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NW PA Fishing Report, 5-4-15

May 12, 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

Lake Erie lake trout. Photo by Tim Truitt.


Results of PLA Crappie Tournament held on May 2:

1st place team of Dee Dee Hall and Steve Vickery of Espyville weighed in 5 crappies for a total weigh to 8 lbs. 5.3 oz. Big Fish: Andy Radwanski and John Reep of Butler, PA with a 2 lb. 3.6 oz. black crappie. 110 teams participated; over 300 crappies were weighed in with the majority of them weighing over one pound.

Fact Box


Presque Isle Bay

Jim @ Lake Erie Bait & Tackle "They are catching nice perch off the North Pier. Smallmouth bass are moving into the Bay."

FROM Bassmasters of Crawford County: BMCC Spring Bass Classic Team Tournament on May 9 at Pymatuning Lake out of Snodgrass Ramp. Also Father's Day Buddy Tournament on June 14 at Presque Isle Bay Only. For applications and information contact Eric Marsh at

FROM Pymatuning Lake Association: 2015 PLA Walleye Tournament on May 16 at Pymatuning Lake. For more information, visit or email for more information.

FRENCH CREEK Flowing through all four counties

Bill @ Bill's Bait & Tackle; filed 5/4: "Customers were catching some nice pike from French Creek this past weekend."

Mike Martin (Cochranton); filed 5/3: "Not a great day on French Creek for sure. We floated the Saegertown to Meadville stretch. Between the three of us, we only caught 5 or 6 smallies. All were in the 10-12 inch range. We threw everything in the booktubes, spinnerbaits, Yum Dinger, Rapala X-Raps but nothing seemed to work. The highlight of the day was seeing a pair of mature Bald Eagles and a younger eagle just beginning to gain his white feathers."

Angler Al's Report for April 27-May 2: "I spent about 8 hours fishing French Creek and Sugar Creek this week. I caught a total of 28 trout, 11 walleyes and 2 smallmouth bass. The nicest fish of each species included a 25 inch brown trout, a 24 inch walleye and a 15 inch smallmouth. Aside from a dozen or so trout I caught on wax worms or Rooster Tail Spinners, the other fish took live creek bait. With my GoPro video camera, I captured many of the catches. I used my pliers to remove hooks and never put a hand on any of the fish thereby releasing them safely. The general consensus of anglers on the streams: the bite has been good and there are lots of happy anglers."


Pymatuning Lake

Sydney @ Robinson's Bait; filed 5/4: "We had reports over the weekend of crappie and perch being taken on the northern end of the lake with our exclusive Someday Isle Tackle and our new locally made crappie rigs. Reports were coming from Red Cross and Harris Island stump field both by drifting and anchoring with a bobber. Walleye are still elusive, but a few have been taken by anglers drifting from Red Cross to Tuttle Point. No news on bass yet, but hopefully we will get some reports from the Kayak Anglers of Western PA this coming weekend when they launch their tournament out of Wilson. We had a representative of GAMMA Line stop in on Sunday with his daughter, Amelia. We gave her a half dozen of our special kids-only Rosie Reds and she caught a crappie while her father was not so lucky with regular fatheads. My daughter, Elizabeth, went out with my husband and caught a nice bass. We will soon be carrying GAMMA Line in the shop."

Patty @Poff's Place; filed 5/4: "It was a pretty good weekend for fishing. Some anglers were catching crappies in the Stumps; there were a number of black crappies weighing 1 pound and better in the PLA crappie tournament. And some customers caught walleyes on Berkley Flicker Shad.

Laurie @ Duck-N-Drake; filed 5/4: "After a slow start to the season, the bite started to heat up this past weekend. Anglers were catching large perch on minnows off the Andover Causeway. Some fishermen were reporting walleyes in the evening in 6 to 8 feet of water on twister tail jigs. Other anglers caught some walleyes in 20 to 21 feet of water on Berkley Flicker Shads. Late last week crappies finally started to move into the bays."

Hooker @ Hills Country Store; filed 5/4: "The month of April was a true test for area anglers. If you applied the same tactics that would be expected for the calendar dates on Pymatuning, fishing was pretty tough. For those who adjusted and figured out the puzzle, some good catches were made. Then as if someone had thrown the magic switch on May 1st, the fish were heading to their shallow haunts. In the morning of May 1st, we could only catch crappies in the 7 to 10 foot range on the first major break out from the spawning areas then the rain and wind and overcast skies rolled in. The fish decided it was time to move and on May 2nd we were catching beautiful 12 to 15 inch black crappies. We were sight-fishing them in wood on points using 12-pound mono and small jigs tipped with Bobby Garland plastic. While on the subject of tackle, I wanted to share this: I was fishing with Dave Kohta on Tuesday last week in a pad field with long poles, slip bobbers and jigs when I hooked a 40 inch plus musky. That fish had my GAMMA 4-pound Polyflex line twisted around every pad stem in the cover. I was untangling from a snag on the port side while the fish was ripping it up 20 yards away on the starboard side. Eventually it was the hook that failed and the fish got away. Let me tell you, Black Knight Industries make a heck of a product with that GAMMA line. It's the only line I use on Hooker Fishing Taxi. GAMMA Line and Bobby Garland Baits can be found here at Hill's Country Store on the Ohio side of the lake at the corner of Rt. 7 and Rt. 322."

Norm @ Jamestown Boat Livery; filed 5/4: "It was a slow Saturday on the South end of the Lake. But there was a pick-up in fish being caught on Sunday. Some customers came in with walleyes, and others reported that crappies were finally moving shallow. Water temp on the lower end of the lake this Monday moving is 54 degrees, up several degrees from Saturday. We have the Charlie Brewer Crappie Sliders available at the Marina Shop one of the hottest crappies baits."

Dave @ Richter's Sporting Goods; filed 5/4: "Some walleyes have been hitting on minnows and worms drifted in deep water. One customer stopped by with a phone picture of a 50 inch musky she caught over the weekend. I asked her to send to my email so I get up on our website. Crappies finally started to come in this past weekend not hot and heavy but it's starting. The PLA Crappie tournament was this past weekend. The individual who had lunker was staying my cottages his black crappie was 16 inches long and weighed 2.2 pounds."

Brian @ Espyville Marina; filed 5/2: "Pymatuning Lake Association Crappie Tournament todayeveryone seems to be headed to the stumps at the North End. Fishing has been hit and miss proposition along the causeway. Some boats on the sandbar are catching small perch. A few slab crappies towards Tuttle Point and the Stumps. Boat Rental Specials: Pontoon M-F 8am to 6 pm $105 plus tax; Sat-Sun-Holidays $155 plus Tax. We provide first tank of fuel. Reservations taken for ALL DAY RENTALS ONLY; call 724-927-2001."

Ben Lipiec; filed 5/2: "Pymatuning has rebounded nicely from a tough weekend last week. I fished 4/29 and 5/1 and bass were on fire both days. I had a couple each day in the 3.5 to 4 pound range; lots of 2 to 2.5 pound bass in the shallows right now. With the 10 day forecast showing nothing but 70s and sun all week, even more big ones will be making a push shallow. Now is a great time to be on Pymatuning."

Rich and Brendan Conlon; filed 4/30: "Cooling water temps scattered the Pymatuning largemouths last weekend but helped keep the smallmouth bite strong. We fished south of the causeway and were able to find several nice smallmouths in the 2 to 3 pound range all coming on white Z-Man Chatterbaits. Brendan is pictured with one over 3 pounds."

Jeff Frischkorn: Outdoor writer Frischkorn reports his Ohio sources indicated the warming days two weeks ago started a strong crappie bite at Pymatuning, then all the sudden with the cold snap "the bite went south and quickly!"

RJ Graham (Tionesta); filed 4/27: "I fished Pymie for bass the last two days and it's really been tough. I fished North with one keeper on Saturday. And on Sunday, my Dad and I had 6 bass for 13 pounds on crankbaits. Bite for everything is tough after that severe cold snap. And for crappies it is even a stranger year. We had a day stretch after ice out with crappies in the Stumps. But they pulled out. I think this may be one of those weird years when crappies just don't move into the stumps good. Some fish are biting around Red Cross."

Woodcock Lake

Bill @ Bill's Bait & Tackle; filed 5/4: "Customers report a good weekend on walleye at Woodcock Creek Lake mostly small keepers, no big fish."

Canadohta Lake

Jerry @ VanTassel Bait; filed 5/4: "They are catching crappies in the Canal at Canadohta Lake."


Presque Isle Bay

Jim @ Lake Erie Bait & Tackle; filed 5/4: "They are catching nice perch off the North Pier. Smallmouth bass are moving into the Bay."

Jeff Reichel (Meadville); filed 5/4: "My son Jacob and I fished PIB from 7 am to 1 pm on Saturday the 2nd. We caught 11 smallmouth bass and one largemouth bass between 2 and 4 pounds. Most fish were taken on a Hopkins Spoon; others were caught on a smoke tube jig. All fish were in 14 to 18 feet of water. There were a lot of boats but not many were catching fish. We returned to PIB on Sunday from 8 am to 3 pm. The places were fished on Saturday only produced one smallmouth and one nice perch. After spending the morning on the usual spots, we went looking for something new in some unmolested water. After 45 minutes of motoring around with eyes glued to the Garmin Sonar we stumbled on a patch of hard bottom that came up from 20 feet and topped off at 14 feet. It was the size of a large station wagon and had fish all over it. We proceeded to boat ten nice smallies and long line release several more. All fish were taken on spoons or blade baits except for two caught on a smoke tube. We were using the 6-pound Gamma Edge line we won last fall good stuff! Thank you Black Knight Industries."

Ben Lipiec; filed 5/2: "I went out for a few hours to PIB on Monday the 27th and Thursday the 30th. The smallmouth are in and biting. It not fast and furious but I caught 14 or 15, I think. The biggest was 5.1 pounds. Not tons of fish but now is the time to catch a big one. Also, largemouths are biting all over. Finally, life is good again!"

Paul Stewart's PIB Perch Report

-April 22: "Went perch fishing to PIB on Saturday the 18th with Mike LeDonne. Got 45 keepers between the two of us. Finally starting to get some bigger perch. All caught on Sabiki rigs with emerald shiners."

-April 25: "Saturday was windy and cold for perch fishing in PIB. Between the two of us we managed to get 30 keepers in spite of the strong East wind."

-May 4: "We were out last Friday, May 1. Same thing strong east wind. Perch were not cooperative."

Lake Erie Tributaries

Jeff @ Poor Richards Bait; filed 5/4: "Steelhead season is winding down. Suckers are in the creeks and a few bass are moving in. Some anglers are fishing the shoreline at the creek mouths for walleye, but the temp needs to come up a bit."

Dan @ Elk Creek Sports; filed 5/4: "There was a small run of steelhead into the mouth of Elk recently and some anglers are catching a few silver fish in the lower end. Anglers are catching the stocked browns in the tribs. Smallmouths are moving into Elk. However Elk is low and clear need some rain but uncertain if the forecast for Tuesday will be enough. The walleye bite on the shoreline is starting but we need the temp to reach the mid-50s for a good bite in the evening. I had some customers out on the lake for perch, fishing 25 to 40 feet with no success."

Ric @ Trout Run Bait; filed 5/4: "The night walleye bite on the shoreline is starting. We had a good night on Sunday with the full moon. Most 'eyes are running 5 to 6 pounds, and we had two over 8 pounds last night. The walleyes are feeding on smolts. You cannot use too large a plug; one walleye had six 9" to 10" smolts in its stomach. The Fire Tiger #18 Rapala is doing well, along with the Jointed Rapala and the Daiwa DB Minnow. Shoreline trollers are picking up eye as well as casters. Also, I heard they were getting some perch straight out of Walnut."

Lake Erie The Big Lake!

Rich @ Erie Sports Store; filed 5/4: "Fishing has just started in the Big Lake. Perch fishermen have ventured off Walnut Creek Marina and have caught some perch in 30 to 40 feet of water. On the West Side of Erie, anglers have been catching walleyes between dusk and dark. Both wading anglers and boaters have caught walleyes using floating stick baits like Rapalas. Good reports of lake trout and brown trout coming in off Northeast. Fishing in 50 to 55 feet of water on the inside of the mountain has produced catches of lake trout and brown trout. Run your downrigger weights very close to the bottom for best results. Our MAY specials include: 20% off complete stock of fishing rods; Panther Martin Lures from $2.98 and up; 20% off Power Bait/Salmon eggs."

Tom @ North East Marina; filed 5/4: "Out of NE Marina, anglers are doing very well on lake trout 25 feet down over 30 to 42 feet of water along with an occasional walleye. Water temp is 44 to 46 degrees."

Destin DeMarion (Butler); filed 4/30: "I managed to get out this past Saturday on the Big Water and the Bay. The conditions weren't bad considering. Air temp started off in the 30s with a NE wind and 1-2 footers. We headed east to late fall area where smallies spend the winter. The water temp was 39 to 41 degrees. But action was fast. We boated about ten smallmouths and a large lake trout within the first hour. Bass were in the 2 to 3.5 pound range but after a long PA winter, I cannot complain. We picked up a walleye before heading back to the bay. All our fish came on a Fish Sense Gold Binsky Blade fished with subtle slow hops. Back in the Bay we caught one smallmouth near the chute and looked for largemouths. We headed back into the lagoons where the water temp was in the upper 40s. Things started quickly throwing a jerkbait with erratic retrieve. We worked in and back out with jerkbait and flipping tube. No big fish, but still fun to catch 25 to 30 largemouths. I attached pictures of first smallmouth, lake trout and walleye of the year."

Keith Eshbaugh @ Dutch Fork Lures; filed 4/30: "Jason Hagg, Brian Conroy and Keith Eshbaugh from Dutch Fork Custom Lures headed to Lake Erie for lake trout. We caught some lakers jigging head jigs with plastic, but trolling was more effective. We caught over 35 fish and lost 12 to 15 more. The most effective lures for trolling were Dutch Fork Custom Painted Spoons in Rainbow Trout, Krappie, Perch and other green patterns. We were using Dutch Fork new Chrome Mag Willow Lake Trolls ahead of the spoons as an attractor. Fish were in 50 feet of water, using downriggers and Dipsy Divers at 2.5 to 3 mph."

Lake LeBoeuf Edinboro Lake Union City Dam

Bill @ Bill's Bait and Tackle; filed 5/4: "Customers are catching bluegills and crappies at Edinboro in the canals, but the fish are sort on the small side."

Jerry @ VanTassel Bait & Tackle; filed 5/4: "I have reports of crappies and northern pike at Lake LeBoeuf and pike being caught in the spillway at Union City Dam."


Shenango Lake

RJ Graham (Tionesta); filed 5/4: "I fished Shenango Lake on Sunday the 3rd, and it was a great day for bass on that lake. We caught 27 largemouths with three of them over 4 pounds along with many healthy 2.5 to 3 pounders. We also got 3 pike. The water was up 3 feet over summer pool according to the website and the temp was 62 degrees. The fish were clear up in the trees. All but three fish came on my Custom RJ Jigs in watermelon color with Chigger Craw Trailer. I was using GAMMA Torque Braid for flipping and lost no jigs all day."

Jon @ CDS; filed 5/4: "Our customers are fishing heavily for trout in area streams. Some are having great success others say the bite is slow. We are selling a lot of Power Bait for trout and crappie right now. One customer caught a 27 inch walleye at Shenango over the weekend."

Ken Smith (Sharon); filed 4/30: "Back home from vacation and out on Shenango Lake for the first trip of the season. With water temps as low as they are, I decided to check the deeper brush before the shallows. I found a lot of fish in the 15 foot depths that were willing to bite. Most were small with a few bigger ones mixed in. Caught over 30 crappies and gills but only nine were over ten inches. Bobby Garland Baby Shads on 1/8-ounce jighead produced all the fish."

Lake Wilhelm

Vickie at Fergies Bait; filed 5/2: "Lake Wilhelm is approximately 47 degrees with some panfish hitting in the shallows. But with the cold water, most keeper size panfish fish are in 7 to 9 feet from the Electric Motor Only area to Access #3. Also, our order of 1/24-ounce Kastmasters are in. Fergies will be doing a drawing for the "ready set wear it" kick off on Saturday, May 16 in support of National Safe Boating Week which runs May 16-22. Anglers who wear their life jacket into Fergies on Saturday, May 16 may enter into the drawing; see Vickie for details. We would like to invite other area tackle shops to joining Fergies in reaching as many boaters as possible to stress safe boating."

Al Moore (Cochranton); filed 5/2: "I went to Wilhelm today. My first cast using a Chatterbait produced a 2-1/4 pound largemouth. My second cast with a Strike King Coffee Tube yielded a 5 pound largemouth. I caught four more buck males, nd that was my day. See you on the water."

Trout Streams

Dave Horvath; filed 4/30: "I had a great evening on Big Neshannock below the Iron Bridge in Mercer. I caught and released many trout mostly rainbows. The weapon of choice was a small gold spoon, tipped with a live maggot."


Trout Streams

Bill @ Griffins Bait & Tackle; filed 5/4: "Here at Griffins Bait & Tackle we have been selling Rooster Tails, Swiss Swing and CP Swing spinners. We have also been selling a number of Wooly-Bugger and Mickey Finn streams. Johnathan Shaffer caught a couple nice rainbows while fly fishing on Sugar Creek. One was 13 inches and the other was 16 inches. Colleen Prokop caught a trout by accident while fishing in Sugar Creek. She felt a bite and set the hook catching a snelled hook someone else had lost with a trout already on it! Colleen also caught a nice 15 inch rainbow on a green nightcrawler."

Jeff Reichel (Meadville); filed 5/2: "On Friday the 2nd, I fished Oil Creek in the morning and saw many fish rising to a heavy Granom Cadis hatch; but I was unable to hook a fish. Gusty wind made fly casting a chore. So I moved to upper Sugar Creek and landed one wild brown trout on a Cadis dry fly and long line release 2 more. I find little wild trout more satisfying than bigger stocked fish so I was happy. I also witnessed some brook lamprey spawning at my feet and was able to take a video cool!

Dennis Beggs Trout Fishing Vacation Report:

- April 29: "Justin Schillaci (Greenville) caught this nice 16" Rainbow on Sandy Creek on a green cadis fly. Kin Slye (Cranberry) and I caught 102 trout today on Sandy Creek drifting eggs and bead head nymphs. FUN Day! "

- April 30: "Took three days off work this week to fish. I met a gentleman on the stream with a nice 17" brown trout and asked his permission to submit his name and photo to the Report. Name was Larry Kladny (Butler), brown taken on minnow from Sandy Creek."

- May 1: "Another great day on trout streams. Attached photo of Art Deak (Venus) holding a 16" colorful rainbow caught from Oil Creek on salmon egg. Also a photo of me holding an average size brown from Oil Creek today; taken a salted minnow.

- May 2: "More trout photosaction shot netting a trout and scenic fog lifting over Oil Creek. Art Deak (Venus) is the fisherman with me in the photos."

Allegheny River

Dale Black @ GAMMA Line; filed 5/4: "On Saturday, my son Jake and my uncle Richard joined me on the river out of Oil City. It was a perfect day. Between the three of us, we caught somewhere between 75 and 100 fish. Most were smallmouth bass, but we also had 7 walleyes. It was a tube bite."

Gene Winger (Oil City); filed 5/4: "I have been on the Allegheny almost every day for the past two weeks fishing for smallmouth bass. It's been an exciting two weeks considering the major changes in river levels and temperatures. I've had some 40 bass days but I've also had some slow days. In deeper pools I've been using Winco Taste Tube Supremes with excellent results. In shallower water I use Winco Solid Body River Darters with a weighted Texposed hook to keep the bait down and help casting in high winds. After 30 years of not fishing, I finally got my retired brother-in-law Denny Watson on the river. Attached is a picture of his first smallie caught on a Winco Solid Body River Darter. Good job Denny!"

Bill Logan (Pleasantville); filed 5/2: "On Friday, May 1, fishing out of Tionesta, I got five smallmouths and missed a bass and a walleye. The first bass hit a musky spinnerbait. The other four took a paddle tail grub. Two of those bass went 20 inches! Today, the 2nd, I launched at Tidioute but only caught one bass."

Pete Cartwright; filed 4/30: "I had great fishing on April 25th and 26th on the Allegheny River. The river levels started to drop and we got out, catching some nice smallmouth and a few pike. We fished current seams and eddies along with faster current; most fish were caught in eddies. Soft plastics like Small Jaw Craws and 412ubes from 412 Bait Company caught the fish."

Gamma Fishing Tip

This week GAMMA's Fishing Tip comes from outdoor writer Jim Gronaw of Maryland. "Despite some recent family surgeries, I have managed to get out and catch a few fish. Our family continues to use Gamma Polyflex Copolymer Line in 4-pound strengths for our panfishing. GAMMA is wonderful in both strike detection and distance casting for quality bluegills and crappies. On April 13th we caught and released over 300 panfish, including pre-spawn crappies to 15 inches and mammoth bluegills and crusher pumpkinseeds over the 10 inch mark. Most fish took a 1/80th ounce jig tipped with a maggot and suspended below a bobber. We let the wind do the work and drift our baits from 3 to 7 feet below the surface around pre-spawn areas of gravel and fine sand. The Gamma Polyflex is tough and several nice bass were easily handled on the 4-pound test. Quality lines, quality fish!".



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