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NW PA Fishing Report, Sept. 10, 2012

September 12, 2012
By Darl Black , Ohio Valley Outdoors

NW PA Fishing Report, Sept. 10, 2012

This report is provided by Darl Black and several sponsors: PA Great Lakes Region tourism; Black Knight Industries, home of Gamma Line and Wiegel Brothers Marine, Franklin. Connect to all counties at www.PaGreatLakes.comwww.

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

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Marilyn Black (Cochranton) “Darl and I went fishing for photos on the river Sunday morning with live bait for a couple hours. The floating weeds pretty much prevented us from fishing artificial lures, and those floaters kept clogging the jet every time we moved. We managed a brace of nice smallmouth on 5” creek chubs, with the larger bass a little over 3 pounds.”

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.

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

Fact Box

Lake Wilhelm

Bob Mohra (Fergie's Bait) "Finally! Wilhelm bass are turning on for anglers! Quite a few big bass are being caught, most reports say spinnerbait and buzz baits; white or black are productive colors."

French Creek Flowing through all four counties

Dustin Shay (Meadville) filed 9/9 : "I've been gathering bait from French Creek in order to fish for both smallmouth bass and catfish both seining hellgrammites and catching creek minnows with hook-n-line. Evening catfish trips have not been productive. But on the other hand, daytime smallmouth bass fishing sure has been great. Over the Labor Day Holiday weekend, my family and I caught and released a lot of smallmouths with every fish taken on live bait (hellgrammites, riffle minnows, chubs and shiners). On Saturday and Sunday, September 1st and 2nd, I alone caught between 85 and 90 smallmouth during four separate trips to different sections of French Creek. Most of the bass were less than 13 inches, but four of them were in the 2.5 to 3 pound range. Justin Shay caught the largest smallmouth just over 3 pounds."

Isaak Hornstein, age 8 (Conneaut Lake) filed 9/3 : "During my grandpa's fish fry on Sunday along French Creek, I went over by the edge of the water by the tent and I got my fishing pole. I used a little Storm Minnow, I casted it out, and I felt something strong, and I thought it was a snag, but it wasn't because I saw the fish jump out of the water. I reeled it in and when I got my fish on land, it fell off my hook and was rolling down the bank towards the water but I ran over and got on my knees and I wrestled to stop it from flopping. I put my thumb in its mouth and I held it up. I walked around to show it to everybody but I was looking for you, but you had already left. It was a 10 inch smallmouth bass. And today I used my new special worms that you gave me, and I had a huge fish on and I reeled in but it came off."

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Jeffrey Rushe (Meadville) filed 9/3 : "On Sunday, September 2nd, we attended Chub and Judy's Annual Fish Fry along French Creek. After dinner, my 5 year old wanted to fish. Despite the low and clear conditions, he was able to find one hungry little fellow that hit a size #2 Mepps Minnow. This was his first French Creek smallmouth and I hope he has many more in his future. Needless to say, the tug on the end of the line put a big smile on his face."

Crawford County

Pymatuning Lake

Dave Richter (Richter's General Store) filed 9/10 : "It may sound a bit like a broken record, but there are not a lot of people fishing Pymatuning because they have been scared off regarding all the talk of low water. The truth: launching is the problem not the fishing. Most boats will have problems at all ramps except Jamestown Marina and the ramp near Duck & Drake on the Ohio side, but if you keep your outboard tilted up and use the electric motor to move away from the ramp, you can use several other ramps on the lake as well. Water is low, but the fish are still biting. I had a number of reports of nice crappies being caught in both shallow and deep water this past week, including black crappies in 5 to 6 feet of water around weedbeds. Walleyes are being taken on crawlers and on blade baits. Yes, blade bait season is starting! One customer stopped by with 19-3/4 inch smallmouth a nice one for Pymatuning. Muskies were beginning to hit two weeks ago, but no reports on them this past week. Better bites are yet to come!"

Ken Smith (Sharon) filed 9/7 : "I fished Pymatuning on 9/4. It was a tough day starting out. The fish had moved from all my usual spots, both shallow and deep. I didn't give up. I kept searching previous spots that I had marked on my GPS until I found a nice pod of crappies. They were deep deeper than I've fished for them since the last ice season. Hang-glided a Southern Pro Jig and Berkley Power Minnow just above the drop into deeper water and managed to put 20 keepers in the cooler with all but five fish over 11 inches. It rained most of the morning that day. Last week I fished Pymatuning back on 8/31 with my buddy Tim Oden of Farrell. We were hang-gliding Southern Pro Jigs in 6 to 14 feet over brush and picked up 35 keepers and half a dozen perch."

Norman Brakeman (Hills Country Store) filed 9/5 : "Hooker here at Hills Country Store. I took a client (Chad) out on Pymatuning for bass this week. Shortly after starting to cast a buzzbait around some floating docks, Chad put a feisty 2 pound largemouth in the boat. We fished scattered weeds, rocks and stumps, adding a couple more medium size fish. The decision was made to return to the docks and fish the only overhead cover around. Pitching Berkley Havoc baits around and under the man-made structures produced a limit of 3 to 4-pound bass. Excellent morning by any standard."

Jim Melvin (Greenville) filed 9/4 : "On Thursday (8/30) I went bass fishing to Pymatuning's North end. My wife went with me to catch up on some reading and get some rays. Late start, breezy and bluebird skies fishing was tough. Grinded out 7 bass by pitching soft plastics to wood. Biggest was 3.5 pounds; lost two decent fish. Fished Pymatuning again on Saturday 9/1; I got there right at daybreak perfect conditions with overcast and little to no wind. Goose hunters were everywhere I planned to fish. Fishing was tougher than expected. I figured they would be all over the frog in the pads and weeds. I only managed 6 or 7 bass in the boat. I think all of them came on a Stanley Ribbit Frog. Biggest was a little over 4 pounds. I had another one that was between 3.5 and 4 lbs. Had 3 good fish blow up on the Frog but they did not take it. Normally I can catch those fish throwing a Senko or Fluke as a follow-up bait but for some reason they would not bite again. Flipping bite on Saturday was non-existent. Not sure what had those fish in a negative mood given the conditions. Must have been pressure related at least that is the excuse I'll use. Water level at Pymatuning has not improved at all. It is becoming increasingly difficult to launch at Linesville."

Conneaut Lake

Chris Hall (Espyville Outdoors) filed 9/10 : "The hottest news I have is the consistent reports of big bluegill biting on small minnows at Conneaut Lake in 20 to 25 feet of water."

Marilyn Black (Cochranton) filed 9/5: "I've fished Conneaut twice in the past two weeks. Our catches have been lower than expected even for September. Darl and I caught a few largemouth bass on Winco's Solid Body River Darter and drop-shot rigs, along with several 18 to 24 inch pike on a variety of lures including drop shot. Darl was testing a variety of drop-shot baits, and is convinced that the Lunker City Ribster Worm is one of the best baits he ever put on a drop-shot rig. Smaller pike are on terror right now. I'm hoping the white bass, crappies and big bluegills get going on Conneaut soon. Later in the fall, we look forward to catching some big smallmouth on the lake."

Canadohta Lake

Jerry VanTassel (Timberland Bait) filed 9/10 : "Nothing to report out this way. Bait shop open only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We will be closing in October until ice season."

Woodcock Lake

Darl Black (Cochranton) filed 9/2: On Saturday evening, Marilyn and I headed to Woodcock Lake with high expectations for a late evening smallmouth bite. Cloud cover, slight breeze and an approaching front would seem to be a good recipe. However, after 2 hours plus of casting topwater and fishing drop-shot worms to 20 feet (marked thermocline), with only one very small smallmouth to show we called it quits just after dark. Water was being drawn down rapidly in preparation for the rain headed our direction."

Sugar Lake

Bill Logan (Pleasantville) filed 9/2 : "On 9/1, I fished Sugar Lake. Caught 3 small bass, and a good one, and missed several more fish. While I was casting for musky, a boat trolling by hooked and landed a big fish."

Erie County

Lake Erie

Jeff Staaf (Poor Richards Bait) filed 9/10 : "Perch are still hitting in 55 to 65 feet of water off Walnut Creek and Trout Run. Trollers are picking up a few walleye in 60 feet of water, as well as the occasional steelhead. There are a few steelhead showing in the evenings at the mouths of the tributaries and once in a while someone catches one. Had one steelhead in the shop this morning and a couple fish in last week. Not enough steelhead in to get excited about or drive from down statebut the steelhead fishing will be here soon!"

Joe Nichols (Underground Angler) filed 9/10 : "Went up to fish smallmouth on the main lake over the weekend. Weather had look questionable, but glad we went. Water temp was round 76 degrees and air was in the low 80s. Turned out to be a beautiful day. We fished the main lake in depths from 25 feet to 10 feet, and managed to catch 20 nice bass. Actually started the day using the Silent Fat Free Shad, and unfortunately lost it to zebra mussels. But the crankbait put me on the pattern for the day. We tried everything from tubes to hair jigs, blade baits, etcwith no success. However, bass absolutely inhaled crankbaits in deep water the minute the plug made contact with anything. We tried different depths but found that fish were most aggressive on crankbaits deeper than 14 feet. We even caught a couple walleyes, too. We really enjoyed coming into the Bay after dark with the city lights in the background."

Dan Shay (Meadville) filed 9/9 : "I'm still running to Erie for perch. The catches are excellent best in years with lots of big fish being taken right now. Our average size has been running 10 to 12 inches with some perch as big as 14 inches. We are now fishing 54 feet on the West side, a little shallower than last week when the schools were in 60 feet."

Thomas Watral (Erie) filed 9/4 : "Went out perch fishing with my neighbor. We went straight out from Shades Beach boat launch to 60 feet. All the perch we landed were 12 to 14 inches. They were hitting small tube jigs and shiners on Eagle Claw Crappie rigs. We caught 55 perch. Not much action in PIB until water cools next month."

Presque Isle Bay

Thomas Watral (Erie) filed 9/7 : "I went to the docks to fish for bass. I had lots of luck on the west side casting out 20 feet using crawfish tubes and Trout Magnets fished on 8-pound Zebco line. I caught 8 smallmouth bass with the biggest one over 20 inches, and lost another nice fish when it broke my line."

Filed 9/5: "Fished for bass today. Had 3 bass on lost one, landed two. Used Yum Tube baits in chartreuse. Had another rod rigged for panfish with Berkley Power Bait Grub in white; caught 30 sunfish. Not big fish, but a fun day on Bay. Practicing for steelhead season."

Bill Logan (Pleasantville) filed 9/2 : "I fished the Bay on Thursday as well as one day a week ago. Did poorly; I had five and six bass respectively. Wind and waves were mostly good, but the bite was not there."

Mercer County

Lake Wilhelm

Bob Mohra (Fergie's Bait) filed 9/10 : "Finally! Wilhelm bass are turning on for anglers! Quite a few big bass are being caught, most reports say spinnerbait and buzz baits; white or black are productive colors. I had four largemouths over 20 inches brought in this week. Anglers are still catching bluegills on red worms and wax worms."

Jim Melvin (Greenville) filed 9/4 : "Labor Day Monday I decided to give Wilhelm another whirl; I had been avoiding the lake since our club tournament there in mid-June. I managed a total of four bass in the boat with the biggest going about 4 pounds. Could not buy a bite off wood; all bites came from around weeds. Berkley Chigger Craw, Reaction Innovation Sweet Beaver and a small homemade jig got all the bites. The fishery at Wilhelm has certainly changed over the last few years. Not what it used to be."

Mike Horrobin (Jigger Tackle) filed 9/3: "I finally got my boat in the water in time for fall fishing my favorite. I ran over to Wilhelm. Although I marked lots of fish, I only caught a couple little bass. I'll be fishing some other lakes after the holiday."

Neshannock Creek

Bob Shuey (Neshannock Creek Fly Shop) filed 9/10: "We are on our fall and winter hours now. Open six days a week from 9 AM to 5 PM, except Wednesdays from 10 AM to 5 PM. We are closed Sundays until first weekend of March 2013. Call us regarding hatches taking place on Neshannock Creek or check our website."

Shenango Lake and River

Laurie Frantz (R&L Bait n Tackle) filed 9/10 : "Things are finally starting to pick up here again. Even though the water levels are still extremely low, the temperature has cooled off and fish are starting to bite again. Several folks have reported catching crappie on jigheads with curly tails, while others are having success on small flathead minnows. Shiners are still the main bait for pike being caught in Otter Creek and the Shenango River below the dam in Sharpsville. Several walleye have been caught along the old riverbed in Shenango Lake on Storm Hot'n Tots while trolling in 10 feet of water. There have been several nice-size stripers caught along the causeway. It feels so nice to have something to report. Expect things to only get better as we move into fall. Word of advice for those who fish the Shenango River at the Big Bend Accesswater is very low and you can see rocks that have not been visible for years, but if you venture up that way there are several nice river holes holding pretty nice fish."

Ken Smith (Sharon) filed 9/3 : "On the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, I fished Shenango Lake to see where the crappies were. Found them in 9 to 11 feet in a stump field. They have not moved out to the ledges yet but expect it will be soon. Southern Pro Jigs did the job as I was hang-gliding the jigs over brushpiles. Caught a lot of small crappies but managed to put a dozen keepers in the box."

Venango County

Allegheny River

Jeff Knapp (Keystone Connection Guide Service) filed 9/10 : "Smallmouth fishing on the southern Venango County section of the Allegheny continues to be quite good. My most recent guide trips have produced 35 to 40 bass per day in the boat, along with a lot of fish that jumped off. On my last trip we had at least half-dozen fish in the 15 to 18 inch class. Rapala XRaps are taking the highest number of fish, though Winco's Solid Body River Darter accounted for most of the bigger ones. Grass is an issue, one likely to get worse before it gets better. Though there's a lot of floating and free-drifting grass, since the river is low and warm, most of the 'biting' fish are in the mid-river areas where there are fewer weeds. As the water cools and fish move into slower, shoreline related eddies and pockets, it'll be tougher to get to them. These are the areas that collect a lot of weeds in late September and October as the cover dies off. Of course a period of high water could scour things out."

Lou Letterle (Franklin) filed 9/10 : "My family and I fished the river on Sunday afternoon for a couple hours. We caught a dozen or so small fish, but the weeds made fishing very difficult. For the first time since spring, most of our fish were caught on jig-type lures, particularly grubs. All bass were 12 inches or less. We hooked 'balls' of weeds on most casts. I had to shut the motor down a number of times to remove weeds. I'm going to give the river a break for a while until a good rain flushes some of the floaters from the river."

Chuck Sari (Franklin) filed 9/10 : "Along with my son and grandson, I fished the river from Franklin to Belmar on Sunday morning. We caught 25 smallmouth bass all on live riffle minnows and chubs caught in French Creek. We've been averaging 25 to 30 smallmouths each trip out in recent weeks, with all fish taken on live bait. Can't fish much other than live bait with all the floating weeds; especially cannot use the crankbaits that that had been catching bass and walleye for us a month ago."

Marilyn Black (Cochranton) filed 9/10 : "Darl and I went fishing for photos on the river Sunday morning with live bait for a couple hours. The floating weeds pretty much prevented us from fishing artificial lures, and those floaters kept clogging the jet every time we moved. We managed a brace of nice smallmouth on 5" creek chubs, with the larger bass a little over 3 pounds."

Gene Winger (Oil City) filed 9/10 : "My fishing buddy George Sisul and I fished the Allegheny between Oil City and Franklin on Thursday, 9/6. The morning started a little slow but once the fog lifted and the sun came out, we started catching bass on Winco's Laminated Wacky Worms and Winco's Solid Body River Darters. By mid-afternoon we had landed over 30 bass with most in the 2.5 to 3 pound range, and few over 17 inches. The Wacky Worm works great when there are lots of weeds in the river; we would just shoot for the openings in the weeds and the bass would usually hit on the first 2 or 3 feet of the drop. The 4.75" River Darter is excellent in shallow water with rock structure and weedbeds; in addition to bass, George managed a couple walleye on them, too. With the cold front forecast for the weekend, we debated which day would be best Thursday or Friday. I'm glad we chose Thursday because when I fished by myself on Friday morning things were pretty slow, picking only 5 bass. Al Winco once told me that when there's a cold front moving in, get out on the river one or two days before it hits. Good call, Al!"

Mike Horrobin (Jigger Tackle) filed 9/3 : "Most of what I've seen Labor Day weekend was smallmouth activity on both French Creek and the River. Riffle Runners seemed to be the bait of choice. One of the fly-rod guys got into some smallies on a custom crawfish I tied for him; he likes the hook up position. I also heard of some walleye being taken."

Ernie Pate (Butler) filed 9/3 : "My buddy Rob Papp caught a 17 pound catfish on 6 lb. line while fishing for smallies down river a ways."

Steve Udick (Oil City) filed 9/2 : "On Thursday, 8/30, I fished with Mark Miller of Meadville. We fished several eddies upriver from Oil City. We had a good bite, catching several bass over weedbeds with Zoom Super Flukes. Fish were in the 15 to 17 inch range. Checking some deeper waters, we switched to a 4" Mizmo Green Pumpkin Tube and on the second cast I caught my best bass of the summer a 20.5 inch beauty. (See Livewell) On Saturday, 9/1, I fished with Dave Marczak from Edinboro. We fished the Giant Eagle eddy which was completely full of grass. It was nearly impossible to retrieve a lure so we switched to dragging tubes at current speed. We only managed six bass in two hours. With the moon full, we fished the noon bite. Dave caught this nice 17 inch smallmouth on a Right Bite Green Pumpkin/Orange Flake Tube with Gamma Polyflex 10 pound line."

Justus Lake

Bill Logan (Pleasantville) filed 9/6 : "On Justus Lake today, I caught 5 small bass and lost a hawg! The big fish hit a Strike King Spinnerbait and the wire snapped below the knot. The bass took the bottom and I got the shaft!"

Kahle Lake

Chris Wolfgong (Oil City) filed 9/4 : "I hit Kahle Lake yesterday with my Dad and Dale Black. My dad and I each caught two bass and lost numerous others. Dale caught at least 8, and then quit counting. All bass came on topwater frogs both buzz frogs and hollow belly frogs, including Booyah Pad Crasher and Live Target Frog. I was using the new 30 pound Gamma Torque braided line. Not a bad night."

Gamma Line's Fishing Tips and Forecast for NW PA Waters

GAMMA PRO TIP: Chris Wolfgong of Oil City is a member of the Gamma Field Staff responsible for testing new lines before they are brought to market. Gamma is about to launch a new braid called Torque. "It is important for anglers to recognize the immense differences in the types of lines on the market today. Those differences

really came into play during a frog fishing trip to Kahle Lake this week. I was using the new Gamma Torque braided line and my dad was fishing with Gamma Polyflex. The no stretch in the braid allows for better hook penetration when you set the hook. When a bass took a frog, I had a higher hook up percent-

age than my dad did. He lost numerous fish that he thought were 'hooked' only to come off. The stretch in the Polyflex didn't let him drive the hook home on the long casts over slop. Another advantage is braid floats while fluorocarbon sinks; monofilament will float but sinks rather easily. Torque floats, allowing the

frog to set naturally on the surface and provide a better hookset. Monofilament and fluorocarbon have their place in fishing, but when it comes to frog fishing Gamma Torque braid is the way to go."

CONTRIBUTOR TIP: Ken Smith of Sharon is crappie fishing royalty in Northwest Pennsylvania. Known for a jig presentation he calls hang-gliding, he mentions it frequently in the Fishing Report. "In Hang-Gliding, I locate deep bottom cover like a big brushpile with my sonar, lower my lines straight down to a depth where the jigs are sitting just above the top of the cover and lay the rods against the boat's gunnel. Then I use the bow trolling motor to continually circle the submerged cover, keeping the jigs at the correct depth all the time. The main tip for hang-gliding success is speed. Finding the right speed to more your baits above the brush to trigger the bite is key. Too slow and your jigs will hang up. Too fast and crappies won't chase it. Once tuned in, you'll have great results."

For his Contributor's Tip this week, Ken Smith receives a spool of Gamma line.


September 16 FOP River Bass Tournament; info Eric Heil

September 30 Shenango River Paddlefest; Pymatuning Outflow to Greenville; info 724-927-9483

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

October 14 Second FOP River Bass Tournament; info



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