Catty Pond experiencing water loss
With warm weather predicted for the upcoming week, the spring fishing season should start.
Anglers will surely be hitting the local streams like the Little Lehigh and Lehigh River searching for leftover trout. Lakes and ponds, too, will see some fishing traffic, but there’s one local pond that won’t yet be fishable.
The former Catasauqua Sportsmen’s Club five-acre pond on Lehigh Street outside the borough of Catasauqua and in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, is now owned by Hanover Township, but has had its problems due to leakage that was caused by sinkholes. The water level dropped drastically exposing much of the fish cover that was planted on the pond’s bottom, and the drop left most of the newly-constructed piers standing out of the water.
“Sinkholes are tough to spot and in this case it was in the southern end of the lake,” said Jeff Mouer, Hanover Township’s Manager of Public Works. “You don’t know it’s an underwater sinkhole until the water gets below that point. We located it so we pressure grouted it. By that I mean we drilled into the earth and under high pressure, shot it full of grout. It doesn’t fill the sinkhole but fills the veins that connect to all the smaller holes. And it was expensive to do. After we did that, the lake filled up again.
“About 6-9 months later in the northern part of the lake in the spring area, we got two more sinkholes so the water was going down and not into the lake. In the middle of the lake there is a spring that feeds the lake. But we needed all the springs to feed the lake. So we pressure grouted the other sinkholes. But in June and July we noticed the water level was dropping again according to the staff level erected there. We kept watching it as we couldn’t do anything about it. Then the level stopped. But in early January we checked it and the water level came up two inches. Something happened and the leakage stopped as it must have sealed itself. Time will tell. All we can do is be vigilant.”
When asked about the fish that were stocked in the lake, Mauer said they are still there and a fish survey was done in September 2015.
“The survey was done to determine when the lake could be opened again for fishing,” he said. “The results of which will be presented to Hanover Township Council and then, if approved, turned over to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, who will hopefully approve and take over managing the lake with periodic stockings.”
Mauer said when the lake was down, most of the fish stayed in the back side of the lake where the water depth is a good 10 feet. And when the survey team netted the fish, he saw some large beauties, especially catfish.
With the survey completed, Mouer said the company that did the work managed to net 19 bluegills, 60 largemouth bass, 12 pumpkin seeds, 16 yellow perch and nine catfish. The yellow perch ran 9-15 inches but other species were not as large. All totaled they netted 116 appreciably sized fish. He pointed out though that there are more fish in the lake than that, as it is only what the team managed to net.
The manager added that the survey and assessment showed that the lake needs more forage fish like minnows, and that the lake has an unbalanced population of yellow perch, bluegills and pumpkin seeds.
“Seems there are a lot of predatory fish like bass that are eating the other fish,” he said.
The study also showed that the largemouth bass are underweight for the time they’ve been in the lake. However, the review indicated the fish population is somewhat balanced but could be more balanced. And as expected, the study said fishing should not be permitted until the fish population becomes balanced. Mouer and his crew will do routine pesticide treatments, make periodic water quality tests, perform fish surveys and hire or get a volunteer to manage the lake.
In addition, the township is planning to do a feeding in spring and again in summer, but not after that according to the study recommendation. They also plan to stock the same species in April or May and maybe consider trout, although Mouer didn’t think that species was appropriate for the small lake.
The study included building a minnow nursery or wire cage to grow the minnows that would allow the smaller ones to escape and the larger ones to stay behind so they can serve as breeders.
It recommended making the fish larger by stocking more forage fish and subsequently stocking larger fish. Once a healthy population is balanced, then the lake can be opened to fishing.