Christopher Smith

Susquehanna Smallmouth Bass Spawn Continues To Tread Water

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Erin Roberts SuskyThe Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission continued their work this year of monitoring the success of the spawn in hopes that conditions will be perfect to produce a boost in smallmouth bass populations in the Susquehanna River. Despite keeping smallmouth anglers off the main stem this year, the Fish and Boat Commission found that this years class was approximately 50% of its historical mean.

So the take home message is that it could have been worse but it was only about half of the average compared to the historical numbers.

These young bass have a long way to go to make it to adulthood and this won’t make a dent in the downward trend seen in smallmouth bass numbers in the main stem.

Some anglers say they have been catching large number of trophy sized smallies in record numbers on the Susky. This may be true however, there aren’t enough young bass to replace these beauties once they die. The future of the river is what is in the balance, even if some anglers are enjoying it today.

The dummies at the DEP don’t want to designate the river as impaired. Instead they maintained that the river isn’t impaired that there isn’t enough proof that it’s impaired, and until more research is done they will not declare it impaired.

The problem with this approach is that there is no way for us to improve the river until sources of contamination and reasons for the smallmouth bass decline are discovered. While we wait, the health of the river is deteriorating.

The percentage of sick fish among the young bass sampled in the main stem — from York Haven to Sunbury — was 15 percent, Smith said. That’s better than recent years.

While the disease rate was higher south of Sunbury — 50 percent — so was the sampling rate.

However, Smith said, none of this is indicative of how next year’s young fish will fare. This year’s high rain levels with a short stretch of hot temperatures, river conditions and disease rates could all be seasonal anomalies.

Also, there’s no guarantee the young of the year sampled last month will survive long term.  Source

The Susquehanna River will recover if given the opportunity. Hundreds of rivers throughout the United States have been rehabilitated from some of the most devastating pollution over the last hundred years. It’s unfortunate that DEP would rather wait and see bronze backs continue to decline instead of taking a proactive stance in leading on this issue.

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