Notes from the Streams

Chocolate milk?
When I returned home with some water samples that I had taken while investigating a pollution, I set the samples down on the counter to transfer them to my place of storage. My two-year-old daughter, Emma, saw them on the counter and hollered, "All right, Da-Da brought chocolate milk." She was very dismayed to learn that in fact they were water not chocolate milk, and that she could not have some "milk." The whole time I was thinking, "If this case goes to court, would the judge let her testify as an expert witness on the sediment level in these water samples?"-WCO Robert F. Mader, McKean County.

Brown trout and smallmouths
Today I encountered a strange one. I checked a guy who said he had a "trout," which turned out to be about an 11.5-inch largemouth bass. The next place I stopped, I checked a guy with a "smallmouth." It turned out to be about a 16-inch brown trout! The last guy laughed at himself when I told him what he had. The first guy didn't laugh, but he did thank me after I issued him the citation.-WCO James M. Vatter, Westmoreland County.

Caught in the act
While patrolling the Allegheny Reservoir, DWCO Sam Pascuzzi and I boarded a boat that did not have an all-around white light displayed. After checking safety equipment and giving the operator an opportunity to get the light working, I asked if he had any luck while fishing. He said he had a whole bag of walleye fillets in the cooler. I asked to see them and he gave me the bag. The largest fillet was about 7 inches long.

I explained that it was not legal to fillet fish with a minimum size limit before getting them to the place of consumption, and told him I would issue a citation. As I wrote, he asked how many pounds of fillets I had pirated that day, if my freezer was empty, if I could even catch a fish myself, and so on. Finally, I gave him his copy of the citation and explained the procedure.-WCO William E. Martin, Warren County.

Mother knows best
An individual was walking on a trail from Raccoon Lake when he spotted Park Ranger George Stamos. The individual threw his fish into the bushes. Officer Stamos saw him do this and approached him. He was in possession of twice the legal limit of trout. Officer Stamos escorted the individual to his car to get his information. When they arrived at his car, the person claimed that his mother, who was sitting in the car, had caught the extra fish and had returned to the car a little while before him. On hearing this, his mother said that she had not been fishing and that he should grow up and take his punishment like a man. That's one guy who's mother cut the apron strings.-WCO Raymond J. Borkowski, Northern Washington/Southern Beaver Counties.

Boating Safety Education Certificate
As WCO Lee Creyer and I sat in our drifting patrol boat watching boats entering Pequea Creek on Lake Aldred, a young man on a personal watercraft sped by, creating a significant wake well within the 100-foot protective space set forth by law. Because no wake is permitted within 100 feet of drifting boats, we caught up with the man, stopped him, and conducted a safety inspection.

During the safety inspection I informed him that he had created a wake too close to the patrol boat and then asked if he had his Boating Safety Education Certificate with him. The response was, "Who says I have to have one of those?" I further asked if he had a horn or whistle and a fire extinguisher on board his personal watercraft. The response was, "No! Where am I going to put all of that?" I asked him to go into the Pequea Creek landing where I could speak to him further about his violations. As he entered the no-wake zone, he did so at too great a speed, thereby committing a second no-wake violation.

The total of this encounter was four safety violations and one violation for failing to complete a boating safety course successfully and keeping his certificate with him while operating the personal watercraft. Citing him for only the no-wake violation and nothing else, the fine cost him $61.50. That's some educational experience.-DWCO Mike Deluca, Southern York County.

Copperhead encounter
This past June, WCO Don Lauver and I were patrolling the Juniata River between Newport and Duncannon. We were near the Watts exit on U.S. Route 22/322 and came across some fishermen down over the bank. Anyone familiar with this area knows that this bank is extremely steep, and that anyone fishing down there was probably a dedicated sportsman. But as dedicated WCOs, Don and I descended the bank to check licenses. On the way down, which didn't take long, we encountered one area on the trail where we had to maneuver over some large rocks and at the same time crouch under a downed tree, putting our upper bodies close to the ground.

Of course, everyone fishing was law-abiding, and after some pleasant conversation Don and I started the dreaded climb back to our vehicle. I took the lead (I'll know better next time) and we proceeded up. When we reached a point near the rocks and tree, I looked down and noticed a northern copperhead basking on the rock close to my face. I immediately started to backpedal, but my partner, thinking I was falling, grabbed me by my protective vest and began shoving be forward, closer than I wanted to be to the reptile. I yelled "SNAKE," which not only got Don's attention but had him beating me back down the hill. Thanks, Don.-WCO Corey L. Britcher, Southern Huntingdon County.

Cold, wet dog hair
Stocking trout in the spring can be a cold, wet job, as well as a lot of work. During a stocking of Big Buffalo Creek, Perry County, all the regular helpers were out and things were going smoothly. While watching for traffic and helping unload buckets of trout from the stocking truck, I watched a soaking wet and muddy beagle run by the truck. One of the stocking crew had left his truck door open, and the beagle saw this as an opportunity to help us stock some trout. The new helper jumped right up on the stocking truck seat and waited for the driver to move the truck down to the stream with the trout. I felt bad, but couldn't help laughing out loud as the driver removed the stowaway from his seat and starting wiping up the paw prints. Anyone who has ever owned a beagle and has been near it when wet can appreciate the condition of the truck.-WCO Don Lauver, Perry/Juniata Counties.

Exotics
In May 1999, I received a radio call from York County Control requesting that I meet with the park rangers from Cordorus State Park. On arrival at the park office, I found the rangers gathered around a pickup truck that had a fish lying on the tailgate. My first impression was that the rangers had encountered an out-of-season bass case and were about to turn it over to me. I quickly identified the fish as a piranha. The 18-inch piranha was not the first that I had encountered, but it was the largest. This was to be the first of three recorded piranhas caught from Lake Marburg in the summer of 1999. The others measured 17 inches and 13 inches. Two were caught while the angler was using nightcrawlers for bait, while the third was caught on corn. One piranha was released back into the lake. The other two were put into two freezers that shortly broke down and allowed the fish to deteriorate.

While viewing this incident at face value, some people may find it humorous. Still others may react with fear-contrary to popular opinion, most piranhas are vegetarians, not the vicious carnivores in movies. This incident does give rise to some concerns: The introduction of non-native species into Commonwealth waters is a violation of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Code, and because most exotic species imported into Pennsylvania are tropical or sub-tropical fish, they will not (fortunately) survive the winter if released into the wild. Most exotic species are purchased as pets, but all too soon their owners realize how costly they are to feed and house, so the owner releases them. It is my hope that these pet enthusiasts would research the demands these exotics place on them, and if they can no longer care for that animal, find someone who will.-WCO David R. Keller, Adams/Western York Counties.

Litter patrol
Officer Hannold and I were patrolling in January when the temperature was 20 degrees and the wind chill was zero. We were checking out the Delaware River and arrived at the Sandts Eddy Access. This area is a favorite dumping ground for litter and garbage.

As we drove down the ramp, we observed a truck and a man near the shore with two large garbage bags stuffed full. "Finally," we thought, "we caught one of these litterbugs in action." We were surprised to see a man picking up garbage. He was Rick Pasch, avid personal watercraft operator, boater and proprietor of Pasch Marine. Mr. Pasch was picking up every can, bottle and piece of garbage and paper and placing all of it into the garbage bags. The access area never looked so good.

Instead of sitting around and complaining about the acts of inconsiderate litterbugs, he went out and did something about the problem. Thank you, Rick Pasch and all the other unsung heroes who we never see do these good deeds to protect our natural resources.-DWCO Rita K. Schaadt, Lehigh County.

Different kind of "spill"
Many Fish & Boat Commission WCOs and DWCOs work various displays and exhibits at outdoor shows and fairs each year. This provides an excellent opportunity for the public to interact with a field officer in an informal setting. In fact, the comments and questions fielded by the officers are greatly appreciated.

The show hours at times can be long, so some officers elect to bring a snack or two just to tide them over. Such was the case at the Jaffa Outdoors Show held in Altoona. Many thanks to the efforts of Bedford County WCO Ted Kane's fiancÚ for arising early one morning and baking a double batch of homemade brownies for the show. And an additional thanks go to Blair County WCO Walt Rosser, who managed to spill the entire batch onto the floor behind the display before any of us had the opportunity to sample Sue's efforts! Thanks again, Walt!-WCO Alan D. Robinson, Huntingdon County.

Ice thickness in any direction?
I spoke briefly with some ice fishermen on Upper Woods Pond. We talked about regulations, and they asked some questions. The last question concerned the size of the hole while ice fishing. I explained that a hole could not be greater than 10 inches in any direction, and that this was primarily for safety. "In any direction," he asked again. I responded, "Yes, any direction." He smiled and asked what if the ice were 12 inches thick? All I could do was smile.-WCO Dave Kaneski, Northern Wayne County.

Dead or scared stiff?
Last spring, WCO Walter Buckman and I set up a patrol on a stocked trout stream after dark. As I was walking up the dirt road toward my designated position, I saw headlights ahead. The creek had been along the road, so I thought I would just step over the bank and remain concealed. The bank was not there, so I began running toward the creek. Then I was entirely lit up by the headlights, so I dropped to the ground. The car came closer and closer and suddenly stopped with the headlights pointed right at me. I thought the occupants must have seen me. They probably thought I was dead or injured. Then the car doors opened. Then I thought they were going to come over and kick me to see if I were alive. Then the thought came to me that this might be an older man and his wife, and I would give them a heart attack if I let them walk up to me. I decided to stand up and identify myself. As I stood up, a glass bottle flew past my head. I yelled, "State officer." Four male teenagers screamed like teenage girls that had seen Freddy Kruger. The car tires were spinning as the doors shut. A case of beer flew out the window as they pulled away. The vehicle was stopped by our marked patrol car. The boys jumped out and they all started frantically telling the officers about someone lurking in the bushes up the road and how he had jumped out at them. I believe someone in the car was able to make out my words and had the presence of mind to dump the unopened case of beer out the window.-WCO Larry L. Bundy Jr., Eastern Sullivan/Wyoming Counties.


September/October 2001 PA Angler & Boater


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