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NWPA Fishing Report, July 16, 2012

July 20, 2012
By Darl Black , Ohio Valley Outdoors

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

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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.

Article Photos

Bryan Stuyvesant (Meadville) took this nice smallmouth at Woodcock Lake with a shaky head and worm.

What's biting in the counties of Erie, Crawford, Mercer and Venango?

NOTE: No, you didn't miss a NW PA Fishing Report! But you may have missed an earlier notice that the Fishing Report will now be published twice a month instead of weekly. Please continue to send information on your catches any species, any water in the four NW counties which comprise the PA Great Lakes Region (Erie, Crawford, Mercer and Venango). I will continue to solicit information from area tackle shops, but with the summer slowdown in many lakes, each contributor's report is particularly important. Send fishing comments and pictures to and be eligible for a lure prize package drawing. The next Report will be July 30, 2012.

FRENCH CREEK Flowing through all four counties

Fact Box

Officials at Pymatuning Lake say rumors about lowering the level of the lake are not true. The lake level is currently 24 inches below normal summer pool.

Lou Letterle (Franklin) filed 7/16: "With my kids out of school, we have enjoyed fishing at Pymatuning, the Allegheny River and French Creek. We kayaked French Creek yesterday (Sunday) and had a great time. We caught a dozen smallmouth bass, mostly on Trigger X Soft Jerkbaits. Of the four of us, my daughter Brandi once again caught the most bass."

Dustin Shay (Meadville) filed 7/15: "The Creek is very low and clear, and walleye have a case of lockjaw. We've been catching a few smallmouth bass on topwater in the last couple weeks. But my primary focus right now is catfish. However, even big cats are hard to come by. I've been gathering and fishing live bait. The other night I had a huge musky come up and swipe my rock bass bait as I was reeling it in, but the musky didn't hook up. The low water is giving us a better look at some big sheephead that are calling French Creek home. I saw a very large one at least 3 feet long. Another fishing acquaintance caught 42" sheephead and let it go not thinking it may have been a state record!"

Thomas Watral (Erie) filed 7/6: "I fished the South Branch of French Creek today. The water was very low and clear. I fished different types of water including rocky holes with fast-moving water for trout and slower pool areas for pike and bass. For trout I was using a fly outfit with 4-pound tippet with a Beach Creek Fly, landing 10 brown trout with the largest almost 15 inches. Throwing a yellow Rooster Tail in slower water, I caught 6 bass and one big pike. I released everything I caught."

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Presque Isle Bay

Mike Tome, Jr. (B.A.C. Bait) filed 7/16: "Not much happening in the Bay right now with the water so warm. Some shoreline anglers are catching a few bass and panfish from the piers, but we are in the dog days of summer early this year with the heat. The fishing action is centered out in the main lake right now."

Al Moore (Cochranton) filed 7/4: "I fished PIB during our bass club tournament last weekend. I focused on the humps and deep weed edges, ending up in a tie for 1st place. The Berkley Chigger Craw in black caught most of my largemouth bass."

Thomas Watral (Erie) filed 7/2: "Headed to the Bay today to fish bass from 6 AM to about noon. I had pretty good luck with surface lures around lily pad beds and weed edges using a yellow SnagProof Frog and a Bango Minnow to catch 15 largemouth bass."

Lake Erie

Jeff Staaf (Poor Richards Bait) filed 7/16: "Anglers are doing very well in Lake Erie for walleye and perch. The better walleye fishing is in 60 to 65 feet just west of Walnut Creek. Most walleye anglers have switched from plugs to worm harnesses with the hot colors being purple, watermelon and copper we make our own at the shop to cater to Erie walleye anglers' needs. Worm harnesses are fished behind directional Dipsy Divers or with heavy sinkers behind side planer boards. It is important to get the bait away from the direct path of the boat. Perch schools in 47 to 54 feet of water. However, the perch schools are spotty. One boat does very good, while another boat at same depth only a short distance away does not catch anything."

Mike Tome, Jr. (B.A.C. Bait) filed 7/16: "Fishing by boat in the deeper water of the main lake will be the hotspot for the next couple months. Perch are in 45 to 55 feet. Walleye are being taken in 55 to 70 feet of water off the 'Point' and the 'Stacks' at Erie, plus off Walnut and Avonia on the west side. Reef Runner's Ripsticks are producing with the color varying depending on the day. Willow-leaf worm harnesses are a close second. Several anglers stated the bigger walleye were coming from 68 to almost 80 feet on the west side the deeper you went, the bigger the fish."

Dave Richter (Jamestown) filed 7/16: "Over the weekend a friend and I took my small boat to Lake Erie to troll for walleye. We had our limit of big fish with most in the 24 to 30 inch range our smallest walleye was 20 inches. We caught all our fish on a Reef Runner Little Ripper."

Dan Shay (Meadville) filed 7/15: "We had a super successful trip trolling for walleye on Erie this week. We started out using Renosky Stickbaits the ones with the chatter blade in front but we were catching more species like sheephead and white bass than walleye. I think the hooks were too small and the big walleye were pulling off. We switched to crawler harnesses behind Dipsys and started landing walleyes. In our catch we had one 30-incher and two 28 inchers."

Paul Stewart (Butler) filed 7/16: "On Friday the 13th, we did an evening trip for perch on the Edward Johns head boat. At first the bite was light, but picked up as the evening wore on. The sunset bite turned out to be great, with most anglers limiting out by the end of the evening. I fished with some local high school kids that were on the wrestling team first time they were perch fishing they had a blast! Here is a picture of my buddy Mike LeDonne with a nice perch. Back on July 6th, I was on the Edward John for evening trip also. Again, light biting fish but Berkley Fireline Crystal and Sabiki Rigs were the ticket. I got my limit before sunset. Jumbo perch photo enclosed."

Thomas Watral (Erie) filed 7/13: "I fished out of Shades Beach for walleyes. Caught fish in 45 feet of water on nightcrawler harnesses made by Lindy, plus some on an old June Bug Spinner. I had 5 nice walleyes and few big perch. Back on July 5, I went perch fishing in 45 feet of water off the 'Lighthouse' to test different rigs. I caught perch with a minnow on a Lindy Rig behind a bottom bouncer. I also used a minnow-tipped white and orange jig from Babe Winkleman's TV show. I tested both salted minnows and live minnows. I ended up with 30 large perch in the 13" to 14" range, and my friend ended up with 28 perch. On July 1, I fished in 55 feet in front of old Hammermill smoke stacks, and limited out on perch from 9 to 13 inches. We also caught a few walleyes drifting with Erie Dearies."

Steve Hughes (Clarion) filed 7/2: "I fished a bass tournament in the main lake over the weekend. The smallies were biting. I had 19.5 pounds on Saturday; 1st place was 21.75 pounds for four fish. My best depth 22 to 26 feet; caught all my fish on small Yum Bug and Yum Tube."


Laurie Frantz (R&L Bait) filed 7/15: "We've had a slow two weeks due to the heat. Very few anglers have been out. However, today (Sunday) was very busy. With the cool off from the rain, everyone is wanting to fish. Reports have been consistent on crappies being caught around the Rt. 846 Bridge. The occasional striper and walleye, too, but crappies are the big thing. And anglers still have catfish fever down here after that brute flathead taken earlier this season. They are catching some small cats, but nothing close to that 40-pounder plus. Guys are still buying lots of shiners to feed the pike in Otter Creek. And turtles many of my customers are into turtle fishing; the season opened up in July, and they are targeting the Shenango River and smaller ponds."

Ken Smith (Sharon) filed 7/14: "I'm still doing well at Shenango. The crappie bite is strong on any downed tree that has deeper water near the tips. Lake level is down, so shoreline cover is limited. Find the right tree and it's loaded with fish. Jig and bobber, or swimming a small jig slowly back to the boat both producing crappies. The fish are not affected by all the boat traffic so if you can stand it, go fish. The skiers are hitting the lake as early as 8 AM. I did some trolling early last week and caught some white bass on crankbaits. I put a harness out with a Z-Man plastic worm, and sent it out on inline planer board. It netted me a 12 lb., 28" hybrid striper that almost ripped the rod out of the holder before I could get to itI was bringing in another white bass at the time."

Mike Martin (Cochranton) filed 7/15: "John Wilpula and I fished Shenango on Sunday morning. Together we caught 3 dink smallmouth bass, 1 decent largemouth bass, 1 white bass and 3 smaller largemouth bass. Lures used were Rebel Pop R, Brush Hog and Yamamoto Hula Grubs. Not much to get excited about fish-wise, but any day on the water with friends is a great day!"

John Goodman, filed 7/15: "I don't get out as much as I would like and rely on reports such as yours to focus me on where to fish Shenango Lake. I like the Orangeville area, but the water is low right now. I do my best fishing in the spring with my grandsons; they always catch fish. This week I fished the Rt. 846 Bridge and caught enough bluegills for a meal. My oldest grandson, Marcus, age 12, is becoming a very good fisherman. He did well on trout this year, and had taken several largemouth bass over 18 inches. I know anglers are still catching catfish on Shenango. When temps cool down some, I'll get back out."

William Logson, filed 7/9: "We fished Shenango today but managed only 5 bass between two of us. We caught them on a Carolina rig and Zoom Magnum Trick Worm."

Kevin Austin, filed 7/8: "This is my first report on my new phone. I have been fishing and it's been great. I'm catching crappies, largemouth bass, walleye, bluegill and northern pike on the river."

Michael Strutts (Sharon) filed 6/25: "My son Shawn and I fished Shenango Lake this past weekend with amazing results. Everything was biting. Shawn wanted to fish for bass on Shenango instead of trolling for walleye at Pymatuning. I started him off with a 1/8-ounce Beetle Spin and he never took it off. His first fish was a nice channel, then a bass, a small tiger musky, then a crappie, more bass and crappie. I was able to catch a few bass myself using a ?-ounce Terminator Spinnerbait. I tried a new Live Target Crawfish with fantastic results. The second cast landed a 2.5 pound largemouth. All in all it was a good day on the water, catching 15 bass, 1 catfish, 1 musky and handful of crappies!"

Lake Wilhelm

Bob Mohra (Fergies Bait) filed 7/16: "Pymatuning bite is slowing but Wilhelm is finally picking up. Summer campers have been reporting some interesting catches of largemouth bass up to 20 inches. Strike King's Red Eye Shad is one of the hot lures. Several other customers are reporting catches of walleyes on worm harnesses. Anglers are also catching crappies on deeper brush and channel drops."


Allegheny River

Mike Horrobin (Jigger Wholesale) filed 7/16: "Seems most of our customers have been fishing Pymatuning this spring because the fishing was spectacular. We have been filling so many orders for our Jigger manufactured worm harnesses that my fingers are bandaged from blisters. Right now the river action seems focused on smallmouth. However, there seems to be some good size walleyes starting to bite, too. Catfish? Not hearing much a few small ones."

Jeff Knapp (Keystone Guide Service) filed 7/15: "Despite hot weather much of the time, fishing on the Allegheny River has held up. During multiple trips the week of July 4th Holiday, my clients and I averaged 30 to 50 smallmouth bass per day, with plenty of nice fish in the 15 to 18-inch range. Water temperatures reached 85 degrees by week's end. The following week, when the river had a heavy stain, the numbers dropped but we still caught good numbers of big smallmouth bass. During one trip, in addition to several 14 to 18-inch smallmouths, we boated four quality-sized walleyes up to 24 inches. Hard jerkbaits like Rapala X-Raps and YoZuri Pins Minnows, and Winco Custom Lures' River Darter (soft jerkbait) have been the most productive baits."

John Hummel (Kennerdell) filed 7/5: "With the re-opening of the Allegheny Room at the P and T Line Shack in south Kennerdell, the summer fishing season on the Allegheny officially arrived! Pete and Karen Wojtechko (Pittsburgh) were joined by Guy Bernardini, Tarentum & JV Varhola (Vandergrift) to enjoy a day on the river. I watched a young couple fly fish for live bait near God Rock while biking the other day. I included pictures of smallmouth bass taken by Tim Hummel using a spoon lure. Also, included a picture of JV Varhola with a 22 inch walleye on a ripple tail lure while fishing with his son Josh near Kennerdell. Nightcrawlers have been the hot bait, too. Everyone just wants to have fun!"

Chuck Sari (Franklin) filed 6/29: "My son Kevin and I, along with my five-year-old grandson Reece were fishing Wednesday evening in the Allegheny. We caught four walleyes and three bass. All fish were taken with Rapala SR5 Shad Raps in silver. The walleye in the picture was 29 inches, 8.5 pounds my largest ever. Two other walleyes were a little over 21 inches. The big walleye is going to be mounted and will make a nice addition to my game room."

Venango Ponds

Steve Fleckenstein (Clarion) filed 7/15: "I have not been fishing much lately due to the heat and work schedule. However, I've been able to sneak in a few hours on some of the local private ponds, catching some bluegills and bass. On 7/14 at my girlfriend's mom's pond, I caught three bluegills on the first three casts with a Rapala UL Minnow that I had never used before. Later in evening I caught some more bluegill and crappies with it. I enclosed a picture of a nice largemouth bass that I caught from the pond using one of the bluegills that hit the Rapala. The bass was 22.5 inch-long!"


Pymatuning Lake

Dave Richter (Richter's General Store) filed 7/16: "Both the bite and the number of anglers on the lake has slowed down with the heat. They are still catching a few walleye, mainly on worm harnesses. Crappies are being taken around the bridges on the Espyville Causeway, on deep brush structure on the southern end of the lake. Channel cats are biting on worms. John Bresman caught two muskies last week a 35 incher and a 42 incher. Also heard of couple more muskies caught maybe the muskies are turning on for the mid-summer bite."

Chris Hall (Espyville Outdoors) filed 7/16: "The water is low and so is the fishing pressure. Probably didn't see 50 anglers over the weekend far different from earlier this year. The heat has everyone staying indoors. There is a rumor about the lake being lowered five more feet."

Ryan Borcz (Pymatuning State Park Assistant Manager) filed 7/16: "There has been a rumor going around that Pymatuning Lake will be lowered several more feet and that all owners of shoreline moored & marina docked boats are being asked to remove boats from the lake. Please inform your readers that no such request for removal of boats has been made and there has not been any discussion of lowering the lake a substantial amount. The lake level is currently 24 inches below normal summer pool; boats moored in shallow bays are in trouble, and some large boats are having problems launching. According to agreement with ACE, we must release water at a certain rate but there are currently no plans for a major drawdown as mentioned in the rumor. All boaters should exercise extreme caution around shoals and points due to low water."

Conneaut Lake

Mike Martin (Cochranton) filed 7/15: "Chuck 'Pappy' Papinchak and I fished Conneaut Lake on Thursday evening. Boat traffic was very heavy. We only managed 2 largemouth bass both decent fish. Enclosed a picture of the one I caught on a Yum Wooly Bug bait."

Isaak Hornstein, age 8, (Conneaut Lake) filed 7/15: "I went out to Conneaut Lake and caught 13 bluegills, 3 crappies and an 18-inch smallmouth bass. We fished in the evening for a few hours until it was close to dark on July 9th. I caught all my fish on a tube jig. We fished the outside edge of the weeds in about 10-11 feet of water. I saw really big musky jump while we were fishing." Isaak included a drawing from his notebook of him fishing from his grandfather's bass boat.

Chub Hornstein (Meadville) filed 7/15: "The bass bite has been difficult since the end of June. I decided to rummage through my seasoned tackle to test some of old lures to see how they might work. When I threw a Mann's Augertail worm something the fish have not seen in sometime I caught several nice bass, including a 4-pound largemouth. I also had a couple decent days on topwater baits. But last time out it was tough to get a bite."

Marilyn Black (Cochranton) filed 7/7: "Darl and I went to Conneaut for bluegills and crappies. The bite was considerably slower than the last time we were out. While I caught a few nice bluegills and a couple crappies, Darl could not keep the northern pike off his line." (See Livewell photos)

John Wilpula (Conneaut Lake) filed 6/26: "Despite windy conditions, Monday's family outing on Conneaut Lake was pretty successful. The group consisted of myself, my two boys (age 4 & 6) and their granddad. Dad put on a good show boating several nice largemouth bass on pumpkin/green fleck tubes. The boys caught a boatload of various panfish all taken on red worms suspended below a bobber. The wind was so bad we could only fish from an anchored position."

Woodcock Lake

Bryan Stuyvesant (Meadville) filed 6/25: "For an interview piece on shaky head fishing, Darl Black asked me to demonstrate my technique on shaking a worm on Woodcock. I was able to shake up one fairly nice smallmouth, while Darl only caught small bass and walleye on a tube jig."

Darl Black (Cochranton) filed 7/6: "Marilyn and I picked one of the hottest days of this season to go night fishing on Woodcock Lake. Marilyn did all the catching, landing three small walleye on a Gene Larew Salt Head shaky worm not one of them legal size. But some post 4th of July fireworks from nearby celebrations made the trip worthwhile."

Tamarack Lake

Ed Lawrence (Corry) filed 7/9: "My son Quentin and I had a blast catching crappies from Tamarack Lake from shore even though the water was low. It concluded what my son called the 'best weekend ever.' The fish were taken on small chartreuse Road Runners. I enclosed a photo."

Ed Atts (Utica filed 7/11: "The condition of Tamarack Lake interests me especially if there will be a fish die off. I have been canoeing the lake regularly to observe the changing conditions. My most recent trip was this morning, circling the main lake twice and finding only one dead perch. To date there has been no die off of fish due to low oxygen. I did catch a lot of crappies this year in the 9 to 10 inch range larger than recent years. There is an extremely large group of shore birds using the mud flats. This morning there were adult and young killdeer, spotted sandpipers, solitany sandpipers and about 15 lesser yellowlegs which should be above the Arctic Circle now. I don't know if they were coming or going, but they should not be here right now."

Sugar Lake

Bill Logan (Pleasantville) filed 7/8: "In less than four hours, I landed 8 bass at Sugar a great day on that lake. Six of the bass were 15 to 17 inches. Two bass came on a Terminator Spinnerbait, six on flippin' jigs with Uncle Josh Pork Trailer."

Canadohta Lake

Jerry Van Tassel (Timberland Bait) filed 7/2: "Timberland Bait will be holding the 6th Annual Kids Fishing Contest on Saturday, August 11 at our shop's pond at 36320 Dutch Hill Road, Union City. Time is 9 AM to Noon. Entry Fee is $5.00. Cash prizes for longest fish in each of 10 categories. For more information call 814-694-3474 or go to"



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