WEST ERIE COUNTY, DWCO Randy Leighton, WCO Brook Tolbert|
Its all about the rain, or rather the lack of it. Recent precipitation has been moderate and had little effect on the West county tribs. Although the steelhead numbers are down, angling pressure has been intense, especially near the mouths at both Elk and Walnut Creeks. Low clear conditions very often are the norm in this area, and although difficult at times, fish can be caught. Night time and dawn can be productive. Blaze orange and brightly colored clothing although arguably fashionable, will often do little more than spook the already shy fish. Noise is a factor as well and difficult to avoid with the crowded conditions. Anglers landing fish know to use the lightest of presentations often times dropping down to 2 LB line or tippets and playing them out. Hooks in the 16 to 18 range and even down to a size 20 or 22 are often necessary to keep the finicky steelhead from ignoring your bait. Smart anglers will change presentations often and move if a hole is not productive. Very often if the fish are totally lethargic, it is up to the angler to trigger the strike making the micro jigs effective.
Lake shore fishing at Trout and Godfrey have been the best bets in between the heavy wind and wave conditions. Cleos, spinners, eggsacs, the paste baits all will work well.
There are still perch and walleye to be caught when the Lake is calm enough and anglers trolling the shorelines have been bringing in a fair number of steelhead.
Law Enforcement Update:
As the crowds increase especially on the weekends, so do the number of violations. Nursery water violations and snagging problems have already been encountered along with over the limit violations and littering. Specifically over this past weekend alone there were 8 snagging violations, 1 nursery water violation, 1 misuse of property violation, 1 property violation, 1 use of an illegal device, and one over the limit violation....and the season is just underway.
Last Reminder to Show Your Support:
Wednesday evenings PA. Steelhead Association meeting is privileged to have Millcreek Township Supervisor Brian McGrath talk about the Township's land acquisition along Walnut Creek and as well as the sensitive sewage overflow problems. With so much land being posted, this is your opportunity to show your support as to how this land along Walnut Creek will be utilized and to show your concern regarding additional precious angler access. The monthly meeting is Wednesday October 12th at the West Lake Bar and Grill on West Lake Road at 7:00 PM. The public is welcome.
Trout Run Parking:
The private parking lot on the west side of Trout Run opened last weekend helping to ease some congestion in that area. There is a small fee for parking. Anglers are reminded that this lot is privately owned and is opened on the generosity of the owner. The Marina is closed to fishing.
If the property on both sides of the stream is posted, can I still fish in the water? Does the landowner own the stream? An important subject for the area tributaries........
* It depends on the legal status of the stream. These relatively straightforward questions raise some complicated legal issues. This brief answer cannot begin to address this complex subject, which has generated major court decisions and lengthy law review articles.
* In Pennsylvania, the public's rights to fish in a particular stream depends in large part on whether the stream is (or was) considered to be "navigable." In general, the public has the right to fish in a navigable waterway.
* The accepted test of navigability whether the waters "are used, or are susceptible to being used, in their ordinary condition, as highways for commerce." If the water met the navigability test at any point in its history, it remains a legally navigable waterway subject to the Public Trust Doctrine. HREF="http://sites.state.pa.us/PA_Exec/Fish_Boat/anglerboater/2000/00julaug/lehicort.htm" Target="_top">Click here to read more about a case that considered the navigability status of the Lehigh River.
* The determination of navigability depends on many factors in the history of a stream. You can't necessarily tell whether a stream is considered navigable by just looking at it today. If the stream was a navigable water at any point in its history, it is assumed that it remains such. Among the evidence that courts look to in determining the navigable status of the stream are its history, its declaration as a public highway, its size and flow, the treatment of submerged lands, and the like. But there is no one factor that is, by itself, determinative. There is no single published listing of all the navigable waters in Pennsylvania.
* Although the public has the right to fish in a navigable stream flowing through private lands, this does not mean that the public has the right to cross posted private lands to get to the stream. There is no general right to cross private land to gain access to a navigable waterway. A person who gains legal access to the stream above or below the posted property and then wades or floats to the area is acting within his or her rights as long as he or she stays in the stream.
* If a waterway is considered non-navigable, the riparian landowner (the landowner who owns land adjoining the stream) has the legal right to post the land and water and to exclude members of the public from fishing or boating in the stream.
The Fish and Boat Commission stocks only those waters that are open to public fishing. Many public-spirited private landowners allow public fishing on waters that flow through their lands. This allows the Commission to stock these waters. If a water is stocked, it should not be posted. In fact, posting is one of the reasons why some waters come off the stocking lists each year.
* One of the keys to preserving public rights to fish on waters flowing through private lands is the good conduct of Pennsylvania anglers. Be a good guest: Don't litter or damage the lands where you're allowed to fish.