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NW PA Fishing Report, 9-15-14

September 17, 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.

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

Article Photos

Gamma Lines owner Dale Black (left) and a friend with a nice smallmouth bass.

FRENCH CREEK flowing through all four counties

Scott Rushe (State College); filed 9/13: "French Creek in Venango is blown out AGAINtried Friday for bass and walleye but water flow was too high and too fast."

Dennis Beggs (Franklin); filed 9/7: "My wife and I enjoyed a beautiful day today kayaking on French Creek. We went from Utica to our backyard in Franklin. I fished some, catching four small walleyes in the mid-teens and a nice 23-incher, which is pictured. I only landed one smallmouth. All fish were caught on twister-style jigs. And all fish were released. We really had a fun day!"

Fact Box

Pymatuning Lake

"My customers have been reporting good success on walleyes by trolling Hot-N-Tots in 18 to 22 feet of water. A couple guys have been night fishing for walleye, catching a few in 5 feet of water after dark with jig and crawler."

Laurie @ Duck-N-Drake

Ed Lawrence (Corry); stream report filed 9/2: "I am catching and releasing a lot of holdover trout in the creeks of NW PA and tributaries to French Creek and the Allegheny River, as well as native brook trout in unstocked backwoods streams in the hills. The largest native brook trout I've landed this year weighed 2 pounds! We've been catching them over a foot long! Native trout aren't as shy as big wild brown trout and can be caught on spinners, flies and live bait fairy easily. In the larger streams, we've been catching some holdover as well as smallmouth bass. These fish put up a great fight on light tackle. I caught an 18" largemouth bass in Four Mile Creek last weekend while look for early run steelheads. There are a few steelheads in the Erie tribs with more coming. I should start picking up some big walleye and musky from French Creek soon."


Pymatuning Lake

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Dave @ Richter's Tackle Shop; filed 9/15: "Some customers are reporting walleyes taken on blade baits already! Others are trolling Hot-N-Tots in 14' to 18' of water to catch walleyes. A few guys who know what they are doing are catching crappies on deep structure, but I'm not hearing about any shallow crappies. Lot of talk about perch, but all the fish are small. Catfish are still eating. Some of my regular musky customers are back out on the lake, so they must be catching a few but no reports of big ones. With the dam outflow running high, there continues to be walleye and a few crappies taken in the Shenango River from the outflow to south of the foot bridge.

Laurie @ Duck-N-Drake; filed 9/15: "My customers have been reporting good success on walleyes by trolling Hot-N-Tots in 18 to 22 feet of water. A couple guys have been night fishing for walleye, catching a few in 5 feet of water after dark with jig and crawler. In the North End, I've had reports of nice crappies and perch taken on minnows at depths from 5 to 10 feet. And please pass on this announcement: Duck-N-Drake will be closing for the winter this month and will reopen when the ice goes off."

Patty @ Poff's Place; filed 9/15: "As a sure sign of fall, anglers are starting to catch crappies from the Causeway at dusk until an hour after full darkness, and size of perch being caught is starting to creep upward. I'm hearing from my customers that the better walleye bite in on South End of the lake. The shop will be closed for a couple weeks in late December for the holidays, but will reopen in January."

Hooker @ Hills Country Store; filed 9/14: "On Friday, September 12, Ted Yannotti and Ed Agnew met Hooker at Hills Country Store for a morning of fishing on Pymatuning aboard Hooker's Fishing Taxi. The conditions started our as wet, windy and overcast so we looked for fish on some humps cresting in 5' to 9' of water. With fish starting to transition to fall patterns, crappies are scattered and following baitfish. Humps on overcast days are a good place for predators to ambush schools of bait. We could see the occasional slash and splash of feeding fish. Utilizing Bobby Garland Swimming Minnows on very small jigheads, we were able to coax a few into striking by retrieving the jig just under the surface very slowly. The catch included crappies, bluegills and perch, with most strikes coming around scattered weed clumps. As expected this time of year, the bite changes several times during the day. This was clearly the case when John Braymer fished with Hooker in the afternoon. John came with an open mind to learn the light line technique. The afternoon conditions were entirely different with partly cloudy skies and calmer seas. But before long the wind, rain and cold returned. John learned the value of high-vis Gamma Line so he could detect the light bite of crappies which were now holding near the bottom in 14' of water. We caught a variety of species before day's end. Although we did not "fill the buckets" we were able to catch fish throughout the day by adjusting to conditions and playing the hand we were dealt!"

Espyville Outdoors notice: Earlier this month, Chris announced the closing of Espyville Outdoors at its present location.

Conneaut Lake

Bob @ Fergie's; filed 9/15: "My most recent trip to Conneaut Lake for bluegills was met with an east wind and the closed-mouth syndrome. We fished hard for half-dozen 5 inch gills. Not like the bite of a couple weeks ago. I did manage to catch a 19" smallmouth bass on a thin 2" jig worm fished for bluegills."

Jeff Reichel (Meadville); filed 9/14: "Jake and I fished Conneaut Lake today, the 14th, from 9:30 AM to 4 PM. We started out fishing for smallmouth bass on the mid-lake humps but no success. Then we fished drop-shot rigs for bluegills, boating about a dozen small to medium gills, which we released. In the afternoon, we fished the weedlines for largemouth bass, but only landed one about 14" long. I talked to other anglers throughout the day and no one seemed to be catching much. We felt fortunate to have caught what we did."

Darl Black (Cochranton); filed 9/14: "Don't understand why the big bluegills suddenly got a severe cast of lock-jaw. The first week in September, nice gills were being caught in deep water beyond the weeds. Then on Sunday, 9/7, Marilyn and I failed to catch anything but a few 4" 'gills. On Monday, 9/8, a couple buddies and I got skunked on the bluegills using a variety of larval baits and worms to entice the bluegill schools we mainly could see in 22 to 26 feet of water on the Garmin echoMAP 70dv. So with a substantial drop in temperatures in the last few days, on Sunday the 14th, I changed directions and checked on the smallmouth activity. Mike Martin of Cochranton joined me for a four hour recon mission. We managed one 20" bronze beauty on a Get Bit Crawling Tube along with a half dozen smaller largemouth. No brown bass shallow water action yet."

Canadohta Lake

Jerry @ Timberland Bait; filed 9/15: "The shop is closed for the fall until safe ice forms on area lakes, at which time we will re-open."


Presque Isle Bay

Jim @ B.A.C. Bait; filed 9/15: "Weather has been unsettling here lately, so not a lot of guys out fishing. Right now the hot bite in the Bay seems to be perch on North Pier and East Pier in the mornings and evenings. There are some largemouth bass being caught in the Bay, but crappies seem to be on strike. A few steelheads are showing at the mouth of the creeks, but the water flow is too low for them to move upstream."

Thomas Watral (Erie)

9/7: "A customer stopped by for bait and showed me the nice size perch he caught off the Border Patrol Dock 28 of them between 13 and 15 inches, plus some crappies. The fish were hitting spottail shiners on Subiki Rigs."

9/13: "Seems the cooler weather has perch hitting in the Bay on the South and North Pier, and on the docks. Best bait for crappies has been split-tail jigs tipped with a wax worm. My Step dad caught a bucket of perch today even though the Bay was white-capping. He fished the Marina at the Amphitheater, using spottail shiners."

9/14: "The Border Dock was on fire today with nice perch taken on minnows and wax worms. Stop in 2407 McKinley Ave for your bait and special rigs."

Lake Erie and Tributaries

Jeff @ Poor Richards; filed 9/15: "They are still getting perch in 53 to 63 feet of water straight out of Walnut Creek. Anglers are picking up a few walleye at 65' to 75', although the walleye bite is slowing down as the fish move west. There are some steelhead being caught in the mornings and evenings at the creek mouths. The Little Cleo and KO Wobbler are used in the surf, while single eggs or minnows are catching a handful of steelhead which moved into the lower portion of the streams."

Dan @ Elk Creek Sports; filed 9/15: "We are seeing steelhead move into Elk Creek as far as the boat launch near the mouth, but there is too little water for them to go any further. In the lake, the walleye bite is about done, but the perch should keep feeding through the fall. Right now perch are in 70' to 72'. If we get some rain to raise the streams, I'm looking for a good fall run."

Sandy @ Trout Run Bait; filed 9/15: "Perch are in 58/59 feet out of Walnut. Steelheads are showing up at the creek mouths."

Tim @ North East Marina; filed 9/14: "Steelheads are just beginning to show up at 16 Mile and 20 Mile Creeks! We need the lake temp to drop 5 to 10 degrees to bring in more fish. Best bite is 1 hour before sunrise suing fresh brown trout skein. Stay out of the water so not to spook fish. Fish in front of the fish or use a bobber. Walleye are 55 to 60 feet down (depending on depth of thermocline) over 90 feet of water between Freeport and the W's fish 5 feet above the thermocline! Perch at 55 feet off Greenfield to Freeport."

Rich @ Erie Sport Stores; file 9/13: "As I write this, there are strong northerly winds blowing across the lake. Very few have attempted to go out the last couple days. The time I was able to fish the Lake was Tuesday 9-9-14. Three of us fished in 52' north of Walnut and caught our limits of perch in less than 90 minutes. Best bite of the year! From what I hear, the perch are scattered in small packs, so you have to rely on your sonar to show you where the fish are at. As we move into fall, the perch bite should be at its peak. Let's hope this year is no different from the past. When the lake clams down, I would expect to find perch 48' to 60' between Walnut and Elk Creeks."

Ed Phillips (New Castle); filed 9/9/14: "My wife and I went fishing out of North East Marina on Sunday, 9/7 in the afternoon. Waves were between 2 and 3 feet, but it went down to less than 1 foot. We fished straight out starting in 95 feet, and trolled out to 110 feet. We zig-zagged in and out, heading east. We picked up 6 nice walleyes in the 3 to 6 pound range. We even picked up a steelhead on a crawler harness. Everything we caught came between 60 to 70 feet down on the riggers or 250 feet back on big Dipsy Diver on #1 setting using Fireline. The best baits were green crawler harnesses or spoons. We stayed over and gave it try on Monday. We set up in 90 feet of water, and covered the same area but zig-zagged East rather than West. We found some active fish in 90 feet of water but they were junk fish. When we started working the 100 to 110 feet, we found some walleyes. We caught four 'eye in the 5 to 7 pound class; all came on one Dipsy pole 250 feet back on a green/yellow crawler harness. The only releases on the riggers were junk fish. I've fished this area of the lake for years, and by far this is the best walleye fishing I have seen for years. Watch the weather and get up between storms while you can!"


Lake Wilhelm

Vickie @ Fergie's; filed 9/13: "Fishing is still slow at Wilhelm. Few anglers have been out; they are waiting for this series of cold fronts to pass before heading out. Based on what anglers are buying at the shop, I know they are getting ready for the fall bite!"

Shenango River Lake

Jon @ Consumer Direct Sports; filed 9/15: Launch ramps fees at Shenango have been lifted until next spring. Although no active fisherman report this week, anglers are looking forward to the fall walleye and crappie bite on Shenango.


Allegheny River

Gene Winger (Oil City); filed 9/15: "Fishing has been slow the past two weeks. I can't wait for the fall bite when things are little more predictable. I'm catching smallies but no real size. I am getting them around the islands in faster moving water using a Winco River Darter Swim Bait. Several times last week just before dusk, I did get into some nice smallies (17" to 19" range) stacked up in pockets at the lower end of a few pools using Winco Predator Craw and Swim bait. Pockets are hard to find, and fast action only lasts about 15 minutes. Go Pro had dead battery so no pics. On Sunday to avoid tournament congestion, my two sons-in-law and I headed north of Oil City; we boated 15 smallies but no size."

Frank Malek (Oil City); filed 9/15: "Bass are in the fast water and eating crankbaits as well as tubes. The river tournament this past weekend was a bust for me and my partner, but other found good fish."

Mike @ Jigger Wholesale; filed 9/13: "No one is fishing much right now on top of the stormy weather, its transition time. Everyone is waiting for cooler water and a better bite. I hear a few walleyes and smallmouth are being caught in French Creek, and one customer emailed me pictures of big walleyes from the Allegheny River. But that's about it."

RJ Graham (Tionesta); filed 9/11: "Thursday evening Darl joined me on the river for a couple hours before the rain came. It was slow at first with a couple small-size smallmouths, but just as it started sprinkling, Darl caught a big walleye on a Kalin Swim Jig and I got very respectable smallmouth on a tube. Then, without rain coats, we made for the ramp."

Sugar Creek

Angler Al (Franklin); filed 9/14

Wednesday 9/3: "I spent the last moment of daylight fishing minnows in a deep hole on Sugar Creek. I picked up 3 small walleyes and one brown trout. Returned again on Thursday the 4th and caught another on a Rebel Crayfish and lost two others on minnows."

Friday 9/5: "Shot for our spot on the Allegheny figuring to spend the evening/night for catfish. But weeds were so bad we didn't waste out time."

Saturday 9/6: "As I was driving to town, I went by Red Bridge on Sugar Cree. Jeffery Orr stopped me so I could see the 14-inch rainbow he caught. He said it hit a dead minnow he found on the banks."



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