Notes from the Streams

Lackawanna Lake
While checking ice fishermen on Lackawanna Lake, I observed two individuals encircled by tip-ups, auger, other ice fishing gear and the shadows of frozen fish. On closer inspection, the two anglers had caught a beautiful tiger musky, four largemouth bass ranging from 16 inches to 19 inches with large girths, a 26-inch pickerel and several yellow perch--not a bad catch for a few hours of fishing!--WCO Walter Buckman, Lackawanna County.

Cold weather
The cold weather months are upon us, and what comes to mind for many sportsmen is winter fishing opportunities. If you venture onto the water this time of year, keep in mind that it is also hypothermia season, and that cold water kills. The new Coast Guard-approved inflatable life jackets are compact and comfortable, and could very well save your life if you should find yourself in the water. Remember that Type V PFDs must be worn to meet the legal requirements.--WCO Thomas J. Tarkowski, Venango County.

Hats off to conservation groups
Special-interest sporting and conservation groups have done much over the years. It seems that what was once one or two prominent organizations is now dozens. As groups multiply and take on more specific interests, however, something can be lost in what was once a more unanimous voice and cooperation. County leagues, chapters of the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs and Unified Sportsmen help immeasurably in coordinating common interests in local areas. Group meetings provide a great forum for agency representatives to meet with members of many groups in one evening. That means time saved for field work. In turn, these county-level groups coordinate their work at a state level to include working with Harrisburg staff of various agencies, including the Fish & Boat Commission.

Being a concerned sportsman requires more than a magazine subscription and a license. Get involved! Attend county meetings and keep yourself and fellow sportsmen informed. My hat’s off to the rock-steady bunch who always make it out to the county meetings! --Northcentral Region Assistant Supervisor Brian B. Burger.

Nice receipts!
While patrolling the Schuylkill River near Valley Forge, I approached a young couple fishing without displaying their licenses. When I asked them to produce their fishing licenses, they proudly told me that they had just bought their licenses for the first time that weekend and were excited about getting into fishing as a sport. From out of their tackle box came two brand new clear-plastic fishing license holders. Neatly displayed in the holders were nice, license receipts! They had their licenses folded up in a wallet and a handbag. I advised them that the regulations require all anglers to display “licenses” on a hat or outer garment while fishing and that the “receipt” is to facilitate replacement if lost. It need not be displayed and is not a substitute for a valid license. Live and learn.--DWCO Chris D’Ascenzo, Southern Montgomery County.

The long green arm
Angler participation in turning in suspected violators has been at an all time high this steelhead season in Erie County. Sportsmen sacrificing their recreational time to report these suspected violators inspire officers to a higher level to apprehend them. Four recent incidents were reported to me after the suspects had left the scene. These violators were apprehended at their homes by the district WCOs assigned to that area. No doubt, charging someone with netting or snagging, after telling the fish stories to friends and family, was a bit of an embarrassment.--WCO John W. Bowser, Western Erie County.

Waving me over
Anyone who knows WCO Walter Buckman knows that at times when he is talking, he can be quite animated. Never was this more clear than when talking to me one day along a highway. As Walter was telling me about a recent incident, a truck roared up the highway. When the truck neared and the driver could see Walter’s arms flailing as he was talking, the driver hit the brakes and came to a stop. The driver jumped out of the truck and started walking toward Walter. Walter asked, “How can I help you?” The startled driver replied, “I don’t know--I thought you were waving me over.”--WCO William Crisp, Forest County.

Consequences of littering
This past winter I found a stereo box full of garbage. Inside I found a prescription bottle and a letter from the Wyoming County Probation Department. Checking the serial number on the outside of the box, I found that the stereo had been stolen from a K-Mart! This led to the arrest of six men who had been burglarizing this area for some six months. My son had been one of the victims! Moral of the story: Don’t litter!--WCO Larry Bundy Jr., Wyoming/Eastern Sullivan Counties.

Every year we seem to be getting more and more fish-eating birds hanging around Lake Nockamixon during the fall. This past fall was no exception. During one patrol, I observed a large flock of common egrets spaced out along a 200-yard section of Tohickon Creek at the Lake Nockamixon spillway.

The spillway is constructed so that it forms a small pool between the dam for the lake and a secondary dam below, which forms a sediment trap pool between the dams. The second dam was constructed in such a way that a rectangular opening in the center allows water to pass through when the level is such that continuous flow over the dam is not possible. This construction creates, at times, a large plume of water falling to the next pool. When this occurs, it attracts large schools of shad and alewives to both sides of the plume of water.

On this day, I observed egrets taking up a fishing position on both sides of the plume in an attempt to capture an easy meal. A bird would lunge with its spear-like bill with such force that occasionally its whole body would be thrust into the pool.

Occasionally, another egret would get impatient waiting his turn to secure these prime fishing locations and would fly over to challenge the resident angler. A fight would ensue, and the victorious bird would again commence spearfishing. I was surprised to observe that the egrets were only successful on the average of about once out of every five or six lunges. When one was successful, it would have to fly away quickly to a more isolated area or his catch would be in jeopardy of being lost to another egret. Another egret would then quickly fill this recently vacated, hot fishing location.--WCO Stanley D. Plevyak, Northern Bucks County.

Martial arts training
On returning home late at night from a deputy training meeting, I drove through rural areas toward my home in southern York County. While crossing a bridge in a secluded area, some movement next to the stream caught my eye. On the other side of the bridge were three unattended parked vehicles. Now suspicious, I turned around to investigate. From the bridge, I shined my flashlight down into the stream. Illuminated were five young men in the stream, all of whom were in martial arts uniforms. One of them was blindfolded. As I shined my light on the group, one man strode up the bank toward me. This man was their teacher.

From the teacher I learned that what I saw was an exercise in developing the feeling of blindness. This helped enhance the senses of coordination and balance. This was a new and unique use of the waters of the Commonwealth. This is certainly an occupation in which every time you think you’ve seen it all, you find that you haven’t.--DWCO Mike Deluca, Southern York County.

Upset angler assists WCO
WCO Boughter and I were checking run-of-the-river dams in Snyder/Union counties during my first week of field training with an officer. All of the dams were easy to locate except one. We needed some help to find this dam. After about an hour searching for this dam, we saw a gentleman outside his home sitting at his picnic table. We decided to ask this gentleman if he might know where this particular dam might be. The first words out of his mouth were, “Are you with the Fish & Boat Commission?” We replied, “Yes.” Then he told us that he had been cited at the nearby access, wrote a nasty letter to the district justice, and was very upset with us. He didn’t know where this dam might be.

We drove to the next bridge and continued to look. As we pulled in, the same gentleman pulled in behind us. He pulled out a GPS unit to assist us with our longitude and latitude coordinates. With this help we located the dam, thanked the gentleman for his help, and continued with our dam surveys.--Cadet Richard D. Morder, 15th WCO Class.

New guy’s performance
While on field assignment with WCO Raymond Bednarchik, in Berks/Montgomery counties, I conducted myself in a professional manner and held up quite well for a “new guy.” Unfortunately for me, I ruined much more than my own reputation before the field assignment was over. Before ending my final day with Officer Bednarchik, I spent an hour at his district office to finalize some loose ends. I placed a warm can of cola in his freezer to get it nice and cold for my long drive back to Union County. Guess what I forgot? A week later, I was informed by our training officer that my can of cola had exploded in the officer’s freezer and left him with a big mess to clean up! I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that he has already mailed out my field training evaluation!--Cadet Jonathan R. Kay, 15th WCO Class.

BUI suspects
Cadets of the 15th Waterways Conservation Officer Class were put through various scenarios on Sayers Lake in Center County. They had to detect, apprehend and process BUI suspects. The scenarios were realistically enacted and taken seriously by all who participated. Training that took place that day will prove to be very valuable experience in one of the most important and difficult phases of our job.--Cadet Thomas J. Crist 15th WCO Class.

Where there’s a will....
Our Select Trout Stocked Lake program can offer some excellent late winter fishing opportunities. However, a certain amount of preparation can go a long way toward assuring that these experiences are fruitful. Case in point. Just as we finished planting the last of the rainbows and the stocking truck maneuvered to head back to the hatchery, I looked over to the launch ramp and there noticed three gentlemen preparing their bass boat for launch. Now at first glance one would think that these guys personify the word opportunist, if it hadn’t been for one minor obstacle, a half-inch layer of ice on the lake. My two deputies and I proceeded toward the ramp just bubbling with intense curiosity. After ascertaining that the required safety equipment was on board, I provided some cautionary words concerning cold water effects on the human body. While doing so I sensed a feeling from these fellows like, “what’s all the fuss, this is gonna be a piece of cake”, as one guy methodically tested the electric trolling motor while another broke the ice from the water at the base of the ramp just like he had done thousands of times before. These guys almost convinced me to question my own sense of logic and reasoning. The two deputies and I proceeded to a good observation point and eagerly looked on. Then the guy who was breaking the hole in the ice where the trailer was to fit yelled, “bring ’er back”. Those were the last publicly repeatable words we heard. A little planning can sure help one be able to complete the axiom, where there’s a will...--WCO Terence C. Deibler, Lebanon/Southern Dauphin Counties.



PDF file of this article

January/February 2001 Angler & Boater

Copyright notice

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Web Privacy and Security Policies