Biologist reports logo Cowans Gap Lake

Fulton County
May 24-26, 2006

Sampling Technique – Trap Netting

Located in Fulton County, Cowans Gap Lake is a 42 acre impoundment surrounded by the 1,085 acre Cowans Gap State Park. This Department of Conservation and Natural Resources lake provides angling opportunities for panfish, stocked trout and bass. Cowans Gap Lake offers anglers the choice of fishing from shore or by boat. Anglers should be aware that motorized boats are restricted to electric propulsion only.

A 2001 fall draw down of the lake for repair work left an approximately three acre pond in the park until the lake was allowed to refill in the spring of 2003. After the lake was refilled largemouth bass fingerlings were stocked in 2004 and black crappie and channel catfish fingerlings were stocked in 2005. The stocking goal was to restore and enhance recreational fishing opportunities for these species in Cowans Gap Lake.

Biologists from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) Fisheries Management Division conducted a trap net survey this spring (2006) that targeted panfish. This sampling activity represented a first step in a comprehensive lake survey. Future surveys, as part of the comprehensive lake survey will include:

  1. seining for young-of-the-year panfish and bass,
  2. detailing aquatic vegetation occurrence and distribution,
  3. measurement of thermal and dissolved oxygen profile in the water column, and
  4. conducting additional fish sampling using night electrofishing methods to primarily target largemouth bass.

Scales will be taken from all panfish and bass caught during fish surveys to give biologists insight into age, growth, and survival of each year class of stocked fish.

Pulling a trapnet
Fisheries Technician John Frederick, and Fisheries Biologiost Aide Andrew Wagner, pull a trapnet from Cowans Gap Lake

Black crappie
Fisheries Biologist Aide Andrew Wagner holding a black crappie from Cowans Gap Lake

The table below depicts catch during the trap netting survey of Cowans Gap Lake.

Fish Species Number Caught Length Range (inches)
Bluegill 37 5-8
Black Crappie 127 5-11
Pumpkinseed 25 5-8
White Crappie 2 12-13
Yellow Bullhead 2 8-10
Largemouth Bass 4 7-16
White Sucker 27 Not Measured
Hatchery Trout Abundant Not Measured

While sampling, biologists from the PFBC conducted an educational session for park visitors that demonstrated trap net sampling and illustrated how future fisheries management plans will be developed for Cowans Gap Lake. Approximately sixty people attended this education and demonstration. Biologists also had the opportunity to give a less formal demonstration to students from James Buchanan Middle School during their visit to the park.

Public trap netting demonstration
Public trap netting demonstration conducted Memorial Day weekend at Cowans Gap Lake

Trap netting demonstration given to James Buchanan Middle School students
Trap netting demonstration given to James Buchanan Middle School students that were visiting Cowans Gap Lake

-- John Frederick, Area 7 Fisheries Technician

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