The fish salvage is expected to begin the week of Feb. 24 or March 3 and may take up to two weeks. In preparation, the PFBC will start lowering the water level beginning Feb. 18. The lake can be drained at a rate of about three to five feet per week, depending on weather.
After the water level drops, PFBC biologists will open the lake’s outlet gate which leads into Morris Branch and collect fish with nets. The fish will be stored in live wells on PFBC trucks and then relocated to Lake Hamilton.
Although fish salvages generally save a large number of fish, a significant amount will also perish, added Jason Detar, PFBC Area 3 Fisheries Manager.
“We will collect as many fish as we can with nets, but it is impossible to capture all of them,” he said. “Fish die during any drawdown and salvage effort. Many hide around structures where we simply can’t reach them, and others become buried in the mud when they are slow to exit the lake with the remaining water. Anglers and the general public should expect to see this.”
The lake was first lowered by 10 feet last fall. It will remain drained until construction is completed.
The $1 million construction project is expected to begin in mid-March 2014, weather permitting, and be completed by the end of summer or early fall. It includes widening the existing earthen spillway and extending the spillway conduit, installing a new stilling basin at the outlet, and installing new drains at the base of the dam. Also, the top of the dam will be raised by approximately 2.2 feet and the downstream embankment will be flattened.
The project is being funded by a $1 million H2O grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
Located in Tioga County, Lake Nessmuk is a 60-acre impoundment owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and managed by the PFBC for public fishing and boating. The lake is maintained by the Borough of Wellsboro.