DONEGAL TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Donegal Lake in Westmoreland County is being drained and volunteers were out on Wednesday scooping up trophy bass with big nets.
But those fish will soon be getting new homes in a different lake while the Fish and Boat Commission rebuilds a dam and a spillway.
Wednesday was the second day of operations as the crews tried to get as many fish out of the lake as possible before construction begins. But there are a lot of fish that need to be recovered.
Donegal Lake is all but a mud flat now, but where there’s still water, there’s a spectacle to behold.
“We’re doing a Donegal Lake fish salvage,” said Rick Lorson, of the state’s Fish and Boat Commission.
Wearing fishing waders and equipped with nets, volunteers and state officials hauled out both big and small fish from the waters in and around the now drained lake.
The aim is to get the fish out before bringing in the big machines.
“So that construction can begin on redoing the dam and spillway on the lake,” Lorson said.
Fins abound, and the collections are bringing in some amazing specimens.
“Very impressed with the numbers, the size,” said Mike Schloer, a volunteer.
“We’ve probably moved with the carp, included probably 3,000 pounds,” said Lorson.
It isn’t so much fishing as it’s like a big aquatic round up, pushing the fish to barriers collect them.
The reality is not all the fish are going to make it. Some simply won’t be captured, others aren’t even supposed to be in these waters, like the carp.
The ones that were rounded up though were hauled out and dumped in a Fish and Boat Commission tank to be taken to newer homes.
“We’re trying to move the fish to four other lakes,” Lorson said.
The plan is to have the construction completed by 2018 and reopen the lake in 2019.