WCO Report for Erie County 12/31/2008: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: December 30, 2008

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Posted by DWCO Randy Leighton on December 30, 2008 at 23:19:43:

December 31st, 2008

West Erie County, DWCO Randy Leighton, WCO Brook Tolbert


Erie was no exception to the mild temperatures this past weekend. The warm weather brought a rapid melt down and once again put the tribs at near flood stages. This combined with extremely high wind conditions made steelhead fishing extremely difficult if not impossible. By Monday afternoon and in to Tuesday the tribs began to drop to very fishable levels with the bonus being fresh fish moving in. Monday afternoon the Walnut Creek Access area was extremely crowded with anglers doing fair to well in the elbow to elbow conditions from the "Wall" to the "Chutes". Elk Creek was still on the high side but has subsided nicely. As of Tuesday afternoon most areas had good flow and color. Colder night time temps are predicted and will likely give way to early morning slush over the next few days and into the weekend. The ice on Presque Isle Bay has melted for now, and on the calmer days a few boats have been spotted. A surprising number of steelhead hold in Presque Isle Bay throughout the winter and can be caught by boat or through the ice, conditions permitting.

Law Enforcement:
Poaching and Nursery water violations continue to be a problem. Anglers are reminded that as of January 1st a 2009 license must be displayed. It may seem trivial for such a reminder but it is always surprising how many forget. Be sure you have the Lake Erie Stamp, Trout Stamp or Combo Stamp as required when steelhead fishing.

Burbot Time:
Anglers are braving the difficult weather conditions and beginning to target Burbot along the North Pier and to some extent the South Pier. Most Burbot are accidentally hooked by unsuspecting Perch anglers using minnows and perch rigs however, more and more anglers are going after them. Anglers specifically targeting Burbot will typically use the largest shiners they can get, often using two on one hook and fish them on the bottom. Large jigging spoons worked on the bottom can be worth a try as well. Burbot are a fresh water cod that enjoy the coldest depths of Great Lakes. As water temperatures drop, Burbot will move into shallower water and can often be caught from the North and South piers. Burbot has a mild taste and can be enjoyed fried, baked, or broiled.

Best Wishes:
2008 has been a busy year especially the always chaotic steelhead season. Although some are quick to criticize, the the fact remains that the Erie area offers us some of the best fishing opportunities in North America. Casual observations always reveal license plates from all over the United States and even Canada. The fishing opportunities, unposted access, and the continued beauty of the area are all what we make it. If there are laws and regulations, they will be broken, but it is of course by the few. For the overwhelming majority of ethical sportsmen, both local and those who migrate long distances to enjoy our area, fishing is still the enjoyable experience and get away it has always has been and hopefully it will be well into the future. It is ours to cherish and protect.
On behalf of Waterways Conservation Officers Brook Tolbert, Ed Stuart, Jim Smolko, and their teams of Deputies along with the Northwest Region office staff, Best wishes for a happy, prosperous, and satisfying New Year.

Smokin' !!!!!!:
We have published the following around the holiday season each year and by popular demand, here it is again in its entirety..... Even the poorest of cooks can produce pretty darn good smoked fish. Don't be afraid to experiment with spices to give your treat the personal touch....have fun!! Whether it's salmon, Steelhead or trout, this 'smoking' brine recipe and flavor tips work well and can be easily modified to suit individual tastes. Fillet the fish as usual. Then cut into 2 or 3 inch chunks. If you want to smoke the fish in larger portions be sure to increase your brining time. Make sure to cut off the belly fat. The tail section should be 4 to 5 inches in length.

Basic Brine
For every one quart of water dissolve:
1 Cup of White Sugar
1/2 Cup of non-iodized Salt
1 Cup of Brown Sugar If you want a smokey bolder taste add:1 T of Liquid Smoke
1 T of Worcestershire Sauce
Soak the fish skin side up in a non metallic bowl with a tight fitting lid in the refrigerator overnight. Shake the container every few hours if possible.
Gourmet Herb Brine
This must be added to the basic brine prior to curing overnight.
To the basic brine above add:
1/2 Cup finely diced Onion or 1/4 of Dried Minced Onion
2 T of Coarse ground Black Pepper
3 T of Dried Parsley
1 T of Dried Oregano
1 Bay Leave
2 T of Minced Garlic or 1 T of Garlic Juice
3 T of dried Cilantro

Maple Flavored Brine
This must be added to the basic brine prior to curing overnight.To the basic brine above add:
1 ounce of Maple Flavoring or 1 Cup of Maple Syrup
1 Cinnamon Stick

Plug in your smoker and let it preheat. (a charcoal or cold smoker will work fine too) Pull the fish from the brine solution and rinse under cold water. If you used the Herb Recipe above do not rinse the fish. You may want to roll the fish over and pull it from the Herb mixture meat side up which will allow all the wonderful spices to stick to the meat. Place the chunks of fish on racks that are on paper towels. Dab off any excess moisture and allow the fish to air dry for 45 minutes to an hour. If you are using a wet smoker, save the brine for the moisture pan and fill to 1/2 to 3/4 capacity and place in the smoker while it preheats. If your using the plain or Herb brine, try using Alder chunks and chips for the flavor. If you used the Maple brine or used any other sweet brine, use Hickory! You may want to try and sprinkle some Brown Sugar on the meat while it's drying. It will give the fish a Teriyaki flavor when it comes out of the smoker. Smoke for 1-1/2 to 3 hours. Add chips or chunks at the beginning and at the 1 hour time frame. Check often and when the fish flakes, it's done! Enjoy!

Local Weather:

Wednesday Night...Mostly cloudy with a 50 percent chance of snow showers. Lows around 13. Northwest winds 10 to 20 mph.

New Years Day...Partly sunny. A chance of flurries in the morning. Highs in the upper 20s. West winds 5 to 10 mph...becoming south in the afternoon.

Thursday Night...Cloudy. A chance of snow showers after midnight. Lows around 19. South winds 10 to 15 mph. Chance of snow 40 percent.

Friday...Snow showers likely. Highs in the lower 30s. Chance of snow 70 percent.

Friday Night...Cloudy with a 50 percent chance of snow showers. Lows around 20.

Saturday...Cloudy with a 40 percent chance of snow showers. Highs in the upper 20s.

Saturday Night...Mostly cloudy. Lows 15 to 20.

Sunday...Mostly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of snow showers. Highs around 30.

Sunday Night...Mostly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of snow showers. Lows around 20.

Monday...Mostly cloudy. Highs in the upper 20s.

Monday Night...Mostly cloudy. Lows 15 to 20.

Tuesday...Mostly cloudy. Highs in the lower 30s.

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