Who pulled the plug on Lake Erie?
Years ago when we had the occasion to go fishing on Lake Erie with my father Ray Pauszek on board, we occasionally would get snagged on the bottom. Ray would keep a "poker face" and proclaim that he hoped we didn't hook onto the plug in the bottom of the lake.
Judging by the recent water level, it looks like someone did just that.
OBSERVER Photos by Gene Pauszek
Ray Pauszek II (left) and Tim Pauszek inspect the low water level in Lake Erie offshore between Ermine and Beagle Streets, Wednesday around 11 a.m.
Above, the view from the Dunkirk pier shows the incredibly low water levels.
Phone calls started coming in at the house early this morning with friends reporting the receding water level. Along Lakefront Boulevard in Dunkirk's First Ward, you could see slate bottom forty yards or more off shore. At the Dunkirk City pier/launch site the water level was so low you could not launch a boat.
My friend Zen Olow and I took a ride to Cattaraugus Creek and saw barely a foot of water at the Hanover launch site. By 4 p.m. I got another call from a friend reporting you literally could see Van Buren Reef.
Were the Mayans off by a few days in their apocalyptic prophesy?
There's no need to worry. My friend Jim Markham at the Department of Environmental Conservation fisheries station reports that the phenomenon is caused by a strong North East wind that blows the water towards the Western Basin (Ohio). This activity is called a "seiche". With the lake already at an extremely low level for this time of year and the northeast wind blowing for over 24 hours, the water level could get even lower.
Usually when this happens during the summer, the lake may experience a fish kill when schools of fish get trapped in the rapidly moving water and suffer from oxygen depletion or rapid temperature changes. The lake level before the seiche was estimated to be already at least 2 feet lower than normal. Off the beach area just east of St. Columbian's, the water receded all the way out to the point. My brother Ray and his youngest son Tim took a walk along Battery Point and took some interesting photos that we might share in the future.
Trout fishing has been reported good out of Chautauqua Creek lately, according to my sources, and there also was a flurry of activity near the Laona Falls. Silver fish were reported as far away as Gowanda in the "Cat", with the fish running as far upstream as possible during the high water periods.
How soon before Chautauqua Lake freezes over, and will the Dunkirk harbor also freeze with little or no warm water discharge? Guess we will have to wait and see.
On Jan. 19, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Southtowns Walleye Hall, there will be a flea market-type sale of used fishing and hunting equipment, with free parking, free entry and food and drinks available. Tables are $20, with reservations due by Jan. 17. Call 649-8202 for information.
The local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Lakeshore Longbeards, will host its next meeting on Jan. 9 at 7 p.m., at Liberty Vineyards, located on Route 20, in Sheridan. Topic of discussion will include the upcoming membership banquet to be held on Feb. 9, 2013, at the Kosciuszko Club, in Dunkirk. Also on the agenda will be scholarship submissions. All local high school seniors are invited to participate. For more information, find the National Wild Turkey Federation online, and look for scholarship information. The deadline for scholarship submission to be eligible for statewide and national awards is Jan. 15, 2013.
The SAREP Youth Fly Fishing Program will continue its 14th season of free fly tying and fly fishing classes on Monday evenings from 7-8:30 p.m., at the Fredonia Middle School Cafeteria. Field trips will occur shortly afterwards. Classes are free and are open to children and community members. Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult. The classes will continue to meet every Monday until early summer.
There will be a Fur Handling Seminar on Saturday, Jan. 5 at the Collins Conservation Club located on Conger Road, Collins. This FREE event will run from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Learn better ways of preparing your pelts. There will be kids games, prizes, raffles and the kitchen is open. There will be a fur buyer available after the event. Call Hoot at 532-2457, or Patti at 337-2556 for information. This event is sponsored by the Erie County Fur Trappers Association.
The Northern Chautauqua Beagle Club will host its annual rabbit hunt on Sunday, Jan. 13. The hunt is open to all area hunters. You can enter the day of the event at the club house located 8455 Fredonia Stockton Road in Fredonia from 6-8 a.m. Entry fee is $5. Awards and hot food available at the club around 3 p.m. For information, call Pete Criscione at 366-8989, Liz Dorman at 595- 3993 and John Depew at 789-5522.
For those of you interested in taking a NYS Pistol Permit Class, there will be one held locally on Jan. 26 from 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. For information, call Gary Dudek at 366-3397.
The Jamestown Rifle club will hold Pistol classes on Jan. 27, Feb. 24, March 24 and April 28. You must be 21 years of age and a resident of Chautauqua County. All classes begin at 1 p.m. and last around four hours. Call Pat Hayes at 484-9301 for information.
Gene Pauszek is an OBSERVER outdoors columnist. Send comments to email@example.com.