WEST ERIE COUNTY, DWCO Randy Leighton, WCO Brook Tolbert|
Area tribs remain low and very clear and few if any fresh steelhead remain throughout the tribs. Suckers are more common and thoughts of spring and boating season are in the air. A few mild days have found a fair number of boaters on Presque Isle Bay targeting bass and crappie. The Walnut Creek channel dredging is nearly complete, although it will be a number of weeks before the launch ramps are in. Anglers have been doing quit well pan fishing from shore on the South side of Presque Isle Bay. The Lake Erie water temperature off Toledo is 44 degrees, off Cleveland, 39 degrees and off Erie, 41 degrees.
The Big Opener is Just Around the Corner:
The big Trout opener is April 15th at 8:00 am. (Don't forget to file your taxes as well). The Erie Tribs can be a spectacular place for the opener with a variety of fishing opportunities. Popular areas in West County for the opener are the Streuchen Flats area on Elk Creek, Crooked Creek, Fairview Gravel Pits, the Mckean Hole at the Mckean exit on I-79, and the Legion Park Holes on Elk Creek. Lake Pleasant and the Basin Ponds at Presque Isle round out additional trout fishing opportunities in northern Erie County. (For a nominal fee, you can enjoy a great breakfast at sunrise at the Legion Park picnic pavilion adjacent to the upper and lower Legion Park holes on Elk Creek) A good rule of thumb is to look for the areas where there are significant cars and parking...the number of parking spaces is often in direct correlation to the number of fish stocked in those waters.
Anglers fishing the Fairview Gravel pit pond are reminded that this is Fish and Boat Commission controlled property. Open fires and camping are prohibited, as are erecting any permanent structures. Anglers are reminded that Commission controlled properties are intended for fishing and boating activities only. Officers will be on the lookout for litter problems in these busy areas. Unpowered boats on the Gravel Pit Pond as well as all PFBC owned waters, require PFBC or DCNR State Parks registration and all mechanically powered boats must be registered. Internal combustion engines are not permitted on Commission Controlled lakes. Water temperatures will still be bone chilling on opening day....make sure your safety equipment is in order. A PFD is required for all persons on board and must be worn by children 12 years of age and younger on boats 20 feet in length and under and on canoes and kayaks . They must be coast guard approved, size appropriate to the individual, in good serviceable condition, and be easily accessible.
Some opening day suggestions:
Light or ultra light spinning or spincast reels filled with two to four lb. test line are best suited for our area streams. Closed faced reels work best for the kids to avoid tangles. Rods should be no longer than six feet (five feet is better) so you can keep your bait out of trees and away from others while casting. Noodle rods which are popular in our area, can work well to detect those subtle strikes. Tie a short shank, size 10 to 14 hook and add one or two small (size BB or bird seed) split shot 12-18 inches above the hook. The removable type split shot works better as it allows you to change weights easily. If you are using larger baits like whole night crawlers, larger hooks (size 6 or 8) might work better. Float the bait under a small float just large enough to carry the bait. Large floats do little more than spook the fish and make it difficult to detect strikes. Adjust the float to keep the bait near the bottom, or as deep as possible at the Gravel Pit Pond
Popular trout baits include corn, red worms, nightcrawlers, crickets, salmon eggs (fresh cured or jarred types in different colors), the powerbaits, marshmallows and the favorite, emerald shiners (everyone has a secret weapon). Try a variety of baits in case the trout are finicky (and they usually are.) Put just enough bait on to just cover the hook, but do not go overboard. For example, on a size 10 hook use: a) one or two pieces of corn or, b) one cricket or, c) one red worm d) one or two salmon eggs or, e) one-third to one-half of a nightcrawler or a single minnow. Typically the smaller the presentation, the better. It doesn't hurt to watch what the guy catching all the fish is using either (My favorite technique).
The key to catching trout is to "read" a stream for good spots and then "present" your bait in a natural manner. "Read" the water for spots that offer trout a place to hide from predators while watching for food to drift by. Trout are usually found near the bottom in pools and in slower "pockets" around rocks, boulders. or submerged trees.
Stand downstream of a spot you think a trout might be. "Present" your bait by casting several feet upstream of the target area. Let the bait drift downstream into the target area while slowly reeling in the slack line. If your bait does not tick along the bottom, add more weight to the line. If your bait hangs up on the bottom. take some weight off. Cast two or three times into the same spot. If you do not get a bite, change baits or try a different area if possible. A stop in the downstream drift of your line along with a sharp tap in your line signals a bite. Give the fish a second or two at most to take the bait, then pull back on the rod and set the hook. A strong set is not necessary if you are using sharp hooks.
The Gravel Pit Pond in Fairview is literally a mined out gravel pit and as such is quite deep and pending weather, very clear. Small baits with very light line should be fished deep under a float or without any float at all. With a little patience, you may be rewarded with a tough fight from a beautiful brown trout!
Cooperation and consideration in crowded fishing areas for both your fellow anglers and local landowners on the opening day of the regular Trout season will make for a great day of angling for all. Area parking can be hectic on opening day. Watch for signs and park only in designated areas taking care to not to block driveways or right of ways and do not park on private property.
The traditions of the opening day of trout season are rich and widespread and for many youngsters, their first exposure to the great sport of fishing and all the our area and Pennsylvania have to offer. Be especially considerate of younger anglers .....we were all young once.....and please police your area for litter before leaving.
Local Regulations Reminder: The Upper Gravel Pit Pond, Lake Pleasant, and the East and West Basin Ponds at Presque Isle State Park are now closed to fishing until 8:00 AM, April 15th, the opening of regular trout season.
It is unlawful to fish or possess trout or salmon in or along any Lake Erie tributary stream from 12:01 AM on April 14th until 8:00 AM on April 15th, a period of 32 hours. All anglers fishing Pennsylvania waters of Lake Erie, Presque Isle Bay, and their tributaries are required to possess a valid Lake Erie permit.
Support Your Local Sportsmen's Clubs: The final Pennsylvania Steelhead Association meeting until Fall is Wednesday April 12th 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. This month guest speaker is Chuck Murray, biologist for the PFBC. Chuck will be discussing the 2005 Lake Erie Status and Trends report as well as the 2006 season. These presentations are information packed and invaluable for the Erie area angler. The public is welcome.
Local Weather: Wednesday Night Mostly cloudy. Lows around 30. Northwest winds 10 to 20 mph.
Thursday Partly cloudy. Not as cool with highs in the upper 40s. Northwest winds 5 to 10 mph.
Thursday Night Partly cloudy in the evening, Then becoming mostly cloudy. A 50 percent chance of showers. Not as cool with lows around 40. Southeast winds 5 to 10 mph.
Friday Showers and thunderstorms likely. Highs in the mid 50s. Chance of rain 60 percent.
Friday Night Mostly cloudy. Showers and thunderstorms likely in the evening...Then a chance of showers after midnight. Lows in the mid 30s. Chance of rain 60 percent.
Saturday Mostly cloudy in the morning...Then becoming partly cloudy. A 40 percent chance of rain showers. Breezy and cooler with highs in the mid 40s.
Saturday Night Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 30s.
Sunday Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 40s.
Sunday Night Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 30s.
Monday Partly cloudy. Highs around 50.
Monday Night Partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 30s.
Tuesday Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 50s