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NWPA Fishing Report, 3-28-18

With Special Report from PFBC Area Fisheries Biologists

March 29, 2018
By Darl Black , Blackwolfe Communications LLC

Brought to you by PA Great Lakes Region

Published by Blackwolfe Communications LLC


Article Photos

A nice Allegheny River smallie from Jeff Knapp's Keystone Connection Guide Service.

Mentored Youth Trout Day - April 7

The second of two PA Fish & Boat Commission's Mentored Youth Trout Days will be held on Saturday, April 7 in the western northern sections of the state, including the counties in the NW PA Fishing Report Region. Youth under age 16 and accompanied by an adult mentor may fish in any stocked trout water in the region. Kids may keep two trout over 7 inches; mentors must release any trout they catch. The program was started five years ago to encourage more youth to participate in fishing. Visit website for details.

Day at the Hatchery - April 7

The Linesville Fish Hatchery Open House is scheduled for April 7 from 11 am to 3:30 pm. For more information, visit PA Fish & Boat on their website at

River Bass Tourney - April 8

April 8 is the first of the 2018 FOP Allegheny River Bass Tournaments. For more information, contact Lt. Heil at

Pymatuning Bass Tourney - May 8

The Bassmasters of Crawford County will hold their annual Spring Bass Classic at Pymatuning on May 8. This is a team tournament. For more information, contact Eric Marsh at

County by County Reports

French Creek Flowing through all four counties

Tabitha @ Myers Sportsman; filed 3/26: Local anglers were on the creek for walleye before the season closed March 15. It will reopen in early May. Boone Shay and his friend Eric caught some nice fish before the closure. Also, we had a great turn out for trout stocking of Woodcock Creek this past week.

Angler Al (Franklin); filed 3/25: I geared up to wade-fish French Creek. With air temp hovering at 35, I certainly wasn't planning to stay very long. In fact I just wanted to catch a single fish for that satisfaction of "Fish On" feeling after this long winter. I began jigging a Road Runner with a chuck of live bait. The minnow quickly drew a smashing hit from a 20 inch walleye which was promptly released.


Pymatuning Lake

Dave @ Richter's Bait & Tackle; filed 3/26: It's been a pretty slow start to the fishing season at Pymatuning. Nothing is happening with walleyes yet, although an occasional one has been reported caught at the spillway. The reports on the early crappie and perch fishing success have been hot and cold. For example, last Thursday my son and I fished Stewart's Bay by boat and caught some decent crappies and a few perch. I went back the next day with a friend and all we got were a few little bluegill and just a couple very small crappies. Over the weekend, I had a report of some crappies from another northern bay. If we could get a solid warming trend, the bite would start. But not sure enough shad died to see the high expectations that many walleye anglers have about the coming season.

Laurie @ Duck-N-Drake; filed 3/26: I'm receiving reports of crappies and perch in the shallows from bays up north. The best baits have been medium size minnows, 2-inch twister grubs, and Lucky 7 attractor hooks. The best bite is in the evening. No reports of walleyes yet.

Patty @ Poff's Place; filed 3/26: Anglers are picking up panfish, including reports of some 12 to 13 inch crappies and 15 to 16 inch crappies this past week. No word on walleyes other than a handful taken at the Spillway back in February during the warm weather spell.

Sam @ Robinson's Bait; filed 3/26: The bays across the northern end of the lake are producing perch and crappies in very shallow water. Our customers are reporting best success with Someday Isle Tackle's Shimmerling jig head tipped with a small minnow under a bobber. We have Someday Isle Tackle in stock. Have not heard anything about walleyes not even at Spillway.

Jim McClave (Andover); filed 3-19: I caught my first crappie of 2018 today while freezing my butt off standing in snow falling. It was a nice 13-inch slab on a minnow in a northern Ohio bay.

Pro Angler Dave Lefebre @ Erie Extreme offers this tip for anyone having problems catching very early spring crappies: Use a very small tube or curly-tail suspended below a small bobber. I use a very light action rod in the Defy series from 13 Fishing, but other rods work just be sure you can cast very light jigs with a bobber. Fish in shallow mud-bottom bays and canals with vegetation and wood cover, and fish shallower than you do any other time of the year. Crappies are in these areas feeding on small minnows attracted by the warmer water.

Conneaut Lake


Presque Isle Bay

Mike @ Lake Erie Bait & Tackle; filed 3-26: This has been a very good March for perch in the bay. Sometimes the weather has been rough, and boat anglers have not been able to get out. Dock anglers are doing pretty well, such as a couple guys on the North Pier who caught 90 perch in 1-1/2 hours. But the large perch are coming from those in boats. Also hearing about a number of small steelhead being taking by perch anglers. Fish are moving. And the walleye anglers are looking forward to this summer with high expectations. Charter boats were catching a lot of sublegal 'eye last summer which should be legal this year.

Erie Tributaries

Lynne @ East End Angler; filed 3-26: Considering how low and clear the east side streams are, they are still catching a good number of steelhead in Twenty Mile (upper and lower in stream), in Sixteen Mile below the Water Plant and in lower Four Mile Creek. Lots of perch action in the Bay from the docks as well as small steelheads. We have the PA Fish Commission stocking schedule on our Facebook Page. Brittney @ Poor Richards; filed 3-26: Customers are talking about the great perch fishing in the bay. We weighed a perch last week that was 2 ounces shy of a new state record. Anglers are also catching good number of steelheads lower in the creeks near the mouth.

Dan @ Elk Creek Sports; filed 3-26: Although the creeks are low and clear, a good number of anglers are being successful despite some pretty darn cold and icy conditions. No seeing big steelhead or any brown trout, but there are lots of smaller fish in the creeks be careful, smolts have been stocked so handle with care. If we get some of the promised rain this coming week, the start of April could be a banner week or two of steelhead fishing.

Paul @ Someday Isle Tackle; filed 3-25: We have been hitting steelhead in a lot of non-traditional spots but in a traditional way bobber fishing! Using Water Puppets and Shimmerlings we have taken quite a few steelheads around PIB. Perch have slowed a bit with the cold weather although some locations around the Bay front are still producing. After this coming week's warm up, fish should tune on. Have fun out there.

Paul Stewart (Butler); filed 3/24: Went up to Presque Isle for perch on Saturday. Lots of perch caught but mostly smaller ones. Sun too bright; larger perch move out to deeper parts of the Bay.

Tom Watral (Erie); filed 2/23: Tom reported back during the Feb warm-up that larger perch were being taken along with steelhead using perch rigs tipped with orange minnows.


Shenango Lake

Randy @ Fish West PA; filed 3/21: The early spring thaw in February turned on a few good fish for us here at Shenango Lake as well as at Lake Erie tribs. When the ice was off, the pike started their spawning journey into the river tributaries of Shenango Lake. Bass and crappies were even active for a few daysuntil the cold set in again. Better days to come and soon. Everyone's ready!

Lake Wilhelm

John @ Fergie's Bait; filed 3-26: Up until today, we were stilling getting skim ice on sections of Wilhelm overnight. The only news we had was regarding some decent bluegills being caught around Launch 1.


Allegheny River

Pete @; filed 3/23: I received an order of baits and headed to the Allegheny River to test some new colors. The river temperature was quite cold, but we caught a few in deeper water. Smallmouths are starting to wake up and eat! We used Gamma Edge 8-pound test and 412ubes from 412 Bait Co to catch our bronze.

Jeff @ Keystone Connection Guide Service; filed 3/15: Despite winter's reluctance to loosen its grip, I've managed to make a few early season scouting trips. Keystone Dam produced some nice white crappies; walleyes up to 26 inches on Allegheny River Pool 6; walleyes up to 21 inches on the middle Allegheny along with the season's first smallmouth bass and northern pike. With walleye season now closed, I'll be doing guide trips on the middle Allegheny for smallmouths and scouting trips to Pymatuning for walleye.

3/26 Postscript: On March 25 I did my first smallmouth outing of the spring. No monsters, but a bunch of nice ones from 15 to 17.5 inches. All on Z-Man TRD TubeZ, finesse skirted jigs and Galida's Grubz. Water Temp was 39/40 degrees, clear and low for this time of year.

Gene Winger (Oil City); filed 3/26: It's great to finally get back on the river again after a long winter, even after getting skunked on my first trip of the season! Last week the river was 37 degrees with good color and flow but my cold water techniques just didn't produce. This week was a different story. I was out three times and had a blast. Water conditions really had not changed, but the bass bite was really starting to crank up! I had good luck using a 2.5" green pumpkin tube on 1/4-oz head and small 1/4-oz olive hair jigsfished slowly along the bottom in 18 to 20 feet. Can't wait for water to hit the magical 40 degree mark!

Bill Logan (Pleasantville); filed 3/26: I caught 10 bass on the river today with tubes. Live is good.

It's the annual March Kick-Off issue, so here's

Good News for NW PA Anglers from PFBC Area Fisheries Biologists

Tim Wilson (Region 1)

Perhaps the biggest news out of Region 1 is how well the muskies at Pymatuning Lake are doing in both number and growth rate. Last spring 90% of the muskies we sampled were between 32 and 42 inches. We believe the muskies being stocked now have built up a better resistance to Red Spot, which devastated the musky population at Pymatuning some years ago. Our new strategy is to stock bigger musky yearlings but fewer of them, and in alternating years.

There are very nice bluegills at Shenango Lake. Last year 78% of bluegills sampled were over 7 inches; in all our previous bluegill sampling we never caught a 7 inch bluegill. Also, more flathead catfish are showing up in Shenango. Hybrid stripers are doing very well, too.

Presque Isle Bay has a very good year class of largemouth bass approaching 15 inches. Look for bass fishing to improve over the next couple years.

When trout stocking below Shenango Dam was stopped due to contaminants found in fish in the river downstream of the dam, we moved the stocking of those allocated trout to a section of the Shenango River from Hamburg down to the power line crossing above the Big Bend Bridge. This was the best outcome for a bad situation, but keeps the trout in Mercer County for anglers.

Brian Ensign (Region 2)

The Keystone Select Trout program allows us to stock larger size rainbow trout in certain stream sections. One of those areas is Oil Creek from Petroleum Centre Bridge in the State Park to the Railroad Bridge at Columbia Farm. This section gets a special spring stocking of 14 inch to 20 inch rainbows. With good parking and fishing on both sides of the stream, this is a great opportunity for kids and parents to fish for larger than average trout. Learn more about Keystone Select Trout program on the PA Fish & Boat website.

Sugar Lake is another lake to highlight. It's under big bass regulations and it's a stocked musky lake. Again last year the lake met our benchmark to continue stocking muskies. We netted 8 muskies in the 90-acre lake between 32 and 39 inches, and we know from angler reports there are larger ones in there. The lake also has a high black crappie population, yielding 1,001 in 470 hours of effort (one week) with lengths ranging to 12 inches. We also captured bluegills to 8 inches. And in one night electrofishing we got 172 bass of which 74% were over 12 inches.

Lake Pleasant in Erie County may be best known as a stocked trout lake, but it also has good warmwater species opportunities. Trout fishing success lasts into summer because it is a two-story fishery with deep cooler water. But last year when sampling the shallows we got 6 legal northern pike from 25 to 35 inches; 1100 bluegills with 96% over 7 inches, 261 black crappies with 76% over 9 inches. In the May bass survey we had 91 bass with 11 of them over 15 inches.

Web reports on each of these bodies of water may be found at



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