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Won’t forget pilgrimage to Presque Isle Bay

For many years, my Memorial Day plans included several days of fishing the waters surrounding Presque Isle State Park in Erie County. At first, I simply waded the shorelines of Presque Isle Bay, catching lots of bass and panfish. In 2006, a friend introduced me to kayak fishing at Presque Isle, and I bought my first kayak in Erie the next day. Kayak fishing opened a new dimension of fishing for me.

The light weight and portability of my little fishing kayak not only provided greater freedom of access to my favorite fishing spots, but also allowed me to explore many new waters. Over the next several years, my kayak helped expand my knowledge and love for Presque Isle as well.

But as often happens, my work schedule and other life changesmade it difficult to find time for my annual pilgrimages to Erie in late May or early June. Two years ago, however, I managed to block off three days during the last week of May for a long-awaited return trip. My brother had also taken up kayak fishing, and after hearing so many of my fishing stories about Presque Isle, he wanted to come along and see that wonderful place for himself.

Fishing was generally good on that trip, and we decided to do it again last year. That time the weather bit us pretty hard. Anyone who has spent time on Lake Erie or Presque Isle knows the wind direction up there can quickly make or break a fishing trip on any given day. Winds from the north or east are the worst, and we endured steady gusts from those pesky directions each day.

All last winter we looked forward to visiting Presque Isle again this May, and hopefully experiencing more favorable fishing weather. But when spring finally arrived, so did the COVID-19 crisis, which put our plans for an Erie trip in limbo. Fortunately, many of the government restrictions regarding the virus began to ease by the middle of May. I was able to make hotel reservations for three days during Memorial Day week, and our Erie adventure became a go once again.

As Memorial Day approached, I began to monitor the long-term weather forecast for the Erie area. A couple of days before our departure the forecast couldn’t have been better: light to moderate winds out of the south and west with little or no chance of rain. That was certainly welcome news. Even better, those predictions of good weather held true.

Although the weather was hot and bright the first two days, we managed to catch a few bass, including a smallmouth of nearly five pounds that my brother landed on the second day. The morning of our third day brought some clouds, and the overcast brought the bass into more shallow water. I had great success on both largemouths and smallmouths that eagerly smacked some spinnerbaits that I made myself last winter.

As much as I enjoy fishing at Presque Isle, it’s just one part of the overall appeal of that special place. It is the crown jewel of our state park system and attracts more visitors each year than Yellowstone National Park. Besides being one of the most beautiful places in the state, this picturesque peninsula is a magnificent ecological preserve that is home to a remarkable array of birds, plants and wildflowers.

It offers endless opportunities for photographers, and I have spent many hours shooting the scenery, flora and fauna there. Several swimming beaches, biking, hiking and rollerblading are just a few of the many other popular outdoor activities available.

Annual feast canceled

Due to the ongoing restrictions regarding the COVID-19 virus, the 15th annual Wild Game Feast, hosted by the Altoona Alliance Church scheduled for June 13, has been canceled for this year and has been rescheduled for March 6, 2021. Those holding tickets for this year’s event can return them for a refund at the church office or hold on to them for next year’s event by calling the church at 944-0171.

New plans on tap

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is seeking public comment on a new Strategic Plan for Management of Trout Fisheries in Pennsylvania.

This updated plan for 2020-2024 was developed based on input provided by a work group of partners including Commission staff, anglers affiliated with several sportsmen’s organizations, and independent trout anglers. The goal of this strategic plan is to ensure that adequate protection is afforded to Pennsylvania’s wild trout resources, and that fisheries provided through the management of wild trout and stocking of adult and fingerling trout produce high quality angling opportunities in Pennsylvania.

The plan is available online at fishandboat.com, although finding it is a bit tricky. On the upper right corner of the home page, click on “Fish” and then click “Fisheries” on the dropdown menu. Then, scroll down to the “Fisheries Reports” section and click on the report marked “Trout Plan.” Then click on the link “DRAFT-Strategic Plan for Management of Trout Fisheries in Pennsylvania 2020-2024,” which will give you a copy of the plan.

The public comment period is open through through June 24. Comments can be submitted through the comment portal on the PFBC website (www.fishandboat.com) or mailed to PFBC, Attention: David Nihart, 595 East Rolling Ridge Drive, Bellefonte, Pa. 16823. The plan will be finalized this summer following consideration of public comments.

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