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Blue Marsh Lake
Berks County
 
Crappie Angler Opinion Survey Results
May/June 2008

Blue Marsh Lake is a 1,150-acre impoundment constructed from 1974 to 1979 by the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) on Tulpehocken Creek in western Berks County. The lake is located approximately 6 miles northwest of the City of Reading and is partially bordered by State Route 183. As an ACOE impoundment the primary function of the lake is flood control followed by water supply, water quality control, and recreation. Blue Marsh Lake experiences a five-foot draw down each fall and winter to provide flood protection to downstream areas. Additionally, lake depth occasionally fluctuates depending upon climatic conditions (precipitation).

Blue Marsh Lake has been managed with more restrictive crappie regulations (9 inch minimum length limit, 20 fish/day creel limit) than statewide regulations (no length limit, 50 fish/day creel limit) since it’s inclusion in the Panfish Enhancement program beginning in 2000.  Crappie populations in general, and the crappie population at Blue Marsh in particular, tend to fluctuate naturally with strong year classes followed by weak year classes. During those times following the production of weak year classes there are fewer crappie in the population and harvest of crappie by anglers may exacerbate the situation by further reducing availability of desirable size crappie. By increasing the minimum length limit and reducing the creel limit for crappie in Blue Marsh Lake biologists are attempting to lessen the extremes between the peaks and valleys of this lake’s crappie population. The conservative limits are designed to protect large and small year classes (cohorts) through time, thereby protecting “smaller” fish from harvest and preserving opportunities for them to grow to desirable size in future years.  This protection often affords opportunity to maintain greater densities of multiple year classes of crappie within the population and also sustains greater densities of crappie when smaller year classes comprise the population.  This provides a more reliable fishery, especially for quality size fish.

In May and June of 2008, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission fisheries management personnel conducted an angler opinion survey concerning the Blue Marsh Lake crappie fishery, specifically targeting anglers who were fishing for crappie or who had fished the lake for crappie in the past. In total, 170 anglers were interviewed.  The survey questions were designed to obtain anglers’ opinions about the crappie size limit, crappie creel limit, and the quality of the crappie fishing at Blue Marsh Lake.  Of the anglers who fished for crappie in 2008 a minimum of 44% were satisfied with the size of the crappie that they caught and a minimum of 42% were satisfied with the number of crappie that they caught.  Of the anglers who fished for Blue Marsh crappie in 2008 or at any time in the past, 89% were satisfied with the 9 inch size limit and 76% were satisfied with the 20 crappie per day creel limit.  The vast majority of anglers who were dissatisfied with the regulations favored a further reduction in the creel limit.

The following tables highlight some specific questions asked in the survey and corresponding angler responses.  The responses are categorically tallied as percentages, followed by numbers of responses (n) in parentheses.

This survey is one component of a statewide study geared to learning about angler preferences and opinions about panfish fishing experiences in Pennsylvania.  Selected waters within the Panfish Enhancement program, such as Blue Marsh Lake and those not within the Program (panfish harvest governed by a combined species 50 fish limit) were studied.  More details about statewide results will follow.

How do you feel about the average size (length) of crappie you caught in Blue Marsh Lake this year (2008)?
 n = total number Blue Marsh Lake
% Satisfied 44 (n=54)
% Dissatisfied 16.5 (n=20)
% Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied 16.5 (n=20)
% Did not catch/keep any crappie in 2008 23 (n=28)

 

How do you feel about the number of crappie you caught in Blue Marsh Lake this year (2008)?
 n = total number Blue Marsh Lake
% Satisfied 42 (n=51)
% Dissatisfied 24 (n=29)
% Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied 15 (n=19)
% Did not catch/keep any crappie in 2008 19 (n=23)

 

How do you feel about the size limit of 9" for crappie at Blue Marsh Lake?
 n = total number Blue Marsh Lake
% Satisfied 89 (n=152)
% Dissatisfied 10 (n=17)
% No Response 1 (n=1)

 

Are you satisfied with the size limit because:
 n = total number Blue Marsh Lake
% Crappie Increased 8 (n=12)
% Fish previously harvested were too small 60 (n=91)
% Both 26 (n=39)
% Other 5 (n=8)
% No Response 1 (n=2)

 

Are you dissatisfied with the size limit because:
 n = total number Blue Marsh Lake
% Not enough legal crappie 17 (n=3)
% Restricts my harvest 6 (n=1)
% Size limit still too low 65 (n=11)
% Other 12 (n=2)

 

How do you feel about the creel limit of 20 crappie per day at Blue Marsh Lake?
 n = total number Blue Marsh Lake
% Satisfied 76.5 (n=130)
% Dissatisfied 23.5 (n=40)

 

Are you satisfied with the 20 fish creel limit because:
 n = total number Blue Marsh Lake
% Crappie increased 10 (n=13)
% Too many fish harvested in the past 67 (n=87)
% Both 16 (n=21)
% Other 7 (n=9)

 

Are you dissatisfied with the 20 fish creel limit because:
 n = total number Blue Marsh Lake
% Not enough legal crappie 0 (n=0)
% Would like to harvest more than 20 5 (n=2)
% Creel limit not low enough 92.5 (n=37)
% Other 2.5 (n=1)

 

Which of the following do you feel is an appropriate creel limit for crappie?
 n = total number Blue Marsh Lake
% 5 per day 1 (n=2)
% 10 per day 19 (n=32)
%12 per day 4 (n=7)
%15 per day 11 (n=19)
% 20 per day 57 (n=96)
% 25 per day 3 (n=5)
% 30 per day 0.5 (n=1)
% 40 per day 0 (n=0)
% 50 per day 0 (n=0)
% Other 4 (n=7)
% None 0.5 (n=1)

 

Which of the following do you feel is an appropriate size limit for crappie?
 n = total number Blue Marsh Lake
% 5 inches 0 (n=0)
% 6 inches <1 (n=1)
% 7 inches 2 (n=3)
% 8 inches 4 (n=7)
% 9 inches 69 (n=117)
% 10 inches 17 (n=29)
% 11 inches 2 (n=3)
% 12 inches 4 (n=7)
% Other 2 (n=3)
% None 0 (n=0)

 

Which of the following do you think is an appropriate creel limit for a combined catch of panfish species (Includes sunfish, crappies, yellow perch, catfish, rock bass, suckers, white bass, eels, and carp)?
 n = total number Blue Marsh Lake
% 5 or less per day 2 (n=3)
% 10 per day 4 (n=7)
% 15 per day 6 (n=10)
% 20 per day 29 (n=50)
% 25 per day 14 (n=24)
% 30 per day 9 (n=15)
% 35 per day 3 (n=5)
% 40 per day 2 (n=3)
% 50 per day 19 (n=33)
% Other 12 (n=20)
% None 0 (n=0)

 

Which best describes the main reason you fish?  Do you fish primarily:
n = total number Blue Marsh Lake
% To provide a main source of food for your household? 0.5 (n=1)
% To supplement your household's groceries? 0.5 (n=1)
% For sport, occasionally bringing fish home to eat? 53 (n=91)
% For sport purposes only (catch and release)? 44 (n=76)
% To socialize with other anglers? 2 (n=4)
 
-- Area 6

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