Survey says: Lake Arthur still good for muskies
Not the boom days, but still pretty darn good.
That's how you might describe the musky situation at Lake Arthur these days. A recent survey of the 3,200-acre lake in Moraine State Park in Butler County found good numbers of the fish — and some big ones, too.
Biologists from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's area 1 office in Linesville collected 53 muskies. That's fewer than the 97 and 85 caught in 2004 and 2007, respectively, the lake's peak years.
But it's also more than the 41 caught in 2011 and enough to still rank the lake in the top five statewide for muskies, commission biologist Freeman Johns said.
“Lakes are going to go up and down in terms of their fisheries. They just do that,” Johns said. “But we did well on muskies, I thought. It's still a fantastic musky lake.”
“The muskellunge population continues to be strong in both quantity and quality in Lake Arthur,” biologist Tim Wilson said in his report of the survey.
The muskies collected ranged in size from a 27.4-inch, 6.2-pound male to a 52.4-inch, 45.9-pound female. There were 21 fish in the 30-inch class, 28 in the 40-inch class and two exceeding 50 inches.
The presence of the smaller muskies was especially good to see, said Jim Buss of Butler, president of the Three Rivers Chapter of Muskies Inc.
Many musky anglers believe Lake Arthur had taken a downturn in recent years, with some seeing it as the natural ebb and flow of a lake. Others believe man-made problems related to weed control are to blame, he said.
Some have switched to fishing places like Keystone Lake in Armstrong County and Pymatuning Lake and Woodcock Creek Lake in Crawford County, he added.
But the smaller muskies seen in this latest survey offer hope that things are turning around, he said.
“I like to see that 27-inch musky, because that means there are some younger ones coming up,” Buss said.
The commission isn't done looking at Arthur's muskies. It will be surveyed five more times in the next 10 years to measure the impact of the switch to a one-musky-per-day limit. Tagged fish also will be monitored for growth and survival.
In the meantime, Johns said, the potential to pull a big musky out of Lake Arthur remains good.
“It certainly isn't any slouch,” he said.