WCO Report for Erie and Crawford County 03/06/02: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: March 06, 2002

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Posted by WCO John Bowser on March 06, 2002 at 07:31:11:

Western Erie County / WCO John Bowser & DWCO Randy Leighton

Weather / Stream / Fishing Conditions...
We have experienced it all from 50 mph winds, lake effect snow, rain, ice, sun (that was all this afternoon) Should be great for the weekend, Erie tribs remain open to angling and temps forecast in the 60's should melt the snow cover perhaps prompting some fresh runs.

Public Meeting Cancellation...
Weather concerns prompted a rescheduling of the March 4th meeting for a later date. When a new date is set, we will be sure to get it out. The proposed fishing license increase is crucial to the PFBC and its programs.

Tributary Litter Clean Up Tribute...
It was a pleasure to meet an interesting group this past Saturday. People with names like Ironhed, Grendel, Slippery Smitt, kevinupp, jprigg, Poor Richards , chasinrainbows, Dano, Padron, Genieman77, egg sac ,
Steelhead #1, 222 , and a many more. If you think that they sound like computer screen names you would be correct. The Fisherie.com & FishUSA.com websites have active discussion boards where a variety of topics are dissected (some of them pretty lively) and moderated by the "peacekeeper/webmaster" Dan Pastore. This free-spirited discussion board got onto the topic litter problems & associated landowner postings. Soon, there was some organization applied and in a few weeks a mixture of anglers, wives, kids found themselves gathered at the Walnut Access Area arming themselves with trash bags, rubber gloves, and pure determination to make a difference.
To me, the real beauty of it all was that a loose knit group came together (that contained bait fishermen, the fly guys, the spincasters, locals, muppere's, Ohio flat landers, New Yorkers, officers, and even some past defendants) to make a difference to the resource. You would have had to observed some of the spirited discussion on the boards to have a full appreciation of this task. If you think about it... this is what makes the Pennsylvania Fishing Experience such a great one and one step further ... this is what makes our country great - "putting aside our differences for a common cause."
A short term fix ??? Maybe. - It is a step forward though. The anglers that enjoyed their fishing that day probably did not drop any litter after the volunteers went through. The example set may have started a new mindset to those seeing it on the local news or viewing it in person. The landowner that thought about posting their land may have realized that there are concerned anglers that appreciate their hospitality. A child somewhere may have wished that he & his Dad could have joined in. It all happens one step at a time and this one was memorable for this officer. Personal thanks and utmost respect to the group from all the Erie WCO's & DWCO's.

Erie Shoreline Info for anglers & boaters
Drugs and drug smuggling pose a significant threat to America and are a major cause of crime and social ills in our society. The U.S. Customs Service is in the forefront in the effort to rid the country of illegal drugs. As the primary border agency of the nation, the U.S. Customs Service maintains high tech aircraft, vessels, and surveillance devices to help detect and interdict illegal drugs at or before they reach our borders. The policing of the thousands of miles of land and sea borders can be and is a daunting task. With limited resources and strained budgets, the U.S. Customs Service has done a remarkable job over the years in interdicting illegal drugs destined for American streets. The literally millions of pounds of illegal drugs seized by Customs officers is a testament to the commitment shown by the Customs Service to the drug interdiction mission. Because policing the borders is a daunting task, the U.S. Customs Service seeks the help of the public in the fight against drugs and drug smuggling. The public is urged to report suspected drug smuggling activity to the nearest U.S. Customs Office or call the 24 hour tipline at: 1-800-BE-ALERT. You will remain anonymous and could receive a cash award for your information.

Central Erie County / WCO Tom Edwards
(Tom was a bit burnt out from working his first show this past weekend so we made him the "weather man")
Wednesday: Mostly cloudy skies early will become partly cloudy later in the day. High around 49F. Winds SW 20 to 25 mph.
Wednesday night: Cloudy. Low around 38F. Winds SSW 10 to 15 mph.
Thursday: Cloudy with occasional rain showers. High near 45F. Winds S 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precip 60%.
Thursday (24 hours): Chance of showers. Highs in the mid 40s and lows in the mid 30s.
Friday (24 hours): More clouds than sun. Highs in the mid 50s and lows in the low 40s.
Saturday (24 hours): Mostly cloudy, periods of rain. Highs in the low 60s and lows in the upper 20s.

Boat Registrations Expire on March 31st ...
Every year officers are swamped with calls just prior to the Trout Opener about people that forgot to get their boat registration or else misplaced the stickers. Now is the time to act.

Eastern Erie County / WCO Mark Kerr
PF&BC Officers were propositioned with a staggering amount of questions from people who stopped to visit our booth this past weekend at the Erie Outdoor Show. Thought it might be kind of fun, as well as enlightening, to present you with some of the more complicated, unusual and thought-provoking queries presented to us…

Q: If I have a Canadian fishing license and I launch my boat from PA, can I return to that launch with a Canadian limit of Perch?

A: No. PA has set the daily creel limit of Perch lower than that placed on Canadian waters. Furthermore, PA law does not allow for an individual, while in the field and/or on the water, to lawfully possess over and above the daily creel limit for a particular species. The exception to this rule is that "a person who is engaged in a fishing trip away from home for two or more calendar days may, while transporting fish from the place where caught to his/her residence (i.e., in a motor vehicle), possess a number of fish equal to no more than two times the daily creel limit for that species of fish." However, the regulation goes into further detail by explaining that for violations regarding limits, "It shall be a rebuttable presumption that a person transporting fish from a fishing site caught all the fish during one calendar day."
Translation: Barring any justifying circumstances observed and/or understood by the apprehending officer, if you are found to be on and/or leaving the water while in possession of excess fish then you are deemed to be in violation.

Q: Can I use a crossbow to take carp, gar, suckers and eels?

A: No. Although the PF&BC allows the use of long bows, including compounds, to harvest these species, the regulation specifically prohibits the use of crossbows. The exception to this rule is that "the Executive Director… may issue permits to persons exempt from a fishing license requirement (i.e.: a person who is blind and/or who is permanently deprived of the use of a leg or an arm or both) allowing them to use crossbows subject to limitations and conditions as set forth in the permit."

Q: I notice you have gaffs on your display of illegal devices. Is it unlawful to use a gaff to land a fish?

A: No. The regulations referring to limitations on fishing devices do not prohibit the use of a gaff or landing net to assist in the landing fish caught by a lawful device. Those gaffs displayed were confiscated as illegal devices because they were unlawfully used as the sole means by which the subject attempted to gather fish.

Q: Once I've taken my limit of fish, is it illegal to keep fishing even if I 'catch and release'?

A: No. However, for the following reasons, by doing so you are placing yourself on a very slippery slope. Regulations state that it is unlawful to take, catch, kill or possess more than one day's limit of fish during one calendar day. In terms of creel limit, a fish shall not be considered 'caught' in violation if it is immediately returned unharmed from the waters from which it was taken. However, once the creel/possession limit is reached, if you, even inadvertently, harm the fish you would then be in violation. Additionally, once you have reduced a fish to 'possession' (i.e., placing it on a stringer, confining it in any container/structure/device or failing to return it unharmed immediately to the water) it directly becomes part of your daily creel total. Therefore, as a result, it is also illegal to swap fish just harvested for ones previously caught, when that fish you are then taking into possession puts you over your daily limit. Furthermore, even though fish may be lawfully passed to another person, those fish being passed shall be counted towards both the donor's and the recipient's creel limit(s); and neither may kill or possess (while in the act of fishing) more than the limit allowed. For those reasons, and in order to keep you out of a costly and potentially embarrassing situation, if you intend to both 'harvest' and 'catch and release,' it is strongly recommended that you begin 'catch and release' activities prior to reaching your creel/possession limit. By playing the game through these rules, if you inadvertently harm a fish, it may then be lawfully taken into your possession. No harm… No foul!

Q: I see that the PF&BC has a new "Use Permit Decal" for boats. What is it for and if I get one where can I use my boat?

A: Note: this is not a registration!
The "Use Permit Decal"… "is a new program, designed for the unpowered boater, to get on the water fast and easy without all the requirements of the normal registration process. The cost will be $10.00 for a one-year permit, which will expire on December 31st of the year it was issued. Two-year permits are available only through the Commission Headquarters and website: www.fish.state.pa.us and cost $18.00. Permits are not transferable to other boats; and, additionally, remain effective even if ownership of the boat is changed during the term of the permit.
Owners of unpowered boats (canoes, kayaks, rowboats, etc.) can launch their boats at Commonwealth lakes and access areas under the management of the PF&BC if their boat is registered or if it displays the Commission's new "Use Permit Decal." State Park launch and mooring permits are also recognized at PF&BC lakes and access areas, and PF&BC "Use Permit Decals" will be recognized at State Parks/State Forest lakes."
Remember, this program is not for motorboats and is not a 'registration'. All motorboats must be registered to lawfully operate on Commonwealth waters. Additionally, this program does not prohibit the registration of unpowered boats. Unpowered boats may still be registered, through the Commission, at a cost of $10.00 for two-years and registration shall expire on March 31st of the year exhibited on the issued registration sticker. Those boats registered through the Commission may still be lawfully operated/launched/retrieved on all PF&BC lakes and impoundments, as well as at State Park/Sate Forest lakes, etc.

Western Crawford County / WCO Joe Russell

Deputy Applicants needed...
If you ever thought about the deputy program & if it would be right for you... now is the time to check it out. Contact any of the officers on this report to find out more information. If you live in Western Crawford County, you may email me or call the NW Region Office @ 814-337-0444 for more information.

Pymatuning Lake- The Lake has been slow of activity this week due to inclement weather, and I have seen no boat activity at all since my last report. The recent cold front that has moved through and is currently in the area has also put a fresh layer of skim ice on the lake so boating will be hampered until we have a little warmer weather.

Conneaut Lake- I did get a chance to interview two of my more die hard fishermen on Conneaut Lake, Saturday at the southern end of the lake, and they relayed to me that they had caught a few nice crappies during the week however with the new front moving in all the fish had shut right down. I have to give them credit though even with as cold as it was they were still out there trying. The recent cold snap has also played havoc with this lake as well and as of today (Tuesday 3/5/2002) the lake is about seventy-five percent frozen over with very thin ice.

Crystal Lake- As of today is completely frozen over however it is only at most a half an inch of ice, just enough to hamper boating.

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