WCO Report for Erie County 05/25/2005: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: May 24, 2005

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Posted by DWCO Randy Leighton on May 24, 2005 at 23:07:15:

WEST ERIE COUNTY, DWCO Randy Leighton, WCO Brook Tolbert

Wind and wave conditions have been on the rough side the past few days often confining weekend anglers to Presque Isle Bay. Bass fishing continues to be fair to good in the bay. Anglers looking for those early season perch schools are still looking. Perch catches have been sporadic although it shouldn't be much longer as the Lake temperatures rise. Night time walleye fishing along the shoreline near the tributary mouths has actually been pretty good this year with patient anglers hooking a number of lunkers. Current Lake Erie water temperature as of this writing is 48 degrees as of this writing

Have a Safe Holiday Weekend:
Memorial Day Weekend is traditionally the start of the summer boating season, even with the chilly Erie area temperatures. Be sure that your safety equipment is in order and that all equipment and PFDs are in good serviceable condition. Check PFDs for rips, tears, mildew, and broken or missing fasteners. Check that fire extinguishers are full, visual distress signals have not expired, PFDs are readily accessible and in good condition, and that horns and lights are all in working order. Check and clean you spark arrester as necessary. Refer to your boaters handbook (available at most boating stores, the Walnut Creek Access office as well as on line) to be sure that you are in compliance with the required safety equipment for your particular boat. Required safety equipment is typically determined by the length of your boat.

As always, a reminder that alcohol and boating can be a bad combination. Fines and penalties can be stiff for those boating under the influence. not to mention the danger to yourself and the lives of those around you. The penalties for operation of a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance could lead to a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $7,500, or imprisonment not exceeding two years, or both, plus the loss of boating privileges for a period of 12 months. Homicide by watercraft while under the influence carries a fine of not less than $2,500 nor exceeding $15,000, or imprisonment of no less than three and no more than seven years, or both. In addition to the offenses described above, operating a watercraft under the influence may also violate other laws. These may include prohibitions against reckless or negligent operation of boats, public drunkenness, disorderly conduct and underage drinking. Its just not worth taking the risk.

Fish for Free Days
Fish for Free Days allow anyone to legally fish for Pennsylvania's most popular fish without a fishing license. Each year the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's Executive Director designates 2 Fish for Free Days. No fishing license is required to fish on Pennsylvania's waterways all day May 28th and June 5th, 2005. All other fishing regulations still apply.

Copies of the Anglers Summary booklet can obtained at most area bait and tackle shops and at the Walnut Creek Access office free of charge (or view/print online version). The Erie area offers a bonanza of fishing opportunities for the new angler. Plenty of shore fishing is available to new anglers along the Bay Front Highway on Presque Isle Bay as well as much of the shore line at Presque Isle State Park. Fish for fee days are the opportunity for the inexperienced angler to try his luck as well as a great opportunity to introduce a friend to fishing. Click here for more information. This is also a great opportunity to get that spouse involved as well.

A Marine Radio Could be a Lifesaver:

Why Should You Have A Marine Radio On Your Boat?
You are boating on Lake Erie when an unexpected storm takes you by surprise. You begin taking on water. No one is around. If you had a radio, you could call for help. One of your passengers begins convulsions. You know you must contact medical authorities immediately, but you are without a radio. With a radio, medical help might be only a radio call away. Without one, it may be hours before you are able to get to a medical facility. What Type Of Radio Should I Buy? Investing in a good Very High Frequency FM (VHF FM) radio is the smartest investments that anyone that boats Lake Erie can make.

A VHF radio has certain advantages such as:
Good quality transmission.
Strong signal.
Channels reserved for distress calls.
Continuously monitored frequencies.

Citizen Band (CB) radios are not recommended due to weak signals and overcrowded frequencies. In addition, the Coast Guard does not routinely monitor CB Channels. Cellular phones can be helpful but can signals can be hit or miss on Lake Erie not to mention the possibility of picking up a Canadian Tower or Operator who may or may not be able to render assistance in an emergence.

Can I Use the Radio as a Telephone?
There is a marine operator in many areas, located on a specified channel, that will "patch" you into the local telephone system. A radio is not to be used for gossip or idle conversation. The use of profanity and obscene language is illegal. One difference between a telephone and a radio is that anything said over the radio will be heard by hundreds of other people. Another difference is that there are only a limited number of channels so conversation, should be kept to passing only required information. Conversation is not permitted to extend past three minutes.

What Are the Different Channels Used For?
There are 104 VHF channels designated for marine service. Of this number, 54 are designated exclusively for use in the waters of the United States.

The most common channels and their purpose are listed below:

Channel 16 (156.8 MHz) This is the most important channel on the VHF band. THIS IS THE DISTRESS, SAFETY, AND CALLING FREQUENCY WHICH THE COAST GUARD MONITORS CONTINUOUSLY. All vessels equipped with VHF radios must keep their radios tuned to channel 16 so they can assist if an emergency is near. Vessels may initiate contact with each other but must shift to a working frequency to carry on a conversation (e.g., Motor vessel Albatross, this is sailing vessel Mother Goose, AB-1234, on Channel 16, switch and answer Channel 68). Use Channel 16 for only bona fide emergencies.

Channel 22A (157.1 MHz) This channel is the primary working channel of the Coast Guard. It is used for communications between the Coast Guard and the maritime public, both recreational and commercial. Severe weather warnings, hazards to navigation, and other maritime safety warnings are broadcast on Channel 22A.

Channel 13 (156.65 MHz) This channel is the bridge to bridge or "piloting" channel, used for communicating navigation information between ships. Strictly used for navigational purposes by commercial, military, and recreational vessels at locks, bridges and harbors.

Channel 6 (156.3 MHz) This channel is the ship to ship frequency used for safety related communications. This channel is not used for ordinary operational navigation or personal communications. What Do Certain Words I Hear on the Radio Mean?

MAYDAY is a request for immediate assistance. LISTEN! DO NOT TRANSMIT!! Determine if you're in a position to help. If not, maintain radio silence. "MAYDAY" identifies an imminent, life-threatening emergency. PAN-PAN (pronounced pahn-pahn) is used when the safety of a boat or person is in jeopardy. Man-overboard messages are sent with the PAN-PAN signal.
SECURITE (pronounced say-cure-e-tay) is used to pass navigation information or weather warnings. What if I Hear Someone Saying MAYDAY on Channel 16? If you have a radio and you are under way, you are required to monitor Channel 16. MAYDAY takes precedence over all other transmissions. If you hear a MAYDAY, remain silent and listen. Take down the information being passed. If the Coast Guard or other rescue authority responds, maintain silence and listen, but do not respond. However, if there is no response, take action. Try raising the distressed vessel over the radio. Gather more information, especially the position. Attempt to raise the Coast Guard while traveling toward the vessel. Sometimes the Coast Guard may not hear the distressed vessels transmissions, but can hear another vessel near the scene; therefore, call the Coast Guard again, just in case. If you raise them, give them the information you have and follow their instructions. If you cannot contact the Coast Guard, attempt to assist the other vessel to the best of your ability without placing yourself in danger.

What If I Need Help?
If you have an imminent life threatening emergency, transmit on Channel 16:
This is (name of boat three times, call letters once).
Repeat once more, "MAYDAY", (your boat's name).
Now report your position (give as accurate a position as possible).
Report nature of emergency.
Report the kind of assistance desired.
Report number of people on board and condition of any injured.
Description of the boat and seaworthiness. Then wait for a response. If there is none, repeat the message.

Transmission of a false (hoax) distress or emergency message or using obscene or profane language is illegal. If search and rescue units are sent out, the perpetrator is responsible for their costs in addition to the fine.

Second Annual Lake Erie Shoot Out:
Area PFBC officers recently participated in an off duty recreational shooting competition along side officers from other area agencies. The all day competition included timed stationary skills as well as a tactical obstacle course that emphasized the use of cover using vehicles and other objects while at the same time pushing the officer's shooting skills to the limit by having to endure return fire (paint balls of course). The intense competition was an educational experience for all as well as a lot of fun. Thanks to Bob McDowell and Bob's Gun Shop for the use of his training facilities and a special thanks to Bob for breakfast for all the participants.

Local Weather:
Wednesday night
Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 40s. North winds 10 to 15 mph.
Partly cloudy. Highs around 70. Northwest winds 5 to 10 mph.
Thursday night
Partly cloudy in the evening, then becoming mostly cloudy. A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Lows around 50. West winds 5 to 10 mph.
Friday and Friday night
Mostly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of showers. Highs in the mid 60s. Lows around 50.
Saturday and Saturday night
Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers. Highs around 60. Lows around 50.
Mostly cloudy. Highs in the mid 60s.
Sunday night
Partly cloudy. Lows around 50.
Memorial Day
Partly cloudy. A chance of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. Highs around 70. Chance of rain 30 percent.
Monday night
Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Lows around 50.
Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs around 70.

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