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NW PA Fishing Report, July 30, 2012

August 1, 2012
By Darl Black , Ohio Valley Outdoors

The fishing report is sponsored by: Pennsylvania's Great Lakes Region ( and Black Knight Industries, Home of Gamma Line (

The NW PA Fishing Report provides timely angling information for Crawford, Erie, Mercer and Venango Counties covering all species and all waters open to the public. The fishing comments and photos are offered by regional tackle shops and area anglers, complied and published twice a month. The NW PA Fishing Report is based on experiences, observations and opinions of individual contributors; information sources are considered reliable but comments are not independently verified. If you would like to share your fishing experiences or photos from any waterway in the four counties, please email to Darl Black

at In providing information or pictures, you are agreeing to it being posted in the Fishing Report and distributed electronically to media and websites.

Article Photos

Bryan Stuyvesant with a nice pike, taken at Conneaut Lake.

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

FRENCH CREEK Flowing through all four counties

Jerry Van Tassel (Timberland Bait) filed 7/30: "With a little fresh water in the stream from recent rains, there is a hot walleye bite in French Creek section near Union City."

Fact Box

Ed Atts, Tamarack Lake, "...I watched a great eagle on the end of the fishing pier for half an hour with binoculars; eagles seem to be most active in the early morning."

Isaak Hornstein, age 8 (Conneaut Lake) filed 7/25/12: "We were at our cottage on French Creek, and me and my dad went up the creek a little ways in the kayaks and we caught some smallmouth. I caught all of mine on a Storm Wildeye Curl Tail Minnow and my dad caught his smallmouth on a Strike King Bleeding Spinner Bait. We didn't have any hits on a Rapala. The water was up a little bit from the rain and we saw lots of suckers swimming underneath our kayaks." (See Livewell)

John Wipula (Conneaut Lake) filed 7/19: "Mike Martin and I fished from our kayaks around the Utica Access on July 18 while Darl Black snapped photos for a kayaking article. Both Mike and I caught a decent photo fish plus some smaller ones. My smallmouth came on Winco's Predator Craw and Mike's on a Yum Dinger. After Darl left, we paddled downstream for about a mile. We had a couple blowups on a Tiny Pop-R, but no hook-ups. Paddling back upstream, we fished until dark around the access site. I hooked another 16-inch smallmouth on the same Winco's Predator Craw."


Pymatuning Lake

Ken Smith (Sharon) filed 7/29: "Going out of Jamestown ramp on Sunday, I headed north to do crappie fishing. Decide to hang glide some Southern Pro Triple Tails and Stingers in the deeper water. I was catching fish, but the wind picked up and the rain clouds moved in. I got off the open water to a bay with sunken brush. I had to change colors to get the crappies going there. I also tried some really shallow brush on a point. Fished a Lunker City Fin-S-Shad under a bobber; caught a few nice crappies and smaller 'gills until the rain started. I finished the morning with 25 to 30 keepers out of about 50 fish caught. The fish were breaded and ready for the church fish fry by afternoon."

Ken Smith (Sharon) filed 7/27: "Back on 7/21, I fished Pymatuning with my buddy Ron Scarboro. Using the hang-gliding technique, we suspended Southern Pro Jigs in 9 to 14 feet of water and caught 28 crappies. Most were over 12 inches. We also got some perch and a few nice bluegills. We headed back up on Monday, 7/23, for a few hours. We fished a different area and did just as well. Wind was up but I found some brush a little out of the wind. We took home 18 crappies, 6 perch and 5 bluegills. All on jigs tipped with Berkley Power Minnows. Ramp was pretty shallow, hoping rain raises the water.

Marilyn Black (Cochranton) filed 7/23: "On Saturday morning 7/21, Darl and I headed to Pymatuning for crappie fishing, going out of the Jamestown ramp. The day was clear and a touch cool following a period of high temperatures. Things started out slow, taking almost an hour before one of us finally caught a crappie. We decided a trek further up lake to a mid-lake hump with brush might be a good bet. After locating the brush and putting the anchor down, we started catching fish. We landed a little over a dozen crappies in the 11 to 13.5 inch range. The fish came by deadsticking a jig with either a live minnow or Gulp! Minnow around edges of brushpiles in 10 to 12 feet of water."

Michael Coonley (Armstrong County) filed 7/23: "I'm not a regular on Pymatuning but had the opportunity to fish it over the weekend. Generally the fishing was poor, catching a couple crappies by trolling. However on Sunday morning we found what I believe was a school of wipers (striper white bass hybrids) in the 10 to 21-inch range although I could not verify the ID of the fish. We followed them around off and on for about three hours as they broke surface chasing bait. They would attack a school of baitfish near the surface for several minutes, and we would pound them for a while. Then they would disappear for a while and show up 100 yards or so away, and it would start all over again. Is this common?"

Editor's note: White bass are present in Pymatuning. PF&BC informs me that hybrid stripers were never stocked in Pymatuning. However, some hybrids escaped from the hatchery pond a few years ago, got into the Sanctuary and made their way into the main reservoir. Some of these adult fish are caught each spring at the Linesville spillway weighing in the 15 pound plus range. Twenty-one inches is larger than any white bass in Pennsylvania. The state record white bass of almost four pounds was only 19 inches as I recall. I suspect some of the few remaining adult wipers may be traveling with white bass schools, and the smaller fish in the school were actually white bass unless someone is doing illegal midnight bucket stocking of hybrids...

Conneaut Lake

Chuck Papinchak (Cochranton) filed 7/30: "I fished the Conneaut Lake tournament with pro angler Robbie Genter. We barely missed 5th place money. Robbie is a fishing machine, catching over 25 bass off docks and pontoon boats using a tube jig. I managed a few bass including one smallmouth.

Chuck Papinchak (Cochranton) filed 7/19: "I had one of my best days ever on Conneaut Lake this morning with the misty rain and threatening weather. I caught 20 largemouth and smallmouth bass mostly in the 17 to 18-inch range but also included a 5 pound largemouth and a 20 inch smallmouth. At one point, I landed six bass on six casts. All fish came on a Rebel Pop R surface bait."

Bryan Stuyvesant (Meadville) filed 7/17: "I fished Conneaut a couple hours the other morning. I used a football head jig with trailer dragged across a rocky point to dredge up one largemouth and a drop-shot rig to boat another smaller bass and a pike."

Tamarack Lake

Ed Atts (Utica) filed 7/29: "I canoed around the Cochranton end of Tamarack Lake on July 23 and saw several hundred dead crappies. There were at least 12 different eagles working this section of the lake 2 adults and 10 immature of varying ages. I went back the morning of July 29 and canoed both ends of the lake. No dead fish were seen on the Meadville end but there were thousands of dead crappies on the Cochranton end. Most were in the 7 to 9 inch range but I did find one trophy that was about 16 inches. For some reason all the fish I've found have been crappies and 1 perch. Not a single dead bass, walleye, musky or bluegill and not a single carp although many can be seen on the shallow mud flats. I watched a great eagle on the end of the fishing pier for half an hour with binoculars; eagles seem to be most active in the early morning."

Canadohta Lake & Lake LeBoeuf

Jerry Van Tassel (Timberland Bait) filed 7/30: "Anglers at Canadohta are caching perch and crappies like crazy on live minnows and small curly tail jigs fished very tight to the deep edge of the cabbage beds. Customers stopped in over the weekend to say Lake LeBoeuf is on fire they caught crappies, northern pike, largemouth bass, bluegill and bowfin on the lake this past week."

Sugar Lake

Bill Logan (Pleasantville) filed 7/26: "I've been fishing Sugar Lake this month, looking for one of those mythological 7 to 10 pound largemouth bass. I've taken 28 largemouth but not one over 2.5 pounds. However, I did lose a huge bass last week that I didn't get a good look so maybe it was over 7 pounds!"


Lake Erie

Jeff Staaf (Poor Richards Bait) filed 7/30: "Perch fishing remains good in 45 to 50 feet of water just west of Walnut Creek. Walleyes have moved out a bit to 64 feet of water and out to the First and Second Trench. Again, west of Walnut seems to be the best area. Some anglers are still getting 'eye by pulling stickbaits, including Renosky, Reef Runner and Bagley. But most anglers are enjoying better success with crawler harnesses. Our top sellers are purple, watermelon and copper blade models."

Mike Tome (B.A.C. Bait) filed 7/30: "Walleyes are out in 70 feet. The deep Reef Runner stickbait is our top seller right now. On the east side, perch are in 48 to 50 feet. Emerald shiners are the best bait and even though they are tough to trap right now, B.A.C. has emeralds. A handful of anglers are catching channel cats from 8 to 20 pounds in the Bay."

Joe Nichols (Underground Angler) filed 7/28: "I'm still having trolling motor problems so my fishing has been limited. We did manage to sneak out onto Lake Erie to catch a dozen or so smallmouth bass on shaky heads last weekend."

Ken Smith (Sharon) filed 7/27: "I fished with friends at Lake Erie on Wednesday, 7/25, and did pretty good. The lake was a little bumpy on the way out, but calmed down nicely as the day went on. We fished Dipsy Divers with worm harnesses down to 50 feet over 72-foot depth. Three of us got 16 keepers but dropped quite a few on the way to the boat. There were lots of 6 to 8 pounders." (See Livewell)

Thomas Watral (Erie) filed 7/25: "I went out with a friend who fishes with downriggers. We had two rods rigged with a flash disk and a Bagley. Those rods caught 5 nice big walleye. We flat-lined 2 other rods with deep diving Bombers, and caught 3 more walleye. One of them was very bluish in appearance baby blue compared to a regular walleye and it had smaller eyes. It reminded me of sauger. My camera got wet and wasn't working so I didn't get a picture."

Presque Isle Bay

Thomas Watral (Erie) filed 7/28: "I went down to try my luck at the new fishing dock at Chestnut Street. I was using nightcrawler on jigs, and ended up catching 8 nice catfish and 6 bass. Back on the 18th, I went down to the South Pier to fish for crappies with live bait on an Eagle Claw Crappie Rig. I fished the far end facing the lake and cast about 15 feet out. I ended up getting a limit in three hours. The biggest one was 13 inches and the smallest was 8 inches. Don't forget the Sons of Lake Erie Fish Fry coming up in September."

Dawn McCall (Black Knight Industries) filed 7/26: "Three Gamma teams participated in the Big Kid/Little Kid Tournament at Presque Isle Bay on Saturday 7/21. The Gamma Teams were Dale Black and his son Jacob, Frank Malek and his son Tanner, and Eric Heil and my son Christopher Proudfoot. Two of the three teams finished in the top five."

Dave Lefebre (Harbor Creek Township) filed 7/24: "It's that time of the summer for outstanding largemouth bass fishing on PIB right now. Darl Black joined Danny Jones and me for an afternoon on the Bay mid-week. We boated over 50 largemouth (sort of lost count after we hit 50). Most bass came on jigs, worms and creature baits fished in 20 feet of water off the deep weedline. Darl even caught a half-dozen on a 20-year-old Black Grape Producto Worm he's into some sort of retro fishing using stuff from a quarter century ago to prove it still works today. We had several triples on with Darl, Danny and I all hooked up to fish at same time. Very few bass weighed more than 2.5 pounds."

Brokenstraw Creek

Ed Lawrence (Corry) filed 7/29: "I fished Brokenstraw Creek outside Corry for smallmouth bass. The stream had been in good shape the day before, but came up with overnight rain. It was high and dirty. I managed one nice smallmouth on about my 3rd cast with an Original Rapala Minnow, but that turned out to be the highlight of the morning. Hopefully as the water clears a tad, the fish will be more active."


Lake Wilhelm

Chub Hornstein (Meadville) filed 7/22: "Seems there's been a lot of talk that no one can catch a decent largemouth at Wilhelm, complaining there's too many gizzard shad in the lake. I had not been down to the lake all year so I didn't know what to expect. When we started out on the morning of the 22nd, it seemed like the naysayers may be right. However, after moving from the offshore structure to a breakline in about 10 feet of water, we quickly managed three nice largemouths before our time was up. One bass was 4-1/2 pounds. An old Bomber Model A crankbait was the ticket.

Shenango Lake and River

Laurie Frantz (R&L Bait) filed 7/30: "Big catfish aren't the only giants being caught in the Shenango River. Charles Kinney of Fredonia brought in a 46-1/2" 30 lb. 10.4 oz. musky this past week; it was caught in the river on a bucktail. Chuck makes his own lures and they are so well made that I have talked him into making some for R&L they will be available at the shop. Folks are still fishing for cats in Pymatuning, Shenango River and Shenango Reservoir and doing very well. Crawlers had been the big seller because in the heat it's hard to keep minnows alive. But with the cool down recently, minnows and shiners are moving out the door. The fish are biting again! Yeah! Business has picked up the last couple weeks and the shop is very busy great to see my customers out fishing again!"

Marilyn Black (Cochranton) filed 7/27: "Returning from a family lunch in Sharon, Darl and I stopped at the Kidd's Mill Covered Bridge in Transfer so I could cast a line in the Shenango River. Drifting a Yum Dinger, I was hoping to connect with a smallmouth bass. On my third cast, something hit hard and began making a powerful zig-zag run downstream. When it didn't go airborne, I figured it wasn't a smallmouth and began to think walleye. I kept working the fish back upstream, but the water was so dirty I could not tell what it was until I was reaching to grab it. It was an 18 inch channel cat!"


Justus Lake

Chuck Papinchak (Cochranton) filed 7/30: "I'm calling in my report from Justus Lake this morning. I came down to fish for musky, but the breeze has stopped and the favorable chop on the water has subsided. So, I'm bass fishing right now. I've caught 5 largemouth bass by drop-shotting a Yum Craw Papi."

Allegheny River

Jeff Knapp (Keystone Connection Guide Service) filed 7/29: "The middle Allegheny continues to be productive for both smallmouth bass and walleyes. During recent guide trips, clients and I have averaged 30 to 40 smallmouth bass a day. A wide variety of sizes up to 19 inches are being caught typical for summer fishing. We've been catching some nice walleyes, too. One trip last week produced five walleyes between 16 and 23 inches. Rapala X-Raps continue to take many of the fish. We've also caught a lot of bass on Winco's Solid Body River Darter this is the best soft jerkbait I've found for river fishing. It sinks well, and has an extra tough head for nose-hooking."

Dale Black (Oil City) filed 7/29: "On Saturday, I fished with Darl Black for a couple hours before a tornado sighting in Crawford County chased us off the river. The bite started rather slow, with a number of small-size bass some no longer than the lure. Just could not get a big bite. So, I headed the boat upstream to some very fast, and very shallow water. While I was getting an occasional strike on a pearl Yum Houdini Shad, it wasn't until Darl dug deep into his bag of tricks and brought out solid chartreuse Skippy Fish soft jerkbait that keeper fish began to come aboard. After the third bass, I had to beg one from Darl, and I started getting photo fish, too. Earlier in the week, Frank Malek and I had been out. We caught over a dozen nice smallmouths mainly on baitfish-colored soft jerkbaits, but it seems the stain in the river from the previous day's rainstorm had shifted the preferred color for smallmouth."

Ed Lawrence (Corry) filed 7/29: "My buddy and I floated a section of the Allegheny River this past Friday. We caught several smallmouth bass, one fat 14-inch walleye and a 24-inch pike."

Steve Udick (Oil City) filed 7/25: "I spend the week at President with my daughter's family, fishing and swimming with my grandchildren. Three year old Drew Knight caught a 17inch smallmouth on a Jitterbug in the afternoon. The second picture is 6-year-old Addison Knight catching a 17-inch bass on a Bass Pro Teaser Tube. The next picture is the girl's father, Major Andrew Knight US ARMY, catching a nice bass on a Mizmo Tube. The final picture is Addison and her friend Lily Scalise intently watching their lines for a bite if only I paid that much attention to my fishing! Water temps were very warm, forcing the fish into very fast water for oxygen. Most of the fish were we caught were just above or below a rapid in very shallow water."

Darl Black (Cochranton) filed 7/26: "I met up with Jeff Knapp on the river at Emlenton for photo shoot for an upcoming Bassmaster article. But first we had to catch a couple smallmouth bass. As often happens, it started out slow and I was wondering if we would get the needed pictures. But Jeff had a key spot in mind and a terrific lure to capture a couple photo fish. Using a Rapala X-Rap in perch pattern, he targeted a fast, rock-studded run between two shallow rapids a difficult place to reach and fish effectively. He came through with the biggest fish of our three hour outing a 3-pounder plus."

Dawn Whitley (Franklin) filed 7/24: "Here is a picture of a flathead cat that Jimmy caught from the Allegheny on 7/22/12. We got set up around dusk. The cats started hitting within an hour and never let up until around 2 AM. We caught about a dozen flatheads ranging from 12 inches to 32 inches. We used live creek chubs and crawfish, plus a hellgrammite that landed near our boat. The riverbugs were out and moon was almost non-existent, both signs of a good night for fishing."

Chris Wolfgong (Oil City) filed 7/23: "I made it out on the river last night with Dale Black from 6:30 to 8:30. Weeds are getting really bad lots of floating clumps. I caught at least 10 smallmouths and Dale did the same we stopped counting at 10 apiece but landed a few more. Most bass were in fast water. Most fish were taken on tubes, although Flukes took a few smaller bass. My largest of the night was a 16-3/4 inch smallie taken on a tube. I was using 8# Gamma Edge on a spinning reel and a green pumpkin tube on a 1/8-oz. tube head. I was nose-hooking the Flukes on a 1/0 drop shot hook with 14# Edge."



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