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Weedwhacking for better fishing

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2007/4/25 10:02
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State claims weed elimination will aid angling at High Point Lake

Sunday, July 06, 2008
By Deborah Weisberg- Pittsburgh Post Gazette


Weeds are most often an angling boon. But at High Point Lake, they may be too much of a good thing.

In an effort to boost walleye survival and the size of perch, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will attempt to eradicate half of the vegetation in the 338-acre Somerset County impoundment with a series of 10-foot overwinter draw-downs set to begin in September. Exposing plant roots to killing frosts will minimize weed growth and spur the release of impacted nutrients during re-flooding in the spring, said commission biologist Rick Lorson.

"It worked at Lake Somerset, where we had a similar problem and we're confident it will work here."

Somerset has been partially drawn down during alternate winters and, more recently, every three years since the late 1980s. A long-term schedule also is projected for High Point, which is located near Mt. Davis, the most elevated spot in the state.

Low water will hamper boat-launching in the fall, and ice anglers will have to walk a greater distance.

"But we're hoping to change a predator-prey imbalance caused by too many weeds," Lorson said, "so the short-term inconvenience will have long-term gains."

The agency has been trying to cultivate a walleye fishery at High Point for more than 20 years. But, said Lorson, a proliferation of pond weed and wild celery is creating foraging problems for the toothy predator.

"We do a pretty heavy stocking in June of each year -- about 40 walleye fingerlings per acre -- but we're not seeing the survival," he said. "By August, the fish we've put in are ready to feed on perch. They have to expend too much energy to capture their prey, particularly in the first year, which is critical to walleyes' development."

Excessive vegetation also has caused perch to multiply, he said. In competition for food and habitat, perch are failing to reach the 9-inch creel minimum required on this Panfish Enhancement Program lake. On non-enhancement waters, there is no size minimum for perch.

Lorson is monitoring High Point as part of a statewide reassessment of the program, which, depending on the lake, also can apply to crappies and sunfish.

As part of its effort, the commission is seeking angler input about panfishing at select waters.

Although angler surveys are still underway, so far High Point doesn't get high marks.

"Folks who fish there tell us they like the idea of the program and they're catching a lot of perch," Lorson said. "They're just not catching many 9-inchers."

Lorson characterized the lake's populations of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappies and bluegills as "healthy," and said maintaining the right amount of vegetation -- about 20 percent -- will support those species.

He said it also could boost the size of northern pike, which have averaged 18 to 24 inches in recent years.

"Pike spawn in weedy habitat," said Lorson. "If we thin their numbers, hopefully they'll continue to grow bigger."

John Spittal of Ursina has few complaints about High Point's pike. He said he pulled one through the ice there that was 12 pounds 37 inches.

"You don't get big ones often, but I know they're in there," said Spittal, who has always accepted the lake's lavish plant growth.

"From a fishing standpoint, weeds can be a pain, but they have their good points."

And while he has been less pleased with High Point's percidae (the family that includes both walleyes and perch), he said it isn't much better at the Youghiogheny Reservoir, where infertility, or lack of vegetation, is the issue.

"We don't catch many walleyes at High Point, but the Yough lake seems to be the same way and there are no weeds there at all," he said.

"It's the same with perch. They don't seem any bigger at the Yough lake than at High Point."

First published on July 6, 2008 at 12:00 am

Posted on: 2008/7/7 11:43
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Re: Weedwhacking for better fishing

Joined:
2006/9/10 16:07
From Pine Grove
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Maybe it's just me, but the fact that walleye and perch haven't taken well to that lake would tell me that maybe it would be better to fish for them where they thrive than to try to manipulate nature into doing what they want it to. Oh well, to each their own, I guess. Me, I want Taimen in the creek behind my house, maybe I can see what the PFBC can do for me.

Boyer

Posted on: 2008/7/8 5:47


Re: Weedwhacking for better fishing

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2007/7/2 19:40
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just get sent to Siberia by Jack M.-lol

Posted on: 2008/7/8 15:26
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Re: Weedwhacking for better fishing

Joined:
2008/2/18 10:20
Posts: 1266
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Quote:

MattBoyer wrote:
Maybe it's just me, but the fact that walleye and perch haven't taken well to that lake would tell me that maybe it would be better to fish for them where they thrive than to try to manipulate nature into doing what they want it to. Oh well, to each their own, I guess. Me, I want Taimen in the creek behind my house, maybe I can see what the PFBC can do for me.

Boyer


I am with Boyer on this one!

Posted on: 2008/7/8 22:11
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