F. Dale Lolley's Sports Column

Lake Arthur survey shows great results

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From April 29 through May 6, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission undertook a muskie survey on Lake Arthur in Butler County with amazing results.

Commission biologists netted and tagged 53 muskies during that time period, with fish ranging in size from 27 inches to 52, with weights ranging from 6.2 pounds to 45.9.

That 45.9 pounder is in the same weight class of the state record of 54.3 pounds set all the way back in 1924 – Pennsylvania’s oldest fishing record.

The survey also revealed a very healthy population of channel catfish, with fish ranging in size from nine to 31 inches. Just over 300 channel cats were netted that were in the 21- to 23-inch range.

The commission has been stocking Lake Arthur with channel cats since 1975, but the high number turned up in the survey – a total of 768 – suggests that the population is now self-sustaining.

Part of the reason for that is also the same reason many anglers find Lake Arthur, a 3,200-acre waterway that is the center of Morraine State Park, such a difficult place to fish. Lake Arthur holds a huge population of alewives, which make them the main meal for predator fish.

Because of this, the best times for fishing the lake are at dusk and dawn in areas the alewives occupy at those times – rocky points, submerged road beds, riprap areas and just off of long, featureless shorelines.

At this time of year, alewives are spawning, bringing them into the mouths of shallow bays and main lake points at dusk and after dark.

With healthy populations of walleye and even striped bass, Lake Arthur is one of Western Pennsylvania’s best fisheries, particularly for large game fish.

For those not familiar with Lake Arthur, it can be reached from Washington County via I-79 by exiting onto Route 422 and heading toward Butler.

• Lease agreements with energy companies – including one in Washington County – that were approved this week will net the Pennsylvania Game Commission nearly $4.7 million in bonus payments and additional funds in royalties.

The agreements, which were approved at the board of commissioners meeting earlier this week, are the result of requests by companies that have strong leaseholds in the surrounding areas, and already are in possession of the energy rights on Game Commission properties. The agreements ensure the fuels are extracted with little to no surface impacts on game lands.

Included in the agreements is one with Range Resources Appalachia LLC for oil-and-gas development on a 62.6-acre portion of State Game Lands 117 in Washington County. The $2,500 per acre bonus payment is worth $156,500, and the commission is to receive 19 percent in royalties from fuels that are sold.

Outdoors Editor F. Dale Lolley can be reached at dlolley@observer-reporter.com.

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