WCO Report for Erie and Crawford County 5/7/03: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: May 07, 2003

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Posted by DWCO Randy Leighton on May 07, 2003 at 08:29:15:

WEST ERIE COUNTY, WCO Brook Tolbert / DWCO Randy Leighton

The tribs for the most part are low and clear other than an occasional rain shower temporarily bringing the levels up. Bass are abundant in the tribs and can be caught on a variety of baits. Tube jigs, torpedo baits, small spinners and crankbaits are all good choices. Crankbaits that imitate crawfish or better yet live crawfish, when available, are excellent smallmouth baits.

I have not received any success stories on shoreline walleye fishing, however, the recent weather conditions combined with clear nights would make it worth a try. Presque Isle Bay was overrun with bass anglers this past weekend. A reminder that the current bass limit on Lake Erie and its tributaries is 1 fish with a minimum length of 20". Regular bass season does not begin until June 14th.

A number of questions have been asked regarding archery fishing in our area. Regulations prohibit archery or spear fishing in and along any of the Lake Erie tributary streams.

Trout fishing has been good at the Gravel Pit Pond in Fairview and the Waterworks Pond on Presque Isle with plenty of elbow room available.

Perch fishing has been fair to good along the North Pier on Presque Isle. Although limits were rare, catches were generally good. The best area this past weekend was at the far West end of the North pier near the lighthouse. Shiners fished deep on perch rigs have been the most successful. The docks and launch ramps are now in at the Walnut Creek Marina for those early season lake perch anglers.

Low Water Levels:
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is predicting Lake Erie levels to be 10 to 11 inches lower than last year. Anglers will need to use extreme caution in and around Presque Isle Bay. Large submerged rocks and debris that were not a problem last year may now be just below the surface in many areas. Areas around the Bay to watch closely would be West of the Perry Monument along Presque Isle, the channel leading into Horseshoe Pond, the Lagoons area, and the extreme West end of the Bay. With the current water levels, a depth finder can be invaluable in preserving your boat hull. Shallow water levels will also make boat launching at the ramps tricky. Lower water levels mean shorter ramp distances. Many of the ramps at Presque Isle have markers on the docks indicating where the ramp ends under the water. A trailer backed in too far and going off the end of the ramp underwater can be difficult to retrieve.

Public Meeting Regarding the Pennsylvania Steelhead Fishery:

The following was released last week by the PFBC and has been widely publicized for those anglers with concerns regarding Pennsylvania's Steelhead Program. Concerns and questions will be fielded regarding our steelhead fishery. This is your opportunity to learn the issues and to ask the tough questions. Your voice can't be heard if you don't attend.

Officials of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) will meet with the directors of the Pennsylvania Steelhead Association and other interested anglers on May 8 at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Erie City Hall.

The Commission will offer a briefing on Pennsylvania's steelhead program, including stocking efforts, and answer questions. Steelhead fishing in Lake Erie and its tributaries generate over 100,000 fishing trips per year with an estimated annual economic benefit of nearly $7.3 million for Erie County and surrounding areas.

"The Lake Erie steelhead program is an important component of the Commission's statewide efforts to provide quality fishing and boating opportunities. Pennsylvania's steelhead program offers exceptional fishing opportunities to catch trophy-size fish throughout much of the year. We fully appreciate that the economic benefit of the steelhead fishery is focused in Erie County and is an asset to that community. This meeting is part of a continuing public outreach effort and we're happy to have the opportunity to discuss the steelhead program and future directions for it," said Peter A. Colangelo, PFBC Executive Director.

Steelhead are a strain of lake-run rainbow trout. An anadromous fish, Pennsylvania steelhead live most of their lives in Lake Erie, but they migrate into tributary streams as part of their spawning cycle when they reach about 3 years old.

Safe Boating Week Serves as a Reminder:
National Safe Boating Week will be observed May 17-23, 2003, but watercraft safety demands attention any time you're on the water. This is particularly true for the growing number of canoeists and kayakers taking to Pennsylvania waters. Operators of these small, unpowered boats are involved in as many fatal boating accidents each year as those operating large, high-speed motorboats. As a reminder for National Safe Boating Week and all year, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission offers these tips from its publication Paddle Pennsylvania.·

Wear your life jacket. Some 80 percent of all recreational boating fatalities happen to people who are not wearing a life jacket.·
Expect to get wet. Even the best paddlers sometimes capsize or swamp their boats. Bring extra clothing in a waterproof bag. ·
Be prepared to swim. If the water looks too hazardous to swim in, don't go paddling. ·
If you capsize, hold on to your boat, unless it presents a life-threatening situation. If floating in current, position yourself on the upstream side of the capsized boat. ·
Scout ahead whenever possible. Know the river. Avoid surprises. ·
Be prepared for the weather. Get a forecast before you go. Sudden winds and rain are common and can turn a pleasant trip into a risky, unpleasant venture. ·
Wear wading shoes or tennis shoes with wool, polypropylene, pile or neoprene socks.
Never take your boat over a low-head dam. ·
Portage (carry) your boat around any section of water about which you feel uncertain.
Never boat alone. Boating safety increases with numbers. ·
Keep painter lines (ropes tied to the bow) and any other ropes coiled and secured. ·
Never tie a rope to yourself or to another paddler, especially a child. ·
Kneel to increase your stability before entering rougher water, like a rapid. ·
If you collide with an obstruction, lean toward it. This will usually prevent your capsizing or flooding the boat. ·
File a float plan with a reliable person, indicating where you are going and when you will return. Remember to contact the person when you have returned safely.
Courtesy of Dan Tredinnick, Press Secretary, PFBC

Local Weather:
Wednesday night
Showers and thunderstorms likely until midnight, then mostly cloudy. Lows in the upper 40s. Chance of rain 60 percent.
Partly cloudy. Highs 60 to 65.
Thursday night
Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Lows in the upper 40s. Chance of rain 30 percent.
A chance of showers and thunderstorms during the day, otherwise partly cloudy. Highs 60 to 70.
Partly cloudy. A chance of showers and thunderstorms during the night. Lows in the upper 40s and highs 65 to 75.
Mostly cloudy. A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Breezy. Lows 45 to 55 and highs 65 to 75.
Monday Partly cloudy. Lows near 50 and highs in the upper 60s.


Pymatuning Lake:
High winds and cooler temperatures made the fishing quite slow this weekend. The water cooled back down a couple of degrees with the cold nights and is averaging right around the upper 50's. Bass fishermen tell me that the largemouth's are moving into shallower water and will only need a few more degrees temp before they get on their spawning beds. They say that if you do want to find a bass right now you should target structure that is by itself, such as a lone tree down in the water, and vary your lures till you find what they like. Tube jigs and spinner baits were working this last Friday but with the whitecaps all day Saturday I saw very little in the way of catches. Walleye are still being reluctant to hit and if you are lucky enough to catch them they are bigger, with very few undersized fish being caught. For those of you that wonder are we putting any fish in, On 4/16 and 4/17 the hatchery stocked over 10 million Walleye fry in the main lake.

Conneaut Lake:
The appearance of boats here means that the boating season is fast approaching for Conneaut lake. Docks are filling up fast with the seasonal people coming back for the summer and getting their places ready for another year. Before you launch that boat take a minute to go over it and make sure the safety equipment is still there and that it is still in good working order. When an officer stops you for a safety check it is not the time to find out that mice have used your life jackets as a nest or that the fire extinguisher has leaked out because it was stored outside. Those can be costly mistakes if you actually need that equipment to save you or one of your loved ones. The biggest thing is to have a good and safe boating season.

WCO Mark Kerr, DWCO Michael McSkimming, PHD

In Season Stocking:
The week of 05-10-03 will be the last of my in-season stockings. Both the Little Brokenstraw & Blue Eye Run are slated for stocking during this week.

East County Update:
Twenty mile Creek was stocked during the week of 04-26-03. Anglers saw immediate action, with the best bait of choice seeming to be live minnows. Areas presenting the best action were just north of the SR 20 bridge and, also, in the area of SR 5. There are a few steelhead remaining in some of the East county tributaries; with Seven mile, reportedly, containing some of the best action.

Eaton Reservoir Theft Update:
As reported during August of 2002, one suspect was arrested, at Eaton Reservoir, after PF&BC officers’, conducting surveillance activities, visually observed the individual enter two vehicles. On April 28th, 2003, a preliminary hearing was held for this individual on charges filed as a result of the arrest. Defendant waived the preliminary hearing and all charges were bound over for trial. Additionally, as a result of this and other issues, the subject was remanded to the Erie County Jail (on 04-29-03) pending trial appearance. NOTE: Officers made this arrest significantly easier due to active participation and reporting of suspicious activity to law enforcement personnel by numerous anglers using Eaton Reservoir; as well as by the sharing of information from DCNR personnel at Presque Isle State Park. Thanks go out to all of you who took the time to get involved!!

Graduation, You, and the PFBC:
The days are growing longer and the sun is beginning to feel a little warmer; that means graduation dates are getting ever closer. Several anglers have stated that ever-increasing numbers of younger people are viewing this site; and, some have requested that we put out the following as a friendly public service announcement. Therefore, a friendly reminder to those of you who will soon be accepting your diploma… "Let’s not meet over drinks!" to quote a poster I’ve seen. Remember WCO’s & DWCO’s routinely work odd hours and often find themselves in what you might feel to be "off the beaten path" areas. Littering, fires without landowner permission, operation of motor vehicles on lands of another without permission and, of course, underage drinking are all considered BAD NEWS!! Use your heads… don’t do anything that could cost you embarrassment, fines and the loss of your license, at a minimum; and, more importantly, your life or that of a friend or innocent third party.

Suckers are Fish Too!:
As happens every year at this time, many of the area streams are beginning to see the presence of suckers. Please remember that the law specifically states that you must make a reasonable effort to lawfully dispose of all fish harvested. Simply taking these little critters and throwing them into the woods or, once dead or seriously injured, back into the water does not meet the definition of lawfully dispose. Fines start at $50.00, plus costs; and, increase by $20.00 for each fish. Moreover, private landowners are not in the habit of continuing to leave their lands open to public fishing if they constantly have to endure the stench of rotting fish. Translation: take a plastic bag with you and remove the fish when you leave. Throw them away at home; or, I’ve heard tell that they make good garden fertilizer if you grind them up. Some people even eat them too!! Not me, you’ll have to go to someone else for a recipe.

Lake Pleasant Problems:
Can’t believe that I actually have to put this in writing, but here goes…On no less than three occasions this spring, we have received reports that someone has had the seemingly strange enjoyment of tossing the port-o-john, located within the PF&BC parking lot, into the lake. Western Pennsylvania Conservancy personnel, as well as those from the PF&BC, have had the unenviable task of removing this item on each occasion. Further vandalism of this sort will more than likely necessitate the removal of this convenience from the property. We ask all those users of the lake that if you notice any activity of this sorts that you call this office (814-673-4650) or the Walnut Creek Access (814-833-2464), immediately. If those who are responsible for this act are reading this, I have only one request… "STOP IT, you’re filling my warm sunny days with undue grief!! There, I feel better now!"

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