Fish & Boat Commission Opens Opossum Lake To All Fishing

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Harrisburg, PA – Memorial Day weekend will provide a great opportunity for anglers fishing Cumberland County’s Opossum Lake. Starting Saturday, May 24, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) will temporarily suspend all seasons, sizes and creel limits at the popular lake.

“We’re taking this action in preparation for a fish salvage to be conducted this fall in conjunction with the complete dewatering of the lake,” said Dr. Douglas Austen, PFBC Executive Director. “Enhancing opportunities for anglers to harvest fish prior to salvage efforts provides both additional recreational opportunities and can help reduce the number of fish that will either be captured and transported or potentially stranded when the water level drops.”

The Commission has not established a date for the fish salvage efforts but it will occur sometime in the fall. The lake is being dewatered as the first step in rebuilding the leaking spillway. A routine assessment of the earthen embankment by the PFBC in September 2005 revealed small seeps in the dam’s spillway.

“The seeps were eroding a clayish material, which is an early indication that the dam could weaken if not addressed,” said Dr. Austen. “I want to emphasize, though, that our engineers have examined the spillway and dam and determined that the leaks do not pose an immediate threat to the public.”

The dewatering will occur slowly over the course of the year. The lake bed will be allowed to thoroughly dry throughout the winter and following year to allow heavy equipment to have safe access to the dried lake bed. Construction is scheduled to begin in November 2009 and be completed by October 2010. The spillway structure, built in 1961 to the standards of the day, cannot be repaired, but must be rebuilt in its entirety to meet current regulations.

The cost for rebuilding the dam at Opossum Lake is estimated to be at least $3 million. This cost is being shared by the PFBC, Friends of Opossum Lake Conservancy, Lower Frankford Township, Cumberland County and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The temporary suspension of regulations will not extend beyond January 1, 2009.