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Tamarack Lake
Crawford County
 
Spring Night Electrofishing

Tamarack Lake is a 561 acre impoundment owned by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and located near Meadville in Crawford County. It was drained in 1999 to refit and repair the dam outlet structures. Since then the lake was refilled and restocked with game and panfish species and Area 2 biologists have monitored the progress of the fishery. We returned to Tamarack Lake on the evenings of May 14 - 15, 2008 to evaluate our efforts to bolster largemouth bass density. During the two nights of electrofishing we completed 6 runs covering 5,910 meters of shoreline totaling 3.56 hours of effort.

Our 2001 through 2005 surveys found that largemouth density was too low (Table 1) and that panfish populations were suffering from high density and slow growth because of insufficient predation from bass. In response, we implemented Big Bass regulations to protect as many bass as possible and began a five-year stocking program utilizing largemouth bass fingerlings from our Linesville fish hatchery. Since 2005, we have stocked 29,542 largemouth bass fingerlings to augment natural reproduction. Our catch rate for 2008 was slightly higher than in 2005 and we noted an increase in fish in the 3 to 10 inch size range. This size is represented by years or year classes supplemented with stocking (Table 1).

Even though we observed some contribution from our stocked fingerlings, we would like to see an even higher density of small bass than was observed. We will continue to stock through 2009 and continue to periodically re-assess the bass population. The higher abundance of 8 to 10 inch bass seen in 2008 will become sexually mature by 2009 and should spawn next spring, which has potential to dramatically increase bass reproduction and recruitment in the future. However, it may take a few years for the bass population to return to a night electrofishing catch rate of 82 bass per hour as was recorded in 1995, the density of bass prior to Tamarack Lake being drained. At the present low density, growth rates for bass are good and the largemouth bass we captured were robust and healthy.

Fisheries Biologist Aide Jennifer Cessna and Fisheries Biologist Tim Wilson with some big bass from Tamarack Lake
Fisheries Biologist Aide Jennifer Cessna and Fisheries Biologist Tim Wilson with some big bass from Tamarack Lake

Table 1. Comparison of size distributions and catch rates for largemouth bass captured by night electrofishing in Tamarack Lake, Crawford County.


Length Group (mm) 2008 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 1995

3 3 1       1 1
4 7 6 2     13 7
5 4 1 3   3 14  
6 1     1 6 12 1
7 2 1 1   5 12 21
8 17 3 3     8 8
9 20 2 2   1   42
10 10 6   1 1   43
11 2 6     2   15
12 6 1 1   1 4 10
13 1 1   1   1 7
14 2 1 2   1   2
15 2 2   1 1   1
16 1 5 1   1   1
17 2 4   2     3
18 1 4         2
19 1 1          
20 2            
21 1            

Total 85 45 15 6 22 65 164

Total Effort (Hours) 3.56 3.0 1.17 1.17 1.0 1.34 2.0

Catch Per Hour 23.9 15.0 12.8 5.1 22.0 48.5 82.0

Catch Per Hour > 12 inches 5.3 6.3 3.4 3.4 4.0 3.7 13.0

Catch Per Hour > 15 inches 2.8 2.1 0.8 2.6 2.0 0 3.5

 
-- Area 2

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