Eighty Four Lakes Closed
Fishermen can fish for free there indefinitely as long as they
have a proper state license
Washington PA Observer Reporter
11 September 2014
By Mike Jones, Staff writer
Eighty Four Lakes will be closed indefinitely after its owner was
accused of operating without a business license for the past seven
years while also introducing the invasive Asian carp species to
the lakes in Somerset Township.
The state Fish and Boat Commission Monday charged owner Dennis
Wilcher, 62, of Eighty Four, with five summary counts of illegal
transportation or sale of fish, three counts of violations by an
owner and two counts of failure to keep bill of sale for fish.
Commission spokesman Eric Levis said the investigation launched in
July found “multiple species of concern” in the lakes, including
Asian bighead carp, diploid grass carp and bigmouth buffalo fish.
State law prohibits the carp species from being introduced into
the environment and the bighead buffalo fish is an endangered
species, Levis said.
The lakes were closed in June after the commission became
concerned when one angler claimed to catch an Asian carp there.
However, the lakes reopened to fishermen with a state license
sometime in August, although the owner is not permitted to charge
for fishing because Wilcher’s business permit expired after the
2007 season, Levis said.
“He has applied for a permit, but it is being held pending the
outcome of this case,” Levis said. “Mr. Wilcher may not charge
individuals to fish, but he can allow them to fish at his
property, provided the individuals have fishing licenses.”
Levis did not elaborate on how the carp was introduced to the
Wilcher could not be reached for comment and no one was monitoring
the lakes last week as fishermen cast their lines into the water
for free fishing. An Aug. 20 posting on the 84 Lakes Facebook page
announced the situation and thanked its fishermen for their
“The only thing we can do in appreciation of the people is that
for anyone that has a fishing license can fish here free til (sic)
further notice,” the Facebook posting announced.
Jeff Thomas of Eighty Four spent a few days at the popular fishing
hole last week with his girlfriend, Lori Wheatley. They said the
lakes were packed “elbow-to-elbow” with fishermen during the Labor
Day weekend and there has been a steady stream of people ever
since. Thomas said he’s been fishing there for 30 years and he
hoped the situation would not force 84 Lakes to close.
“It’s been around forever,” Thomas said. “As long as I can
remember, it’s the place to go.”