New crappie regs for Pymatuning Reservoir take effect March 1

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is reminding anglers who fish for crappies in Crawford County’s Pymatuning Reservoir that new creel and size limits will take effect beginning on March 1, restricting them to 20 fish per day and a 9-inch minimum length.

An identical regulation change also takes effect March 1 on the Ohio side of the reservoir, located in Ashtabula County. The fisheries in the reservoir are jointly managed by the PFBC and the Ohio Division of Wildlife under the Pymatuning Compact.

Both agencies will be posting signs around the lake informing anglers of the new regulation.

Currently there are no restrictions on the harvest of panfish, including crappies. The reservoir experienced a large increase in crappie abundance and quality between 2001 and 2012, which led to dramatic increases in angler pressure. Since 2012, the abundance of crappies has decreased, while angler effort continued to increase, yielding an unsatisfactory fishery for anglers.

Based on this decline, Ohio approached the PFBC to discuss implementing a more restrictive angling regulation.

The PFBC held a public meeting in early 2016, during which participants indicated overwhelming support for the proposed change. Similarly, a 2014 angler opinion survey performed by the Ohio Division of Wildlife found that 88% of the anglers interviewed agreed with the implementation of harvest restrictions on crappies on the reservoir.

“These regulations have been used to improve crappie size structure and density in other Pennsylvania lakes where they have been applied and will likely have similar positive results in Pymatuning Reservoir,” said Jason Detar, chief of the PFBC’s Division of Fisheries Management. “Growth rates for crappies in the reservoir are well above the Pennsylvania state average, suggesting that the forage base is sufficient to support an increase in crappie density.”

Detar added that the regulation’s effect on crappies will be closely monitored through annual trap net surveys and through age and growth statistics, which are computed annually. In addition, angler effort, catch and harvest are monitored during the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s triannual creel survey.

Pymatuning Reservoir is Pennsylvania’s largest inland lake and is located in Crawford County and Ashtabula County, Ohio. The reservoir is located in Pymatuning State Park, the Commonwealth’s largest state park.

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