WCO Report for Erie and Crawford County 02/04/2003: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: February 04, 2003

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Posted by DWCO Randy Leighton on February 04, 2003 at 21:12:56:



Temperatures reaching the forties over the past few days have caused a rapid meldown of the tributaries. As of this writing Elk, Crooked, and Walnut Creeks are high and raging. The Walnut Creek Access Basin has swelled and broken up all the ice. With the amount of snow we had on the ground the runoff should have the tribs swelled and running hard for several days. Cold temperatures are coming again, however we may have some open water fishing as the tribs subside. Temperatures were warm enough to break up much of the ice on the lake. Open water has been observed along the lake shore and some areas along the shore around Presque Isle Bay. Ice on Presque Isle Bay should be treated as unstable for a few days anglers are advise to use caution and check thickness. Below freezing temperatures should bring solid conditions back quickly. Several nice catches of perch and panfish were observed this past weekend with the hottest area off the first boat launche on Presque Isle in 8 to 9 feet of water. Minnows were the ticket. A number of chrome steelhead were caught off of the Chestnut street launch in the trench running East to West through the Bay. (Approximately 25' of water)

Last chance to sign up:
Local PFBC officers will be conducting a safe boating class on February 11th and 12th from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM at the Stull Interpretive Center on Presque Isle. This is a must for the new boater with lots of valuable information, interesting video presentations, and all the latest updates on boating regulations and safety. Its also an excellent refresher for those in need. Successful completion of the course will qualify the individual for a Pennsylvania Safe Boating Certificate, a requirement for all personal watercraft operators. The Pennsylvania Safe Boating Certificate will also be required for anyone born after 1981 to operate a motorized vessel greater than 25 HP. (new for this year) This popular class fills up quickly and early registration is suggested. Pre registration is required. All materials are provided at no charge. To register email DWCO Randy Leighton at rglerie@aol.com or WCO Tom Edwards at Pafishcop13@yahoo.com or if necessary phone Officer Edwards at 814-864-6566

NORTHWEST REGION OFFICE / Assistant Region Manager Robert Nestor

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will begin stocking the Lake Erie Tributaries and Presque Isle Bay with their 2003 plantings of Steelhead and Coho Salmon. The current inventory of smolts are as follows:

Fairview Steelhead - 184,816 Coho - 69,797
Tionesta Steelhead - 530,000
Total 714,816 69,797

The 2003 anticipated stockings of Steelhead and Coho Salmon by waterways:

Coho Salmon 2002 # stocked 2003 Allocation % Fish Cultural Station

Godfrey Run 18,985
Trout Run 66,304
Elk Creek 5,000 34,900 50 Fair
Walnut Creek 5,000 34,987 50 Fair
Twenty Mile 5,000
Total Coho 100,289 69,797

Elk Creek 249,987 172,750 27 Tion
Four Mile 10,000 9,597 1.5 Fair
Godfrey Run 59,531 25,593 4 Fair
Presque Isle 28,440 25,593 4 Tion
Orchard Beach 25,000 6,398 1 Tion
Peck Run 5,000 6,398 1 Tion

Seven Mile 14,997 12,796 2 Tion
Trout Run 180,000 47,986 7.5 Fair
Twelve Mile 25,000 25,593 4 Tion
Twenty Mile 20,000 102,371*** 16 Fair
Walnut Creek 249,984 134,361 21 Tion
Crooked Creek 45,482 38,389 6 Tion
Raccoon Creek 41,571 31,991 5 Tion
Conneaut Creek 74,993 75,000 ** Fixed Tion
Total Steelhead 1,029,985 714,816

*An additional 100,000 spring steelhead fingerlings to 3CU and 50,000 fall steelhead eggs to the SONS
** Amount set with mutual stocking agreement with Ohio
*** Increase reflects acquisition of private property North of Route 5 by NE Twp.

As you have probably noticed the 2003 numbers are less than those stocked in 2002. There are a number of reasons for the loss, but we must remember that hatchery production is not always a certainty and exact numbers cannot be guaranteed. The following is a synopsis from the Bureau of Fisheries. The production cycle for the 2003 year class started at a disadvantage. The required number of steelhead eggs are split evenly between the fall and spring run adults. Steelhead eggs from both fall and spring runs exhibited low viability and poor quality. At the end of the run we had not attained our egg objective (which annual planning includes a buffer against disease loss). As the drought continued in 2002, low flows and high water temperatures (74 F) created perfect conditions for pathogens to infect stressed fish. Both stations struggled with sequential and sometimes multiple infections of ichthyophthirius, gill disease, furunculosis, coldwater disease and columnaris. At both stations oxygen injection helped prevent a greater loss of fish. Managers were instructed to minimize handling and refrain from taking an inventory until November. No fish were transferred from Tionesta to Linesville for silo grow out. The steelhead and coho to be stocked in 2003 are real survivors. Except for a blind side attack from a 10 lb. Walleye, this year class should survive just about anything.

Once again we would like to remind anglers to take care in handling smolts caught in the tributaries, they are the adult runs of the future. If you are fishing in an area loaded with smolts move to a different section of stream or try using larger tackle, no bait etc.. Tionesta and Fairview will begin the plantings of smolts in March usually tubing them into the stream near bridges or other access points. Normally there is one stocking point per waterway.

Commercial Catch Limits:
The Executive Director of the Fish and Boat Commission has determined that the 2003 total allowable commercial catch of Walleye from the Commonwealth waters of Lake Erie is 8,000 lbs. The total allowable commercial catch of Yellow Perch was also set at 34,000 lbs. These amounts are determined in conjunction with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.

ATVs and Snowmobile usage on Presque Isle Bay:
We have been getting inquiries at the region office on the use of ATV and snowmobiles on the ice of Presque Isle Bay. These vehicles are prohibited on Presque Isle State Park, which extends 500 ft. out into the bay and lake. The remaining portion of Presque Isle Bay is not regulated by any agency prohibiting their use. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission does not consider them boats therefore excluding them from our registration, equipment and operation regulations. Iceboats, however are considered boats and the occupants must have lifejackets (PFDs) onboard. Anyone operating an ATV or snowmobile must have the landowners permission for the site which they are accessing the bay. The Erie-Western PA Port Authority (Chestnut St. Boat Ramp, East Ave. Boat Ramp) does not permit anyone to operate these vehicles on their property to access the bay. Violators are subject to fines from either the Vehicle Code or the Fish & Boat Code.

ATVs and snowmobiles are also prohibited on the other State Park (Pymatuning, Wilhelm), Fish and Boat Commission lakes (Tamarack, Eaton) and Army Corp. Reservoirs (Kinzua, Shenango).

Ice Fishing in some of the other lakes outside of Erie County has been slow. The best results have been on Lake Wilhelm with nice perch off Launch #1 using minnows, panfish just west of Launch #3 using a jigging spoon tipped w/maggots and Tamarack Lake outside of Meadville with walleye, panfish and smaller muskies caught near the fishing pier and off Spring St. ramp.

Erie Outdoor Show:
The PFBC Law Enforcement will be manning a booth for the Erie Outdoor Show Feb 28-Mar. 2. The main theme for this year will be hazards on the water and or officers will be tying this in with small boat/canoe/kayak safety. Small boats/canoes/kayaks account for the majority of boating fatalities in Pennsylvania and across the country. 2003 commission and COPA patches along with other items will be for sale. It's a great opportunity to get your fishing and boating questions answered in person and our officers like the interaction we get at these events.

CENTRAL ERIE COUNTY / WCO Tom Edwards and DWCO Brian Bredley:

The nice cold weather responsible for making this a very good year to get out on the ice for some fishing lasted until approximately today. With rain in the forecast yesterday and today be careful when venturing out on the ice. The thickness of ice on Presque Isle Bay should be enough to keep it safe for the ice angler. Most of the pressure seen has of course been out from the Chestnut St. Launch and the numbers of shanties on the weekends are unbelievable. Some light pressure has been noted on Misery Bay with most anglers catching small numbers of perch and panfish. Although the ice has been very good this year the catches have only been fair by my estimate. I have yet to come across a limit of perch while checking ice fisherpersons but some of those perch that were caught are of nice size. Bait of choice seems to be a jig tipped with a minnie or maggots.

It is that time of year again(or almost) so the following are the scheduled times and meeting places for pre-season stocking for Central Erie County.
Conneauttee Ck, Meet @ F D Walker Building 99 Erie St (old post office) in Edinboro on Wednesday March 12 at 9:15.
Presque Isle State Park Waterworks Ponds Meet @ Niagra Boat Launch .2 miles past Park Office on Thursday, April 10th at 10:00 a.m.
Cascade Ck, Meet @ Exit 39 off I-79 at Mckean on Friday, April 11th at 10:00 a.m.

A new Officer has been named to fill the shoes of WCO Bowser and the lucky candidate is WCO Brook Tolbert who is currently stationed in S. Columbia and S. Luzern counties. Brook will assume this post effective March 1, 2003 but will probably be around during the Erie Sports show on Feb 27,28 and March 1 and 2. Any persons interested in meeting the local WCO's who have yet to make our acquaintance are encouraged to stop in to the booth. As always and more persons are using this method of communication, any questions about anything can be relayed to me via email at pafishcop13@yahoo.com I will try to get a response to you in a timely manner but give me the benefit of the doubt and have patience for a day or two.

As of this last weekend, the tributaries were beginning to open up. Sixteen mile, especially, was open from approximately Route 5 through the mouth. If the warming trend continues to hold, we should have significant amounts of open water by the beginning of the week (02-03-03). Many of the open pools are showing pleasant mixtures of fresh runs with continuing amounts of holdovers. Weather forecasters are calling for a return to 'old man winter' conditions by Wednesday (lows around +/- 10 and highs +/- 17) and continuing at least through the end of the work week. We'll keep you posted.

Youth Scholarships Available (Per request from OCTU):

Every year the Oil Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited (OCTU) offers a chance for a student to attend the Rivers Conservation and Fly Fishing Youth Camp. Only 32 students between the ages of 14 & 17 are accepted each year. The dates for 2003 are June 15 through June 20. Additionally, a student (between the ages of 15 & 18) is also sponsored to attend the Conservation Leadership School (CLS) at Penn State through a scholarship from the Chapter. The dates for the CLS, during 2003, are June 22-28 or July 6-12. Transportation to and from the campus is the responsibility of the student and/or family. At present, OCTU has not received any submissions for this year's schools; therefore, knowing that people from across the region access this post, Valerie Tarkowski (OCTU Vice-President) has requested that this information be passed on to the general public for possible inquiries. Submissions to the OCTU may be made by ANY qualified student; however, that Chapter has made the point referencing students residing in Venango County (the home seat of the OCTU) shall receive preference over those submissions received from outside counties. However, as submissions have not yet been received, all are encouraged to apply regardless of your home county. Submission requirements and/or general questions relating to this educational endeavor may be forwarded via E-mail to either Joe Lehosky (OCTU President) at jplehosky@csonline.net OR Valerie Tarkowski (OCTU Vice-Presidient) at penguin1@stargate.net, under the Subject: YOUTH SCHOLARSHIPS. Furthermore, you may forward inquiries, under the same subject, via the US Postal Service, to Oil Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited at PO Box 366-- Franklin, PA 16323. Deadlines, for submission, are fast approaching; so, if interested, don't delay. OCTU also refers you to your local Chapter of Trout Unlimited for any additional openings which may be had through that particular organization. 2002

Pennsylvania Boating Accident Analysis:
(as compiled & composed by Dan Martin, Boating Safety Education Manager)
The total number of reported recreational boating accidents in Pennsylvania increased slightly in 2002. During that period, boaters and officers reported a comprised total of 106 recreational boating accidents, an increase of 16 accidents (18 percent) over 2001. Pennsylvania boaters reported 64 injuries requiring medical treatment, two fewer than 2001; the least since 1993. Property damage to vessels totaling $144, 687.00 was reported, a 19 percent decrease from 2001. Of the 106 reported accidents, the categories of 'collisions' led the way, with 41 total. Of those, 31 were collisions between vessels, 8 were collisions with fixed objects and two were collisions with floating objects. The categories of 'capsizing' and 'fallen skier' were the next highest, with reported totals of 18 and 13, respectively. Personal Watercraft (PWC) were invloved in 18 accidents in 2002, one more than in the previous year. Thirteen of the acidents involving PWC's were collisions, accounting for 32 percent of the total number of collisions for all boats. A total of 10 of the 64 reported injuries happened to operators or passengers onboard PWC's. There were no fatalities relating to PWC accidents (fortunately, this statistic has held for the last ten years). Nine fatal recreational boating accidents resulted in nine fatalities. The nine fatalities in 2002 are 2.6 fewer than the average for the last ten years (11.4), and 5.9 fewer than averaged in the last twenty years (14.9). The average age for the victims in 2002 was 43; in 2001 it was 42. The month of July accounted for three fatalities; June and August each had two. Not surprisingly, the days of Saturday and Sunday tied with the most fatalities; each had three

PFBC Boat Registrations (top ten counties--2002)
In total there were 357,729 watercraft registered within the Commonwealth during 2002. Just under 15% of the Commonwealth's 67 counties (10) comprise 35% (126,126) of the total registered watercraft. They are as follows:(1) Allegheny County... 28,476 (2) Bucks County... 16,444(3) York County... 13,579(4) Lancaster County... 13,097(5) Luzerne County... 12,572(6) Montgomery County... 12,551(7) Erie County... 11,744(8) Westmoreland County... 11,401(9) Lehigh County... 9,693(10) Dauphin County... 9,120

Union City Dam Tailrace, Fish Survey Results:
(as compiled from correspondence forwarded by Robert Hoskin, USACE)

On five separate occasions, ranging from June 1988 through July 2002, biologists, in assistance from ranger staff and volunteers, sampled the Union City Dam Tailrace, in that area from the basin pool, including the embayment along the toe of the dam, through the riffle section at the spillway outlet. Primary means of survey was through boat electrofishing. Overall, a total of 2,364 fish weighing 959 pounds were collected during the surveys. Eighteen of the species collected, including carp, are minnow species. In addition, eight darter species have been collected. Carp/suckers combined (788) dominated the fishery with 33.3% of the total number and 76% of the total weight. There was a combined total of 742 sport fish (panfish and game fish combined) equaling 31.4% of the total number and 20.6% of the total weight. Of sport fish, panfish had the highest combined numerical total with 581 fish, or 24.6% of this categories overall number and 9.5% of its total weight. Game fish, though far less numerically, provided 161 fish; or 6.8% of this categories overall number and 11.0% of its total weight. Minnows (609 total) and darters (203 total) numerically totaled 25.8% and 8.6% of the overall total, respectively. Other fish collected included eight bowfin and nine stonecat (+/- 2% of total weight).Where their numbers and size are desirable to anglers, the quality of the resident sport fishery lies primarily with the bluegill, brown bullhead, northern pike, large/small mouth bass, and carp. Of those available sport fish collected, the largest sampled by category were: northern pike at 29+ inches, largemouth bass at 14 inches, smallmouth bass at 14+ inches, and carp at 32+ inches.


Pymatuning Lake:
The lake was hit hard this weekend with the great weather and thick ice. Fishermen and shed could be seen up and down the lake as far as the eye could see, unfortunately while I was out I was unable to witness any flags going up. I spent the weekend fishing the South end by the pines were we put the gravel beds in demonstrating ice fishing for the winter festival and was not able to get a single nibble. I was not alone though because no one else was hauling anything in either. Where we were there was about 8" of good black ice and several inches of slush on top. I have gotten reports from guys that said they fished out from Tuttle and only had about 4" though. The fishermen I talked to said they had been picking up a few Walleye there during the week but nothing over the weekend. Crappies and a few perch have been taken up at the North end as well but not in great numbers.

Conneaut Lake:
I haven't seen anyone on the lake this week so I am not sure how the fishing is. I do know that it is frozen over completely but I am not sure how thick the ice is yet.

Crystal Lake:
This lake continues to be a Bluegill and bass heaven and guys are taking advantage of it. Today was the first day in a long time that I have not seen fishermen out there but that could be do to all the warm weather yesterday and all the rain we got last night. Don't worry though as I am typing this the temperature has dropped below freezing and the high for the rest of the week is only supposed to be in the 20's.

I have received numerous reports from fishermen that the panfish they are catching are full of worms in the meat and are inedible. I have not seen any of these though so I have no idea yet what they are. If someone happens to run across this and can get the fish to me or to our hatchery at Linesville so we can find out about it, it would be greatly appreciated. All the reports I have received have been about Crystal Lake and Pymatuning Lake only. Thanks for your help in this so we can get the word out to the other fishermen as to what exactly is causing it.

Safe Boating Class:
A safe boating class will be sponsored by the Jamestown Lions and the Fish and Boat Commission at the Jamestown fire hall behind the high school in Jamestown. This course is now required by law for anyone under 21 to operate a motorboat in excess of 25 horsepower. The course will be held March 15th from 8 am to 4 PM with a lunch provided by the Jamestown fire departments ladies auxiliary. Their is a $10.00 processing fee to be mailed in with your completed test and a $3.00 donation for lunch. Preregistration is required so we can determine the meal size. You can either E-mail me and let me know or stop in West Bay Boat sales (on rt. 322 just west of Jamestown) and sign up in person. Now is the time to take this course before the boating season starts.

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