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.
As a DWCO trainee in the lower Montgomery County, I learned the difference between our Title 58 Pennsylvania Code for Fish and Boat Commission Rules and Regulations and the real world of field work. I have discovered that some anglers who have physical contact with the waters of Skippack Creek are afflicted with amazing short-term neurological and cognitive disorders. Counting creel limits for trout for some has become a thesis for new combinatorial algorithms. Here is axiom #1 (good neighbor corollary): Eight legal-sized trout can be counted as the 16 that you caught with eight on your stringer and eight that you gave to your friend for his stringer. Axiom #2 (Robin Hood corollary): Catch any amount more than eight of legal-sized trout and give the balance to the poor anglers who have not caught any yet. Axiom #3 (Biblical loaves and fishes corollary): Counting to eight becomes harder to achieve when in the presence of a uniformed WCO or DWCO. Somehow that ninth trout, or maybe tenth of eleventh trout, surprisingly appears on the stringer or in the creel when asked to count your claimed "seven" trout. I know that I'm "wet" behind the ears, but I'm sure that my colleagues will show me how to catch on to the new math. There's got to be something in that water.DWCO Chris D'Ascenzo, Southern Montgomery County.
Since I started this job, one of the things that amazes me is the vast array of improvised fishing equipment that I find people using along our waterways here in the Southeast Region. One of the most common is the "Philly Fly Rod," simply a length of monofilament wrapped around a beer or soda can, with a weight and hook at the end. An angler proficient with one of these can cast it nearly as far as his counterparts who use conventional tackle. One evening while off duty, I was fishing for channel cats in the Schuylkill River with DWCOs Roger and Fran Lauderback, and I decided to see for myself how well the "Philly" would work. To Roger and Fran's great amusement (and disgust), I managed not only to outfish them, but also to catch the largest fish of the evening, a 23.5-inch channel catfish!WCO Robert W. Croll, Delaware County.
Unusual bass story
When on my way in to check licenses at a local lake, I encountered two fishermen walking out to the parking lot. I stopped to ask them for their fishing licenses, and as one of them turned to show me the license pinned to his hat, the tail of a bass swung around from behind him. I took the fish and the person's license and told him that I would meet him at his vehicle to settle. They left and I got a bag out of the trunk of the car and tried to put the fish into it. It was dry and would not go in, so I grabbed a bottle of spring water and pored it over the fish. As I did this, the gills started to work, so I jumped into my car and took the fish back to the lake. I tried to revive the fish, but it only floated on its side. Another fisherman was watching me do this and asked if he could try. I said that he could, and he went out on a rock and retrieved the fish, and started to move it gently back and forth to force water through its gills.
After several minutes, another bass swam by and turned to look at the fish. It then swam up to the injured fish and touched its nose to the back of the man's hand. It then swam a short distance away, and when the fisherman let go, the bass began to swim away. The other one accompanied it toward deeper water.WCO Raymond J. Borkowski, Northern Washington/Southern Beaver counties.
Water we doin' in a canoe?
Two weeks and two canoe patrols later, here's the score: Water, 2, WCOs, 0. There are times when it seems that if I didn't have bad luck, well, then I'd have no luck at all. Here's a thumbnail sketch; you decide.
French Creek, Crawford County: While checking canoeists, my Southcentral Crawford/Eastern Mercer counties counterpart innocently maneuvers our canoe in such a manner to soak my field glasses, flashlight, and me. Additionally, my quick exit caused not only my clothing to get wet, but also my sinking thigh-deep into the creek's bottom. Muddy WCOs get no respect. Trust me on this!
Tionesta Creek, Forest County: While orienting our new Forest County officer, the officer attempts to drown his guide (me), and apparently himself, by capsizing our canoe after hitting an "almost" submerged tree. Casualties were, again, my just dried and cleaned field glasses and a camera, pager, paperwork, law books, lunch, and other relevant items. All items were found and returned to service, and lunch was still edible. Guess not all my luck is bad. WCO Mark T. Kerr, Western Crawford County.
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March/April 1999 PA Angler & Boater
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