HARRISBURG, Pa. (March 5) – The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) announced today that it has temporarily lifted all seasons, sizes and creel limits on Fulton County’s Meadow Grounds Lake in anticipation of the lake being fully drained within the next several months.
“We have chosen to temporarily lift the regulations in order to reduce the number of fish in the lake in anticipation of a fish salvage prior to a complete drawdown of the lake,” said Dave Miko, chief of the PFBC Division of Fisheries Management. “We want anglers to fish the water and make good use of as many fish as they can.”
The temporary regulations take effect immediately and will remain in place until further notice by the PFBC.
The PFBC announced on Feb. 25 that it would drain the lake because of deficiencies in the lake’s dam. During an inspection in December, the PFBC and the state Department of Environmental Protection found that existing seepage in the dam had become more severe.
“The condition of the dam’s structural integrity necessitates that a complete drawdown of the lake be performed so that further testing and analyses can be conducted,” said Andy Shiels, PFBC Deputy Director of Operations.
The drawdown began yesterday and is expected to take up to three months to complete. The lake will be drained at a rate of about two feet per week, depending on weather.
The lake will be drawn down indefinitely until funding can be identified and secured to make the necessary repairs. At this point, the PFBC does not have the money to make the repairs at this facility.
PFBC biologists are currently developing a fish salvage plan to remove and relocate as many fish as possible. Although fish salvages generally save a large number of fish, a significant amount will also perish.
“We will collect as many fish as we can through netting and electro-fishing, but it is impossible to capture all of them,” Miko said. “Fish die during any drawdown and salvage effort. Many hide around structures where we simply can’t reach them, and others become buried in the mud when they are slow to exit the lake with the remaining water. Anglers and the general public should expect to see this.”
The lake will remain open to public use until the water level reaches a point where it may be unsafe for anglers. At that point the lake will be closed and signs will be posting alerting anglers of the closing.
The 204-acre lake is located on State Game Lands 53 in Ayr Township, Fulton County. The dam and lake areas are leased to the PFBC by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.