WCO Report for Erie County 02/14/04: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: January 13, 2004

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Posted by DWCO Randy Leighton on January 13, 2004 at 20:27:18:

West Erie County, DWCO Randy Leighton

Conditions have been tough as Pennsyvania's North shores make the transition from soft to hard water fishing. Area tribs are mostly ice covered with very little open water. Anglers were observed ice fishing the Manchester Hole, the Walnut Creek Basin and the Walnut Channel with some success. This past weekend had 3 or 4 dozen ice shanties out on Presque Isle, Misery Bay and Horseshoe Pond. Some perch and pan fish were being caught although nothing of significant size has been observed yet. A few steelhead were pulled through the ice at Misery Bay near the end of Presque Isle. The vast majority of ice anglers were using liver shiners. Ice thickness was reported between 4 and 5 inches this past weekend. A slight rise in temperatures Monday may have caused some melting, although temperatures for the remainder of the week should help to create more solid ice conditions. The Walnut Creek Channel near the lake had not frozen as of this writing and a number of anglers were having good success this past Sunday at the end of the wall. Lake Erie water temperature as of this writing is 35 degrees with Presque Isle Bay iced over.

Ice Safety Advisories:
Wear a personal flotation device, or at least carry a floatation cushion so sit on and don't fish alone.

Leave information about your plans with someone, where you intend to fish and when you plan to return.

Know the conditions of the ice before venturing out; taking into consideration recent possible effects changes in the weather have had on the ice.

Children should ALWAYS be supervised on the ice.

Use an ice spud bar or an auger to test the ice ahead of you.

Before venturing out onto the ice, check with local sources, such as bait and tackle shops, for the most up-to-date information and always consider any information on ice thickness as suggestion, not fact.

Avoid ice formed over flowing water near shore and around inlets and outlet

Avoid aeration devices such as warm water bubblers used near marinas.

Temperature fluctuations typically occurring in early winter and spring will again make for uncertain ice.
Be suspicious of gray, dark or porous spots in the ice as these may be soft areas. Ice is generally strongest where it is hard and blue.

Heavy snow cover insulates ice and prevents it from freezing as evenly and as quickly as it would if the snow weren't there. Snow cover is also deceptive and makes evaluating the ice cover difficult.

Be especially wary of tributary ice, as it can be highly variable in thickness due to the erosive action of the underlying water current. Many anglers like to ice fish the Walnut Project waters which has some deep holes. One can be standing on ice eight-inches thick on a trib and just a few feet away, the ice may be only two-inches thick.

Carry a set of "grippers" (a couple screwdrivers on a length of nylon cord will do in a pinch). If you should go through the ice, they can provide a "grip" on the slippery surface and aid in getting out.

Should you break through the ice, try not to panic. Remember to turn toward the direction you came from, toward the ice that supported you. Use you "grippers" or your hands to gain a hold on the unbroken surface of the ice, and advance by kicking your feet.

Once you are out of the water and are lying on the ice, don't stand! Roll away from the point where you broke through until you are on solid ice.

If you do see someone fall through the ice, do not run toward them. Carefully extend a rope, ladder, pole or line to the victim.

For additional information on ice safety from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission go to http://sites.state.pa.us/PA_Exec/Fish_Boat/pfbchom2.html

A Few Thoughts From WCO Brook Tolbert:
"But perhaps the unkindest polluters of all are those fellow fishermen who themselves add to the growing mounds of beer cans and broken glass that increasingly adorn our lakes and streams. It is probably true that few fish were ever slain by fling beer cans, but their gleaming presence in trout waters surely kills enjoyment, the precious illusion of space and pastoral solitude and simple pine-laden cleanliness, and above all the wavering illusion that men were not entirely descended from the wild hog." Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman

Law Enforcement Update from WCO Tom Edwards:

Fall Steelhead Special Enforcement Details.
A total of 10 Special Enforcement Details were ran from Halloween weekend until approximately mid December. Details normally ran Fri-Sat-Sun with 2 running during the week. The following numbers do not include normal enforcement by Erie WCO's during the week.
Total number of Fish Violations Cited -- 201
Total number of Crimes Code Violations -- 5
Total number of Warnings issued -- -- -- 297
Number of Other Violations Cited -- -- -- -- 7

With normal enforcement during the week by the Erie WCO's and DWCO's the total number of Fish Violations cited for the fall run would (+/-) total approximately 350. Crimes Code Violations included Public Drunk, Disorderly Conduct etc..
Other violations (7) included things such as Possession of Drugs and/or Paraphenalia, Driving Under Influence of Alcohol/Drugs (DUI) etc..

The most numerous, "Fish" violations were Snagging, Littering and Netting which accounted for apx. 75 prosecutions. Largest "Overlimit" case was 33 steelhead in possession. Trout Run Nursery water prosecutions accounted for 12 prosecutions. Yes, we are out there........

Last Reminder for Tonights Meeting:
At the PA Steelhead Association meeting on Wednesday, January 14, the local WCOs from the Fish and Boat Commission will give an update on three important issues affecting our fishery. The three subjects will be: (1) The proposed license increases. This includes a proposal to reinstate a Lake Erie stamp. (2) Long-term funding of the Commission. This will affect the long-term viability of the fish programs across Pennsylvania, including the trout and steelhead stocking programs. (3) The proposed merger of the Fish and Boat Commission with the Game Commission. This too could have a profound impact on both the future of our local fishery, and the future of the Commission which has regulated boating and fishing in Pennsylvania for over 130 years.

The meeting will be Wednesday, January 14 at 7:00 p.m. at the Elk Creek Inn (upstairs room) on US Route 832 just south of the Interstate 90 exit. The meeting is free and open to the public. Our local WCOs are coming to this meeting to help update anyone interested in the fishery. If you want to be aware of the status of these important issues, please consider attending.

Local Weather:

Wednesday night
Snow showers likely. Accumulation 2 to 3 inches. Lows near 10 above. East winds 5 to 15 mph becoming north at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 70 percent.
Mostly cloudy with scattered snow showers. Temperatures steady in the lower teens. North winds around 15 mph. Chance of snow 50 percent.
Thursday night
Mostly cloudy with a chance of snow showers. Lows near 5. North winds around 15 mph. Chance of snow 30 percent.
Mostly cloudy with a chance of flurries. Highs in the mid teens.
Friday night
Mostly cloudy. Lows near 10 above.
Mostly cloudy with a chance of snow showers. Highs in the upper 20s. Chance of snow 30 percent.
Saturday night
Mostly cloudy with a chance of snow showers. Lows in the lower 20s. Chance of snow 30 percent.
Mostly cloudy with a chance of snow showers. Highs in the upper 20s. Chance of snow 30 percent.
Sunday night
Mostly cloudy. Lows in the upper teens.
Mostly cloudy. Highs in the mid 20s.
Monday night
Mostly cloudy. Lows in the upper teens.
Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 20s.

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