WCO Report for Erie and Crawford County 11/19/03: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: November 18, 2003

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Posted by DWCO Randy Leighton on November 18, 2003 at 21:43:13:


Pymatuning/ Conneaut Lake:
Still not much fishing pressure this week but we have had some pretty severe storms at times with heavy rains and extremely high winds. We even had the first snow of the year this last week so it has not been that conducive to fishing. Now would be a good time to get that boat ready for next year and make sure everything is in shape for the upcoming season. If you store your boat outside also donít forget to pull your fire extinguisher inside since changes in temperatures over the winter can drastically shorten its life.

My Final Report:
I never thought that over three years ago when John Bowser asked me if there was anything that I might have to add to the Erie WCO Report, that it would turn into a weekly writing assignment. Or that so many sportsmen and women would read the articles almost religiously every week. If you were to ask my bosses they would tell you that one of my weaknesses is report writing and if it wasnít for spelling and grammar check on Microsoft word I would be lost and you probably would not be able to read them. When I first started John would call me just about every week and say ďcome on Russell am I the only one working in this region get your damn report up here so I can go to bed!Ē Well unfortunately all good things must come to an end and this will be my final report from the Western Crawford County district. I have put in for and been given a district closer to where I am originally from and as of the beginning of the year I will be taking over the Wyoming/Susquehanna district in the Northeast region. What John started with this report has been widely accepted by everyone, and even used as a model for the rest of the state, to get the word to the fishing and boating public. I canít tell you how many people have come up to me over the last three years and asked if I was Fishcop and thanked me for writing in and being part of this. To those of you who have taken the time to write and send in notes of encouragement, or stopped me along the stream, I want to say Thank You. It makes this assignment much easier for the officers who have to write it knowing that it is read and looked forward to by the fishing and boating community we serve. I have met some wonderful sportsmen and women through this report and it has been an honor to be a part of it. I also want to thank some of the best officers in the state, that I have had the pleasure of working with. Erie and the Northwest Region have an exemplary officer force and I am not just talking about full time people. Without the deputy force that we have statewide our job would be close to impossible and we certainly would not have the protection of our resources that we have now. My E-mail will probably be online for about another month while I wrap things up and prepare to move and my cell is good until the end of December. My pager will be off after the end of November and my state line is good until the middle of December. Once I get into my new district I will be sure to contact Randy Leighton and pass on my new contact information should anyone want to keep in touch. Once again thanks for everything and I hope to see you along the streams. By the way should anybody be looking for a house within minutes of some of the best fishing and hunting the state of Pennsylvania has to offer, I have one for sale just contact me and we will work something out. WCO Joe Russell


Steelhead have been hitting well with many limits observed this past weekend. Although conditions have been very low and clear, it looks as though we will see enough rainfall over the next few days to put some color in the water and increase flow. Conditions should improve by the weekend if we don't get too much rain. Crooked Creek has been very productive lately with moderate angler pressure. Crowds are starting to thin some in most areas with the cold weather and hunting season moving in. The Walnut Marina Basin turned on this past weekend with a a good number of nice catches brought in for weighing. Weekday fishing on the tribs will offer a good amount of elbow room. Hot baits have been white minifoos tipped with a single maggot, glo bugs in orange and red, sucker spawn patterns in white and peach, live shiners and single eggs and egg patterns

Area reports indicate that perch have been hitting well off the North and South Piers along the Erie Channel. As usual, shiners are always the best choice. Current Lake Erie water temperature as of this writing is 48 degrees.

So Long Joe:
WCO Joe Russell's reports will be missed here, as will Joe. We wish him the best in his move to his new district at the other end of the state. We hope he will return often to visit his many friends and fellow officers from the area. We know he will be back at least once in a while for some family steelhead fishing. We gave him top billing on the report this week as we all look up to him as a great officer and a good friend. Keep in touch Joe.

Second in a Series of Local Tributary Descriptions, Elk Creek, The Largest of Them All:
Elk Creek is the largest and most popular of the Erie County tributary streams. It enters Lake Erie about one-half mile west of State Route 18 in Girard Township. Elk starts south of the Town of McKean. It flows under Interstate 79 at the McKean exit (Exit 39), under West Road (State Road 3020) in the Village of Sterrettania, under State Route 98 at Folly's End Campground south of the Town of Fairview, under a scenic covered bridge on Gudgeonville Road (Township Route 400), then northwest through a mostly wooded area passing under Interstate 90, then north under U.S. Route 20 in Girard and under U.S. Route 5 in Lake City and on to Lake Erie.

Elk is stocked with steelhead and brown trout. It is an approved trout water and is heavily fished early in the regular trout season. During the summer and fall, the lower reaches of Elk hold bass, panfish and catfish. Like the other creeks in the watershed, by June most parts of the creek are low and too warm for trout and the fishing for steelhead and stocked brown trout is over.

During early fall, steelhead may not get beyond the Route 5 bridge. The fish move upstream as the season wears on. By winter, steelhead can usually be found all the way upstream to the McKean exit of Interstate 79.

There is a sizable parking and picnic area at the mouth of Elk. There are outhouses, covered picnic facilities and paved parking lots. There is a boat launch at the access area. Although small boats can be launched from this site, boats headed for the deep waters of Lake Erie may find themselves stuck on a sandbar at the mouth of this creek. The mouth access area can be reached from the road located part-way up the hill on Route 5 west of Route 18. An unofficial-looking sign on Route 5 stating "Elk Creek Access Area" marks the spot.

The PF&BC has recently installed a parking lot on property it acquired on the East side of Elk Creek just south of the mouth. Turn off Route 5 at the Elk Creek Sport Store and drive north toward the Lake to the bottom of the hill. The parking lot will be on your left. This provides access to the East side of the lower reaches of Elk Creek.

The area from the parking lot to the lake is a wide and slow-moving estuary. There is some fishing for a short distance along the West bank below the parking lot before the shale cliff rises. If you enter from the main parking lot, to fish below this area you must either wade across to the other side of the creek (it can be deep; hip boots probably won't do it), or you must take a rough path up along the West side of the creek and down to the mouth. The path entrance is at the North end of the lowest parking lot. There is a sizable fishable area at the mouth (as well as a nice beach). This is almost always very slow moving. Some anglers drift or fly fish in this area, while others still fish.

In the early fall, when there has been little rain and the creeks are low and clear, the mouth of Elk is very popular for steelhead. Because it is deep and slow, it may be one of the few places holding steelhead. During these times the fishing pressure in this area can be very heavy. This area is also popular for catfish. The catfish run into the creek when the forsythia bloom in the spring. Most of the fishing for catfish is done at night. Suckers also run up Elk Creek in the spring.

Just south of the parking lots at the access area Elk begins to flow more rapidly. The area from the parking lots south to the Route 5 bridge can hold steelhead early in the season. It can also experience significant fishing pressure. It can be difficult to wade south past the tubes below Route 5.

There are a number of access areas from Route 5 south to Girard. Almost all of the parking and access upstream from the Elk Creek Access Area is on private lands. Parking and fishing is provided only by owner permission, which can be withdrawn at any time. Please respect their property. In 2001 parking along Route 5 was prohibited and it remains that way now. A private, paid lot is sometimes in operation on the north side of Route 5 just west of the stream (but you can walk to here by going into the access area and parking in the first, upper lot). Sometimes you can drive into the campground off Route 5 at the bottom of the hill, but most times this too is posted.

Upstream the creek runs through property owned by Fairview Evergreen Nurseries. Although this is private land, the Nurseries do not post it and currently permit angler access. There is a place to park next to the creek just south of the Conrail tubes beneath Route 5. There is also access off North Creek Road (Township Road 543) both north and south of the railroad tracks. You will see rough roads on the West side of the road both north and south of the narrow railroad underpass. North Creek Road intersects Route 5 part way up the hill past (or west of) the creek. There is good fishing on both sides of the railroad bridge. All parking and access in this area is through the courtesy of Fairview Evergreen Nurseries.

A popular access point is at the steel bridge on Elk Park Road (Township Road 544). The fishing can be good both upstream and downstream from this bridge. Further upstream the creek can be access from the Girard Park. There is a small and not-too-well marked access road off Lake Street in southern Girard. This access road splits and goes to both a park (this road is sometimes blocked-off), and a sewage treatment plant. You can park at the either location and access the creek.

Another very popular spot is the "American Legion hole." This is a good but slow-moving and heavily fished hole. It is accessed by taking a spur road which angles off to the South from Route 20 just west of Girard as you start down the hill toward Elk Creek. There are signs on Route 20 for several industries (including "Reddog Industries") that are located on this small road. Follow the road to the left, then past the industries to its end. The American Legion park is on the right, and the road continues straight down into a dirt parking lot along the creek. A short path leads downstream to this popular hole.

The area upstream from the American Legion hole is flat and shallow for a considerable distance. There is good fishing upstream under a set of railroad tracks, but it is a long hike up the creek from the American Legion hole parking lot.

There is good fishing later in the season upstream from the Gudgeonville covered bridge, but access to some parts of the creek is difficult. The area on all sides of the covered bridge on Gudgeonville Road (Township Road 400) is posted. Prior to 1999, the creek from Interstate 90 and south could be accessed from Beckman Road (Township Road 547) just south of where it passes over Interstate 90. You could park on Beckman Road and walk a long and sometimes steep trail down to the creek. Carrying fish home from this location is not recommended. If you are willing to walk a considerable distance just to get to the creek, you will find a beautiful area both upstream and downstream. However, in 1999 the area along Beckman Road was also posted.

The next popular access point upstream is at Folly's End Campground off Route 98 south of the Town of Fairview. This is about a mile south of the intersection of Route 98 and Interstate 90 (Exit 4 - Fairview). There is a tackle shop at the campground, which includes fly gear. There is also a sizable pool right at the campground that is popular. The fishing can be good both upstream and downstream from Folly's End.

Upstream from Folly's End is the "Streuchen Flats" area. There is a parking lot and access area here. To reach this location, travel east on State Route 832 (Sterrettania Road) east of Route 98. Turn south on the dead end road known as Platz Road (Township Road 428), and follow it to its end. This road is not maintained in the winter. There is good fishing both upstream and down.

There are several small access points along Sterrettania Road to the village of Sterrettania, then south along West Road toward Interstate 79. The last popular fishing area is at the big pool just south of the intersection of Interstate 79 and West Road at the McKean exit of I-79. This pool is located behind a heavy truck repair shop and just south of the on-bound ramp to Interstate 79 north. This is the furthest point upstream the Fish and Boat Commission stocks brown trout, and it is a very popular hole on opening day. The PF&BC also occasionally places spawned-out steelhead in this pool. Anglers are advised that there are a number of posted areas in the upper stretches of Elk Creek.

Tributary descriptions in part provided by www.FishERIE.com, a www.FishUSA regional site.

Try this one:
Broiled Steelhead Trout Basted With Beer
Steelhead fillets
Bacon chips (The real deal, not the artificial bottled stuff
Assorted Veggies
Samuel Adams Cream Stout Beer
Sea Salt/Pepper
Juice of four limes
Mushroom sauce made with a little butter extra virgin olive oil, Diced celery,finely chopped carrots,capers more dill.

Fillet Steelhead. Lay slabs onto broiling pan. Cover with onions. Dice with bacon chips. Lace with assorted Veggies. Baste with Samuel Adams Cream Stout Beer (or any dark ale) Sprinkle with Dill, A touch of Ginger, Sea Salt/Pepper When halfway done, squeeze four full limes onto fish. Continue to broil. When done to a golden brown, pour on mushroom sauce with diced celery, fine carrots, and seasonings that include more dill. Enjoy with your favorite beverage.
Local Weather:
Wednesday night
Partly cloudy. Lows 35 to 40. North winds around 10 mph.
Partly cloudy. Highs in the upper 40s.
Thursday night
Mostly clear. Lows in the upper 30s.
Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 50s.
Friday night
Mostly cloudy. Lows in the lower 40s.
Mostly cloudy. Highs in the upper 50s.
Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 40s and highs in the mid 50s.
Mostly cloudy with a chance of rain showers. Lows in the mid 40s and highs in the upper 40s.
Mostly cloudy. A chance of snow showers. Lows near 30 and highs around 40.

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