WEST ERIE COUNTY, |
DWCO Randy Leighton, WCO Brook Tolbert
Erie has been enjoying a mild winter as of late with day time temperatures reaching the 40s and the mercury barely dropping to the freezing mark at night. All ice has long thawed, including Presque Isle Bay and any thoughts of hardwater fishing can be postponed for the foreseeable near future. The benefit of course is that we are also enjoying some of the best steelhead conditions of the season with angling pressure on the tribs only light to moderate. The gradual melt off along with some scattered drizzle over the last week has kept trib levels high with very good flow. Anglers have been doing very well along the Wall and around the marina basin at the Walnut Creek Access. Upper Elk gave up many fresh fish over the weekend with good numbers of fish holding in the Legion Park holes in Girard and in the stretch adjacent to Girard Boro Park. Anglers were also having good success in the Struechan Flats area.
With high water levels, Crooked Creek has been very productive and much more fishable then last year. A few bass boats were even spotted on Presque Isle Bay before daybreak this past Tuesday morning. Current Lake Erie water temperature as of this writing is 33 degrees off Toledo, 35 degrees off Cleveland, and 36 degrees off Erie. The West County tribs were at good levels and flowing well and clear to lightly stained in most areas.
If the Season Ever Arrives:
Where are they and how do I catch them? If you talk to 10 different people fishing during ice season, 5 will be walking off the ice with their limit and 5 will be wondering why they caught nothing. Those that have done well more often than not, have just stuck to the basics of good fishing practices.
Find the fish. Often times an angler will unknowingly fish dead water for hours with out moving. If you do not have a locater (a portable locater can be invaluable) go where the other guys are. If you have not hooked anything within a half hour or so...its time to move to another spot. Noise scares fish, always has...always will. The initial noise of an auger or "setting up the hut" may initially scare the fish away..but curiosity and good bait will bring them back. From there on give them the silent treatment. Keep the bait fresh. If using live shiners keep them alive and lively.
Use as light weight of line as possible..in most cases, 2 lb. is plenty for panfish. Fluorcarbon line works well in the cold clear ice water.
Keep the guides or eyes on your rod free of ice to minimize line wear. A thin smear of petroleum jelly on each guide will do the job.
Fish metabolism slows dramatically in frigid water (yours would too). This means using the smallest of jigs and very slow presentations.
Use very short, slow jigging strokes and long pauses in between
Fish most often strike between jigging strokes and very often the strike is quite subtle. Paying close attention will produce more fish.
Bottled fish attractants can be helpful on artificial baits.
If your minnow supply gets low, fish eyes from your catch make excellent bait. Single waxworms or a few grubs or maggots can be the right bait at times and will keep well in the warmth of a coat pocket
Keep your bait near the bottom in most cases..
Support Your Local Sportsmen's Clubs:
The next Pennsylvania Steelhead Association meeting is Wednesday January 11th, at 7 PM. Meetings are held in the main banquet room on the ground floor the American Legion Post 773 at 4109 West 12th Street, Erie, PA. 16505. This is on the south side of West 12th street (route 5), just east of the Erie Airport. Food and legal beverages are offered at reasonable prices. The public is welcome. This months speaker will be Jimmy Dallas talking about the Erie Bluffs State Park development. Jimmy is well known around the Erie area having fished here all his life and is considered the "consumer advocate" for the area anglers and is known for asking the touch questions. Jimmy's dedication to the Erie fishery and has love of the sport are hard to top. His colorful candor and straight forward ideas have often presented challenges to area sportsmen's clubs and state agencies alike and have influenced many decisions and policies pertaining to the Erie area fisheries. Also on the agenda will be WCO Ed Stuart, Central Erie County. WCO Stuart will talking about licensing for for guides, the requirements and new changes.
Mostly cloudy. Lows in the upper 30s. Southwest winds 10 to 20 mph.
Martin Luther King Jr Day