WCO Report for Erie and Crawford County 03/27/02: Erie area, PA,
WCO Report Posted: March 27, 2002

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Posted by WCO John Bowser on March 27, 2002 at 09:05:41:

WESTERN ERIE COUNTY / WCO JOHN BOWSER & DWCO RANDY LEIGHTON

Current Conditions
Recent severe weather has again swelled the tribs. Snow melt off and predicted rain and mild temperatures should keep most areas high and stained for the next few weeks. Anglers have been doing very well at the "mud hole" at the Elk Creek access all the way up to the boat launch. When water clarity permits, single eggs and single egg artificials have been producing fresh fish. Anglers are still crowding the Manchester Hole. Fresh fish are scattered through out the Project waters at Walnut all the way to the end of the wall. Anglers will now be hooking smolts and are asked to use all the care possible to release them safely.

FAIRVIEW GRAVEL PIT & LAKE PLEASANT...
These waters are closed starting April 1st until Opening Day at 8 AM. The extra month of fishing opportunity is due to their inclusion in the Late Winter Stocked Lake Program so Sunday, March 31st is the last day of fishing there.

The Big Day
The big Trout opener is April 13th at 8:00 am. The Erie Tribs can be a great place for the opener. With the "stockies" mixed in with a potential run of fresh Steelhead, angling in our area can be "like a box of chocolates." Popular areas in West County for the opener are the Streuchen Flats area on Elk Creek, Crooked Creek, Fairview Gravel Pits and the Legion Park Holes on Elk Creek. (For a nominal fee, you can enjoy a great breakfast at sunrise at the Legion Park picnic pavilion.) A good rule of thumb is to look for the areas where there is a lot of 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 property. Open fires, camping and cooking are prohibited, as are erecting any permanent structures. Officers will be on the lookout for litter problems in these busy areas. Boats on the Gravel Pit Pond as well as all PFBC owned waters, require PFBC or DCNR State Parks registration. Internal combustion engines are not permitted. 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. They must be coast guard approved, in good serviceable condition and be easily accessible.

Some opening day suggestions:
Tackle:
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. 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 nightcrawlers, 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

Bait:
Popular trout baits include corn, red worms, nightcrawlers, crickets, salmon eggs (fresh cured or jarred types in different colors), the powerbaits, marshmallows and emerald shiners (everyone has a favorite 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).

Techniques:
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!

Etiquette
Cooperation and consideration in crowded fishing areas will make for a great day of angling for all. Be especially considerate of younger anglers .....we were all young once.....and please police your area for litter before leaving.
Good Luck!!

Consumption advisories are recommendations intended to provide additional information to individuals such as pregnant women, women of childbearing age, children and people who consume large numbers of sport fish from the same source over an extended period of time because they may be most susceptible to contaminants that can build up in fish over time.
Consumption advisories are not intended to discourage anyone from fishing or eating fresh fish in moderation. Advisories are meant to help people plan what fish to keep, as well as how often and how much of their catch to eat,
It is important to note that all of our fish are �supermarket safe.� In other words, they are well with in the safety limits established by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the nation's foodstuffs. They are as safe as fish sold in stores or restaurant.
Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation that routinely tests its hatchery fish and issues meal-specific consumption information using the Great Lakes Protocol. Pennsylvanians should take comfort in knowing that the Commonwealth can, in essence, certify its fish are safe to catch, safe to handle and safe to eat in accordance with the advisory recommendations.

To put the risks associated with eating trout with low levels of PCBs into context, let's follow a typical angler on a routine fishing trip. Our angler gets up early in the morning, before sunrise. Slipping out of the covers, he steps out of bed.(The odds of getting out of bed, falling and suffering a fatal skull fracture have been calculated at 1 in 20,000.)He showers(the lifetime death risk of dying in the bathtub are 1 in 12,800) and shaves (the odds of injuring yourself while shaving seriously enough to require medical attention are 1 in 7,000).Going downstairs, (the stairs are considered the riskiest part of the house with some 2,000,000 Americans taking a serious fall each year.) he heads for the kitchen. Household accidents are widespread and the kitchen is common location. (Small kitchen appliances and ovens account for almost 97,000 injury accidents each year according to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.) Our angler eats a hearty breakfast (lifetime odds of choking to death = 1 in 1,087) that includes eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, hot cakes, syrup and coffee. There are health risks associated with many foods. This includes the risks related to heart disease, cholesterol, high blood pressure and many others. (According to the Center for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for more than 2,000,000 fatalities annually.) Our angler hops in his car and drives down the interstate to pick up his fishing before heading to their favorite stream deep in the woods.(In 1997, 41,967 people were killed in the estimated 6,764,000 police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes; 3,399,000 others were injured - US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration .) Our angler parks and hikes about a mile through the woods with his buddy. Although snake bites and other woodland accidents are rare, there are some risks associated with these activities. (In fact, the National Safety Council computes your odds of dying by reaction to venomous animals, insects or plants are 1 in 51,265.) When the angler gets to the stream, he pulls on his waders, enters the stream and begins to fish. Slipping while wading is a common occurrence. Most of the time, the response is to get up, have a laugh and keep fishing. Sometimes, though, injuries occur. (In general, falls kill some 15,000 Americans per year. Another 3,500 die in submersion drownings - National Safety Council) To dry off, our fearless angler and his buddy light a fire. ( More than 1,700,000 burns occur in the United States each year.)The anglers wash a sandwich (odds of death from eating peanut butter are 1 in 3,300) with a six pack of beer and each smokes a couple of cigarettes. Whoa! Alcohol and tobacco are the subjects of health warnings that are much stronger and much more closely based on documented scientific evidence than any health risks associated with PCBs in fish. (Based on research from the American Cancer Society, each year smoking claims more than 400,000 lives in the US. ) Assuming nothing drops on them along the way(odds for a fatality caused by falling objects is 1 on 4,400) they're able to walk back to their cars. They drive home, taking all the same risks they took getting to the stream. To finish a fine day in the outdoors, our angler enjoys with a meal of fresh caught trout. The point of all this is that we all take some "risks" everyday.
Eating his catch of trout with low levels of PCBs is probably one of the least risky things our angler did this day.

ANTICIPATED SALMONID STOCKING OF ERIE WATERS IN 2002

SPECIES / LOCATION / Number
Coho ELK CK 5,000
Coho GODFREY RUN 18,985
Coho TROUT RUN 66,300
Coho TWENTYMILE CK 5,000
Coho WALNUT CK 5,000

Steelhead GODFREY RUN 50,000
Steelhead PRESQUE ISLE BAY 26,625
Steelhead TROUT RUN 180,000
Steelhead CROOKED CK 48,500
Steelhead RACCOON CK 48,500
Steelhead ELK CK 250,000
Steelhead FOURMILE CK 10,000
Steelhead ORCHARD BEACH 5,000
Steelhead PECK RUN 5,000
Steelhead SEVENMILE CK 15,000
Steelhead TWELVEMILE CK 15,000
Steelhead TWENTYMILE CK 50,000
Steelhead WALNUT CK 250,000
Steelhead CONNEAUT CK 75,000
*** AN ADDITIONAL 100,000 STEELHEAD FINGERLINGS WILL BE PROVIDED TO 3CU CO-OP NURSERY BY THE PFBC

CENTRAL ERIE COUNTY / WCO TOM EDWARDS
Well, that time of the year is just about upon us. Preseason stocking is well underway and trout season is within reach. Recently I assisted WCO Kerr with a preseason stocking on Brokenstraw Ck in Warren County. I will not leave Erie again to help WCO Kerr in Warren County because it was the worst possible day in the world to stock fish. Three degrees above zero when we met in Spring Creek and virtual white out conditions. Now that Kerr knows he is on his own next year let us get down to the fishing report.
Once again the weather is all over the place. Fishing for crappie has pretty much shut down on the Bayfront with this cold snap. Early morning perch at the Dobbins Landing remains productive. I did receive reports of crappie being caught at the canoe rental in Presque Isle. As always if you are willing to brave the cold Steelhead fishing remains open and productive, (for the most part). I wish I had more to report as far as hot spots but everyone knows what the weather has been like.
Erie WCO's continue to meet with local sportsman groups. On March 25th we met with the SONS and fielded a variety of questions regarding the license increase and possible upcoming changes to regulations governing Lake Erie.

Everyone who fishes Elk Creek should send thank you cards to the McKean Volunteer Fire Department. On March 25th at apx. 3:00 p.m. a tanker hauling about 7500 gallons of diesel/gasoline mix overturned while heading southbound on I-79. Upon coming to rest apx. 3500 gallons of the fuel spilled from the tanker. If it were not for the quick action of the first responders from McKean VFD I would still be picking up dead Steelhead in Elk Ck. Because of the action taken by these fine people, nothing from the tanker entered the stream. This was a close call considering that the tanker was give or take 250 yards from the stream. I personally would like to thank those who helped with the salvage. Erie Hazmat, McKean VFD, Perry Hi-Way, Edinboro, National Vacuum, Erie County Health Dept., Highway Equipment (lent McKean the backhoe to dig the retention pits) and anyone else I may have forgot.

On a different note but still speaking about pollution, the SONS will be holding a litter clean-up on Cascade Ck. March 30th. The annual SONS Ice Out party will be upcoming -- stay tuned for related information regarding the date and time of this event.
Everyone remember that we will hold the preseason stocking of Elk, Crooked, Cascade and TWENTYMILE creek on Friday the 11th of April, meeting place is at the McKean exit of I-79.
Anyone wishing to correspond via United States Postal Service mail with me, here is my new mailing address. WCO Edwards, P.O. Box 814, Erie, PA 16512. In the upcoming months I will be posting a new e-mail address. (Just remember when your uncle is the mailman you can't say the words snail mail.)

Please consult your summary book for trout regulations for the upcoming season. It is never a bad thing to brush up on although I don't believe that there were any major changes.

Fishing license fees, since 1950, have been increased, on average, every 6.25 years. The year 2002 is the seventh consecutive year where the cost of a fishing license has remained unchanged. It is the twelfth consecutive year with no increase in the price of a trout stamp.

ERIE FORECAST
Wednesday: Cloudy skies early, followed by partial clearing. High near 35F. Winds WNW 15 to 20 mph.
Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Low around 22F. Light SSW winds.
Thursday: Partly cloudy. High around 42F. Winds SSW 10 to 15 mph.
Thursday (24 hours): Partial sunshine. Highs in the low 40s and lows in the low 30s.
Friday (24 hours): Mix of rain and snow. Highs in the upper 30s and lows in the upper 20s.
Saturday (24 hours): Mostly cloudy with snow showers. Highs in the upper 30s and lows in the mid 30s.

EASTERN ERIE COUNTY / WCO MARK KERR

SPRING HAS SPRUNG??
OK, just to be sure ... it is spring, right?? Officially and the like too,
right??!! 'Less something changes real soon, you can forget about that 'in
like a lion...out like a lamb' ditty.
Anyhow, given my schedule this last week, I really haven't had much
opportunity to be streamside [firearms instructing, meetings/programs and,
'lest I forget to mention, trout stocking. Yes, trout stocking ... don't
forget, I have part of Warren County too. I can, however, pass on that
the Eastside tributaries are still producing numbers of nice Steelhead and
anglers at Lake Pleasant have been catching healthy amounts of both rainbow
and brown trout. Many of those fishing Lake Pleasant have been doing so
from shore and have been seeing best results at a depth of 8'-13' +/-.
Additionally, I have noticed the most of the trout harvesting appears to be
happening from early morning until around lunch or so.

GOOD JR/SR TROUT SPOTS
Looking for a nice, easily accessible, area to fish on the opening morning?
Try one of these, as each calls for distances of 50' +/- from parking area
to water's edge...
LAKE PLEASANT: Anywhere along that shoreline extending parallel with SR
1001(Lake Pleasant Road).
Note: Please remain aware of the increased vehicular traffic present in
this area!!

FRENCH CREEK--SOUTH BRANCH: In the unimproved parking area adjacent to
Bridge Street, in Union City. The approach to streamside is grass;
however it is level and easily maneuvered.
Oh yeah, there are a number of places within the immediate area (+/- 3
minutes) to get food and drink if the little ones begin to reach the point
of no return!!

BROKENSTRAW CREEK: Along Cemetery Road / Spring Creek Township/Warren
County. There are a number of places which are quite accessible along
this road, between SR 426 and the bridge.

LITTLE BROKENSTRAW CREEK: At the Warren County Fairgrounds bridge
(T-441), off SR 6 north of Pittsfield [Pittsfield Township/Warren County].
The approach to the streamside is, for the most part, gently sloping and
grassy.

SPRING CREEK--EAST BRANCH: At the Hyde Road Bridge (just north of the
Cobb Road junction) [Spring Creek Township/Warren County]. Of the five
mentioned, this is the most difficult to access. Approach to streamside
isn't far, however there are trees and other vegetation to deal with.
Also, this area, because of the streamside vegetation, has the highest
potential for lost hooks and lures The kids really seem to like the
area ... guess it's the scenery.

KEEP YOUR CALLS COMING...
Despite devoting much of this last week to stocking and training purposes,
we were able to pick up a bad guy or two; however, it was made possible
through your willingness to get involved...
On Monday I returned from stocking to a message on the "Fish Phone" from
one of my most reliable sources of information. Because of his alertness,
I was able to initiate charges against an out-of-town group doing a few
bad things along a privately held, yet publicly accessible, piece of
ground along Twelve Mile Creek.
Just in case you were wondering, this type of information is quite
helpful:
(1) License Plate or Boat Registration #
(2) Water Area
(3) Date and Time of Violation
(4) Type of Violation
(5) # of People Involved
Keep your distance, don't be confrontational ... and call the following
numbers:
WCO Mark T. Kerr (Eastern Erie/Western Warren County)
PO Box 571
Waterford, PA 16441-0571
[Office] (814) 796-1378
[Cellphone] (814) 673-4650
Both the Office recorder and the cellphone answer 24hours/7days a week/365
days a year-- If you don't actually reach me, then leave a message and I'll return your call as soon as possible ... so, please leave me your number!! Thanks!! Good luck and good fishin'!!

Western Crawford County / WCO JOE RUSSELL
Pymatuning Lake- Mother nature has played a cruel trick on all the spring fishermen here at the lake this week with the 4"-6" of snow that we got and all the cold weather the fish have shut right down. I spoke to the hatchery today as well and they have had very slow results as well with all the nets they have out today's catch totals were 8 walleye, 2 crappie, and 1 perch. The shore fishermen and boaters I have checked have also had the same results, I haven't checked any fish in over a week. I have checked numerous boats however and had multiple violations due to the fact that "this was our maiden voyage and we just needed to get out" this time of year more than ever you should have all your safety gear and equipment, that water is extremely cold. If you are in the area on April 6 I will be at the hatchery for open house doing a law enforcement display, stop by and say Hi.

See, Watch, Learn...
Open House At Linesville Fish Culture Station -April 6, 2002 / 12 noon - 4 PM Linesville, PA
Here's a day you won't want to miss, a day the entire family can enjoy TOGETHER. See fish spawned; view incubating eggs and newly hatched fish; watch as fishery biologists demonstrate electrofishing and other fishery management techniques; see hatchery equipment in operation; observe fish culturists sorting, sexing and grading fish; learn how to tell the age of a fish; watch demonstrations on fishing techniques, casting, filleting; learn about safe boating practices and the latest safety equipment...plus a whole lot more.
Spend a DAY AT THE HATCHERY with family and friends. It's fascinating! And it's sure to be a great experience whether you fish or not. Don't miss it!

Pymatuning Lake Shoreline Cleanup
Volunteers are needed before the start of our Open House to help with this effort. Sponsored by Pymatuning State Park, the cleanup starts at 8 a.m. and ends at noon with free lunch. Join other cleanup volunteers either at Linesville or Jamestown in the morning, and then join us at the Open House in the afternoon. Pre-registration for the cleanup is required by 3/29/02. Please call Pymatuning State Park to register: (724) 932-3142. See you there!

Conneaut lake- I checked some fishermen here on sunday who had gone out at first light and were just coming in around 4 pm, they relayed that not only had they not gotten a single hit all day long but they had to break the ice out of the channel at the north end of the lake before they could try to fish. Needless to say they were not happy and fishing has slowed down here as well.




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