WCO Report for Erie and Crawford County 02/11/2003: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: February 12, 2003

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Posted by DWCO Randy Leighton on February 12, 2003 at 08:36:41:


West county tribs are all nearly frozen over again with very little open water. The Walnut Basin is full of large chunk ice with only a few small areas smooth enough to fish on.
Anglers targeting steelhead have been doing fair on the ice near shore at Trout Run. Again, use caution around ice dunes. They are typically hollow, and upon falling through can trap an unsuspecting angler.

Reports from anglers ice fishing Presque Isle Bay this past weekend indicated fair to spectacular success. As is so often, it is a matter of the right place at the right time. The most success has been on the Peninsula side of the bay off the second and third parking lots in 8 to 10 feet of water. Successful anglers indicated that patience, moving around when they weren't biting, and carefully watching for those subtle strikes will bring them through the ice. Once you find a school, minnows, jigs, grubs and waxworms all seemed to be working well. A good number of 12" plus perch have been brought in. One individual indicated success with plastic trout worms. Ice thickness this past weekend was reported anywhere from 8" along the edges of the bay to as thick as 14" in many areas.

A good number of ice boats were observed over the weekend. Typically they will run along the Southwest end of Presque Isle Bay. Anglers are again advised to be on the lookout. These speedsters can move as fast a s 5 or 6 times the speed of the wind and although a good operator can control his ice boat well, they do occasionally tip and go out of control. Ice boaters are again reminded that their vessels are treated as boats and require that a PFD be on board (or preferably worn)

WCO Brook Tolbert:
WCO Brook Tolbert, who is replaceing retired WCO John Bowser, will begin his duties in West Erie County, District 1014 on March 1, 2003. All the Erie officers, and especially the Deputies of District 1014 who will be under his supervision, would like to extend a warm and successful welcome to Brook.

Erie Outdoor Sport and Travel Expo 2003 Erie Sport Show :
This show is a great way to beat the cabin fever and for those interested in learning more about fishing our specific area, it is a must see event! This show is over 20 years strong and gets bigger and better every year. Hundreds of booths by vendors displaying the latest hunting and fishing gear, chartered trips, camping gear and vehicles, ATVs , along with local sportsmen's clubs, the PFBC and the PGC, and many others offering the latest in outdoor sports. Tempting bargains are to be had for the eager shopper and there are great seminars and demonstrations all throughout the weekend. The show is held at the Family First Sports Park (It outgrew the Erie Civic Center a number of years ago) at 8155 Oliver Road in Erie. This is accessed at the Peach Street exit on I-90. Parking is free. Show times are Friday February 28th from Noon to 9:00 PM, Saturday March 1st from 10:00 AM to 8:30 PM, and Sunday March 2nd from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. PFBC officers from the Erie area will be on hand through out the week end to answer questions. We will look forward to seeing you there.

CENTRAL ERIE COUNTY / WCO Tom Edwards and DWCO Bryan Brendley

Bay perch fishing is marching along with the continued cold weather and the catch rates seem to be the same as they have been the last couple of weeks. Recent checks at East Ave. boat launch has seen catches of Steelhead through the ice.

A late winter stocking of Fairview Gravel Pits will be completed the week of February 17, 2003.

Tragically a man lost his life yesterday while operating his SUV on Sassafrass St. pier. Investigations are continuing by the Erie City Police Department. Two ice fishermen responded to the scene and activated 911 emergency response. A thank you to these two anglers who helped out with the rescue even with the tragic ending.

The following is an except from the Executive Director to the House Game and Fisheries Committee:

"According to the most recent information released from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the American Sportfishing Association, fishing generates about $1.6 billion annually in economic impact for Pennsylvania. It supports over 14,000 jobs, and contributes about $54 million to the state's General Fund in state sales and income taxes."

"Active law enforcement is an important part of our boating safety efforts. Improved training and tools for our officers resulted in a record number of 70 BUI cases being prosecuted last year. Thatís an increase over the previous record number of BUI cases, 54 in 2001."

"During 2002, officers issued 4,131 citations and 17,816 warnings for violation of fishing laws and regulations. Along with that, officers issued 4,060 citations and 19,005 warnings for violations of the boating laws and regulations."

The following are from the PFBC Main page largest fish of 2002, with regards to Lk Erie and its Tribs. For a complet list for the entire State visit the PFBC Main page.

Rock Bass, Lk Erie, 1 pound 8 ozs 11 inches
Smallmouth Bass, Lk Erie, 7 pounds, 24 inches
White Bass, Lk Erie, 1 pound 10 ozs, 12 inches
Carp, Elk Ck, 28 pounds, 29.5 inches
Fresh Water Drum (sheepshead) 7 pounds 10 ozs, 22 inches
White Perch , Lake Erie, 1 pound 9 ozs, 15.5 inches
Yellow Perch, Lake Erie, 2 pounds 4 ozs, 15 inches
Coho, Lake Erie, 11 pounds 10 ozs, 32 inches
Coho, Elk and Walnut Ck, 10 pounds 8 ozs.
Pink Salmon, Twentymile Ck, 4 pounds 4 ozs, 25 inches
Chinook Salmon, Lake Erie, 20 pounds 5.5 ozs, 35.5 inches
Chinook Salmon, Walnut Ck, 8 pounds 2 ozs, 27.75 inches
Steelhead, 18 pounds 11 ozs 37 inches
Brown Trout, Lake Erie, 13 pounds, 27 inches
Lake Trout, Lake Erie, 23 pounds 12 ozs, 35 inches
Good luck and stay warm.

The Central District would like to congradulate DWCO Don Benczakowski on his 15 years of service to the Bureau of Law Enforcement and DWCO Ben Suchocki on his nomination for Deputy of the Year for the Northwest Region. Both Don and Ben were honored by the Harrisburg and Region Law Enforcement staff at a regional Deputy meeting this past weekend.

As a reminder, under Section 5103 of Title 30 (Fish and Boat Code), persons born before January 1, 1982 who are operating motorboats with 26 horsepower or higher must be in possession of a PFBC-ISSUED safe boating card. Certificates from the US Coast Guard Auxilary, Power Squadron, etc. are NOT acceptable under this law. If you possess one of these approved course certifications, you must send the original to the Commission with a check or money order for $10. The new, hard plastic credit-card sized certificate is good indefinately. PFBC officers will also accept other STATE-ISSUED safe boating course certification card. These cards are issued by 40 of the 50 states.

It was announced at the regional meeting that DWCOs Brendley and McSkimming are compiling a history of the Bureau of Law Enforcement. Anyone in the area who has historical artifacts (patches, badges, pictures, etc.) are asked to contact DWCO Brendley at majorryals@bigfoot.com, or DWCO McSkimming at mcskimming@gannon.edu. They would like to take digital photos for inclusion in the book. THANKS!

The Erie WCOs and DWCOs welcome the opportunity to meet members of the community at the outdoor show at Family First the first weekend in March. We also extend our welcome to WCO Brook Tolbert who will begin his duties in Western Erie county on March 1.


Open House:
The Linesville Fish Culture Station OPEN HOUSE is scheduled for Sunday April
5, 2003 1pm to 4pm. Activities include fish spawning, viewing of incubating
eggs and newly hatched fry, electrofishing, observe fish culturist sorting,
sexing and aging fish, demonstrations of fishing techniques, casting,
filleting and our very own WCO Joseph Russell demonstrating SAFE BOATING
PRACTICES and answering all your law enforcement questions. Numerous indoor
activities for children including t-shirt fish prints.

Area News:
The Walnut Creek Access is tentatively scheduled to be dredged on or about
April 1, 2003 weather permitting. Dredging should take approximately three

Sand replenishment will begin at the North East Marina on or about April 28,
2003 and last about three weeks.

When fishing on the ice at Pymatuning Reservoir either PA or OH fishing
license is valid. This is similar to fishing from a boat on the reservoir.

I had report of a walleye being taken at Tamarack after dark. Three anglers
caught 17 walleyes ranging from 24'-28'. For some reason they would not
disclose their location. Walleyes are also being caught at Kinzua Reservoir
near Devils Elbow along shore, this is a long walk though.


Pymatuning Lake:
The fishing around the lake has slowed down considerably in the last few days with all of these low pressure systems coming through. Guys are reporting only sporadic catches off of the pines on the south end where we put the gravel beds in last year. For those of you that do not know this is just south of the new marina in Jamestown and on the western side of the lake just north of the park office. The best luck has been had straight out off the point about 20 yards. Live minnies and sonar's still seem to be the hot ticket when they are biting but don't plan on any fast and furious action this week as we are supposed to be getting several more storm fronts all week. I haven't heard any reports of anyone doing any good off the north end lately.

Conneaut Lake:
I have seen some huts out on the southern end but unfortunately I was on my way to a meeting and was unable to stop and see how they were doing. By the time I got back they were gone. Most of the huts seem to be down on the south end by Silver Shores restaurant and on the edge of the weed bed just out from Nyes Marina. If anyone has done any good hear let me hear from you.

Crystal Lake:
This lake is still getting hit pretty hard and it is still producing Bluegills. The best hours seem to be just before dark and minnies and jigs tipped with maggots or waxworms seem to be the hot ticket.

As I reported last week several fishermen have reported seeing worms in their catches of Bluegills, Crappies, and Bass. I had an opportunity to speak with our biologist this week from the hatchery and was informed they are called FLUKES. They are a normal occurrence that happens in fish as part of their life cycle. There are no reported cases of them being harmful to humans however most people will not eat them and wind up throwing the fish away. This is not necessary, if you take your fillet knife and use the point they can easily be removed and you can finish cleaning your catch. They are a normal occurrence that usually only appear in warmer waters during the summer, and the biologist were surprised to hear they were showing up now. With proper care and cleaning of you catch they should not be a problem


The Freeze is on:
Since the return of the winter-like conditions, streams have once again frozen over in all but the faintest spots. Since the fishing activity, with the exception of you die-hard ice anglers, has been curtailed for the time being, here are some bits of 'Cliff Clavin' trivia for you:

PFBC License Sales (2001, 2002 & +/- change):
Resident License: 829,995 (2001)... 798,412 (2002)... -31,989 (change)
Nonresident: 49,892 (2001)... 50,320 (2002)... +475 (change)
Senior Resident: 16,818 (2001)... 16,179 (2002)... -604 (change)
Senior Lifetime: 11,015 (2001)... 11,684 (2002)... +633 (change)
Trout Stamps: 686,618 (2001)... 657,886 (2002)... -28,302 (change)

Northwest Region Approved Trout Water Restorations:
The following waters have, once again, been re-added to the ATW list and are slated to receive stockings this spring...(1) Spring Creek-East Branch (Warren County)(2) Sugar Creek-East Branch (Venango County)(3) Caldwell Creek (Crawford & Warren Counties)(4) Hemlock Run (Warren County)(5) Sixmile Run (Warren County) PF&BC/PFC Grant Projects (as taken from PF&BC press release)The Pennsylvania Game Commission and Fish and Boat Commission have approved 15 projects in recent months that will benefit some of the Commonwealth's most troubled wildlife and fish species. Funded from a $2.5 million allocation provided by the State Wildlife Grant Program, a cost-share program administered through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Federal Aid Program, the 15 projects were selected from a field of 46 proposals. An advisory group, comprised of Game Commission and Fish and Boat Commission staff, reviewed and ranked the projects, which totaled more than $8 million in grant proposals. The Commissioners for both agencies then gave the appropriate approval for the selected projects. "It's a pleasure to designate funding to such worthwhile and important causes," noted Vern Ross, Game Commission executive director. "Managing Pennsylvania's wildlife is an expensive and never-ending job. When we can get some help, both locally and nationally, we welcome it. "None of these projects will lead to a net reduction in the Game Fund. But they will employ many local organizations to help us learn more about and better manage wildlife species with the greatest conservation concern." "These projects demonstrate what a new infusion of wildlife funding can accomplish," said Peter Colangelo, Fish and Boat Commission executive director. "Our two agencies have always had limited resources to direct toward species that are not hunted or fished, and yet that is where some of our greatest conservation challenges lie. Species with the greatest conservation need were the focus of this funding, and we have plenty of important work to do in that arena. A state-level revenue stream is needed to address unmet needs and to match potential future funding from federal or private sources." The U.S. Congress currently is considering federal legislation to reauthorize the State Wildlife Grants Program in the 2003 fiscal year. Other federal proposals being reviewed by Congress, including the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA), could provide additional federal dollars for wildlife projects. Projects approved by the two agencies include (PFBC related items have been shifted to all capital letters) : FISH BIODIVERSITY OF SELECTED TRIBUTARIES OF THE MONONGAHELA RIVER (Monongahela River tributaries from West Virginia/PA Border to confluence of the Allegheny River): This project will provide a comprehensive inventory of fish biodiversity in selected tributaries along the entire course of the Monongahela River in Pennsylvania. Documentation of "Species of Special Concern" and their associated critical habitats will be a major focus and distribution maps, which can be integrated into existing databases and will be created for all species encountered. Project cooperator is California University of Pennsylvania. SWG funding was awarded in the amount of $120,983 towards a total project cost of $205,056. FRESHWATER MUSSEL AND FISH ASSEMBLAGE HABITAT USE AND SPATIAL DISTRIBUTIONS IN THE FRENCH CREEK WATERSHED: REFERENCE TO WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA UNIONID PROTECTION AND RESTORATION (Erie, Crawford, Mercer, and Venango, and Lawrence counties): This project will involve field research on Unionid populations and associated fish assemblages throughout the French Creek, and Allegheny and Shenango river watersheds to build on previous research by WPC biologists and expand understanding of habitat use, physical and chemical stresses, and spatial distributions of state and globally imperiled freshwater mussel species. Project cooperator is the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. SWG funding was awarded in the amount of $228,400 towards a total project cost of $382,100. RANGE DETERMINATION AND METAPOPULATION ASSESSMENT OF THE EASTERN MASSASAUGA RATTLESNAKE IN PENNSYLVANIA (Butler, Crawford, Lawrence, Mercer, and Venango counties): This project will benefit the Commonwealth by determining the range and specific distribution of the Massasauga Rattlesnake in Pennsylvania, which will include assessment of historical sites, new sites, and conduct spatial analysis. In addition, this would provide assistance to rural communities in western Pennsylvania by evaluating potential development areas for the presence of this species. Project cooperator is the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. SWG funding was awarded in the amount of $157,725 towards a total project cost of $210,300. TIMBER RATTLESNAKE SITE ASSESSMENT AND INVENTORY (Statewide): This project will classify historic timber rattlesnake sites, provide accurate locational information and habitat boundaries, and assess den viability and threats. This study will assist the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission in protecting rattlesnake dens, and provide much needed information on the relative population health and status of the timber rattlesnake in Pennsylvania. Project cooperator is The Nature Conservancy. SWG funding was awarded in the amount of $30,000. Peregrine Falcon Satellite Telemetry (Statewide): Satellite telemetry units will be placed on nestling peregrine falcons in Pennsylvania to track their activity for up to three years. This is the second year of funding for the three-year project. Many adult peregrines no longer migrate in the winter. Yet each fall, the young falcons disappear from their home ranges, presumably to head south. Few of these are ever seen again. Why? This project seeks to answer that question. Project Cooperator is the Canadian Peregrine Foundation. SWG funding was awarded in the amount of $22,000 towards a total project cost of $36,000. The Game Commission currently is maintaining a section on its website so that the public can follow the migration of four peregrine falcons that were fitted with satellite-telemetry units in 2002. (Go to www.pgc.state.pa.us, click on "Wildlife," then choose "Peregrine Falcon," and then select "Peregrine Falcon Research Study.") A COMPREHENSIVE DATABASE OF PENNSYLVANIA MAMMAL SPECIMENS (Statewide): This project will result in published manuscript providing distribution information for all mammal species in Pennsylvania. Priority will be given to state and federal listed species. The project also will create a database containing all known records of specimens of Pennsylvania mammals. Project cooperator is The Nature Conservancy, PA Science Office. SWG funding was awarded in the amount of $35,000 towards a total project cost of $47,400. OASES ALONG THE FLYWAY: PRESERVING CRITICAL STOPOVER HABITAT FOR MIGRATING SONGBIRDS IN PENNSYLVANIA (Statewide): This project will develop land acquisition and management strategies to conserve stopover habitats used by songbirds as they travel through Pennsylvania during migration. National Weather Service Doppler Radar data and a Geographic Information System will be used to identify important stopover areas, and assess habitat and landscape features that affect which areas migrants use. Project Cooperator is Audubon New Jersey. SWG funding was awarded in the amount of $91,860 towards a total project cost of $122,485. MIGRANT RAPTOR AND SONGBIRD HABITAT USE IN PENNSYLVANIA. (Kittatinny Ridge/Central Appalachian Mountains) This project will study specific roosting and foraging habitat and time budgets on migration of sharp-shinned hawks. Intensive and extensive data on habitat use by migrating raptors will be gathered using radio-telemetry. In addition, raptor and songbird habitat use and ridge-fidelity will be quantified with surveys on and off the ridge, and among habitat types. Project cooperator is Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. SWG funding was awarded in the amount of $130,000 towards a total project cost of $202,900. VERTEBRATES OF SPECIAL CONCERN IN PENNSYLVANIA: A GUIDE FOR RESEARCH, CONSERVATION, AND MANAGEMENT (Statewide): This project will result in the publishing of an edited technical volume on the rare, threatened and endangered vertebrates of Pennsylvania. The volume will provide detailed species accounts, maps, and research and management recommendations for each species of vertebrate of special concern in the state as well as an overview of the regions and habitats of greatest relevance. Project cooperator is Wilkes University. SWG funding was awarded in the amount of $40,000 towards a total project cost of $65,548. IMPORTANT MAMMAL AREAS PROJECT, PHASE II: PLANNING FOR IMPLEMENTATION (Statewide): This project embodies an approach to habitat acquisition and management that is proactive, voluntary, involves the general public in habitat conservation, and relies on science-based criteria to identify sites that provide essential habitat for mammal conservation. The second phase of the Important Mammal Areas Project will ensure that investments made by scientists, conservationists, sportsmen, and the general public, continue to build toward an ongoing important mammal areas program. Delineation of boundaries, buffers, and corridors for IMA's; development of 4-6 pilot management plans; publication of a book on critical habitats of Pennsylvania mammals; and contributions to education about mammals will accomplish this goal. Project cooperator is Indiana University of Pennsylvania. SWG funding was awarded in the amount of $35,000 towards a total project cost of $47,888. DISTRIBUTION AND LARGE-SCALE HABITAT ASSOCIATION OF SNOWSHOE HARES IN PENNSYLVANIA (Northern Tier of Pennsylvania): This project aims to delineate the geographic distribution and large-scale habitat associations of snowshoe hares across northern Pennsylvania by collecting fecal pellet groups deposited by rabbits and hares and then extracting DNA from fecal pellets to discern the presence of snowshoe hare. Project cooperative is Pennsylvania State University. SWG funding was awarded in the amount of $80,000 towards a total project cost of $115,200. CONTINUATION OF A STATE-WIDE MONITORING PROGRAM FOR THE THREATENED NORTHERN FLYING SQUIRREL (Wayne, Pike, Sullivan, Carbon, and Monroe counties): This project will continue to support a habitat study and state-wide monitoring program for the threatened northern flying squirrel in Pennsylvania. Funding would extend the radio-telemetry study to explore interactions between the northern flying squirrel and the southern flying squirrel, conduct genetic analyses of the northern flying squirrel populations, and continue to develop the monitoring program. Project cooperator is Wilkes University. SWG funding was awarded in the amount of $35,000 towards a total project cost of $46,800. IMPORTANT BIRD AREA CONSERVATION PROJECT (Statewide): This project will accelerate the protection of habitats for state-listed (Endangered, Threatened, Candidate) birds at Important Bird Area (IBA) sites throughout Pennsylvania. Efforts will be focused on implementing community-based habitat protection and management on IBA's statewide. Proposed implementation strategies include: IBA Stewardship Adoption Program; partnerships with landowners, land trust, government entities, land managers, and more; use of GAP data and GIS tools to identify additional sites; volunteer training; volunteer bird monitoring; and an aggressive public outreach effort. Project cooperator is Audubon Pennsylvania. SWG funding was awarded in the amount of $50,000 towards a total project cost of $644,500.

PLEASE NOTE: A copy of this press release, enhanced with links to related documents and additional background information, will be posted in the "News Release" section of the Fish and Boat Commission's web site at www.fish.state.pa.us


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