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Bob Frye: Look at Lake Erie fishing and other news

Bob Frye
| Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017, 6:30 p.m.

A roundup of odds and ends of Western Pennsylvania fishing news for your consideration…

Lake Erie

Lots and lots of people fish Lake Erie and its tributary streams, seeking all manner of fish.

So what's that worth?

We're about to find out.

Pennsylvania Sea Grant is doing a $166,315 study examining the impact of Lake Erie fishing on Pennsylvania's economy.

The study – the first examining all aspects of the fishery – is being led by a Penn State University graduate student. Anglers are being surveyed. Additional data from fishing-related businesses and “other available databases” is being factored in, too.

Work began in 2016, so results are expected perhaps in the coming year.

Two fisheries

Speaking of Lake Erie, it's a tale of two fisheries right now.

Chuck Murray, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's Lake Erie biologist, said its walleye population is booming. It doubled from 2016 to 2017, and now stands at an estimated 55 million fish.

Anglers are doing well on them, too. The catch rate, according to the most recent survey, was 1.7 fish per hour.

Murray called that “super high.”

“I would never have believed that was possible,” Murray said.

The story isn't so good with yellow perch.

They haven't disappeared, Murray said. In the portion of the lake under commission management, there's actually been an “uptick” in the population. There are an estimated 125 million perch out there. That's two times the long-term average, he said.

Yet, anglers can't seem to find them.

“The thing that's so troubling about our perch assessment is angler catch rates. The population looks good, but anglers are not catching fish,” Murray said. “It's a pretty disturbing trend.”

Keystone Lake

Anglers fishing Keystone Lake in Armstrong County might soon be able to travel a little faster.

Fish and Boat Commissioners are meeting in Harrisburg on Jan. 22 and 23. Their boating advisory board has recommended that they increase the horsepower limit on Keystone from 10 to 20.

That's what the owner of the lake wants.

The 10 horsepower limit dates back to a lease agreement between the commission, which manages the lake, and Chief Keystone Power LLC, which owns it. That deal expired in March, however.

Keystone Power asked that the horsepower limit increase to 20 in any new agreement.

If commissioners give the idea preliminary approval in January, final approval could follow in April.

Slow no wake

Another change being recommended is meant to slow boaters down.

Some landowners in Clarion County are worried about boaters traveling too fast up Redbank Creek from the Allegheny River.

For years, locals have treated the creek as a slow no wake zone, even though it's never been regulated that way officially. But boat traffic is on the increase there.

Waterways conservation officers looked at the situation. They determined the creek narrows as it goes upstream. That means it quickly becomes congested with boats, they said.

And that poses a safety hazard, said Corey Britcher, chief of the commission's law enforcement bureau.

Meanwhile, Allegheny Land Trust owns an old railroad bridge spanning the creek. It maintains it for a bike-hike trail. The Trust is worried about erosion issues from the boat traffic.

So, the advisory board recommended commissioners make Redbank Creek a slow now wake zone. The rule would apply from its headwaters to its confluence with the Allegheny.

Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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