Blue Marsh Lake being a manmade reservoir is lacking in several habitat factors. Although some of the lake has stumps and woody debris much of the lake is devoid of structure whether that is wood, stone, or aquatic vegetation. Adult largemouth and smallmouth bass use structure to ambush prey, and young of year fish use it for refuge and forage habitat. In addition to the shoreline habitat improvements proposed in this plan, in-lake habitat devices will be installed as well. These artificial structures made from wood, will address the need for complex structure in deeper areas of the lake that bass use later in the summer and early fall. By including habitat improvements across varying depths in the lake from shoreline to deep water a substantial impact on the bass population numbers, size and health is expected. The proposed projects are objectives from the PFBC 2020 Five Year Fish Habitat Management Project Plan for Blue Marsh Lake. The PFBC management plan was developed in coordination with the USACE, Berks County Conservation District, and Berks County Bassmasters. Project estimates, structural designs, project management, and installation will be completed by the PFBC Lake Habitat division, staff and construction contractor paid for by PFBC. All habitat devices planned for this project have been designed and placed by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission through-out the state of Pennsylvania and have been proven to provide longstanding fish habitat in lake systems.
The goal of this project is to enhance largemouth and smallmouth bass habitat within Blue Marsh Lake. In doing so habitat is also created and enhanced for many sport fish species including but not limited to; walleye, catfish, yellow perch, black and white crappie, and various other panfish species.
The reservoir hosts 24 bass tournaments each year by the Berks County Bassmaster sportsmen association and is managed under the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s “Big Bass Regulations”. It is also a major draw for recreational anglers from the nearby city of Reading (Population 87,874). The lake is approximately a one-hour drive from both Philadelphia (Population 5,756,000), Harrisburg (Population 49,457), Allentown (Population 770,000). With these major population centers located just a short distance away, Blue Marsh Lake is a popular location for fishing in the southeastern PA. Furthermore, the Hamburg Cabela’s is only a short 20 minute drive from the lake, and the Harrisburg Bass Pro Shop is less than an hours drive. The habitat improvement will impact the largemouth and smallmouth bass population, size and health providing more quality bass for anglers to catch increasing the recreational value of the lake for both shoreline and boat anglers.
The shoreline projects will take areas that are unavailable or not favorable to shoreline anglers and turn them into fishing hot spots with easy angler access. The increased shoreline habitat will draw more fish to the project areas and allow anglers access to catch those fish. The stone framed deflectors used in shoreline stabilization provide a stable platform for anglers to fish from increasing the ease of use and enjoyment for many anglers. The Old Church Road project site includes a non-powered launch/mooring area this will allow kayak and canoe anglers access to parts of the lake that before were a difficult paddle to get to and fish.
The proposed projects are objectives from the PFBC 2020 Five Year Fish Habitat Management Project Plan for Blue Marsh Lake. The management plan was developed in coordination with the USACE and Berks County Conservation District. Project estimates, structural designs, project management, and installation will be completed by the PFBC Lake Habitat division and staff. Structures to be implemented include:
- Construct 24 stone framed deflectors across three sites to stop erosion and provide 720 linear feet of quality shoreline habitat.
- Construct 130 rock rubble humps creating near shore complex habitat
- Construct 630 linear feet of saw-tooth defectors to stop erosion and provide quality shoreline habitat.
- Construct and place 200 short vertical plank structures at six sites for a total footprint of 3,200 square feet
- Construct and place 30 porcupine crib structures at two sites for a total footprint of 480 square feet
- Design and plant buffers in areas where practical. -50′ wide buffer around project area is preferred