WCO Report for Erie County 07/07/2004: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: July 07, 2004

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Posted by DWCO Randy Leighton on July 07, 2004 at 00:48:53:

WEST ERIE COUNTY, DWCO Randy Leighton, WCO Brook Tolbert

Conditions:

Its all about the perch fishing with anglers taking their limits at will. In between some rather rough lake conditions over the last week, anglers continue to demonstrate that Lake Erie is still arguably the Perch and Walleye capital of the world. Perch fishing is excellent in 50 to 58 feet of water straight out of the Walnut Creek Access west to Trout Run. Continuing west, pockets of perch can be found all the way to the Ohio line with good perch reports coming in from Conneaut, Ohio as well.

Walleye fishing is finally starting to come around with more limits being brought in each day as reported by a number of the local bait shops. The best walleye fishing still seems to remain in shallow water along the West Erie County shoreline. 25 to 40 feet of water has been productive. Small dipseys fished off of planer boards rigged with spoons or tandem crawler harnesses are doing it. Hot colors have been chartreuse, purple, watermelon and copper for the harnesses.

Enough walleye have moved into the area to make drift fishing worth a try in the shallower waters. Bottom bouncers with smaller single hook crawler harness in a variety of colors can provide some challenging Lake Erie fishing.

Bass fishing continues to thrive in and around Presque Isle Bay. Anglers are still enjoying plenty of action along the North and South Piers. Rock bass are easily caught this time of year and can be a good target for kids off the piers or anywhere along the Bayfront.

Current Lake Erie water temperature as of this writing is 68 degrees.

Bowfin:
Occasionally during the summer months an unsuspecting angler fishing Presque Isle Bay or even Lake Erie will pull in a Bowfin only to wonder what in the world they caught.

Bowfins are widely distributed over the eastern half of North America. In Pennsylvania, they are found in Presque Isle Bay, on Lake Erie, and in a few other scattered locations in the Delaware, Ohio and Susquehanna River watersheds. Their preferred habitat is heavily vegetated lakes, sluggish rivers and swamps. Bowfins can tolerate very warm water. Their body functions become limited and their activity slows when it becomes too hot. To overcome these adverse conditions, the bowfin has a swim bladder that opens to the throat. The bowfin, like the gar, can go to the surface, stick its head out, and gulp air. Bowfin have also been called �dogfish� and �mudfish.�

As unique as they are these prehistoric throwbacks are relatively easy to identify. First, the long dorsal fin that gives the fish it's most common name. The dorsal has more than 45 rays and covers over half the length of the fish. The body is heavy and cylindrical, with a wide bony jaw. The catfish has a similar shape (although it is unrelated), but unlike the cat, the bowfin has scales. Coloration is dark on top, light on the bottom, in shades of mossy green to silvery green . The bowfin has sharp teeth, but they are not large. The bowfin has a tiny pair of barbels above the nostrils. Bowfin average 25" long and 5 or so pounds. They can top three feet and over 20 pounds. Juveniles and males typically have a dark spot on the full, rounded tail. This spot is lacking in adult females. Although Bowfin are primarily gill breathers, they do have a primitive lung and can breathe air. At times can be seen gulping air at the water's surface.

What to do when you find a jumbo Snapper in your front yard:
Officer Tolbert and myself received a call late Wednesday afternoon from an individual in the Lake City area with an unusual request. It seems a rather large..scratch that..an immensely huge snapping turtle had gotten of course and wandered on this persons front yard comfortably parking himself under some shrubbery in order to enjoy the cool shade on a hot afternoon. The home owner indicated that the turtle had been there about an hour having come across the street from under a neighbors pick up truck.

The home was located in a residential neighborhood a good distance from any water, with plenty of kids and pets in the area. The dangers of this animal to the neighborhood could be severe especially if the animal was to be provoked by a small child or dog. Upon arriving at the residence we found the turtle to be quietly enjoying a nap in the shade of some bushes. At first there was some question as to whether he was even alive. A gentle prod with Officer Tolbert's baton quickly indicated that this bad boy meant business and clearly did not want to be disturbed.

After the usual "you pick it up", "no you pick it up" bantor, Tolbert donned a pair of leather gloves (Gucci I believe) and gingerly made another approach. Better him than me I thought. It was amazing how fast this turtle could lunge and snap not to mention the size of the razor sharp claws on its feet. We regrouped and decided to try rolling the turtle into a large plastic tub. Together we were successful and moved the turtle to a secluded area along Elk Creek. Although typically it is better to let the turtle wander its course since their eggs can be in their incubation period this time of year, it was decided that the dangers posed to the neighborhood outweighed what the turtle had in mind. Snapping turtles typically lay a clutch of 25 to 50 eggs peaking their activity in June with an incubation period of 9 to 16 weeks.

Snapping turtles reside in a broad area of the country with a natural range extending from southern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and from the East coast to the Rocky Mountains. They are distributed all through out Pennsylvania and are very common in the Lagoons area of Presque Isle Bay and in and along many of the area tributary and feeder streams.

Regulations for Snapping Turtles:
Snapping turtles have a regulated season from July 1st through October 31st. The daily limit is 15 with a possession limit of 30. (That's a lot of soup) A fishing license is required to take turtles from the Commonwealth.

Except for snapping turtles, reptiles and amphibians whether dead or alive, in whole or parts, including eggs or any life stage taken from within the Commonwealth may not be sold or offered for sale.

Set-lines for turtles must include a tag indicating the name, address and phone number of the owner or user. Hooks must be at least 3.5 inches long with not less than one inch space between the point and shank of the hook. The number of lines or hooks per line is unlimited.

It is unlawful to damage or disrupt the nest or eggs of a reptile or to gather, take or possess the eggs of any reptile in the natural environment of this Commonwealth.

Taking, catching and possessing amphibians and reptiles in Department of Conservation and Natural Resources natural areas is prohibited. These areas are posted.

Boating Safety Tip of the Week:
In Pennsylvania, Visual distress signals (VDS) are required only for boats operating on Lake Erie. Between the hours of sunset and sunrise, boats less than 16 feet in length must carry VDS suitable for use at night. Boats 16 feet and over in length must, at all times, carry devices suitable for day use and devices suitable for night use, or devices suitable for use both day and night.

All VDS must be USCG approved, have legible approval numbers, be in serviceable condition and be readily accessible. VDS are not acceptable if the expiration date has passed. Though only required on Lake Erie, VDS are practical safety items for all boaters to carry.

Local Weather:

Wednesday night
Partly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms in the evening. Lows in the mid 60s. Southwest winds 10 to 15 mph.
Thursday
Partly cloudy with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the lower 70s. West winds 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30 percent.
Thursday night
Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms in the evening. Lows in the mid 50s. Northwest winds around 10 mph.
Friday
Partly cloudy. Highs in the upper 70s.
Friday night
Mostly clear. Lows in the upper 50s.
Saturday
Partly cloudy. Highs in the lower 80s.
Saturday night
Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 60s.
Sunday
Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 80s.
Sunday night
Partly cloudy with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 60s. Chance of rain 30 percent.
Monday
Partly cloudy with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the lower 80s. Chance of rain 40 percent.
Monday night
Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 60s.
Tuesday
Partly cloudy. Highs in the lower 80s.




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