WCO Report for Erie and Crawford County 06/26/02: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: June 26, 2002

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Posted by WCO John Bowser on June 26, 2002 at 05:07:51:

Central Erie County / WCO Tom Edwards
A recent check of a tournament at East Ave. showed nice catches of Smallmouth mainly taken from the bay. These fishermen took some nice 5+ pounders during their two day event.

Perch fishing has been slow during the last couple of days but we expect it to pick up again due to the current weather conditions. The packs have moved to 25-30' of water east of the Sunoco cribs. Packs are also forming in about the same depth just North of the lighthouse.

Walleye packs are forming for the first time this year. Latest checks of boats have shown them in 50' of water apx. 2 miles due north of the Lighthouse. Success has come in the form of downrigging and planer boards with some decent catches of big eyes.

Northern Pike:
Pike are still being taken in the bay, mainly by those fishing for smallies, topwater lures are working best.

Many boat accidents occur from not maintaining a proper lookout. While operating a boat be aware of your surroundings including the area of operation and of course the operation of other vessels around you. Don't be a statistic.

There will be a team of local Department of Health persons sampling Bullheads in Presque Isle Bay this week, results will be posted as they come in.

Western Erie County / WCO John Bowser & DWCO Randy Leighton

Fish Kills ... have been observed the entire length of the lake this month. Post spawning stress, rapid temperature changes, oxygen depletion from plant growth, and more recently, botulism. Patrols have noted a large number of Mud Puppies floating on the Eastern side of Lake Erie. Lake Erie Research Unit & the Erie County Health Department are investigating.

Yellow Perch & Smallmouth fishing have been phenomenal and the Walleye & Steelhead are being landed by boaters as well. Looks like a great summer ahead. Be sure to take the time to check your safety equipment before you go out after these tasty fish. It's a lot cheaper if you do it than if you come in off the water & an officer does.

Walnut Creek Stream Cleanup ... will be held on Saturday, June 29th. The attempt is to pick up litter along the entire watershed & its tributaries. To register for the cleanup & free picnic afterward, call Rebecca Wise @ 814-835-5356. Volunteers should arrive at the Asbury Woods Nature Center at 4105 Asbury Road at 8:45 AM for their assignment. The picnic is scheduled for 1 PM following the cleanup. It is impressive to see the outpouring of support by local businesses, organizations, & individuals.

US Brig Niagara... is an impressive sight while underway on the lake. I came across her on a recent patrol and was able to get some photos. She is on her way now for a Great Lakes tour with a return to Homeport Erie on September 13th. The Maritime Museum is a worthwhile trip for angler's families or the entire family if the lake turns rough. I particularly enjoy the dual screen video presentation of the actual battle. As many times as I see it, it still brings patriotic goosebumps.

Shipwreck Location Website .... can be found at Larrys Underwater World of Sunken Ships.Discover Scuba Diving Lake Erie Shipwre . Some very useful info for divers & anglers alike with GPS coordinates provided as well as photos.

Snapping Turtles ... are on the move. A rash of calls came into my office regarding Snapping Turtles in shopping center parking lots and city intersections. DWCO Mike Reed was available and handled the capture & transfer of these wandering critters. Extreme caution should be used in handling as their jaws can severe a finger.

Eastern Erie County / WCO Mark Kerr

Call for Nominations - The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is seeking nominations for the 2002 Ralph W. Abele Conservation Heritage Award. The deadline for nominations is August 30, 2002. The award will be presented at an appropriate ceremony in the fall of 2002. The Ralph W. Abele Conservation Heritage Award is the highest recognition the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission can confer on persons who distinguish themselves in the cause of conservation. The PFBC established the Abele Award to recognize citizens of Pennsylvania who have made outstanding contributions to the protection, conservation and enhancement of the aquatic resources of the Commonwealth. The award serves as a memorial to Ralph Abele for his steadfast and courageous work in protecting and conserving our natural resources.
The Abele Award is presented to a Pennsylvanian who has dedicated his or her time and energy to the conservation of the state's natural resources, specifically the aquatic resources, through one or more of the following accomplishments:
Personally invested heavily in the long-term education of Pennsylvania's youth on conservation issues vital to an improved aquatic environment.
Put at risk their person and livelihood to undertake public activities and positions on behalf of improving and protecting the aquatic resources of Pennsylvania.
Led a regional or statewide environmental effort that has been recognized for its duration and success in protecting and enhancing the aquatic resources of Pennsylvania.
Played a leading role in reclaiming and enhancing a major significant natural water resource within the Commonwealth.
Led an effort to pass major environmental legislation for the protection, conservation and enhancement of the natural environment of Pennsylvania.
Brought national recognition to Pennsylvania through personal activities, actions and contributions to the aquatic resources. Employees and active Commissioners of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission are not eligible for this award
Nominations may be sent to Dennis Guise, Deputy Executive Director/Chief Counsel, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, P.O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000 by no later than August 30, 2002. Nominations may also be submitted by electronic mail to dguise@state.pa.us. The nominations should describe, in a maximum of three typewritten pages, the following
Biographical Information.
How the nominee meets the categories for recognition.
Specific accomplishments of the nominee.
Past recognitions of the nominee.
Affiliations of the nominee.
Additional information to warrant award of this honor.

Western Crawford County / WCO Joe Russell

Pymatuning Lake-The fishing has slowed quite a bit now with the lake warming up but the smart angler have taken to targeting the fish later in the day to have a little success. Bass (white and Smallmouth) have been doing really well off the causeway towards sunset and right after dark. Minnie's and worms seem to be doing really well. The fish for the weekend though was all the muskies that were caught around the Jamestown beach area trolling with large lures. One fisherman stated when checked that this was by far the best year he had ever had and if we wanted to see one we should wait around only a couple of minutes because he would have another that quick. Crappies and Bluegills are still doing good in the shallows especially around structure however if you want to have fun catching them think light tackle and rods. Don't forget as reported earlier the Manning boat ramp closes this week for upgrades and will be closed for 5 to 6 weeks and after that the Jamestown launch will be done, if you use these ramps usually you need to make alternate plans.

Conneaut Lake- If you haven't been here lately you probably don't know about the fish kill or the smell that accompanied it over the last 2 weeks. A large fish kill took place on Conneaut Lake recently involving a lot of adult carp. Unfortunately the carp died off just about the same time that CLAMA (Conneaut Lake Aquatic Management Association) applied REWARD the commercial name for DIQUAT to kill off some of the millfoil in the lake, a non beneficial aquatic plant. Our biologist Mark Hartle was present during the application of about 2/3 of the herbicide and he states there was no problem with the application. This chemical becomes toxic to carp at around 67 parts per million (ppm), the application that was applied to the lake was between .7 and 1 ppm. During the application Mr. Hartle stated that he noticed several carp spawning in the weed beds and what he and the pathologist have stated is that they are dying from "spawning stress" (natural causes). Our region office has been swamped with calls wanting to know when we were going to "clean them up and what we were going to do about it". We don't have close to the recourses available that would be required to undertake such a job, however do to several state representatives calling with concerns myself and the assistant regional manager took the patrol boat out all day today and counted dead fish. The totals were 201 dead carp and 1 dead bass. In speaking with the people who are working for CLAMA who are picking them up for a public service they estimate close to 800 total for the 2 week period. No were near the 4000 that was reported to the state reps. CLAMA is also to be commended for there efforts in picking these fish up as it is not their job nor their responsibility but they are doing it for the community. The fish kill has absolutely nothing to do with the herbicide that was applied and was just an unfortunate timing of events. I have also had several boat accidents on Conneaut Lake in the last week, fortunately none with serious injuries however with the holiday weekend coming up I would like to ask that everyone slow down and enjoy the lake and boat safely.

With the upcoming holiday weekend approaching we will be stepping up patrols to prevent and curtail Boating Under the Influence (BUI) I have included some material on BUI borrowed from our main Fish and Boat web page to answer any questions you may have on BUI's. If in doubt leave the booze at home and boat without it.

Drinking, Boating and the Law

Are boating and alcohol compatible? Alcohol is the most commonly used drug in the U.S. Many people who use it are not aware of its dangers. Alcohol affects judgment, balance and vision. All of these faculties are integral components to boat operation. If any of the senses is affected, the likelihood of a boating accident increases. When mixing unpredictable water conditions, reckless behavior and alcohol, the combination is often tragic. May I drink in my boat? This answer depends on several variables including where you boat, how much you drink and other laws that pertain to alcohol. Alcohol is prohibited on land and water at all Pennsylvania state parks, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property and on many other waterways in the Commonwealth. Check with the local authorities before bringing alcohol into an area. In some places it is legal to drink on a boat. However, laws such as public drunkenness, disorderly conduct and underage drinking apply both to the operator and the passengers. It is illegal to operate a watercraft on all the waters of the Commonwealth while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.
How is my judgment affected? Alcohol reduces the brain's ability to integrate information from the five senses. Alcohol slows the messages to and from the brain. After a drink or two, you may think you are a better boater, but you may fail to detect hazards and maintenance problems. Your response time to these problems is also slowed. Alcohol increases risk-taking and causes daredevil behavior in some people. It leads us to believe that we can do things beyond our capability. This behavior is common among alcohol users, and when it occurs on the waterways, the consequences are often fatal.
Is my balance affected? According to laboratory studies, balance is one of the first things impaired by alcohol consumption. Even a small amount of alcohol causes a lack of stability. You may not notice a decrease in your balancing ability, but your inner ear and body do. Most boating fatalities in Pennsylvania are caused by capsized boats and falls overboard. An intoxicated person in dark, murky water might swim downward, unable to find the surface. Even the strongest swimmer impaired by alcohol might be unable to react properly when pitched unexpectedly into the water.
What is meant by "under the influence"? If chemical testing shows that the amount of alcohol by weight in the blood of a person is 0.10 percent or more, the person is under the influence as defined by law. However, if the amount of alcohol by weight in the blood is in excess of 0.05 percent but less than 0.10 percent, that fact may be considered with other competent evidence in determining whether the person was or was not under the influence of alcohol. How many drinks will make me feel intoxicated? You may be surprised how few drinks it takes to weaken your boat operating ability and judgment. Alcohol has varying visible effects on people. Some will slur words and stagger. Others may exhibit no signs. However, both people may be intoxicated and their abilities may be impaired. Alcohol effects vary with each individual according to food consumption, body weight, chemical makeup, personal drinking history and how fast a person consumes alcohol. These effects are intensified by additional stressors on the water, which include sun glare, boat vibrations, wind, waves, current and noise levels.
Is beer less intoxicating than whiskey? A bottle of beer or a glass of wine has about the same amount of ethyl alcohol as one ounce of gin, scotch or whiskey. The amount of alcohol a person drinks, not the kind of beverage, determines how intoxicated that person is.
Does alcohol cause tunnel vision? Although alcohol doesn't directly affect the eyes and vision, the ability to perceive what is seen may become distorted because alcohol slows the messages to and from the brain. Concentration is also decreased, which causes many people to focus only on what's directly in front of them.
Does alcohol warm a cold person? No. The body cools faster when alcohol is introduced into the system. Alcohol dilates the blood vessels, increasing heat loss. A few drinks can shorten survival time if a boater is unexpectedly immersed in cold water.
What is a quick way to sober up? There is no quick way. A cup of hot coffee or a cold shower will only make a drunk wet and wide awake. It takes approximately one hour for a drink (12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or one ounce of hard liquor) to leave the body of an average-sized person. A person could remain intoxicated for hours or even the next day after drinking.
How will the law enforcement officer test me to determine if I am under the influence? A Waterways Conservation Officer, having reasonable suspicion to believe a person is operating or in actual physical control of the movement of a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol, may request that person to submit to a preliminary breath test. This test may be administered before arrest. Other field sobriety tests have been developed and are approved for this purpose.
Does the law enforcement officer require my permission to test my blood alcohol content? Any person who operates or is in actual physical control of the movement of the watercraft, upon, in or through the waters of the Commonwealth shall be determined to have given consent to one or more chemical tests of breath, blood or urine for the purpose of determining the alcohol content of blood or the presence of a controlled substance. The Waterways Conservation Officer must have reasonable grounds to believe that the person has been operating or has been in actual physical control of the movement of the watercraft. If any person placed under arrest for operating a watercraft under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance is requested to submit to chemical testing and refuses, the test shall not be conducted. But the Commission shall suspend the boating privileges of the person for a period of 12 months. In addition to suspending boating privileges for one year, the fact that the defendant refused to submit to chemical testing may be introduced in evidence along with the other testimony concerning the circumstances of the refusal.
What happens if I am caught? 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 under-age drinking.
Why not boat safely? Safe boating operation requires a clear head, steady hand and observant eye. Alcohol diminishes these necessary ingredients for a safe and pleasurable day on the water. If you think enough of friends and loved ones' lives to stop them from driving a car after having too much to drink, why not do the same when you're on the water? Impaired skippers not only endanger their lives and their passengers' lives, but they can also ruin the lives of other boaters.

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