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NW PA Fishing Report: 9-2-14

September 4, 2014
By Darl Black ,

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 outlets and websites.

Brought to you by PA Great Lakes Region tourism

Article Photos

The author with a dandy smallmouth bass.

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

FRENCH CREEK Flowing through all four counties

Editor's note: It happened again just in time for Labor Dayjust when you think it's safe to get back on French Creek, more rain turns the water to milk chocolate and increases the flow. Late August through September is the time I like to catch riffle bait in the Creek to use for smallmouth and walleye. When it's high and dirty, I cannot catch bait. Every time the stream level seemed to be nearing a normal flow and clarity, another storm blows in. If you can hit the stream rise and ebb at the correct time, anglers have been enjoying good success for smallmouth on the creek with artificial lures. Maybe the higher-than-normal flow will bring a better-than-average walleye bite this winter!

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Mike Martin (Cochranton); filed 9/1: "Over the holiday, I floated French Creek with Mark Posego, putting in at Saegertown Access and taking out at Meadville at the log cabin. We landed somewhere around 15 smallies plus 1 small walleye. Most of the bass were in the 10" to 12" range. Mark used a bent-arm style spinner, and of course I caught all my fish on Yum Dingers. Some fish were caught in the current and some in the deeper holes. We could have caught more but we were running out of daylight and had to paddle through the last third of the float without fishing."


Conneaut Lake

Jarrod Martin; filed mid-August, but overlooked for last Report: "My friend Nico Summaria and myself fished Conneaut Lake in August. His best catch of the day was a 19.5", 4.1 pound smallmouth bass caught while drop-shotting. My best catch of the day was a 35" northern pike caught while fishing for musky!"

Pymatuning Lake

Dave @ Richter's Tackle; filed 9/1: "Fewer anglers than usual for Labor Day weekend due to stormy weather. But for those anglers who know what they are doing, there are a lot of walleyes being caught. Trolling crankbaits in 18' to 20' of water on South End is paying off. There are a couple guys still catching walleye at night by casting slender shallow-running minnow plugs around the weedbeds. I've heard crappies are being taken in 11' to 12' of water around brushpiles. One guy stopped in with a mess of nice bluegills from shallow water. Catfish are abundant I don't think we will ever run out of channel cats! Overall, fishing is good but you've got to be on the lake to catch fish!"

Patty @ Poff's Place; filed 9/1: "Not much has changed since last Report. Maybe a few more walleye are being caught south of the Causeway by trolling Hot'N'Tots. Shore anglers are catching small perch and crappiesand catfish, catfish, catfish, and more catfish!"

Laurie @ Duck-N-Drake; filed 9/1: "I've been so busy with campers in the store the last few days that I haven't had a chance to chat with anglers. However, my best selling item this week was crawler harnesses, so fishermen must be targeting walleye and perch. A couple guys stopped in to buy a number of Vib-E blade baits they must be getting ready for the fall walleye bite!"

Hooker @ Hills Country Store:

- Filed 9/1: "Crappies are still deep in 10' to 14' around cover and rubble. Anglers have been having a field day on perch in about 12' over gravel points of the islands; they are using Erie Perch Spreaders with minnows, catching 50 fish in order to take home 20 nice ones. I've found large perch in the weedbeds: dip a jig & minnow into open pockets, get a hit, set the hook and send the fish flying! These perch are 12" to 14". Some walleye shallow around the weeds, too. But the channel catfish bite is phenomenal! The lake bottom must be covered with 14" to 18" catfish! And I'm discovering a number of anglers want to catch them."

- Filed 8/26: Sunday morning, 8/24, the Datz family (George, Shane, Dakota and Jaden) of Pittsburgh area fished with the Yankee Hooker on Pymatuning Lake. True to her nature, the lake was a little rough. Winds from the southeast and east pushed 1 to 2 foot waves everywhere we wanted to fish. As you can tell from the smiles on their faces, we did not let the wind beat us up. It is the time of the year when ALL predators are doing the same thing hanging around cover located near the thermocline and waiting for food to come to them. Perch, crappie, bass and walleye are all coming off the same humps in 10' to 12' of water. Panfish are eating the Bobby Garland Baby Shad in Blue Thunder and the bass are coming on Gene Larew Long John Minnows in the Bluegrass color. All of these baits can be found at Hills Country Store in Williamsfield, OH on the southwest side of the lake. Mention this report and receive a special discount on Bobby Garland Baits ($2 for one bag or $5 for three bags)."

RJ Graham (Tionesta); filed 9/1: "It was a tough Saturday at Pymatuning during the bass tournament. I caught most of my bass by flipping wood with a 3/16-ounce ball jighead with a Zoom Ultra-Vibe trailer. I could not catch them in the weeds. Most of my 25 to 30 bass came from around the islands on the North End. There were several nice smallmouth weighed in as well, including a 4-pounder."

Jeff Reichel (Meadville); filed 8/30: "Jake and I fished the South End of Pymatuning today, Saturday, from 10 AM to 3:30 PM. We started out working drop-shot rigs in 13' to 14' of water off a mid-lake hump, catching a dozen medium size bluegills. Then we moved to the weedy points to try for bass but only managed a long line release of one bass and a bite off from a toothy critter."


Presque Isle Bay

Al @ B.A.C. Baits; filed 9/1: "The weather has been lousy so not many anglers have been fishing these past few days. After work last night, I went to the West Pier for a short while; I caught two silver bass and a 20" largemouth bass. I've had reports of bluegills and some perch being caught on the East and North Piers. Out in the main lake, the perch are in 50 to 60 feet. However, it's the time of year we have trouble obtaining emerald shiners for perch anglers."

Thomas Watral (Erie); filed 8/26: "There is a bit of greenish water color due to an algae bloom in the Bay right now. Shore anglers are catching some crappies and a few nice perch on the docks, plus rock bass, silver bass, catfish and an occasional smallmouth bass on the North and South Piers. Best baits have been crawlers, minnows and crawfish. Try tipping a Subiki Rig with one of the above baits. The hot lure has been the silver/blue Kastmaster spoon. I still have live bait and hand-tied perch rigs available at 2407 McKinley Ave, 8 to 8."

Lake Erie

Rich @ Erie Sport Stores; filed 9/2: "Here's a couple photoson Labor Day, 9/1, caught a large walleye while perch fishing, as well as a very large perch. Perch fishing has been good in 50' to 60' between the Point and Lighthouse. Perch fishing has also been good between Walnut Creek and Trout Run in 50' to 60'."

Gary @ Poor Richards; filed 9/1: "A few anglers are catching an occasional steelhead and brown trout at the mouths of the tributaries but no movement upstream yet. We need more water to trigger any movement. On the West Side of the Lake, perch are in 55' to 60' and walleye in 60' to 70'."

Sandy @ Trout Run Bait; filed 9/1: "Fishing is spotty right now with the unsettled weather. On day with a south wind, try for a steelhead or brown in the early morning or evening at the mouth of the tributaries. Perch are in 48' to 55' when guys can get out."

Tim @ North East Marina; filed 9/1: "On the East Side, perch are in 64' between Freeport and Green Field, and at 55' off Twenty Mile. Walleyes are spread out from Freeport to the state line at 55' to 60' over 105' of water. The Renosky plug is the hot bait right now, run on in-line Dipsey Diver."

Frank Malek (Oil City); filed 8/31: "I took Dale Black to Lake Erie for smallmouth fishing. It was only an average day for me, but for a guy who has never been on the main lakewell the smile says it all. Tubes and drop-shot rigs got it done. Dale shows off a couple 4-pound plus Erie smallmouth in the photo."

Ed Phillips (Butler)

- Filed 8/18: "My wife and I went walleye fishing today (8/18) out of North East Marina. The NOAA report was waves 1 foot or less, but when we go to the marina they were 2 to 3 footers. But we managed to get out, heading to the Ws where we did pretty well last week. As usual it took a couple hours to find the walleye, but when we did, four nice ones were boated in less than an hour. The biggest one was 8 pounds 7 ounces according to my digital scale; the other three were in the 4 to 6-pound range. We were trolling with the waves heading west toward Erie and when we decided to turn around and go back, the waves had built into 3 to 4-footers.We head back to port. The fish we did catch came in 100' to 110' of water and presentation needed to be 60' to 65' down just like last week."

- Filed 8/20: "My wife and I arrived at North East Marina on Tuesday morning August 19th, greeted by a very calm Lake Erie with waves less than 1 foot just as NOAA had stated. We headed out to 100' of water in front of the W's and worked the waypoints we had from the day before. We managed to pick up one walleye, and we were not seeing any marks. So we trolled into 85' of water and began picking up junk fish. Although there were plenty of marks in this depth and it's likely some were walleyes among the junk fish, I decided to turn around and go deeper to see if we could find active walleyes without the junk fish around. We headed slightly east, and in 105' to 110' of water, we encountered a small school of active fish. We landed another four walleye within an hour for a total of five fish for the day. The lake was still pretty nice for fishing, but we decided five fish were enough to clean, and with a 1-1/2 hour drive home, we called it a day. The fish were all caught 60' to 65' down on my favorite spoon the old Silver Streak from Michigan called Superman. As you can imagine the colors are red, yellow and blue just like Superman's costume."


Jon @ CDS (Grove City); filed 9/1: "We are deep into our hunting promotions right now, so I am only getting sporadic fishing reports. Many of our customers are heading to both Erie and Pymatuning for walleye, while others are headed to Lake Arthur for stripers. The hottest selling bait this past week was the good old Rapala Minnow guys are fishing it for walleye and stripers."

Lake Wilhelm

Bob @ Fergies Bait; filed 9/1: "I'm hearing some anglers are still getting some walleyes in the lower section of the lake near the dam, and around the Three Posts area. Couple fishermen stopped by with a mess of 13" to 14" crappies from near the I-79 bridge. I have not heard anything about bass."

Jeff Reichel (Meadville); filed 9/1: "My son and I fished Wilhelm today from 11:30 AM to 4 PM. We caught a few small calico bass and bluegills on drop-shot rigs in 8 to 12 feet of water off a mid-lake pint with scattered stumps. Then we fished for bass for an hour on the same point with no bites. So we spent the rest of the day experimenting with drop-shot rigs and different baits."

Shenango River Lake

Ken Smith (Sharon); filed 8/19: "Just wanted to compliment you on the latest Fishing Report; I really like the new page about the best-selling baits at area tackle shops and the fishing forecast for the coming week. On 8/17, I finally got a day to fish Shenango. The water was a little high and pretty mucky. My brother Rich and I started fishing deep brush and moved shallower as the bite changed. The bite was pretty tough all day but we managed to put 27 crappies over 11" in the livewell. We changed baits numerous times. The bait of choice was a 1/16-ounce chartreuse head Road Runner with a Bobby Garland Baby Shad in Monkey Milk/Bubble Gum Belly. We did the best in 12' of water over brush."

Editor's Note: Starting this week, the USACE drops the launch fees at Shenango Lake and will not institute them until next May. With all the crazy recreational boaters leaving the lake, fall is a great time to fish this reservoir.


Allegheny River

Mike @ Jigger Wholesale Tackle; filed 9/1: "I can sum up the catches the past couple weeks in two words: BIG CATFISH. Everyone has been catching them. One customer stopped in with photos of several large flathead catfish. The largest one which he was struggling to hold with both hands with head of fish at his chest and the tail on the ground was in excess of 40 pounds. The second biggest one was 25 pounds. In addition to half a dozen flatheads, they also had pics of several channel cats with the largest one going 30 inches. He said these fish all came from the Allegheny River within Venango County. By the way, if you want to get in on the big catfish action, Jigger Wholesale is your big cat center for the right tackle. We have hefty Ugly Stiks and Shakespeare Bluewater rods paired with a large-capacity Penn reel. Another customer stopped in the other day with a photo of a huge bass he caught at Kahle Lake. From the photo you could tell this an exceptionally large bass. The customer said it was 26 inches long.

Dennis Beggs (Franklin); filed 9/1: "My neighbor, Jim VanTassel, caught this nice-size walleye Saturday evening, August 30th from the river. He used a minnow imitation stickbait. I was bicycling by the 3rd Street Boat Ramp when he came off the river. I asked him if I could submit the picture to the NW PA Fishing Report and he said OK." (See Livewell photo

Dale Black (Oil City); filed 9/1: "My son Jake and I fished the river several nights this past week for catfish. We had an awesome night on the 24th. We had 11 cats into the boat, and another 10 or more runs that didn't hook up. Our best bait was creek chubs. We went two other nights but without the same results all we had for bait those trips were bluegills."

Pete Cartwright (McKeesport)

- Filed 8/28: "We fished the River Friday the 22nd to Sunday the 24th around Tionesta, dodging storms but enjoying great success. We used soft plastics including Venom Finesse Tubes and Craws from 412 Bait Company along with a few topwater fish taken with HC Baits Hubs Chub. The water had a bit of a stain to it but the smallies were feeding. They were stuffed with forage. We caught fish in the 17" to 19" range along with a good share of shorter fish."

- Filed 9/1: "I fished the Allegheny over the weekend from Franklin to Tionesta. I got smallmouth in almost all the spots that I fished. Most were smaller, in the 10" to 12" range taken on 412 Bait Co. Craws. The bite was on and off for most of the weekend, with few big fish. However our largest bass was a 20 incher. The water was clear even though it rained Saturday through Monday. With fall around the corner, it was nice to wade in the normal conditions."

Gene Winger (Oil City)

- "Week of August 18th - On Thursday, George Sisul and I fished north of Oil City until heavy rains and thunderstorms forced us off the river. Fishing was slow but we managed around 20 smallies; most were caught in faster moving current at the top of eddies on Winco Wacky Worms and Predator Craws."

- "Week of August 25th Fishing was slow during the week with the best action in the early mornings and just before dusk. With river level dropping and water clearing, we found most smallies in shallow riffles and deeper pockets at the lower end of the pools. The killer baits for the week were Winco 3.75" River Darter Swim Bait and 3.25" Predator Craws. On Saturday, Chris Wehr and I fished from Oil City to the Belmar Bridge landing 45 smallies. On Sunday and Monday the bite slowed down but we did mange around 15 smallies on each outing. Again, most of the action was in shallow fast moving water or deeper pockets at the tail end of a pool."

John Conroy; filed 8/25: "I went out with musky guide Red Childress. Given the swift, off-color river conditions, we fished for bass rather than musky. We caught around 16 bass in a few hours. Most fish came on Pearl Blue Flukes."

Angler Al (Franklin); filed 8/25: "I met fishing buddy Stan at 7:30 PM at the Oil City Marina. We ventured down the Allegheny and anchored at a spot 9 feet deep. We fished feisty creek chubs, and sat back to wait. It didn't take long. From 8:15 to 10:30 we boated 8 flatheads, 2 channel cats, 1 walleye and a northern pike. When we returned to the ramp I met Dan Kitelinger and his friend; they too, had success. However they were using crawlers. See the picture of Kitelinger's big flathead. The next evening we returned to the river, but oh what a change! Same time, same place, same bait but the bite was slow. We only managed 3 catfish, 1 smallmouth and a big snapping turtle."

Whitleys (Kennerdell); filed 8/25: "Here are some photos from our catfishing trips this week and last week. The big one was 38 inches. Also sent a picture of the River bugs (large mayflies) they finally came out. That was the best evening. We caught and released 12 flatheadswould have caught more but we ran out of bait!"

Oil Creek

Kirby @ North Country Creations; filed 8/31: "Here's a pic of one of the two nice smallmouth bass I caught from Oil Creek this afternoon on a lure I made myself. I didn't have a tape measure on me but each fish was over 18" I measured them against my rod then measured the mark on the rod when I got home!"

Friends of Oil Creek State Park presents: Chick in the Sticks a series of Outdoor Workshops Designed for Women on Saturday, September 20, 2014, 8 AM to 5 PM at Oil Creek State Park. Workshops available on twenty different outdoor activities. For additional details or a registration form, contact Kirby at 814-677-4633;

Sugar Creek & Sugar Lake

Angler Al (Franklin); filed 9/1: "Decided to trout fish the other evening on Sugar Creek. I only took small minnows as bait. I landed several nice browns and couple rainbows. Returned on Monday, and lit' up again

Bill @ Griffin's Bait; filed 9/1: "Mark and Matthew Rigwelski had a productive day on the Allegheny for walleyes. Kade Porterfield landed a nice largemouth bass at a pond near Cooperstown. Kelley and Tom Carr landed several nice stripers at Lake Arthur. Local FLW angler Destin Demarion accompanied by FLW pro Kurt Dove visited Sugar Lake this past week to tape a piolet fishing show called The No BS Fishing Show."



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