North Park Lake is a 75-acre impoundment located in suburban Allegheny County within the Allegheny County Parks System. The lake is generally shallow (maximum depth about 10 feet), productive, and also very turbid. Allegheny County is planning to draw down the lake for a restoration project that would include dredging the lake and placement of fish habitat structures. The lake is managed under statewide regulations for all species of fish. North Park Lake is stocked with rainbow trout and brown trout in Preseason, Inseason, Fall, and Late Winter. The lake is also stocked with fingerling channel catfish, tiger muskellunge, and walleye on an annual basis. The purpose of the survey was to monitor the status of the lake since previous surveys in 1992 and 1993 and adjust fish management strategies where needed.
A total of 87 largemouth bass were collected with 85 coming from night electrofishing. The majority of the bass (56) were of legal size (12 inches or greater), with 25 of them being 15 inches or greater. The largest bass was 21.5 inches, 8.4 pounds. Total catch of largemouth bass per hour of electrofishing in 2004 was similar to the 1992 and 1993 surveys. Catch of quality-sized bass (those over 12 inches and 15 inches) per hour of electrofishing was highest in 2004.
The panfish at North Park Lake were generally smaller fish with some larger white crappies. The majority of the white crappies were between 4 and 7 inches. Eight white crappies were collected that ranged from 12 to 14 inches. Black crappies were sampled with the majority between 4 and 7 inches. Bluegills were also abundant with the bulk between 3 and 6 inches.
Twenty-six channel catfish were collected with both electrofishing and trap netting gear. Some large channel catfish were found during night electrofishing with one fish measuring 30 inches and weighing 23 pounds. Channel catfish stocking appears to be working at North Park Lake. Both brown bullheads and yellow bullheads were collected in the trap nets. Brown bullheads dominated with 274 fish versus 2 yellow bullheads. The bullheads ranged from 7 to 12 inches and quality-sized fish were collected in decent numbers.
Numerous gizzard shad were collected in the lake with 1,348 captured in the trap nets alone. The majority of the gizzard shad ranged from 3 to 6 inches. This shad population is an excellent forage base for the largemouth bass and channel catfish. However, they also can be detrimental to the panfish by out-competing them for food. This could be one reason why the panfish collected were generally smaller fish. We will examine scale samples taken from the panfish during the survey to determine their growth rates.
Tiger muskies were not captured and only two walleye were collected during the survey. These two fish species may have been in deeper water due to the warm water temperatures or their populations may be low. We will be considering discontinuing stocking of these two species.
North Park Lake is an excellent water to fish for largemouth bass and also fine for channel catfish. The trout stocked during the fall, winter, and spring seasons provide great action for anglers, but great angling opportunities also exist for largemouth bass and catfish in the summer months.
|-- Gary Smith, Area 8 Fisheries Technician|
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