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Outdoors notebook: Bear harvest down

| Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

around the game commission

• This year's bear harvest is going to be the lowest in a while. Preliminary Game Commission figures after the four-day statewide season put the kill at 2,639. It was 3,154 at the same point last year, when hunters set a new record, and at 2,815 in 2010, when the season was three days. Harvest results from the early bear season, including the statewide archery bear season, and the extended bear season won't be available until later. After the four-day season, the top bear harvest county in the state remained Lycoming with 262. Rounding out the top five were Clinton with 229, Tioga with 150, Potter with 109 and Centre with 98. Locally, Somerset County gave up 87 bears, Fayette 69, Armstrong 32, Westmoreland 25, Indiana 19, Cambria 11, Butler eight and Crawford six.

• If you've killed a deer and haven't yet reported, there are three ways to do so. You can go to the Game Commission's website at www.pgc.state.pa.us, then click on “report your harvest;” you can call toll-free 1-855-PAHUNT1 (1-855-724-8681); and you can use the postage-paid postcard that's included as a tear-out sheet in the digest.

around the fish and boat commission

• Anglers looking to catch walleyes, muskies and smallmouth bass could do worse than to target 333-acre Woodcock Creek Lake in Crawford County, according to some Fish and Boat Commission information. Biologists with the agency surveyed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-owned lake this past spring and summer. The results recently were made available. The survey showed the walleye population in particular looks good. To be considered good for walleyes, a medium-sized lake like Woodcock should produce 24 walleyes per hour; Woodcock Creek produced 72. The overall catch was the second-highest on record for the lake. Electrofishing work found walleyes between 5 and 18 inches, with 18 percent being at least 15 inches long, the legal minimum for harvest. Trapnetting, which typically accounts for bigger fish, resulted in walleyes up to 23 inches. The musky fishery consists of a good number of fish, if no extremely large ones. Biologists handled muskies at three times the rate needed to qualify for a quality fishery. They ranged from 26 to 40 inches long, though the majority were between 34 and 38 inches. Smallmouth bass between 3 and 19 inches were caught, as were black crappies. Ninety-three percent of those latter fish were 9 inches and longer, with some as long as 12 inches.

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