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NW PA Fishing Report, Aug. 13, 2012

August 22, 2012
By Darl Black ( , Ohio Valley Outdoors

NW PA Fishing Report, Aug. 13, 2012

Sponsored by: and Black Knight Industries, Home of Gamma Line and Wiegel Brothers Marin, Franklin, PA specializing in jet boats, kayaks and canoes.

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

Kevin Sari and son Reece with a 19.5 inch smallmouth bass on Allegheny River.

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

French Creek flowing through all four counties

Note: French Creek remains at a low flow with unusually high aquatic weed growth in many sections of the stream.

Fact Box

Crawford County

Pymatuning Lake

Note: Several tackle shop owners have remarked the lake is so low that a number of boat ramps cannot be used.

Chris Hall (Espyville Outdoors) "The water level is very low. The official word is the lake is 28 inches below summer pool. I think anyone who knows anything about the lake can see the level is lower than that."

Mike Martin (Cochranton) filed 8/5: "My wife Judy and I floated from Utica downstream about 3 miles on Tuesday, July 31. We only landed 4 smallmouth bass but they were all nice fish. All bass were caught on Yum Dingers. The water level was still quite low even after last week's rain."

Dustin Shay (Meadville) filed 8/7: "My daughter and I caught 12 nice crappies from a deep French Creek hole on August 2. All fish were taken on tubes and micro jigs baits resembling fry minnows. On August 7, Darl Black and I fished French around Meadville for smallmouth, but only managed a couple small bass. Early overcast felt like it should have been a better bite but decent fish were not feeding."

Crawford County

Article Links

Pymatuning Lake

Note: Several tackle shop owners have remarked the lake is so low that a number of boat ramps cannot be used.

Chris Hall (Espyville Outdoors) filed 8/13: "The water level is very low. The official word is the lake is 28 inches below summer pool. I think anyone who knows anything about the lake can see the level is lower than that. I would say the lake is down 36 to 42 inches. There are places that I wade in the spring that right now would not get my ankles wet. Regardless of the level, anglers who have gotten out have reported decent success. Numerous anglers have reported decent walleye bite in 12 to 14-feet of water. Most 'eye success has been when drifting with worm harnesses and floating jigheads. Some reports of Hot N'Tots and Bombers producing walleye as well. Crappies have been reported along the causeway. Most crappies success is a minnow under a bobber, along with some on jig-n-minnow, too. Perch have been reported off Billy Q. "WE NEED SOME RAIN!"

Dave Richter (Richter's General Store) filed 8/13: "Dedicated anglers are catching crappies in 16 to 25 feet of water on brush structures. Some anglers are getting walleye on crawler harnesses during the day, but the better bite is after 9 PM. Still getting lots of channel cats right at dusk. Rumors of several musky taken in past couple weeks, but we do not have first-hand reports on these fish."

Norman Brakeman (Hills County Store) filed 8/13: "I got out bass fishing on Pymatuning for just under two hours one day last week. I caught three nice largemouth bass in very shallow water under pontoon boats that still had water under them. The biggest fish was right at 5 pounds and the other two were around 4 pounds. All bass came on a black/blue tube. Getting lots of customer complaints about trouble launching due to low water. Instead of ramps back in the bays, I suggest they try the old Orchard ramp right on the main lake below the causeway on the PA side."

Jimmy and Dawn Whitley (Franklin) filed 8/8: "Attached are pictures of channel cats taken by Jimmy near Linesville on August 2 just after dusk. The fish were taken on live chubs and nightcrawlers. The smaller cats were hitting a crawler; the large one took a chub. We were fishing out of Linesville near the first island. Water was maybe 4 to 8 feet deep with stumps sticking up all around. We tried to get over to the Spillway to try to hook a big carp, but we ran aground and decided to turn back. We need rain!"

Ken Smith (Sharon) filed 8/9: "I fished Pymatuning near the Jamestown launch area on Tuesday, August 7. I found the crappies hanging out pretty shallow for this time of year. I caught most fish in 6 to 8 feet of water, fishing a jig and bobber combo a 1/32-ounce Road Runner with a Southern Pro Stringer grub."

Sugar Lake

Bill Logan (Pleasantville) filed 8/12: "I fished Sugar on Wednesday, catching 7 largemouths and missing a bunch on every soft plastic lure I tried on the back of a jig. The bite was steady, but rather slow."

Canadohta Lake

Sara VanTassel (Timberland Bait) filed 8/13: "Our 6th Annual Kids Fishing Derby at our bait shop pond this past weekend was a huge success. We had 77 kids participate. The winners were:

Lucas Leech (age 8) for 9-inch perch; 3-way tie with a 8-1/4" sunfish from Jake Coughenour (11), Scot Watson (11) and Howie Hammond (11); Alex Boylan (12) for 12-1/4" crappie; 2-way tie for smallmouth bass with Ashton Mineo (7) and Emily Leehard (11); 2-way tie for 14-1/2" largemouth bass with Nathan Soliwoda (11) and Jake Coughenour (11); Jordan Shaffer (6) for 11-inch rock bass; Alex Boylan (12) for painted turtle. See photo of all participants."

Jerry VanTassel (Timberland Bait): "Dead fish floating in Canadohta Lake were not from a fish kill, but rather fish transported from Tamarack Lake to Canadohta during salvage operation."

Tamarack Lake

Note: Area anglers are lamenting the loss of Tamarack Lake the largest Fish Commission owned lake and one of the best warmwater fisheries in the state. Following a several foot-draw down from last winter through summer due to leaks in the dam, anglers still could fish the lake as repairs were determined. However, within the last two weeks, additional leaks were discovered, and the lake has been closed to all fishing and boating. Fish salvage was attempted, with fish taken to Woodcock and Canadohta however numbers of the stressed fish did not survive the transport and could be observed on the shorelines of both Woodcock and Canadohta. The lake will be drained an additional several feet. Rough estimates are offered on costs and time frame to fix dams, but at present time the Fish Commission has no funds to undertake the work. What once was an excellent largemouth bass, trophy walleye and an unbelievable musky fishery in the 1980s/1990s is no more.

Erie County

Lake Erie

Jeff Staaf (Poor Richards Bait) filed 8/13: "We've had a big blow the last couple days, but things are settling down today. Perch reports are very good in about 49 feet of water just west of Walnut this morning already; golden shiners are producing perch because emeralds are not available right now. The walleye will take a day or two longer to start biting again, but they had been catching them anywhere from 35 feet to the Trenches 62 to 67 feet was a key area before the blow. Worm harnesses, plugs and even a few walleyes on trolling spoons."

Mike Tome (B.A.C. Bait) filed 8/13: "Out on the lake, walleye and perch are still biting; small golden shiners for perch, and deep diving Reef Runners for walleyes. We have 30 different colors in Reef Runner plugs so be sure to stop by and we can point you to the hottest fish-catching colors."

Joe Nichols (Underground Angler) filed 8/13: "We fished Lake Erie out of North East on Friday. We managed to do pretty good even though the trolling motor was acting up. Water temp was 76 degrees and air temp was in the mid-70s. Bass were active we caught them on crankbaits, jerkbaits and topwater in much shallower water than most folks were fishing. Smallmouths came from a 7 to 15-foot break, plus a few bass in 18 to 20 feet. We landed over a dozen bass."

Mike Martin (Cochranton) filed 8/12: "Last weekend, my wife and our friend Chuck Papinchak went perch fishing at Erie on a head boat for an evening trip. Bite started slow, but picked up once they found the fish. Everyone on the boat limited out before dark. My wife and I were using salted minnows."

Thomas Watral (Erie) filed 8/10: "I fished out of Shades Beach in 45 feet of water with a neighbor in his boat. We did very well on perch with both of us getting limits; fish ranged from 10 to 15 inches. We caught the perch on Eagle Claw Perch Rigs with Glow Beads and tipped with shiners. When the perch bite slowed, walleyes started hitting the same rigs and we caught 8 nice ones with the biggest one going 28 inches. It seems there has been a mix of species in that area lately."

Chub Hornstein (Meadville) filed 8/10: "Judy and I fished out of Walnut Creek on August 8th. We fished 49 feet, catching our limits of nice perch (60 keepers) in hour and 15 minutes. The day before, Glen Thompson and I fished the same area and caught out limit in 2.5 hours."

Bryan Stuyvesant (Meadville) filed 8/9: "My nephew from Kittanning was up on Wednesday, so Colin and I took him perch fishing to Erie. The perch bite was strong with non-stop action in 48 feet of water. We had our 3-person limit of 90 fish by 9 AM. We were using shiners on Bear Paw rigs."

John Fuhrmann (Phoenix, AZ) filed 8/8: "I'm back visiting for the summer and enjoying super catches of Lake Erie walleyes by sweeping Erie Dearies in 20 to 30 feet of water and plenty of perch, as well. Went to an inland lake the other day, had a ball fishing frogs along lily pads. We boated 10 largemouth bass and missed many more. Biggest was 5 pounds. We also caught a 38" musky and a 36" pike."

Presque Isle Bay

Mike Tome (B.A.C. Bait) filed 8/13: "There is a little bit of everything biting in the Bay right now. There are reports of crappie on the North Pier, channel cats in Marina Lake, and largemouth bass along the deep weed edge."

Thomas Watral (Erie) filed 8/13: "I went down to the South Pier this morning for a few hours. I had one rod set for crappie and one rigged for bass. Using a crawfish-colored tube jig, I had lots of luck on smallmouth by the rocks casting it out and letting it sink to the bottom and jigging it slowly. Then I walked down the pier to the orange thing, cast out with a 2-hook rig baited with salted shiners and caught 15 nice crappies with the biggest going 12 inches."

Bill Logan (Pleasantville) filed 8/12: "Tuesday at PIB started out slow. In 4.5 hours, I caught 4 largemouth bass on a Rapala Clackin' Rap and 1 on a Zoom Lizard. Then a Strike King Spinnerbait pulled over a drop off yielded 10 largemouth bass in 1.5 hours!"

Thomas Watral (Erie) filed 8/10: "I went to the Border Patrol Dock to see what was biting. They were getting some very nice crappies right before dark. A man using a Mini Foo Jig suspended about 4 feet below a bobber and tipping the jig with a shiner was doing the best. He had 25 nice crappies, with the biggest about 11 inches. I saw a few smallmouth bass caught from time to time on nightcrawlers."

Union City Reservoir

Jerry VanTassel (Timberland Bait) filed 8/13: "They re-opened Union City Reservoir after doing some work up there. Ryan Tripp of Union City celebrated the opening by catching a 22-inch 6 lb. 4 oz. largemouth bass! That is one BIG bass!"

Mercer County

Shenango Lake and River

Laurie Frantz (R&L Bait) filed 8/13: "With the storms last week, fishing activity had slowed. But it picked up in the last few days. Reports are positive on a mixture of panfish at Shenango Lake. However, the catfish bite seems to have slowed some, but not before Johnny Woolensack brought in a 31", 11 lbs. 1.6 oz. channel cat. I've also included a picture of that big musky taken two weeks ago from the Shenango River above the dam by Chuck Kinney it was 46.5", 30 lbs. 10.4 oz. We are now handling the hand-tied bucktails that Kinney used to catch the musky. Another customer caught a big largemouth from Pymatuning that is now leading our shop's contest but I cannot recall the exact size right now because I'm not in the shop for the records." (See Livewell)

Lacy Frantz (R&L Bait) filed 8/10: "I been busy building my house, so I have not been fishing lately, except one evening when I caught a carp and some panfish at the lake. But customers have reported striped bass, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass at Shenango, plus big crappies at Pymatuning."

Ernie Pate (Butler) filed 8/10: "I fished Federation Nation Tournament last weekend at Shenango. Fishing was not great water level is down a couple feet. Bite was decent on jigs and crankbaits during the week when they were pulling water but not on tournament day. Participants that did best in tournament caught their fish shallow I mean very shallow. I haven't been to Lake Wilhelm in three weeks. Last I heard it was still fishing tough. I'm starting to think by lack of deep bites at these lakes that maybe there is a lack of oxygen at depths which is forcing fish shallower or making them inactive."

Ken Smith (Sharon) filed 8/10: "I generally avoid fishing Shenango from mid-July through mid-August due to boat traffic. At this time of year, the skiers, jet skis and pleasure boat traffic starts as early as 7:30 AM even on weekdays. Pymatuning is very close and a lot more relaxing to fish right now. I'll get back to Shenango after Labor Day."

Venango County

Allegheny River

Jeff Knapp (Keystone Connection Guide Service) filed 8/13: "River smallmouth bass fishing continues to be good. We're catching nice numbers of smallmouth bass and plenty of bonus walleyes by fishing fast current areas with both hard and soft jerkbaits and soft stickbaits. Floating grass is a nuisance. It will likely get worse as the water cools and daylight level diminishes, and subsurface weed growth dies off."

Chuck Sari (Franklin) filed 8/13: "My son Kevin and I went fishing on the Allegheny River Saturday morning. We caught 15 smallmouth bass and three walleyes. All were caught on Rapala SR5 crankbait in various colors. My brother and a buddy were fishing in another boat; they caught 13 bass and a northern pike. I was talking with another fisherman on Saturday morning who was fishing live chubs; they landed 25 bass but no walleye. The river was a bit cloudy and the weeds were not as bad as last time I was out. No pictures I forgot my camera. We have been fishing the river twice a week all summer and the fishing has been as good as it has ever been, but weeds have made it tuff at times."

Lou Letterle (Franklin) filed 8/10: "My kids and I fished the Allegheny River a couple times in the last few days. We caught some bass then we swam a little, then caught some bass, then swam a little more, etc. I have enclosed pictures of Brandi and Corey holding fish, and one picture taken underwater while Brandi was releasing a bass. We had been fishing with riffle runners, but surprisingly the smallmouth bass were not overly interested in the bait. We actually did better with soft jerkbaits especially the Trigger X Jerkbait in Baby Bass pattern." (See Livewell)

Chuck Sari (Franklin) filed 8/2: "My son Kevin, my five year old grandson Reece and I went fishing last week on the Allegheny River. We had our best day of the year for size of bass. We caught 22 bass with several over 16 inches and one whopper at 19.5 inches. We also caught four legal walleyes with the largest going 21 inches. All fish were caught and released. We used Rapala SR5 crankbait with silver being the best color. We also caught what I believe to be a shad; picture attached. It was 13 inches long and hit a Rapala SR5"

Editor's note: I was uncertain of the fish species in the photo supplied by Chuck, so I sent it to Area Fishery Manager Tim Wilson who identified it as a mooneye (Hiodon tergisus). "A species still present in the Allegheny River in enough numbers to not be considered a threatened or endangered candidate, although this is the first I've heard of one being caught by an angler. Excellent picture, Chuck; I wish all anglers sent in this quality of picture for fish ID," says Wilson.

Doug Fischer, Nongame Fisheries Biologist with PFBC out of Bellefonte, added the following: "Pretty cool catch and I agree with Tim on the picturethanks for sharing. As far as I am aware, this is the furthest upriver record of mooneye in the Allegheny. Unlike the Ohio basin, mooneye has seemingly declined in Lake Erie. The last one taken from the PA waters of Erie (again, that I know of) was on hook and line from Thompson Bay, Presque Isle in 1984. The specimen is at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center biological collection. There are accounts of skipjack herring readily taking lures in the Ohio River and it seem that the similar diet of hiodontids makes them susceptible to angling too," concludes Fischer.

Well, Chuck's catch certainly added to our knowledge base on the Allegheny. Thanks for sending the picture, and thanks to the PFBC biologists for the information.


Steve Hughes: I use 16-pound Gamma Edge to throw a Bomber Fat Free Shad crankbait along deep weedlines. This is a much heavier line than most anglers would use for a crankbait. However, with a heavy line and stout rod, you can burn the crankbait right down the weedline as close to it as you can get. When the bait gets buried in weeds and it will you can rip it out. This ripping action often triggers the strike. By fishing parallel to the weedline you will find all the irregularities in the weedline that hold fish. This has been good for me on several area lakes with deep weedlines.


Darl Black: Late summer on rivers and creeks, the simple 4" blunt end stick worm can be dynamite bait for smallmouth bass when fished as drift bait without additional weight. Many of our river contributors comment on using it, including Dale Black, Chris Wolfgong, Jeff Knapp, Mike Martin and myself. Many refer to it as 'Dinger' fishing. Some years ago when we started using this sinking worms, we rigged them Texas style on a wide gap hook. Today, most river rats simply nose hook the worm. While I have used a #1/0 circle hook successfully with these worms, I also use a #1 drop-shot hook, setting the hook quickly rather than letting the fish pull the line tight as with a circle hook. I prefer fishing weightless stick worms with 10 -pound braid with a 2-foot 10-pound Gamma Edge leader.


August 25 - Walt's Tavern Bass Buddy Tournament, Conneaut Lake; info at

September 1 - PFBC's Family Fishing Program, Goddard State Park; info at

September 16 - FOP River Bass Tournament; info from Eric Heil

October 6 & 7 - Antlers and Anglers; info from Joan Kocan

October 14 - Second FPO River Bass Tournament; info from Eric Heil

November 10 - ORA Gun Raffle, Franklin Elks; info 814-677-3152 ext. 110



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