Newly-renovated North Park Lake has received an unexpected bounty of fish from Glade Run Lake in Butler, which the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission plans to eventually close.
The commission salvaged adult bass, crappies, and other species from Glade Run and trucked them to neighboring Lake Arthur as well as North Park earlier this month. Glade Run is being drawn down by 10 feet in an effort to relieve pressure on the 56-year old dam that was declared unsafe in 2002 and was found recently to have new leaks.
“We’ve been able to manage it and it wasn’t real serious, but this spring, water got turbid, which indicated erosion inside the dam, and that’s a real danger sign,” said fish and boat commission biologist Al Woomer.
“So we began the draw-down. We haven’t closed the lake yet, but once you take it down so far and get into a big mud flat, it’s just too difficult to fish.”
Fish and boat commission workers electroshocked Glade Run to bring fish to the surface and then netted and put them into tanker trucks bound for their new homes. North Park received 92 largemouth bass, 88 bluegills, 10 white crappies and a channel catfish.
“You don’t want to put a lot of adults into North Park because you want to build the population,” Woomer said. “These numbers were about right.”
North Park after a $21-million, two-year restoration that included removing 310,000 cubic yards of sediment from the lakebed. While Allegheny County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers paid for the project, the fish and boat commission oversaw the installation of more than 100 fish enhancement structures, designed to encourage crappies and other species to colonize and reproduce.
Earlier this spring, some fish were moved to North Park from the soon-to-be-closed Hereford Manor lakes in Beaver County, and there are plans to stock juvenile fish raised at state hatcheries. Adult trout will be stocked for the opening of trout season next spring.
The Glade Run fish were a bonus both for anglers and the fishery, although it still will be a few years before fishing becomes optimal at North Park, Woomer said.
“The adult bass, in particular, will help repopulate the fishery, and should give anglers a better shot at catching something,” he said.
“It beats sitting at home,” said Freeman Johns, the fish and boat commission biologist who oversaw the relocation of the fish. “But the population is still small.”
Don Wagner of Shaler has fished North Park Lake for decades and found the fishing productive there even when silt was a problem.
“I’d catch 12- to 15-inch largemouth bass, and an occasional 4-pounder,” he said. “I’ve also caught a lot of trout out of there in late winter.”
Wagner followed the restoration project closely and said he’s glad it’s finally done, but he’ll wait until next spring to fish in order to let the fishery take hold.
“I’m glad to see they’re bringing fish in, but I’d rather not stress them right away.”
Anglers will find the water level in the lake slowly improving from a week ago, when canoe rides planned for the reopening celebration had to be scrapped because lack of rainfall left the lake too low.
Bass and crappies have finished spawning for the year, but bluegills may spawn again, Woomer said. He also indicated that additional fish may be trucked in from Glade Run in coming weeks, although it is stressful on fish to be moved any distance as the weather heats up.
Glade Run is slightly newer and smaller than North Park, which was built in 1936 and measures 75 surface acres.
It is one of 16 “high-hazard” dams on the state’s list of dams in need of repair. High-hazard dams are defined by their proximity to populated areas and their structural vulnerability in a catastrophic or 100-year storm event. The commission said it will cost about $4 million to reconstruct Glade Run’s concrete spillway and reinforce the embankment.
The commission said it has no funding for those repairs.