State Park Ranger says ‘Lake Jean is back!’
RICKETTS GLEN-Ricketts Glen State Park Manager Ben Stone says, “Ice fishermen are welcome as soon as the ice is safe and kayakers can launch whenever the ice melts.” The draindown of the 245-acre lake began last April 27th for replacement of the failing 65-year old control tower at the impoundment atop Red Rock Mountain. The lake was emptied by mid-summer and the work began August 3, 2015. The projected reopening of the lake was Memorial Day this year. But the weather changed that prediction.
Stone said, “The dry summer allowed contractors to finish the job before the end of October, missing only one day of work.”
On October 20, 2015 the new tower was in place. The gates were closed and the weather continued to cooperate. “We had a steady stream of rainy days all the way through December,” said Stone, “The dam absorbing the rainfall and runoff.” The lake crested on January 3rd., the water flowing over the spillway. Lake Jean was revived.
Are there any fish left in the lake? “Absolutely,” said the park chief, “and the fishing will be as good as ever.” More than 2,000 fish were removed during the draindown, the bass, pickerel, perch and panfish transported to Francis Slocum State Park in Luzerne County.
“We lost a lot of fish in the process, but we managed to relocate a good number to the mud pond and those fish are now making their way throughout the replenished lake. The “mud pond” is a 50-acre lake of its own within Lake Jean that retained most of its water when the rest of the lake was emptied. The somewhat isolated pond is located near the beach area and was not accessible after the draindown, but has rejoined the refilled big lake. The only drawback for the ice fishermen is the catch and release regulations. Those rules are effective now and will remain for several years after the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission stocks the lake this Spring, permitting the fish population to recover. But Stone is confident that there will be a good turnout of anglers on the ice in the cold despite the limitations.
The head of the water recreation area reminds kayakers that launch permits from a state park or registration stickers from the Fish and Boat Commission are required and life jacket wear is required by law from November 1 to April 30.
“We expect to see the first kayakers in March, ” said Stone. “Perhaps sooner if we have an early thaw.”