BIOLOGIST REPORT

Tuscarora Lake


Tuscarora Lake is a 96-acre impoundment located within Tuscarora State Park (DCNR), Schuylkill County. The Lake is located approximately 3 miles northwest of Tamaqua. 

49 inch tiger muskie
49 inch Tiger Muskellunge

Results of a 1992 fisheries survey at Tuscarora Lake indicated the need to implement fisheries management strategies to 1) reduce the over-abundant yellow perch population, and 2) establish a reproducing forage base of greater density. 

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission conducted a follow up fish population survey of Tuscarora Lake during the spring of 2001. The purpose of the survey was to reassess fish populations following the implementation of several fisheries management techniques aimed at improving sport fish populations for anglers. A variety of techniques were used to sample the fish populations of the lake including trap netting, gill netting, and electrofishing. In addition to fish population sampling the aquatic plant community was evaluated and a dissolved oxygen profile of the lake was conducted. 

Captured during the 2001 catch were 569 bluegill, 170 yellow perch, 16 walleye, 6 tiger muskellunge, 63 black crappie, 219 largemouth bass, 76 smallmouth bass, 8 chain pickerel, and 5 channel catfish. Bluegills were up to 9 inches long with the majority of fish being between 7 and 8 inches. Yellow perch were up to 12 inches long with most falling between 7 and 9 inches. Walleye ranged from 12 to 30 inches in length and tiger muskellunge ranged from 15 to 49 inches in length. Black crappie were up to 11 inches long with most > 9 inches in length. Largemouth bass were up to 20 inches long with 27 fish > 12 inches and 5 fish > 15 inches. Smallmouth bass were up to 14 inches long with only 4 fish > 12 inches in the sample. Chain pickerel were up to 22 inches long and channel catfish were up to 19 inches long. Tuscarora Lake supported fair to good populations of panfish including bluegill, black crappie and yellow perch. 

Considerably fewer yellow perch were collected in 2001 than in 1992. Overall, the yellow perch population size structure had improved over that documented in 1992, with more larger fish being present. The largest yellow perch collected was 12 inches long. The improvement noted was probably the result of the lake drawdowns aimed at reducing perch spawning success and the establishment of a substantial reproducing shiner population initiated through PFBC stockings. 

Recently reinstated stockings of tiger muskellunge are beginning to create an attractive population. Pure muskellunge, which have also been stocked in the lake, were not collected during the survey and as a result will no longer be stocked. 

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 49/hr, the catch of bass > 12 inches is 12/hr, and the catch of bass > 15 inches is 3.5/hr. The electrofishing results at Tuscarora Lake following the 2001 sampling were as follows: total catch of both largemouth (219) and smallmouth (76) bass = 113/hr, catch of bass > 12 inches = 9 bass/hr, and the catch of bass > 15 inches = 2/hr. The bass population was below average, especially for fish legal size and larger, when compared to other lakes in southeast Pennsylvania. However, bass electrofishing parameters met or exceeded the state guidelines defining a quality bass fishery. 

A study of the dissolved oxygen profile of the lake indicated that by the beginning of August there was insufficient oxygen for fish survival below 25 feet. This means that anyone fishing the lake through the summer should concentrate his or her efforts in the upper 25 feet of the water column.

- Area 6


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