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NW PA Weekly Fishing Report

May 24, 2011
By Darl Black
Reporting date: May 23, 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.

Crawford County Waters

Pymatuning Lake

Dave Richter (Richter’s General Store): “This past Saturday, the first truly pleasant and sunny day of the entire spring, was an extremely busy day for us. If you weren’t cutting grass, you were at the lake fishing. But one good day can’t make up for the miserable spring weather that has kept business down. The sad part is this: the fish have been biting like crazy at Pymatuning. The guys willing to put up with unpleasant weather have been catching walleye and crappie like crazy.

“I was fishing with my family on Sunday. We killed the crappie in 8’ to 10’ on a gravel hump. Other customers have been reporting the same – exceptional number of crappies and so many sub-legal walleye that you can’t keep a nightcrawler on a hook to catch a legal one. I saw a number of 20” plus walleye come into the shop over the weekend. The biggest one was 26.5 inches. Most were reportedly taken while trolling plug, like a Storm Hot-N-Tot.”

Although he has not seen the official results of the Pymatuning Lake Association Walleye Tournament this past weekend, Dave heard that it took 15 pounds to win with 3 fish.

Dave also reports that Ben Uhrin (spelling uncertain) of Greenville caught a 50” musky on a chub fishing from the shore.

Chris Hall (Espyville Outdoors): “The weather this weekend was BEAUTIFUL! The rain finally gave us a break. Crappie fishing has been hot all over the lake; great reports from shore and boat anglers. Minnow under a slip bobber is one of the hottest techniques. Some crappies were even caught by pulling some small crankbaits, such as Strike King Bitsy Pond Minnow.

“On Saturday, two gentlemen from State College purchased a few American Freshwater Fishermen (AFF) Maxi Wiggle Rights in Chartreuse/White and Candy Blue/Firecracker. They stopped back Sunday morning and bought every one of those lures I had in stock in the fore mentioned colors, having caught 60 crappies and 4 keeper walleye on the baits Saturday evening.

“The ‘eyes still are active with reports of lots of sub-legal walleye. Worm harnesses with crawler were hot again this week with anything in green or orange being effective. The AFF “Walleye Wizard” was also hot this week. Firetiger and black were the most purchased colors.

Ken Smith (Sharon): “I fished the Linesville Stump area Saturday morning with Tim Oden. When the wind died, we started hang-gliding Micro Spoons and jigs. It turned into a very good day of crappie fishing. We caught a few short walleye as well; looks like a very healthy class of walleye coming on. This fall should be great walleye fishing at Pymatuning. (see photo)

Rob Genter (Tidioute) reported a good day of bass fishing at Pymatuning on Sunday. He won a club tournament with 5 largemouth going 13.25 pounds. He caught his fish by skipping tube jigs into shallow cover.

Dustin Shay (Meadville) says Pymatuning Lake should also be known as a catfish lake. One evening this past week fishing cut bait from a causeway, he and a friend caught channel cat after channel cat. They kept 11 cats with the biggest going 16 pounds; they lost a couple bigger fish they could not turn. He also caught a walleye on cut bait.

Conneaut Lake

Chad Templin (Saegertown): “On Tuesday and Wednesday this past week, I fish Conneaut Lake with my cousin. Fishing success was slower than last week. Water temps had dropped back into the upper 50s and fish were deeper. However, weeds are starting to grow nicely and the northern pike were active. We managed to catch a few bass and a nice pike on BS Custom Blades and Spinnerbaits.” (see photo)

Tamarack Lake

John Ensworth (John’s Bait) says business at the shop was so brisk on Saturday that he sold out of minnows by the afternoon. Everybody wanted crappie-sized fatheads for Tamarack. “Anglers are also buying large suckers and shiners for musky at Tamarack and Woodcock. Our chartreuse Nitro Worms have been selling like hotcakes, too. The walleyes and big panfish are eating them up.”

Woodcock Lake

The spillway section of Woodcock Creek below the dam continues to give up some small walleye; but fewer and fewer legal fish are being taken. I observed several walleye and two sub-legal muskies being caught there during a brief stop at the spillway last week.

Canadohta Lake

Jerry VanTassel (Timberland Bait) reports his strongest weekend single day of sales this year on Saturday. “People just poured onto Canadohta on the first really nice day of the year; but that single day isn’t making up for lost sales up to this point. The crappie bite is strong, with most fish coming on live minnows. Walleyes are still being caught in relatively shallow water by trolling worm harnesses.

“Couple of my regular customers, Eric and Mark Kafper, visit the lake every year the weekend before Memorial Day. This year they caught 5 muskies, 2 walleye and several northern pike – and lost a huge musky at boatside – all while fishing from a pontoon boat. Their fish photos may be viewed on the Timberland Bait website.”

Erie County Waters

Presque Isle Bay

By mid morning on Saturday, there were no parking spaces available for boat trailers at any of the four ramps on Presque Isle; cars & trailers lined the roads. There were hundreds of fishing boats on the Bay.

Mike Tome (B.A.C. Bait) says the bass fishing in PIB and Lake Erie is “phenomenal” right now. “There are lots of bass being caught on a variety of lures. Crappies are hit and miss in the Bay with some catches reported around the Yacht Club, Misery Bay and Marina Lake areas. Perch fishing success in the Bay is dwindling as the fish move back to the main Lake.”

Chad Templin (Saegertown): “I fished PIB and Lake Erie on May 19. Main lake was very muddy and we did not catch anything. Water was also cooler than last week in the Bay. However, we did manage to catch a few dozen bass in the Bay up to 3.5 pounds on Yum Tubes and BS Custom Blades & Jigs.”

Lake Erie and Tributaries

Jeff Staaf (Poor Richards Bait): “Walleye catches at night along the shoreline continue to increase; water temp is just right. There are some reports of perch being caught in the lake in 30 to 35 feet of water on the East side. On the West side, out at the Mountain, they are catching lake trout; the largest one brought to the store this past week was 27 pounds 3 ounces. Smallmouth bass are in Elk Creek. And a few – not many – steelhead are still hanging around the creeks.”

David Kraut (Hermitage) spent the weekend at Lake Erie fishing for lake trout east of the Port of Erie out near the Mountain in 50- to 68-feet of water, both in his own boat and with charter captain Dan Graziano on the Eye Catcher. Judged by the number of photos he sent (far more than I could possibly use), they had an incredible couple days. The lake trout – up to 22 pounds – came on spoons off Dipsy Divers. Dave’s step-children, Hanna Prioletti and John Prioletti, scored fish as did others in his party. (see photos)

Mercer County Waters

Lake Wilhelm

Bob Mohra (Fergies Bait) reports that the crappie & bluegill bite continue strong on maggot-tipped-jigs. Walleye are being taken on worm harnesses; Sam’s’ Harnesses with orange blades the most popular seller.

Mike Horrobin ( “Bluegills, crappies and walleye were all on the bite at Lake Wilhelm this week. Split-tail jigs, Mike’s Ants and 1-inch curly tails tipped with maggots did the trick for bluegills. Live minnows and 1/64-oz. curly tail jigs produced crappies. Walleyes were hitting crankbaits including the Rapala XRap and Hot-N-Tot. Sales were brisk for Junebug Spinners – an old walleye favorite in new colors.”

Bill Logan (Titusville) caught a 24 inch walleye on Saturday; the fish took a Rapala XRap Shad.

Shenango Lake & Shenango River

Laurie Frantz (R&L Bait): “This was a very busy weekend – it finally feels like spring and my regular customers are headed out fishing. I actually sold out of live bait by Sunday afternoon. I’ve had reports of walleye on Shenango Lake being taken on worm harnesses with crawlers; a variety of colored blades. There was a report of huge striper taken at Shenango this week, but I do not have details. Fishermen are reporting crappie, perch and white bass in the Shenango River around Big Bend area. With the high water in the reservoir, this up river area may remain prime fishing for several weeks.” (Photo 8)

Neshannock Creek

Bob Shuey (Neshannock Creek Fly Shop): “Neshannock Creek is in good shape. We should have great fishing this week unless we get heavy thunderstorms. Caddis, March Browns and Light Cahills are hatching – and trout are hungry. No wonder, they have been resting most of the season given the stream and weather conditions this spring.”

Other Mercer County Waters:

Often overlooked, Stoneboro Lake (a.k.a. Sandy Lake) is producing some very nice largemouth according to Dan Gray (Butler); he says the fish are shallow and eating. This lake has a very small watershed so it is not as impacted by persistent rain run-off as some other lakes – although heavy downpours can muddy the lake and raise the water level. There is no public access; must pay a launch fee.

R&L Bait has reports of northern pike still being caught from Otter Creek, a tributary of Neshannock Creek.

Venango County Waters

Allegheny River

For most anglers, the Allegheny remains too high and too dirty to fish. Rob Genter (Tidioute) says the bass fishing has been very poor this spring due to high rushing water in his area. However, some anglers are fishing in the Oil City/Franklin area.

Chris Wolfgong (Oil City): “On Thursday, May 19th, Dale Black and made it out for a couple hours. Water was a little high and stained, but still fishable. I managed to get my first…and second river smallies of the season; both came on Green Pumpkin Yum Tube. (Only my 3rd time out this year!) Dale, the hero last week with 20 smallmouths in 40 minutes…caught 0 on this trip!” (Photo #10)

Dale Black (Oil City) was back out on the river Saturday, the 21st searching for redemption. “Fishing with my Uncle Rich, we caught 8 smallmouths between the two of us. Fish ranged from 13 to 18 inches; they fell for a Yum Tube fished on Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon line.”

Kahle Lake

Steve Fleckenstein (Venango County): “I went to Kahle Lake for a couple hours on Saturday. There were quite a few boats and shore fishermen out on this beautiful day. The bluegills were all along the shoreline area I was fishing. The water was calm and you could see the back of the ‘gills sticking out of the water. They would scatter when you cast to them, but I managed to catch lots of keepers using a casting bubble with small black fly tipped with a Gulp! Waxie. Small jigs and black ants also caught some fish, including a yellow perch and largemouth bass.”

Oil Creek

Bill Logan (Titusville): “I fished Oil Creek on Wednesday. I caught 15 trout on two different flies – an olive Wooly Bugger, and a black/gold Triple Threat streamer.”

French Creek (Erie, Crawford and Venango Counties)

While many anglers are avoiding French Creek because it is still high and off-color, Dustin Shay (Meadville) says it is still possible to catch fish. As reported, he had been catching walleyes since opening day in early May. Now he is catching smallmouth bass along quiet water sections of the bank. Sunday evening, he and a buddy took several smallmouths on a Charlie Brewer Whirly Bee in chartreuse. As high, dirty water continues, he anticipates a good week of smallmouth fishing coming up using spinnerbaits.

GAMMA Salutes…

Rob Genter (Tidioute) for 1st place in the Crawford County Bassmaster tournament on Pymatuning. He had five largemouths for 13.25 pounds.

Mike Kuna (Pittsburgh) and Bob Griffith (Vandergrift) for their third place finish in the Bob Reddick Crappie Tournament over the weekend at Arthur. They had 10 crappies for 8.19 pounds.

Outdoor Calendar of Events

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

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

June 19 BMCC Father’s Day Open Bass Tourney call - 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

David Kraut (Hermitage, PA) spent the weekend at Lake Erie fishing for lake trout east of the Port of Erie out near the Mountain. Dave’s shown with his step-daughter Hanna Prioletti.

Fact Box

By mid morning on Saturday, there were no parking spaces available for boat trailers at any of the four ramps on Presque Isle; cars & trailers lined the roads. There were hundreds of fishing boats on the Bay.

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