WCO Report for Erie County 06/23/2004: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: June 22, 2004

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Posted by DWCO Randy Leighton on June 22, 2004 at 23:02:06:

WEST ERIE COUNTY, DWCO Randy Leighton, WCO Brook Tolbert

The perch fishing off of Walnut Creek just seems to get better each day. Wind and waves have slowed things down over the last week but with conditions permitting, anglers are still limiting out in and hour or two. The hot spot is still north west of the Walnut Creek Access are in 45-52 of water.

Walleye fishing on the lake has still been sporadic for most anglers although the local charter captains have been bringing in a number of limits so they are out there. Finding them is the challenge. Best bets for Walleye are to stay in shallow water... 25 to 40 feet untill the lake warms up more (if it ever does). Crawler harnesses trolled behind small dipseys or flat lining are all that's needed at these depths.

A few catfish have been pulled in off the Walnut Access Wall near the mouth. Fishing at night in muddy conditions can be productive. Crawlers fished on the bottom were successful.

Bass fishing continues to thrive in the Bay and along the lake shore on the East side of the Peninsula. Anglers fishing the South wall this past weekend were having a bass bonanza with a good number of lunkers reeled in. Shiners and leeches were the baits of choice.

Current Lake Erie Water temperature as of this writing is 63 degrees

Are You Prepared for Trouble?
This past Sunday was a tough day for boaters and anglers on Lake Erie. With waves varying from 3 to 6 feet on the lake and the fishing conditions good, many boaters overlooked the lake conditions in favor of getting their limit of perch. Not everyone had a lucky day. One unfortunate couple learned the perils of Lake Erie the hard way and found themselves being thankful to see dry land again. Their boat, a 20 foot or so center console rig with an older outboard and kicker motor began taking water over what was a rather short transom with a very small engine well area. In a short time the man and woman realized their bilge pump wasn't going to keep them afloat. The boat rapidly filled with water and when full, listed to one side and turned over, momentarily trapping the individuals under the boat.

They were not wearing their PFDs and the man did not know how to swim.

Luckily, they were able to get their hands on the live vests but had difficulty in putting them on in the water. The women got separated from her PFD and ended up cling to a plastic cooler to stay afloat. They stayed with their boat and fortunately, were spotted quickly by another boat who pulled them to safety. Their boat was towed back to the Walnut Access Marina upside down where it was righted and pumped out. When the boat was flipped over, the marine radio was still operating and the bilge pump was still pumping.

Analyzing this near tragic scenario, it was mostly luck that that spared the lives of these unfortunate individuals. Although they did have their PFDs on board, they were lucky to have retrieved them at all. When it was discovered that the boat was taking on water, the PFDs should have been put on immediately and better yet, they should have been on in the first place, especially with a non swimmer on board. Had the woman not been able to retrieve the life saving cooler or the PFDs drifted any further away, this accident could have been tragic. It was only luck that another boat was within calling distance rendor assistance. On a positive note, the decision to remain with the boat was a wise one in this case. Many boats will stay afloat even when swamped and often times, a flipped boat will stay afloat if air is trapped underneath the inverted hull.

When boating Lake Erie, particularly in rough conditions, wearing that PFD can instantly mean the difference between life and death. Don'd take the chance, wear it.

Filleting Fish Brought in from Lake Erie:
Any fish that has a minimum size and/or a closed season may not be filleted until it reaches the place where you intend to eat it (in most cases your residence). Fish that have no closed season or minimum size may be filleted but the skin must remain on the fillet until it reaches the place where you intend to eat it. This would apply to both perch (has a minimum size on Lake Erie) and walleye (has a minimum size and a closed season). This would not apply for example to catfish, bluegill, and rock bass. Note the Littering law section under the Fish and Boat Code essentially says that nothing shall be put, placed, allowed to be put or place in, upon or along Commonwealth waters - without exception.

There are two exceptions to this rule; fishermen who go to a licensed Regulated Fishing Lake (a fee-fishing area) may have their fish filleted however, they will also receive a receipt from the establishment to identify the source. Anglers may also take fish to an officially recognized fish cleaning station and have them filleted. The operator of the station is required to give the angler a receipt indicating the species and number of fish filleted.

This Week's Boating Safety Reminder:
Children 12 years of age and younger must wear an approved wearable PFD while underway on all Commonwealth waters on any boat 20 feet or less in length (powered or unpowered) and in all canoes and kayaks. The PFD must be size appropriate for the child. It is the boat operators responsibility to assure that children are wearing their PFDs when required.

Local Weather:
Wednesday night
Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 50s. Southwest winds around 10 mph.
Partly cloudy. Highs in the upper 70s. Southwest winds 10 to 15 mph.
Thursday night
Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 50s. Southwest winds 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30 percent.
Mostly cloudy. Scattered showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the lower 70s. Chance of rain 40 percent.
Friday night
Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 50s.
Saturday through Tuesday
Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 70s. Lows in the lower 50s.

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