WCO Report for Erie County 7/05/2006: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: July 04, 206

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Posted by DWCO Randy Leighton on July 04, 206 at 21:59:21:

July 5th, 2006

West Erie County, DWCO Randy Leighton, WCO Brook Tolbert


The word is definitely out on this years walleye fishing on Lake Erie as evidence by the swarms of anglers eager to cash in on a bounty of fish. The Walnut Creek Access area has had crowds that would rival the busiest of steelhead seasons with the launch ramps busy from sunup to sundown. Anglers are still doing well in the shallows along the lake shore from Walnut Creek to the Ohio line in 30 to 45' of water and along the South side of the first trench. Tandem worm crawler harnesses have been the most consistent producer with purple, chartreuse, watermelon, and copper being the most popular choices. Perch fishing is good this the usual schools having set up due north of Walnut Creek and off the point at Presque Isle. The Lake Erie Water temperature off Toledo is 73 degrees, off Cleveland 69 degrees, and off Erie 72 degrees.

My Boat Quit and I Can't See Shore, Now What?
So there you are are with a few friends, trolling the trenches 8 miles off shore on Lake Erie. The fishing is great, and it couldn’t get any better when you notice that all is quiet except for the jibber jabber of your friends and the buzz of a battery powered bait bucket....the engine has stopped and you realize you are adrift. You and your friends pull in the gear and frantically try to assess the problem. You crank the engine but nothing. All of your friends have exhausted you with their arm chair advice and all you can do is to keep trying until the battery is dead. Then it hits you squarely that mechanical failure has put you in need of assistance. Now what do you do??
First and foremost is to remain calm and assess the situation. A number of factors will affect your next course of action. Mechanical failure is typically not a "Mayday Call" unless wind and wave conditions have you in a distress situation or if there is a risk of leaking fuel or fumes. If you are in distress, Mayday calls are placed to the USCG along with the use of your visual distress signals. The USCG monitors channel 16 on the Marine Radio. If you haven't already, now is the time for you and your passengers to put on your life jackets. Of course you have prepared for this knowing that it is a legal requirement to have a wearable PFD on board for everyone. Take control and insist that your passengers do so...remember you are responsible for your boat and the safety of your passengers. In many cases you may be with in distance of another vessel that could render aid, but before having a stranger tow your boat, consider the situation. Am I in immediate danger?, or rather than risk damage to someone else's boat, would it be wiser to call for professional help or to have the good Samaritan call for you. Towing can be risky to both vessels especially in the rough waters that Lake Erie can dish out. In the Erie area, Lake Shore Towing is the professional service for these situations. The Coast Guard or PFBC should be second and third choices for mechanical failures if there is no immediate danger and typically in a non emergency or non distress scenario, both the Coast Guard and the PFBC will normally turn the call to the professionals offering to stay with you if they are in the area, until the towboat arrives and you are safely underway.

Lakeshore Towing is based out of the Wolverine Marina along Dobbins landing, centrally located along the Pennsylvania shoreline. They monitor Channel 16 on the Marine Radio 24/7 or they can be reached by phone at 814-453-6387. These folks and other similar services have the right equipment for all conditions, and are the most experienced in rendering aid to a disabled boat. They know how to handle the situation in all types of wind and wave conditions. Once you have made contact with the towing service you will want to be ready with helpful information as to your situation. Your location preferably from electronic coordinates or at least an approximate visual location, a good description of your boat and the number of passengers, and what type of mechanical failure will all be needed. Drop anchor, to maintain your position (a good reason to have plenty of anchor line on board) and if you are adrift or unable to anchor, so advise the towing service. Follow the towboat's instructions as ordered...they know what they're doing. The towing service will walk you safely through the process and maintain contact with you until you are in safe harbor. Now, the next time your battery dies, you run out of fuel or your inboard throws a belt you will be better prepared to handle the situation.

Congestion at the Walnut Creek Access:
With perch fishing at its peak and good fishing expected for a while, the Walnut Creek Access area has been on overload . This past holiday weekend saw parking conditions and boat traffic akin to the Coho days years ago. The key is patience and a little common sense. Officers are tolerant to a little creative parking when conditions warrant so, however there are a few areas where parking is unacceptable. Do not park in any area that would block a building entrance or access, any place that would block right of way or another vehicle and in any handicapped spot without proper license or permit. Parking anywhere along the north bank (just above the beach) is not permitted as much of this area is "dredge fill" and can be unstable. Parking on the Sunset Memorial Garden island is not permitted. Always be sure all paved parking areas are full before considering parking on any grass area and if there is any doubt as to permitted parking areas ask an officer or office personnel rather than risk a citation. Boaters are reminded to heed the open and closed signs on the ramps. They are there to ease congestion. Courtesy docks along the south side of the Walnut Creek marina basin are for fueling, loading and unloading, and emergency or mechanical breakdown use only and are not for overnight or extended docking time.

Launch Ramp Etiquette:
With the summer fishing and boating season in full swing, area launch ramps can become extremely congested especially the Lampe Marina, Chestnut Street, and Walnut Creek Access Area. If you are new to the launch ramps take some time in an empty lot to practice backing up until you are comfortable doing so. It can save a considerable amount of frustration and embarrassment on the launch ramp. Many launch ramps have signs indicating which ramps are open for launching and which are open to retrieving such as those at the Walnut Access area launch. Be courteous and obey these signs to help ease congestion.
1) Be sure all required safety equipment and registration are on board. Load your food, fishing gear and other equipment at home and or in the parking lot but most definitely before you get to the ramp.

2) Ensure tongue is securely fastened to ball hitch, remove tie downs.

3) Check condition of battery, motor and angle of drive unit. Know that your boat will start before arriving at the ramps. Nothing is more frustrating then a boat with mechanical failure blocking a ramp. If you are unable to start your boat at the launch area, do not attempt to do repairs while blocking the ramp. Instead, remove the boat from the water as a courtesy to others.

4) Be sure the plug is in. Be sure the plug is in. Be sure the plug is in. Be sure the plug is in.

5) Move to the ramp and launch. Check drive unit prior to backing down ramp to be sure it will not bottom out and that the power trim is working properly if applicable. (Having a lookout or someone in the boat is helpful)

6) If possible, use two people to launch your boat - the driver and the boat tender.

7) Unhook bow safety restraint, power or pull off trailer. Be courteous and wait your turn. Unless you are alone, it really shouldn't be necessary to tie your boat to the launch docks.

8) Run blower, start boat, move to the docks for passenger pickup (courtesy dock). The courtesy docks at the Walnut Creek Access launch are at the South end of the basin. (If alone, secure boat quickly and move vehicle off ramp.) Be courteous, the less time you spend on the ramp or at the dock the more other boaters will appreciate you.

9) If you have an assistant, instruct the person tending the boat to move it far enough away from the ramp and adjacent dock that it doesn't impede other boaters launching or loading. Do not allow small children to act as "boat tenders".

10) Never block the ramp with an unattended vehicle or boat. Use the facilities, purchase that license or bag of ice or ask for information before your boat is launched.

11) After the boat is on the trailer, secure the bow safety restraint, and move the vehicle and trailer to the tie down area so you don't impede traffic trying to launch or retrieve.

12) Carefully tie down your vehicle, check that your hitch is secure and lights are plugged in, remove all items that could blow out of boat during travel and move out of the tie-down area to make room for others.

13) Take note of any signs around the launch area. Walnut Creek, for example, has signs to remind anglers to blow their horn when exiting the marina and to heed shallow rocks.

Discover Presque Isle:
Discover Presque Isle takes place July 28th, 29th, and 30th. This three-day event celebrates Erie's most valuable public resource and introduces thousands of visitors to all that Presque Isle State Park has to offer. These include kayak demonstrations, rock wall climbing, nature tours, kite flying, pontoon boat rides, volleyball tournaments, duathlon (run, bike, run), a mile swim, arts and crafts shows, children's areas, giant beach bonfires and much more.

A pancake breakfast will be held on Saturday and Sunday mornings (been there, done it, and it's great). Other food vendors will be on hand throughout the weekend as well.

Local Weather:

Wednesday Night Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 50s. Northwest winds 10 to 15 mph.

Thursday Partly cloudy. Highs in the lower 70s. Northwest winds 10 to 15 mph.

Thursday Night Partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 50s.

Friday Mostly sunny. Highs in the upper 70s.

Friday Night Mostly clear. Lows around 60.

Saturday Mostly sunny. Highs around 80.

Saturday Night Mostly clear. Lows in the mid 60s.

Sunday Mostly sunny. Highs in the lower 80s.

Sunday Night Partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 60s.

Monday Partly cloudy. Highs in the lower 80s.

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