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NWPA Fishing Report, 4-5-17

April 5, 2017
By Darl Black ,

This report is brought to you by PA Great Lakes Region tourism with additional support from Wiegel Brothers Marine and Gamma Fishing Line. We answer the question "What's biting in the lakes, stream and rivers of Crawford, Erie, Mercer and Venango counties?"

Special Report: Updates from PFBC Fisheries Managers

For Area 1 & Area 2 Waters within the Fishing Report region

Article Photos

Christian Furball took this awesome musky on Pymatuning Lake. Photo courtesy of Christian Furball

Tim Wilson Area 1 Fisheries Manager (based at Linesville Hatchery)

Presque Isle Bay: Largemouth Bass appear to be on the upswing with a very large year class a year or two away from entering the fishery at legal size. Panfish are doing very well. Great place to try and catch a big Longnose Gar or Bowfin. Musky appear to be on the upswing, too. Northern Pike numbers are still down after the die-off several years ago.

Pymatuning: Hydrilla control efforts are scheduled to continue in 2017. Panfish Enhancement Regulations on Crappies went into effect on March 1st.

Fact Box

Pymatuning Lake

Pymatuning Lake Association: The PLA will host two upcoming tournaments open to the public. The Crappie Tournament is scheduled for April 29, and the Walleye Tournament is scheduled for May 20. Entry fee for each tournament is $45.00 per two-person team. For more information go to or email

Shenango River Lake: Hybrid Stripers and White Bass are doing very well. Our analysis of the scales taken from hybrid Striped Bass in Shenango show that on average it takes 4 years to reach legal limit of 20 inches. We have captured hybrids as old as 11 years. We have not found any Alewives in Shenango as some anglers have reported during our trap net and electro-fishing surveys. However, since Alewives are abundant in Pymatuning, it would not surprise me they eventually show up downstream in Shenango. It's hard to predict the impact of invasive species like Alewives. Gamefish love them but panfish suffer for several reasons. Often gamefish become difficult to catch due to overabundance of invasive species preyfish.

Lake Arthur: Hybrid Striped Bass, Largemouth Bass, Channel Catfish, Walleye and Bluegill are doing well. Musky have declined slightly but are still good. Crappies and Perch are average or below average for Area 1. Lake also is heavily infested with Hydrilla.

Brian Ensign Area 2 Fisheries Manager (based at Tionesta Hatchery)

We have been involved in an extensive musky survey in several lakes in our District. You can view our web reports for each lake on the PA Fish & Boat Commission website.

Edinboro Lake: During our trap netting Musky survey of Edinboro we caught 40 Muskies for a catch rate of .08 fish per hour; the benchmark is .01 Musky per hour for a good fishery. Muskies are looking good at Edinboro, as well as Black Crappies Bluegill and Largemouth Bass.

Lake LeBoeuf: Survey turned up some large Walleyes. Lake is an open system with fish moving in and out of French Creek. We also saw some nice Yellow Perch, Black Crappies and a 30 pound Musky.

Woodcock Creek Lake: We caught nice walleyes in 2012 during electrofishing, as well as some very nice Smallmouth Bass. Perch population looked good as well as the Musky population.

Canadohta Lake: Another of our Musky Survey Lakes. We observed good population of musky, walleye and panfish (Black Crappies and Yellow Perch). Bass was only so-so.

Allegheny River: We always expect to see good survey results on Smallmouth Bass and Walleye in the river. We have been studying the natural reproduction of walleyes in the river in recent years, determining which sections have sufficient natural reproduction and which sections may need stocking. We have determined that the river below President does not require supplemental stocking of walleyes. But from President upstream to Kinzua Dam tailrace we are stocking walleye to bring the numbers up to historic rate. Also on the river we are providing a special enhanced rainbow trout fishery with stocking from Kinzua Dam down to Conewango Creek in Warren.

French Creek: This stream was studied to determine the need for walleye stocking, too. Evidence indicates several sections of French Creek need to be stocked particularly around Cambridge Springs. Numbers are increasing.

Oil Creek and Kinzua Creek are in the Keystone Select Trout program in which we stock additional 14" to 20" in the delayed harvest areas. Read more about it on the website.

Latest County by County Fishing Reports

FRENCH CREEK Flowing through all four counties

Editor: Due to heavy rain earlier this week, French Creek is running very high and very muddy. More rain expected in next couple days.

Angler Al (Franklin); filed 3-19: My friend Corey Breene sent me a picture of a chunk northern pike he caught from French Creek on a Swim Shad.


Pymatuning Lake

Pymatuning Lake Association: The PLA will host two upcoming tournaments open to the public. The Crappie Tournament is scheduled for April 29, and the Walleye Tournament is scheduled for May 20. Entry fee for each tournament is $45.00 per two-person team. For more information, application & payback schedule go to or email All proceeds from the events benefit the PLA Habitat Fund.

Dave @ Richter's Bait & Tackle; filed 4-3: Most of the lake action is up North, although there were reports of a few crappies being caught over the weekend down South around Gibson, Livery Docks and Campground Bay. Only a few guys have been out wading at night with success undetermined. The big news has been the musky bite in the Shenango River below the dam. There have been reports of a dozen different muskies caught recently.

Laurie @ Duck & Drake: filed 4-3: Customers are reporting perch and sunfish from the pad beds up North over the weekend. Walleyes are being caught at Spillway and PA Bridge of Andover Causeway. No walleyes observed in the creeks yet.

Patty @ Poff's Place; filed 4-3: Getting reports of walleyes at the Spillway. Crappie bite has fallen off with the cold temps the other day. Over weekend, customer reports a few crappies while 10 other boats in the same bay were empty handed.

Becky @ Gateway Bait; filed 4-3: Hearing about crappies and perch in northern bays and few walleyes at Spillway; nothing from the waders yet. On Saturday, there were lots of boats at the PA Bridge of Causeway fishing for walleyes.

Sam @ Robinson's

3-31: Crappie, perch and bluegill are hitting in most northern bays Stewart's, Wilson's, Alcatraz, and Blackjack. Lots of success with Water Puppets and Shimmerlings tipped with maggots or small minnow on bobber set at 1 foot below surface. The walleye bite is picking up at the Spillway with limits being taken early morning, late evening and overnight. The makers of the Water Puppet will be in the shop on Saturday, May 7 to talk with people and give tips. We have started wholesaling bait to area bait shops throughout the region. We also will take bulk orders from individuals at a discounted rate.

4-3: With the influx of cold weather on Friday and Saturday, the crappie bite has fallen off some and walleyes are spotty in North End. Customer reports Saturday the water temp main lake South End was 38 degrees; main lake North End was 43 degrees and in the North Bays it was 47 to 50 degrees.

Christian Furball-Furlong (OH); filed 4-2: Caught my first musky at Pymatuning from shore on the Ohio side around 6 pm.

Paul Hellmann @ Someday Isle Tackle; filed 3-31: We have been catching perch at PIB, and Pymatuning has been producing perch and crappies in the bays. Bite seems to get better every day. My wife Kelly caught this carp at Pymatuning. Lots of fun bringing it in!

Editor Note: Jeramie Joy had an interesting day at Pymatuning Spillway the end of March. In addition to catching a limit of walleyes, he landed a 27 inch hybrid striper. Jeramie's brother Shawn is the individual who caught and released the 55 inch musky at the Spillway earlier in March. The Pymatuning hybrid stripers are a mystery. They were not intentionally stocked by the PA Fish Commission, although there is a report that perhaps 15 years ago (or earlier), some hybrid stripers escaped from the Linesville Hatchery through an error. Anglers reported catching stripers at the Spillway and other areas of the lake for a number of years. Since hybrids cannot reproduce, Fisheries Manager Tim Wilson says any stripers being caught now cannot be from the lot or original escapees. Speculation of course points to a private individual putting them in the lake which would be an illegal introduction. Hybrid striper fishing is fantastic at Shenango Lake and anglers wishing to tackle with stripers should visit Shenango.


Presque Isle Bay

Rich @ Erie Sports Store; filed 4-3: Perch fishing in the Bay has been solid for quite some time. Weather permitting, anglers have been fishing off the piers and in their boats since mid-January. Due to lack of ice, we have seen and heard of many good catches of perch in the usual spots Border Patrol Dock, Public Dock, Liberty Park and private marinas. Boaters have had success in shallow water and water deeper than 12 feet. The only concern I have is that most of these fish are females full of eggs. Crappie fishing has been spotty, but seems to be picking up; the Lagoons and some private marinas have given up crappies recently. Bluegill fishing has been good in shallow water.

Dominic @ Lake Erie Bait & Tackle; filed 4-3: Prior to the cold snap, crappies were being caught in Misery Bay, Marina Lake and East & West Piers. Lots of perch have been taken this spring, but it's been more quantity than quality. Weekend bite was slow.

JR Callison; filed 4-3: Yesterday was a tough bite. Surface water temp at 8 am was 42.4 and around 44 degrees when we left at 1:30 pm. I only caught a dozen bass but they were all solid 17-inch Largemouths. The largest was 3-3.5 pounds. I targeted areas with gradual depth change sloping from 4 to 12 feet. The key to the area was new grass growth at 6 feet and plenty of baitfish. Most fish came on a 1/4-oz. Strike King Redeye Shad in Sexy Lavender Shad and few fell for a Keitech 3.8" fat swimbait on a 3/8-oz. Casey Classic Roadrunner head. I used a slow retrieve with an occasional pop when lure hung in the grass.

Jamie Hughes; filed 4-2: Hey Darl, we caught our smallmouth bass today in 15 to 21 feet of water fishing grubs and tubes. The bite was super slow; we only caught a total of 5 fish but they ranged from 3-3/4 pounds to 6 pounds all fat and healthy pre-spawn females. I fished with my father, Steve Hughes. We fished the grubs and tubes on 1/8 and 1/4 ounce jigheads using GAMMA EDGE in 6 and 8 pound test. Water temp was 44 degrees.

Dave Horvath (Edinboro); filed 3-31: No action at Edinboro Lake yet. I hit PIB last Monday for perch. Bite was somewhat slow. Did manage a dozen jumbo perch then ran out of bait!

Fred Di Petro; filed 3-31: I've been slamming jumbo perch 11 to 15.5 inches for six weeks, plus steelhead, northern and a five-pound smallmouth bass on Monday. The Bay is the place to be!

Paul Stewart (Butler); filed 3-25: We braved the arctic cold in Erie on the 25th to catch perch. In Butler it's over 60 degrees; in Erie its 36 degrees not including wind chill!

Lake Erie

Danny Jones @ Lake Erie Bass Charters; filed 4-2: After catching largemouths for a couple weeks in the Bay, I ventured out onto the main lake to start checking on smallmouth bass. I picked a bad day. Lake was rough and dirty, and cold! Just a bit too early. Better days ahead. I'll keep you posted.

Erie Tributaries

Jeff @ Poor Richards; filed 4-3: There are still some steelheads in the streams lower sections. Right now the streams are high and dirty. The water is starting to come down to fishable level, but more rain in forecast. Minnows and eggs are best bets.

Dan @ Elk Creek Sports; filed 4-3: We have a mix of species in lower Elk Creek right now, including steelhead, suckers and a few smallmouth bass. Yes, smallmouth! Since the lake didn't freeze, the water is warmer than usual and apparently stirred some smallies to move into the stream ahead of schedule.


Shenango River Lake

Rick Como (Sharpsville); filed 4-1: I haven't been out fishing on Shenango due to weather and low water. However, this coming week I plan on being out. Stripers and whites should start to show up this week. Water temps are coming up and the lake level is back up from all the rain. I will have a report soon!


Kahle Lake

RJ Graham (Tionesta); filed 4-2: We fished Kahle Lake last Monday (March 27). We caught exactly 60 bass, a perch and a bluegill. Water temp was 54 degrees. All fish shallow on lipless crankbaits.

Allegheny River

Gene Winger (Oil City); filed 4-2: Over the past two weeks Allegheny River fishing has really started to crank up! With last week's colder water temps, I caught most of the bass working deeper water with tubes and Winco's CW Smallie Delight jigs. This week, as water temperature climbed into the upper 40s, I caught a boat load of bass in six to ten feet of water using Lucky Craft jerkbaits and Winco Tubes. With high winds and rain on Thursday, Denny Watson and I thought the fish would move deeper and shutdown. But to our surprise we hammered them in two to three feet of faster moving water using Winco's 3.75 inch Solid Body River Darters and jerkbaits. Attached is Denny's first bass of day then my camera died!

Jeff Knapp@ Keystone Connection Guide Service; filed 4-1: There has been a good early-season smallmouth bass bite on the middle Allegheny during the past two weeks. At times it's been great. During the first day of the warm-up, following a clear/cold night with a low of 15 degrees, we caught smallmouths on finesse tubes. As the warm weather continued in the days to follow, the tube bite became more consistent, and the bass started to show an interest in hard jerkbaits. The last day of the warm spell I had an excellent afternoon, boating or nearly boating 20 smallmouths up to 20 inches, with all but one coming on suspending hard jerkbaits, including the Rapala Shadow Rap. It's a pattern I see every spring: as the water warms, and bass become more active, they'll move to rock flats close to deeper "tube jig" spots, and respond to jerkbaits. The return of cold weather and rain killed the jerkbait bite, but we still had a good afternoon during my last guide trip, boating around 15 smallies on finesse tubes in four hours. As of now (April 1) the river is pretty much blown out from rain of March 30/31. I'll be running bass trips again as soon as the river drops to a reasonable level, and will also be running walleye trips on Pymatuning soon.

Eric Heil (Franklin); filed 3-31: Here is a true Allegheny River giant, caught by my daughter Amelia. One of the largest and heaviest I've seen in years. It weighed 4.5 pounds. It hit a tube fished on 8-lb. Gamma Edge line.

RJ Graham (Tionesta); filed 3-29: I spend most of the past week fishing for smallmouth bass on the river. The bite was very good, with up to 20 smallies each evening.

Bill Logan (Pleasantville)

Filed 3-23: Today I caught and released 1 small pike, 2 walleyes (largest 9 pounds) and five smallmouth bass up with largest just under 4 pounds.

Filed 3-25: In four hours today, I caught 15 bass and a small pike. Fish came on tubes, grubs and Rapala X-Rap jerkbait. Biggest was 3.5 pounds.

Pete @; filed 3-22: Today we caught smallmouth using 412ubes from 412 Bait Company. The fish we caught were very sluggish but fought pretty well in the cold water. All bass were between 16 and 20 inches fat and healthy, even an old one with one eye. Bass were pretty shallow in this cold water.

Matt Watson (Franklin); filed 3-21: Smallmouth bass are starting to hit pretty good in the river. I caught 23 this past week on crankbaits. Most were in 16 to 18 inches. Hope this cold snap doesn't put them down for long!

FISHING with Lefebre: April's Jerkbait for Smallmouth

Seasonal NW PA Tip from Bassmaster Elite Pro and Extreme Erie TV show host Dave Lefebre

April is smallmouth bass time in Presque Isle Bay. Smallies coming into the Bay are deep early in the month and shallower later in the month. During the in between stage you usually find a lot fish in the 17-foot range maybe little deeper in morning and little shallower in afternoon. This is the best jerkbait bite of the year. Nowadays the new slow-sink Rapala Shadow Rap Deep is my go-to bait in April. Prior to the Shadow Rap, my favorite bait was the deep-lip Shad Rap which I weighted. Lure color is important. PIB smallies feed on small perch and smelt. I helped with input on some of the new Shadow Rap colors including the smelt pattern. The greenish gray color is superb in clear water. Using fluorocarbon line helps get this bait down. Many anglers don't realize what a difference fluorocarbon line can make on a jerkbait the line literally pulls the bait deeper. Fluorocarbon line is part my deal for jerkbaits in cold water. I use 8 or 10 pound test. Try it!



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