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Presque Isle Bay
Erie County
Night Electrofishing 2008

Presque Isle Bay is located in Erie County in northwestern Pennsylvania. The bay is a 3,300-acre body of water formed by a sandy peninsula that extends into Lake Erie. The 7.5 mile peninsula is the home of Presque Isle State Park. Presque Isle peninsula is home to diverse, insect, reptile, amphibian, bird, and mammal fauna. Along with this unique fauna, the state park offers a diverse selection of outdoor recreational activities including miles of paved multi-use trails, miles of beaches, summer concerts, bird watching, boating, as well as productive fishing for a variety of fish species, including; panfish, northern pike, steelhead, and black bass. Lake Erie, including Presque Isle Bay, is managed under special regulations, deviating from other Big Bass Regulation lakes in the state by having a creel limit of one 20-inch bass per day during the usual closed season of April 12th through June 13th. Please refer to page 9 of the 2008 Summary Handbook for further regulations regarding Lake Erie and tributaries, Presque Isle Bay, as well as its peninsular waters.

Beginning on May 28th Area One Fisheries Management Personnel sampled Presque Isle Bay by means of an electrofishing boat for 3 consecutive nights to assess black bass populations. Electrofishing for a total of 3.5 hours resulted in an impressive catch of black bass. A total of 693 bass were captured consisting of 675 largemouth bass and 18 smallmouth bass (Figure 1). Spring 2008 marked the highest number of bass ever sampled in Presque Isle Bay and the total number captured was a 65% increase over 2007. This resulted in a 100% increase from 2007 in our Catch Per Unit Effort (Figure 2) with 202.5 fish sampled per hour in 2008 (i.e. more bass captured in less time). The occurrence of largemouth bass 12 inches and longer increased 150% from 2007 and the occurrence of largemouth bass 15 inches and longer increased 245%. The catch rate for largemouth over 15 inches was the highest we have observed in the last 18 years.

Figure 1. Length frequency of largemouth bass captured by night electrofishing in Presque Isle Bay in Spring 2008.

Figure 1

Smallmouth bass
An impressive smallmouth bass from Presque Isle Bay

Figure 2. Catch per hour of night electrofishing for largemouth bass in Presque Isle Bay, 1990 - 2008.

Figure 2

Fisheries Biologist Tim Wilson, and Fisheries Biologist Aide Devin DeMario display 4 nice bass

Unfortunately, many non-native aquatic species including fish, fish viruses, mussels, as well as plant life, have established themselves in the Great Lakes region. Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are species that have been introduced and are not naturally occurring in the waterway. Aquatic invasive species upset the ecological balance of the environments resulting in the depletion of our native Pennsylvanian flora and fauna. Anglers and boaters are strongly encouraged to take every precaution to stop the spread of invasive species to other Pennsylvania waterways. Please refer to page 39 of the 2008 regulation handbook for a detailed list of precautions.

Spotted gar
Spotted gar (a Pennsylvania endangered species) sampled from Presque Isle Bay

In addition to black bass, numerous other species were observed such as nice sized bluegill, black crappie, yellow perch, rock bass, northern pike, and bowfin. To learn more specifically about the bass fishing pick up the recent July/August 2008 copy of Pennsylvania Angler and Boater magazine which features an article referencing the “world class bass fishing” found in the bay.

-- Devin DeMario, Area 1Fisheries Biologist Aide

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