WCO Report for Erie and Crawford County 03/11/2003: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: March 11, 2003

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Posted by DWCO Randy Leighton on March 11, 2003 at 21:47:04:

WEST ERIE COUNTY, WCO Brook Tolbert / DWCO Randy Leighton:

It appears that meltdown on the tribs may be on the way. Forecasts for the next week predict daytime temperatures in the 40s and 50s with one local weather man suggesting that temperatures could reach 60 by the weekend. This should be enough to loosen up much of the ice and get the water flowing in most areas. The ice jams near the mouths of the tributaries may take a little longer to thaw. As the early melting occurs, trib levels should be high for a while. Anglers fishing the tribs should be aware that water levels can rise quickly and that moving ice can upset an unsuspecting angler without warning. If in doubt, the tribs can be well fished from the shore line.

Many areas in the upper reaches of the tribs are open now with fish scattered. Reported catches are coming from those anglers having the patience and persistence to do a lot of walking and looking. Most fish that are found have been in the tribs most of the winter. Cold clear waters after ice out are a good time to work the micro jigs in an attempt to trigger strikes. Egg sacs, singles and egg patterns will work nicely as the water clears and of course shiners are always a good choice in cold water.

As the ice jams at the mouths subside, we should see additional fish moving in, hopefully setting the stage for a strong spring run. Any ice fishing in the area should be approached with the utmost caution. Ice at the mouth of Trout Run along the lake shore should be considered unstable for fishing at this time.

Walnut Creek:
The Walnut creek channel entering Lake Erie has been tentatively scheduled for dredging the first week of April weather permitting and should take several weeks.


Presque Isle Bay:
Due to the recent warm temperatures and if you have read the paper lately, the ice on Presque Isle Bay is unsafe in some areas. Recently an ice boat and an unfortunate angler have gone through very thin ice. Neither individual was injured and both managed to self-rescue. Now more than ever you should wear your PFD while engaging in ice related activities on Presque Isle Bay. Perch catches continue to be moderate and the crappies are there for the patient angler on Misery Bay and in the far west end of the Bay..

I had a lot of questions regarding Burbot at the Erie Sports Show. The following is an answer from one of our biologists:
These relatives of the Cod Family (Gadidae) were left as Lake Erie residents subsequent to the last retreat of the continental ice sheet some 14,000 years ago. They, like their marine relatives, prefer the colder waters and therefore are restricted to the deeper waters of Lake Erie during the summer months. They do move to the shallow waters after fall cool down to eventually spawn during the winter. Their young seem to tolerate warmer water as they can be found in the near shore shallows around and under rocks and bedrock shelving during their entire first year. In Pennsylvania, it is not unique to Lake Erie where it is considered abundant, but elsewhere in the state its populations are considered poorly established and the Burbot is considered a threatened species, not to be caught or possessed. In Lake Erie, however, there are no regulations regarding its capture or possession EXCEPT for those wishing to dive, using non-mechanical spears. In such cases dive fishermen are limited to sixty feet or more depths, a season of June 1 to September 30 and a daily possession of 5 Burbot. There is no minimum size limit for this species. Their maximum length is somewhat longer than 30 inches and I am confident the Lake Erie Burbot population will continue to prosper in the future.

Roger Kenyon
Fisheries Biologist

Lake Erie Research UnitStocking Reminder:
Conneautee Creek will be stocked on Wednesday March 12, 2003, Meeting Place will be the FD Walker Building in Edinboro at approximately 9:00 AM. This is a relatively short stocking trip and will take approximately 45 minutes. If you can attend we will see you there.

As always questions, comments and concerns will be answered via email at pafishcop13@yahoo.com


Pymatuning Lake:
Not much in the way of fish has been caught through the ice lately, but that hasnít stopped the fishermen from trying. Hut can be seen on the weekend scattered up and down the lake. I had opportunity to check several of these at various locations and all had the same story, that they had been there all morning and had not had a bump. If I have to wager a guess I would say that it is do largely to all the low-pressure systems that we have had moving through the area lately. It seems like we get done with one storm and another is on the way. My best advice would be to keep trying though because they have to start biting soon. If you want to try some jigging for perch or walleye I would also suggest the spillway. The recent rains and constant water flow have opened this area of the lake up and fishermen usually have pretty good luck here in the spring. I havenít seen much activity here yet though so maybe it is worth a try.

Conneaut Lake:
Not much in the way of activity here, I havenít seen anyone fishing here in the last week. I havenít heard from any anglers lately either, so I donít have much to pass on about this lake.
Crystal Lake:
This Lake is still getting hit hard and Bluegills are still getting caught in regular numbers. Jigging seems to be the most productive with a tiny jig and tipped with a mealworm or maggot. If nothing else you can come here for a little activity.

Shenango River:
The Pymatuning lake outflow has seen an increase in activity in the last several days, probably because it is the only open water in this area. I havenít seen much in the way of fish being caught yet but they will be coming shortly. This body of water traditionally ahs a spring walleye run and lanterns can be seen lining the banks. Fishermen do need to remember though that this falls under the INLAND WATER regs and as of this Saturday Walleye will be closed for here. Several fishermen were under the assumption this last week that because it was the outflow that it was the same regs as Pymatuning and that is wrong. Also the entire river in this area is in Pennsylvania; do not think that by crossing the river you are ďOn the Ohio side of the riverĒ as two unlucky anglers told me last year.

Linesville Open House:
The good news we have plenty of ice for ice fishing this year the bad news is we have plenty of ice for open house this year. The decision has been made to cancel the open house this year because the hatchery has not been able to get out to set any trap nets yet and as a result they have no fish in any of the raceways or in the aquarium. As of this last Saturday 3/8/03 we had an average of 10Ē to 12Ē inches on the south end of the lake and the north end wasnít much different. One of my fellow officers informed me that last year at this time it was 74, and last night it was 6 so who knows when the ice will go off.

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. This will probably be the last class this year, taught by me. We still have room for more so stop procrastinating and join us.

WCO Mark Kerr / DWCO Michael J. McSkimming

Basic Boating Course Reminder:
Boaters, as well as potential boaters, are reminded of the Basic Boating Course which will be held at the Wesleyville Borough Building on April 22nd & 23rd (2003). Course times are from 6:00p.m. until 10:00p.m., both nights. This free course is open to any who wish to attend. Several reservations have already been received; however, there is still room for others wishing to attend. Seats may be reserved by calling WCO Kerr at (814) 796-1378; or, by e-mail, at wco015@yahoo.com. Please state the full name, address, phone number & date of birth for all those wishing to attend. I will return your call and/or e-mail in order to confirm your reservation. Thanks!!

French Creek, South Branch Stocking:
Old man winter continues to hold the region in his grip... so much, in fact, that it appears that for the first time in five years we will have to drastically alter the pre-season stocking route for this stream on 03/13/03. Observations during the weekend (03/08-09/03) revealed substantial snow pack and/or road conditions beyond the stocking trucks capabilities on that section of stream at Riley-Siding and continuing along the road leading to the Boy Scout Camp (O'Neil Road area). We will endeavor to stock this area as close as possible to that which has been done in the past. However, if this cannot be done, I will counter with the following conditions... (1) we will post, on this site, how the load was redistributed throughout the remainder of the stream; and, (2) at the time of in-season stocking, as this section of stream contains substantial holding areas, we will make up for what you lost at the onset. Unfortunately, for those of you reading this who fish in that area, 'Mother Nature' doesn't have an address I can give you, and I'm not particularly overjoyed with receiving nasty-grams; so, for now, please be patient and kind. More to follow!!

Questions Posed at the Erie Sports Show:
Q: What is the legal daily limit of trout/salmon that may be taken from Lake Erie tributaries?
A: During the regular season, which for 2003 is from 8:00a.m. on April 12th until September 1st, the daily creel limit is 5 trout/salmon (combined species; only two of which can be lake trout) ANGLERS BE AWARE!!...this has changed from the previous limit of 8. Minimum size is 9". In the extended season, which for 2003 is September 2nd through April 16th (2004), the daily creel limit is 3 trout/salmon (combined species; only two of which can be lake trout). Minimum size limit is 15".

Q: Even if I'm not targeting trout/salmon, I am allowed to fish the Erie tributaries during that 32 hours immediately prior to the opening day of trout season?
A: NO!! From the period of 12:01a.m. on the Friday immediately before and continuing until 8:00a.m. on the opening day of trout season (32 hours), all Lake Erie tributaries, including the Water Works Ponds on Presque Isle State Park, are closed to any and all fishing.

Q: May I bow fish the Lake Erie tributaries?

A: NO!! This information differs from that which I posted in last weeks report concerning the regulations governing the Erie tributaries during the extended season. I took my information from the previous years regulation book; and, after discussions with Deputies and a review of the Agencies web site as well as the 2003 regulation book, I must apologize for my error. Current regulations prohibit spear and/or archery fishing in or along any of the Lake Erie tributaries.

Q: (After reflecting on the 'Illegal Devices' display)... Is it illegal to use a gaff or net to harvest a fish from Commonwealth waters?
A: NO!! Provided that the fish has legally taken the bait through its mouth by the use of hook and line, these devices may be used to land it . The use of these devices is illegal when they are used as the sole means by which the fish was taken from the water. Therefore, those devices presented on display were "illegal" because the person using them cut out the middle man (hook and line), so to speak.

Q: Am I legal to keep fishing once I've reached my daily possession limit of fish?
A: YES!! This one always seems to come up year after year; so, I'll keep this as short as I can. Pennsylvania has no law prohibiting an angler from continuing to fish for a particular species once the daily possession limit has been reached; however, to do so carries potential consequences. If, after taking your legal possession limit, you harm or kill another, even if unintentional, it is counted against your total. Therefore, you would then be in violation of daily creel limits. Penalties for such violations begin at $50.00 and increase by an additional $20.00 for each fish over the daily limit. Fish may also be given away; however, those fish given are counted towards both the donor's and receiver's daily creel limit. Therefore, it is often encouraged by our officers' that, for your own piece of mind, if you intend to take your limit, but want to keep fishing... that you stop one short of your daily limit, continue to keep fishing, and only retain your final fish just prior to completing your angling activities for the day.

Q: [A correction from last week's post... my apologies again!] What are the restrictions governing the Erie tributaries during the extended salmon/steelhead season?
A: The Commission has simplified the rules governing the Erie tributaries during this period; and, they are as follows... they following Lake Erie tributaries are nursery waters-- Trout Run and its tributaries, Godfrey Run, Orchard Beach Run and Crooked Creek (where posted). It is unlawful to fish, wade, or possess fishing equipment while in or along Lake Erie tributary streams designated as Nursery Waters. Additionally, from 12:01 a.m. on the day after Labor Day, until the opening day of trout season in April, ALL LAKE ERIE TRIBUTARY STREAMS WITH THE EXCEPTION OF WALNUT & ELK CREEKS NORTH OF SR 5 are closed to fishing from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. on the following day .
Q: Do I need a fishing license to harvest reptiles and amphibians?
A: YES and NO... a fishing license IS required to catch or take frogs or turtles from waters of this Commonwealth. However, a fishing license IS NOT required to take snakes or other reptiles or amphibians; and, a special permit is required to take timber rattlesnakes. Refer to your current Summary of Fishing Laws and Regulations for seasons and limits on reptiles and amphibians. Furthermore, with the exception of snapping turtles, it is illegal to sell or offer for sale any species of fish (excluding properly licensed commercial ventures), reptile or amphibian, in whole or in part, taken from within the Commonwealth.

Q: Are poisonous snakes found in Erie County?
A: NO!! Of the three species of poisonous snakes naturally found within the Commonwealth (eastern-massasauga, timber rattlesnake and northern copperhead); none are indigenous to Erie County.

Q: How do I register my ATV?
A: (as taken from the Summary of Pennsylvania's All-Terrain Vehicle Law) Applications for registration of ATV's are available from DCNR's Snowmobile/ATV registration section. The ATV registration application form must be completed and sent, along with the required fee and sales tax statement, to DCNR c/o Snowmobile/ATV Section-- PO Box 8553-- Harrisburg, PA 17105-8553. Registration applications are also available from: ATV dealers, Forest Districts and State Park Offices or download and print from the web site. www.dcnr.state.pa.us/snowmobile.

East Side Tributary Conditions:
"The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"Cabin fever appears to have struck this region fairly hard this winter; and, as a result, many have been attempting to get out to the streams even in the most horrific of conditions. For those who are avid followers of the East side tributary system, the following will give a picture as to what will confront you there. Please note that conditions change rapidly; and, by the time this report is posted, things may have changed in one way or the other.

The Good:
As of now, 12 and 16-mile are the best offerings on this side. 12-mile has open water from south of the SR5 bridge to nearly the mouth. There seems to be a grouping of fish (both fresh and older) holding from under the bridge to the falls. Friday, anglers were doing quite well drifting nymphs, egg patterns and egg sacs. The current was swift and the drift tricky; but, the fish were cooperating.16-mile has been receiving steady angling pressure all winter long. This particular tributary does not freeze during the winter months; and, thus, many locals have 'medicated' their cabin fever by visiting the stream often. As a result, it is essentially "fished-out." A few stragglers remain; however, the numbers are simply not there anymore. For those seeking a nice 'stream walk' with the slight chance of experiencing a "screaming drag", this area may suit you just fine.

The Bad:
A recent walk through both 4 and 7-mile revealed the fact that these streams are not "fishing worthy." Both streams are open in many places; yet, the areas that normally hold fish are clear and empty. One or two fish could be spotted at 4-mile, and 7-mile yielded the same tallies. The walk around these areas was enjoyable (particularly 7-mile); but, for those seeking "hot" action, these two streams are not the places to go. Finally, as a friendly reminder, for those that wish to visit the Glinodo Center (7-mile), please respect the landowners request that you park on SR5 and not on the property itself. Anglers are guests, and the wishes of the landowner should be respected. As for litter, remember the old adage; "Carry in and carry out!" However, large trash receptacles exist on the property near the buildings; therefore, if the situation necessitates it, these may be used.

The Ugly:
To be quite blunt, 20-mile is simply a bust. Last week anglers attempted to search for open water by walking on some of the ice formations occurring on the stream. One unfortunate discovered that this was not such a good idea; and, apparently, with one misplaced step, fell through. Reports indicate that the results were an injury to the forehead, which required medical attention (+/- 20 stitches). Needless to say, this angler is fortunate not to have sustained anything more serious. Conditions on the stream are NOT favorable to exploration. the recent warm spell (however brief it may have been) has made 20-mile even more treacherous. Sustaining bodily injury, or even worse, is not worth a fish.As a final word, please use good, sound judgment before heading out to the streams. For many, the wait to get back out onto the tribs has been long and, perhaps, painful in some cases. However, the urge to "get back at it" should not overshadow personal safety. If you plan on heading out, do your best to fish with a partner. Metal cleats and felt bottom boots are almost a necessity at this time of the year. Walking both around and on the stream itself is a tricky affair. Dress in layers and keep some extra dry clothes and blankets in your vehicle. Finally, call ahead to any of the local bait shops for up to the minute conditions.

NORTHWEST REGION OFFICE, Assisstant Region Manager Bob Nestor:

If you or someone you know wants to try fishing but doesn't want make the investment or cannot afford a fishing rod and tackle the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has developed FISHING TACKLE LOANER SITES. These sites are located throughout Pennsylvania with eight here in the Northwest. Fishing poles, tackle boxes and basic tackle are provided free of charge at any of the listed sites. At least one member of the group must be eighteen years of age or older and be willing to take responsibility that the equipment is returned undamaged. Individuals needing a fishing license are still required to obtain one (see Fish for Free Days). Accommodations can be made for weekends or to cover your whole trip/vacation. We are currently looking to expand this program as equipment comes available, so if any public facility is interested in becoming a loaner site contact Keith Edwards, NW Region Aquatic Resource Program Specialist at 814-336-2426.

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
Fishing Tackle Loaner Program Sites in Northwest Pennsylvania
(updated 11/27/02):
Presque Isle State Park
P.O. Box 8510 Peninsula Drive (Route 832)
Erie, Pennsylvania 16505
Contact: Randy Neyer - rneyer@state.pa.us
Interpretive Center: 814-833-0351
Park office: 814-833-7424 Fax: 814-833-0793
Program site: Stull Interpretive Center
Hours: 7 days/wk. in summer, 4 days/wk. spring
Months available: March-October

M. K. Goddard State Park
684 Lake Wilhelm Road
Sandy Lake, Pennsylvania 16145-8715
Contact: Jan Keller
Park office: 724-253-4833 Fax: 724-253-3234
Marina: 724-253-4490
Program site: Environ. Center or Marina
Hours: 8am-4pm Wed-Sunday
Months available: May-October

Butler County Parks and Recreation
182 Alameda Park Road
Butler, Pennsylvania 16001
Contact: Dave Hutner
Park office: 724-284-5386
Fax: 724-284-5431
Program site: Alameda Park Office
Hours: 8:30-4:30pm Monday-Friday
Months available: March-October

Pymatuning State Park
2660 Williamsfield Rd.
Jamestown, Pa 16134
Contact: Linda Armstrong
Park office: 724-932-3141
Fax: 724-932-3724
Program site: call park office
Hours: 8am-4pm Wed.-Sunday
Months available: March-October

Pa Fish and Boat Commission
Linesville Fish Culture Station
13300 Hartstown Rd.
Linesville, Pa 16424
Contact: Mark Sickles
Program site: Visitor Center
Hours: 8am-3:30pm Wed-Sunday
Months available: March-October

Tionesta Lake -U.S. Army Corp.
P.O. Box 539
Tionesta, Pa 16353
Contact: Bob Petruney (Corp Ranger)
Program site: Campground Host
Hours: 7 days per week
Months available: mid-April-October

Venango Conservation District
471 Beach Road
Franklin, Pa 16323
Contact: Marc Rickard envirokon@hotmail.com
814-676-2832 M-F 8am-4pm
Program site: Nature Lodge @ Two Mile Run County Park
Hours: M-F 8am-4pm
Months available: mid-April - October

note: this one is in SW region
Mahoning Creek Lake
RD1 Box 229
New Bethlehem, Pa 16242
Contact: Grover Pegg
Program site: Project Office
Hours: 7:30am-4pm
Months available:May-Oct.
e-mail: Grover.Pegg@usace.army.mi

Fish for Free Days in Pennsylvania are arriving soon, two days Saturday, May 24th and Saturday, June 7th have been set. Anglers must still abide by season, size, creel limits, etc. When you combine this program with the fishing tackle loaner you have all the ingredients for a great day outdoors so take a friend fishing...for free.

With the Northwest still in the grip of Old Man Winter our preseason stockings have been underway for a week now with only one cancellation. East Hickory Creek in Warren due to ice buildup (18") on the dirt roads was postponed from March 11th to April 9th. If there are any other closings the WCO will still be at the meeting site to advise anyone there of the cancellation. If conditions seem poor the best call to make on whether a stocking is cancelled is the Northwest Region Office 814-337-0444 or the Corry Hatchery 814-664-2122. Many thanks to all the hardy souls assisting in the stockings this time of year, I for one know how difficult it is stocking streams without any help carrying buckets.

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