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Conneaut Lake
Crawford County
 
Spring Trapnet and Electrofishing Survey

Conneaut Lake is Pennsylvania’s largest natural lake with a surface area of approximately 930 acres and depths reaching 68 ft. Located off of State Route 18 in Crawford County, Conneaut Lake is a popular recreational destination for boaters and anglers. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission maintains a public boat launch and access area on the northwestern part of Conneaut Lake.

During the week of April 14th, 2008 Area 1 Fisheries Management personnel sampled the fishery of Conneaut Lake by means of Pennsylvania style trap nets. Four nets were set and lifted on four occasions resulting in a total of 16 net-catches in 371 hours of trapnet effort. A total of 981 fish were caught encompassing 17 different species.

Panfish were the most abundant species found in the nets. Bluegill, black crappie, rock bass, pumpkinseed, and yellow perch representing 642 of the 981 total fish netted. Out of the panfish sampled 89% were 5 inches and larger with bluegills averaging 7-8 inches and black crappie averaging 9-11 inches.

Average size bluegill and crappie
Average size bluegill and black crappie catch

Along with panfish our nets yielded abundant numbers of redhorse suckers, brown bullhead, northern pike, bowfin, smallmouth and largemouth bass. In smaller numbers were carp, white sucker, golden shiner, and yellow bullhead.

A total of 168 bowfin and 27 northern pike were caught. Bowfin were of impressive size ranging from 13 to 28 inches. This unique and native fish is found in only a few of Pa’s waters and fights hard when hooked. Northern pike caught ranged from 15 to 35 inches.

Area 1 Fisheries Biologist Aide Devin DeMario with a female bowfin
Area 1 Fisheries Biologist Aide Devin DeMario with a female bowfin

Fisheries Biologist Aide Devin DeMario with a 34-inch northern pike
Fisheries Biologist Aide Devin DeMario with a 34-inch northern pike

Although trapnets are not used to index black bass abundance, Conneaut Lake trap nets captured a number of impressive sized smallmouth ranging in size from 12-20 inches. To index black bass population density in Conneaut Lake an electrofishing survey was performed on May 20th and 21st, 2008. A total of 59 bass were collected in 1.91 hours of electrofishing effort which included 54 largemouth bass and 5 smallmouth bass. This resulted in a catch rate of 28 largemouth per hour. Largemouth bass ranged in size from 5-18 inches with 52% of the sample being larger than 12 inches and 11% being larger than 15 inches (Figure 1). Smallmouth bass sampled via electrofishing were 10-15 inches in length.

Figure 1. Graph illustrating the length frequency of largemouth bass in Conneaut Lake
Figure 1

Area 1 Fisheries Biologist Freeman Johns with a 20-inch smallmouth bass caught in a trap net
Area 1 Fisheries Biologist Freeman Johns with a 20-inch smallmouth bass caught in a trap net

Muskellunge were not sampled during this survey although we continue to receive reports of angler catches of musky. Likewise no walleye were sampled. Over the last decade the PFBC has stocked over 700,000 walleye fry annually, in 2007 these fry were supplemented with approximately 20,000 fingerlings in hopes of improving recruitment of younger walleye into the population. We plan to conduct follow up surveys to further evaluate the populations of these two important species in Conneaut Lake.

Conneaut Lake should prove to be a productive sport fishery for black bass, northern pike and panfish in the year to come.

Devin DeMario and Area 2 Fisheries Biologist Tim Wilson with an average crappie catch
Devin DeMario and Area 2 Fisheries Biologist Tim Wilson with an average crappie catch

 
-- Area 2

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