WCO Report for Erie and Crawford County 11/13/02: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: November 12, 2002

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Posted by WCO John Bowser on November 12, 2002 at 21:01:23:

Western Erie County / WCO John Bowser & DWCO Randy Leighton

The Steelhead fishery is in full swing now. Fresh fish came in with the Sunday rains. Officers have been busy round the clock with several over-limit & netting violations as well as the usual landowner requests, snagging, littering, and parking violations. Even though it has been rather hectic and patience sometimes runs a bit thin, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many anglers that have voiced words of appreciation for our efforts either in person or via email. I guess it would be best compared to getting in that good nap in the middle of the day that erases the tiredness and allows you to continue your efforts refreshed. Thanks from all the Erie officers.

Dead birds... Many questions & reports have been received concerning dead birds along the shoreline. In an effort to provide accurate info (since I am not a biologist) the following is an article out of Toronto that pretty well explains things...
Scientists investigate toxin, mussel threats in Lake Erie
August 11, 2002
TORONTO - Canadian and American scientists are keeping a close eye on Lake Ontario after thousands of dead fish and birds washed up on the shores of Lake Erie this summer.
For the third consecutive year, fish and bird carcasses have littered beaches along Lake Erie on both sides of the border.
Researchers believe a potentially deadly toxin, created by type E botulism, is to blame.
Lake Ontario is downstream from Lake Erie, and researchers believe the toxin could hit the next lake by the fall.
The toxins pose a potential health risk to people who don't cook the fish they catch thoroughly enough to eliminate bacteria. The toxin has to be consumed to make people sick.
FROM JULY 3, 2002: Scientists investigate salamander deaths in Lake Erie
Scientists suspect botulism bacteria arrived about 10 years ago when ships from the Caspian Sea introduced exotic species such as the zebra mussel to the Great Lakes.
Meanwhile, researchers in Cleveland, Ohio, say a cousin of the zebra mussel may be the reason oxygen levels are dropping in Lake Erie.
The thumbnail-size clams, called quagga mussels, produce phosphorus-rich waste, which has created a low-oxygen "dead zone" in the lake, the researchers said.
Phosphorus in fresh water acts as a nutrient for algae. When algae or other organic matter decomposes, it sucks oxygen from the water. Fish need oxygen to survive.
This summer, a team of 27 researchers is studying the dead zone for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Central Erie County / WCO Tom Edwards & DWCO Bryan Brendley
Perch: A recent walk of the S. Pier checking perch anglers showed very poor catches. No person was even close to a limit and all were under 5 in the creel. Public dock was showing small catches also but the perch were definitely larger in size. If you want to catch perch and you have a boat head down towards the East side of the Erie Yacht Club for good results.

Bass: The bay is wide open for those willing to put the boat in. Recent weather has given us a couple of decent days with calm conditions and the catches seem to be pretty fair.

Crappie: I keep hearing rumors but nothing certain, people were observed fishing across from Cascade condos but they had just started when I had gotten there. If you have any good crappie spots and you don't mind sharing give me an email.

Steelhead: Cascade still shows no activity but that may have changed with the recent rains. 4-mile has good fish behind the Lawrence Park Fish Club and the pressure is fairly light.

Edinboro Lake: Still in the draw down mode for dam repairs.

Something of Interest:

What: A public auction to sell used, confiscated, or unclaimed boats.
When: May 3, 2003
Where: Big Spring Fish Culture Station
844 Big Spring Road
Newville, PA 17241
Cumberland County
More information coming in January/February 2003.

DWCO Brian Brendley...
After having lived in Pennsylvania for 29 years, until
2002, I never knew that there was a PA Fish and Boat
Commission. Now I am a Deputy Waterways Conservation
Officer. How times change.

Over the past two years, I had started taking classes
in Criminal Justice at Gannon University in Erie, PA.
I became interested in law enforcement, but I realized
that I would not be able to take the time away from my
family to go through a full Act 120 academy. Early in
2002, a friend told me about the deputy program in the
Fish Commission, and I was put in touch with WCO John
Bowser. Officer Bowser informed me what I had to
submit to the regional office, and eventually I was
asked to come down to Meadville to take a evaluation
test. After a while I was informed that I passed the
exam and had to begin getting fingerprinted and having
a background check done by the Fish Commission.
Concurrent with all of this, I had to take and pass
Act 235, the PA Lethal Weapons Training Program. Act
235 includes course work, written exams, a physical
examination, a psychological evaluation, use of
physical force training, handcuffing, and a firearms
qualification exam.

In addition, Act 235 requires more fingerprinting (the
PA State Police were seeing a lot of me by this point)
and background checks by the PSP and the FBI. Once I
jumped through all of these hoops, I was finally
notified that I was accepted to the HR Stackhouse
School of Fisheries Conservation and Watercraft Safety
in Bellefonte, PA. The deputy program ran for four
four-day sessions in May, June, August, and September.
I departed in May, not knowing what awaited me in Bellefonte...
(to be continued)

Eastern Erie County / WCO Mark Kerr
(We are giving Mark a break this week as he has been the lead officer in the majority of the poaching cases recently and needs a well deserved rest)
Hi 50 F
Lo 39 F

Partly Cloudy AM
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Lo 40 F

Mostly Cloudy
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Mostly Cloudy
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Hi 48 F

Western Erie County / WCO Joe Russell
Pymatuning Lake- Walleye are being caught with regularity now on the south end of the lake especially around the handicap point where we placed all the gravel beds this year. Almost all the activity has been limited to the south west side of the lake but fishermen tell me they are catching fish just about every time they go out. Jigs and minis are still the bait of choice and some sonar's are being productive as well. I have also checked fishermen at the spillway who informed me that they have been having limited success at the wall just outside the spillway using jigs. Perch are also being caught here and closer to the wire using jigs as well. Most of the activity here is taking place at night. Tipping your jig with a mini also seems to be a favorite trick of the trade for these guys who are having luck.
Conneaut Lake- White bass are hitting well now and they are running in fairly big schools. Luck for the sea gulls to flock to a certain area and start diving on the baitfish and that is were you want to be. The bait fish will be jumping out of the water as the white bass are under them looking for a meal. Cast into them with a shiny silver spoon or silver lure that represents a fish and you should have pretty good luck. You will need a boat though as they seem to migrate throughout the lake.

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