Lack of access on Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie tributary streams has confounded and angered fly fishers and other anglers in the state for most of the past decade. The state and local fishing clubs stock the tributary streams (and the lake) with brown trout and steelhead, but when the fish return on their fall and spring migrations, anglers are too often met with “No Trespassing” signs that are meant to preserve private fishing access for landowners and their paying guests.
The result is that the licensed fishing public—the people that fund the hatchery programs—are crowded into a few “public” areas, while a select few enjoy the fruits of state-owned hatcheries.
The good news is that the funds gathered by the sale of Lake Erie trout/salmon permits ($6) over the past five years have accrued to the point where the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) is making significant headway in preserving and enhancing angling access on Lake Erie tributaries.
At an April 2012 meeting of the PFBC, Commissioners used the Lake Erie access funds to authorize a grant of $209,300 to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to assist with the purchase of approximately 84 acres in Girard Township, Erie County. The property includes 3,600 linear feet of access on Elk Creek and is adjacent to current public fishing easements. The project will include a parking area and a footpath to Elk Creek. Once the project is completed, the public fishing corridor will extend for about 2.7 miles. The conservancy has received additional funding from outside sources for the project.