WEST ERIE COUNTY, WCO Brook Tolbert / DWCO Randy Leighton|
Steelhead fishing has been good on the West County tribs with fish moving in and out of the tribs. We have not had one big run and may or may not get one. We instead have had a lot of small runs. Lower Elk has been good just south of the launch at the access area up to the falls. Many of the fish in this area are small but fresh out of the lake. Action has been good at the Walnut Project area with a good number of fresh fish. Upper Elk and Folly's End are still holding some fish. Normally we are beginning to reach the end of steelhead season this time of year however, with the below normal temperatures and good water levels, we may have a longer than normal season. Female steelhead have begun to nest and lay eggs in the far upper stretches of the tribs.
Take Care Of The Steelhead Smolts:
Steelhead smolts look like small rainbows and are often mistaken for stocked trout. They are typically smaller then the "stockies" and should be carefully released. They hold the future of Steelhead fishing in our area. If a Steelhead smolt is hooked, reel it in quickly without overstressing the fish. Gently release the smolt as quickly as you can. If the hook is swallowed it is generally best to just cut the line and release the fish for the best chance of survival.
For the most part the general angling public are good people and practice good sportsmanship. Unfortunately there are a small number of people they see it fit to help themselves to other people's belongings. The State Police in Girard have reported break ins and theft at the access areas on Walnut and Elk Creeks. The majority of these problems are the result of unattended vehicles left unlocked or gear left out in the open in the bed of a pick up truck. Anglers are strongly advised to lock their vehicles and to not leave valuables in plain view. Any theft should be reported to the Pennsylvania State Police, any of the Waterways Conservation Officers or Deputies, or the Walnut Creek Access Office.
Opening day April 12th at 8:00 AM:
Area tribs will be crowded next weekend with the opening day of regular trout season and the overlap of steelhead season. Anglers are reminded to obey all no parking areas and remember that many of the our tribs run through private land. Keep our public fishing access open by carrying out everything you bring in. Police your area for litter before you leave. Use public facilities and obey posted land and water areas. Nothing is more admirable then seeing an angler taking a little extra litter home.
This week is a good time to look at your regulation booklet that you received with your license to assure you know the rules in our area. Regulation booklets can obtained from any license issuing agent if you don't have one.
One last reminder that the all Lake Erie Tributaries are closed to fishing from Thursday at midnite till Saturday morning at 8:00 AM
Walnut Creek Office:
The office at the Walnut Creek Access will be open on weekends during the day starting this Friday, April 11th. The office will have licenses, ice, and most all of the PFBC brochures and publications. The office phone number is 814-833-2464 for more information
A LITTLE "FISH SENSE" WILL IMPROVE YOUR ODDS ON OPENING DAY:
PA Fish & Boat Commission
It's finally here. The morning of April 12 has dawned and the 8 a.m. start to the 2003 trout season is mere moments away. You've studied the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's stocking schedules, scouted the stream and picked that perfect spot you know is home to that elusive trophy. You pop open your tackle box. Hmm, what looks good? For too many anglers, that's all they take into consideration - the way a fly, lure or even a piece of bait looks. Like most animals, however, trout and other fish rely on a combination of senses when looking for food. Sight, sound, smell and taste all play a part in getting a fish attracted to what's on the end of your line. Knowing how those senses work can help you understand just what might tempt a few more strikes. For the sake of this article, we'll call anything on the end of your line a "lure," be it a fly, bait or an artificial lure like a spinner. Let's walk through from the time of your cast to the fish actually mouthing the lure.
HEARING AND SOUND:
The sound of your lure hitting and then moving through the water is actually the first thing likely to alert a trout - or any fish. The movement of sound waves through the water are integral to a fish's sense of hearing and to its overall survival. Fish count on two different organs working together to locate and sense sounds. On both sides of most fish is a line of pores called the lateral line. The pores are the opening of tiny tubes that go through the scales into the body and end near a large nerve which travels to the brain. At the end of each tube are tiny hairs that vibrate when sound waves pass over them. The moving hairs stimulate the lateral line nerve. Because the tubes point in different directions, fish can accurately locate the area from which a vibration emanates. Fish also have an inner ear, similar to humans. The inner ear aids in balance and hearing. The part of the inner ear involved in sound interpretation is called the otolith, or ear bone. Hair movement in the fluid-filled sack surrounding the otolith is what stimulates the attached nerves. Sound waves move through a fish's body, almost as if it were not there, and reach the otholiths making them move. When a baitfish or a lure or fly imitating food moves through the water, it gives off vibrations, which a fish can detect yards away. These vibrations can be heard and felt. When a lure is far way, the fish feels the vibrations with its lateral lines and pinpoints the location. As the fish gets closer to your lure, the sound of its rattling are also picked up by the earbone. The fish then starts to rely on other senses like smell, sight and taste to determine if your lure is really food.
As well as hearing your lure, trout and other fish can smell it from a distance. Fish have a very sensitive sense of smell. How sensitive? They can detect concentrations of chemicals as low as one part per trillion. That's the equivalent of one ounce of chocolate syrup in a million railroad cars full of milk. Salmon can detect smells from the waters where they were bore from hundreds of miles away. Stands to reason then that a trout can smell that tasty nightcrawler from a few yards. Conversely, the same thing goes for the smell of bug spray from your hands on fishing line you have touched. The sense of smell, or olfactory sense, is located in a fish's nostrils, which are actually called nares. There are two pairs of nares on both sides of the snout. For humans, smells are detected by sensing chemicals dissolved in air. Fish detect these chemicals in water. As water flows through the nares, the dissolved materials trigger the olfactory organ which in turn transmit signals to the brain.
Once the gap between fish and lure narrows even more, the sense of sight plays a bigger role. Fish eyes work much the same way human eyes do, similar to a camera. There are some differences through. Fish don't have eyelids or tear ducts, and they don't have an iris that adjusts to different amounts of light. Fish eyes are sensitive to movement. They have plenty of special cells called rods that alert them to movement and contrast and each eye can detect these on their own. Because fish have eyes on the sides of their heads, they are able to see nearly all around themselves. But like our own eyes, the two eyes must work together to enable the fish to seem in three dimensions, allowing the fish to determine distance from an object. And because the eyes are on opposite sides of their head, fish only have a narrow area of this "binocular vision" - directly in front and above their snouts. This makes fish relatively nearsighted - while they can make out movement and images at a distance, they can't see them clearly or judge the distance or depth. That's why trout often swim right next to your bait or lure, close enough to eat it before turning away. Scientists believe that freshwater fish can see color. The lure manufacturers sure do! Most researchers think that fish have three sets of cells called cones in the eye that allow for color perception. They think that two sets of cones are sensitive to color while the third picks up ultraviolet light, which we can't detect with our naked eyes.
Let's assume that after feeling, hearing, smelling and seeing your lure, the trout is still interested. It decides to give your offering a taste. Better act fast before the fish spits it out. Again like humans, fish have taste buds. We have about 10,000 on our tongues. But fish have even more and they are found on the lips and mouth. Some fish - like catfish - even have taste buds on their skin and barbels. They have more taste buds on their skin than we have on our mouths and since the water is carrying dissolved materials to them, they don't even need to touch something to taste it. Some kind of catfish can taste things from 15 feet away. Knowing how fish rely on these senses can help anglers. When determining a lure's 'action' don't just consider how it looks, but how it might sound as well. Cast dark colored lures at night because the lure's outline will contrast against the sky. When fish can't see well, use live bait, or add some artificial scent to lures or flies.
PA Fish & Boat Commission
WESTERN CRAWFORD COUNTY, WCO Joe Russell
The water temperature is still keeping shore fishermen and boats from having much success. The only place I am seeing fish caught on a regular basis is at the spillway jigging by the wire. Sonar�s (jigging spoons) seem to be the biggest producer of fish and some big ones are being caught. I saw a 30� plus Walleye come out of there this last weekend and some muskies are being taken as well. Crappies were hitting on the weed beds and around the shore but this recent cold snap has shut them down. It is amazing what 20-degree weather, rain, and snow can do to shut them down. The first boat accident of the season happened this last weekend with 2 fishermen capsizing their boat while trying to fish at the spillway. Luckily a muskey fishermen was on shore with 65 pound test line and was able to cast out over them and drag them in with his pole. This same young man also took off prior to rescuers arriving as he did not want to make a big deal out of what he had done. He potentially saved their lives and the only way I was able to find him was his father was proud of him and contacted me. A huge thanks goes out to Christopher J. Weaver for his quick thinking and actions that averted a tragedy.
New License Dealer at Pymatuning
The Western Crawford County officers would like to welcome our newest license dealer to the area, the Espyville Livery. With the opening of the livery this year and it being under new management there are a few changes that have taken place. Not only will they be selling fishing licenses but also a full line of bait to include Minnows, Night crawlers, Red worms, Meal worms, and Wax worms. They also have a full line of tackle and a new fishing equipment rental program. Boat rentals will of course be going on with a line of kayaks (both 1 & 2 person) available, and Craig Cats (a small 2 person pontoon). Overnight rentals will also be available, as well as fuel if you already have a boat. They are also working on an Ice Cream/Food stand to be opened in the near future so you can get something to eat while boating the lake. All the marinas should be opened by this next weekend so stop by and get out and enjoy the lake.
With the onset of the recent weather there hasn�t been much, if any, pressure on Conneaut Lake. I haven�t seen any boats out here yet, so I can�t report on any catches.
CENTRAL ERIE COUNTY, WCO Tom Edwards / DWCO Bryan Brendley
Whirling disease (continued):
The lifecycle of the parasite begins when it is eaten by a tubifex worm, which grows and releases, through its waste products, many more of the parasites in the water. The fish ingests either the worm or the parasite. Once inside the fish, the parasite attacks the nervous system of the fish (brain and spine). The fish will eventually die, decompose, and the parasites will be released into the water, ingested by the worm, and the cycle begins again. At this time there is no cure for infected fish and no way of controlling the parasite. Parasites can be transported via mud on boots, mud on vehicles (including ATVs), in contaminated fish that are moved from one location to another, or by animals. Symptoms include the characteristic whirling behavior, development of a deformed head and/or curved spine, and eventually death. The disease was originally thought to affect only young fish, but now larger fish have been seen exhibiting and carrying the parasite. Utah was originally free of the parasite a decade ago, but has recently (2001) become a hotspot after appearing in a private hatchery in the state. The Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) has shown that the parasite is very durable, can survive almost anywhere, and is carried by almost anything. Once the parasite got into Utah�s rearing ponds (much different than the PFBC�s raceways) millions of fish had to be destroyed. After numerous tests and surveys, it was discovered that the parasite was coming in from the Provo River and actually contaminating springs that fed the hatchery ponds. The hatcheries have spent millions of dollars to build raceways and roofs over the ponds to prevent birds from excreting the parasite into the ponds. Some of Utah�s most prized trout streams have succumbed to the disease and the DWR is racing to save others.
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