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NW PA Fishing Report, 3-17-15

March 19, 2015
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.

We answer the question: "What's biting in the lakes, streams and rivers of Crawford, Erie, Mercer and Venango counties."

Article Photos

Tom Luck with a dandy northern pike, taken during the Timberland Ice Tournament on Conneaut Lake, PA. Luck won the pike division with this 32-inch fish. Photo by Darl Black


From VISIT ERIE: A Fly Fishing Instructional Workshop will be held on March 21 from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM at the Presque Isle State Park Rotary Pavilion. This workshop is free, but an RSVP to would be appreciated.

From Pymatuning Lake Association: The date for the 2015 PLA Crappie Tournament has been set for May 2. And the date for the 2015 PLA Walleye Tournament will be May 16; there will only be one walleye tournament this year instead of two. Visit or email for information, rules and applications.

Fact Box

If you do go out ice fishing, BE SURE TO WEAR YOUR PFD AT ALL TIMES.

PLA's 2015 Kids Free Fishing Derby will be held on August 1st & 2nd. For information, contact Celene Brooks at or phone her at 724-927-2578.

From Bassmasters of Crawford County: The BMCC Spring Bass Classic Team Tournament will be Saturday, May 9, 2015 on Pymatuning Lake out of Snodgrass Launch. For applications, go to

From PA Fish & Boat: Shake off the cabin fever. Pa Fish & Boat Commission will hold their annual spring open house at Linesville State Fish Hatchery on Saturday, April 4, 2015, from 11:00 AM to 3:30 PM. For more information, visit

From PA Fish & Boat: Mentored Youth Fishing Days have been expanded to all stock trout waters. In northwestern Pennsylvania, the Mentored Youth Fishing Day will be April 11, the week before opening day of trout season. For more information, go to


Pymatuning Lake

Dave @ Richter's Tackle Shop; filed 3/16: "Guys are still ice fishing on Pymatuning. The shoreline is a bit soft but the ice out on lake is good. The ones in the know are catching crappies, bluegills and walleyes. And in the open water spot at the Linesville Spillway, they are catching big crappies right now, plus a few walleyes have moved in, too. I hear ice anglers are also on Conneaut Lake today."

Patty @ Poff's Place; filed 3/14: "Even though the top of the ice is sloppy, as of today there are still a few guys ice fishing on the lake. Reports of catches are spotty. It's that in between time waiting on the thaw. We have high hopes for April!"

Hooker @ Hills Country Store; filed 3/10: "I'm just back from South Carolina and we now have the store in full operation for the coming spring. Ice cover on the lake is between 2 inches and 20 inches depending on where you might be standing. Lots of perch and bluegills are being caught by the remaining ice fishermen, along with the occasional walleye. With this stretch of warm weather, ice fishermen should be extra careful. I would not venture out on the ice unless wearing a life jacket at this time of year. Hooker's Fishing Taxi has gone through a winter re-fit and is fully equipped for spider rigging this year. To celebrate the start of our fourth year at the store, we are selling Bobby Garland Baits: Buy one, Get One while supplies last."

Rich Sari (Kennerdell); filed 2/22: "I took my grandson Jake ice fishing yesterday. We were out all day. It was the worst day of the ice season. We only got two keepers. This time of year it gets tough. My theory is the walleyes are on the move to stage for spawning. Don't know for sure, but this poor bite happens every year."

Woodcock Lake

Joe Arnett @ ACE Woodcock Lake; filed 3/4: "Another 300 tons of stone were added to Woodcock as part of habitat improvement, placed just east of the boat launch. This is a great time for serious fishermen to take a look at the structures and maybe GPS the piles before we start rising the lake level towards summer pool."

Keith Beamer @ PA Fish & Boat Commission; filed 3/4: "At Woodcock Lake, the PFBC Habitat Division created 20 new humps with about 7 tons of rock in each hump. To create more complex structures, we placed rock around vertical plank structures that we put in with our boats back in June. They are our sturdiest structure and have held up well in other draw down lakes. During some of our electrofishing work in other lakes, we have shocked some impressive bass off them. There are 13 vertical plank structures on the north side of the lake."

Conneaut Lake

Sarah @ Timberland Bait; filed 3/2: Editor's comments: Sarah and Jerry say the Timberland Ice Tournament on Conneaut Lake was a big success. Sarah sent the photos of the winners; posted on Livewell Page. As I recall, they had about 150 participants. I was fortunate to be there when Tom Luck of Bridgeville, PA caught what turned out to be the first place northern pike. The pike was 32 inches long and weighed 8 lbs. 9 oz. This was the first fish Tom ever caught ice fishing! Luck won $600!

Canadohta Lake

Ben Lipiec (Erie); filed 2/25: Went to Canadohta Lake this past Sunday for crappies. Found them suspended in 10-15 feet over 25 feet depth with soft bottom off spawning areas. Fish were not hard to find; the trick was getting them to bite. Once I figured that out, catching was fairly steady. Moving around a lot didn't seem to help because the fish were not in one spot for very long just roaming. The best deal for me was once you found an area a group of crappies would pass through occasionally so you were better off waiting them out. This would happen every 5 to 15 minutes; if you waited 30 minutes, it was time to move. Landed 35 fish and kept 12 in the 10" to 12" range all I wanted to clean. All fish were caught on a Fiskas Jig in Glow or Perch color tipped with a minnow or maggot. Fiskas Jig size was 4 mm and 5 mm. Also fish on a 1/50th ounce jig tipped with a waxworm plastic. The faster fall of the Fiskas helped get the bait down quicker for an extra fish or two from a group before they moved."

Sugar Lake

Bill @ Griffins Bait reports there were two ice fishing tournaments at Sugar Lake recently. Zac Eimer won the gamefish award at the first Sugar Lake event on February 21 & 22 with a 39-5/8" northern pike. Bob Keith won the gamefish award at the second Sugar Lake event in March with a 26" northern pike and his son Alex Keith won the panfish award with a 9" perch. Keith's other son Levi Keith won the walleye category at the Canadohta Lake ice tournament back in early February with a 21-3/4 inch walleye.



Elk Creek Sports and Poor Richards are reporting similar situation: Steelhead streams are blown out. Ice jams in the lower section of Elk and possibly other streams. When the jams break, there may be some steelhead fishing opportunities later this week in the upper streams. Right now creeks are dangerously high with chunks of floating ice and debris...

Presque Isle Bay

Jim @ B.A.C.: "A Canadian ice breaker arrived at the Port of Erie on Friday. Shock waves from breaking ice have likely made the ice unsafe in the eastern half of Bay, and may impact ice clear down to Head of Bay. It will not be long until open water and the spawning perch bite in the Bay. Get your tackle ready for open water season, and see us for your live bait needs."

Dean Waldbaum; filed 3/13: "Boredom got the best of me so I went id fishing last weekend for the first time since I was a kid 40 years ago. I went to Presque Isle with a couple buddies with hope of "jumbo" perch. The ones we caught were more like "chipped ham!" We caught around 20 small perch. A few guys were getting bigger perch and we saw one steelhead caught. Our fish came on tiny jigs tipped with either a minnow or grub. Beat the heck of sitting on the couch but I cannot wait till the river comes down!"


Editor's Note: On March 14th, I joined the dynamic duo of ice, Mike Kuna and Bob Griffith, on a small Mercer County lake for my final trip of ice fishing season. As usual, I didn't fish just shot pictures. They caught a nice mixture of big crappie, perch and bluegill. I was surprised when Bob caught a smallmouth bass that really means spring is here!

Lake Wilhelm

Vickie @ Fergie's Bait; filed 3/14: "The ice is getting soft and shoreline is opening up no one out fishing. Things have been quiet for about 10 days, but prior to that ice anglers were catching some nice bluegills and crappies off Launch 3 & 4. We have not heard anything about walleyes."

Shenango River Lake: With rising water in the lake, ice separated from shore. Fishing has come to end on Shenango until open water.

Shenango River: Anglers were catching a few walleyes in the outflow area below Pymatuning Dam; however, inland walleye season is now closed. Anglers may still fish river stretch for crappies which tend to congregate in eddies below deadfalls during high water.


General Report

Bill @ Griffins Bait & Tackle; filed 3/14: "We have been selling a lot maggots, shiner and fathead minnows, as well as a lot of Kastmaster Spoons. See what our customers have been catching at Sugar Lake during the recent ice tournaments.

Allegheny River

Editor's note: The Middle Allegheny is a mess right now. Areas started to open, but in typical fashion the ice jams formed here and there, creating flooding in some areas particularly downstream around Parker according to today's Franklin newspaper. Between Franklin and Oil City, some areas are ice free, but there is still considerable ice pack on the Oil City pool; the river is running high and flooding remains a concern. If temperatures remain above freezing and there is minimal rainfall, the river drops and ice jams open up, there may be opportunities to launch boats this coming weekend March 21/22; we will wait to see. If you do go out, BE SURE TO WEAR YOUR PFD AT ALL TIMES.

Kahle Lake

Dan @ Jigger Tackle; filed 3/14: "Wilhelm ice is going downhill quickly. However, Kahle Lake may still have fishable ice this week, but it will be iffy. Ice fishermen had a very good year on Kahle Lake."



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