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NW PA Fishing Report, Sept. 24, 2012

October 1, 2012
By Darl Black , Ohio Valley Outdoors

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 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.

French Creek Flowing through all four counties

Article Photos

Marilyn Black holds a nice smallmouth, taken with a Winco River Darter.

Jeff Rushe (Cranberry Township) filed 9/24: "Being a beautiful afternoon on Friday 9/21, a group of us decided to take advantage of the weather and make a combination kayak float/fishing trip for a couple hours. Four of us floated about a mile of French Creek just north of Venango. We caught several smallmouth bass. We used everything from Panther Martin spinners to live minnows. The bass were typically found in the deeper pockets along the bottom or on weed edges. Despite only one sizeable fish being landed, we caught a dozen in the 10" range all put up a nice fight!"

Mike Martin (Cochranton) filed 9/23: "John and I fished from Saegertown to Meadville. The water level was very low. John caught the first smallmouth on a tube at the launch before we even got in the kayaks. He caught 4 more bass just below the mouth of Woodcock, and we thought we had a patternbut didn't catch another fish the entire float. Go figure! I really thought we would do better."


Fact Box

Lake Erie

Joe Nichols (Underground Angler) filed 9/24: "I went to Lake Erie last Saturday and had a grand time catching fish on my deepest diving crankbaits. We boated many nice smallmouth, largemouth and walleye. However, be prepared to lose a lot of baits to zebra mussels."

Conneaut Lake

Joe Nichols (Underground Angler) filed 9/24: "I fished Conneaut Lake yesterday because Lake Erie was too rough. I had never been there before, but really had a fun day. Water temperature was 65 degrees and air temperature was in the low 50s. It rained all day. I caught 9 nice bass both largemouth and smallmouth plus 6 or 7 pike. I caught the fish on everything from jigs and tubes to crankbaits and spinnerbaits."

Mike Martin (Cochranton) filed 9/23: "I fished Conneaut Lake on Friday. The catch was one largemouth on a Rebel Pop R and 5 northern pike on a spinnerbait."

Article Links

Mike Horrobin (Jigger Tackle) filed 9/23: "My dad, who lives on Conneaut Lake, was walking his dog over the weekend and observed a guy catch a 27-inch smallmouth from the lake. The guy measured the fish and released it while my dad watched. That is one heck of a nice smallmouth bass!"

Jim Hall (Cochranton) filed 9/22: "I stated fishing again last week after a summer hiatus due to the heat. On Thursday, 9/13, Conneaut Lake temperature was 75 degrees. I caught pike and bass on weed edges. I marked a lot of fish in the 20 to 30 foot range but could not get them to bite. Returned on Sunday, the 15th and caught more pike and bass on curly tail spinner jigs. Other fish were still in deep water and water temperature was 73 degrees. I fished Conneaut again on Friday, 9/21 from 8:30 AM until 7:00 PMbut didn't put a fish in the livewell. Water was 68 degrees, fish were still marking deep but scattered in the water column. Wind made fishing difficult. I will be on Conneaut Lake from now until freeze-up especially since I can't launch at Pymatuning any longer. Hope to have some pics soon."

Darl Black (Cochranton) filed 9/21: "I ran over to Conneaut Lake on Friday afternoon for a couple hours to check on possible shallow smallmouth bass activity and to see if the big bluegill were biting. According to sonar, thermocline appeared to be set around 28 feet and there were lots of scattered fish in the 20 to 28 foot depths but after drifting a small hair jig tipped with minnow, I decided nothing down deep was hungry. A couple quick casts to favorite smallmouth points with rattle baits did not produce, so I headed home for dinner."

Pymatuning Lake

Dave Richter (Richter's General Store) filed 9/24: "Nothing happening this past weekend at Pymatuning to get excited about. Weather was lousy, and coupled with low water, not many people fishing. A couple of the regulars say they are catching walleyes on Sonar and Vib-E blade baits chartreuse with red head and shad colors (black/white or blue/white) are doing it right now. Crappies had been biting deep over a week ago until this unsettled weather set it. With recent rains, lake level is holding but not going up."

Chris Hall (Espyville Outdoors) filed 9/24: "With the low water, there is hardly anything going on at this end of the lake. A few guys are picking up some crappies at the causewaybut it's not a consistent bite."

Ken Smith (Sharon) filed 9/22: "I fished Pymatuning Lake on Thursday, 9/20. I caught a very nice mixed bag of panfish. The wind wouldn't let me fish my primary crappie spots so I went to my secondary spots. I found these spots the last time the wind was blowing by drifting while watching my fish-finder and marked every spot that looked like it would and should hold some fish. That work paid off on this trip. I caught crappie, perch and some very nice size bluegills. I got the 'gills real shallow with a jig/bobber combo; caught the crappie and perch deeper by tossing jigs."


Lake Erie

Joe Nichols (Underground Angler) filed 9/24: "I went to Lake Erie last Saturday and had a grand time catching fish on my deepest diving crankbaits. We boated many nice smallmouth, largemouth and walleye. However, be prepared to lose a lot of baits to zebra mussels."

Paul Stewart (Butler) filed 9/17: "I fished Erie for perch off the point on Wednesday through Saturday last week. We got our limit each day. The perch were all nice jumbos in the 10" to 12" size with exception of Saturday when a cold front came thru late Friday and we had to work harder for them the next day and the fish were smaller. Here's a picture of a perch triple my buddy Mike LeDonne landed, plus a pic of my perch, too."

Erie Tributaries

Jeff Staaf (Poor Richards) filed 9/24: "A few steelheads are starting to show up at the creek mouths. With the slightly higher water this week, some steelheads have moved into the creeks but all the fish are north of Rt. 5. Right now the water is murky, but will clear in short order. Anglers are catching the fish in the tributaries on minnows, eggs and skein. Other anglers are casting the lakeshore at the mouths of the creeks with Little Cleo's and KO Wobblers. With this unsettled weather, the lake has been too rough to troll around the creek mouths. Even the perch fishermen have been kept at the dock. This is just the beginning of the steelhead run and better action is ahead. "

Thomas Watral (Erie) filed 9/20: "I talked to a man at the bait stand; he told me there was a nice amount of steelhead in the mouth of Elk and Walnut Creek, and the fish were hitting single eggs and minnows. A few steelheads were seen at the mouth of 20 Mile Creek, too. His biggest steelhead was 27 inches. Let's hope this is the start of a good fall fishing season." (Editor's Note: Thomas provides some of his steelhead tips on the Gamma Tips Page.)

Presque Isle Bay

Thomas Watral (Erie) filed 9/20: "Perch are starting to hit at the North and South Piers on minnows. These perch are running 9 to 10 inches. On 9/17, I stopped by the Border Patrol Building to see how the fishing was. One gentleman was catching nice crappies on minnows."

Marilyn Black (Cochranton) filed 9/16: "We drove to Erie today with two purposes in mind. First objective was to see the film "Mysteries of the Great Lakes" at the TREC Big Green Screen. Second objective, to fish PIB. Good thing the film was well worth the drive 'because the fish in PIB were uncooperative!"


Lake Wilhelm

Bob Mohra (Fergie's) filed 9/24: "I've had numerous reports the last week or so on good largemouth bass fishing finally some exciting news! Largemouth bass brought to the shop this past two weeks ranged from 17 to 21 inches. One young fellow fishing from shore up in the stumps has been catching six or more bass each time out all on a black buzzbait! There are some bluegills being caught, but no crappies or walleyes to speak of."

Joe Nichols (Underground Angler) filed 9/24: "I fished Wilhelm on Friday caught one bass with a black/blue jig."

Shenango Lake and River

Laurie Frantz (R&L Bait & Tackle) filed 9/24: "It was a slow weekend at the shop not many out fishing with all the foul weather, rain and wind. I'm getting reports of crappies from Shenango as well as a few stripers. Largemouth bass are being caught, too, although anglers didn't give specifics. But no walleyes reported from Shenango, and no reports of pike. All species should be getting more active as the water cools through October it's always a good month for crappies in particular."

Ken Smith (Sharon) filed 9/22: "I fished Shenango Lake on Wednesday 9/19. I found smaller crappies biting all over the lake. Most were only 7 to 8 inches but that's a good sign for next spring. I did manage to find a few very nice crappies, including a 13-3/4"; 14-1/2"; and 15-incher. I caught these big ones hang gliding over wood in different areas of the lake. The lake should be turning over soon but with the low water, it may not need to. Bite should be picking up by the time of the next Fishing Report in October."


Allegheny River

Lou Letterle (Franklin) filed 9/24: "My wife Donna and I fished the Allegheny for two hours on Friday morning 9/21. We were one of 5 or 6 boats between the launch in Franklin and Belmar Village. Looks like anglers are getting ready for the great fall fishing. The floating weeds are still present, but the fish were more active. We caught a half dozen bass and a walleye. All bass were caught on stickbaits. Enclosed is a picture of a small walleye caught on a curly-tail grub."

Marilyn Black (Cochranton) filed 9/24: "On Sunday 9/23, Darl and I fished the river south of Franklin for several hours trying to dodge rain showers. It started out slow until we got into a riffle stretch a couple miles south of the launch. Then the action picked up with strike after strike on soft jerkbaits drifting the fast water. Several 10 to 12 inch smallmouths were caught and released. But we put a couple of the bigger bass in the livewell for photos. We stopped to shoot photos after the second drift. But when we went back for a third drift in the same riffle, the bass had turned off. All but two fish came on a nosed-hooked slow-sinking Winco River Darter in white. We tried other soft jerkbaits in different colors without success. During the third drift, we lost the last River Darter and then we didn't have a strike the rest of the morning! Winco rules!"

Gene Winger (Oil City) filed 9/24: "On Thursday morning 9/20, I fished the river between Oil City and Franklin. The first few hours proved very productive, catching several nice-sized bass on Winco's 3" Baby Stickworms. Small baits seemed to the choice of the day. Then the wind changed and what started out as a weed-free river turned into a jungle. After a couple more hours of fighting floaters and no bass, I gave up and limped my way back to the Oil City Marina. On Friday (9/21), George Sisul and I fished from Franklin to the islands below Belmar Bridge. Again, weeds dominated the day but we did manage to pick up several nice bass on Winco Wacky Worms, River Darters and stick baits. I don't know if it was just us, or the effects of the wind and cold front, but the bite was slow and we had to work for each bass. The most excitement of the day was watching a groundhog swim the width of the river, almost running into our boat as he neared shore. Who ever said ground hogs can't swim?"

Chuck Sari (Franklin) filed 9/23: "Kevin, Reece and I fished the river on Saturday morning. The weeds made it very difficult but we still managed to catch nine nice bass, including one 19-incher and four walleyes. All were caught on riffle runners which were caught in French Creek. The weeds are as bad as I've ever seen them. We had to stop many times to clear the water intake on the motor of weeds."

Jeff Knapp (Keystone Connection Guide Service) filed 9/23: "My guide trips continue to be very productive. During a trip a few days ago, we boated numbers of fish with several in the 15 to 19 inch range. This past weekend was slower numbers-wise but we still caught three 17 to 18 inch bass and some smaller ones. During one trip we had two doubles catching two smallies on the same bait (X-Rap) on same cast. X-Raps and Winco's River Darters continue to excel. Floating & drifting weeds continue to be a nuisance in many areas."

Chris Wolfgong (Oil City) filed 9/17: "Dale and I fished from 2 PM to 4 PM on Saturday 9/15, trying to find last minute spots for the FOP tournament on Sunday. We caught a handful of small fish on Dingers and tubes. I landed a nice 19.5" smallmouth on a SPRO Aruku Shad Jr. lipless crankbait fished over the submerged weeds. We had a good tournament day on the 16th, catching numerous 10 to 12 inch bass. Even took two nice rock bass on a tube jig. All bass we caught in the tournament were on tubes, Yum Dingers and nose-hooked Flukes. Our five best fish weighed 13.27 pounds which included a 3.11 pounder. Most of our fish came from fast water."

Darl Black (Cochranton) filed 9/15: "I fished with Dale Black for a couple hours in the afternoon to work on photos for an article. The bite was very slow at first, but as we moved downstream, we found pockets of hungry bass around large rocks in strong current flows. Yum Dingers yielded over a dozen smallmouths up to 16 inches although the floating weeds made fishing a real chore."

Editor's Note: The FOP Allegheny River Bass Tournament on 9/16 was won by Terry Miller and Vanghn Ralston with 15.41 pounds. Rob Genter and Kit Pascarelli were second with 15.36 pounds, while Darren Potts and Dave Manross came in third with 14.62 pounds.

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

Gamma Pro Tip: Steve Hughes, local Gamma Pro Staff member, reminds anglers that October is a great month for topwater fishing here in NW PA. "While I like Gamma Edge fluorocarbon for many of my presentations, fluorocarbon is a sinking line so you don't want to use it for topwater lures. Instead, use Gamma Polyflex."

Contributor Tip: With steelhead season upon us, Thomas Watral of Erie offers these tips. "In the Erie tributaries, on a good day my average catch is two steelheads per hour. My most productive baits are minnows, egg roe and cluster eggs. When fly fishing, my most productive flies are the Wooly Bugger and Stonefly Nymph with a 3/0 split

shot about 12 inches from the fly. The next time you are fishing for steelhead, try working you spinners and flies with a lift and drop method as you bring the bait past the fish, retrieving just enough to keep slack out of the line; steelhead seem more eager to take the bait on the drop rather than a straight retrieve. When keeping steelhead,

be sure to bleed them out as quickly as possible; this way they will taste better. To bleed a fish, stun it with a sharp blow to back of head, and cut two or more gill arches, allowing the circulatory system to pump out most of the blood."

"Mysteries of the Great Lakes"...stories of sturgeon and shipwrecks Great Lakes sturgeon are few in number but long-lived. It is estimated that 99% of the lake sturgeon are gone. Yet

the Wolf River in Wisconsin is still a good spawning spot for this distinctive species of gentle giants. In the film "Mysteries of the Great Lakes," you can observe the collection of sturgeon eggs and milt from fish up to 120 years old, and then see 5" youngsters six months later being delivered to 8 rivers in the USA and Canada. This film, which plays daily on the Big Green Screen inside the Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle, is also an excellent portrayal of the activities of fishery biologists. The 45-minute production by Science North includes beautiful photography and graphics about these inland freshwater seas. I especially like the low-level aerial images as well as illustrations depicting the progressive effects of glaciation and glacier melting on the Great Lakes. And, who is not stirred by Gordon Lightfoot's music about the loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald? For times of showing, phone 814-838-4123. Review by Marilyn Black


October 6 & 7-Antlers and Anglers; info

October 14-FOP River Bass Tournament; info



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