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A frost or the first snowflake serves as a harbinger of winter’s arrival, but the Buffalo Nordic Ski Club’s annual open house fully confirms the season of skiing enjoyment, along with nice sights seen and some healthy cold-weather exercise.

The open house goes from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 11 in the Wick Center of Daemen College at 4380 Main St. in Amherst. No reservations are needed to get in on waxing clinics, seeing a cross country basics video, viewing displays of gear and garb available at area shops specializing in ski equipment, plus many more exhibits and an opportunity to chat with experienced ski club members.

While at the open house, visitors can sign up for a membership, which includes free on-course lessons, weekly ski-tour gatherings, monthly meetings and some weekend trips to peak skiing sites in and near Western New York.

Yellow perch prove quite popular

Survey data has just been released on boat fishing efforts for New York waters of Lake Erie from May to October and yellow perch top all species for an increased amount of angler effort and for harvest numbers.

Perch fishing time went from 58,620 hours in 2012 to 65,750 hours in 2013, a 21 percent increase. The total harvest rose about four percent this year. Even more impressive is the average size of ringbacks anglers bring in for filleting. The mean length of perch anglers kept this year was 10.9 inches.

Since surveys began in 1988, perch lengths averaged well above 10 inches, with a peak of 11.5 inches set in 1992 and an all-time low of 9.1 inches in 1998. Erie perch-fishing regulars recall that 1992 was the beginning of a lull in yellow perch catch numbers and 1998 saw few serious anchored boaters working popular perch grounds.

Average sizes of walleye and smallmouth bass measure well above readings for most good ‘eye catching and smallie lakes. Walleye mean lengths for fish kept was 23.9 inches; smallmouth bass lengths were 16.4 inches. Both species measured above series averages for length. Deep-water fishermen kept just over half the rainbow trout they caught in 2013.

Competition for ice rods

Northeast Ice Fishing is holding a Custom Rod Building Challenge for “Artisans of the short rod” cottage industry.

Judging begins with entries shown at the Ice Fishing & Winter Sports Expo in St. Paul on Dec. 6-8. Proceeds from this event go to Recycled Fish, a national group promoting improved water quality and fishing opportunities.

Any rod maker can enter a custom model designed for use while ice fishing. For details, check with Nathan Krusko at (518) 955-0030 or go to northeasticefishing.com.

Ladies shoot open at North Forest

The popular Ladies Shoot ‘N Hoot Day held at North Forest Rod & Gun Club will expand its participation format for the December gathering.

The event at 6257 Old Niagara Rd. in Lockport starts at 1:30 p.m. on a Saturday, teaching female shooters safe gun handling and some instruction before enjoying trap, skeet and five-stand games shooting on the club’s well-designed ranges. But during the Dec. 14 Shoot ‘N Hoot ladies can bring a buddy (husband, girlfriend, or boyfriend) for a holiday version of the ladies’ program.

Some equipment is supplied; shooters can bring their own 12- or 20-gauge shotgun. Shells for ladies are provided; male participants should bring along two to three boxes of trap or skeet loads that day.

All are asked to bring a dish for the holiday party; a fun raffle follows the dinner.

Registration and payment are due Dec. 7. For details, call Coordinator Colleen Gaskill (628-9023) or email: Cghummingbird7@gmail.com.

email: odrswill@gmail.com