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Juniata & Susquehanna River recap for the year

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I found this summer to be a little strange to say the least. Was curious to see how others made out.

The spring high water made getting out nearly impossible. Once the season opened in June and the rains kept coming which left the river too high or very dirty. Almost overnight, the river went from 70,000 cfs to 10,000 cfs and became as clear as tap water. But this was 6+ weeks past what I'd call the normal drop and clearing of the river.

Over the last 3 years, we have had excellent luck on finding / catching lots and lots offish in the 17" - 20" range. If each guy didn't get 7-8 fish 17" or larger, I'd consider it a slow day. Granted, there were days when the fish were on lockdown and only dinks would come out to play, the big fish days outnumbered the small fish days by a good margin.

This year I'm using the river sections from Newport to the junction and the big river from FT Hunter north past Liverpool. Most of our days have resulted in smaller fish, sometimes much smaller fish than in the past. When we found the truly big fish, it was several together but still lower numbers than in the past 3 years. I know that a smallie is near it end of life when it reaches 19, 20 or even 21". I also know radio tagging shows migration of 15-30 miles for some sections of the river. I'm not saying that all my big fish died off but I'm sure that many of them have by this point. The prime structure should have been taken over by the remaining big fish in the river but that hasn't really happened (IMHO).

When it was good, it was good....but not great. A few other observations from this year so far is that there's increased algae blooms, tons of algae in the drift and more grassbeds. The Juniata from Newport to Duncannon is absolutely choked with grassbeds. The grass makes fishing tough but we also noticed the grass provided cover for juvenile bass and various bait fish which is a great thing. I just wanted to get thoughts from others regarding their WW experiences on the Susky and Juniata.

Posted on: 9/11 14:35


Re: Juniata & Susquehanna River recap for the year

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2008/10/25 14:19
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I noticed this too. I usually look forward to July and August because there are a few spots across some channels and in around some islands in my area of the Susquehanna I like to wade out to and fish.

It's September and there has not been one period all summer where the river has been low enough to wade across a few key shallow riffles that I use to get out to mid-river. I can do it in waist deep water, but trying to wade across in nearly chest deep water with deeper water and channels all around is not wise in the mighty Susquehanna.

Posted on: 9/11 15:39
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Re: Juniata & Susquehanna River recap for the year

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2014/3/7 21:11
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I concentrated my fishing from the turnpike bridge south. Most days out were high and muddy. Not what I would call ideal. Basically rock hopping and shore fishing I caught more and larger bass than at any time since the 90s. Conditions made it tough but my regular haunts produced all but one time I was out. Anything that looked like a crayfish produced.

Posted on: 9/11 19:46


Re: Juniata & Susquehanna River recap for the year
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Unfortunately I have not been out enough this summer to form any solid conclusions compared to last year.

The times I have been out on big rivers this summer have been only average to poor fishing....often with high, muddy conditions. I haven't had what I'd consider a great day on a big bass river (yet).

Also, the small local WW creeks I usually fish in summer have been significantly worse.

Posted on: 9/11 20:35


Re: Juniata & Susquehanna River recap for the year

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After posting, I did have a conversation with my 2 nephews who have been out a lot more than I have. They agreed that the sections we've fished has given up fewer big fish this year. They also felt the average size was down this season. Hope it's just a glitch in the matrix. I just found it odd that a section I've fished since the early 80's and has always produced big fish seems to be void of them this summer. I was thinking more of a timeline when the problems caused drastic drops in populations. Was I catching the last of the remaining big fish leftover from before the 'disease' killed off the fish or did I just catch a summer where the big fish bypassed my section? Just thinking out loud?

Posted on: 9/11 23:55
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Re: Juniata & Susquehanna River recap for the year

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Most of my Susky River fishing is from Falmouth down through Wrightsville. It was a slow summer in these parts. Most days the water was off color and a bit high and only until a couple of weeks ago did it get clear enough to see the bottom. Not as much vegetation as in years past. I didn't have nearly the numbers I did before, BUT I did catch some of my biggest first this year. Go figure. It didn't seem like the river ever got to that really hot stage. I'm looking to do some fall fishing from the kayak.... we'll see how it goes.

Posted on: 9/12 6:04
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Re: Juniata & Susquehanna River recap for the year

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2013/12/7 0:10
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I don't fish the susky much and consider the Delaware my home water. On the Delaware I have not seen this years river levels for at least the last 10 years, maybe longer. We never had low crystal clear water this year nor were weeds and grass ever an issue. It rained every week keeping the river up and stained. I also caught less fish but the average size was better than it's been in years.

I attribute the less fish because the river was a completely different river, water level wise, this year than it ever has been. With good depth and flow all summer I believe it kept the fish more spread out than normal.

Posted on: 9/12 7:17


Re: Juniata & Susquehanna River recap for the year
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Quote:

krayfish2 wrote:
I was thinking more of a timeline when the problems caused drastic drops in populations. Was I catching the last of the remaining big fish leftover from before the 'disease' killed off the fish or did I just catch a summer where the big fish bypassed my section?


My guess would be it's the latter.

Due to the preponderance of fish in that section of the Susky in the mid teens, I don't think a die off of old age fish has occurred. Since a 14-16" river SMB is in the 7-10 year age class, which is not the end of a bass' lifspan, I think these fish have moved.

If I had to hazard a guess....I'd guess that fluctuating forage patterns is likely the best explanation for the lack of bass in the predictable spots. I have always been a bit surprised (and happy) to note how many large fish in that section of river inhabit such shallow water in summertime and early fall, especially if the habitat is ideal with lots of ledge and chunk rock with current. This makes for a good time for the wading FFer.

While I don't have data on this, I've long thought that river SMBs are mainly crayfish eaters in summer. Smaller bass, typically under a foot, are more likely eating insects and busting minnows in frog water and along shoreline grass beds.

Perhaps this year, with the higher and colder water, we have some sort of re-arrangement of the position or numbers of crayfish vs other forage and this may explain the apparent lack of big fish in the traditional spots (?).
Again, just speculation but it's fun to ponder such theories and see if they hold up to our fishing experiences.

Posted on: 9/12 8:42


Re: Juniata & Susquehanna River recap for the year

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2011/9/13 11:13
From Flourtown, PA
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I personally had a pretty good year. To date, I managed a couple just under 20" and a dozen or more over 18". I don't know how many I caught 17" and under. The piece of water I fish looks to be just about the same as it has the last two years. Lots and lots of baitfish, lots of YOY in the weedbeds and shallows, and fish were in all the places they were supposed to be most of the time. I did notice fewer fish overall, however, though I don't know how much of that was due to the water levels. I spotted a lot of muskies this season.

Two weeks ago I caught one around 18" on a popper, and when I went to get the popper out of his maw, there was an enormous (4"+) crawdad in his mouth with the claw sticking out a bit. The crawdad wasn't even halfway down his gullet, and he came after the popper in fast water. I have to think the popper provoked a strike not based in hunger.

I'm going to keep at the smallies for another week or two, anyway, before moving either back to trout or to the shore for stripers. With any luck I'll get one better than 20" yet.

Posted on: 9/12 12:13


Re: Juniata & Susquehanna River recap for the year

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There's another thing I've noticed a change on in my section of river.... crayfish. I remember cleaning out 8-12 dead crayfish out of the boat after each trip last year. Not this year. I don't recall having more than 1 or 2 crayfish coughed up in the boat all season. Now that I think about it, kinda weird.

Posted on: 9/12 16:32
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Re: Juniata & Susquehanna River recap for the year

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I did not fish the Juniata nearly like I usually do. I noticed smaller fish in general and haven't caught any fish that I would consider big or nice. My best was probably only 17". The water was certainly high for most of the summer, however. The best fishing for big fish is just now beginning though. This is when it is seriously awesome to fish the river. I am sure that I will be posting some nice fall and winter smallies if I get any time to fish.

Posted on: 9/13 10:23


Re: Juniata & Susquehanna River recap for the year

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http://lancasteronline.com/sports/out ... e7-80bf-93cf2cc6463a.html

Apparently, from Sunbury down is doing alright, alright.

Posted on: 9/13 11:31


Re: Juniata & Susquehanna River recap for the year
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I haven't been on the river for smallies as much this year since both rivers have been high and off-color for a good part of the summer. There always seemed to be a monsoon the night before my days off, but the last month or so the conditions have improved.

When the flow and clarity have been okay the fishing, by most reports the fishing has been very good to excellent, and the article link with PFBC surveys of the river in surf's post above confirms the angler's reports.

Too early for a final recap since some of the best smallie fishing is coming up!

Posted on: 9/14 7:54






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