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The Lower Great Lakes: Outdoor Wonderland and a Living Treasure
by Randy Oppenheimer, President
I often am waist-deep in cold water. In this part of the World that tells you little about where I might be. And that is one of the wonders of living in Western New York. The fishers among you know what I mean. There are plenty of places one can stand waist deep in cold water, on dates throughout the year.

We have all seen photographs of our ilk in the waters of Alaska, and in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, and other magnificent places. We have seen the movies, not the least of which is the often loved and as often maligned A River Runs Through It. Who among us is not captivated by the breathtaking vistas, the graceful casting and the telltale of the rising fish?

Does it differ for you on the first trips of spring in Western New York? Not a bit! The trout fight no better in the Snake, the Madison or the Yellowstone. Oh they look different all right, and different is often what we need to refresh our souls. But my 5-weight bends the same there and here, and for the bass and the steelhead, my arms get sore.

Yes, I have found myself staring at the Tetons for who knows how long, rather than at the end of my line. And on the Cattaraugus I have done the same when the eagles are soaring, and on the Oatka when the warblers migrate through.

Fly fishing can be many things, and sometimes it is very peaceful. Sometimes when I am on the stream, waist high in 50 degree water, all I hear is the water. At those times, there is just me and the water; there is nothing else in the world. On the river, all else can fade away: the stress, the deadlines, the people, the noise. When I am fishing I sometimes am able to live in the moment, something never possible in the rush of the rest of my life. How much is that worth, yet how little do I pay to get it?

We have a unique ecosystem in Western New York. In it there are countless ways to connect to nature. You know that, and you appreciate it. Maybe you like to hike. Maybe you have a boat. Some of you fish, trap or hunt. Others stroll. The important thing is that you are outside, and that you ask, in your own way, “How is it that I am blessed to enjoy this divine place?” Our goal is to preserve and protect what we all love, and to help others appreciate the values we share.