|Biologists from the Fisheries Management Area Two office in Tionesta visited Howard Eaton Reservoir in eastern Erie County during the week of April 14th to survey fish populations with trapnets and returned on the evening of May 13th to sample bass populations by night electrofishing.
Howard Eaton Reservoir is a 246 acre water supply reservoir for Northeast, PA and is owned and maintained by the borough of Northeast. There are two boat launches on the lake with ample parking. There is also a nice path around most of the lake providing excellent access for shore fisherman and a long earthen fishing pier extending from the west shore near the upper end of the lake.
Howard Eaton Reservoir contains a naturally reproducing, self-sustaining walleye population. Although sampling walleyes with trapnets after they complete their spawning activities is often not productive, we were able to capture 30 walleye ranging in size from 18 to 28 inches (Table 1).
Howard Eaton Reservoir has a substantial northern pike population characterized by less than desirable size structure. We captured 121 pike between 14 and 34 inches with only 7 of those fish being of legal size (≥ 24 inches). This reservoir has habitat ideal for spawning of northern pike, shallow and highly vegetated, but is limited in its potential to grow larger desirable size northerns. This may in part be due to, limited forage fish, competition from other predators, and overly warm summer water temperatures. These smaller fish provide “fun” fishing for anglers who are interested in simply catching any fish with the bonus that there are a few very larger pike available.
Table 1. Size distribution of large gamefish, channel catfish and white suckers captured by trapnets in Howard Eaton Reservoir during the week of April 14th, 2008.
Howard Eaton contains nice populations of bluegills and large black crappies. We captured 105 bluegills between 7 and 10 inches and 179 black crappies between 8 and 12 inches (Table 2). Brown bullheads were particularly numerous with 417 captured between 9 and 16 inches. Bullheads appear to be under utilized and should provide good action if targeted. Large numbers of 3 to 5 inch yellow perch were captured but very few large perch were present. Other species caught in our nets included smallmouth and largemouth bass, pumpkinseeds, white suckers, yellow bullheads and one each rock bass and channel catfish. The forage base consists of bluntnose minnows, brook silversides, juvenile perch, sunfish and crappies.
Table 2. Size distribution of panfish captured by trapnets in Howard Eaton Reservoir during the week of April 14th, 2008.
Night electrofishing revealed a nice largemouth bass fishery in Eaton Reservoir. We captured 97 largemouth bass and 5 smallmouth bass in 1 hour and 40 minutes of night electrofishing. Black bass size distribution is presented in Table 3. We did not catch any nice smallmouth while electrofishing, but we did catch 17 smallmouth in our trapnets that ranged from 13 to 16 inches (See Table 1), which suggests that component of the bass fishery may be better than our night electrofishing catch revealed.
Table 3. Size distribution of largemouth and smallmouth bass captured night electrofishing in Howard Eaton Reservoir, Erie County on the evening of May 13, 2008.
During our survey work at Howard Eaton we did not notice very many anglers. This could be due to its remote location or its proximity to other popular fishing destinations such as Lake Erie and Presque Isle Bay. If you want to avoid fishing with the crowds, give Howard Eaton Reservoir a try. Our survey results indicate you might be pleasantly surprised.
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