Christopher Smith

Juniata River Smallmouth Bass Fishing 2012

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There has been concern that Juniata River smallmouth bass fishing in 2012 would be affected by the conditions affecting the smallmouth populations on the main stem of the Susquehanna River.

Juniata River smallmouth bass fishing 2012

As can be seen in this recent article, the Juniata is alive and well, but perhaps did suffer from several years of poor spawning conditions.

The common word is that the Juniata in central Pennsylvania is a dead river — smallmouth numbers having crashed almost to the point of extinction — but I was learning this wasn’t the case. Certainly smallmouth aren’t what they were as late as 2001 or 2002 when the lower Juniata, and the main Susquehanna River below Sunbury, were considered a “world class” smallmouth fishery. But lately in the middle reaches of the Big J, there has been a strong turnaround. “We’re having the best year in the last five,” said Spade, who along with his partner, Andy Wagner, from the Richfield-McAlisterville area of Juniata County operate Undercurrent Outfitters (; 717-994-5327). “We’re catching a lot of bass this summer,” Spade noted.

Indeed, in our drift between Muskrat Springs and Thompsontown, a four river-mile float, we saw bunches of healthy bass. They skittered away from our hard-bottomed rubber raft sometimes singularly, sometimes in pairs, sometimes a half dozen at a time. In places the number of suckers and catfish overwhelmed the smallmouth considerably; then there were other spots where the ratio flipped in favor of the smallies. And we caught a bunch of bass as well. These landed-and-released fish also related a story. Using a fly rod with foam and deer hair poppers, I stuck over a dozen bass between 11 and 13 inches.

The jewel was a fat-bellied 19-incher we netted; we saw another one or two in the 17-18 inch range. The poppers’ hooks were large so bass under 10-inches couldn’t connect with the fly, except for one. But I didn’t catch, or positively identify, any bass between 13 and 16 inches — an indication that some seasons ago there had been a poor “year class.” Their birth year for this size adult was not well represented. Source

I have fished the Juniata twice, coming up river from the Susquehanna. I have been able to find scattered smallmouth bass but have never found the mother load.

I hope the Susky and the Juniata can continue to recover and attain their former glory as world class smallmouth bass fisheries.

One Response to Juniata River Smallmouth Bass Fishing 2012

  1. John Worobel September 27, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    I just read the article on smallmouth bass on the Juniata 2012 and was glad to hear the population is recovering so well, I moved to North Carolina in 2005 and he population crashed on the Susquehanna that year and according to a well established guide as of 2012 the population of smallies is still in the decline I was wondering has it improved any on the Susquehanna


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