BIOLOGIST REPORT

Leaser Lake


Leaser Lake, located in northern Lehigh County, is owned by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and maintained in cooperation with the Lehigh County Parks Department. Normally a 117 acre impoundment, dam safety concerns required that the lake be drawn down to 40 acres in 1999. Boating is permitted on Leaser Lake during the draw down period with motors restricted to electric only.


Waterways Conservation Officer Leon Creyer with 20 inch, 4.25 pound and 21 inch, 6 pound largemouth bass captured during night electrofishing at Leaser Lake

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission surveyed the Leaser Lake largemouth bass population on November 11, 2001. Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission biologists typically compare bass populations between impoundments based upon the total catch of bass, the catch of bass > 12 inches, and the catch of bass > 15 inches per hour of electrofishing. In southeast Pennsylvania the average total catch of bass is 58.8 fish/hr, the catch of bass > 12 inches is 12.4 fish/hr, and the catch of bass > 15 inches is 3.5 fish/hr. Prior to the draw down in 1999 fish less than 12 inches long dominated the bass population of Leaser Lake. Electrofishing surveys in 1993-1995 and in 1998 documented an average total catch of 175.5 fish/hr with only 3.8 fish/hr > 12 inches long and zero fish > 15 inches long collected. Obviously the lake was overpopulated with small bass. The need to draw the lake down in 1999 provided a unique opportunity to improve the bass population of Leaser Lake. Typically, when a lake is partially drawn down and fishing is permitted during the draw down period the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission temporarily applies more restrictive harvest regulations usually consisting of an increase in the minimum length limit and a decrease in the daily creel limit to protect the fish populations from overharvest. At Leaser Lake the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission decided to maintain the statewide bass regulations in hopes that increased fishing pressure on a bass population confined to a smaller area would help to reduce the bass population to a more reasonable level. Bass were also expected to grow faster during the draw down period as the prey fish would now be more concentrated and easier for the bass to capture.

largemouth
Twenty-one inch, 6 pound largemouth bass captured during night electrofishing at Leaser Lake

The results of the most recent largemouth bass electrofishing survey revealed a population that was still dense with a total catch of 201.5 fish/hr. This was the second highest catch rate of largemouth bass ever recorded from a lake in southeast Pennsylvania. The catch of bass > 12 inches improved dramatically since before the draw down with a catch of 42.1 fish/hr. This was the fifth highest catch rate of bass > 12 inches ever recorded in southeast Pennsylvania. Although the catch of bass > 15 inches was average at 2.9 fish/hr it was the highest ever recorded at Leaser Lake. The biologists were impressed with the catch of four largemouth bass exceeding 18 inches long including a 20 inch, 4.25 pound largemouth bass and a 21 inch, 6 pound largemouth bass (see photos).

In general the Largemouth bass population at Leaser Lake appeared to be in good condition. A dense population of fish up to and including 14 inches, a moderate population of fish 15 inches and larger, and the potential for a real trophy largemouth bass should provide for an enjoyable fishing experience.

Table 1. Catch per hour of largemouth bass captured during night electrofishing at Leaser Lake.

1994 1998 2001 SE PA Average
Total 342.0 81.3 201.5 58.8
>= 12 in. 5.0 8.5 42.1 12.4
>= 15 in. 2.0 0.0 2.9 3.5

Additionally, yellow perch and chain pickerel were collected during night electrofishing. Good numbers of yellow perch were collected ranging in lengths from 3 to 11 inches. The majority of yellow perch collected were 6 to 8 inches long. Relatively few chain pickerel were collected during night electrofishing with fish ranging in lengths from 7 to 17 inches. Most chain pickerel were between 7 and 8 inches long. Finally, plenty of trout were still available from the fall stocking.

-- Area 6


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