July 27, 2008

Notebook: Survey of Conneaut Lake Finds No Walleyes

By Bob Frye, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Jul. 27--Around the Fish & Boat Commission

--It's what didn't show up in a survey of Conneaut Lake in Crawford County that's as interesting as what did.

The Fish and Boat Commission has stocked more than 700,000 walleye fry into Conneaut -- at 930 acres, Pennsylvania's largest natural lake -- over the last decade. In 2007, 20,000 walleye fingerlings were added to the mix in an attempt to boost the population.

Yet, when biologists sampled the lake this past April with trap nets, they caught no walleyes at all.

Biologists plan to do some follow-up work in an attempt to determine why the walleyes aren't doing well.

In the meantime, the survey did turn up some decent fish of other species. Loads of bluegills averaging 7-8 inches and black crappies averaging 9-11 were caught. Biologists also saw 27 northern pike ranging from 15-35 inches and 168 bowfin. Those fish -- a hard fighter found in only a few waters in the state -- ranged from 13-28 inches.

The trap net survey and a later electrofishing survey found largemouth bass from five to 18 inches and a smaller number of smallmouth bass from 10 to 20.

--While there may not necessarily be a lot of monster bass in Lower Hereford Manor Lake in Beaver County, there are certainly a lot of nice ones.

That's the word according to a recent Fish and Boat Commission survey of the lake.

Biologists from the commission's region 1 office in Linesville electrofished the lake. In 60 minutes, they collected 108 bass.

The vast majority of those -- 75 percent -- were 12-inches long and longer. Thirty-eight percent were 15 inches or longer. The largest fish seen stretched 21 inches, though there were some in the 19-inch class, too.

The overall population seems to be on the upswing, too. The number of fish sampled was up 84 percent over 2006.

--Fish and Boat Commissioners sewed up some more prime fishing access in Erie County at their most recent meeting.

Commissioners gave $43,000 to North East Township to purchase a fishing easement for 4,350 feet or bank along the east side of Twenty Mile Creek. The township is simultaneously buying another 19-acre parcel just upstream, meaning that anglers are getting nearly 1.2 miles of access to steelhead fishing.

Commissioners also spent $15,000 to buy an easement along Elk Creek. The property is located in Girard Township between Route 20 and Interstate 90 along Locust Road and is owned by the Erie County Historical Society.

Around the Game Commission

--The Game Commission will make 16,500 pheasants available to for this year's youth hunt.

Of those birds, 15,000 will be released just prior to the statewide youth-only season, which is set for Oct. 11-18. Hunters can find out where those birds are being stocked by checking out Pages 25-28 of the 2008-09 hunting digest.

The remaining 1,500 birds will be given to clubs interested in holding a mentored youth hunt. A planning guide clubs can use as a resource in organizing a hunt can be found at www.pgc.state.pa.us. Clubs have until Aug. 15 to apply for pheasants.

To participate in the youth pheasant hunt, youngsters must be 12-16 years of age and have passed a hunter-trapper safety course.

--For the first time in two years, the Game Commission board has a full complement of eight members, given the recent appointment of Ronald Weaner of Biglerville, Adams County.

Weaner represents District 6, which takes in 11 southcentral counties. He is a teacher and former dairy farmer.

The commission board won't be full for long, though. The terms of commissioners Roxane Palone of Greene County and Russ Schleiden of Centre County expire this fall, though they could potentially serve until replacements are found.


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