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Susquehanna smallie improvement - go fishing!

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Electrofishing this week at Accomac, York Co (for a mile or more below Codorus Ck) and on Lake Clark (Safe Harbor Dam pool) revealed a much improved smallmouth bass population and size structure. Had I never been on the Susquehanna before and not known its history, I would have called this a good to very good bass population, only lacking a little bit in the abundance of smaller bass. However, survival of the 2013 year class appeared to have been very good, at least on Lake Clark, which was formerly the worst spot in the region. This rosier picture may only be temporary, or an anomaly, but there are enough bass present at the moment to provide attractive fishing. I would recommend that those who long for a return to better times take advantage of the present situation. I have been informed of similar improvement upstream as well and have angling contacts who have been very, very pleased with the fishing. The final sampling will be done at Pequea next week (Lake Aldred - Safe Harbor tail race).PS. The 2013 walleye year class is very good.

Posted on: 2013/10/19 15:27


Re: Susquehanna smallie improvement - go fishing!
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Excellent news. Of course it's too early to say things have recovered (obviously they have not) but this is good news. The YOY numbers were so-so but it's great to hear that adult bass look better than they have in awhile. Perhaps there's cause for optimism. Is the PFBC going to publish the results of this study with comparative graphing (I hope so)?

I too am hearing a lot of positive buzz from other fishermen about the lower Susky lately.

Posted on: 2013/10/19 16:21


Re: Susquehanna smallie improvement - go fishing!

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Publish? I don't know. I'm just using this info to encourage anglers to give the fishing a try, especially since October has traditionally been the best month on the river and the data suggests that the fish are very reachable from shore at the moment.

YOY don't tell the whole story. Survival and growth rates of those that make it through the first year are factors that are very important. In fact, adult abundance correlates much better with yearling abundance than with YOY abundance, and, as you know from the Hbg meeting in 2009, growth rates have been up to a year faster than they once were, producing large fish that are a year younger than they once were at the same lengths.

As an aside, the small minority of trout anglers who persistently press for more C&R fisheries on already productive brown trout limestoners would do well to consider such density dependent relationships along with available habitat. Such regs on those streams may be the route to an over abundance of small to mid size fish and cut into the possibility of producing an abundance of larger fish. This may in part be the reason why larger brown trout are often found in greater abundance outside of special reg areas on the same streams. Sometimes, though, the large fish habitat is also better outside of those areas.

Posted on: 2013/10/19 16:50

Edited by Mike on 2013/10/19 17:14:20
Edited by Mike on 2013/10/19 17:24:27


Re: Susquehanna smallie improvement - go fishing!

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are walleye available from the shore this time of year ? - i've been reading up on them and they seem more of a spring target from the shore.

i've never caught one and would like to add a river walleye to my species lists, but without hiring a boat guide.

Posted on: 2013/10/19 17:17
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Re: Susquehanna smallie improvement - go fishing!

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Yes, at drop offs into deep water in near shore areas. Also at major creek mouths in some cases. Additionally when rivers are a bit high and moderately turbid. Finally, inshore movement occurs nightly at dusk and the fish may be within range more frequently on cloudy or rainy days. At dusk they will come right up onto shallow shoals. Mass movement may occur ten minutes after most anglers have left, so if you are fishing at dusk, stick it out until dark. They are light sensitive, but have excellent vision in darkness and in turbidity. They are the ideal fish to fish for in conditions when other fish species might be less likely to bite. They do not like rapidly falling water temps though (cold fronts)' which willoften drive them off shore when just the day before they were all over the shoreline. Finally, high, muddy rivers put the fish right along the shoreline...day or night. Finding a place to stand can be tough in those condition but you have to be creative. I know a place on the Susky where anglers take advantage of this pattern by standing on a boat ramp. Last week we were electrofishing walleye from two to five ft of water at night, all within casting distance of shore.

Posted on: 2013/10/19 17:37

Edited by Mike on 2013/10/19 17:58:52


Re: Susquehanna smallie improvement - go fishing!

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brillaint, Thanks Mike. I really appreciate your input on all these subjects.

i had intended to fish a shallow point near a boat dock in the spring. i might get an evening this fall if i'm lucky.

Posted on: 2013/10/19 18:27
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nowhere is so sweet, as the bosom of the vale where the bright waters meet.


Re: Susquehanna smallie improvement - go fishing!
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Quote:

Mike wrote:
Electrofishing this week at Accomac, York Co (for a mile or more below Codorus Ck) and on Lake Clark (Safe Harbor Dam pool) revealed a much improved smallmouth bass population and size structure. Had I never been on the Susquehanna before and not known its history, I would have called this a good to very good bass population, only lacking a little bit in the abundance of smaller bass. However, survival of the 2013 year class appeared to have been very good, at least on Lake Clark, which was formerly the worst spot in the region. This rosier picture may only be temporary, or an anomaly, but there are enough bass present at the moment to provide attractive fishing. I would recommend that those who long for a return to better times take advantage of the present situation. I have been informed of similar improvement upstream as well and have angling contacts who have been very, very pleased with the fishing. The final sampling will be done at Pequea next week (Lake Aldred - Safe Harbor tail race).PS. The 2013 walleye year class is very good.


Anecdotal angler evidence!......lol. Agree with Mike on the improved fishing (size and numbers). Some of the hardcore Susky SMB anglers that fish a lot and know the River have been doing quite well fishing some of the lower sections of the Susky this season.

It is still very disconcerting that no one has put their finger on the exact cause, or more than likely causes for the SMB population crash. But, it appears there is a glimmer of hope that good or even great SMB fishing will return in future years. One can only hope.

Posted on: 2013/10/20 5:15


Re: Susquehanna smallie improvement - go fishing!

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Could it be that some more disease resistan fish are now spawning and the fishery will recover? Could the clean up of the river finally be making a difference? Any evidence Mike?

Posted on: 2013/10/20 8:35
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It's time to stop stocking all wild trout streams no matter what Classification they are, and time to eradicate brown trout in some of our limestone streams and re-establish brookies in them.


Re: Susquehanna smallie improvement - go fishing!

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Afish,
I don't mind the anecdotal angler evidence as long as it comes from skilled anglers who are reliable and trustworthy sources and who don't stretch the size or the numbers. Ideally, they also need to be observant, persistent, and understand quite well that bad days are part of fishing. For most of these guys bad days are relatively unusual. All the better when their info is supported by fish population survey data. Anecdotal info is just one piece of information worth considering, keeping its limitations in mind, however. In this case, the data matched the angler reports, which meant I had reliable info a couple of months before the electrofishing occurred. For many fisheries (water bodies, species), I have a species specific or water body specific core group of avid anglers that I occasionally consult. Some keep valuable data, such at time spent fishing and catch rate info for each trip. They also know that I am going to ask odd questions, often involving, for example, how many small (defined by specific sizes) fish they caught rather than what was the largest fish that they caught.

Posted on: 2013/10/20 9:49

Edited by Mike on 2013/10/20 10:24:22
Edited by Mike on 2013/10/20 10:30:50


Re: Susquehanna smallie improvement - go fishing!
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Quote:

Mike wrote:
Afish,
I don't mind the anecdotal angler evidence as long as it comes from skilled anglers who are reliable and trustworthy sources and who don't stretch the size or the numbers. Ideally, they also need to be observant. All the better when their info is supported by fish population survey data. Anecdotal info is just one piece of information worth considering, keeping its limitations in mind, however. In this case, the data matched the angler reports, which means I had reliable info a couple of months before the electrofishing occurred.. For many fisheries (water bodies, species), I have a species specific or water body specific core group of avid anglers that I occasionally consult. Some keep valuable data, such at time spent fishing and catch rate info for each trip. They also know that I am going to ask odd questions, often involving how many small (defined by specific sizes) fish they caught rather than what was the largest fish that they caught.


No doubt, Mike. I know you often take info provided by anglers very seriously. Some of the guides as well as some of the skilled anglers that fish a lot can add valuable info.

Being a SMB FFer, I have observed, given the lower population of fish (my theory anyway) a FFer or even spin fisher must employ more "low and slow" techniques to catch fish.

Back when the population was huge, stripping popper or slider on the surface or swinging and stripping a bugger or streamer was all that was needed to catch a whole lot of fish. Same for spinner or buzz baits and plugs for spin fisherman. Back in the heyday just about anyone could catch quite a few fish casting out a fly or lure. Now one must work for fish.

Three reasons for this (my theory anyway) First, a large population of fish causes more competition between fish thus more aggressive behavior when feeding. Second, fish were found in many places and the aforementioned fishing techniques allowed the angler to cover a lot of water. Third, there was less available forage with a larger population of fish, whereas now, more/easier to catch prey means more well fed fish.

Also it seems fish are spread out more with concentrations in certain areas. If you really don't know the River, the chuck and chance it approach often comes up short.

There are enough smallies (and some really decent sized fish) to make for a rewarding day if you can put in the time to find them and learn a little bit about fish behavior. Also, one must employ fishing techniques that match that behavior.

Posted on: 2013/10/20 10:55


Re: Susquehanna smallie improvement - go fishing!

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I have done well with walleye fishing and wading the Susky. They are very reachable from shore under the right conditions (as Mike mentioned). They are an interesting fish and will readily take flies (Clouser minnows, etc.). I've caught them in the middle of the day, but do hear that dusk/nightfall is a prime time to get them close to shore.

Resized Image

Posted on: 2013/10/20 13:25


Re: Susquehanna smallie improvement - go fishing!

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cool. i gotta try that.

Posted on: 2013/10/20 16:10
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nowhere is so sweet, as the bosom of the vale where the bright waters meet.


Re: Susquehanna smallie improvement - go fishing!

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The Susq R below Safe Harbor Dam did not disappoint for SMB last night...electrofishing. The population was as good as I had seen it in the period 1985 to the present. There was no indication of a depressed population and the only signs of past problems were about 12-15 bass with healing lesions or fins out of 102 bass collected. Lengths ranged from six to twenty inches. Equally surprising was a 13 inch tiger muskellunge., most likely stocked above Lancaster City in the Conestoga this year or else stocked 20 miles upstream in the Susq R by Bainbridge, Lanc Co.

Posted on: 2013/10/22 21:10


Re: Susquehanna smallie improvement - go fishing!

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good news, thanks mike.

My 2 year old was asking me all day on Saturday to go to the river so I took him up near sunbury (don't want to spot burn) we didn't catch any walleye or bass but caught 2 chubbs/fallfish on the fly.

hopefully i can get an eye on the fly yet this fall.

Posted on: 2013/10/22 21:55


Re: Susquehanna smallie improvement - go fishing!
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Good to hear more positive results downriver. These from the Susky combined with the very good report from the Juniata River are some of the best news we've had in years.

Posted on: 2013/10/22 23:37



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