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NW PA Fishing Report, April 3, 2012

April 4, 2012
By Darl Black ,

NW PA Fishing Report, April 3, 2012

Sponsored by: PA Great Lakes Region ( and Black Knight Industries Home of Gamma Line (

The information in the NW PA Fishing Report is based on the observations and opinions of individuals at the reporting tackle shops and expert area anglers. The information is reliable however it is not independently verified. If you have current fishing information or a picture of your catch from one of the waters in the counties of Crawford, Erie, Mercer or Venango that you would like to share, please send it to Darl Black at

Article Photos

Art Hamley with a nice 19.5-inch smallie. In providing a picture, you are agreeing to it being posted in the Fishing Report.

Erie County

Presque Isle Bay

Fact Box

Shenango Lake and River

Laurie Frantz (R&L Bait & Tackle) "I've been selling bait like crazy. That period of early warming had everyone out fishing. Anglers have been catching a lot of crappies from shore in the lake and in the upper river seems like they are eating anything you offer them.

David Gauriloff (B.A.C. Bait); filed 4/3/12: "The big news this week is the bass fishing. Waves of smallmouth have been moving into the Bay for a couple weeks, and they are eating. Largemouth bass are biting as well in shallower water areas on a variety of lures. Crappies are still being caught in the Lagoons and Stink Hole. However, crappies seemed to on the way out of Misery Bay. The bluegill bite has started early. With that early warm up, this has been an unbelievable spring in the Bay for perch! Lots of big perch in the 14" range taken I'm concerned too many big spawners were taken. The perch spawn is over and the bite has slowed, but some guys are still catching them. The steelhead trout are long gone from Bay and tributaries. Lake tributary streams are now filled with suckers and smallmouth bass."

Thomas Watral (Erie) has been a regular contributor to the NW PA Fishing Report, especially for perch. He fishes Perry's Landing, Border Patrol Pier, South Pier, Stink Hole, Ferry Dock, and other public access sites on the city side of PIB. In eight reports over the last couple weeks he expressed satisfaction catching perch, crappie, steelhead and smallmouth bass from shore. He verifies many of his perch were in the 12" to 14" range, with a 17-incher taken on March 27 being the biggest one he ever caught! The big perch hit a Slider Jig tipped with a minnow. Here are his most recent reports of this week:

3/29/12: "Went out at 7 AM. Started fishing for perch at Dobbin's Landing. Got four nice ones at 14 inches, but the wind shifted to the north making it hard to fish and detect the light bites. We packed up and went to the Stink Hole; ended up fishing for crappie, getting 10 nice ones. Not bad for a NE waves at 2 feet and cold misty rain! All fish were taken on jigs and minnows.

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3/31/12: "Went to the docks around 7 AM and the perch were hitting fast, but hard to detect hits due to wind and waves. I caught 12 nice ones over 12 inches. Then I fished the East Marina for bass got 7 nice ones on med-diving plugs.

4/2/12: Fished the docks from 7 to 8, ending up with 27 nice perch in the 14-inch range all taken on minnows. I also caught 2 bass, 2 crappies and one small steelhead."

Joe Nichols (Pleasantville); filed 3/26: "We were worried about the cold front slowing the bite down in shallower lakes, so we headed to PIB. Guess we made a good decision. Started off throwing jerkbaits and rattlebaits; caught a couple bass. Moved to vertical structure with crankbaits and never quit throwing them the rest of the day. We ended up with 64 bass caught and released between two of us. The majority were largemouth in the 2 to 3 pound range. Only a half-dozen were smallmouth, the largest going 4 pounds. Water temp was 51 degrees and air temp was 45 at start climbing to 57 degrees."

Brendon Conlon (Erie); filed 3/22/12: "I spent a few hours after work on the Bay with a buddy. We caught approximately 10 smallies and 25 largemouth bass. The smallies were on city side and the largemouth came from Misery Bay. We caught our smallmouths on deep diving Lucky Craft Pointers. Largemouths were taken on the same jerkbaits, plus an inline spinner, a Little Cleo, and Rapala DT4 Crankbait."

Erie Tributaries

Matt Hyrcyk (Poor Richards Bait); filed 4/3/12: "The steelhead run is over done, all gone until next fall. Smallmouth bass have moved into the major tributaries like Elk Creek from the lake, as well as a ton of suckers. The cold snap after those weeks of early warm weather has shut things down somewhat. Even the main lake has dropped from 45 degrees back to 41 degrees. But things will steadily improve this week."

Fairview Gravel Pit

Thomas Watral (Erie); filed 3/26/12: Went with my sister's husband to this hot spot for crappie, perch and bass. I started fishing by parking area, seeing all kinds of fish, including trout, bass and various panfish; caught six sunfish right away. I went down the trail to another spot and caught rock bass and a largemouth. Then the wind changed and the trout started hitting one after another. I landed 79 brown trout and releasing all but three. I got all my fish on either minnows or a jig tipped with a piece or worm. Trout were jumping everywhere after bugs, while bass and crappie stayed in the edge cover."

Lake LeBoeuf

Thomas Watral (Erie); filed 3/30/12: "I went to LeBoeuf with my brother-in-law. His rod was rigged with a frog lure for bass and mine was set up for musky with 20-pound test line, steel leader and a Bagley plug. My other rod was set up for crappie with a small jig and bobber. We started at the beach area where I hooked two muskies, landing one 38-incher. My bother-in-law hooked a few ice bass. Plus we got 5 crappies about 12 inches in length. We left at 4 pm to head back home, wet from the rain but not a bad day on the lake."

Mercer County

Shenango Lake and River

Laurie Frantz (R&L Bait & Tackle); filed 4/3/12: "I've been selling bait like crazy. That period of early warming had everyone out fishing. Anglers have been catching a lot of crappies from shore in the lake and in the upper river seems like they are eating anything you offer them. One customer stopped by to say he was catching bass at Shenango on swimming shad jigs. Customer Mitch Meredith (Fredonia) stopped by with a 26-1/2 pound channel cat and a 22-inch walleye he caught over the weekend at Pymatuning."

Kevin Austin (Sharon); filed 3/26/2012: "I fished Saturday and Sunday on Shenango, catching a mixed bag of crappies and bluegills using a green/white/sparkle twister tail on a bobber without additional weight. Bobber was set two feet deep, and we were casting from shore. We caught decent fish both days."

Michael Stutts (Sharon); filed 3/28/12: "Last night I decided to go crappie fishing at Shenango Lake on some deep structure. The crappies were cooperating nicely and both my son and I boated several nice fish using a Road Runner jig tipped with minnow. I switched to drop shot rigs on my two rods, dropping straight down, putting the rods in the holders and letting the wave action give motion to the bait. In short order, my line took off as a big fish moved off with the jig. I fought it for 15 minutes; uncertain what it wasthinking big catfish or maybe a musky. It was on the lightest rod a 5'Ugly Stik with 4-pound line. It made several runs before my six year old son Shawn was able to put a net under it after 20 minutes. It was a 15-pound-plus hybrid striper!"

Keith Rearick (Transfer); filed 4/2/1: Keith provided this information from the Army Corps the Mahaney, Shenango and Clark day-use areas will officially open for the season on April 6. The day-use areas will be open sunrise to sunset, and the launches open 24 hours. Campgrounds open May 18; reservations can be made at 877-44-677. Also, the trout stocked section of the Shenango River Outflow will be closed to fishing from the Dam to Walnut Street Bridge until opening day of trout.

Lake Wilhelm

Robert Mohra (Fergie's Bait); filed 3/31/12: "Anglers are still caching bluegills and crappies like crazy at both Sheakleyville Bridge and Launch #3. Crappies are coming on Southern Pro Stingers tipped with a maggot. Best bait for bluegills is a Sam's Ant tipped with a wax worm. Another customer is reporting success on bass with a Floating Rapala Minnows in silver."

Neshannock Creek

Bob Shuey (Neshannock Creek Fly Shop); filed 4/1/12: "The special regulation area of Neshannock Creek has been fishing well, and the Grannom Caddis hatch is on. The next 10 days look good with stable water and warming temperatures."

Venango County

Allegheny River

Mike Horrobin (Jigger Tackle); filed 4/2/12: "One of my regular customers, Matt Watson, stopped by to show me a photo of a 50 inch musky he caught from the river while fishing in his kayak this past week. River had been hot for smallmouth in mid-March, but bass bite has slowed with the drop in temperature."

Eric Heil (Oil City); filed 3/22/12: "In the 17 years of living in NW PA, I cannot recall a March like we had with those high temperatures. Fishing the river for smallmouth bass, I have set personal records for earliest bass caught, coldest water temp bass caught, greatest number a day in March and biggest bass in March! One evening I fished from 4:30 to dark and boated 36 smallmouths in that short time. I had several over 3 pounds and two over 4 pounds. And the best part is that I stayed anchored in one spot and caught all those fish on tubes!"

Eric continues: "Days later on March 21, I fished the Allegheny with John Ringel, from 4:30 to dark. We lost count of the number caught, it was over 40 fish. On several occasions we had doubles on. All fish came on tubes in various colors and brands. Smallmouths were biting so hard you could see the line jump. I landed all my fish on a Kistler 7' MH Z-Bone Rod and 8-pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line. We stayed in one small area. It was clear these fish fed well all winter as all of them were thick throughout."

Steve Udick (Oil City); filed 3/27/12: "I fished the upper Oil City eddy during the warm spell. Bass had moved into the fast waster as river temps rose to the 60s. On my second cast, I landed a fat smallmouth with a hitchhiker an Ohio lamprey. I caught seven bass on a green pumpkin tube. The next day I headed to the Petroleum Street Bridge to fish the confluence of Oil Creek. I got six bass on tubes again on green pumpkin color."

Jeff Knapp (Keystone Connection Guide Service); filed 3/29/12: "Smallmouth bass fishing has been running hot and cold, paralleling the weather pattern. During a half-day trip on Saturday, March 24 in a steady, light rain, we boated 14 smallmouths, including a 19.5 incher. The three and four-inch XCalibur jerkbaits were the hot lure. Water temperature was 60 degrees. Two days later, after a severe cold front that dropped water temps at least five degrees, we only put three smallmouths, one walleye and a 10-pound drum in the boat. Severe north winds hampered fishing efforts. Galida Grubz and XCalibur jerkbaits accounted for the fish. More seasonal weather patterns should stabilize water temperatures, and bass should become more predictable."

Lou Letterle (Franklin); filed 3/30/12: "I fished the Allegheny River two times this past week, including Thursday after a 30-degree air temp drop. I did not encounter another boat on the water. After not fishing since late November, my skills were rusty I spent most of my time freeing snagged jigs. I did manage to catch a dozen smallmouths. Nothing larger than 15 inches, but all the fish looked healthy and well fed one had a lamprey on it. Most fish came on tube jigs."

Kahle Lake

Steve Fleckenstein (Clarion); filed 4/2/12: "The bite has slowed at Kahle Lake after temperatures returned to normal. I was out twice since the warm weather departed, and only caught a few bluegills and perch."

Oil Creek

Mike Laskowski (Oil Creek Outfitters); filed 4/3/12: "Trout are biting well in both Delayed Harvest Special Regulation areas on Oil Creek. Anglers are getting them on flies, streamers, nymphs and dry flies fresh stocked trout eating anything you put in front of them. Remember, although these Delayed Harvest areas are open right now before regular trout season these sites are artificial lures only."

Bill Logan (Pleasantville); filed 3/30/12: "I hit the special regulation area on Oil Creek today. I caught 17 trout in three hours. Fish came on Wooly Buggers and Triple Threat streams even caught two on a dry fly."

Crawford County

Pymatuning Lake

Chris Hall (Espyville Outdoors); filed 4/2/12: "Walleye have been front and center this past week on the North End, with fish being taken on Original Floating Rapala Minnows and Rapala Countdowns in various colors. Most activity has been in the evenings while anglers are wading. With the water level down, waders are having an extended season. Offshore during the day, 'eyes have been taken in 10 to 12 feet of water on a jighead tipped with a minnow. Some success has been reported with a floating jighead and nightcrawler. Hemlock Island area was productive for walleyes early in the week. The crappie and perch bite has slowed some with the temperature drop, but anglers are still catching them just requires more effort. Anglers have been fishing the 'rocks' north of the Spillway and the island south of Andover beach for panfish. As usual, the Linesville Stumps along with area around Clark and Harris Islands are productive, too."

Dave Richter (Richter's General Store); filed 4/2/12: "Guys are doing real well on walleye, both wading at night along the shoreline casting long minnow baits and during the day drifting in 3 to 6-feet of water with a jig-n-minnow. The crappie bite has slowed down in the shallows, but some guys are catching them deeper. There have been some monster perch taken this spring. One angler stopped by the shop to show me a picture of a 42" musky he caught recently."

Norman Brakeman (Hills Country Store); filed 3/31/12: "The Yankee Hooker is on the water. The walleyes on the North End of Pymatuning have spawned out, but with as much as a 15 degree difference in water temp on the South End, fishing is on fire in the lower half of the lake. I've been catching a mixed bag of jumbo perch, crappie, walleye and a few incredible smallmouth bass. Sand/gravel bottom on fast breaking points is the key."

Ken Smith (Sharon); filed 3/20/12: "I fished Pymatuning this week with Tim Oden of Farrell. It rained all day but we managed 20 nice crappies, ranging from 11" to 15" all taken on jigs tipped with minnows. Tim had the biggest one."

Kevin Austin (Sharon); filed 3/22/12: "I caught a mixed bag of panfish from Pymatuning in the North Stumps on the 21st. I used a small green/black twister jig tipped with Berkley Gulp! Nuggets."

John Wilpula (Conneaut Lake); filed 3/30/12: "I caught a few panfish at Pymatuning on the 23rd, around the Espyville area. But the action has slowed significantly due to the cold front.

Jeff Knapp (Keystone Connection Guide Service); filed 3/29: "On Sunday, March 25, a friend and I boated 16 walleyes with half of them legal size (16 to 18-inch males). We also caught a bunch of nice crappies, perch and a few smallmouth bass. All fish were caught during daylight hours, trolling shad-shaped crankbaits in five to six feet of water. Water temp was 58 degrees."

Jeff Knapp (Keystone Connection); filed 4/1/12: "The return to more typical early spring weather dropped the water temp at Pymatuning 12 degrees from last Sunday. We trolled the five to six foot range that has been productive a week ago with no action today. Then we moved to 10-14 feet of water with no luck. Finally we trolled deeper basin and stump flats nothing but one small walleye. Thinking fish would respond to a slow presentation, we switched Northland Fireball Jigs tipped with Gulp! Alive Minnows. That was the answer. We boated eight more walleyes including five keepers in the 16 to 18 inch range. Bonus fish included perch, crappie and largemouth bass. At the ramp, a Fish Commission Officer told us the walleye spawn was completely over for the spring."

Canadohta Lake

Jerry VanTassel (Timberland Bait); filed 4/3/12: "Anglers were doing real good catching crappie over a week ago on Canadohta until the cold snap hit us; then catches slowed down. Crappie bite should pick up as weather stabilizes."

Woodcock Lake

Joseph Arnett (USACE Woodcock Lake Manager); filed 3/30/12: Joe wanted to do a little bragging about Woodcock Lake with these remarks and photos which he provided from this spring's PFBC fisheries sampling on the lake. The report from the PFBC biologist reads:

"We sampled the lake last night using our boat electrofishing gear for walleye. Our survey consisted of (4) 30 minute runs starting from the boat launch, working in a counterclockwise direction along the shoreline. We did extremely well and caught a total of 142 walleye that ranged in size from 5" to 18" with the majority of them in the 13" to 15" size. Multiple year classes were represented in our sampling and we were very pleased with the numbers we caught, thus providing evidence that our walleye stocking program is working. Also observed during our survey were several adult and juvenile musky, many quality-sized white and black crappies, a few yellow perch and numerous smallmouth bass."



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