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Smallmouth Bass Meetings with PFBC
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The PFBC will be conducting more public meetings regarding smallmouth bass management in the Susquehanna River this year. They did this last year in Harrisburg and I attended and wrote a report for this site. I'll be unable to attend this year but I found the previous meetings to be informative and worthwhile. Being firmly in the "don't know" camp with regards to why the bass have declined in the Susky, I found the info at the meeting fairly presented (although inconclusive). Perhaps there have been some new studies and new info allowing for more solid conclusions about bass populations. Also this year, there will be 3 meetings in different areas allowing for more public attendance:

http://www.fish.state.pa.us/newsrelea ... 010press/smb_meetings.htm

Posted on: 2010/5/17 14:01


Re: Smallmouth Bass Meetings with PFBC

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They know what the problem is . I heard there was guy from the Susky River Keepers at the last meeting asking good valid question about the nitrate levels and they kept beating around the bush like a politician. So my guesstimate is it's the Nitrates and it will cause people to loose their jobs to fix it .

Posted on: 2010/5/17 14:17
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Re: Smallmouth Bass Meetings with PFBC

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Frederick

you are correct. They do know what the issues are and they do know how to fix it. They will however, not do anything other than hold meetings and provide us all lip service. They have not the political will nor backbone to tackle the issue.

It is very much fun to show up at the meetings though and see them sweat.

I will be at the Harrisburg show.

Posted on: 2010/5/17 20:15


Re: Smallmouth Bass Meetings with PFBC

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CPR: Please clarify who "they" are. I have never seen an Area Fisheries Manager, for instance, sweat at one of those meetings.

Posted on: 2010/6/7 16:42


Re: Smallmouth Bass Meetings with PFBC

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Quote:

Fredrick wrote:
They know what the problem is.


So if the problem with the Susque is known, what is it?

Posted on: 2010/6/7 20:36


Re: Smallmouth Bass Meetings with PFBC

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Quote:

troutbert wrote:
Quote:

Fredrick wrote:
They know what the problem is.


So if the problem with the Susque is known, what is it?


You would have to ask they for that answer I can only make guesstimates. But these guys probably knew what they were talking about back in 2005 and no one listened
And I'm sure no politics or loss of jobs influenced their decision on picking the Susky as the most endangered river . Funny thing is don't most people who fished the river all the time say they really started to notice the decline in the fishing in 05.
http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2005/2005-04-13-05.html
http://www.allbusiness.com/north-amer ... nnsylvania/1025744-1.html
http://www.americanrivers.org/our-wor ... ress-success.html#MER2005

................................Just Saying............................................

Posted on: 2010/6/7 21:12
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Re: Smallmouth Bass Meetings with PFBC

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The answer is..... C. All of the above

Posted on: 2010/6/8 14:30
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Re: Smallmouth Bass Meetings with PFBC

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I don't remember exactly when, but 2005 sounds about right. The dropoff was sudden and dramatic in the areas I regularly fished.

Ironically, a few years prior to that, a couple of experienced guides and a former PFBC staffer all independently told me that something wasn't "right" with the smallie population. I didn't pay them much mind because the smallie fishing was incredible. In retrospect, some of the people who knew the river best recognized a problem was brewing. They didn't know the cause, but were clearly concerned way before the demise.

Hopefully someone will identify the cause (or causes) so there might be a chance at recovery. It used to be an amazing fishery.

Posted on: 2010/6/12 0:40


Re: Smallmouth Bass Meetings with PFBC

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Quote:

TimB wrote:
I don't remember exactly when, but 2005 sounds about right. The dropoff was sudden and dramatic in the areas I regularly fished.

Ironically, a few years prior to that, a couple of experienced guides and a former PFBC staffer all independently told me that something wasn't "right" with the smallie population. I didn't pay them much mind because the smallie fishing was incredible. In retrospect, some of the people who knew the river best recognized a problem was brewing. They didn't know the cause, but were clearly concerned way before the demise.


Clear back in 1995 Bob Clouser was saying that something was going wrong with the river. The smallmouth fishing was crazy good back then. But he was concerned about changes in the water quality, about changes in the vegetation in the river, etc.

If Bob Clouser knew in 1995 that the river was going downhill, why didn't the DEP?

I think it shows the value of the observations of those "in the field" or in this case "on the water." Or the potential value, if anyone would listen to people with those kinds of first hand experiences and observations.

Posted on: 2010/6/12 9:38


Re: Smallmouth Bass Meetings with PFBC

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I sense a potential revision of history here, so I am going to make sure that everyone is on the same page. It should have been no surprise that the smallmouth bass population was declining or going to decline leading into 2005. The nearly annual electrofishing indices of young-of-the-year (YOY) smallmouth bass "said" as much. It was absolutely clear that there would be a decline. The surprise to the biologists and to those who listened, and equally important...understood, was not the decline in bass abundance due to climatic conditions (rain, high flow, falling water temps during spawning) during springs leading up to 2005; the surprise was the disease occurrence and resulting heavy mortality of an otherwise very large 2005 year class. That large year class would have "bailed the population decline out" had it not been struck by disease, and 2005 was the first year that the disease problems were seen in the YOY.

Posted on: 2010/6/14 21:49


Re: Smallmouth Bass Meetings with PFBC

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Mike have all the YOY since 05 been decimated more by disease or nature ?

Posted on: 2010/6/14 21:57
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Re: Smallmouth Bass Meetings with PFBC
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This is, indeed, the fundamental problem with regards to the bass population in the lower Susky and - ultimately - the million dollar question: Why have YOY bass failed to survive in that section of the river when they have survived in other sections and other rivers with similar physical conditions? Conspiracy theories about the PFBC "knowing" about this and the common view of the culpability of hog farms notwithstanding....the answer remains unclear.
In good YOY years (2005 or 2007) and poor or very poor years (eg 2004 or 2009) you see similar, although not identical, bass spawning and YOY curves throughout the Susky drainage and other rivers in the Mid Atlantic region. The initial thought, once fish kill reports prompted PFBC biologists to conduct necropsy and analysis (this was mainly in 2005 as few folks fished the lower Susky the two previous years due to extremely high water conditions) was that the bass die off was a direct result of columnaris as skin lesions from this disease were common. Subsequent studies have revealed that, at least in the last few years, the prevalence of columnaris is actually equal or higher in bass populations in the North and West Branches where there hasn't been a die off. Is columnaris the problem or maybe just a symptom? Is the lower river really so much more "polluted" when compared to the North and West Branches? Studies show most pollutants to be generally lower throughout the river when compared to a generation ago. As of last year, warm temps and low water seemed to be the culprit.
Indeed: Why are young bass failing to thrive/survive in the lower Susky? People want quick and easy answers and easy villians to blame. It seems obvious to me that more study is needed and I think we may be a long way from the answer. Hopefully, another year has brought us a bit closer to solid conclusions.

Posted on: 2010/6/14 23:08


Re: Smallmouth Bass Meetings with PFBC

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All good information - but I do not think bass are the only fish in question. I spent coutless hours in the middle river - from Harrisburg to the Sunbury area - and variety of fish is also down in my opinion. Where are all the catfish, rock bass, other panfish?

I would also love to hear the PFC answer the nitrate question honestly....

Posted on: 2010/6/15 8:29


Re: Smallmouth Bass Meetings with PFBC

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If we can't figure out what the main problem with the Susky is why don't we try to protect what we have left...... And why don't we try to fix some of problems that we do know about that are effecting the water quality in the river like raw sewage and farm run off. By the time the PFBC gets done with all their studies we probably won't have nothing left to work with .Five years of studies and what answers do we have ?
Take some sort action besides studies and meetings they already dropped the ball now do something to improve the river until we find the problem it could just be a combination of everything or just one but take some sort of action . I'm sure that some of the conservation organizations on the Susky can have meetings and do the same studies that the PFBC are doing . How many people do they have working full time working on the problem .

Posted on: 2010/6/15 8:57
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Re: Smallmouth Bass Meetings with PFBC
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Sometimes these sorts of answers don't come easy. Many folks (myself included) would like to see stricter fishing regs on the lower Susky but, to be honest, I seriously doubt that will have much effect other than protecting some of the the large, remnant bass population from the 1999 year class that still remain. When these fish die off, the capability of the population to recover through spawning will be further degraded. Stocking of fingerlings has been considered and is an option I'd also support. It's worth a try.
As for blaming pollution - this may be a big part of the problem (many fishing guides feel this way) but I am not convinced it's been proven. If you look at phosphorous levels in the lower Susky, they are currently much lower (almost by half) of what they were in 1999 when the last very good year class was produced (that survived). The bass fishing in the 1990s was fabulous. Dissolved nitrogen levels remain roughly the same as in 1999.

There's a ton of info on the PFBC website about bass problems and water temp/pollution studies available here:

http://www.fish.state.pa.us/susquehannabass.htm

If one doesn't trust the info provided from the PFBC on this issue to be "honest" ....well I suppose you'll have to look elsewhere. I, for one, have confidence in the PFBC and DEP scientists who have compiled this info and have no doubt their methodologies are sound and their presentations are unbaised.

One area I personally think needs more study is comparison of the lower Susky with the upper in the last ten years for all categories.

Posted on: 2010/6/15 9:16



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