Chapman opens for selective fishing

Chapman State Park is re-opened for fishing.

But special guidelines will be in place for a few years as the fish population is restored following the drawdown of the lake required for recently-completed dam repairs.

The park posted on Facebook about the re-opening and the special regulations, which require “All species, except trout: catch and release/no harvest; it is unlawful to take, kill or possess any fish, except trout. All fish caught other than trout must be immediately returned unharmed. For trout, inland regulations apply. This regulation will remain in effect until further notice.”

Two trout stockings were postponed for the lake as construction extended beyond the anticipated timeframe.

Stocking schedules indicate that a December stocking of brown and rainbow trout is planned.

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Fisheries Biologist Brian Ensign told the Times Observer back in February that a pre-season, in-season and winter stocking is the goal “when the water is ready to go.”

Trout have been stocked heavily but the lake has held a variety of other species.

“It’s always been a really good bass lake,” Ensign said.

Others will be brought in.

“We have a plan to stock warm water species in there,” he said. “We put some forage species in first — golden shiners and fathead minnows. That’s immediate food source so when we start stocking the game species they’ll have something to eat.”

Minnows spawn quickly and the stocked ones will join any that swim in from the creek.

After the minnows have a chance to get going, PFBC will introduce largemouth bass.

“Then more minnows, more bass, then bluegill,” Ensign said.

Bluegill have struggled in the lake, showing low fertility and slow growth rates, in the past due to some acidity issues, he said, but “it had a great bass fishery.”

Yellow perch are also on the stocking list and will serve as both a game fish and a food fish.

Bass fingerlings, which will be stocked, will mature quickly. Ensign expects bass to grow to 10 to 12 inches in two to four years.

“Once they get to two to three years old, they’ll begin to reproduce in the lake,” Ensign said. And, the department will continue stocking fish and monitoring numbers.

When the surveys show the fish are there insufficient number and sizes, the department will lift the catch-and-release rules.

The stocking of everything but trout is not expected to go on for more than a few years.

Some species that had been found in the lake during previous surveys will not be intentionally introduced.

“We also had white suckers, pumpkinseed, bullheads,” Ensign said. Those might swim in from the creek. They will not be stocked.

Swimming at the park continues to be a no-go.

“The swimming beach is still closed and swimming is still prohibited until bacteria levels fall below limits established by the Pa. Department of Health,” the Park said.