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NWPA Fishing Report, 1-30-19

January 31, 2019
By Darl Black , Blackwolfe Communications LLC

Upcoming Ice Fishing Tournaments

February 2: Pymatuning Lake, during Winter Fun Days. 7 am to 3 pm. Register this week at Richter's Gateway, Poff's or Robinson's, or on the 2nd at 6 am at Shelter #4 at Jamestown end of lake. More info, call 412-303-3822.

February 2: Kahle Lake, W PA Hardwater Tournament Series**

Article Photos

The recent cold snap has allowed for safe ice fishing in some areas. This photo comes from the Western PA Hardwater Tournament Series staff.

February 9: Canadohta Lake, sponsored by Timberland Bait. 7 am to 5 pm. See Facebook page. More info, call 814-882-8369 or Jerry's cell.

February 16: Presque Isle Bay, W PA Hardwater Tournament Series**

March 2: Pymatuning Lake, W PA Hardwater Tournament Series**

(** For more information on this series of tournaments, visit )

Note from Griffin's Bait from January 7th: We have closed the Bait and Tackle Shop. We have lots of inventory to sell at good pricing. No auction or big sale. Just call to make an appointment to stop by. Thanks to all our customers over the years.

Bill Griffin 814-374-4523


Editor's note: French Creek and Allegheny River are iced up in slower areas with chunk ice in faster moving water. Currently, both are unfishable. Polar Vortex will lock them up tight. Depending on future weather (slow thaw due to warm spell), it is possible French Creek may open up later this winter and perhaps be fishable before the Allegheny. The Allegheny will likely flood come any mid-winter thaw.


Pymatuning Lake

Dave @ Richter's Bait & Tackle; filed 1/28: There is 5 to 7 inches of ice across the lower end of the lake. Some anglers on Friday & Saturday reported bad ice along shore at Jamestown boat ramp and other areas due to warm up earlier in week. Anglers are catching mostly bluegills and a few perch around the Jamestown docks, off Ohio Campground and off Westford. Tuttle Point area is closed so no anglers up that way. One of my regular customers reported a limit of 17" to 23" walleye, plus he released a 26" and 28" doesn't keep the big ones.

Becky @ Gateway Bait; filed 1/28: Not many anglers out. Hearing good reports from Ohio Campground area. Some have been going out of Manning since Tuttle is closed, but a couple customers said they got wet boots trying to go out of Manning.

Rich Sari, filed 1/27: I just got back from Pymie. I checked the ice at Snodgrasss. Two inches of good ice, then soft and two more inches of ice. I was up Monday to check, and ice was bad in spots at Jamestown Livery. The snow melted on the two inches of ice, and when you put weight on it, water came up through. I didn't want to take a chance today of going out where the current comes through. There is open water up at the causeway under the overpass on the east and west side of the lake. West side worst with about 400 to 500 yards of open water. However, there are people out on the ice down by the Welcome Inn. There were seven shanties out on the hump fishing for walleyes. There were also a couple of shanties in the bays on crappie spots. I would advise that anyone going out should be very carefulif you want to chance it. I've been doing this for 50 years and only fell in once. I wouldn't advise going out today. Should be OK by weekend. Cousin Chuck and I are going to try it on Tuesday. The cold weather this coming week should help. I'll keep you posted.

Canadohta Lake

Jerry @ Timberland Bait; filed 1-28: We have 10 inches of ice on Canadohta Lake and people are fishing like crazy. Crappies are suspended over brushpiles. I ran out of bait over the weekend. Bull Dam (Easton) has been producing, too. Don't forget our Ice Fishing Tournament at Canadohta on February 9th.

Conneaut Lake

Editor's note: Here were about 1/2 dozen shanties on the south end of Conneaut Lake on Saturday, 1/26, when I drove by.


Presque Isle Bay & Tributaries, Lake Pleasant, Eaton Reservoir

Dominic @ Lake Erie Bait & Tackle; filed 1/28: Perch fishing is spotty. Getting some off of Parking Lot 1 and 2 at Head of Bay, getting some 9 to 11-inch perch in Marina Lake, crappies in Misery Bay, and pike in Horseshoe Pond. Ice is not safe as of today on City side of Bay I heard one guy went through.

Gary @ Poor Richards; filed 1/28: Creeks thawed with the rain and then jammed with ice and froze up.

Becky @ Elk Creek Sports; filed 1/28: I have three things to say about fishing the tributaries cold, icy and unfishable. We need a major thaw to clear the ice jams. Really can't complain about weather streams were fishable all fall and into January, freezing up only in last couple weeks.

The rain opened up the creeks for a few days and brought more steelhead in; but the cold weather then froze things up quickly except for Sixteen Mile.

The rain and high west winds gave us the sashay effect on the Bay, bringing high water and breaking up the ice. The good news is this cold weather has the ice locked back up in most places. Ice fishing on Horseshoe has been hit and miss, with some steelhead and perch. Misery should be solid by now although a couple anglers went through on Thursday. The Head of Bay should be locked up again with safe ice. Look in the shallows next to weed beds for perch. By the time the Report goes out the whole western end of the Bay should be good. I am hearing about perch being caught around the yacht club. They are still bringing in the big lake ships to the port, so be careful around Dobbins.

Eaton Reservoir has been giving up walleye and crappies. Lake Pleasant has safe ice with most anglers catching trout. Big crappies and hand-size bluegills have been caught, too. Fish 8-15 feet water for crappies and a little deeper for perch.

Don't forget to take a cooler for your fish to keep them from freezing before cleaning them. Perch get mushy if they freeze before getting filleted. Same for walleye and crappie.

Danny Jones (Erie); filed 1-26: We've been catching some perch and steelhead at the Head of the Bay and in Marina Bay. 90% of our fish came on Steelshad Mini in Sexy Shad color. We've caught fish from 8-12 feet. The ice has been shaky the past couple days from the rain last week but should be safe after the next cold spell this week. Use a spud bar to work your way out!


Lake Wilhelm

Bo @ BC Bait Company; filed 1-28: Wilhelm has 7 inches of good ice. I spoke with multiple anglers over the weekend. They reported catching crappies down towards the dam in 15 to 20 feet of water using minnows on jigs and UV BC Bait Pickworms. I also spoke with anglers fishing in the stumps; they reported catching good numbers of bluegill and perch in 6-7 feet of water off the Bachop Road Boat launch towards the stumps; they were using jigs tipped with maggots and wax worms. A group of guys in the stumps had a mixed bag of 47 panfish in two hours using a pink Pickworm on a #6 hook.

Shenango Lake

Editor's note: no recent word from contacts on Shenango. Over a week ago (before the rain event), Ken Smith said the ice was not safe. I would guess with all the rain this past week likely brought the lake level up and destroyed what ice was forming simply speculation.


Allegheny River Chunked up with ice and frozen in sections. However, prior to freeze up, anglers were catching good walleyes.

Jeff @ Keystone Guide Service; filed 1-19: There was a brief window of opportunity about one-week period between high flow and ice flows during which I was able to fish the middle Allegheny for walleyes We did well, catching lots of quality-size walleyes, mostly on jig and minnow. Prior to that we did well on several trips on the lower Allegheny, which fishes better during periods of high water.

Erie Extreme Tip of the Month from Dave Lefebre

"Perhaps the biggest mistake I observe on the ice among anglers targeting crappies is their rods are too stiff. They may think their rod is soft, but in most cases it's not soft enough. It's easy to miss getting a good hookset on crappies, as well as too easy to lose crappies on the way up both the result of a too stiff rod. I recommend a super soft rod sort of a 2X ultra-ultralight almost sloppy action! The super-soft 13 Fishing Pickle Stick fits the fill."

Lefebre has been using small spool spinning reels on his ice rods for a number of years, but he was not satisfied with the performance. He desired something simpler. "When I tried the 13 Fishing Free-Fall Ghost recently, I realized this was what I had been looking for. It's sort of like a baitcaster in complete free-spool no drag on the line coming off the rotating spool. There is a brake you can apply with one finger to stop the line. I can drop a 1/64-ounce jig with this rod."

He combines the 13 Fishing Free-Fall Ghost with the 13 Fishing Pickle Stick for what he considers the perfect crappie ice-fishing combo. The combo (which has been dubbed the Atomic Pickle due to the bright glowing green color of the rod) is available in local retailers.

More Ice Fishing Tips from the Experts

How to Fish the SteelShad through the ice Danny Jones

If you have seen my Facebook postings, you know I've been having a pretty good ice season so far on PIB. Roughly 90% of the crappies and steelhead we've caught have come on the SteelShad, a relatively new blade bait something like the old Heddon Sonar only better! I've been asked to describe how I fish it.

The size of SteelShad I'm using is called the Mini it's 1/4 ounce. I'll start out ripping it up and down about 6 inches to get the attention of fish. When I mark fish on the sonar screen coming to investigate, I'll slow down and so smaller, softer rips. The SteelShad mimics various types of small baitfish. It will catch anything from perch to pike. Don't overwork it. It has a lot of action with very little movement. I use 4-pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon on a medium-light 13 Fishing Tickle Stick. SteelShads are available at some local tackle shop or go online to learn more.

How to Fish Someday Isle Tackle Jigs through the ice Richard Hellman

The small Shimmerling can be fished in many ways, including simply rigged on a dead-stick rod when baited with a small minnow. The Shimmerling is heavy enough to get your bait down but light enough to allow the minnow to move it around. Typically, we allow the Shimmerling/live minnow to fished on the dead stick rod, laying in wait for fish, while we jig with a 1/16-ounce Water Puppet tipped with minnow in another hole. The Water Puppet takes fish, too, while attracting other fish from a distance to the two holes and the struggling minnow on the dead stick. Another way to get those fish stuck to the bottom is with a special technique with a 1/8-ounce Water Puppet tipped with minnow or plastic. With the heavier Water Puppet, I jig softly just off the bottom, pulling it up about a foot or so. At the end of the stroke, drop your rod tip and let the jig glide down and plop into the bottom. The small puff of debris cloud created by contact drives those mud bellies insane. Shimmerlings and Water Puppets are available at many local tackle shops.

Using the BC Custom Baits new UV Pickworm for Ice Fishing Bo Ryan

We have recently added UV colors to our array of baits, including the Pickworm the favorite of panfishermen. Our new UV Pickworms have been catching numerous crappies, bluegills and perch on Lake Wilhelm this season during testing. The Pickworm is threaded on the ice fishing jig of your choice and jiggled softly at the depth which fish are observed on the sonar. For more details, check out the YouTube videos I've posted by going to our Facebook Page "BC Custom Baits."

Editor note: Both Someday Isle Tackle and BC Custom Baits are based in NW PA. For this months Report and February's Report, we will be giving away two prize packs each month of couple packages of Shimmerlings and BC Pickworms for your ice fishing escapades. Names drawn from among contributors. Check the Gamma Tip Page for winners.



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