WCO Report for Erie County 9/06/2006: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: September 06, 206

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Posted by DWCO Randy Leighton on September 06, 206 at 08:03:02:

September 6th, 2006

West Erie County, DWCO Randy Leighton, WCO Brook Tolbert

Conditions: Steelhead:
We have received countless calls as to the steelhead movement into Walnut and Elk Creeks. Current water and ambient temperatures have moved some fish into the tribs, however typically in these conditions they seem to be little more than "exploratory runs". As such, the numbers in the tribs can vary day to day. The Walnut channel seems to be holding a fair number of fish as of this writing as evidenced by the number caught this past weekend. Most fish were caught between sunset and sunrise and with a little cloud cover, throughout the day. Although water levels are good, conditions are clear in most areas making daytime steelhead fishing difficult, but not impossible. Anglers were also doing fair at the mouths of Trout and Godfrey runs along the lakeshore and angler reports indicate that some fish are holding in the "mud hole" at the mouth of Elk Creek. One lone angler in a float tube was catching one steelhead after the other off the mouth of Walnut this past Sunday. Water temperatures in the tribs are slowly dropping which should trigger additional activity. Long term weather forecasts indicate additional rain in our area this which could be the spark needed to get things really going. In short, there are currently fish to be caught for those that know how to catch them, but the big run is still around the corner. Current Lake Erie water temperatures as of this writing are 66 degrees off of Toledo, 71 degrees off of Cleveland, and 67 degrees off of Erie. Current trib conditions as of this writing are low and clear with some flow.

Perch: Perch fishing has been good over the last week or so for those that can find the schools and limits are still being brought in. 55 to 62 feet of water due north of Walnut creek and 60 to 65 feet of water north of the point have been decent spots. Drifting until you locate the bite will often lead to a successful day.

Walleye: The quick limits have tapered off although walleye angling is still good. The best reports have come from the south side of the first trench where anglers are picking up steelhead as well.

Steelhead and Salmon limits:
Trout and Salmon limits changed on September 5th for Lake Erie and its Pennsylvania tributaries. The limit is now 3 fish in any combination only 2 of which may be Lake Trout. Minimum size limit is 15 inches for all trout and Salmon. Early season runs often bring the smaller jacks into the tribs and anglers are advised to measure rather than guess on the 15" minimum size.

For Those That Practice Catch and Release, From Retired DWCO Bryan Brendley, Phd:
As more anglers begin the yearly trek to the Lake Erie watershed, it is always a good time to discuss the biology of catch-and-release (CAR). Many anglers practice CAR, but despite our best efforts, fish still die in large numbers. A few years ago, Dr. Ken Ostrand, an aquatic biologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey studied CAR techniques and mortality rates in two large bass tournaments in Illinois. Bass anglers use the accepted CAR techniques to perfection, but large numbers of fish still did not survive. The longer a fish is played, the more lactic acid builds up in the bloodstream as oxygen in burned to fuel the "fight and flight" mechanism. Lactic acid acts as a toxin, killing up to 30% of the fish studied. Ostrand then conducted experiments with a tank system utilizing a gentle current and found that fish moving against the water flow could work out the excess acid and recovered nicely.

Another concern is temperature. Air temperature and water temperature both play roles in the recovery of the CAR fish. IF the water temperature is over 75 degrees, the oxygen level is depleted so that after a fight, the fish has a difficult recovery, and predisposing them to death after release. Most biologist recommend that anglers use heavy enough gear to give a fight time of a few minutes. Fish often simply won't revive after an extend fight when the water temperature and/or the air temperature is elevated.

Hooks bring up another interesting "point" of discussion about CAR fishing. Data from studies done in the 1980s suggested that fishing with barbed hooks led to the death of 30% of fish that actually swallowed the hook, obviously due to soft tissue damage. Later research showed that barbless hooks lowered the mortality rates by about 20%.
The most current data suggests that the Shelton Release self-releasing hooks and Circle-C hooks are two of the best hooks designed to minimize the damage to the fish with a minimum of bleeding. This particular study was conducted on 900 trout which were hooked, released and observed for almost a week.

Finally, don't overhandle your fish. Human hands contain oils which can remove the slime coating on the fish, allowing the possibility of infection.

Local Weather:

Wednesday Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 60s. Northeast winds around 5 mph...Becoming northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon. Chance of rain 40 percent.

Wednesday Night Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers in the evening...Then partly cloudy after midnight. Lows in the mid 50s. Southwest winds 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30 percent.

Thursday Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 70s. West winds around 5 mph.

Thursday Night Partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 50s.

Friday Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 70s.

Friday Night Partly cloudy. Lows around 60.

Saturday Partly cloudy in the morning...Then mostly cloudy with a chance of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. Highs in the upper 60s. Chance of rain 30 percent.

Saturday Night Mostly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of showers. Lows around 60.

Sunday Partly cloudy. Highs in the upper 60s.

Sunday Night Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 50s.

Monday Mostly sunny. Highs in the upper 60s.

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