Illustrations by Ted Walke
Illustrated reports from our Waterways Conservation Officers throughout the state.
The following are only a few of the entries which appear regularly in Pennsylvania Angler & Boater magazine.
Al Cas, who resides in Lehigh County, has a small pond on his property in which he raises some rainbow trout. The location of this pond must remain confidential because the record size of these fish might prove too tempting to the unscrupulous.
Mr. Cas, who never fishes the pond nor allows anyone else to, says he feeds these pets every day and that some usually live about seven years before dying of apparent old age.
When I visited him this fall, he showed me three rainbows that had died over the past few years. He was keeping them
in his freezer with intentions of having them mounted. As he pulled them out, they made quite an armful at about 15
pounds each. The largest rainbow he ever weighed from the pond died at a ripe old age of over seven years and weighed
over 19 pounds. That is about three pounds over the present state record!
--WCO Fred Mussel, Lehigh County.
An old adage goes "birds of a feather flock together." This proved to be true, as DWCO Thomas Booth and I were serving warrants that had been transmitted from elsewhere in the Commonwealth for unpaid fines.
While attempting to serve a warrant transmitted from Carbon County for a fishing violation, we discovered we were parked behind a truck registered to another scofflaw for whom we had a warrant that had been transmitted for a boating violation in Berks County. One of the violators worked for the other, but lived at a different address in the township.
These individuals, early birds, were hard to catch at home. Perseverance paid off, though, when one of the violators,
wrapped in a shower towel, answered his door on a rainy Saturday morning with a $50 bill in his hand. Being a good
fellow, he volunteered to pay his associate's fine also.
Another old adage goes "a bird in the hand..."
--WCO Wayne Imler, Central Bucks County.
Last summer while patrolling Lake Naomi, I observed a man and his six-year-old son trying to catch panfish. The boy was getting bites every time he cast, but every time he reeled in he had an empty hook. After about 10 minutes of catching nothing, the boy was noticeably upset and his father was starting to lose patience, so I walked over to offer my assistance, which they accepted. I proceeded to remove the tennis ball-sized bobber and then snipped off the hook, which was so big it would have scared even the meanest musky. I then attached a small bobber and tied on a small hook tipped with a little piece of worm. The little boy's first cast produced a nice bluegill, which was
proudly displayed to everyone at the dock. The father and son thanked me for my help and I left. Some days you wonder
what life is all about, and some days the wonder of life is all about!
--WCO William Snyder, Monroe County.
As everyone knows, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has many access areas located around the state. Many accesses are in secluded areas. WCOs and DWCOs patrol these areas frequently day and night, not knowing what interesting, odd, or even dangerous situations they might encounter.
Late one night (about 12:30 a.m.), DWCO Harold Shorts and I were patrolling the Commission accesses at Tamarack Lake. Before we drove into one of the accesses, we noticed a fire that appeared to be built in the parking lot. As we drove in for a closer look, we found two college students using
a small grill to cook steaks and knockwurst. They told us it was such a nice night and they were hungry, so they just packed up the grill and steaks and drove over. They even had extra and offered us some, which we politely (and rather reluctantly) declined. We also advised them that cooking is not permitted on Commission property.
I guess when the little old lady on television asked, "Where's the beef?" it could be found grilling at a Commission
access after midnight.
--WCO Terry Crecraft, Eastern Crawford County.
My neighbor, Don Clark, a dedicated fly fisherman, purchased a new set of waders and fly rod for the 1996 trout season. Don, a put-together type, departed his home on opening day looking spiffy in his new hat and duds, for a spot on Sherman's Creek. Fishing the morning with marginal success, he decided to fish Moose's Dam after lunch. The dam is a popular fishing area, and on this day it was loaded with anglers, primarily fishing from the easily accessible road-side of the dam.
Don chose to fish the opposite, wooded shore, where it wasn't quite as crowded. In his new waders, getting to the wooded shore was not a problem. But as he approached the spot he had chosen to fish, a nesting Canada goose suddenly appeared. She immediately attacked the intruder.
The hissing, squawking, honking goose flailed Clark with her wings, and dunked him. Clark came up sputtering and
cursing. The goose attacked again. Clark parried with his new fly rod. She dunked him the second time. In this exchange,
she broke his new fly rod. Hurriedly he retreated from her attack zone and made the safety of the roadside shore. With
perfect timing, who should arrive on the scene but the rural mail carrier, Pat Leamer. Pat asked, "How are you doing,
Don replied, "Patty, a goose dunked me twice, broke my new fly rod, and we put on a lively show for the Moose's Dam crowd. It's been that kind of day." With no doubt, this story was widely circulated.
--WCO Ben Leamer, Perry County.
Stocking trout is one of the jobs that you must do that requires a lot of help sometimes. Especially for preseason stocking it's nice to get a good turnout. But when inseason stockings occur, it's nice once in a while to sneak in a few trout without the large crowds and wait to see how long it takes for anglers to find the fish.
This past fall, I was notified late in the afternoon that I would receive some unexpected trout for Cloe Lake, Jefferson County, on the next day because some renovations had been made at the Tylersville Fish Culture Station and they needed to make some extra room in the raceways. By the time I arrived home that evening from training, it was too late to notify anyone, including my deputies or my usual helpers, so I figured this would be an excellent time to get in that so-called "secret" stocking.
Things went according to plan the next day. I met the stocking truck at the arranged location without attracting any notice, so we drove to the lake via the back route to avoid any detection. We arrived at the lake, and so far the plan was really "coming together." No one had noticed us and we started to net in the fish. It was a beautiful fall day­p;sunny, warm and quiet except for the hum of a small plane buzzing above.
The "secret stocking" was just about complete when a car pulled into the parking lot and slid to a stop. Out jumped a pilot with his flight suit still on. It turned out that he was a pilot with the local civil air patrol and was returning to a local airport when he noticed what he thought was a stocking
truck getting off I-80. The truck was going in his same direction, so he decided to follow to see where it went.
I had to laugh about how he ruined my perfect "secret" stocking. That was the first time I'd been detected by air. So
much for that elusive "secret stocking." Now I'd have all winter to think about some new "stealth technology" to get in
that perfect stocking.
--WCO Rick Valazak, Jefferson County.
Patrolling Harveys Creek in February, I noticed a fisherman using a jigging rod. I stopped to see how he was doing in the stream with this rod. He was ice fishing earlier and decided to try some late-season stream fishing. The fisherman also posed an interesting question: Can ice skates be worn while one is ice fishing?
This fisherman wears ice skates to check tip-ups while ice fishing at Frances Slocum State Park. One day, while he was doing this, another fisherman told him this was illegal. Needless to say, the fisherman immediately removed his skates and hasn't combined ice skating with fishing since.
He was glad to hear from me that he could continue his ice skating practice. I suggested he call the regional office in
the future to check on any regulation that was not in his summary book.
--WCO James Stout, Northern Luzerne County.
September/October 1998 Angler & Boater
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