WCO Report for Erie and Crawford County 05/22/02: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: May 22, 2002

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Posted by WCO John Bowser on May 22, 2002 at 05:18:00:

Western Erie County / DWCO Randy Leighton
Record cold temperatures and strong winds have put the boating season in our area off to a rocky start however, local forecasts seem to indicate that warmer weather is only a breath away. A few diehard anglers have been trying their luck on the lake in hopes of early season catches. Perch schools still have not hit the area however, anglers are still having some luck off the Conneaut Harbor in Ohio. Bass anglers have had some success in 20 to 25 feet of water west of the Erie Channel, in the Bay outside Horseshoe Pond and along the edge of the trench that runs east to west in the Bay. Perch fishing has been fair in Presque Isle Bay. A few boats have been spotted trolling near shore for Walleye off Trout Run and Walnut Creek although catches have been sparse. Although it is May, anglers should bear in mind that lake water temperatures are still only in the low to mid 50's. Warmer surface water temperatures will gradually move the walleye and perch schools from the West to our area.

Walnut Creek Access Area:
Improvements are being made to the Walnut Creek Access area. Most noteworthy is the addition of an extensive handicapped accessible area along the end of the wall along with additional handicapped parking nearby. The Sunset Garden at the access is being well maintained and looks beautiful. The addition of a watering system for the garden should keep the area fresh and green throughout the summer. The channel has been fully dredged and currently averages a 5' depth. Anglers should note that parking in the far north west parking lot near the wall now requires a parking permit to be displayed in the windshield. This area is designated for marina slip holders only.

1990 - 27' Sportcraft -. 340 HP inboard Mercruiser - tri axle, Quickload trailer. The PA Department of General Services accepting written bids on the PFBC Patrol Boat until 6/15/02. Mail bids to: Pa. Fish and Boat Commission, 11528 Rt. 98, Meadville, Pa. 16335. Maintenance records available for inspection at that location. Boat available for inspection at Walnut Creek Access, foot of Manchester Road, Fairview, Pa. Bidder's point of contact must accompany bid.

Lake Levels:
Boaters will notice a higher water level this season over last. According to the US Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit, Lake Erie is up an average of 8" over last year and only an average of 2" below what is considered average levels. Higher levels in our area are noticeable along the shorelines of Presque Isle Bay and in the Lagoons area.

Lake Erie Level FAQS:

What causes major changes in lake levels?
Primarily two factors: a prolonged period of heavy precipitation and little evaporation. Generally, lake levels are lowest in winter, when most of the region's precipitation is frozen in place in ice and snow cover, and evaporation increases as dry winter air masses pass over the lakes. Levels are highest in summer following the spring runoff of melting snow and ice.

What are the ranges of lake level changes?
This century, the differences between the record high and low monthly mean lake levels were: Superior 3.8 feet (1.2 meters); Michigan and Huron 6.2 feet (1.9 meters); Erie 6.0 feet (1.8 meters); and Ontario 6.5 feet (2.0 meters). Short-term water level changes are more dramatic and can last minutes or hours. Passing weather systems and wind shifts cause fluctuations in lake level, called "seiches" which can raise lake levels from 6 inches to more that 1 foot for several minutes. Storm surges can temporarily raise lake levels several feet on the open coast and 5 feet in bays, for a few hours. At the eastern end of Lake Erie storm surges up to 8 feet have been recorded, along with a similar drop in water level at the opposite end of the lake.

What difference can a change of 1 or 2 feet make?
A change of 1 foot is a normal seasonal range from peak summer levels to the low winter levels. Occasional changes in water levels — up to six or seven times the seasonal variations — have always been part of the natural cycle for coastal wetlands and lakeshores. The difference is felt by people with facilities at or near the lake when a change of 1 or 2 feet occurs after a prolonged period of rising lake levels, that is, when lake levels go beyond the comfortable range to which users are accustomed.

Do high and low lake levels come in cycles?
Yes, but not in regular or predictable ones. Since the high water levels in the 1950s, there have been two high-water peaks during1973-74 and 1985-86. And, the upper Great Lakes appear to be rising to a third peak this year. In that same nearly half-century, there has been only one major below-average dip in water levels, from 1963 to 1965.

How long will high lake levels last?
Until there is a prolonged — from months to years — shift in climate that reduces high precipitation and increases evaporation.

How predictable are Great Lakes water levels?
Lake levels are generally and roughly predictable up to six months in advance. Methods for forecasting lake levels up to a year in advance are being developed, but they are not yet ready.

Can't Great Lakes levels be controlled?
The levels of lakes Superior and Ontario can be adjusted but not controlled. Adjustments are made to a series of control gates in dams at the lakes’ outlets, but this only results in lake level changes of less than a foot over six months to a year.

Are there any benefits to higher lake levels?
Higher lake levels allow for more hydropower generation at Sault Ste. Marie, the outlet of Lake Superior, and the Niagara River, the outlet of Lake Erie. Higher lake levels also allow ships to carry more cargo.

Who is most likely to be affected by high lake levels?
Urban-area property owners with low-lying shore land that suffer flood damage. Owners of lakeshore properties with little or no beaches at high lake levels, making these properties vulnerable to direct wave attack during storms. Operators of sewage treatment facilities and operators of fixed marina docks. Commercial vessel operators who must operate at slower speeds in connecting channels to avoid wakes that will damage shore property and facilities.

What can coastal property owners do during rising lake levels?
Frequently check for signs of bluff or bank failure and effects of storms on erodible land and shore protection structures. Check the condition of shore protection structures with a qualified contractor, and repair and reinforce the structures.
Courtesy of the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute

Central Erie County / WCO Tom Edwards

In 2001. . .
* Capsizing-type and falling overboard-type accidents accounted for 10 of the 14 fatalities.
* Five of the fatalities were onboard powered boats; nine were on unpowered boats of different types.
* Two fatalities occurred on Pennsylvania's lakes. Rivers were the scene of 11 fatalities with one on a pond.
* Hypothermia or sudden immersion into cold water was a possible factor in five of the 14 fatalities.
* Alcohol was a contributing factor in four.
* Five of the 14 victims were female. It is very unusual.
* One of the victims was less than 18 years of age; five were more than 50.
* The average age of the victims in 2001 was 42.
* Only three of the boat operators involved in the accidents had taken a boating course.
* The month of April accounted for four fatalities; June and September each had three.
* All but one of the accidents happened in the afternoon, four after 5:00 p.m.
* Fatalities occurred on every day of the week. Monday, Tuesday and Saturday tied with the most, three.

Catches have been seen recently in the area north of Hammermill (IP) near shore and on a recent patrol through the boat livery area on Presque Isle State Park and the lagoons fishermen reported boating a high of 12 bass for an afternoon.

Northern Pike:
The area of horseshoe pond is producing some small pike but some good action. Nothing that is going to break a State record but enough fight to keep your interest up.

Yellow Perch:
The North and South Pier have been picking up as of late and the Bayfront is back to its old self. An inspection of a boat today showed a limit of perch caught on the Northern end of the Bay with some fairly good size to them.

Application for Boat Registrations and Documentation Required
The following regulation applies to applications for registrations: 58 Pa. Code § 93.3 Applications for Boat Registrations (a) New registration. Application for a boat registration for a new boat or a used boat that was not previously registered in this Commonwealth shall conform with the following:

(1) Forms. The owner of a boat desiring registration shall apply on Form REV-336, provided by the Commission. The completed form shall be forwarded to the Fish and Boat Commission, Licensing and Registration Section.

(2) Required information. The applicant shall provide the following information on the application (REV-336) for a boat registration:

(I) The name, mailing address, residence address, phone number, county and zip code of the owner. If there is more than one owner, the principal owner shall be listed first.

(ii) The name of the person from whom the boat was purchased.
(iii) The State registration number, if any, currently assigned to the boat.
(iv) The hull material, such as, wood, steel, aluminum, plastic or fiberglass or other.
(v) The full Hull Identification Number (HIN).
(vi) The make, model and year built, if known.
(vii) The length of the boat in feet and inches.
(viii) The type of propulsion, such as, outboard, inboard sterndrive or unpowered.
(ix) The type of fuel, such as, gas, diesel or other.
(x) The capacity plate information.
(xi) The temporary validation decal number, if one was issued.
(xii) The primary usage such as, pleasure, rental/livery, manufacturer/dealer/jobber, commercial passenger, and the like.
(xiii) A certificate of ownership. For initial registration in this Commonwealth this shall be supported by title, bill of sale, a completed PFC-734 "Statement of Purchase" or other positive proof of ownership.
(xiv) The date the applicant completed the form.
(xv) The signature of the owners and certification, under penalty of law, that they are the owners of the boat and that the information contained in the application is true and correct.
(xvi) Complete Sales and Use Tax information.
(xvii) The date of birth of the primary registrant.

(3) Manufacturers, jobbers or dealers. Paragraph (2)(iv)--(x) and (xvi) do not apply to manufacturers, jobbers or dealers.
(4) Boat rental business. Paragraph (2)(viii) and (ix) does not apply to a boat rental business if a motor is not rented with the boat.
(5) Incomplete or incorrect applications. Incomplete or incorrect applications will not be processed until completed and may be returned by the Commission to the applicant or issuing agent.

Proving Ownership of Your Boat for Initial Registration
§ 93.14. Proof of ownership for initial registration.
(a) Proof of ownership for initial registration shall be established by a manufacturer's certificate of origin indicating transfer of ownership from the manufacturer, distributor or dealer to the applicant if the boat was manufactured after January 1, 1993. When registering a new boat for the first time, the original manufacturer's certificate of origin shall be attached to the Form REV-336 and submitted to the Commission.
(b) If a manufacturer's certificate of origin is not available, proof of ownership shall be established by one of the following:

(1) A bill of sale or invoice executed by the seller showing the following:

(i) The name and address of the seller.
(ii) The name and address of the purchaser.
(iii) The name and address of the legal owner.
(iv) The location, date of sale and description of the boat, including the hull identification number if the boat was built after October 31, 1972.
(v) Any other serial number on the boat if it was built prior to October 31, 1972.

(2) A properly endorsed document indicating title if the boat has been registered and issued a title by another state.

(c) If neither a manufacturer's certificate of origin nor the documents described in subsection (b) are available, the applicant shall submit an executed Form PFBC-734 (Affidavit of Purchase/Ownership) fully setting forth the facts to support the applicant's claim of ownership in the boat. Applications seeking to prove ownership of homemade boats shall be supported with bills of sale for the major components of the boat. Affidavits are executed under penalty of law.
(d) A manufacturer, dealer or other person may not sell or otherwise transfer a new watercraft to a dealer for the purposes of display or resale without delivering to the dealer a completed manufacturer's certificate of origin. A dealer may not purchase or acquire a new watercraft without obtaining from the seller thereof the manufacturer's certificate.
(e) This section applies to initial registration of a boat. It does not apply to registration of boats previously or currently registered in this Commonwealth.

Pennsylvania Basic Boating Course:
The Boat Store - Northeast - 6/1/02 - 9:00 AM - ask for Ron

Western Crawford County / WCO Joe Russell
Pymatuning Lake- The Lake is still high this week and that is causing some problems for anglers in being able to catch fish. We are still better off than Shenango Lake that is supposedly 9 feet above normal pool so the foot that we are up right now doesn’t look too bad. All of the access areas are open and usable however some of the ends of the docks are under water so boots are a good idea. Some lucky anglers have been able to land a few nice size fish however most of the boats coming in are reporting very light if any catches. Worms bounced off the bottom are still the hot producer on a chartreuse jig head. Depths seem to be varying from 7 to 15 feet. Should you happen to see the Fish and Boat Commission pontoon boat on the lake this week take notice of it because it is a one of a kind. They are using a hopper on the end of a pontoon boat to make gravel beds for fish habitat. In speaking with Mr. Dave Houser this is the only pontoon of its kind in the nation for this type of work. They can load gravel from shore then take it out and dump it in large piles, and it will haul up to a ton at a time. It is very ingenious and extremely helpful. I will have pictures next week of the operation. For those interested the gravel piles are going in around the handicap area at the southern end of the lake by the pines. We are also doing porcupine cribs for habitat and those are supposed to be sunk on the North side of the causeway towards the Ohio side of the lake.

Conneaut Lake- High water continues to be problem here with a lot of private docks and our access under water. Hopefully by this weekend the water will recede enough for some boating and fishing activity. Warmer weather would certainly help also. I haven't seen much activity here yet so I can’t report on any fish caught but with the cold temps we have been having I am not surprised.

I spoke with WCO Morris this afternoon and as of Tuesday 5/21/2002 all of the ramps at Shenango Lake except for the recreation area next to Route 18 are closed due to high water. This is supposedly the case at Kinzu Dam as well where all the accesses are under water. Looks like Pymatuning right now is the only safe bet for access unless we get a lot more rain before the holiday weekend.

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