go on and on. The NRAA has been very active in so many ways over the past 25 years. Let’s take a brief look at just a few.
- Annual Kids Derby at Hyde Park. This has been going on for many years with us supplying each kid with some type of fishing award. Rods and reels, tackle boxes, nets, etc.
- A Kids Fishing Safari that we took part in along with NYSDEC Law Enforcement Officers, U.S. Coast Guard personnel, and our own Bill Hilts Jr. and Mike George along with other NRAA members. The young people hosted were from Niagara County and afflicted with Cerebral Palsy.
- NRAA and the Niagara Falls YMCA teamed up to take kids fishing. Many NRAA members brought their boats to Youngstown and took kids fishing.
- Going back to the early days of the Wilderness Preserve, the NRAA hosted what would be called the “Town of Porter Family Day”. It would see a large turn out from the community to partake in hot dogs, pop and other tidbits.
- Fund raisers for the Walleye Rearing Ponds. Who could forget the major undertaking of a fund raiser to help with the yearly cost of rearing walleye fry?
- It was a 1 week trip for two to “Hawaii”, along with $500 cash. Tickets were $55 and only 100 sold. The first winner was a 21 year old by the name of Wayne Kanieniary. This was in 1992.
- Kids Fishing Day at the Buffalo Launch Club on Grand Island. We attend and help them run this each year.
- Youngstown Kids Fishing Derby. Again this is a yearly event we run for the Village Of Youngstown and give prizes to all the kids.
- 2007 saw us set up and coordinate the first ever Town of Niagara Kids Fishing Experience. This took place at their newly built Community Center and Park. Another great event that saw a lot of young kids catch their fist fish and get a prize for it.
These could go on forever. There are the challenged adults from Opportunities Unlimited that we host at the Wilderness Preserve several times each year. Scout groups that come in to fish and just enjoy the preserve and all it offers. The Town of Porter’s kids summer recreation brings several bus loads of kids each summer. And the list goes on and on . . . .
May 1987 The Aquarium of Niagara Falls recently received a $300,000 grant from NYS through Assemblyman Joe Pillitere. It’s to establish a “Sport Fishing Center” within the Aquarium. It will put an emphasis on native freshwater fish.
NRAA kids traveling mini pond . . . .
This idea came about by one of our past presidents, Doug Stein. It was 2000 or somewhere there about. The project was discussed and member Joe Beningo came up with the design. Joe built the walls making them only two feet high so fishing would be easier for little kids. Member Ron Hutcheson came up with the materials to design the inside part of the pond. A crew of volunteers assembled in Ron’s Driveway to put it all together for the first time. A decision was made to purchase a used 20’ X 40’ tent from a tent rental in Sanborn. This was to be used when the pond would be set up for outdoor events. Our first time ever to exhibit our pond was at the Niagara County Fair in Lockport, NY. It was for a five day event. Member Paul Jackson volunteered to run this venue and has been doing it ever since. Large Red Tail Shiners were purchased from A-1 Bait. Owned and operated by Ron Hutcheson. It was soon determined that the pond would need a filtration system. Then Treasurer John Ranney and Paul purchased a pool filter. An aeration system was designed by Paul that is still used today. Small changes were made over the years. We have been present at many events over the years. Such places are, the Niagara Falls Boat Show, Apple Festival, WNY Sportsman’s Show in Hamburg, CWM Family Day, Ransomville Cabbage Festival, Summit Park Mall Outdoors Show, NYPA Fish & Wildlife Festival, Buffalo Boat Show and many more locations over the years. The funds raised from this traveling pond have been used to enhance our children’s programs and send 40 plus young people to DEC camp at Rushford Lake.
In Loving Memory of Charles T. Pelcin
July 6, 2006
It is only fitting to pay tribute to Chuck in this Program. Chuck was not only a “Charter Member” but was also the longest sitting member of the NRAA Board of Directors.
Chuck was an officer from the very first organizational meeting until his untimely passing in 2006.
Rest in peace Chuck. We all miss you dearly.
In Loving Memory of John Long Sr.
August 29, 2007
John Long Sr. was with us from the start. He was the man that stood in the shadows, never looking for credit, just doing what it took to help make things happen.
It was Johns vision of rearing walleye and his donation of the land off Balmer Road where the ponds were built and the area later developed into a Family Recreational haven. Rest in peace John. You’re gone but never forgotten.
passing of John Long Sr. . . . .There is so much that could be said about our good friend John but so little space to say it. John Long Sr. passed away on August 29, 2007. He was only 74 years young. As most everyone knows, John is the reason we have walleye rearing ponds and a wonderful Wilderness Preserve. It was John’s forward thinking that brought many of these concepts to light. It was John’s wonderful gift of land for our use that made all this come true. John Long Sr. was a man who knew how to make things happen. He could reach out and touch the right people when needed. He knew how to “shake the bushes” and make things occur when he had to. Yet you seldom would see his name in print anywhere. You would seldom see him standing in the forefront of an event ready to accept any accolades. But for the NRAA, John was always there waiting in the shadows to help when called upon. He was never one to boast about what he had done or could do, unless it was about fishing, hunting or his family. John Long Sr. had compiled a list of accomplishments during his life that far out reaches that of most. From putting himself through school, to running a successful business. From falling in love with bear hunting to buying his own camp. From being a businessman, outdoorsman, politician, leader, to being a husband, father and grandfather. But we will always remember him for just being the guy who gave us a dream and helped make it come true. He will always be missed and remembered. Rest in peace John.
NRAA and Members Awarded
NRAA and members win awards . . . .1984, 1986, 1988, 1996, 1997, The NRAA was awarded the Leroy Winn Memorial Award from the Niagara County Federation of Sportsmen’s Club. This award is for the outstanding Sportsmen’s Club of the Year.
1986 Charter member Mark Daul is presented the “Conservation Service Citation” from the National Wildlife Federation.
1987 NRAA wins the National Wildlife Federations “Presidents Award” for outstanding conservation work and community service.
1987 NRAA is given the “Oliver Jones Award” for the outstanding Sportsman’s Club of the year. Presented by the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs.
1987 Charter member Mike George wins the “Leroy Winn Award” as outstanding sportsman of the year. Presented by the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs.
1988 Joe Ognibene wins the “Presidents Award” for outstanding conservation work and community service.
1993 Charter member Joe Ognibene receives the “Excellence of Craft Award” from the New York State Outdoor Writers Association.
1999 Bill Hilts Sr. in inducted into the New York State Outdoorsman Hall of Fame.
1999 NRAA wins the “Milford Pinky Robinson Memorial Award.”
2000 Doug Stein is awarded the “Oliver Jones Memorial Award.”
2000 Ron Hutcheson wins the “Milford Pinky Robinson Memorial Award.”
2001 NRAA is presented the “Outstanding Outdoor Organization of the Year Award” from the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs.
2000, 2001, NRAA wins the “Leroy Winn Memorial Award” for outstanding Sportsmen’s / Conservation Club of the year from the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs.
2001 Paul Jackson is given the “Milford Pinky Robinson Memorial Award’ for dedication and devotion to the local fisheries scene. Award was presented by the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs.
2002 Linda Jackson wins the “Milford Pinky Robinson Memorial Award.”
2003 Mark Daul is presented the “Presidents Award” from the Niagara County Federation.
2003 Bill Hilts Sr. is honored with the Victor Fitchlee Life Time Achievement Award.
2004 Capt. Frank Campbell is awarded the “Milford Pinky Robinson Memorial Award.
2005 Don Bronson is presented with the Steve Fountain / Archie Lowery Memorial Award in Hunter Safety, bow.
2006 Connie Adams receives the Oliver Jones Memorial Award for Sportsperson of the year.
2006 Dale Shank gets the James Reed / Donald Myer Memorial Award in Hunter Safety, gun.
2006 Don Bronson is honored with the Victor Fitchlee Life Time Achievement Award.
2007 Charter member John Long Sr. is presented with the “Conservationist of the Year Award” by the New York State Conservation Council.
2007 Member Bill Hilts Jr. is inducted into the New York State Outdoorsman Hall of Fame. The hall is currently housed at the Gander Mountain store in Utica, NY.
In the late fall of 2005 the NRAA is saddened by the lose of Charter Captain Steve White. While operating a charter in the Devil’s Hole area of the lower Niagara River, Steve’s boat went down. Passenger Lauren Barsamian of New York City also was lost. But do to the quick actions of Charter Captain Joe Marra Jr., John Rice of New Jersey, the other passenger on Capt. Whites vessel was saved.
A special award to Mark Daul . . . .
December of 2003 Charter member Mark Daul was presented two special awards by the NRAA. They were as follows;
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD
“THE NIAGARA RIVER ANGLERS ASSOCIATION ON BEHALF OF ALL ITS MEMBERS, DIRECTORS AND OFFICERS, WOULD LIKE TO THANK YO FOR YOUR OUTSTANDING SERVICE OVER THE PAST TWENTY-TWO YEARS. YOUR COMMITMENT AND DEDICATION TO EXCELLANCE HAS CONTRIBUTED TO OUR OVERALL GROWTH IN MEMBERSHIP AND CLUB STANDING IN THE CONSERVATION COMMUNITY. THE NIAGARA RIVER ANGLERS ASSOCIATION IS STRONG TODAY THANKS TO ALL OF YOUR DILIGENT EFFORTS”
DECEMBER 15, 2003
The second award was for Mark and his wife Delma. They were presented with the first, in the Niagara River Anglers Association history , “LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP”.
NRAA establishes a “Presidents Award”. . . .
In 1983 the current NRAA President and Board of Directors felt it necessary to find a way to recognize some of its outstanding members and/or outside contributors. With this in mind the NRAA Presidents Award was created. The following are a few of its past honorees.
- 1983 Stan Stopa
- 1984 Toby Rotella
- 1985 John Long Sr.
- 1986 Tom Fleckenstien
- 1987 Joe Ognibene
- 1991 Wayne Peters
- 1999 Ron Hutcheson
- 2002 Dave Bird
- 2003 Ken Jackson
- 2004 Hoppie Leggett
- 2005 John Eddy
- 2006 Don Supon
December 1991 a new Niagara River Walleye record is set. A Tonawanda, NY fisherman, Robert Lownie caught a 14 lb 12 oz walleye while fishing near Lewiston. He was fishing with his cousin Dave Bolton.
NRAA Pen Project is started . . . .
There is no question that Western New York and especially our area with the lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario is now well known as one of the finest Trout and Salmon fisheries that can be found. Well not all of this great fishing was created by nature. The NRAA has played a major part in its creation. With years of experience at rearing walleye, then President Doug Stein made a bold move and the NRAA was right there with him. Why not rear trout and salmon. With this in mind, a “Pen Project” was started. Designing pens and finding just the right location was put in the works. As with most projects the NRAA take on, it didn’t take long and most everything was in place and ready to go.
Williams Marina at Youngstown turned out to be an ideal site for the rearing project. Elizabeth Williams and John Cummings opened covered slips for NRAA volunteer members to place their pens. On April 22, 1999 75,000 two inch salmon arrived and were unloaded into the pens. This was done with a “bucket brigade” of volunteers. The fish were fed five (5) times a day by some 30 volunteers. So for 25 days the fish were fed and watched over until their release date on May 16th. During this time only 263 fish died. The young salmon grew about a third in body size and weight during the 25 days. They arrived at 190 fish per pound and grew to 110 per pound when released.
Smolting, the fish equivalent of puberty, is an important stage in the development of salmon. During the smolting phase, young salmon take on their adult coloration features. What is more important to fisheries management and sport fishing, it is during this phase that salmon imprint to their immediate water body. Then, three or four years later, they will return to the body of water, stream, creek or river to complete their reproduction cycle.
At that time the NRAA project was to be conducted for another four years. DEC officials want to see if pen reared stock, in fact, imprint to their released site more consistently than fish raised at the Caledonia or Salmon River Hatcheries and immediately released at sites along the Lake Ontario shoreline and in the Lower Niagara River. There is no question that once again the NRAA was a leader in the area of pen rearing.
While we were not the first to do it, we like to think we did it the best. So when your out fishing, or a friend tells you about the nice fish they have caught, let them know that your NRAA was a part of their enjoyment. The pen project is still going today. While we have moved down river a little ways to Constitution Park, we are still in business. There is now time set as of yet by the DEC to stop the projects. We put the pens together in April (river conditions and water temp’s permitting), get the fish, feed them 6 times daily and let them go when they reach the right weight. If you’ve never been a part of this project, watch the News & Views, check out the web site and come out and help. It is really a sight to see. Bring the kids and let them feed the fish and be a part of history and their own fishing future.
Youth club is formed in 1997 . . . .
With a handful of volunteers, a few ideas and a desire to help teach our youth, the NRAA Youth Club was formed in the spring of 1997.
It was to provide an opportunity for children of NRAA members to gain first-hand knowledge of fishing, nature and conservation related topics. They would meet regularly during the summer months and then evaluate meetings during the fall, winter and spring.
Most of their activities would take place at our Wilderness Preserve & Walleye Ponds site on Balmer road. Their first meeting took place on May 24th. This meeting was set up to plant a “KidzGarden.” They started out by planting some gourds, pumpkins, along with some butterfly attracting plants.
June, July and August activities would include such things as basic fishing techniques. Then lure and advanced fishing methods, nature crafts, hikes to identify different types of birds, reptiles and amphibians along with animal signs as a start. There was canoeing with safe boating techniques. They would tour the Niagara Falls Aquarium and meet with NYS Department of Environmental Conservation officers. The first summer would be capped off with a family overnight campout at the Preserve.
The Youth Club went on for a few years until the lack of youngsters became cause for its abandonment. We hope it was a wonderful and knowledge gaining experience.
October 1 1993 Chautauqua Lake regulations on Crappie’s change to a new size limit of nine inches.
The NRAA logo then and today . . . .
The logo of the NRAA has been around since 1983. It was the design and art work of Ann Young. She was the wife of Ron Young. It was decided upon even before the first membership organizational meeting was held. It was put onto the cover of the News & Views at the end of 1983.
The lose of another member . . . .
It might be interesting to note that John Ranney had went on as Treasurer in 1995 and served for many years. He also did the membership secretary duties. John was perhaps best remembered for just doing what ever needed to be done. Never questioning why, but doing it and doing it well. He was the type of man that would help anyone at any time. We lost John on July 5th 2002. May you rest in peace John.
We get our 501(c)3 status . . . .
In 2006, all the hard work from then Director John Hess paid off. We finally became classified by the Federal and State Government as a tax exempt organization. This opened up the door to new opportunities of funds. We could now get grants, have companies and corporations along with individuals, of course, make tax deductible donations to the NRAA.
In late march 2001, the U.S. Coast guard, Niagara Station in Youngstown, NY suffered a major setback. On routine duties, one of their boats capsized at the mouth of the lower Niagara River. Two Guardsmen lost their lives.
A few closing thoughts . . . .
As each of us reflect back on the years we have been a part of the NRAA, many people and projects have come and gone. Some of us have been around for all 25 years and others for just some part of it. We have seen new projects go from just an idea to full reality. While others may not have worked out to our desires, they were still undertakings that were attempted.
And let us not forget all those members who are no longer with us. Let us hope that they are sitting on a smooth, clear lake in “Heaven” fishing out of that one ideal boat that we all have wanted to have. They may be gone now, but they will never be forgotten.
Each year due to hard work from many members and officers, we are able to keep our membership strong. Our numbers stay up and over 600 each year and at the close of 2007, we were in the best financial state that we have ever been. These things don’t happen by luck, just hard work from dedicated people.
I hope you have enjoyed this walk down memory lane . . . .I have now read all most every News & Views since 1983. What a learning experience for me. The NRAA has a rich and full 25 years of history. Each and every member that has ever been a part of it can be proud. Let’s not let the next 25 years go uneventful. Come out, bring a friend and be a part of making history, not just reading about it. You won’t be sorry you did. Remember to support our advertisers.
Thank you all for the honor of putting this Program Book together.