WCO Report for Erie and Western Crawford County 12/04/02: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: December 04, 2002

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Posted by WCO John Bowser on December 04, 2002 at 08:41:16:

Winter has pounded the Erie Lake shore over the last week with night time temperatures dropping in the teens. Ice has begun to form on most of the tribs with limited open water. The Walnut basin has thinly frozen over, although as of this writing the Walnut Channel is still open for those hearty anglers willing to brave the elements. Fish remain mostly in the upper areas of the tribs and will be scattered through out the open pools. Ice cold water temperatures often make the fish unwilling to bite and working small jigs can often be the ticket to triggering a strike.

Ice Caution:
Anglers intent on breaking up ice, especially in the larger pools such as Manchester, can be putting themselves in danger and most often end up doing little more then spooking the fish they are after. If you must break up an icy pool, do so from the edge and work in small sections to avoid large ice flows. A good rule of thumb is that it takes a good solid 3 inches of ice to safely support one person. Anglers wading in ice water are urged to use felt bottom waders for good traction in ice and snow. Open top rubber chest waders can be a hazard this time of year as they will fill quickly with ice water upon falling. With harsh fishing conditions that winter brings it is a good idea to fish with a buddy or at least carry a cell phone, especially when fishing the more remote areas.

Frequently Asked Questions about Pennsylvania's new boating safety education bill.
Q. When will SB 463 take effect?
A. If signed into law by Governor Schweiker, it will take effect 60 days after he signs it. This means that the new requirements will be effective for the 2003 boating season in Pennsylvania.
Q. Who will have to take a boating course once this bill takes effect?
A. Persons born on or after January 1, 1982 will need to have completed a boating safety education course and obtain a boating safety education certificate in order to operate a boat propelled by internal combustion motor of greater than 25 horsepower. Q. How does this affect the existing requirement for operators of personal watercraft to have boating safety certificates?
A. Existing regulations requiring anyone who operates a personal watercraft, such as a jet skiŽ, remain in effect. Persons born before January 1, 1982 will still need to complete a boating course and obtain a boating safety certificate to operate a jet skiŽ or similar device.
Q. Who is exempt from the new requirements?
A. Certain residents of other states, landowners and their families operating motorboats on private ponds on their properties, and persons operating unpowered boats, boats powered by electric motors and boats powered by an internal combustion motor of 25 horsepower or less. In addition, the Commission may, by regulation, exempt others from these requirements.
Q. What about rental boats?
A. The law contains no express exemption for operators of boats rented from boat liveries. The Commission has already received suggestions that this is an area that should be addressed by regulation (as it has been for personal watercraft).
Q. Where can I get a boating course?
A. It's easier than ever to take a boating course and obtain a boating safety education certificate. Courses are available on-line from the Commission's web site and through video home study programs. In addition, the Commission and many other organizations offer boating safety courses. The winter months are the often best time to take these courses.
Q. What are the fees for boating safety certificates and when do they take effect?
A. The fee is $10 for a boating safety certificate (good for a lifetime). If Governor Schweiker signs this bill into law, this fee will take effect 60 days later. The bill also provides for a $5 fee for replacement certificates. The Commission already has a $5 administrative processing charge for replacement certificates, so this fee will not change.
Q. I already have taken a boating course and earned a boating safety education certificate. Does this bill mean I need to get a new certificate?
A. No. Certificates issued prior to the effective date of this legislation remain valid for the holders' lifetimes. Since 1999, the Fish and Boat Commission has issued over 100,000 boating safety education certificates to Pennsylvania boaters.
Q. What's the fine for a violation of the boating safety certificate requirement?
A. After the bill takes effect (if signed into law by the Governor), a violation will be a summary offense of the second degree under the Fish and Boat Code, which carries a $100 fine.
More details are available on the PFBC Website...

Erie Forecast 12/4/02:
Wednesday: Cloudy. High 28F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.
Wednesday night: Cloudy. Low 23F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph.
Thursday: Cloudy. Temperatures steady in the upper 20s. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph.
Thursday (24 hours): Overcast. Highs in the upper 20s and lows in the low 20s.
Friday (24 hours): Snow showers. Highs in the upper 20s and lows in the low 20s.
Saturday (24 hours): Overcast. Highs in the upper 30s and lows in the upper 20s.

Officer Edwards was on vacation last week, so this
week we feature the ongoing saga of the Deputy Diaries
by DWCO Bryan Brendley.

Our second four-day training session at the academy
featured the best and the worst of the training -
firearms training and the dreaded pepper spray
training. We had to report to school with our duty
gear - for those of us who had never owned such
things, figuring out what to purchase and then
figuring out how to pay all the cost were major
dilemmas. Luckily, I happened to know a local
retailer and he helped me decide on what I needed in
terms of a holster, handcuffs, ASP baton, flashlight
holder, and speedloader cases. The cost of the duty
gear and the new handgun were now over $500, but at
least it was going to be tax-deductible!

When we arrived at school on Thursday night, safety
was of ultimate importance. We were assigned handgun
lockers and our firearms were locked up as we entered
the building. The class then went through handgun
safety and training in the classroom before we went up
to the range. Our first session at the firing range
was done without any live ammunition to familiarize
the trainees with their firearms. We learned how to
acquire sight-picture, holstering without looking,
moving around barricades, and correct loading and
unloading procedures. It was at this time we learned
that we had to do dimfire qualifications, so many of
us decided to invest in tritium-based night sights on
our duty firearms.

We all knew it was coming - the pepper spray training
that involved being exposed to the spray ourselves. I
don't like hot foods, I don't like pain, so I was very
nervous about how I would react to the spray. We had
a class taught by Regional Managers Brian Burger and
Emil Svetahor on how the pepper spray is obtained from
the pepper plants, the correct spray patterns, and the
like. We then filed outside.

We then paired up and half the class lined up
shoulder-to-shoulder as RM Burger took out the OC
spray. I was in the first group. WE were told not to
break ranks until ordered and to keep our eyes open.
Mr. Burger then walked down the line spraying us. The
first pass went right into my eyes. As he moved to my
right, I heard him yell that someone closed their eyes
and to stay in line. He sprayed us a second time, but
as at that moment the burn kicked in and I started to
gasp. The second spray hit me in the right ear and
went into my mouth. My partner quickly ran over to me
as I began to shake. He got me to the rinse bucket
and I kept my face under water as long as possible,
came up for a breath, and went back in the water
again. And again. And again.

OC spray is bad. Very bad and very hot. I have NEVER
been in that much pain as I labored to breathe and to
keep my eyes open. I have to say that I am glad that
I know how incapacitating OC spray can be. One of my
classmates called it the "can of fire and brimstone"
and "the hammer of Thor" on my duty belt.

To be continued...

(reprinted from the PFBC Website)
A Safety Checklist for Ice Anglers
Here are some tips and tricks to make your ice fishing days safer and more enjoyable.Always Take a Partner Along
Let others know exactly where you are going and when you will return. Layer It
Know how to dress for cold weather by using the layering system. Layering makes it easier to remove or put clothes back on if you get too warm or too cold. The first layer should be thermal underwear that wicks away perspiration. Your second layer should be insulating like fleece, wool or flannel pants and shirts. The outside layer should be a windproof and waterproof jacket or down-filled coat with a hood.
Don't forget to wear a warm wool, fleece or knit hat. Avoid cotton because it's not a good insulator, especially when wet. Happy Feet and Hands
Wear insulated waterproof or rubber boots.
Wear liner socks and a pair of thick wool or non-cotton socks.
Keep your boots loose to avoid cutting off warm circulation to your feet.
Wear neoprene or waterproof nylon mittens to protect your hands from the icy water. Or wear thin rubber gloves (hospital type) to allow flexibility, and then slip them under mittens. Things to Bring
Small bag of sand to sprinkle around your ice hole for better traction.
Extra dry clothes and socks in case you get wet.
Energy-rich snacks and warm drinks to fuel you through the cold day.
A coil of rope to use in case someone falls through the ice.
Small first aid kit in case you need to treat an injury.
Matches stored in a waterproof container or 35mm film canister in case you need to start a fire.
Home-made ice awls carried in an easily accessible outer pocket.
PFD seat cushion to use as a seat or flotation in case of an emergency.
Hand warmers.

Watch Your Step
Never fish on ice that's less than 4 inches thick.
Avoid areas where there are feeder streams and springs.
Avoid dark, honeycombed or porous ice. Oops!
Don't panic if you fall through the ice. Remain calm.
Use ice awls to pull yourself up onto the ice.
No ice awls? Try "swimming out," which lets your body rise up and allows you to get onto firm ice.
Use your legs to kick behind you to keep from being pulled under.
If you can't get to safety, call for help.
Slip your "loose boots" off to make treading water easier.
Keep your clothes on because they will insulate you from the cold water.
Once on the ice, stay low and distribute your weight over as much surface area as possible.
If someone else falls in, always remember to use Reach (stick fishing, pole), Throw (rope, PFD, anything that floats), Row (row or push a boat), Go (call for help). Know When to Quit
If you become wet, immediately change into dry clothes and seek warm shelter.
If you feel cold, it's because you are cold. Head home for some warm soup!!!
Watch out for frostbite (pale skin on exposed flesh). Treat it with warm water.
Watch out for hypothermia (shivering, loss of judgment). Treat it with warm fluids, dry clothes, a blanket and warm shelter.
Stop fishing if you become tired or cold. Remember that there will always be plenty of other days to go ice fishing.

Pymatuning Lake- Unfortunately I have not been around for the last week to see if anyone has been catching fish, however I can tell you that as of this evening (12/3/2002) the lake appears to be skimmed over with ice so it would seem that the boating season is over for a while. A tragedy nearly took place this weekend when 4 people in a boat capsized and were stranded in the water. I was not able to respond but another officer was contacted and was supposed to respond for me but from what I understand everyone made out OK. Luckily one of the boaters had a cell phone and was able to call 911 and summon help immediately, otherwise it could have been much worse with hypothermia or worse. My hat is off to all the volunteer ambulance, fire, rescue, and dive team members who responded to help. These people deserve our respect and admiration for all they do and all they give to our community of their own time. If you know of someone in one of these positions take a second to thank them for a job well done and if you don't know them even better just stop by their station and say thank you.

Conneaut Lake-
I have not had any reports forwarded to me this week from here and as I said I was gone for the week so nothing to report from here.

Horsepower requirements for Pymatuning- The public comment period has ended now so all that is left is for the powers that be to tally up the results. We will be having a meeting with all the heads of the departments sometime soon and see what all the comments were then they will be compiled and taken to the legislative leaders if everyone wants a raise or it will be dropped and nothing further said if the majority doesn't want one. As soon as we know something that is definitive I will pass it along.

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