WCO Report for Erie and Western Crawford County 01/01/03: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: January 01, 2003

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Posted by DWCO Randy Leighton on January 01, 2003 at 14:28:41:


Best Wishes:
I suggested John take the holiday off and allow me to take care of this week's reports. With the turn of a new year, it has been made official that WCO John Bowser will be officially retiring on January 17th. It is difficult to begin to describe the man in only a few words, but suffice it to say he will be deeply missed by friends and fellow officers. John, in his own unorthodox and occasionally outspoken style (he wouldn't have it any other way), has been a highly respected officer, well recognized for his outstanding work and endless contributions to the Erie fishing community and the PFBC. His face and name are synonymous with our world class fishing area and he is recognized all across the Commonwealth for his tireless efforts. Not only has he been an exemplary officer, but his commitment to supporting and building the fishing and boating community in the area through out his career have gone far beyond the normal course of duty. His efforts and his colorful career will be the subject of many stories for years to come. John will be the guest speaker at the next Pennsylvania Steelhead Association meeting on January 8th at 7:00 PM at the Elk Creek Inn, 6886 Sterritania Road in Fairview. John will be discussing his interesting career (the uncensored version as he likes to call it) and friends and co workers are encouraged to attend to wish him well. I believe I can personally guarantee an entertaining evening. On behalf of his fellow officers and friends and especially his Deputies, DWCO McDowell, DWCO Sholtz, DWCO Clement, DWCO English and myself from District 1014, we wish him many happy and healthy years of retirement for a job well done. We salute you, your career and your friendship to the fishing and boating community.

Randy G. Leighton
Deputy Waterways Conservation Officer
Western Erie County

As of this writing we have had significant rainfall and warmer temperatures melting all remaining snow and putting the tribs at extremely high and muddy conditions. Caution is advised to those anglers attempting to fish these conditions as changing bottom conditions and fast moving water can be a dangerous combination. Any fishing in these conditions is best done from shore. This heavy precipititation will help the low clear conditions that we have had over the last few weeks. As levels fall, the access areas at Walnut and Elk will be worth a try with the possibility of fresh fish. Fishing has been excellent at lower Elk just south of the boat launch with blood dots, sucker spawn and most egg patterns nailing them. Fish have been scattered in the upper stretches of the tribs but fishing still remains good. Crooked creek has been producing and should remain so as current water levels subside.

Anglers are beginning to target Burbot along the North Pier. Most Burbot are accidentally hooked by unsuspecting Perch anglers using minnows and perch rigs. Anglers specifically targeting Burbot will typically use the largest shiners they can get, often using two on one hook and fish them on the bottom. Burbot are a fresh water cod that enjoy the coldest depths of Great Lakes. As water temperatures drop, Burbot will move into shallower water and can often be caught from the North and South piers. Burbot has a mild taste and can be enjoyed fried, baked, broiled or as Officer Bowser prefers, fixed as a "mock lobster" and served up with drawn butter.

Steelhead and Coho are Easy to Smoke:
We have published the following around the holiday season each year and by popular demand, here it is again in its entirety..... Even the poorest of cooks can produce pretty darn good smoked fish. Don't be afraid to experiment with spices to give your treat the personal touch....have fun!! Whether it's salmon, Steelhead or trout, this 'smoking' brine recipe and flavor tips work well and can be easily modified to suit individual tastes. Fillet the fish as usual. Then cut into 2 or 3 inch chunks. If you want to smoke the fish in larger portions be sure to increase your brining time. Make sure to cut off the belly fat. The tail section should be 4 to 5 inches in length.
Basic Brine
For every one quart of water dissolve:
1 Cup of White Sugar
1/2 Cup of non-iodized Salt
1 Cup of Brown Sugar If you want a smokey bolder taste add:1 T of Liquid Smoke
1 T of Worcestershire Sauce
Soak the fish skin side up in a non metallic bowl with a tight fitting lid in the refrigerator overnight. Shake the container every few hours if possible.
Gourmet Herb Brine
This must be added to the basic brine prior to curing overnight.
To the basic brine above add:
1/2 Cup finely diced Onion or 1/4 of Dried Minced Onion
2 T of Coarse ground Black Pepper
3 T of Dried Parsley
1 T of Dried Oregano
1 Bay Leave
2 T of Minced Garlic or 1 T of Garlic Juice
3 T of dried Cilantro
Maple Flavored Brine
This must be added to the basic brine prior to curing overnight.To the basic brine above add:
1 ounce of Maple Flavoring or 1 Cup of Maple Syrup
1 Cinnamon Stick Cooking
Plug in your smoker and let it preheat. (a charcoal or cold smoker will work fine too) Pull the fish from the brine solution and rinse under cold water. If you used the Herb Recipe above do not rinse the fish. You may want to roll the fish over and pull it from the Herb mixture meat side up which will allow all the wonderful spices to stick to the meat. Place the chunks of fish on racks that are on paper towels. Dab off any excess moisture and allow the fish to air dry for 45 minutes to an hour. If you are using a wet smoke, save the brine for the moisture pan and fill to 1/2 to 3/4 capacity and place in the smoker while it preheats. If your using the plain or Herb brine, try using Alder chunks and chips for the flavor. If you used the Maple brine or used any other sweet brine, use Hickory! You may want to try and sprinkle some Brown Sugar on the meat while it's drying. It will give the fish a Teriyaki flavor when it comes out of the smoker. Smoke for 1-1/2 to 3 hours. Add chips or chunks at the beginning and at the 1 hour time frame. Check often and when the fish flakes, it's done! Enjoy! .... rgl

Recreational Boating and Fishing: The Bottom Line
Do you know…
…who funds your state’s fish and wildlife agencies?

· Most state governments offer little or no financial support to their fish and wildlife agencies. Instead, agencies rely on revenue provided by anglers, hunters and boaters through the purchase of licenses, and special federal excise taxes on equipment paid by manufacturers and motorboat fuel taxes.

· On average, 83% of state fish and wildlife agencies’ total freshwater fisheries/aquatic resource management budget is supported by a combination of fishing license sales and Sport Fish Restoration funds which are comprised of a special excise tax on fishing equipment and motorboat fuel taxes.

· Sport Fish Restoration funds also support boater education and safety programs around the country.

· Unfortunately, less than 10% of anglers and boaters (and even fewer Americans overall) are aware of their vital contributions and how they pay for resource conservation and promoting safe and responsible use of our nation’s waters.

…how fishing and boating provide economic support to communities across the country?

Recreational boating and fishing provide tremendous economic support to our country. For example:

· There are close to 30,000 businesses that make up the boating industry and provide jobs for 550,000 workers nationwide;

· In 1996, recreational fishing had an economic impact of over $108 billion and supported upwards of 1.2 million jobs;

· The travel and tourism sector directly gains $15 billion annually from recreational fishing; and

· Much of this economic impact occurs in the rural and coastal communities where there are fewer employment options.

More than 50 million recreational anglers and over 72 million recreational boaters make economic contributions like these every year!
For more information, visit www.rbff.org.

Old Ice Fishing Saying:
"Thick and blue, tried and true. Thin and crispy, way too risky."

Ice Fishing Tools of the Trade:

Fishing Regulations - Bring a copy of the Pa. Fishing Regulations summary book with you to consult during your fishing trip so that you are fishing within the state laws.
Toboggan or sled - This is a practical way to haul equipment onto the ice. Some anglers put their gear on top of their shanty, which is transported on runners.
Ice auger - This tool is for drilling your fishing hole in the ice. The hole should be no more than 12 inches across.
Skimmer - This handy tool is needed to scoop out slush or chips from your fishing hole. It looks like a long-handled soup ladle, with a shallow, sieved bowl.
Ice chisel - Called "spuds," ice chisels are used for chopping holes early in the ice fishing season when the ice is thinner. Be sure to secure these thin, but hefty, poles with a line tied to your arm. Many spuds have slipped from angler's grasp and plummeted to the bottom of a lake.
Bait bucket - Holds live bait such as minnows.
Gaff hook - A special-purpose, large and heavy hook to help hoist a slippery fish through a hole in the ice.
Seat - Something to sit on such as a small stool or folding chair, sometimes even a 5-gallon bucket.
Dip net - Used to dip into minnow buckets to retrieve bait and keep hands dry.
Hook disgorger - A tool like a needlenose pliers to help you get the hook out of the fish's mouth.


Erie Forecast:
Wednesday: Cloudy skies with wintry precipitation likely during the afternoon. High around 35F. Winds ENE at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of precip 50%.
Wednesday night: Snow, sleet or freezing rain in the evening turning to all snow late. Low near 25F. Winds NE at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of precip 60%. Snowfall around one inch.
Thursday: Some snow flurries in the morning may become a bit heavier during the afternoon. Temperatures steady in the upper 20s. Winds ENE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of snow 30%.
Thursday (24 hours): Snow showers at times. Highs in the upper 20s and lows in the mid 20s.
Friday (24 hours): Occasional light snow. Highs in the low 30s and lows in the low 20s.
Saturday (24 hours): A few snow showers. Highs in the upper 20s and lows in the low30s


Cliff Notes:

If you're just biding your time, the lengthy version can be read in its entirety below. However, if you want the quick and dirty ... here it is:

Increased temperatures + Heavy snow melt X +/- 48 hours of rain = BAD FISHING!

East County Tributaries:

Yeah right, not with Mother Nature being up to her old tricks again. The only thing that appears to be consistent about the weather is that it has not been consistent … and that’s all I’ve got to say about that!

Seems we had two or three good days (Friday through Sunday); then, all went downhill. Patrols today showed moderate to exceptionally high conditions with, still, increasing water levels, due to the, almost, continual rain we have been receiving since Sunday evening. Heavy concentrations of fog were present from I-90 northward. Weather forecasters are calling for a drop in temperatures starting this afternoon (12-31-02), with a continued chance of snow/flurries through Friday. Hopefully, the colder weather will slow up some of the run-off entering the streams, bringing them down to a more agreeable level in the days to come. However, looking at the "silver lining", the increased water levels may, perhaps, entice higher numbers of steelhead into the tributaries, during this next week.

Ice Conditions:
Not today, folks. Some of the local impoundments contained +/- 2" of the stuff, through this last weekend; however, since Sunday night that has been steadily decreasing. Most are now top covered by a couple inches of water, with exceptionally poor levels of ‘ice’ (more like ‘slush’) underneath.

Warren County Approved Trout Waters (ATW's):
A perusal through the 2003 Summary Booklet yielded that the East Branch of Spring Creek has again been designated as an ‘ATW’. Discussions with the Bureau of Fisheries, earlier this fall, brought hints that this stream may be added again; however, this reading is the first evidence that those discussions appear to have been approved. More information shall follow as it is received.

Warmest Wishes:
Another year is about to pass us by. Warmest wishes to you and yours for a safe, happy and healthy New Year!! Enjoy this evenings festivities; but, remember to play it safe!!


After a brief but much needed Christmas vacation the Western Crawford County Officers are ready to get back to work. Before we do however we have to take a moment and thank all the Sportsmen and Women, Boaters, and fishing enthusiasts who were able to make 2002 another successful and enjoyable year. Without you we would not have a job and it is for you that we work. Out of all the accidents that happened this year here for us none were major and we had NO fatalities. I am including my numbers once again for reference in case you need our assistance in the upcoming year; please feel free to call on us. For myself and my deputies Thanks Again.

(724) 932-5661 Office

(814) 720-1246 Cell

(814) 332-1965 Pager

E-mail: fishcop@alltel.net

Pymatuning Lake and Conneaut Lake- I have not been in the district for the last week and a half to know what is biting right now, however driving back here tonight (12/31/2002) I drove through about 2 hours of rain and there is 4 to 6 inches of rain in my front ditch so I can’t imagine the ice is any good at this time. It is also very warm, probably mid 40’s. I will have more on fishing conditions next week I promise.

The Western Crawford County officers would like to express our deepest sympathy and condolences to Deputy Waterways Conservation Officer John Malec who lost his father just before the Christmas season. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family John.

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