New boating season ready to make a splash

May 6—The 2024 boating season is expected make a splash locally with warmer weather now on the way — especially on Crawford County's two most popular lakes, Conneaut and Pymatuning.

"We're already seeing a pickup in business and we'll be busy all spring," said Dustin Eaton, of Nye's Marina at Conneaut Lake. "Nicer weather is a factor in getting people out."

Seasonal docks at homes around Conneaut Lake are starting to be put in the lake's waters and boats are coming out of winter storage being delivered, he said.

However, usage of boats on Conneaut and other area lakes will remain low until later in May.

"Usage really is how the weather is acting," Eaton said. "People are anxious for the season, but it doesn't start until we get closer to Memorial Day."

Steve Sheets, who operates the Jamestown and Espyville marinas on Pymatuning Lake at Pymatuning State Park, agrees.

"April is slower, but we can see it coming along," Sheets said when it comes to boating on the lake. "Right now, there are the spring fishing tournaments going on at Pymatuning."

On April 27, the Pymatuning Lake Association Crappie Tournament was held and there also was a muskellunge tournament conducted as well. The Pymatuning Lake Association Walleye Tournament is set for May 18 at the lake.

"We'll see the pleasure boating and more fishing from mid-June then into July and August which is our busy time," Sheets said. "Summer weekends is when we'll get families out on boats. We're hoping for a lot of sunny weekends."

Even more fishing activity is expected on Pymatuning this year, according to Dan Bickel, Pymatuning State Park's superintendent.

That's because the boat launch at the state park's Tuttle Point Campground is open once again with the reopening of the campground itself. Tuttle Point Campground officially reopened April 12 after being shutdown since the end of October 2009. It was rehabilitated during 2022 and 2023 in an $8 million project so it could be reopened.

"Tuttle Point was always the favorite boat launch point because you're really go right into one of best fishing spots on the lake with the (underwater) stump field" for fish habitat, Bickel said. "Fishermen are reporting the lake's fishing is as strong as it's ever been this year. The walleye fishing has been fantastic."

With people taking to the water, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission reminds boaters that state law requires life jackets.

Pennsylvania's boating laws require a U.S. Coast Guard-approved wearable life jacket for each person on board. In addition, one throwable personal flotation device — a seat cushion or ring buoy — is required on boats 16 feet in length or longer.

Children age 12 and younger must wear a lifejacket while underway on Pennsylvania waters on any boat 20 feet or less in length and in all canoes and kayaks.

Keith Gushard can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at