WCO Report for Erie and Crawford County 9/17/03: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: September 16, 2003

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Posted by DWCO Randy Leighton on September 16, 2003 at 21:29:39:


Perch fishing is still good, although the schools North of the Walnut Creek Access have moved a bit. 47' of water due north of the access has been the hot spot. Walleye fishing has slowed down with few limits being brought in. Off shore steelhead fishing has been good with boaters picking up steelhead trolling close to shore near the mouths of Walnut and Elk Creeks, as well as near the mouth of Trout Run.

Steelhead in the Tribs:
Good numbers of steelhead have moved into the lower areas of Walnut and Elk Creeks and are holding. Recent rain has kept water levels good and helped move additional fish upstream. Anglers have been doing well along the wall and the "chorus line" has begun to form at the Manchester Hole. Anglers on the wall at Walnut have been trying every bait imaginable to induce strikes, but those using the powerbaits have been having the most consistent success. Glow in the dark Cleos have been hot at night. The Walnut Creek Project waters are now holding fish and crowded conditions, weather permitting, can probably be expected this weekend. Elk Creek is holding good numbers of Steelhead from the "mud hole" near the mouth up to the bend near the boat launch at the access area parking lot. Steelhead have been seen north of Route 5 and even as far as the Legion Hole in Girard, although not in big numbers yet. Although the tribs are not shadowed with steelhead yet, there are good numbers of fish to be caught. Hurricane Isabel may bring additional precipitation to our area this weekend which should help to get the season in full swing. (All dark clouds have a silver lining, even Isabel) Anglers have been lining up along the lakeshore at the mouth of Trout Run at day break and having fair to good success. Lake Erie water temperature as of this writing is 72 degrees.

Law Enforcement:
The Walnut Creek Access area has been very crowded on the weekends and with the incoming steelhead, congestion will only heighten. This time of year we have an overlap of boaters after perch and walleye and the steelhead anglers fishing the wall and the trib. Parking can be at a premium. Boaters are advised that there is often open parking in the East Lot. With elevated pedestrian traffic, officers will be watching the stop signs at the entrance to the access area. Anglers and boaters entering the area are well advised to make a full and complete stop at these two signs. Pedestrian, traffic, including many young people, can be heavy in this area both day and night. Anglers fishing the wall along the Walnut Creek Channel are again warned that boaters have the right of way over fishing lines in the water. As always a zero tolerance policy regarding litter will be enforced.

Speaking of Isabel:
Those with boats docked in our area may be well advised to "batten down the hatches" before the weekend. Long term off shore forecasts are calling for the possibility of waves building up to 7 to 9 feet by the weekend along with high winds. How much of Isabel will make it to our area is anyone's guess, however, better safe than sorry. The doors will be open on Lake Edinboro to lower the levels by 1 or 2 feet in preparation for possible heavy rainfall. We have included in this weeks report a press release from the PFBC regarding hurricane Isabel. (see below under our Western Crawford County report).

An Update and Additional News Regarding the Walnut Creek Marina Sunset Garden:
We hope many of you have noticed how beautifully the Garden is doing this year. It has been a labor of love and those of us who are involved are proud of it. We know many of you are too. The purpose of this community garden is the beautification and education for the visitors to the Marina. As the fishermen come in with their boats to the launch area, and visitors walk by, many stop to admire the garden and to comment on how nice it is and to ask questions about the plantings. We appreciate this very much!

We have completed the garden, raised the anchor, and built the Memorial Wall. So… what is next? Well, the wall is not quite completed yet, as we have not laid the “cap stones” on the top of it. This is the final step to its completion. These large cap stones are 4” high, and about 20”x20” in size. A sample stone and suggestions for what you could have engraved on it are all in the Administration Building. Take a look!!

We are selling all the sides of them - there are 14 sides - east and west --and 2 ends --north and south. Selling these and the rest of the blank paver stones on the wall will help us reach our goal to raise the money necessary to start an endowment fund with the Erie Community Foundation. We need $10,000 to start the fund. We have accumulated from the sale of the paver stones on the wall and a grant from the Erie Community Foundation about $6,000. By selling the large cap stones, we will make our goal. After the money is deposited in the fund, it will earn enough interest as the years go by to insure the continued maintenance and any future plantings at the garden and the surrounding area at the Marina. Thank you for your support, Christie Ferrier, Chairperson

Local Weather:

Wednesday night
Partly cloudy. Lows from the lower 50s inland to near 60 along the lakeshore. Southeast winds 5 to 10 mph.
Partly cloudy early. Increasing cloudiness during the afternoon. Highs in the upper 70s.
Thursday night
Showers and thunderstorms developing. Rain may be heavy at times after midnight. Lows from the mid 50s inland to the lower 60s along the lakeshore. Chance of rain 80 percent.
Showers and thunderstorms. Rain may be heavy at times. Windy. Highs in the upper 60s. Chance of rain 80 percent.
Friday night
Showers and thunderstorms. Rain may be heavy at times in the evening. Windy. Lows 55 to 60. Chance of rain 80 percent.
Mostly cloudy. A slight chance of showers in the morning. Windy. Highs in the mid 60s.
Partly cloudy. Lows 50 to 55. Highs in the upper 60s.
Mostly cloudy. Scattered showers and thunderstorms over night. Lows 50 to 55. Highs in the upper 60s.
Mostly cloudy with scattered showers and thunderstorms. Lows 50 to 55. Highs in the upper 60s.


For Those That Practice Catch and Release:
As more anglers begin the yearly trek to the Lake Erie watershed, it is always a good time to discuss the biology of catch-and-release (CAR). Many anglers practice CAR, but despite our best efforts, fish still die in large numbers. Last year, Dr. Ken Ostrand, an aquatic biologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey studied CAR techniques and mortality rates in two large bass tournaments in Illinois. Bass anglers use the accepted CAR techniques to perfection, but large numbers of fish still did not survive. The longer a fish is played, the more lactic acid builds up in the bloodstream as oxygen in burned to fuel the "fight and flight" mechanism. Lactic acid acts as a toxin, killing up to 30% of the fish studied. Ostrand then conducted experiments with a tank system utilizing a gentle current and found that fish moving against the water flow could work out the excess acid and recovered nicely.

Another concern is temperature. Air temperature and water temperature both play roles in the recovery of the CAR fish. IF the water temperature is over 75 degrees, the oxygen level is depleted so that after a fight, the fish has a difficult recovery, and predisposing them to death after release. Most biologist recommend that anglers use heavy enough gear to give a fight time of a few minutes. Fish often simply won't revive after an extend fight when the water temperature and/or the air temperature is elevated.

Hooks bring up another interesting "point" of discussion about CAR fishing. Data from studies done in the 1980s suggested that fishing with barbed hooks led to the death of 30% of fish that actually swallowed the hook, obviously due to soft tissue damage. Later research showed that barbless hooks lowered the mortality rates by about 20%.
The most current data suggests that the Shelton Release self-releasing hooks and Circle-C hooks are two of the best hooks designed to minimize the damage to the fish with a minimum of bleeding. This particular study was conducted on 900 trout which were hooked, released and observed for almost a week.

Finally, don't overhandle your fish. Human hands contain oils which can remove the slime coating on the fish, allowing the possibility of infection.


Pymatuning Lake:
Some fish are being caught from boats but shore activity has slowed down greatly. This could be in part to the weather we have been having and are expected to get in the next couple of days. If you have you boat moored you should double check your line as this is expected to be a rather nasty storm. See the press release below for other information, recently put out by the Fish and Boat Commission.

Conneaut Lake:
Boat traffic has slowed significantly here but so has fishing pressure, this would be a great time to hit the water here as you will have little or no recreational boating to bother you. Let me know how you do so I can report it later.


With the latest computer projections showing that portions of Pennsylvania may get an unwanted visitor in the form of Hurricane Isabel, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is suggesting that boat owners make some common sense preparations. Now is the time to take action to prepare for this storm.The Commission is reminding the public about the dangers of high, fast moving water. Even a moderate current can exert several tons of force. Floodwater is often cold and chocked with debris, adding to the potential danger. Boaters should avoid recreational boating in flooded areas. If you must be on a boat in flood conditions, wear a life jacket. Many boats are docked at marinas on waters that may be affected by Isabel. Boaters are reminded to contact their marina operators and take recommended precautions in order to safeguard their boats. Other small watercraft may be beached or loosely fastened along stream banks and lake shores. Owners of boats kept in low-lying areas should move them to less flood-prone areas. Although it is recommended that canoes, kayaks, and rowboats moored in such locations be moved to higher ground, at a minimum, owners of such boats should ensure that they are firmly secured so they will not be washed away if water levels rise. Heavy rains are expected to accompany Hurricane Isabel on her journey inland, raising the potential for flooding. Unsecured boats pose two problems in a flood. First, they can be swept along with other debris, potentially increasing flood damage along the way. Second, if they are lost but recovered by another individual, the original owners may face difficulties reclaiming their craft. Small, unpowered boats are not required to be titled in Pennsylvania, and only a fraction are registered. With little in the way of a "paper trail," positive proof of ownership can be difficult or impossible to establish on found boats. As a result, each year the PFBC takes into possession numerous small boats for which legal ownership cannot be determined. These boats are later sold at auction. In other cases, individuals finding lost or abandoned boats may have ownership claims. A little preparation now can save headaches later.

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