Biologist reports logo Loyalhanna Lake

Westmoreland County
April 4-7, 2005

Loyalhanna Lake is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers impoundment that is located in Westmoreland County near Saltsburg, PA. At summer pool the impoundment is 480 acres. The fish populations in Loyalhanna Lake are managed under statewide regulations.

The last PFBC survey on the lake occurred in 1999. The 1999 survey indicated that Loyalhanna Lake provided anglers good quality and abundant largemouth bass and catfish populations, improving muskellunge and tiger muskellunge populations, but below average panfish populations. An abundant gizzard shad population in 1999 was probably a major factor for the below average panfish population due to direct competition. One of the management changes following the 1999 survey was to increase the stocking rate of musky, tiger musky, and channel catfish. Currently, muskellunge fingerlings are stocked at 3 per acre on even years and tiger muskellunge fingerlings are stocked at 10 per acre annually. Channel catfish fingerlings are also stocked at 30 per acre annually. The primary purpose of the 2005 survey was to monitor the status of the musky/tiger musky populations in the lake.

Area Fisheries Manager Rick Lorson with a 39 inch, 14 lb. tiger muskellunge
Area Fisheries Manager Rick Lorson with a 39 inch, 14 lb. tiger muskellunge

Five muskies and two tiger muskies were captured in the trap nets in 2005 compared to six muskies and 14 tiger muskies in 1999. In 2005, the largest musky was 46 inches, 29 pounds and the largest tiger musky was 39 inches, 14 pounds. Fluctuating water levels during our 2005 survey may have affected our catch. Loyalhanna Lake provides anglers the opportunity to catch a trophy musky.

Volunteer Joe Ferraro from Three Rivers Chapter Muskies, Inc. with a 46 inch 29 lb. muskellunge
Volunteer Joe Ferraro from Three Rivers Chapter Muskies, Inc. with a 46 inch 29 lb. muskellunge

Bluegills were the most abundant fish species found in the trap nets with a total of 1,417 collected. Twenty-seven percent of the bluegills were 7 inches or greater. Both higher numbers and larger bluegills were found this year compared to the 1999 survey. A total of 1,364 crappies were collected, but less than 3% were 9 inches or greater. The crappie population in the lake was similar between 1999 and this year, with only a few of quality size. Interestingly, over 1,400 gizzard shad were captured in 1999, but none were collected in 2005. Over-winter mortality of gizzard shad since 1999 has probably reduced their numbers.

Fisheries Technician Gary Smith with a 31 inch, 19 lb. channel catfish
Fisheries Technician Gary Smith with a 31 inch, 19 lb. channel catfish

Channel catfish were available in good numbers and sizes at Loyalhanna Lake in 2005. The channel catfish catch in 2005 almost doubled from the catch in 1999. The increased stocking rate of 30 channel catfish per acre (10 per acre prior to the 1999 survey) appears to be working well. Loyalhanna Lake would be an excellent lake to target catfish. White catfish were collected for the first time in Loyalhanna Lake. Loyalhanna Lake and Lake Wilma, Greene County are the only waters in the Ohio River drainage that the PFBC has documented white catfish. The white catfish is native to the Susquehanna and Delaware watersheds in PA.

We wish to thank the Three Rivers Chapter of Muskies, Inc. for their volunteer assistance in the survey.

Fish Species Number Collected Size Range (inches) Additional Comments
Muskellunge 5 20 – 46 Largest fish: 46 in. 29 lbs.
Tiger Muskellunge 2 30 – 39 Largest fish: 39 in. 14 lbs.
Bluegill 1,417 3 – 9 27% greater than 7 in.
Pumpkinseed 16 4 – 8 25% greater than 7 in.
White Crappie 782 3 – 16 2% greater than 9 in.
Black Crappie 582 3 – 11 < 1% greater than 9 in.
Yellow Perch 71 3 – 12 18% greater than 9 in.
Channel Catfish 58 8 – 31 66% greater than 15 in.
Brown Bullhead 55 8 – 17  
Yellow Bullhead 19 8 – 13  
White Catfish 14 10 – 21  
Largemouth Bass 5 11 – 18  
Common Carp 115 Not measured  
White Sucker 4 Not measured  
Green Sunfish 3 Not measured  
Golden Shiner 30 Not measured  
Tiger Trout 1 Not measured  
Golden Redhorse 1 Not measured  
 
-- Gary Smith, Area 8 Fisheries Technician

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