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Northwest Pennsylvania Weekly Fishing Report

Reporting date: May 16, 2011

May 17, 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 above counties, please contact Darl Black at

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

Weather to Fish

We had a reasonably dry mid-week (which I spent doing catch-up yard work). However it was followed by a wet weekend. An incredible amount of rain fell on areas of the Northwest on May 14 & 15 – something we did not need. However, the weather didn’t keep dedicated anglers away from the hot bites. Everyone has been reporting outstanding fishing success this past week, and it should continue this coming week. Now, get your storm suit on and Go Fish!

Venango County Waters

Allegheny River

After Sunday’s rain, the river is rising and is very muddy. Most anglers will not go out; but earlier in the week before the rain…

Darl Black (Cochranton): “The only day I fished this past week was a couple hours Wednesday evening on the Allegheny River with Dale Black and Chris Wolfgong. Dale popped several smallmouths right off the bat on a drop-shot rig. I eventually landed three smallmouths on three different lures. Chris and I left at 8 PM for other commitments, but Dale continued fishing. Dale said he pulled onto a flat not far from the ramp and immediately started catching fish-after-fish on Green Pumpkin Yum Tubes. Within 40 minutes, Dale landed 20 additional smallmouth bass from 14 to 16 inches. (See Photo #1)

Justus Lake

Eric Heil (Franklin) reports he took his five-year-old daughter to Justus Lake on Monday afternoon. “We fished three hours using small fatheads under a float and targeted shoreline wood. We caught crappies, rock bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and bluegills. We went through four dozen fatheads with many fish caught and lost. I allowed her to keep four of the largest crappies and upon returning home she insisted that I fillet them and cook them for dinner. All of which she devoured not saving any for me or my wife!” (See Photo #12 – last minute addition)

Oil Creek

Mike Laskowski (Oil Creek Outfitters); May 13: “Oil Creek finally dropped down to a fishable level and is fishing well. Grannom caddis were hatching and the trout were rising. However, rain forecast for the next five days will likely blow us out again.”

Other Venango Trout Streams

Mike Horrobin ( “Trout fishermen were still having fun this week. We are looking for the Green Drake hatch to start very soon and the Sulphurs should start soon also. We are entering prime time for fly-fishermen. In the meantime, this week should be another good one for spinner and live bait anglers given the high water. I still have high hopes for some good fish on the streamers made with Fish Skulls on the heads.”

French Creek (Erie, Crawford and Venango Counties)

French Creek, already high and dingy, shot over the bank in many areas as the result of Sunday’s rain. However, before the sudden rise in water level…

Dustin Shay (Meadville): “I was fishing for big catfish on French Creek this week, using cut bait and live bait. I caught some bullheads, but no catfish. However, bowfins were biting like crazy; our biggest one was 26 inches. One evening the toads were spawning in the shallows; we heard a commotion and turned light in that direction. Bowfins were devouring the spawning toads.” (Editor’s note: Sounds like a great movie idea for the SyFy Channel)

Crawford County Waters

Pymatuning Lake

Chris Hall (Espyville Outdoors): “What a great week of fishing on Pymatuning! Where do I start? Walleye, walleye and more walleye! Countless numbers of 12” to 14” ‘eye caught and released; I’ve had several reports of 20 to 30 walleye caught by a group of anglers, but only a few keepers among them. The largest ‘eye reported to the shop was a 25.5”, 7 lb female. With the number of sub-legal walleye being caught, I think we are shaping up to have an outstanding year next season and beyond. We need PA and OH to continue their stocking programs.

“Walleye were reportedly caught on worm harnesses, Storm Hot-N-Tots, Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue, Cotee Beetle Spin, and the new American Freshwater Fisherman Walleye Wizard. The AFF Wizard is a versatile lure that can be rigged with a crawler, chub or shiner for walleye or pike; even a catfish was caught on the Wizard this weekend. Right now Espyville Outdoors is the only location to purchase this lure.” (See Photo #2)

Chris continues: “Crappie reports have been strong as well. Most are being taken with live minnows on a #4 or #6 Aberdeen Hook. The Cotee Beetle Spin has been hot this week for crappies, too. The AFF Lucky Seven Hooks have produced crappie and perch. A few white bass are showing up.”

Dave Richter (Richter’s General Store): “The weather has been lousy, but the fish-catching has been great. There are a ‘ton’ of walleye being caught – mostly sub-legal fish but enough over 15 inches to keep anglers coming back. Fishermen are catching them by trolling Storm Hot-N-Tots and other shad-like crankbaits. At the outflow below the dam, anglers continue to catch walleye from the Shenango River; expect that to continue as long as the water is high. A few musky are still being caught by shoreline anglers on the lake near the dam. Crappies are moving in to spawn, and seem to be biting again on the north end of the lake.”

Norman Renwick (Pymatuning Boat Livery): “Crappies are in the brushpiles near the banks as well as offshore on the ledges. Anglers are catching them with tube jigs and minnows, in 5 to 6 feet along the shoreline and in 12 to 18 feet offshore. Walleyes are being taken by drifting with a jig-n-crawler on the bottom between 15 and 22 feet. A handful of shore fishermen are still catching a few ‘eye off the bank with the old ‘beer can’ setup.” (Editor’s note: Beer Can setup - With rod in bank sticks baited with live bait, line from the reel is wrapped around the neck of a beer or soda can/bottle so it tips over when a fish strikes the bait and runs.)

Chub Hornstein (Meadville): Fishing with a buddy one day this past week, Chub took home 37 crappies between 13 and 14 inches. They also caught 15 walleye, but only three were keepers. All fish came on jigs.

Hugh Clark (Mercer County) reports that Pymatuning Park Manager Pete Houghton caught 50 to 60 walleye on his last day off – but no mention how many fish were keeper-size.

Ken Smith (Sharon): “Tim Oden and I fished the Jamestown area on May 14. We found the crappie bite excellent. We kept a mess of crappie for a fish fry. All were caught on hair jigs that I tied over the winter.”

Conneaut Lake

Chad Templin (Saegertown) reports that he and a fishing buddy went to Conneaut on May 12. “Water temp was 62 degrees. Weeds are way down due to lack of sunlight. I saw another giant musky in the shallows again – sightings of big musky are becoming more common. Carp were everywhere. We each managed to catch about a dozen bass and a few small pike.” Majority of their bass came on B.S. Jigs.

Tamarack Lake

John Ensworth (John’s Bait Shop): “Business at the shop was down over the weekend due to weather. However, customers were buying minnows to fish for crappies Tamarack and shiners to fish for walleye at Woodcock. I had sporadic reports of good crappie catches at Tamarack this week.”

Dustin Shay (Meadville): “I fished Tamarack one evening this week just messing around with live minnows. Caught a mess of crappies, but the biggest one didn’t even make 11 inches.”

Woodcock Lake

Dustin Shay (Meadville) says he spent the earlier part of this past week at Woodcock fishing for walleye in the evening or early morning. He caught a limit each day by casting a Rapala XRap #8 Suspending Minnow Bait. His daughter, Kaley, is also an accomplished walleye angler.

John’s Bait Shop reports an angler stopping by with a 46-inch musky from Woodcock Lake this week.

Sugar Lake

Bob Vogan (Franklin) reports while fishing Sugar Lake over the weekend, his buddy Ryan Williams caught a 19-inch largemouth bass on a Booyah Spinnerbait.

Canadohta Lake

Jerry VanTassel (Timberland Bait): “It’s been a slow spring, but anglers are finally having some success on walleye at Canadohta. Over the weekend, walleyes up to 20 inches were taken in four feet of water by slow trolling Rapala Jointed Minnows and worm harnesses with nightcrawler on a long line. Given the cold and overcast spring so far, the weeds are not up yet so shallow trolling is possible.”

Erie County Waters

Presque Isle Bay

Mike Tome (B.A.C. Bait) reports that PIB is on fire. Anglers are catching & releasing smallmouth bass. Bass are being caught everywhere on a wide variety of lures. Tubes, grubs, hard jerkbaits and soft jerkbaits are good bets. Good numbers of perch are being caught off the North Pier on emerald shiners.

Dave Lefebre (Union City) reports that mid-week the smallmouth in the bay began moving onto the flats. Between high wind events, he took two of his sponsors out fishing. “The soft jerkbait bite was awesome – Pink Super Flukes. Three of us would all be hooked up with fish at the same time.”

Chad Templin (Saegertown): “Bryan Stuyvesant and I went to Erie on May 12. Water temperature was about 59 degrees in the bay; Bryan landed a nice pike, but it was crowded with bass boats so we headed out to the main lake. We caught about a dozen bass on the main lake; most of them were taken on B.S. Blades. I caught a pair of 4-pound smallmouth on a B.S. Custom jerkbait. We fished from PIB all the way to the Ws.” (See Photo #7)

Lake Erie

Gary Heubel (Poor Richards) reports that the night bite for walleye on the Erie shoreline is just starting. “The spring as been so cool that water temperature is just getting right – about 50 degrees. The walleye are nearshore at mouths of tributaries to feed on brown trout and steelhead fingerlings that were stocked by the PF&BC. The number one lure is a Rapala Original Minnow size 18 – seven inches long. Other stick baits will work, too. Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout patterns are best. Wake them just under the surface. Simply cast by wading from shore near the mouth of any incoming stream. This should continue for several weeks.”

When the wind and rain allowed anglers to get out on the main lake, fishermen were catching big smallmouth in 15 to 25 feet of water.

Mercer County Waters

Lake Wilhelm

Bob Mohra (Fergies Bait) reports that fishing was very good this past week at Wilhelm. Crappies, bluegills and walleye were all biting. The top baits for each were as follows: crappies on Southern Pro Stingers in Pearl; bluegills on wax worms and Mini Mite Jigs; and walleye on worm harnesses with nightcrawler.

Mike Horrobin ( “This was a great week of fishing up until the Sunday storm. Lake Wilhelm produced crappies on Southern Pro Stingers, small curly tails and split tail jigs; top colors were white and chartreuse. Bluegills preferred Mike’s Ants. Most anglers were tipping the jigs and ants with live bait of some sort.

“Wilhelm walleyes were waking up, too. Several anglers were talking about taking them on the old time June Bug Spinner with nightcrawler. Rapala Minnows also accounted for a number of nice ‘eye. Most of the walleye I saw were in the 24” to 29” size.”

Dave Lefebre (Union City) and a friend fished Wilhelm one day this past week before the rains. They were throwing square-bill crankbaits in 3-feet to 5-feet of water, mainly using the Rapala DT Flat and Rapala DT Fat cranks. The total number of largemouth bass he reported catching was astonishing; counting over 200. “Most were in the 2 to 3-pound class. But I had 10 bass over 5 pounds, with two of them tipping the 6-pound mark. What I found odd was the fact there were no fish between 3 and 5 pounds – as if an entire year class or two were missing.” (Editor’s note: Dave is one of the top 100 professional anglers in the US. Don’t expect the same results if you try this!)

Crooked Creek Impoundment

Terry Farrell (Hook, Line & Stitch Fly Shop) reports a fly fishing buddy hit the impoundment on Crooked Creek near Adamsville. In little over an hour of fishing, he caught more than 50 bluegills on a hand-tied #12 Red Head Ant. He kept his 50-fish limit of bluegill.

Shenango Lake

Ken Smith (Sharon): “I fished Shenango Lake last Thursday and did pretty good considering the water is still so high. I caught crappies, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, channel cats, yellow perch and bluegills – all in the back of bays in the shallowest water I could reach.”

Shenango River

Walleyes are still being caught in the tailrace waters Shenango Dam.

Neshannock Creek

Bob Shuey (Neshannock Creek Fly Shop); May 13: “Neshannock Creek fished well all week, BUT rain coming this weekend and for most of next week may bring high water and muddy conditions. Let’s hope not. We should see olive caddis and March Browns, and maybe some Light Cahill’s hatching next week. Hope for the best!”

Shop Talk

Mike Horrobin says fly tiers are concerned about the sudden and unexpected demand for long genetic saddle hackles because girls are using them for ear decorations and braiding. “A friend of mine in the fly-tying distribution received a call from a buyer wanting to purchase 3 million genetic saddle hackles. I doubt there were 3 million birds in the world before this fad. If you have long genetic saddle hackles, hold on to them. It may be a couple years before we see the supply return to normal.”

Gamma Fishing Tip of Week

Britt Stoudimere (Pembroke, VA) offered a Lake Erie report last week, and added a tip for this week. On his final day of fishing, he and his boat mate caught over 100 smallmouths near North East – mostly all on hard jerkbaits. “There were a lot of people fishing out there, including a couple of my buddies in another boat. However, I was hooking and landing a lot more fish than even my buddies. I attribute it to 8-pound Gamma Line. Other anglers were using a heavier line to prevent break-offs, but I could get by with 8-pound Gamma without breaking and thereby get my jerkbait much deeper with the thinner line.”

Outdoor Calendar of Events

May 21 Pymatuning Walleye Tournament - 724-927-9493

May 30 Fish For Free Day in PA -814-336-2426

PF&BC hold special event PIB State Park with loaner tackle

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

Dale Black with a nice Allegheny River smallmouth. (Photo by Darl Black)



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