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Flatheads in the Susky
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Here is an article quoting FBC Mike about Flatheads in the Susky:

Posted: Thursday, June 23, 2011 10:00 am
By P.J. Reilly Southeast Correspondent – Pennsylvania Outdoor News

Lancaster, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission has resigned itself to the fact that flathead catfish are now established in the Susquehanna River.

"We have a large population of flatheads on the lower Susquehanna," said Mike Kauffman, the agency's southeast region fisheries biologist. "They're there and they're reproducing and there's nothing we can do about it."

Recently, the agency removed from its website a recommendation that anglers kill every flathead they caught from the river.

"Now that they have spread, we don't think ‘kill upon capture' is an appropriate request of anglers," said commission spokesman Eric Levis.

Anglers now are encouraged to release back into the Susquehanna flatheads they catch that they don't want to eat.
"They should treat them like any other game fish when practicing catch and release," he said.

It was only in 2002 when the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission confirmed the existence of flathead catfish in the Susquehanna River. An angler fishing below Safe Harbor Dam in Lancaster County caught a 15-inch flathead, photographed it and sent the photo to the commission for identification.
That photo was visual confirmation of something the agency had suspected for some time. Flatheads - feared as voracious eaters that might gobble native fishes into scarcity - had somehow found their way into the Susquehanna.

Biologists still don't know how they got there.

Immediately, the commission put out news releases and posted signs at popular fishing spots along the river begging anglers to kill every flathead they caught to keep the population in check.
Kauffman said commission data showed that Susquehanna anglers were able to put significant pressure on other species in the river. When the agency increased the minimum creel size of smallmouth bass on the river from 12 to 15 inches several years ago, biologists saw a marked increase in the number of smallies 12-14 inches.

"That showed us the significant impact angling pressure had on those fish prior to the change," Kauffman said.

So the agency hoped anglers could help curb the growth of flathead populations on the Susquehanna.

"We never thought they'd eradicate flatheads," Kauffman said. "But we did think they'd at least slow them down from spreading."
They were wrong.

"There's no real sense in continuing to enlist anglers in controlling the population," Kauffman said. "They haven't been able to do it on the Schuylkill, and on the Susquehanna, if they had any impact at all, it wasn't enough to keep flatheads from expanding their population and range."

Flatheads now can be found in healthy numbers on the Susquehanna River below the York Haven Dam.

"We know people occasionally catch them above York Haven, but they don't seem to be as widespread," Kauffman said. "During our sampling above the dam, we have never caught one."

Flatheads are prolific breeders, according to Kauffman. They grow their ranks fast. And individual fish grow to impressive sizes.
A 36-pound flathead caught on the Susquehanna last October was recognized by the commission as one of the biggest of that species caught anywhere in Pennsylvania in 2010.

In Pennsylvania, flathead catfish are only native to the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela river watersheds in the western part of the state. They are not native to the eastern half of the state, where they are now found in the Delaware, Schuylkill and Susquehanna watersheds.


Link to source: http://outdoornews.com/pennsylvania/n ... e0-b82b-001cc4c002e0.html

Posted on: 2011/7/11 7:50


Re: Flatheads in the Susky

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Here's the part that interests me:

Quote:

Kauffman said commission data showed that Susquehanna anglers were able to put significant pressure on other species in the river. When the agency increased the minimum creel size of smallmouth bass on the river from 12 to 15 inches several years ago, biologists saw a marked increase in the number of smallies 12-14 inches.


Yes, angler harvest affects fish populations. We knew that.

So, will that knowledge learned on the Susquehanna be extended to other smallmouth fisheries in PA?


Posted on: 2011/7/11 8:39


Re: Flatheads in the Susky

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Quote:
Here's the part that interests me: Quote: Kauffman said commission data showed that Susquehanna anglers were able to put significant pressure on other species in the river. When the agency increased the minimum creel size of smallmouth bass on the river from 12 to 15 inches several years ago, biologists saw a marked increase in the number of smallies 12-14 inches. Yes, angler harvest affects fish populations. We knew that. So, will that knowledge learned on the Susquehanna be extended to other smallmouth fisheries in PA?


Now that I'm done laughing.....no it won't Dwight. Shame too.

Posted on: 2011/7/11 9:10
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Re: Flatheads in the Susky

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There are many flatheads in my part of the state that are taken in the 30-40lb range every year. They actually have an annual catfish tournament around here. Those things can really test your tackle. Most guys use live suckers or bluegill, toss a ton of weight on some 50-80lb test and hold on. I've seen a few caught but I mostly catch other fish on the fly while my friends will try for the flatties.

Posted on: 2011/7/11 11:33
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Re: Flatheads in the Susky

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I have been chasing some flat heads on the river and have caught a few this year, not by fly. I caught a 12 lb , 32 inch one from safe harbor dam July 4th and I know of a 40 incher that was caught at the dam. The bait shop in Columbia has posted up a 33lb fish that was weighed on their scale. Good eatin.

Posted on: 2011/7/14 16:45


Re: Flatheads in the Susky

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Has anyone caught these pups on the fly? I did some digging around, apparently folks are developing methods to get catfish on the fly. This intrigues me very much.

Posted on: 2011/7/15 11:19


Re: Flatheads in the Susky

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Caught one in the Schulykill last year on a black wooly bugger about the size of my pinky finger. It was about 20".

Posted on: 2011/7/16 17:42


Re: Flatheads in the Susky

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Troutbert: It was already! Look in the reg book. The Susq regs were developed by Rick Hoopes, by the way. Other rivers followed.

As for the Big Bass reg idea and development; it started on lakes; the Susquehanna followed. The concept for lakes and the program's development there were largely my baby. Yes, we (I) actually develop and apply special regs when and where I (we) think they are necessary.

With the C&R ethic now much more prevalent in bass fisheries nationwide than is was back in the early 1990's when the Susq R regs were established, special regs for bass are gradually being looked upon as being unnecessary in possibly many cases. A recent Minnesota study (peer-reviewed) documented this in some Minn lakes.

Posted on: 2011/7/16 23:44


Re: Flatheads in the Susky

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Flatheads are large consumers of crayfish, so that may help you in selecting a fly pattern. They also forage on a number of fish species, but seem to favor other catfish, shad (gizzard in the Susquehanna and lower Schuylkill), and sunfish.

Posted on: 2011/7/17 7:54


Re: Flatheads in the Susky

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Based on today's sampling, the Susquehanna should be good for flathead fishing in the future as well. The 2011 year class of flatheads appeared to be a large one. Channels appeared to do well also.

Posted on: 2011/7/20 22:07


Re: Flatheads in the Susky
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Quote:

Mike wrote:
Based on today's sampling, the Susquehanna should be good for flathead fishing in the future as well. The 2011 year class of flatheads appeared to be a large one. Channels appeared to do well also.


Good news about the channel cats. I think it's good news about the flatheads although I'm not sure what to believe at this point. I'm not a big cattie guy but I suppose for catfish enthusiasts...it's good news. Did you sample SMB YOY? I'm looking forward, as always, to hear the latest news on that.

Posted on: 2011/7/20 22:23


Re: Flatheads in the Susky

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A flathead was caught on the NB Suskie this year... I didn't think they made it up past Sunbury. But this one was caught near Lacyville, PA in Wyoming County.

Posted on: 2011/7/21 7:00
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Re: Flatheads in the Susky

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From what I know of flatheads I would not think it is good for the smallmouth population that they are here.

Posted on: 2011/7/22 17:33


Re: Flatheads in the Susky

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Perhaps the PFBC should introduce alligators into the Susky to control their population: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/species/catfish/

Sounds reasonable that they could be putting a dent in the SMB population...

Posted on: 2011/7/22 19:32


Re: Flatheads in the Susky

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We're evaluating SMB YOY abundance in the Susquehanna and elsewhere at the moment. Not quite finished yet on the Susq. Remember, small year classes recently and a few yrs prior to 2005 plus high disease mortality within the largest year class (2005) produced in recent years have led to the SMB decline in the Susq. Relatively speaking, flatheads are just a diversion. The declines and illnesses have occurred in the absence of flatheads as well.

Posted on: 2011/7/24 8:40



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