Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Product Reviews | Recipes | Home RSS

NW PA Fishing Report, May 21, 2012

May 22, 2012
By Darl Black , Ohio Valley Outdoors

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

Special Feature: 2012 PA Crappie Camp Report by Darl Black

Article Photos

Lou Consoli with a nice crappie.

On behalf of the Crawford County Convention Visitors Bureau and Visit Mercer County PA, I hosted a number of outdoor media communicators on Pymatuning and Shenango lakes during what was referred to as a Crappie Camp. Eight individuals representing outdoor magazines, newspapers, and online fishing blogs/websites came to sample the crappie fishing. The event could have been called 'Crappies Gone Wild' given that the fact the Pymatuning black crappie bite was in full swing, and with the help of volunteer local anglers, everyone caught fish. (Well, almost everyone someone with initials DB fell down on the job on day two.) Even the most seasoned crappie experts from Ohio, Georgia and Alabama were impressed with these two lakes. In addition, they caught walleye, catfish, bluegill and warmouth! Many of the crappie and other fish were taken on Road Runner lures. For example, Jeff Samsel remarked that he used various Road Runners to catch over 100 fish of nine different species during the trip to Pennsylvania. Local anglers Chub Hornstein remarked the BnM Crappie Wizard rods being used on the trip were perfect for fishing Road Runners and similar spinner jigs. Check out photos of participants on the Livewell Page, and watch for articles in print magazines about Pymatuning and Shenango Fishing. In the meantime, you can check some of the electronic postings from participants at the addresses below.

Another interesting side story I have included a picture in the livewell titled "When Crappie Legends Meet" taken at Shenango Lake when Russ Bailey of Mid-West Crappie fame (TV and guide) finally had an opportunity to fish with Ken Smith, one of the most recognized names on and the NW PA Fishing Report. Together they cleaned up. Russ' tip was "retrieve the jig very, very slowly over the brushpiles." Ken's tip was to "get rid of the minnow and tip the jig with a Crappie Nibble."

Fact Box

Russ Bailey of Mid-West Crappie fame (TV and guide) finally had an opportunity to fish with Ken Smith, one of the most recognized names on and the NW PA Fishing Report.;!/jeff.samsel

Scroll down to Jeff Frischkorn's blog. under Fishing Report

Also, check Facebook for "Crappie Now" wall, and Russ Bailey's account; plus check for Russ Bailey's YouTube video of the event.

French Creek (Flowing through all four counties)

Dustin Shay (Meadville) filed 5/16: "Catfish are feeding in French. We've been floating cut bait just under the surface at night from full dark to about midnight for channel cats. I'm still looking for a BIG flathead. The walleye bite has slowed we caught 41 walleyes in our last three trips for 'eyes, but most were in the 11 to 14-inch range with only 2 fish of keeper size; the high water of a week ago had them tight to the bank. I've been catching smallmouth bass and bowfin when fishing tube jigs during the day." (See Livewell photo)

Mike Martin (Cochranton) filed 5/21: "John Wilpula and I fished French Creek by kayak on Sunday, 5/20. It was an incredible day! Water conditions were near perfect and we caught numerous smallmouth bass; a number of the fish were over 15 inches."

John Ensworth (John's Bait Shop) filed 5/21: "A customer brought in a 44-inch musky taken from French Creek, just south of Meadville. We are getting reports of pike from French being taken on live suckers and shiners. "

Venango County

Allegheny River

Chris Wolfgong (Oil City) filed 5/21: "I've been very busy with the 'honey-do list' but I did make it out on the river Thursday evening with Steve Schettler. We fished the Oil City pool. Bites were few and far between contrary to what I had been hearing. I had four smallmouths all were caught on a soft jerkbait along the weedline, with two right on the edge and two other bass coming up from deeper water to grab it. Steve caught a northern and a smallmouth bass both on a spinnerbait."

Jeff Knapp (Keystone Guide Service) filed 5/20: "During guide trips over the May 19-20 weekend, we found smallmouth bass in summertime spots shallow with current. We caught little around the spawning flats, indicating this spring's spawning period is likely wrapping up. Despite the post-spawn conditions, high skies and fairly clear water, clients boated good numbers of smallmouths up to 18 inches. Also caught a couple 19-inch walleyes. Best baits were hard jerkbaits and Winco's River Darters."

Kahle Lake

Jeff Knapp (Keystone Connection Guide Service) filed 5/20: "On a trip to Kahle Lake we boated 55 largemouth bass up to 2.5 pounds during a four-hour guide trip on May 20. Winco's Wacky Worm fished along deep weed edge took most of the fish. Bass are done spawning. Bluegills are on beds."

Oil Creek

Mike Laskowski (Oil Creek Outfitters) filed 5/18: "Oil Creek is at its best this week. Sulphurs are hatching and they provide some of the best dry fly fishing of the season."

Other Trout Streams

John Hummel (Polk) filed 5/20: "My youngest son, Tim, is home from college with a week off before starting his job, so we took the opportunity to do one of his favorite things trout fishing! We tried out luck along East Sandy, Mill Creek, Little Scrubgrass, Denison Run and Pine Run. I'll chase trout one more week before shifting to the Allegheny River for the summer."

Crawford County

Pymatuning Lake

Chris Hall (Espyville Outdoors) filed 5/21: "Pymatuning was VERY busy this past weekend! And I heard of very few people not catching fish! Limits of walleyes are still being caught in shallower water - from 8' to 10' using various methods. Floating jigheads, leadheads tipped with a piece of crawler or a minnow, plain hooks with minnows, worm harnesses and the AFF Walleye Wizard. Available in four sizes (1/8 to ? ounce) and eight colors, the Walleye Wizard is the hottest lure in the shop even out-selling Hot N'Tots! The crappie reports have been decent as well. The breakwall at the Espyville Marina has produced fish in the evenings. The rock shoreline north of the spillway has been a hotspot, too! Brushpiles throughout the lake have been producing good amounts of calico slabs. Bluegill bedding should start heating up soon with warmer water temperatures; there have been mixed reports of success concerning 'gills."

Dave Richter (Richter's General Store) filed 5/21: "It was another great weekend of late spring fishing on Pymatuning with strong catches of walleye and crappies. The best walleye catch was made by a father and daughter; they brought in a double limit of 'eye measuring between 17 and 25 inches. They caught the fish in 4 feet of water around a weedbed on a jig-n-crawler. Following comments about what happened to the white crappie which had been in deep water brush & stumps, anglers started catching them again in 8 to 10 feet of water."

Jeff Knapp (Keystone Connection Guide Service) filed 5/20: "My guests and I have limited out with walleyes on multiple trips recently with the last trip being May 13. While walleyes are being caught at numerous depths, and on many presentations, I've had great success trolling small Rapala Shad Raps and Cordell Wally Divers in 5 to 10 feet of water."

Bryan Stuyvesant (Meadville) filed 5/20: "My son Colin and I fished Pymatuning on Sunday. In the morning we found elusive white crappies in 9 feet of water. We started bass fishing about 1 PM, catching several largemouth bass on a jig in a grass beds, plus a little topwater action."

Conneaut Lake

Marilyn Black (Cochranton) filed 5/19: "On Saturday morning, Darl and I headed to Conneaut for a few hours of exploring. We found BIG bluegills holding over sand/gravel patches in 3 to 5 feet of water on the inside weedline either bedding or in immediate pre-bedding pattern. Water was too dirty to see bottom even in 3 feet. We caught the bull 'gills on a 1/16-oz Natural Science Road Runner Head with a pearl 2" Skippy Fish soft plastic minnow. We also picked up several small bass on panfish baits. We did not find any crappies."

Chub Hornstein (Meadville) filed 5/20: "I fished Conneaut Lake one day this week for bass, catching 12 only two were smallmouth. Bass were average size for the lake. Water remains dirty, but I don't know why. I went to Conneaut for bluegills on Saturday evening. The ones we caught were very large, but we didn't catch a bunch. I don't think the peak bedding has started yet."

Chuck Papinchak (Cochranton) filed 5/21: "My buddy and I fished Conneaut one day this week. We caught three smallmouth bass between 17" and 18", plus five northern pike on spinnerbaits."

Woodcock Lake

John's Bait Shop and Timberland Bait Shop both report walleyes being taken on leeches in deep water - one report says at 30 feet.

Marilyn Black (Cochranton) filed 5/20: "On Sunday morning, we headed to Woodcock for walleyes. We caught several walleyes in relatively shallow water some as shallow as two feet. Tube jigs and hair jigs did the trick although the biggest walleye (19") came on a Road Runner head with Skippy Fish body. We also picked up several smallmouth bass. My largest bass was a 5-pounder spawned out. We tried drifting rock piles in 10 to 12 feet of water with nightcrawlers for 'eye but didn't get a hit."

Tamarack Lake

Note: Tamarack is drawn down several feet and the Fish Commission says it does not have the money to fix the dam, so the lake will remain low.

John Ensworth (John's Bait) filed 5/21: "Lots of my customers are upset over the situation at Tamarack. But the low water seems to have concentrated the crappies, and they are catching them pretty good from shore near the dam on the Pettis end. Maggots are better than minnows."

Damon Brown (Meadville) filed 5/20: "I've been fishing from shore during the evenings on the Pettis end of the lake, catching around 30 crappies right before dark. Fish are coming on a small white plastic grub tipped with maggots suspended below a float. It's going to be shame to lose this fishery."

Chuck Papinchak (Cochranton) filed 5/21: "I fished Tamarack one day this past week and caught 80 crappies on white jigs with maggots. I can't believe the fish commission is going to let this lake return to a swamp. For over 50 years it's been an iconic fishery for the area walleye, musky, bass and panfish."

Canadohta Lake

Jerry VanTassel (Timberland Bait) filed 5/21: "The crappies at Canadohta have moved off the banks and out of the canals. They are catching them outside the deep weedline on jigs tipped with grubs or a minnow. No reports of muskies being taken at the lake yet."

Erie County

Presque Isle Bay

Andy (B.A.C. Bait Erie) filed 5/21: "Bass are hitting good in the shallow water; soft plastic baits in dark colors rigged on leadheads and wacky style work best this time of year. Yellow perch have been moving out of the Bay to the main lake; perch are being caught anywhere from 30 to 50 feet out in the lake. Crappie bite in the Bay has slowed, as well as the pike bite."

Thomas Watral (Erie) filed May 18: "I went to both the South and North Pier today to see what was hitting. The talk on both piers indicated the emerald shiner baitfish schools are moving out to the lake. In Misery Bay and Marina Bay, anglers were getting a few 10 to 13 inch crappies with minnows on an Eagle Claw perch rig. Also lots of bluegills being caught everywhere in the Bay. There was a report of a 35" pike taken at the Stink Hole on a stickbait."

Chub Hornstein (Meadville) filed 5/18: "Dan Wielobob and I headed to Erie. The water in the Bay was dirty. The bite was slower than expected. We caught 40 bass between the two of us with roughly 1/3 of them being smallmouth bass. Several of the smallmouths were between 3 and 4 pounds. Believe it or not, but our hot bait for the day was a Cotee Double Tail Shrimp in pearl with red flake which I brought back from Florida."

Joe Nichols (Underground Angler) filed 5/13: "We had a pretty tough day on Saturday, May 12. We ended the day with 19 bass both largemouth and smallmouth. Water temp was 56 degrees and afternoon air temp was in the 60s. It was windy and tough to stay in position. We caught bass on Ima Flit 120 jerkbait, crankbaits and Whip'em Bait Tubes. I've been fishing my 'go-to' tube for 10 years, but the new Whip'em tubes put them to shame on this day. These tubes have smaller profile and lot of glitter in the mix. Talked to the person who rents boats; he says a strong east wind had turned the bay over during the week which likely affected the fishing success. We thought the bass would be shallow by now, but we could not find them."

Bill Logan (Pleasantville) filed 5/11: "Gave the Bay another try. It was a strong northeast wind swinging to southeast in afternoon. Bass were not cooperative; caught only a few average largemouth bass. Saw very few bent rods in other boats during the day. Right before we quit, we made one last stop on the tip of a weedy point where the sonar showed lots of fish. Suddenly we were doubling up on fish on every cast a huge school of white bass. They hit almost anything we threw but were particularly fond of white hair jigs."

Lake Erie

Gary Heuble (Poor Richards) filed 5/21: "On the West Side, anglers are catching perch at 35 feet. The nighttime walleye bite is still on both trolling stickbaits just offshore and casting from the shore near the mouths of tributary creeks. The best casting plug remains the Rapala #18 in Rainbow Trout pattern. For trolling, anglers are using smaller stickbaits, including Rapala Minnows #11 & #13 and Renosky Minnows. There are a few smallmouth bass still in the lower end of Elk Creek, but they will return to the lake shortly."

Thomas Watral (Erie) filed 5/19: "I went to 20 Mile Creek last night for a few hours. Did very well casting rainbow trout pattern plugs in the surf. Caught 12 walleyes. Most were taken on a Bomber and Bagley baits. I was using 8-pound line on an Ugly Stik."

Capt. Todd McKinney (Wolfman Charters) filed 5/14: "Friday night water temp was 54 degrees. We tolled 12 to 15 feet. We boated 10 walleyes including the first 10-pounder of the season. Saturday night fished out of Walnut Creek, boating 18 walleyes from 18" to 25". Stickbaits on the inline boards produced the majority of fish. Sunday night 9 fish. Captain's tip: when running boards at night, use lights or glow sticks on the boards. Helps you see strikes and alerts other boats to your spread."

Erie Tribs

Thomas Watral (Erie) filed 5/20: "I went to 4 Mile Creek today at noon and fished until 5 PM. I caught 30 brown trout between 8" and 17". I was using Slider Crappie Jigs and Road Runner Jigs with a slow retrieve, standing well back from the bank because the water was so clear. Earlier in the week, I fished 12 Mile Creek at the falls. I caught 6 smallmouth bass on a Sonic Spinner and Rooster Tail Spinner. I released all the fish unharmed."

Mercer County

Shenango Lake & River

Laurie (R & L Bait and Tackle) filed 5/20: "All of last week was very busy at the bait shop. The crappie and walleye are biting at Shenango Lake and in the Shenango River. There were also several perch brought in, including one caught by Seth Yoder measuring 14-3/4" and weighing 1 lb. 3.8 oz. It was taken on a minnow. Dan Alabran brought in a nice northern pike measuring 33-1/2" and weighing 9 lbs. 5 oz. Kris Derrick brought in a nice 13-3/8" crappie caught in Shenango it was Kris' first time fishing this year. Chester Yoder caught a 10-1/4" 12.8 oz. crappie on a minnow. Thursday was Ascension Day which means fishing and picnics for the Amish community. And fish they did purchasing flats of crawlers and dozens of minnowsand their talk of fried chicken and delicious treats was enough to make my mouth water. I love to see folks excited about fishing and this past week was certainly a grand time for all. I hope we have many more like it."

Lake Wilhelm

Bob Mohra (Fergie's Bait) filed 5/21: "We seem to be stuck in a crappie and bluegill mode at Wilhelm. No reports of bass or walleye this week. But there were a few 15" crappies brought in those are nice fish!"

Steve Fleckenstein (Clarion) filed 5/17: "My girlfriend and I hit Wilhelm on Monday, May 14 from 1 to 6:30 PM. We started at the dam and worked our way up to Launch 3, hitting a few spots in between. We had a pretty good afternoon catching crappies and bluegills. We caught a lot of small crappies and small bluegills but few of keeper size. We used mostly black/white 1/64 oz. hair jigs tipped with a maggot or meatless below a bobber. On the 17th, I fished my girlfriend's pond for a couple hours, catching nice bluegills and crappies, plus a couple small bass. I used some of the lures sent by the Fishing Report, including a 1-1/2" blue/chartreuse Charlie Brewer Slider Grub on a 1/32 oz. jighead. I caught nice crappies on it and later some nice bluegills. I'm going to get some more of that bait soon. Thanks to Charlie Brewer Slider Company for sending them."

Stoneboro Lake

Chuck Panpinchak (Cochranton) filed 5/21: "I made my first trip to Stoneboro Lake this week. I caught and released five largemouth bass with the largest going 15.5 inches. They were taken on a drop shot rig."


Monthly Free fly-tying classes; 2nd Tuesday; 6 PM to 7:30 PM; 814-590-1366, Farrell's Hook, Line & Stitch; At the Bank Mall, Meadville

June 2 PLA Walleye Tournament; Pymatuning Lake; 724-927-9493

June 9 Crappie & Bluegill Tournament; Conneaut Lake; Walt's Tavern; 814-510-9056

June 17 BMCC Father's Day Open; Presque Isle Bay; 814-463-9256

In answer to repeated questions about the recent Pymatuning Lake Association Crappie and Walleye

tournaments, PLA did not supply any results to the Fishing Report.

For information: Crawford County Convention & Visitors Bureau at; Oil Region Alliance at; VisitErie at and VisitMercerCountyPA at



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web