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Susquehanna woes

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2008/8/2 14:42
From Hershey, PA
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Posted on: 2012/2/13 21:14


Re: Susquehanna woes

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2012/1/9 19:50
From Etters,Pa
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This will be an on going battle for years to come. One thing anglers can do to help the bass is leave them alone. I know everyone wants to catch fish but try and target other species like walleye and catfish. they dont need to be stressed anymore than they already are. Give the bass a break.

Posted on: 2012/2/13 22:04


Re: Susquehanna woes
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CPR,
Good article- Thanks.
What this reveals (once again) is that the cause of the decline in bass in the lower Susky isn't understood. The cause of the lesions has been known for years to be columnaris but fish with lesions are common across the Susky draineage in both branches whereas the declining population of bass has been almost entirely in the lower main stem (at least so far).

Furthermore, many individuals claim "pollution" is causing the sores and that "pig farms" on the lower Susky are to blame for the loss of bass. Obviously more research is needed as these lesions are now being documented in clean, forested streams like Pine Creek that don't flow through Lancaster County. There's something else going on. The Susky drainage - very broadly speaking - is cleaner now than in the 80s/90s during the heyday of great bass fishing around Harrisburg.

Could the bass decline be related to some of these "new" pollutants that have not traditionally been documented such as the endocrine disruptors and other birth control related effluent? Certainly could be a link. And if so, are there intersex characteristics in other fish besides SMBs - and why or why not? Some day we'll get to the bottom of this.

In the meantime, let's hope that these particular fish photos (I think I saw them posted on a different web site recently), prove to be a localized anomaly and not indicative of something much more common. I do a lot of river bass fishing and didn't see any fish last year with lesions. If you see anything like this, by all means report it.

Posted on: 2012/2/13 22:42


Re: Susquehanna woes

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2009/6/11 1:27
From York, PA
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Quote:

try and target other species like walleye and catfish. they dont need to be stressed anymore than they already are.


A lot of channel catfish that I catch at Brunner's are also infected! Same thing with the common carp...... I always thought that these fish were indestructible!! I've already sent some pix of full grown carp with infections rotting half of their body to the commish.
Only ten years ago, the bluegills and rockbass were thick around Brunner's. They are gone now...... I don't see any infections on the gills because I can't catch them anymore.

This really makes me sick! Last year a "no kill" on bass in the river ....... big F'in deal!!
Fifteen years ago I saw thousands of infected YOY in the river around Perdix. Bob Clouser was so upset he wrote on the internet almost every day..... and he tried to sue the state! Nothing happened, maybe it can't?
Twenty five years ago the Susquehanna was a clear, gravel bottom, smallmouth paradise. You could probably drink the water right from the river? Now it's a fish-less, smelly, mud and silt bottom cesspool that even makes the carp sick!

Posted on: 2012/2/13 23:09


Re: Susquehanna woes

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From Hershey, PA
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Back in the mid-late 80's it was nothing to catch 100 smallies in a day of fishing. In fact, anything less than 50 in an 6-8 hour day was a failure. I remember fishing with my high school buddies and having contests to see who could hit the "century" mark first.

When was the last time you heard of someone catching 100 smallmouth bass out of the Susquehanna? I don't think I've caught more than 25 in the past 5 years.

Sad sad sad.

Hopefully some of the new regulations >>> closed spring season and immediate catch and release the rest if the year<<< will help. OF course, with the DEP's budget being continuously slashed I don't have much hope of the water quality issues being addresses with too much vigor.

Posted on: 2012/2/14 6:51
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Re: Susquehanna woes

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2011/5/3 12:22
From South Lebanon Township, PA
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Thanks for the link CPR. That's a nicely written and contexted article...very discouraging though. Up until recently we were at least under the impression that the tribs were still doing ok (other than the lower Juniata)...doesn't appear to be the case anymore though.

I haven't caught a diseased SM in the Swatara to date, but then again I've been concentrating my fishing upstream in Lebanon County water for the last couple of years. I haven't fished the downstream Hershey/Hummelstown/Middletown area since 2009 or so. Hopefully the issue they're seeing is just transient fish moving up from the Susky, but who knows.

In 2010, and the little I could fish it in 2011 due to high flows, I did observe and even catch good numbers of YOY SM in the Swatara. In 2011 I even caught a good number of 4-5" fish (2010 YOY's), so it's clear they're spawning and surviving to some degree...again, in upstream waters though.

On top of the disease issues, mother nature hasn't been especially kind to SM reproduction the past few years. It's really been a perfect storm. Hopefully we can have lower, or at least average flows for the Spring spawn in 2012, and lower mid-Summer temps. High Summer temps (like we had in 2011) force the YOY SM into deeper, cooler water further from shore, which makes them much easier prey for adult SM/Walleye/Cats/Muskie etc. If we could avoid record, or near record floods in the Fall, that would probably help too.

Posted on: 2012/2/14 8:01


Re: Susquehanna woes

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2009/12/16 11:21
From West Chester
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I try to stay optimistic and tell myself it will come back, but that's becoming increasingly hard to believe. Thinking about what has been lost makes me want to cry. In the 90's i remember wading out to fish and seeing lots of yoy smallies in the shallows, crayfish, and minnows everywhere. it was a world class smb fishery. My first trip last year i saw a 2-3 inch smallie with a sore half the size of it's body barely holding on as i waded out. I've stopped fishing for smallies in my end of the river because i feel bad for them. The only silver lining that i see is that there is still lots of forage, so if they can get a foothold they should come back quickly. I wonder how this is affecting the bay?

Posted on: 2012/2/14 9:18


Re: Susquehanna woes

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From York, PA
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Quote:

I try to stay optimistic and tell myself it will come back, but that's becoming increasingly hard to believe.
In the 90's i remember wading out


Same here! I could wade out anywhere in the Susquehanna from Long Level to Sunbury and catch a hundred beautiful healthy jumping smallmouth on every trip!
In those days I could wear sneakers and shorts. Now the rocks are slippery with the algae snot slime on every one. Now I slip around even with felt bottom and studs! And then it was gravel on the bottom, now every step I take is covered with silt.
A size 6 olive woolybugger on a sink tip line and a 6wt....... wow!! I wish I would have taken pix back then?

Posted on: 2012/2/14 13:34


Re: Susquehanna woes

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2009/2/23 16:32
From Wrightsville
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Thanks for posting this. It needs to be in a more prominent section of the site.

From Marcellus Shale to Roundup to Pharma, who knows? There are probably more important issues, but I can't think of many. It's interesting that many people that you meet think that they don't come in contact with the river. (drinking water/those rockfish/tilapia on the menu courtesy of Susquehanna Aquacultures...)

My old river rat neighbor Bill (now sitting in a duck blind in heaven) always said that when the river floods the companies dump the hazardous waste that they have stored. We've had a lot of flooding over the past year. Who knows.

The State of Pennsylvania needs to take a more urgent course of action.

Posted on: 2012/2/14 22:18


Re: Susquehanna woes

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2009/9/9 13:21
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I'm shocked they are finding Columnaris on Pine Creek.

Posted on: 2012/2/15 8:41
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Re: Susquehanna woes
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Quote:

jjsjigs wrote:
I'm shocked they are finding Columnaris on Pine Creek.


I'm not.
It's been well documented in the West Branch Susquehanna as well as the lower Juniata and Penns Creek. These are mostly forested ecosystems that have much less intensive agriculture than what one sees down on the lower main stem Susky. It's also worth pointing out that many of these areas, like the West Branch, have excellent bass populations. This is why I remain skeptical of the (widely alleged) connection between columnaris lesions and the decreased bass population on the lower Susky.

Posted on: 2012/2/15 12:29


Re: Susquehanna woes

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Quote:

Fishidiot wrote:
It's also worth pointing out that many of these areas, like the West Branch, have excellent bass populations. This is why I remain skeptical of the (widely alleged) connection between columnaris lesions and the decreased bass population on the lower Susky.

Shhhh! You're burning my spot man.

Posted on: 2012/2/15 13:55
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Re: Susquehanna woes

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2011/9/24 16:37
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and I've never seen any columnaris on the fish I've caught but the fish population is extremely low in my opinion....no fish upstream of lock haven/jersey shore area or so I hear

Posted on: 2012/2/15 20:58


Re: Susquehanna woes
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tyeager,
The West Branch is a recovering river. Downriver from about Jersey Shore there are good numbers of fish and below Williamsport the populations are outstanding. Due to acid mine reclamation in headwater tribs, the bass population is slowly getting better further and further upriver each year. The future looks very bright for the West Branch. Give it a few more years.

Posted on: 2012/2/15 22:08


Re: Susquehanna woes

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2012/2/16 18:55
From Pennsylvania
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I seen a decline of ALL fish in every waterway around here (Lancaster County,PA). It isn't just Smallmouth Bass. The White Suckers,Fallfish, Carp and Sunfish, Redeyes and Walleye have all been dissappearing. It sure is sad. I take my sons and grandsons out fishing and we are lucky to catch a thing. (We OFTEN get "checked" by a Waterways Conservation Officer though!). We've taken up birdwatching but I suspect the eagles and ospreys will eventually be gone too. It makes me sick.

Posted on: 2012/2/16 19:33



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