Pymatuning the place for walleye
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The walleye fishing at Pymatuning Lake this year has been, by all accounts, pretty good.
That's the good news. The better news is that the fishery seems to be on the upswing overall, thanks to a change in strategy.
Two years ago, concerned that very few sublegal walleyes -- the fish that would replace the ones being harvested now -- were showing up in trap nets or anglers' creels, biologists with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and Ohio Division of Natural Resources began stocking Pymatuning not only with walleye fry, as had been tradition, but with 500,000 walleye fingerlings annually, too.
The result has been two very strong year classes of young walleyes and renewed hope for the future of the fishery.
"I won't say things are going to go back to where they were before, where everybody could come to Pymatuning and catch walleyes all day," said Tim Wilson, a fisheries biologist in the commission's Area 1 office in Linesville.
"But the fishing should be better. Anglers can catch quite a few and, starting next year, a lot more of those fish should be a hair over 15 inches rather than a hair under."
Anglers have noticed the smaller walleyes in their catches, said Linda Unger of Chris' Tackle Box in Jamestown. That's change from the recent past, she said.
"Oh, definitely. They've been getting a lot of young ones. Especially in the spring, that was true," Unger said.
That doesn't mean there is a shortage of big walleyes in the lake by any means. Wilson and his crews surveyed Pymatuning in the spring. Their report of that work -- just released in late August -- shows that, despite unseasonably warm temperatures that hurt their catch, they still handled 488 walleyes. Of those, 76 percent were over the 15-inch minimum size limit, 59 percent were longer than 20 inches and 10 percent were longer than 24 inches.
But it's the juvenile fish of the last two years that are the big news. The stocking of fingerlings seems to be working, and both states have committed to continuing it for the foreseeable future, he said.
In the meantime, those walleyes of the last two years range in size from 7 to 14 inches right now, but "fish grow pretty fast in Pymatuning," so they should start to be legal as soon as next spring.
"We've got a couple of good year classes and lots of young fish," he said. "The fishing should really pick up over the next couple of years, at least for walleyes."
Survey reveals healthy populations
The Fish and Boat Commission's survey of Pymatuning Lake turned up some nice catches of fish besides walleyes, too.
Biologists caught just an average number of muskies, but they were impressive, with one stretching 50 inches.
"We've got tons of muskies up here," said commission fisheries biologist Tim Wilson. "This remains one of the best lakes in Pennsylvania for muskies."
The catch rate for black crappies, meanwhile, was the best ever recorded and "extremely impressive." The fish ranged up to 13 inches.
Channel cats are also abundant and big in the lake. About one third of those handled by biologists exceeded 20 inches and 10 percent exceeded 24.
The lake also produced decent numbers of bluegills up to 8 inches and good numbers of yellow perch up to 11.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- For Steelers outside linebacker Jones, size is not an obstacle
- Attorney General drops charges against ‘upper-level’ heroin dealers
- EDMC reaches debt-restructuring deal with creditors
- Steelers cornerbacks Allen, Gay, Taylor have something to prove
- Pirates top Cardinals, 5-2, on Davis’ homer; Alvarez, McCutchen hurt
- Parade of Mustangs to kick off Connellsville’s Mum Festival
- Steelers notebook: Team cuts 15 players, including LB So’oto, RB Hall
- Medical pot advocates speak up at meeting with Sen. Folmer in Export
- North Huntingdon food lover’s project becomes ‘Seriously Delish’ guide
- DQE Communication inks data deal with Iron Mountain
- PSU notebook: Freshman cornerback Haley soars up depth chart