Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Product Reviews | Recipes | Home RSS

NW PA Fishing Report, 3-17-16

March 17, 2016
By Darl Black ,

This report is brought to you by PA Great Lakes Region tourism with additional sponsorship from Wiegel Brothers Marine and Gamma Fishing.

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

French Creek flowing through all four counties

Article Photos

A very nice late season pike taken Austin Plummer through the ice at Sugar Lake. Photo from Griffins Bait & Tackle

Angler Al (Franklin); filed 2/23: "Disappointment, sadness, gut wrenching inner sickness, frustration from mental replay like a hunter who misses or perhaps wounds a trophy buck so true are these feelings when an angler blows the opportunity to net a fish of a lifetime. Unfortunately, within the last year, I have had this happen more than once. Although I had moved past my missing a record size walleye beside the boat last summer on Wilhelm, I'm right back to those ill-fated conditions tonight. I did battle this evening with what was the biggest freshwater fish I've ever hooked. The monster French Creek musky did a smack down on my chartreuse/orange floating jig tipped with a large emerald shiner. Then my drag smoked for 35 yard run upstream. I held strong and so did the 8 pound Gamma Line. But when I worked him back to within about 5 yards from me, the fish showed just how big he was. Dang that's what I'm left with nowa picture of a massive fish gone crazy. It lit the surface with thrashing and tearing about then the line went limpand so did I."


Pymatuning Lake

Fact Box

Dan Bickel, Pymatuning Park Manager states rumors about Pymatuning Lake being drawn down this spring or summer for Hydrilla treatment, work on the Linesville Marina or work on the dam are untrue. "With normal precipitation, we expect the lake to be back to full pool by mid-April. The work on the dam will be conducted at full pool, so this should not have an impact on the level.

IMPORTANT INFORMATIONDan Bickel, Pymatuning Park Manager states rumors about Pymatuning Lake being drawn down this spring or summer for Hydrilla treatment, work on the Linesville Marina or work on the dam are untrue. "With normal precipitation, we expect the lake to be back to full pool by mid-April. The work on the dam will be conducted at full pool, so this should not have an impact on the level. The Linesville Marina and Boat Rental will be closed the entire 2016 season; however, the Linesville Launch and Parking lot will be open through June 1, 2016 before closing for new construction. Tuttle Launch will be open the entire year to provide an alternative to Linesville Ramp. The parking area at Wilson Launch was improved last fall in preparation for Linesville Ramp closure."

Dave @ Richter's Tackle Shop; filed 3/14: "The warm spell after ice out has the crappies feeding in the shallow bays on both the North and South Ends of the lake. How long the mud bay bite continues is up in the air. Big perch are also hitting I caught one 15 inches this week. There are reports of largemouth bass being caught, plus a couple small muskies. However, the walleyes are just starting to move to the shallows."

Laurie @ Duck-N-Drake; filed 3/14: "Walleyes are hit and miss. I had one longtime fisherman stop in with four 'eyes that went from 22" to 24". He caught them in 8 feet of water on an orange jig. A more reliable walleye bite should kick in any time. I've had reports of sporadic catches of crappies and perch all around the lake."

Brandi @ Poff's Place; filed 3/14: "Anglers are out earlier than usual due to early ice out. And they are catching some crappies and perch. Walleyes have not started yet, but they are catching a few from the Linesville Spillway and Espyville Causeway Bridge on Sonars."

Sydney @ Robinson's Bait; filed 3/13: "News from the North End has crappies and perch hitting on minnows in about 4 feet of water in Blackjack, Wilson's Bay, Alcatraz, Stewart's Bridge and inside the rocks at the Spillway. Many of our customers report 30-plus fish taken on Saturday the 12th. Our bass fishing buddies tell us that both largemouth and smallmouth bass are hitting as well. Surface water temperatures were reported from 46 to 49 degrees. Walleyes are being picked up on Sonars at the Spillway although not in great numbers. Reports are bait is somewhat scarce due to early openings which caught some off guard. Fear not! We have around 40 pounds of fatheads in our tanks and 8,000 crawlers available with more ordered. We also have bass and pike shiners, as well as maggots. This coming week we should have Rosie Reds and large fatheads as well as wax worms. Stop in to browse our new merchandise and have a complementary cup of coffee."

Jim Hall (Meadville); filed 3/14: "Chris and I were on Pymatuning on March 8th out of Jamestown Ramp. The water temp on the main lake was 39 degrees in the morning going up to 41 degrees by 3 pm. A few fish are coming shallow but most still seem to be deep."

Kevin Austin (Sharon); filed 3/13: "I've been fishing the docks at the Jamestown Marina with artificial jigs since March 10th, catching a few crappies and other panfish each day. The picture of our catch from March 11 was taken on white and chartreuse jigs. On the 12th, I took my nephew to the docks; it was his first time jigging with just artificial lures see the second photo for how he did!"

Jim McClave (Andover, OH) filed 3/12: "I fished a couple hours off the docks at Jamestown on the 10th with jigs and minnows but no luck. Bait shop said crappies were hitting up north. On the 12th I fished a couple hours off shore at Padanaram with about 10 other anglers nearby; no one caught a crappie. There were 3 or 4 boats out in the bay; talked to them when they came. They were catching perch but no crappies."

Canadohta Lake

Jerry @ Timberland Bait; filed 3/14: "Nothing happening here at Canadohta Lake yet. With the great weather this past Friday and Saturday, I sold out of every minnow I had in the tanks as guys were heading to Pymatuning and PIB for crappies."

Jerry also supplied the winners of the February Canadohta Ice Fishing Tournament:

Perch: 9-3/4"; $100 to Kip McLaughlin, Erie

Crappie: 13-1/4"; $100 to Dick Perry, Union City

Walleye: 24"; $250 to Brad Bacher, Lewistown

Northern Pike: 35"; $350 to Joe Fink, Pittsburgh

50/50 winner: $200 to Jeff Jackson, Corry

Erie County

Presque Isle Bay

Jim @ Lake Erie Bait & Tackle; filed 3/14: "Not a lot happening yet. They are picking up perch around the Bay at the usual early spring spots from shore and in boats. I've heard of a few crappies being taken in the canals, Misery Bay and Head of the Bay."

Paul Stewart (Butler); field 3/13: "Fished from the docks for perch. Morning bite was good but afternoon was slow."

RJ Graham (Tionesta); filed 3/12: "First crappies of the spring. I caught them in 2 feet of water in PIB. Can't wait to get back up."

Erie Tributaries

Gary @ Poor Richards; filed 3/14: "There are some holdover steelheads in the tributaries. Catches have been up and down, depending on clarity of the streams. Good one day, tough the next. Likely continue like that until trout opener."

Andy @ Trout Run Bait; filed 3/14: "It has been hit and miss with the steelhead. A few guys are catching brown trout left over from winter stocking in the Fairview Gravel Pit."

Becky @ Elk Creek Sports; filed 3/14: "Streams were fishable on Friday and Saturday this past week. We had a number of anglers who caught some freshies silver fresh-run steelhead. Most of these fish were about 8 pounds and all we cleaned were males. We have not seen a large female steelhead all fall and winter long. Forecast of rain should help keep water in the streams. Smolts were stocked this past week so many will likely be caught PLEASE handle them with care as you unhook and release them."

Jim @ Folly's End; filed 3/13: "As of March 13th the mid sections of Elk Creek are primed for fishing with good flow and color. There have been some spring run fish, along with the fall hold-overs. Current catch rate has been about 1 fish per hour if you know how! Nightcrawlers and egg patterns have been effective the last 24 hours. The following factors should be considered in any plans to fish Elk during the next 60 days:

Both 3CU and PAF&BC have begun stocking smolts. Please be gentle with these fish as they will return in 2 years!

The water table at this time of year is high and significant rain will likely cause rapid deterioration of conditions.

Suckers will soon be in the streams.

Opening day of PA Trout Season is April 16, 2016the only day you are NOT allowed to fish Elk is April 15, 2016.

Steelheads typically remain in the stream through mid-May, but in decreasing numbers."


Shenango River

Special Award: The US Army Corps of Engineer selected Hugh Clark as recipient of the 2015 National Volunteer Award for his tireless efforts in creating and maintaining the Upper Shenango River Water Trail. The award recognizes the extraordinary service provided by volunteers, draws attention to their vast skills and contributions, and encourages an attitude of stewardship and responsibility in caring for Army Corps lands, facilities and resources. (DCNR Update Newsletter)

Shenango River Lake

Ken Smith (Sharon); filed 3/12: Ken reports success on catching his first mess of crappies of the year while fishing from the shoreline at Shenango Lake.

Lake Wilhelm

Vicki @ Fergie's Bait; filed 3/14: "There were a few anglers out over the weekend but no reports that they caught anything. The water temperature in the lake is in the high 30s/low 40s. Cold weather moving in later this week; hopefully fish will start biting with the next warm spell."


Griffins Bait & Tackle; filed 3/14: "There has been fishing success reported to Griffins Bait & Tackle. From the Sugar Lake Ice tournament in February, Austin Plummer landed a 31 inch northern pike. Lewis Smith landed a 45 inch 30 pound musky from the Allegheny River on Monday March 7. With warmer weather will come bring better spring fishing. Remember that anyone out in a watercraft less than 16 feet (powered or unpowered) must wear a Personal Floatation Device until April 30th."

For Sale at Griffins: 14' StarCraft Deep V with trailer, 20 HP 4 stroke Yamaha and accessories. Stop by Griffins in Cooperstown or call 814-374-4523.

Sugar Creek

Al Bell's Trout Diary

Feb 20 For what I deemed an extremely above average temperature for a day in February, I went trout fishing. A good ole nightcrawler got me hooked up with two brown trout one 18 inch and one 20 inch.

Feb 21 Returned to the same spot as last evening. Within a couple drifts with a nightcrawler, I landed a 20 inch brown. Suckers were schooled up at this place, so I figured the trout was feeding on sucker spawn. Before leaving I caught a heavy 16 inch brown and a sucker. Fantastic Outing!

Feb 22 On Sugar Creek again this evening. Thus far one sucker and a chunky 15 inch brown.

February 29: I decided to hike up a small tributary that feeds Sugar Creek. Drifted pieces of nightcrawlers to catch four wild brown trout. The nicest one was 14 inches. It has been a fun Feb!

Allegheny River

Bill Logan (Pleasantville); filed 3/13: "On my first trip out on the river this year on 3/8, I caught two smallies on a Galida Grub. On Saturday, 3/12, I started out with two nice bass one on a tube and one on a grub. When I pulled free from a snag, a big one grabbed my grub, but I lost it. Later in the shallows, I caught 3 bass and a walleye on a Rapala Shadow Rap, and lost another one."

Steve Udick (Oil City); filed 3/13: "I fished with Terry Corbett from Rockmere on March 9th. Wind was rough so we fished just above the Wye Bridge where we were out of the wind. Terry lands a 19.5 inch smallmouth on his first cast (see pic). I landed a 19 inch smallie on a Firetiger Rapala Shad Rap. Firetiger has been my best color all winter long. We finished the afternoon with five fish. Bass seem to be moving out of wintering holes; I have caught several 12-15 inch smallies for the last three days in moving water. That's a good sign for spring!"

Dave Lefebre's April Tip: Rapala's new slow rise jerkbait

"Ice-out is one of my favorite times of the year in NW PA because it's perfect jerkbait time. Many of you know I like Rapala's slow sinking Shadow Rap at this time. But as the water warms on sunny afternoons during April, I prefer a slow-rising jerkbait. And this year Rapala has introduced the perfect match to their slow-sinking Shadow Rap. It is called the Shadow Rap Shad and it's a slow riser. It is going to be great all year around, but will be particularly effective in April. There are two models, a shallow lip and med lip diver. Cast it out, quickly crank or pull it down to its maximum depth, then pause. The Shadow Rap Shad has a finesse wiggle as it rises ever so slowly it drives bass crazy. After short rise, pull it back down again. The pause is critical that is when most bites come as it rises ever so slowly."

Crappie Fishing Seminar Slanted for May 19

Get ready for the biggest how-to crappie seminar ever held in NW PA! Top crappie fishing experts from around the country will present a public seminar on Thursday evening, May 19th at the VFW Pavilion in Transfer (just north of Shenango Lake off Rt. 18). Watch for details in the April 6th issue of the NW PA Fishing Report for list of speakers and where to get free tickets.

Fishing with Darl Black Guide Service is currently booking crappie trips at Pymatuning for late April through July as well as bluegill/crappie trips at Conneaut Lake for August & September. During April, I am also booking smallmouth bass trips on the Middle Allegheny River. All tackle provided, including rods and reels. To learn more about area waters and the fish you seek, book a guided fishing trip. Or give a gift certificate of a guided trip to a friend for a special occasion. Visit my website and Like my Facebook Page "Fishing with Darl Black" for more information. Then email me direct at to discuss a date.



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web