August 3, 2008

Efforts of Sportsmen, Others Improve Lake’s Fishery

By Joe Gorden, Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.

Aug. 3--A fisheries survey completed this summer on the Highland Sewer and Water Authority's 360-acre Beaverdam Run Reservoir near Beaverdale shows that efforts of local sportsmen and others to improve the lake's fishery are bearing fruit.

Results of the survey, posted on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's Web site, are an almost glowing report.

"It's glowing, but to put it in perspective, only in comparison to surveys done previously at Beaverdam," Area Fisheries Manager Rick Lorson said. "You still have to remember that it is an infertile body of water and all that goes along with that."

The most obvious indication of infertile waters is that they often produce large individual fish, but few of them.

The pike Lorson's survey found at Beaverdam illustrate the point. One pike was 43 inches long and weighed 25 pounds.

The other was 36 inches, 14 pounds.

"But, those were the only two that we handled," Lorson said. "It's a low-level population."

The reservoir was opened to public fishing in 2000, and anglers quickly impacted its fish population.

But, because of infertility, the lake was unable to quickly rebound from the onslaught.

So, the Beaverdam Conservation Group joined with Highland and the Cambria County Conservation District to improve the water quality with infusions of lime in the lake and surrounding streams. Lime dosing was carried out in 2006 and 2007, but hasn't been done since because money hasn't been available.

"Alkalinity going from 3 to 8 is something very positive, and I think that is a success story for the Beaverdam Conservation Group," Lorson said. "I'm going to get over there to thank them personally for it, and see if they can't drum up some additional monies and support. If we can get it over 10, it will really begin to expand."

Lorson said both the Quemahoning Reservoir and Youghiogheny River Lake are infertile waters similar to Beaverdam, although the reasons for that are not the same.

Still, he said, both could benefit from sportsmen efforts to improve water quality, as could a number of streams. He said the fish commission's recently created Habitat Management Section was designed specifically to help groups with such efforts. Lorson's former cohort, Gary Smith, is in charge of the region's habitat work.

"We're actually able to be more involved with that," Lorson said. "With Gary involved, there are large numbers of those projects under way."

The Beaverdam survey showed improved numbers and sizes of nearly all species in the reservoir. Smallmouth bass, especially, have done well.

"We introduced smallmouth bass fingerlings in 2003 and 2004 and bass populations -- both largemouth and smallmouth -- are much better than they were," Lorson said. "We saw a surprisingly high number of bass over 15 inches, including 29 smallmouth bass from 12 to 18 inches. That's just unheard of. And, I think the quality-size fish in there are better than our results show."

Lorson said Beaverdam also has some nice-sized panfish, but not a lot of them.

"Again, the production potential there is not great," he said. "You're not going to catch bushels of them, but there's an opportunity to catch some nice ones."

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