WCO Report for Erie and Crawford County 03/13/02: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: March 13, 2002

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Posted by WCO John Bowser on March 13, 2002 at 05:02:23:

Western Erie County
Randy G. Leighton
Deputy Water Conservation Officer
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

Conditions
Milder temperatures are closing in on a potential spring run. Fish are highly scattered throughout all the tribs with a good sprinkling of fresh fish on their exploratory runs. A true spring run may be just around the corner with some warm days and a little rain. The tribs are at good levels and water clarity is about perfect. This time of year dictates a little more walking to find the fish but once they are located the angling can be spectacular. Good fishing can be found behind the Millcreek Mall off of Interchange Road, at the McKean Hole off of I-79, and the Struechan Flats areas. The access areas at Elk and Walnut creeks are still producing with very good fishing at the "mudhole" area at the mouth of Elk Creek.
Eggsacs in a variety of colors, shiners, and the powerbaits have been popular this past week. Higher water levels and current water clarity will allow heavier test line and slightly larger hooks to land that wallhanger.
The mud line along the lakeshore is still present and can hinder fishing the Trout Run and Godfrey Run beaches, however as it subsides fishing activity should be very productive.

Walnut Access has taken the brunt of the recent windstorms. Trees have been knocked down, power outages, debris washed ashore, and the sandbar near the mouth has become huge. The PFBC will have things in shape for the May 15th opening of the marina. These events do cost extra money though that is not readily available. Funds already siphoned for urgent hatchery improvements will dip lower. Help support the Commission's Programs by contacting your local Legislator to voice your support for the proposed Fishing License Increase .... jb

Eastern-Erie / WCO Mark Kerr
Mother Nature still can't seem to make up her mind; isn't that typical for
here in northwestern PA. Last Saturday, 03-03-02, I located one ice-hut on
the far eastern edge of Eaton Reservoir and, I believe, there were about
three on Lake Pleasant. Additionally, in recent weeks I encountered two
ice fishemen on Lake Leboeuf, in the center of the lake, near the island.
This Saturday, 03-09-02, both Eaton and Leboeuf were void of ice fishermen.
However, as Spring approaches both these lakes hold promise. Eaton has
plentiful numbers of pike, bass and walleye. All three species seem to
favor the weedier areas surrounding much of the reservoir. Walleye seem,
of the three, to be the least plentiful; yet, several of the locals have
good luck during the spring casting plugs. I've checked several bass,
usually later in the spring, that play out in the 4 to 4.5+ # range. As
for pike, I must be honest, the vast majority appear to be in the 19"-21"
range; however, there seems to be more of the beggars' than you can shake a
stick at. How many's that?? I don't know... but I'm guessin' lots!!

Approved Trout Streams Closed; but, 'Select Lakes' and Erie tributaries
still open:
Anglers, don't forget... As of March 01, streams designated as 'Approved
Trout Waters', with those notable Lake Erie tributary exceptions, are
closed to all fishing until 8:00AM on the opening day of trout season
(04-13-02). However, 'Select Trout Stocked Lakes' (i.e.: Lake Pleasant &
Fairview Gravel Pits) are open through March 31st and Lake Erie tributaries
close, this year, as of April 12th; and will remain closed for 32 hours,
until 8:00AM on the trout opener.

Closed Season on Pike, Walleye and Muskellunge:
Pike, Walleye and Muskellunge are closed species as of March 15th;
including Lake Erie, Presque Isle Bay and Peninsular waters. They will
reopen as of May 4th.

Stocking Changes to French Creek-South Branch:
I have been informed that, due to new ownership, the Western New York and
Pennsylvania railroad grade, adjacent to a good stretch of the South
Branch, is, due to liability issues, no longer accessible by motorized
travel; including the stocking truck. As a result, we'll reallocate those
fish scheduled for planting in this area to alternative sites along the
stocking route. Sorry to have to be the one to tell ya.
Furthermore, the management of the Western New York and Pennsylvania
railroad has expressed a strict mandate prohibiting vehicular trespass
along the length of their line. In year's past, our officers have issued
warnings for unauthorized vehicular use on this section of grade;
primarily, that area extending west of Union City then traveling eastward
through Corry. However, at the express request of the landowner, citations
will now be issued to those persons unlawfully traversing the grade on
motorized vehicles of any type, including ATV's and snowmobiles.


"Recreation Use of Land and Water Act":
another reason to keep your land open to public fishing, hunting and
recreation...
Admittedly, we, as officers, cannot eliminate all the problems
associated with allowing public access to your privately held land; namely,
litter and various types of vandalism. However, one concern which can,
hopefully, be helped with is that of "personal liability towards others
using your property". Many times, this issue is cited as one of the
primary reasons behind 'posting'. Yet, as stated in the information paper
contained on the PF&BC website, under 'Legislation', "Pennsylvania is one
of 49 states with some form of legislation protecting landowners who hold
their lands and waters open for free public recreational use.
Pennsylvania's law is set forth in the Act of February 2, 1966, P.L.
(1965), No. 586, as amended, 68 P.S. section/subsection 477-1 et seq."
Furthermore, that work referenced states that the purpose of this act
is "to encourage owners of land to make land and water areas available to
the public for recreational purposes by limiting their liability." In
addition, it states that... "The Act protects public and private landowners
from liability for simple negligence for injuries arising out of the free
recreational use of lands and waters. Under Pennsylvania precedents, the
Act applies to lands that are largely unimproved in character and where no
admission fee is charged." Furthermore, it does go on to state that
landowners can still be held liable for "willful or malicious failure to
guard or warn against a dangerous condition." The courts however, "have
interpreted this to mean that landowners may be liable when they have
actual knowledge of a dangerous condition and the danger IS NOT OBVIOUS to
those entering the land."
A full and detailed account of the legislation, from which the above was
taken, including 'Legal Precedents', 'Impacts of Current State Law',
'Legislative Review' and a thorough bibliography of 'Works Cited', may be
found on the Commission's website at www.fish.state.pa.us.com, under the
'legislative' icon.
Certainly, this piece of legislation is not a cure-all for private property
ills; however, if you are on the fence regarding whether to post or not,
this piece of legislation may, perhaps, help to keep you to the "public
access" side. Thanks!!

Central Erie County Weekly Fishing Report / WCO Tom Edwards
Once again the weather is all over the place and so is the fishing. On our recent 70 degree day there was a fair number of crappie being caught at the #1 pier on the Bayfront. I checked two of the people who were fishing that day and they said that it has now shut off. Perch at Dobbins Landing has been hit and miss in the morning and the South Pier had a limited number of fisherpersons as well as a light catch. Edinboro lake is for the most part now ice free. One person this morning had caught a largemouth but nothing else. Now for the good news. The Steelhead fishing is still fair with all central county streams open and fishable. Four Mile creek has seen an increase in the number of anglers and the take has not been too bad. Just a reminder that in Edinboro this Wednesday at 9:15 at the F.D. Walker building we will be meeting for the first central county pre-season stocking. The stream will be Conneauttee Ck which will receive some rainbow and brown trout.

Western Crawford / WCO Joe Russell
Pymatuning Lake- Crappies were the fish of the day Saturday with a live well of six being checked on a boat out of Wilson launch. The lucky fisherman said he also caught several others but only wanted to keep enough for a meal. One of them that I measured was over 14 inches and well over a pound and the rest was very close. Green and red tube jigs that were very small in size were the bait of choice. Today (Tuesday) several fishermen were having luck with perch in the 5 to 6 inch range at the spillway using jigs (sonarís) in chartreuse and lime green. No real walleye activity as of yet the water temp on Saturday at 10 feet was 39 degrees and the surface temp was 42. Still a little cold but the trap nets just went in the nursery lake so we are getting close to walleye season.
Conneaut Lake- No real activity here yet, only a few shore fishermen and no reported catches yet. Some Crappie activity was reported around the north end however that was short lived after the last cold front came through.





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