Drought challenges anglers in Pennsylvania

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At a sidewalk vantage point near the Perry Monument on Presque Isle in Erie, Pa., about 10 yards of muck and a few dead weeds separated tourists from the waters of Misery Bay. At the beaches, rocky breakwaters that are normally a brisk swim from shore are connected to the peninsula by strips of sand.

Lake Erie, the 11th-largest lake in the world by surface area, is temporarily shrinking as a Midwest drought starves the lake of 13 inches of water and counting, according to a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

In southwest Pennsylvania, water levels are down in most impoundments, some boat launch ramps are closed and many creeks have been reduced to dark pools separated by trickles.

And while dams on the Allegheny, Beaver and Monongahela rivers release water to maintain downstream navigation channels, boaters are learning to navigate around once-submerged obstructions in familiar waters.

Beneath the surface, however, invertebrates still commingle, little fish still find food and bigger fish continue to feed and locate sufficiently oxygenated water. Despite low water levels throughout the region, the state Fish and Boat Commission reports no substantial fish kills related to the drought.

Aquatic life adapts to low water. To catch fish, anglers must adapt, too. Low, clear and warm water makes fishing more difficult, but it doesn’t necessarily put the kibosh on catching fish. Keith Edwards, northwest region education coordinator for Fish and Boat, said anglers need to understand what’s happening underwater and change tactics to fit the conditions.

When the water level drops, the locations of some prime aquatic habitats change. Low water often warms, releasing some of its oxygen. To locate game fish in drought conditions, discover places where forage fish find cover near oxygen-rich water.

Click here for the full report.

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