###Photo Caption: A WHALE OF A FISH! - Brian Franklin of Newville, PA, shows off his 26 ½ pound salmon caught on Lake Ontario with Captain Greg Gehrig of Top Gun Charters in Oswego. This year marks the best fishing many anglers have seen in more than two decades, in part due to the recent mild winter in Oswego County. Photo courtesy of Capt. Gehrig.
Oswego, N.Y. - The Oswego County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs (OCFSC) recently held its annual banquet to honor several recipients for their hard work and support. Lt. Jim Reitmeier of the NYS DEC won the Law Enforcement Award and George Gibbs won the Conservationist of the Year Award. The Friend of the Federation Award went to Rick McDermott, while the Educator of the Year Award went to Chris Nutter. The Salmon River Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation took home the Club of the Year Award and Grass Roots News of the New York State Conservation Council earned the Media Award. "A major ‘thanks' goes out to the clubs - and especially the membership of those clubs - that belong to the Oswego County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs," said OCFSC President Chuck Parker. "Without their support and understanding, the accomplishments of the Federation would not be possible." Oswego County Legislature Chairman Fred Beardsley, District 9, added, "Oswego County is abundant in natural resources. Not many areas in the Northeast can offer the quality and diversity of fishing and hunting found here. This, together with year-round fishing opportunities and more than 40,000 acres of public land and wildlife management areas, makes Oswego County an outstanding destination for sportsmen." Each year, the Oswego County Legislature provides support to the OCFSC which is matched dollar for dollar by the federation. The funding is directed toward youth and conservation programs. These projects include the Oswego County Envirothon with the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District; Plant-A-Tree Program with the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County 4-H Club; Youth Shooting Program with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County 4-H Club; Oswego County Fair; Conservation Field Days; and various youth fishing derbies and pheasant hunts. The group also helps with NYS DEC Youth Camp scholarships, and the start-up of the National Archery in Schools Program in the A.P.W., Central Square, Mexico and Sandy Creek school districts. In addition, the OCFSC makes an annual donation to the Special Times for Special People Program and the Camp Hollis Youth Program. The OCFSC is a not-for-profit organization and its primary mission is to promote hunting, fishing, trapping and sound conservation practices among its membership, the public and, most importantly, the youth of Oswego County. Another important reason for its existence is to advocate for sportsman's clubs and all sportsmen. The OCFSC monitors and informs its members on legislative issues that affect their interests and activities and provides a voice for their perspective. "As part of an overall tourism campaign, sport-fishing can be the engine that drives local economies," said Dave Turner, director of the Oswego County Community Development, Tourism and Planning Department. "It spurs job growth and business opportunities, and improves the quality of life for people in the region." This promises to be another banner year for fishing in Oswego County. Local guides and charter captains are reporting successful trips with unprecedented catches for this time of the year. The warm weather in March increased water temperatures, creating an ideal feeding environment for fish. "This is the best fishing I've seen in 25 years along the eastern shore of Lake Ontario," said Captain Greg Gehrig, of Top Gun Charters. "Every species of fish out there is incredible. Last week, we brought in a salmon weighing in at 26 ½ pounds. Normally, we don't see fish this size until June or July. Everyone is just having a fantastic time!" For year-round up-to-date fishing conditions and visitor information in Oswego County, call 1-800-248-4FUN (4386) or visit http://www.visitoswegocounty.com/. For more information about the OCFSC, visit http://www.oswegocountyfederation.com/.