Keystone State Project a Big Success

As a resident of Lake Latonka, Pennsylvania BASS Federation Nation Conservation Director Jim Cardillo was a natural to spearhead an effort to improve fish habitat and fishing for everyone. The idea was to place fish habitat structures in the 300-acre lake.

Planning began in the spring of 2007, and the placement of 62 underwater structures took place in the spring of 2008. The 2007-2008 Lake Latonka Bassmasters' (LLBM) annual conservation project was just the beginning, with follow-up projects planned for the spring of 2009.

 Jim started with a project idea that he researched online ( Permission to set the structures and move forward with the plan had to be obtained from the State Fish and Boat Commission. The Pennsylvania Fishing and Boating Commission (PFBC) was hesitant at first and had questions about the type of material that the volunteers would be placing in the water. But after Jim and his team told them about the success of similar projects in other states, the PFBC approved. The only stipulation was the requirement for a follow-up report on whether the structures were holding fish and acting as fish habitat.

 The PA BFN originally considered using five gallon buckets as the main ingredient in their habitat structures. But, since the LLBM did not have them readily available, they opted to use donated 10X16 inch concrete blocks. Inside the blocks they mounted 12-16 pieces of tubing, each about six feet long to emulate tree branches. The premixed concrete was donated by Carter's Lumber, a local building supply company. The ¾-inch black irrigation tubing was purchased at cost from Oil Creek Plastics Co. in Oil City, Pa.

 In the end, they were able to build and place 62 such habitat structures set in five groups. Each was placed in at least 11 feet of water. Cardillo and his team have been using an underwater camera to monitor the effectiveness of the structure. He's happy to report that there is evidence of aquatic life and fish presence, specifically perch and bass, in and around the structures.

Cardillo says, "The sustainability of the design, the easy acquisition of materials, simplicity of construction, as well as the relatively low cost, have contributed to the success of this conservation project."

 For 2009, Cardillo and his group are planning to cut selected trees on shore and position them as natural structure.

 The LLBM and the PA BFN plan to make their next conservation related project a BASS ACT project. For more information on BASS ACT projects, please refer to the ACT section of