PFBC WCO REPORT- January 2000 - Western Erie County: PA

Article Posted: December 30, 1999

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PFBC WCO REPORT... Wco John W. Bowser / Western Erie County

The following report summary was provided by Chuck Murray of the Lake Erie
Research Unit:

Preliminary results have been compiled from the annual PFBC Lake Erie
Research Unit open lake boat angler survey. The results are collected from
anglers launching and landing at Walnut Creek, Lampe Marina, East Ave. Boat
Launch and North East Access Area between May 1, 1999 through October 31,
1999. All results are expanded to represent all angling activity in open
lake waters of Pennsylvania on Lake Erie. This survey has been in place
since 1996.

Anglers spent over 396,500 hours fishing for walleye in 1999 and caught over
92,400 walleye and harvested over 89,000 walleye. Because the relatively
strong 1996 year class was fully recruited into the 15" minimum size limit
(MSL), anglers harvested 96% of the walleye they caught. We expect good
walleye fishing in 2000.

Smallmouth bass anglers expended nearly 122,000 hours fishing for bass, and
caught over 94,300 smallmouth and harvested over 15,200 bass. Although
smallmouth bass continued to provide excellent fishing, sharp declines in the
catch and harvest of bass have been seen over the last two years. Poor bass
recruitment in the early 1990's are probably to blame, but a very strong 1999
year class should once again boost the catch and harvest of this trophy
fishery in 2000 and beyond.

Angler fishing for yellow perch spent over 42,000 hours fishing for perch.
In 1999 anglers caught over 62,300 perch and harvested 41,100 perch. Catch
rates have continued to improve since 1996. Because the strong 1996 year
class had not fully recruited into the 8" MSL, anglers harvested only 66% of
the perch that they caught in 1999, down from a 4 year high of 87% in 1998.
Because the 1996 year class will be fully recruited into the 8" MSL in 2000,
we expect to see very good perch fishing next year.

Steelhead trout was the surprise fishery in 1999. Anglers spent almost
67,000 hours fishing for steelhead in 1999 and caught a steelhead on 40% of
their trips. The real surprise was the incidental catch of steelhead by
walleye anglers. Steelhead catch and harvest peaked in July, when anglers
caught over 5,000 steelhead and harvested nearly 3,000 steelhead. A total
steelhead catch of over 9,900 and harvest of 7,400 was estimated by boat
anglers during the summer of 1999. Record numbers (over 1.5 million) of
steelhead were stocked in the spring of 1998, resulting in the highest
recorded catch and harvest of steelhead since the survey was initiated in
1996. The high steelhead catch rates have carried over to the tributaries
during the fall of 1999. We will probably see a decline in the steelhead
catches in 2000, because of a decrease in the 1999 stocking rate (~850,000
steelhead).
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Steelhead... seem to be in all of the tribs in great numbers. Olive
Wooly-buggers have been working as well as sucker spawn, chartreuse power
bait, & single eggs. As waters clear, the size of line & hooks should be
smaller to make them less visible to the fish. Look for hot action on days
when the waters warm. Now is just a matter of picking days when the tribs
are free of ice & slush. Black Mini-foo jigs with maggots have always worked
good through the ice at the Walnut Creek Boat Basin. Water depth there is
approximately 3' so fish accordingly.
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Ice Dunes along the lakeshore represent a real danger to anyone crawling on
them. Holes will reach depths of up to 15' deep and a person could be
trapped in the icy waters at the bottom with no one around to hear cries for
help. Stay off of them & caution children not to play near them. Lake ice
is not safe. Life jackets (PFD's) should always be worn when a person goes
out onto any ice.
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Boat Launch Totals for 1999... The Lake Erie Research Unit survey also
provided the following information on the # of boat launches at the following
access areas May through October 99:

Walnut Creek Access ...... 15,526 boats launched
Lampe Marina.................. 13,185 " "
East Avenue .................... 6,025 " "
North East Access .......... 11,065 " "
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NEW FOR THE YEAR 2000!!
No more Field Acknowledgements ... all violations are now done on
citations through the District Courts
Inland Trout Limits in the regular season go from 8 trout to 5 ... Erie
Tribs not effected.
All persons are required to have completed an approved safe boating
course & have their certificate on them to operate a Personal Watercraft on
Commonwealth waters as of Jan. 1, 2000
Fine structure has increased for certain violations of the Fish & Boat
Code (litter, over the limit, boating under the influence, etc...)
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Picking up a piece of litter every on fishing trip makes for a great New
Year's resolution!!
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Source: WCO John Bowser






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