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Mauch Chunk Lake
Carbon County
Night electrofishing survey to assess largemouth bass population - June 2009

Mauch Chunk Lake is a 330-acre impoundment located near the town of Jim Thorpe in Carbon County.  Big Bass regulations were implemented for the 1997-fishing season, which increased the minimum size limit for bass harvest from 12 to 15 inches and reduced the creel limit from 6 to 4 fish per day. This special bass regulation program was designed to improve the overall bass catch rate and to increase the abundance of fish greater than or equal to 15 inches. All other species are managed under Commonwealth Inland Waters regulations. Boating is permitted with an electric motor only restriction for powered boats.

Biologists from the Area 5 fisheries management office surveyed Mauch Chunk Lake using boat electrofishing gear on June 10, 23, and 29.  A total of 156 largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass were caught in 4.6 hours of night electrofishing of historically sampled portions of the lake’s shoreline. The 2009 overall catch rate for largemouth bass was 33.9 bass/hr, and for fish greater than or equal to 12 and 15 inches the catch rates were 10.4 and 1.5 bass/hr, respectively.
For comparison, the table below lists largemouth catches from 1989 through 2009.

The Big Bass program has improved the number of larger bass in Mauch Chunk Lake. Anglers should be experiencing more consistent higher catch rates overall in both these size groups: 1) bass greater than or equal to 12 inches but less than 15 inches, and 2) bass greater than or equal to 15 inches, as per the table below. Variations in overall abundance, i.e. total catch are expected from year to year, and are not expected to impact the quality of fishing.

Angler reports to Carbon County Park officials and PFBC Waterway Conservation Officers are favorable with regard to the bass fishery and are consistent with the population assessment data below, especially with respect to catching more bass between 12 and 14.9 inches. As with many lakes and Mauch Chunk Lake is no exception, larger bass are more elusive and are harder to come by, but as you’ll note below they are indeed more available and awaiting an angler’s tackle.

Average Catch per Unit Effort (#/hr) of Largemouth bass in Mauch Chunk Lake
  Before Big Bass Regulations After Big Bass Regualtions
  1989 1990 1991* 1992 1998 1999* 2001 2004 2009
Total CUE (#/hr) 70.8 117.5 56.8 54.9 78.1 55.5 96.9 49.3 33.9
>= 12 in. 4.8 12.1 5.9 12.4 11.1 10.8 18.3 12.7 10.4
>= 15 in. 0.4 0.7 0 1.0 0.8 1.2 1.6 0.7 1.5
* Severe Drought Years

Largemouth bass
Fisheries biologist Bryan Chikotas holding 2 legal size largemouth bass

-- Area 5, Bryan Chikotas, Fisheries Biologist

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