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Leaser Lake destined to become a premier fishery

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While Leaser Lake is still experiencing a seepage problem after its recent re-construction, that problem is caused mainly by underground springs, according to Lee Creyer, Lehigh County WCO. As such, the PF&BC will keep the water level, which is about at full height, a bit lower to solve that reoccurring problem, said Creyer in a phone interview.

Based on a Fisheries Management report from Mike Kauffman, PF&BC fish biologist, the fingerlings that were stocked have grown exceptionally well in Leaser. All the fish that were stocked as fingerlings were generally 1.5 to 4-inches in long, however, some of the spotfin shiners stocked were adults.

Creyer echoed Kauffman’s report by saying that the fingerling fish are growing faster than he expected. And for those following the progress of Leaser, here are the species and numbers of fingerlings that have been stocked so far, and doesn’t include the trout stockings the lake has received or will get for the 2014 trout season.

1700 Largemouth bass
1148 tiger muskies
418 chain pickerel
2400 channel catfish
4744 brown bullheads
5800 yellow perch
5800 white crappie
23,400 golden shiners and approx. 4,000 spotfin shiners

Subsequent to a fall electrofishing (shocking) survey, Kauffman reported that for a new or reclaimed impoundment, fish growth rates were very fast. Some largemouth bass, he cited, were already 10 inches long and, as a result, may reproduce as soon as 2014, at least a year ahead of expectation. And some tiger musky’s have grown from 4 to 14 inches in just one summer.

This phenomenal muskie growth will probably generate some tackle shop talk among local anglers who in the past have blamed Leaser muskie’s for eating the stocked trout and small bass there.

To the contrary, Kaufmann says that this growth is a testament to the abundance of forage in the lake including a large population of creek chubsuckers (not creek chubs) that exploded from what had to be just a few that remained in the stream during the drawdown.

Kaufmann writes, “In truth, fish population surveys on Leaser had not identified creek chubsuckers being present since a few years after the lake was first constructed in the 1970s. Likewise, some green sunfish and bluegills remained in the stream and had exceptional reproductive success, especially the green sunfish.”

In his report on Leaser, Kaufmann states his philosophy - or position - with respect to new or reclaimed impoundments, by following these fundamental principles:

1. Establishing large, reproducing forage bases upon which the stocked fingerling sportfish can thrive.
2. And to not overstock sportfish, especially voracious largemouth bass, which will give forage base an opportunity to expand.

In this way, Kaufmann tries to make sure that a good forage base will provide good growth rates throughout the initial three to four year stocking period and, hopefully, beyond.

Some anglers may ask why the PF&BC can’t stock adult bass in Leaser to speed up the viable fishery it can be. Kaufmann answers that by saying, “Based on bad experiences, we do not stock adult largemouth bass as they will prevent or impair the establishment of other fish species through foraging on the other fish that have been or are being stocked. This happened previously at Leaser following another drawdown. Additionally, in an ideal scenario, we do not want the bluegill reproduction to occur before the first year that largemouth bass reproduce. This can also create a population imbalance.”

Kaufmann’s plan sounds solid and within a few more years Leaser should become a better fishery than it ever was. In the least, it has to be better based on the amount of man-made structure that was constructed throughout the lake, structure that was sorely lacking before draining.

If you’re a supporter of Lehigh County’s only large impoundment, you can show that support by becoming a Leaser Lake Heritage Foundation member. Applications are available online at www.leaserlakeheritage.org. An adult membership is $15 per year, a student membership, $5 and a lifetime membership, $150.

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