WCO Report for Erie County 03/16/2005: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: March 15, 2005

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Posted by DWCO Randy Leighton on March 15, 2005 at 22:18:11:

WEST ERIE COUNTY DWCO Randy Leighton/WCO Brook Tolbert

Day time temperatures hovering at or above freezing have opened up considerable water on the tribs. Open water can be found in most areas. Flow and color have been generally good. Although conditions are good and Spring is only a few days away, the Steelhead are not quite ready to cooperate and repopulate the tribs. Anglers are still pulling fish through the ice at Trout Run, again evidence of Spring staging. Most of the fish throughout the tribs have weathered the winter.

Anglers are still doing very well ice fishing Presque Isle Bay with the area between the first and third parking lots at Presque Isle State Park being the most popular. Plenty of gills and crappie have made their way into the bay for early spawning. It is this time of year that some of the largest perch can be taken from the Bay. As we make the slow transition from Winter to Spring, ice anglers are advised to be aware of changing conditions and unstable ice. The Erie Channel between the Bay and the Lake is open water and the East end of the Bay has started to thaw.

Current Lake Erie water temperature as of this writing is 32 degrees with considerable drift ice built up along the shoreline. Current tributary conditions as of this writing are flowing with good color and night time temperatures creating some ice and slush early in the morning.

Suckers Are Moving In:
Suckers have started to move into the tribs. Although the numbers aren't big yet, they are normally a sign that Spring is just around the corner. Although often considered a nuisance fish when steelhead fishing, suckers can be great fun to catch and provide easy action for the impatient young anglers. Suckers can be caught on just about any tackle. The most effective method is light or ultralight spinning tackle. Four to six pound test monofilament should be used, along with small, sharp hooks. Worms, live aquatic nymphs, maggots and waxworms are the best baits for suckers. Fish directly on the bottom, either with a stationary rig with a sliding sinker, or with a drifting rig that moves along the bottom with the current. In short, you can fish them the same way that you would fish for steelhead using pretty much the same gear and if the steelhead or trout aren't hitting, a pool full of Suckers can save the day with some fun filled action. Suckers have been known to hit leadhead jigs and in line spinners, but this technique is not very effective most of the time.

Suckers are also easy to catch on fly tackle. They hammer flies like the Pheasant Tail, Scud Patterns, and the Gold-Ribbed Hare's Ear. Fly fishing for suckers is great sport. The best fly fishing rig for white sucker fishing is the deadly shot-and-indicator nymphing rig. Set your indicator at the right depth to get your fly right on the bottom, and drift it naturally with the current. The strike of a sucker is very subtle and easily mistaken for a steelhead in the Spring. The indicator will either pause or dip for a fraction of a second before the fish spits out the fly. You must set the hook quickly, but softly, to avoid breaking your tippet. Always have a forceps or needle nose pliers on hand while sucker fishing, since their rubbery lips are tough and it's hard to get a deeply imbedded hook out without harming the fish.

Although the Erie tribs produce consistently large suckers, the State record sucker was caught on the Allegheny river in Forest County in 2003. The fish weighed in at a hefty 12 lbs. 14.4 oz. Although, not the most popular eating fish the meat is delicate with a slightly sweet taste and is often cooked, flaked and made into "fish cakes" or pan fried if you don't mind picking through the bones.

Season Changes for Pike, Muskie, and Walleye:
Season for Pike, Muskellunge, and Walleye is now closed and will resume May 7th. This includes Lake Erie and its tributaries as well as Presque Isle Bay.

Early Reminder for the Regular Trout Season Opener:
A few questions have been already been raised regarding the Erie area trib closings just prior to the regular season trout opener on April 16th. It is unlawful to fish or possess trout or salmon in or along any Lake Erie tributary stream from 12:01 a.m. on April 15 until 8 a.m. on April 16 (32 hours total).

Bridge Replacement Scheduled on Elk Creek:
Whitman's bridge in Girard is scheduled for replacement this year according to Girard Township. The proposed change includes some angler parking and safer access. Plans are to schedule construction so as to minimize disturbance to fish and other aquatic life.

Support Your Local Sportsmen's Clubs:
The SONS of Lake Erie have their regular monthly meeting on Monday, March 28, 2005 at 7:30 p.m. at the East Erie Turners, 9th and Parade Streets in Erie. The public is welcome to attend.

The SONS will be holding their annual ice out party on Sunday, April 3, 2005 at the East Erie Turns at E. 9th and Parade Streets from 1 P.M. until 6 P.M. Admission is $5.00 for adults $3.00 under 12. Great food and refreshment along with many prize give a ways make this traditional event fun for the whole family. The public is invited. For more information call 814-453-2270. See you there...

Weather Forcast

Wednesday night
Partly cloudy. Lows around 20. Southeast winds 5 to 10 mph.
Partly cloudy. Highs in the upper 30s. Southwest winds 5 to 10 mph, becoming west 10 to 15 mph in the afternoon.
Thursday night
Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 20s. Northwest winds 5 to 10 mph.
Friday through Monday
Partly cloudy. Highs around 40. Lows in the mid 20s.
Monday night
Partly cloudy in the evening, then becoming mostly cloudy. A 30 percent chance of rain and snow showers. Lows around 30.
Mostly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of rain showers. Highs in the mid 40s.

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