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Northwest Pennsylvania Weekly Fishing Report

Reporting date: May 2, 2011

May 3, 2011
Sponsored by: PA Great Lakes Region & GAMMA Fishing Line
Connect to all counties at

• Crawford County Convention &Visitors Bureau at

• VisitErie at

• VisitMercerCountyPA at

• Oil Region Alliance at

Connect to Gamma Line at

• Gamma Line is now owned by Black Knight Industries of Oil City.

Note: The information in the NW PA Weekly Fishing Report is based on the observations and opinions of individuals at the reporting tackle shops and expert area anglers. Although the information is reliable, it is not independently verified.

If you have fishing information or a picture of your catch from one of the waters in the following counties, please contact Darl Black at

In providing a picture, you are agreeing to it being posted on the Fishing Report.

Erie County Waters

Presque Isle Bay

Presque Isle Bay action is heating up. Marilyn and I fished the Bay for about 5 hours on April 30. Among the 20-some smallmouth we caught, we each had a 20-incher weighing 6 pounds even on a Berkley Digital Scale! And another half dozen bronzebacks that were in the 5 to 5.5 pound range, with the balance of the bass going from 2 pounds to 4.5 pounds. We caught our fish in 14 to 20 feet of water on a variety of slow-dragged jigs and spoons. Both of the six pounders came on a Poor Boy’s Watermelon Rose Tube. Read more about our day on my blog at

Chris Wolfgong and Dale Black made their first-ever trip to Presque Isle Bay on April 30. Chris had 11 smallmouths and 2 largemouths, while Dale managed 8 smallmouths and 8 largemouths.

Other friends in the Bay were members of the Backwoods Angler TV crew. Originally they had come to NW PA to film a smallmouth show for the NBC Versus Channel on the Allegheny River with Dale Black. But the river was too high and too muddy, so they headed to PIB. They boated 40 bass – with a 50/50 split between largemouth and smallmouth – in about 8 hours on the water. “I’ll be back,” said Chris Gorsuch, outdoor writer and camera man for the show. “This is the most impressive smallmouth/largemouth fishery I’ve ever seen!”

Destin DeMarion (Erie) has been enjoying success on largemouth in PIB for well over a week. “Most of my largemouths have been caught in the Lagoons and the Head of the Bay. A 3/16-ounce Strike King Spinnerbait with trailer hook was hot early in the week until the cold front arrives. Then a Rapala Glass Ghost X Rap accounted for my bass in the Head of the Bay. Before the cold front, I was averaging 30 to 40 bass a day; after the cold front it dropped to 15 to 20 largemouths a day. I also caught a dozen pike and big bowfin in the Lagoons.”

Last week Kevin Hoogenboom (Painesville, OH) and his wife fished PIB under rainy and windy conditions. They fished Marina Bay, Misery Bay and Lagoons but could not get a bite on a reaction bait. So Kevin brought out the jerkbaits. Utilizing a 5 to 10 second pause on the suspending bait between twitches, he caught a number of largemouths within 1-1/2 hours over shallow weeds.

Al Nacopoulos (B.A.C. Bait – Erie Store) reports the perch are still biting well in the bay with most of the fish coming from Head of the Bay and the North Pier. “They are still getting come crappies in the Lagoons and Head of the Bay; emerald shiners are best – have we have them in the shop!” says Al. NOTE: The B.A.C. Bait – Fairview Store will be closed until fall.

Lake Erie

Bryan Stuyvesant and Dave Lehman ventured out on the main lake on Saturday, but the action was considerably slower than in the bay. Water temp was in the mid 40s and the lake water very muddy. They did talk to an angler near the old Hammermill plant who had caught a several smallmouths and a musky by trolling Storm Hot-N-Tots.

Lake Erie tributaries

According to Shelly at Poor Richard’s Bait, a few lingering steelhead are still being caught in the streams but for the most part things are very slow. Fairview Gravel Pit was stocked with trout last week for the final time this season, and a number of her customers were catching trout there over the weekend.

Mercer County Waters

Lake Wilhelm

Bob Mohra (Fergies Bait) says the boat activity on Wilhelm is very low due to continual wind and rain. But shoreline anglers are still catching crappies and bluegills from the shore off the Sheakleyville causeway and some of the shallow bays on the main part of the lake. “Crappies are eating Stinger Jigs tipped a maggot; bluegills are biting on waxworms. We got everything you need to catch them here at the shop.”

Shenango Lake

The reservoir does not look in good shape when I last drove over it. It is still very high and very muddy. Not even sure if ramps are open; before driving to the lake with a boat, I would call the ACE office at Shenango to verify if ramps are open.

Shenango River and other Mercer County streams

Laurie Frantz (R&L Bait) says business has picked up considerably this week. “The word this past weekend is the crappies have moved into the Shenango River from the Lake – into the backwaters around Big Bend; they are catching some respectable fish. I suspect the white bass should be in the river as well but no one has said anything about them. A minnow and bobber is probably #1 for crappies. Road Runner, white hair jigs, Mepps Spinners or any action tail plastic jig will take white bass. Other customers are doing well on trout in Little Shenango. And if you are familiar with Otter Creek, there are some big pike being taken right now.”

Neshannock Creek

Bob Shuey (Neshannock Creek Fly Shop) is most pleased to announce that Neshannock Creek conditions are good as of April 30. “Let us hope more rain doesn’t muddy up the stream. The Grannom Caddis hatch is over, but sub-surface fishing is good.”

Venango County Waters

Allegheny River

The only report from the Allegheny River was from Dale Black on Saturday evening – after spending the entire day on PIB, he picked up his family and went boating on the river. His son caught a smallmouth.

Oil Creek

Mike Laskowski (Oil Creek Outfitters) is tickled that Oil Creek is fishable today – but who knows what it will be like come the weekend after the forecast rains this week. “The Grannom Caddis hatch is in full swing. Anglers are working for sub-surface strikes.”

Sugar Creek

Christian Porter (Venango County): “In a one hour outing on Thursday, 4/28 on Sugar Creek, I picked up six brown trout and rainbow trout on a #0 Gold Mepps Spinner and #1 Silver Mepps. Then on Saturday, 4/30, on Sugar Creek, my brother Nelson outfished me with 18 trout to my – some of the trout were 13 inches; all taken on the same Mepps Spinners. One of my fish was a 12-inch tiger trout. I encountered only one other angler on Thursday, but on Saturday there were more anglers. The water remains high, but clearing.”

Other Trout Streams

Mike Horrobin ( “This is the year that spring fishing turned out to be a study in how to fish high water. There are some real nice brown trout being caught by the devoted. I would say I have seen more 20” and over browns this year than any spring I can ever remember. I think the main reason is the discolored water keeps the angler from being seen. And high water is keeping anglers on shore rather than wading – which easily spooks brown. Also I have noticed that the big browns are being taken on a minnow type lure or live/strung minnow. That should tell us something about the feeding habits of big browns in high water.”

Mike says he tried the fly rod on Big Sandy Creek during high water, but it was too difficult to keep the fly down. He admitted the spinning rod worked much better with spinners, and the trout preferred the metal.

Crawford County Waters

Pymatuning Lake

Chris Hall (Espyville Outdoors) says the walleye have been pretty active this week. “I had numerous reports of fishermen success using Rapala F-11s, floating jighead tipped with crawler, and American Freshwater Fisherman (AFF) Wiggle Rights Spoons. Crappies have been caught on jigs tipped with minnow and AFF Lucky Seven Hooks tipped with minnow. Water temperature in lake is reported to be 55 degrees.

Ken Smith (Sharon) fished the Linesville stump area on Saturday with his cousin Mike Gordon. His cousin caught a 31-inch walleye while drifting in 11 feet of water with a green Microspoon tipped with a minnow. Ken ended up with a nice bunch of crappies on a chartreuse Microspoon – quitting when he lost his last spoon to the stumps.

Eric Heil and his fishing partner fished the Crawford County Tournament at Pymatuning on Sunday. “The water was high, and pre-spawn largemouths were back in the flooded cover. My tournament partner and I landed 20 to 25 largemouths. All but one bass came on plastic craws, tubes and Sweet Beavers pitched into heavy cover. The lone exception was one bass on a Strike King Square-Bill Crankbait that crushed the crank along a log. Our weight of 22.01 pounds for 8 bass was enough for 3rd place. Water temperature was 54 to 56 degrees.”

Conneaut Lake

Dustin Shay (Meadville) has been fishing up a storm across Crawford County regardless of high water. On Friday, April 29, he caught five northern pike while fishing from the shore at Conneaut Lake. “I was slow rolling a #5 Stanley Wedge Spinnerbait, with the fish hitting it in less than 1 foot of water.”

Dustin also mentioned that a couple of his friends fishing from a boat on Conneaut over the weekend caught and release several smallmouth on a Renosky Shad lure fished on drop-offs of points. The biggest smallmouth was 6 pounds.

Tamarack Lake

John Ensworth (John’s Bait) says fishing reports are light because of the weather and water conditions. A number of his customers are fishing private ponds where flooding and muddy water is not a problem. He had one report of a family catching 20 to 30 crappies in the 10” to 12” range at Tamarack Lake on nightcrawlers. At his shop, Sam’s Ants were the top seller this week for panfish anglers, along with Heddon Sonars and Vibe blade baits for anglers headed to Pymatuning for walleye.

Woodcock Lake

Dustin Shay may be taking over from his father Danny as the local musky guru. Last Thursday fishing from shore on the flooded waters of Woodcock Lake, Dustin caught 3 muskies and lost another on one of his father’s famous homemade Slide Baits. And to keep up the family’s reputation in walleye circles, he also caught a 15-inch walleye on the 7” Shay Slide Bait.

Canadohta Lake

Jerry VanTassel (Timberland Bait) reports that crappies are beginning to move into the canals on the north end of the lake – way behind schedule. Minnow below a small bobber is best. Due to poor weather situation and lack of traffic in his store, Timberland Bait will only be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and by appointment. Call Jerry at 814-882-8369.

French Creek (Erie, Crawford and Venango Counties)

French Creek is running too high and too muddy for most anglers to venture out. However, a handful of fishermen know the high water will push fish into quiet shoreline eddies. Dustin Shay has been hitting the creek, catching an occasional big walleye or nice northern fishing from shore. (Like I said, Dustin has been everywhere!)

Outdoor Calendar of Events

May 7 Pymatuning Crappie Tournament 724-927-9493

$40 per 2-person team

May 7 PFBC Family Fly Fishing Program 814-676-5915

Oil Creek State Park; pre-registration required

May 21 Pymatuning Walleye Tournament 724-927-9493

June 19 BMCC Father’s Day Open Bass Tourney 814-382-0686

Presque Isle Bay; $100 per team

June 25 Walt’s Tavern Bass Tourney

Conneaut Lake; $50.00 entry per 2-person Team

Information contributed by:

- Chris’ Tackle Box, Jamestown, PA

- Maurer’s Trading Post, Franklin, PA

- Oil Creek Outfitters, Titusville, PA

- John’s Bait & Tackle, Meadville, PA

- Van Tassel’s Timberland Bait, Canadohta Lake, PA

- Fergie’s Bait & Tackle, Sandy Lake, PA

- R & L Bait & Tackle, Greenville, PA

- B.A.C. Bait & Tackle, Erie, PA

- Poor Richards Bait & Tackle, Fairview, PA

- Presque Isle Angler, Erie, PA

- Neshannock Creek Fly Shop, Volant, PA

- Erie Sports Store, Erie, PA


- Espyville Outdoors, Espyville, PA

- Farrell’s Hook, Line & Stitch, Meadville, PA

- Consumer Direct Sports, Grove City, PA

- Area anglers

Keep Up with More NW PA Fishing at

Article Photos

Marilyn Black with Presque Isle Bay smallmouth. (photo by Darl Black)

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