BIOLOGIST REPORT

Beltsville Lake

2001 Survey


Beltzville Lake (973 ac.) is located in Carbon County near the town of Lehighton. The lake has a maximum and mean depth of 127 and 43 ft. Public launch facilities are located on the NW shore near the dam, and the SE side near its inlet. The PFBC annually stocks Beltzville Lake with fingerling brown trout, walleye, striped bass, channel catfish, and muskellunge (pure and tiger).

A routine survey was conducted from April 16 through May 1 (23 overnight trapnet sets and 12 overnight gillnet sets), June 11 and 12 (nightboat electrofishing), and June 25 through June 28 (9 overnight trapnet sets) to update the management plan. Alewife was the dominant forage species caught and the major component in the diet of striped bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, and the sole brown trout. Striped and smallmouth bass also consumed a few crayfish. Brief summaries are provided for smallmouth bass, walleye, yellow perch and striped bass. Other species are listed in the tables below.

Smallmouth bass continue to maintain a strong presence in the lake fishery. The high catch of 54 smallmouth bass in spring trap and gillnets (April 16 through May 1) is significant as this species generally avoids these gears. The total summer night electrofishing catch per unit effort (CUE, #/hr) was the highest recorded at 50.8/hr. Previous total CUEs in 1990 and 1996 were 22.7 and 30.0/hr.

The walleye fishery has decreased since the 1990 and 1996 surveys. The lower spring catches experienced this year may be partially influenced by the weather (abrupt change from prolonged cold to very hot conditions). Low catches were reported by at least one other Fisheries Management Area, who also believed it was weather related. Male walleye dominated the catch, and the few females caught were not ready to spawn. This indicates that the walleye population may still have been segregated by size and sex. Thus, they’re not freely moving around the lake for this time of the year. Although the walleye fishery is sustained entirely through annual fingerling stockings, yearly population abundances can still be very cyclical (variation in production capabilities), as with a natural population. Stocking does not always overcome the effects of the natural environmental conditions on the fishery, but can help to temper them. Considering the above, walleye fishing should still be very good and continue to be through our annual stocking program. Periodic feedback from anglers this year indicated that walleye fishing was fine and did not appear to be down from previous years.

Yellow perch abundance has increased since the 1996 survey. A total of 62 yellow perch were caught during the spring survey as compared to 42 in 1996. Night electrofishing catches significantly increased from 73 and 72/hr in 1990 and 1996 to 155/hr during this survey. Winter fishing in 2001 should be fine from a catch point, but most yellow perch caught will range from 6-8 inches.

The striped bass fishery continues to remain at low levels, but is doing well. Recent changes in stocking allocations and a more consistent fingerling source should increase the fishery in the near future.

2001 Catch Stats:

April 16 through May 1, 2001 combined trap and gillnet catch results:

Fish Species Number Caught Size Range (inches) Additional Comments
Brown Trout 1 25 Weight 6.7 lbs
Muskellunge, Tiger 3 18-23
Striped bass 6 21-33 Largest was 14.3 lbs
Walleye 64 17-23 41% were 20 inches
Yellow perch 62 3-10 55% were 5 inches
Chain pickerel 9 17-22
Smallmouth bass 54 9-19 61% were 15+ inches
Largemouth bass 6 2, 17-20 5 were 15+ inches
Bluegill 192 1-8 76% were 2 inches
Rock bass 52 4-9 60% were 6-7 inches
Pumpkinseed 17 3-9
Green sunfish 2 5, 7
Longear sunfish 1 4
Channel catfish 15 12, 17-31 Largest was 11.5 lbs
Brown bullhead 13 11-15
Yellow bullhead 8 6-13
Carp 3 16-33 Largest was 24.2 lbs
White sucker 17 13-21

June 25 – June 28, 2001 trapnet catch results:

Fish Species Number Caught Size Range (inches) Additional Comments
Walleye 3 12, 19, 22 2 were legal size
Yellow perch 6 4-8
Smallmouth bass 4 3-4, 10
Largemouth bass 1 4
Bluegill 100 2-8 32% were 6-8 inches
Rock bass 16 3-8
Pumpkinseed 60 2-8 8% were 6-7 inches
Channel catfish 2 6,13
Brown bullhead 1 12
Yellow bullhead 1 11

-- Area 5


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