WCO Report for Erie and Crawford County 02/25/2003: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: February 25, 2003

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Posted by DWCO Randy Leighton on February 25, 2003 at 21:18:56:


A short warming trend this past week was enough to break up much of the ice on the West County tribs causing spectacular ice jams at the mouths of Walnut and Elk Creeks. There is some open water in the upper parts of the tribs as of this writing, and with predicted daytime temperatures hovering above freezing we may see soon see some open water on the tribs. Fish will be scattered during the melting conditions. The ice jams at the mouths will take some time to melt down. We have had some sunny days and along with the day time temperatures we may begin to start to see some melting on the bay and along the lakeshore. Anglers fishing the Bay and the Lakeshore have had plenty of ice, up to 18" thick in many areas. Areas near shore have had some melting with anglers having to walk through considerable slush before reaching solid surface ice. Good catches of perch abound along the Peninsula with the best catchesare coming off the second parking lot about 150 yards off shore. Anglers are reminded that a maximum of 5 tip ups are permitted. If rods are used, a maximum of 2 rods in combination with 3 tip ups are permitted. Holes drilled larger than 10" have been reported on the Bay which can be hazardous to an unsuspecting person walking the ice. Maximum ice hole diameter by regulation is 10".

CENTRAL ERIE COUNTY / WCO Tom Edwards / DWCO Bryan Brendley

Presque Isle Bay:
Ice continues to be very thick and the catches seem to be there for the patient angler. Popular areas remain to be Vista 3 on Presque Isle State Park and Chestnut St launch on the City side.

Law Enforcement:
Annual reports are out and I feel that it is our responsibility to inform the public what some of the more popular offense's from 2002 which were addressed by WCO's. This information should help you to have a more positive experience on the streams and on the water when a WCO or DWCO approaches you. In 2002 there were 4,131 citations issued for fishing violations throughout the Commonwealth. There were 17, 816 warnings given for fishing violations. Of those who received citations (a ticket) 1,556 of those 4,131 were fishing without a license. In 2002 there were 34, 978 boardings of vessels on Commonwealth Waters. 19,005 warnings were given and 4,060 citations were issued. Of those 4,060 citations, 1,528 were for Personal Flotation Devices. This number seems the most staggering to me, this law has been in existence for a number of years but it is still the number one citation issued on the boating side. I guess that the moral of the report is #1 buy a fishing license and #2 have PFD's onboard for each person. The full Bureau of Law Enforcement Report for 2002 can be seen at the PFBC Main Page at www.fish.state.pa.us

Stocking Information:
Fairview Gravel Pits was stocked last week but I caution anglers that the ice is not in my opinion, "safe ice". Some 1300 trout were stocked in the gravel pits and those who were daring enough to venture out onto 3 inches were doing pretty good. These fish all looked excellent.

Erie Sport Show:
Local WCO's will be present at the Erie Sports Show this coming weekend. As a special treat we will have WCO Shellgren from Forest County on Saturday to answer any questions regarding that area of the Northwest. Also again this year we will have WCO Russell who has the Pymatuning Area as well as WCO Crecraft and Assistant Region Manager Nestor both of whom are old Erie WCO's who have found comfort and peace in Crawford County.

For those of you who missed the last boating safety class at Stull Interpretive Center do not fear. WCO Kerr will be offering one next month and I will be doing another one I believe the second week of April here in the City (dates and place to be announced in next week's report).

Hope to see everyone this weekend at Family First Sports Park with special guest one-eyed Jake the painted turtle.

Important Conservation Information:
With all of the current news and budget discussions focusing on war and terrorism, sometimes conservation gets lost in the shuffle. However, it is important to note that President Bush’s 2004 budget includes almost $1.3 billion for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. One of the most notable features of this budget is a $26 million increase to maintain and increase care of the nations National Wildlife Refuge System. Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior, holds a vision of cooperative conservation partnerships with state and local agencies (i.e. the cooperative PFBC nursery in the Allegheny forest). Of interest to the fishing community is the $104 million slated to the FWS Fisheries program. This line item represents a large increase over the 2003 budget. US FWS Director Steve Williams recently stated that “sport fishing is important to millions of Americans, not only as a recreational activity but as a family experience that strengthens links between children, parents and grandparents and, in doing so, helps guide future generations of our citizens.” The 2004 budget includes monies set forth specifically for dealing with invasive threats such as the northern snakehead fish, the Asian carp, and Asian swamp eels. Invasive plants such as tamarisk cedar and the giant aquatic salina fern also have money budgeted for their control. The requested budget for Law Enforcement in set at $53 million, which includes a $1 million increase to allow the hiring of nine additional wildlife inspectors. To conclude, the US FWS is the Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the benefit of all Americans. They manage over 90 million acres of national refuge systems and operate almost 70 national fish hatcheries. The agency is further charged with enforcing Federal wildlife laws and managing migratory bird populations. The FWS also oversees the distribution of hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies for statewide conservation efforts.


Pymatuning Lake:
Fishing has still been slow but that hasn't kept guys from trying. I checked over 40 guys on Saturday and saw one Walleye. It was 18 ˝ inches caught off of main beach about 500 yards out. The gentleman that caught him told me he had caught a 37˝-inch musky the day before. He was using a phoebe jig (very small one) and sonar’s. The ice is still averaging around 10 to 12 inches in most spots on the lake. Conneaut Lake-There was several fishermen that I checked just south of our access area with tip ups and jigs and no fish to be seen. They informed me that they had been there all day and had only had one on and he got off when they got it up near the hole. I informed them that is why it’s called fishing and not catching. They were using large minnows and had Swedish pimple jigs. Crystal lake- Guys are still catching panfish here quite regularly on minnows. I checked a guy over the weekend that had 49 and was just waiting to catch that last one before heading home, he had been there the entire day. Most of the action appears to be on the eastern and northern sides of the lake.

Boating Course:
This course is now required by law for anyone under 21 to operate a motorboat in excess of 25 horsepower. The course will be held March 15th from 8 am to 4 PM with a lunch provided by the Jamestown fire departments ladies auxiliary. There is a $10.00 processing fee to be mailed in with your completed test and a $3.00 donation for lunch. Pre registration is required so we can determine the meal size. You can email WCO Joe Russell at fishcop@alltel.net and let him know or stop in West Bay Boat Sales (on rt. 322 just west of Jamestown) and sign up in person. There are only a few openings left for this class. Now is the time to take this course before the boating season starts.

Pymatuning Causeway Closing:
I was informed over the weekend that the causeway will be closing from March 10 to May 15 for repairs to the Ohio Bridge. Ohio department of transportation will be shutting down the causeway and taking the existing bridge completely out and replacing it. Unfortunately this will be during most of the prime Walleye run for this spring so fishermen need to make other arrangements to get around the lake. Penndot will also be doing work on the causeway this fall, roughly from August to November, but they will not have the road closed only narrowed down to one lane.

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