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Pumpkintown Lake

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13700 US Highway 33
Nelsonville, OH 45764

7 acres


During the Summer of 2000 the lake was drained so the Forest Service could repair the dam's outlet works. Dropping the lake level was a positive event for the Pumpintown Lake fishery. There was no underwater structure in this relatively deep lake.

When the lakebed was dry, the lake bottom was allowed to dry and cracks opened up. When this happened, an abundance of oxygen became available and decomposition of organic matter was stepped up. Under these conditions, there was a release of nutrients, or "fertilizers". Grasses and other weeds began growing in the lakebed in dense and luxuriant stands.

When the valve was closed and water flooded the vegetation, the plants began to slowly decompose and release nutrients. It's here the food chain began….algae began to grow and tiny animals called zooplankton fed on the algae. Zooplankton are a primary food source for small fish.

The newly stocked fish had a good food source and used the vegetation for hiding as it decomposed.

The Forest Service then completed some fish habitat improvements. We increased the amount of woody structure in the lake for the fish by placing Christmas tree brush piles in the lake and by felling shoreline trees. The valve was closed on March 13, 2001. The lake refilled as the spring rains occurred.

While dropping the lake level eliminated any fishing opportunities in the short run, patient anglers have seen some quality fishing return. The Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, restocked largemouth bass and bluegill in the lake in September and October 2001.

The Division of Wildlife will stock yearling channel catfish in the lake on alternate years.

While the lake was dry, Christmas trees were used to make brushpiles. The piles were placed in selected locations on the dry lake bed, generally where the 10'-12' depth contours are located.

Fisheries habitat was improved at Pumpkintown Lake as a result of a partnership. The trees were donated by the Dickess Tree Farm, in Aid, Ohio, and by local residents. The Federal Correctional Institute in Ashland, Kentucky transported the trees to the project site. Employees in the Senior Community Services Employment Program helped the Forest Service construct the brushpile.


7 acres


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