| 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
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.
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