Biologist reports logo Cross Creek Lake

Washington County
May 2-5, 2005

Cross Creek Lake is a productive 244-acre impoundment located in western Washington County near Avella, PA. It is in the Washington County Parks system and receives heavy angler use. One boat launch is located at the lake and there is a 10 horsepower limit. Annual use permit for all watercraft is required from the Washington County Parks office. Conservation Lake regulations were used to manage Cross Creek Lake since it was opened for fishing in 1985 through 1998. Starting in 2000 Big Bass Regulations and Panfish Enhancement Regulations for sunfish and crappie were applied at the impoundment. We surveyed Cross Creek Lake as part of a statewide study of the Panfish Enhancement Regulations that have been implemented on a number of waters across the state. The last survey on Cross Creek Lake was in 2003. The PFBC stocks saugeye (a walleye/sauger hybrid) and channel catfish fingerlings annually, and redear sunfish fingerlings on even years at Cross Creek Lake.

Fisheries Technician John Frederick with a saugeye
Fisheries Technician John Frederick with a saugeye

Forty saugeyes were collected during the 2005 trap net survey compared to 20 fish in 2003. All the saugeyes in 2005 were legal size (15 inches or greater). The largest saugeye collected was 26 inches long and weighed 5.7 pounds. We believe more saugeyes would be collected if sampling occurred in March rather than May. Walleye were stocked in the lake from 1983 to 1996. Five fish sampling surveys from 1986 to 1994 at Cross Creek Lake failed to document what we considered an adequate number of walleye to produce good fishing. We conducted research at Cross Creek Lake to determine if saugeyes would work better than walleyes at the lake. Saugeyes tend to have higher survival and faster growth in some situations where the water is more turbid like at Cross Creek Lake. We stocked similar numbers of walleye in 1988, 1990, and 1992 and saugeye in 1989, 1991, and 1993. Fish sampling in 1994 yielded twice as many saugeyes and bigger saugeyes than walleyes on average. Therefore, walleye stocking was discontinued and the lake was stocked with saugeye fingerling on an annual basis. We are having some difficulty obtaining saugeyes for stocking on a consistent basis. If the problem continues, we will consider alternative solutions.

Area Fisheries Manager Rick Lorson with two black crappies
Area Fisheries Manager Rick Lorson with two black crappies

Black crappies were the most abundant fish species collected in Cross Creek Lake in 2005 with 1,184 collected. The total number of crappies collected from trap nets at Cross Creek Lake was highest in 2005, which topped the previous high set in 2003. Fifty-seven percent of the black crappies were 9 inches or greater, which are legal crappies under the Panfish Enhancement Regulations. The number of crappies that were 9 inches or greater was highest in the 2005 survey, followed by the 1985 survey, and then by the 2003 survey. Interestingly, the 1985 survey was conducted prior to the lake opening to angling. The number of legal crappies in 2005 more than doubled the number captured in 1985. Suffice it to say, the black crappie population at Cross Creek Lake is in very good shape.

Bluegills were found in good numbers and sizes with 927 fish in 2005 compared to 977 fish in 2003. A high percentage (68%) of the 927 bluegills in 2005 were 7 inches or greater, which are legal length bluegills under the Panfish Enhancement Regulations. The number of bluegills that were 7 inches or greater was higher in 2005 than in any other of the previous eight survey years at Cross Creek Lake, including the 1985 survey prior to the lake opening up to angling. Cross Creek Lake continues to provide an excellent bluegill fishery under extremely heavy fishing pressure.

A 9 1/2 inch redear sunfish
A 9 1/2 inch redear sunfish (we stock redear sunfish fingerlings annually)

Redear sunfish were collected in moderate numbers with almost all of them being legal-sized fish (7 inches or greater). Our catfish catch with trap nets was low, but nice bullheads and channel catfish were present.

Cross Creek Lake provides angling opportunities for good numbers of quality size bass, saugeye, crappie, bluegill, and other panfish. We were unable to assess the bass population during the 2005 trap net survey. Night electrofishing is the primary gear we use to assess bass populations in lakes. Previous night electrofishing surveys at Cross Creek Lake indicated that Cross Creek Lake had one of the highest densities of largemouth bass in the state. We will be assessing the bass population with night electrofishing in 2007.

Fish Species Number Collected Size Range (inches) Additional Comments
Saugeye 40 17 - 26  
Walleye 1 20 - 21  
Black Crappie 1,184 3 - 13 57% greater than 9 in.
Bluegill 927 2 - 10 68% greater than 7 in.
Redear Sunfish 52 4 - 12 90% greater than 7 in.
Sunfish Hybrid 4 6 - 8  
Green Sunfish 1 5 - 6  
Yellow Perch 1 3 - 4  
Channel Catfish 6 11 - 23  
Flathead Catfish 1 26 - 27  
Brown Bullhead 19 11 - 16  
Yellow Bullhead 6 10 - 15  
White Sucker 90 15 - 21  
Carp 5 Not measured  
Golden Shiner 7 Not measured  
-- Gary Smith, Area 8 Fisheries Technician

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