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Pymatuning Reservoir
Crawford County
 
Spring Trapnet Survey 2008

Pymatuning Reservoir (view location on Google Maps) is located in western Crawford County and has a surface area of approximately 14,000 acres. Located within Pymatuning State Park, Pennsylvania’s largest park, this lake shares a border with Ohio and is utilized by over 3 million visitors each year. In addition to the boating and fishing, the Pymatuning area offers excellent bird watching and camping. When fishing from a boat an Ohio or Pennsylvania fishing license is acceptable, however, when fishing from shore an angler must possess the respective state license. Please refer to page 10 of the 2008 Summary Handbook for further details regarding the regulations on this unique lake.

Area One Fisheries Management personnel performed an annual spring trapnet survey of Pymatuning Reservoir immediately following ice-out, from March 31 to April 11. The nets were set to sample sportfish relative density and species composition in the lake with a focus on the walleye population. Trapnets were set and checked daily, encompassing 17 sites, 42 sets and 960 hours of effort. In the two weeks of trapnet effort a total of 5,939 fish were sampled representing 21 different species (Tables 1 and 2).

Table 1. Trapnet catch totals and size ranges for selected species for Pymatuning Lake, spring 2008.

Species Number Collected Size Range (inches)
Walleye 798 13-28
Muskellunge 117 26-47.5
Black Crappie 216 4.9-12.8
White Crappie 52 5.9-14.8
Yellow Perch 840 3.0-10.8
Channel Catfish 178 10.8-29.5

Table 2. Trapnet catch totals for selected species for Pymatuning Lake, spring 2008.

Species Number Collected
Carp 1594
Alewife 788
Quillback 426
Gizzard Shad 399
Brown Bullhead 249
Spottail Shiner 180
Bluegill 39
White Sucker 21
Yellow Bullhead 15
White Bass 14
Golden Shiner 11
Pumpkinseed 2

A total of 798 walleye were sampled in trapnets this spring. Males comprised 71% of the catch with sizes ranging from 14 to 24.5 inches with the majority of fish falling between 19 and 21 inches. Females made up 26% of the catch with sizes ranging from 17 to 28 inches with the majority falling within the 23 to 25 inch size range. Walleye 15 inches and larger made up 99% of the total catch, 88% were 18 inches and larger, and 49% were 20 inches and larger. Although the total catch was down from 2007, the abundance of large walleye, 20 inches and above has increased (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Size distribution of walleye captured from Pymatuning Lake in 2007 and 2008.

Figure 1

Fisheries Biologists Freeman Johns (left) and Tim Wilson (right) displaying walleyes captured in Pymatuning Lake
Fisheries Biologists Freeman Johns (left) and Tim Wilson (right) displaying walleyes captured in Pymatuning Lake

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) has stocked walleye fry into Pymatuning Reservoir annually for over 20 years. For the last two years the Ohio Division of Wildlife has aided the PFBC’s stocking efforts. Between the two agencies in 2007 over 16,000,000 fry (2-3 days old) and 78,699 advanced fry (21 days old) were stocked into the lake. The young-of-year walleye population is assessed each fall by means of boat electrofishing. Historically, fry stocking has proven to be more than adequate to effectively support the walleye fishery of Pymatuning. Angler reports along with biological surveys have shown a decrease in the success of walleye recruitment in the last several years. To address this deficiency, for the first time the PFBC along with the Ohio Division of Wildlife supplemented the annual fry stockings with fingerling walleye (Spring 2008). Pymatuning received over 550,000 fingerling walleye to complement the stocking of 4 million fry from the PFBC. Area biologists are hopeful that recruitment success will increase due to the additional stocking of the fingerling walleye. The difference in size and development is illustrated in the following pictures.

Comparison of the walleye fry (3 days old, left) that have historically been stocked into Pymatuning Lake versus fingerlings (39 days old, right) that were stocked this year
Comparison of the walleye fry (3 days old, left) that have historically been stocked into Pymatuning Lake versus fingerlings (39 days old, right) that were stocked this year

This year’s trapnet season set a record for the highest number of muskellunge ever caught on Pymatuning in the least amount of nets. A total 117 musky were netted in 42 sets. Muskellunge sampled ranged in size from 26.6 to 47.5 inches. The graph below illustrates the size distribution of the musky caught this year in comparison to 2007 (Figure 2). The PFBC annually stocks approximately 5,000 muskellunge fingerlings into Pymatuning.

Figure 2. Comparison of 2007 to 2008 muskellunge spring trapnet catch.

Figure 2

Fisheries Biologist Aide Devin DeMario tangling with a couple of hefty muskellunge
Fisheries Biologist Aide Devin DeMario tangling with a couple of hefty muskellunge

In addition to an impressive number of muskellunge, abundant panfish of nice size were sampled as well (Tables 1 and 2, Figure 3).

Figure 3. Size distribution and abundance of black and white crappie captured in Pymatuning Lake, spring 2008.

Figure 3

Area One Fisheries Biologist Freeman Johns displays a nice white crappie (left). An example of white and black crappie from Pymatuning (right).
Area One Fisheries Biologist Freeman Johns displays a nice white crappie (left). An example of white and black crappie from Pymatuning (right).

Anglers have reported numerous walleye, musky and crappie catches of good size thus far this season, with a few trophy musky and walleye already documented. Area One is confident that 2008 will provide anglers with an exciting season.

Fisheries Biologist Tim Wilson demonstrated trap netting and fish processing to the Siebert family
Fisheries Biologist Tim Wilson demonstrated trap netting and fish processing to the Siebert family

 
-- Devin DeMario, Area 1Fisheries Biologist Aide

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